Last Sunday, Sallie came over for a sewing day and we had a tea party in the 90-degree heat with our new crop of small dolls, which we call "Muñequitas." Sallie set up the dolls in the "garden" with a tiny tea set from the Farmer's Market, which matches the tea set made by my sister, Kath at MUDDSLINGER POTS, (aka "Veronica").
After "La Fete dans le Jardin," which was Sallie's delightful French translation of our "tea party," we retired to our sewing table under the breeze of a fan and had ice cold lemonade and cookies while we worked. Sophie's job was to draw two more doll faces to embroider and Sallie's was to draw and embroider the face for her Raggedy Ann, who is to be a buddy to the Raggedy Andy we made last fall. Peering out of Sophie's basket where Sallie had scooped them up, a jumble of Muñequitas watched us and chattered amongst themselves.
As you can see, Las Muñequitas are in various stages of completion. Sophie had some fun this week taking group photos and some solo shots of Mirabel, who is back from her extended visit to Marina Del Rey. Our one boy doll, Eduardo, is looking forward to getting a new suit of clothes and a haircut in the next few days. We will post updated photos of the dolls as they are completed.
Other sewing news: Sophie got a new sewing machine and we are learning how to use it. Also, I finally finished Sophie's summer sundress, which has a black bodice and a vintage, yellow and black, Parisienne-imaged full skirt with pockets. It is the first dress for my new project of making patterns from vintage dresses, which I call "Pale Pink Patterns for a Perfect Fit!"
Well, it's Friday at 6:00 p.m. and I type this from my day job, so it's high time to go home. We've asked Sallie to be our guest blogger this month, so look for her byline soon!
In the meantime, have a great week!
__The Christmas boxes arrived in Costa Rica, so I can now tell you about Popeye and Carmelita. I stumbled on Popeye in an Out of the Closet, my favorite thrift store, last November, and thought he'd be perfect for Malekai, who collects action figures. Popeye has a burly body and grizzled face with a cigarette hanging from his lower lip. He was battered and his clothes stained, but OTC was taking 50% off bric-a-brac that day, so I claimed him for my resident sailor and soon- to-be friend of Carmelita. (He's a wire doll, but more about that in a future blog.)
__When I got him home, there was work to do, as his white sailor hat and pants needed to be cut
off, the stains "Shouted" ™ out and everything washed, dried and sewn back on. (The "Shout"
worked just as Evette had said it would. Shout out to Evette, pun intended!) The shirt was
beyond repair and wouldn't come off, so I covered the sleeves with some striped jersey left over from Paulette's* arms and legs, and he was done, except for sewing the pants and hat back on and reattaching the black leather pouch that hangs from his belt, which I imagine contains chewing tobacco. (And maybe a can of spinach?) Popeye the Sailor Man was ready for his trip to Costa Rica. But where was Olive Oyle?
__I 'd been planning to send Mirabel as Sophie's Christmas doll this year and thought she'd be the perfect companion for Popeye (Mirabel, not Sophie!), but then I remembered that she'd gone home with Sallie for the weekend, so I decided to make another one. While each doll is different, I usually make a drawing of the face so I can make more than one of the same doll. In this case, I hadn't done that, so I had to copy from pictures. Luckily, what resulted was Mirabel's twin, Carmelita. Like Mirabel, Carmelita has brown eyes, ruby lips and black braids pinned on top of her head in an off-hand, attractive way. She has black tights, silk, ivory arms, and, like all of the dolls, a red heart. (Except for Andre Ethier, whose heart is Dodger Blue!) Instead of Mirabel's sequined skirt, Carmelita has a simple sundress in brown cotton with pink polka dots and maroon ribbon ties which criss-cross in the front, like Mirabel's peasant blouse. Finally, she wears a lacy shrug and a red rhinestone necklace, like Mirabel's. When she was finished, I was surprised to see how she towered over Popeye, but his brawniness balanced out her height, and by the time they were shipped off to Costa Rica, they were the best of friends. They arrived last week at the Lizard King Resort, where they were warmly received and feel very much at home.
_This weekend I plan to organize my sewing room, which is bursting with dollar evening gowns that have been piling up since I started making dolls a few years ago. Last week, while shopping at the Good Will with Evette, I found a giant, white petticoat that I thought I'd use instead of the purple one, which is now gone. ** But after trying it on, I decided it has way too much potential to cut up. And after seeing the Tina Bausch documentary yesterday with Raphael (a Wim Wenders film, which everyone should see, even if you're not a dance aficionado), I've decided to keep the evening gowns too, and who knows, maybe even wear them! (After all, why should my dolls have ALL the fun?) Which brings me to next week's topic: Dancers, doll dresses and gowns for grownups! Oh - and making wire dolls. (With help from Sophie and Malekai, I hope!)
See you next week!
_Last week, I told you about seeing the Joffrey Ballet's "Nutcracker" with my nieces, Sallie and Colleen. Since then, I've been fascinated by nutcrackers. My Los Angeles sewing partner, Evette, and I were in Joann's Fabrics in Studio City, stocking up on doll- making supplies last week when Evette stopped in her tracks, and I, being right behind her, bumped into her! "Look at that!" she exclaimed. There was a nutcracker display with all items 60% off! As we looked, we were tempted, because, after all, what is a nutcracker but a wooden doll? But then she saw a tailor, holding a bag of spools of thread in one hand and a pair of golden scissors in the other. On his head, instead of the black beefeater pompom, was a red pincushion, complete with pins. It was love at first sight and Mr. Tailor was in Evette's cart before you could say "Sugar Plum Fairy!"
Then I spied the seamstress. (In case you hadn't noticed, female nutcrackers are hard to
find.) I knew when I saw her, at 60% off, that she was mine. She has a silver thimble
skirt, a spool of red thread for a hat, and an old-fashioned, painted face. Sallie, who came over on Saturday to make dolls, told me that she got a nutcracker, too. After politely admiring Samantha the Seamstress and the tree, and lining up all the dolls on the bed in the sewing room as if they were on a toboggan about to slide down a snowy hill, we set up shop for our day of doll making. Out came the cutting board, the bowl of thread, the box of fabric, the jar of art pencils and markers, and the sewing machine. Sallie wanted to make a small doll, a la Mirabel (see the Doll Gallery), and was hoping to finish in one day.
_We started by choosing from a selection of homemade patterns. This one was copied from a vintage Guatemalan doll bought at a thrift store a few years ago. She is handmade and you can see the stitches where the legs are attached. The clothes are intricate and
colorful and sewn to her body. Next, Sallie traced the head on a piece on paper and drew the face, which was a classic doll face that looked a little bit like Samantha. Then she pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out the head, using café au lait muslin for the face and black for the back of the head. The next step was to trace the face onto the fabric through the paper with a very sharp pencil. Then we had to make a tactical decision: To embroider the face or to draw it? As it was already 2:30, Sallie decided to depart from tradition and draw the face with permanent markers.
_After a practicing on a piece of fabric (I told her to keep it because it was so pretty!), Sallie drew the face in minutes, as compared to the hour or so it would have taken to embroider. Next, we pinned right sides together and stitched the head. After that, Sallie turned the head inside out and stuffed it. The turning and stuffing is time-consuming and takes some practice, but Sallie got it done to her satisfaction. Doll heads made this way tend to be a little imperfect and can look misshapen, but this is where a great hairdo comes in. I had a little doll wig already cut from the sleeve of a black tee shirt which fit the bill and after pinning it on, fashioning two braids and tying the ends with blue embroidery thread, Sallie's doll was coming to life!
_We took a break for hot dogs and fries and a walk to the fabric store, (sewing is tiring!), and then were back at work. Now it was time to cut out the body, arms and legs, all from different fabric, chosen by Sallie. After pinning the pieces, right sides together, Sallie and I took turns sewing them on to the body. Sallie next turned and stuffed one arm while I did the other. We then attached the arms to the unstuffed body, after which Sallie stuffed the body and I attached the legs. We were almost done, but it was almost time for Sallie to go home! (Sallie's mom and dad had come over in the meantime and brought some delicious mac and cheese for dinner, so we took another break.)
_With her Mom's permission, we were granted an hour to finish. I opened up the top of the body, took out some stuffing and stuffed the neck in, then pinned the head in place and quickly sewed it them together. Then I sewed on the hair with a few stitches and Sallie's first small doll was done! But because we had finished in a hurry, there are some things we may want to fix, such as reattaching the legs so the doll can stand on her own and re- sewing her head on so you can't see the stitching. Then we can sew on the blue sparkly necklace Sallie chose, and even the tiniest stitches won't show. Last but not least, Sallie wants to make her a brown dress, inspired by "Chocolate," the Spanish dancer from the "Nutcracker." So we need to have another sewing session soon!
_Sophie and I continue to brainstorm about dollsbysasha.com and how we can make dolls
and contribute to the world we live in at the same time. We've decided to ask Sallie to
help with some ideas and maybe even write her own doll blog. Meanwhile, Sophie has
been experimenting with a new format for the website, has started writing a children's
book about Suki in Costa Rica and has come up with some amazing drawings. Malakei
Lucian is starting to contribute some ideas too, so we'll have lots to talk about next time. We'd love your input too, so please feel free to leave comments!
More next time… And don't forget to enjoy the holiday season!