1840's Papier Mache Doll with Rare Flirty Eyes



Alicia Carver of Signature Dolls shared pictures of this lovely doll to post here in as inspiration for inspiration. At 18.5" tall, this so-called milliner's model has a kid body with wood lower legs and lower arms and a papier-mache head. Her head features an early 1850's style with long ringlets which are nicely modeled in the back. Alicia redressed her in period style clothing from antique silk velvet and early lace. Alicia says,
"What is most unusual about her are her flirty eyes which, according to Christiane Graefnitz, a renown papier-mache expert, means she was made by Andreas Voit as he is the only doll maker in Germany who used flirty eyes in the early dolls."







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Edyth's Brown Dress

Note from Dixie: Edyth let me borrow a dress for study and tracing a pattern. This was originally posted on Northdixie Designs in November of 2009. I still have yet to make the dress, but I hope to get to it SOON. This is an interesting dress to look at, because the design is simple and the use of trim can customize it in a number of ways.


The amazing thing about the internet is that I have friends I've never met. :-) Edyth O'Neill is such a friend - she sent me a box of stuff a couple of weeks ago, and in the box was an antique dress for me to study and make a pattern from and then return to her. This was challenging to do as I didn't want to use any pins.


The opportunity to look at this old dress was so fun for me. As I usually do, I took loads of pictures so that I could refer to them later when I make the dress up. If you are an antique clothing buff/expert, I welcome any feedback you have about the dress and it's age. It is a fairly basic princess seamed dress style. My guess after looking at the online collections at Wisconsin History.org is that it's from the 1870's. The brown dress seems to be constructed by machine, but there is also a lot of hand sewing in it's construction. The seams have a kind of twill tape which was attached at the time the seams were sewn. I'm assuming this was done to give stability to the curved seams.


The twill tape was basted to the outer part
of both sections jointed together
and then pressed to the side.

The charm of the dress
is the simple style,
and it shows how applied trim
can transform a basic dress.
There are bias tape bands
sewn at the hem
of the skirt and the sleeves.

There is shark's tooth trim at the neck,
and the buttonholes are done by hand.








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Antique Clothing and the Use of Trim


One way we can learn about making antique inspired doll clothing is by looking at clothing of the period. While searching through another group I came across these lovely antique clothing pieces on Ebay. So I emailed the seller, The Lady's Repository Museum, to ask for permission to post the pictures here. These items are presently at auction and might be appropriate in scale for a large doll from 1800's, or for an antique inspired doll.




The first item is an incredible Victorian child's dress and matching cape which could be for either a boy or a girl. The wonderful deep cherry red wool has white wool braiding and vegetable ivory buttons, and hand done button holes.


Look at the intricacy of the trim!

Both the cape and the dress are fully lined in white cotton. The cape closes in the center front with one hook/eye closure.The dress measures 19" from shoulder to hem and the cape measures 14" cape from shoulder to hem.


Plaid is the name of the game
in this next sweet 1860's boys' garment.







But look what happens when you add
a band of green with trimmed edges
to the plaid? Bazinga!



Double rows of braid make the blue skirt something special.
Imagine these pieces without the trim. What a difference trim makes!



Talk about texture!
The trim on this incredible
white dress below makes this dress.



The dress above is made from a ribbed cotton pique with hand applied matching soutache trim and white embroidered lace at the neckline and hem. It is most likely from the mid to late 1850's, according to the seller. It has one shell button waistband closure. The bodice has a button back closure with superbly hand stitched button holes, but all back bodice buttons are missing From the seller:

What sets this set apart form others, besides the near mint condition, is the wonderful tabbed bodice with long revers that extend well below the waist line~ this most definitely belonged to a very well to- do little girl!


A closer look...



And still closer. Wonderful!


I hope you enjoyed looking at these wonderful antique garments. If you are interested, please click the pictures to visit the auctions for more information. Many thanks to Rachael of the Ladys Repository Museum for sharing these lovely pictures of antique clothing. Click here to see more items in the museum.

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Instructions for Making a Doll’s Waist Pocket

Edyth Doll Pocket 3.jpg


Large bag like pockets preceded our common practice of sewing pockets into garments themselves. Women wore pockets tied around the waist with long strings, under the skirt but over the petticoat. These waist pockets were accessed by means of an opening in the side of a lady’s skirt. They were sometimes worn in pairs, one on each side. Some of the most beautiful examples are decorated with crewel embroidery. The pocket might hold many things, such as household keys or a bit of needlework or a sewing rollup.


Edyth Doll Pocket 2.jpg


Click Here for the PDF pattern

These directions are for making a doll sized pocket. Your choice of fabrics used will determine the success of the project.

This is a great use for a special small scrap. Also needed is some type of binding which can be bias cut light weight cotton fabric 1 inch wide, or as in the illustration shown, old used cotton seam tape. A soft piece of old ribbon is another excellent choice.

Instead of using a strip of bias cut fabric, finishing the edges with a binding of twill tape is also correct. Cotton twill tape may be dyed for this purpose. This is one type of tape which was woven on small hand-held wooden tape looms. Women and girls carried these interesting little looms about with them, to make use of spare moments, (we will not say idle moments!) A nearly endless list of uses existed for these tapes, as can be shown in any collection of early household linens or garments, particularly children’s garments.


Making the Pockets

Resize these pattern pieces as you need them! The smaller one may suit our little Izannahs as it is. The larger one will suit a larger doll or may be sized down. Trace and cut out paper shape.

From fabric chosen for the back of the pocket, cut one back piece without a slit. The back may be of medium heavy fabric to add shape and substance to the finished piece.

Cut one pocket front and front lining if wanted with a slit from the top as marked. The front of the pocket can be of light weight quilted work, or any other attractive fabric which will give an 18th century or early 19th century look to the pocket.

Baste or pin the front to the front lining if any. Finish the center slit with a piece of bias cut fabric At the point of the slit, either a double outside miter may be used or the extra fullness may be gathered and eased with tiny stitches.

When the front slit is finished, baste the pocket front to the back, right sides out, and sew binding around the sides and bottom of the pocket. To complete the pocket, the center of a long piece of binding is sewn across the top of the pocket and extended in both directions to make waist strings.

Edyth Doll Pocket 1.jpg




Edyth Doll Pocket Pattern.jpg

Click Here for the PDF pattern

Copyright Edyth O’Neill 2010 Thank you for respecting copyright. This pattern is for your personal use, not to be copied for others. However, please feel free to use the patterns on any dolls you might wish to dress and sell. Thank you, Edyth


Queen Anne Doll Challenge



The Maida Dolls Group is going to have  has had a challenge where everyone makes a creation that in some way is inspired by Queen Anne Dolls. It's sure to be fun! All the people in the group who finish a doll will have their name put in a drawing to win a prize. :-) If you're interested, head on over to the group for more details. The group is open to anyone interested in creating antique inspired dolls. There are lots of resources posted for making a Queen Anne doll in the Queen Anne Challenge thread. 

Wonderful Antique Folk Art Cloth Doll


A repost of a wonderful doll at Lucy's Doll House
I showed on my personal blog a while ago.
This doll has sold, but she sure is fun to study!



All cloth!
Even the stiffened doll bonnet and face.



So very folky!
I've never seen a doll like this before.



Her hands have 5 fingers.



Her face was needlestitched -
kind of a trapunto technique.






Her body is constructed with a flat seat,
similar to a papier mache or china doll body.



The bonnet is attached to her head.
Both the bonnet and the face are stiffened
somehow so they are very, very hard.
Similar in feel to the way Izannah Walker's are made,
but the top layer is a woven cloth and not stockinette.





And the colors of her boots and stockings
are so wonderful! Love the gold and green.



Her dress and apron are so charming.


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