Saturday, October 8, 2016

Elsa Boreen

I can't even remember where we got these little Amish-style dolls. They probably came in a bag of toys from Grandma or maybe a yard sale somewhere. Since the large rag doll I made for Anne has been used so much that the stuffing is starting to come out and the seams tearing apart she has brought these to reenactments a few times this year. Their smaller size is better for her, anyway. (Why did I make her doll so very large? What was I thinking?!) I planned to make new dresses for the dolls over the summer to give them a more period appropriate look but I never got around to it. So, they've been drug out in their poly/cotton Amish-esque attire and became a bit sad and bedraggled.

Anne and I finally sat down and made a dress for her doll and she wanted me to make a face for her and put on some hair. While the finished doll isn't totally appropriate for the Civil War era (hair is quite questionable, and the body shape isn't really representative of 1860's styles, and I'm sure the stuffing is poly/cotton and my embroidery is. . .not great) it looks better at a glance than the Amish doll and I don't feel bad for having Anne bring this along to events to play with.

First we made a little pattern for a fitted bodice and we cut it out of fabric Anne picked from the scrap drawer. She chose the remnants of the purple calico we used for her Boone Frock. I lined the bodice with white cotton for stability.

I truly *hate* sewing tiny things. Oh my gosh. It's so frustrating. I set the sleeves in flat before sewing up the side seams as that was the only way I really could accomplish such small sewing. The neckline is piped but I didn't even attempt to pipe the armscyes. No way.

The skirt was easier. A rectangle gathered to fit.

Inside I sewed some tape over the waist seam to keep it tidy and we put a hook and eye at the neck and waist to shut the dress.

Her hair is made of llama hair that came from a friend of my mother. She raises llamas and gave me a whole bunch of it in various colours. Anne chose this reddish brown as the closest match to her own curls. I twisted the roving into a loose length and then attached it to head by couching it on. The doll originally had a black poly/cotton bonnet superglued to her head so attaching hair was the only method we could use to cover up the glue spots. Original 1860's rag dolls could have painted hair but in our case, painting the head would have still left the glue glaringly apparent.

The embroidery is totally free hand and very, um, creative. Honestly it looks like crap. It's lopsided and the colors don't work the greatest but Anne pronounced it "beautiful" and so I'm going to leave it as it is.

And her name is Elsa, after Anne's favorite Disney princess. She asked me what her middle name ought to be and I gave her some suggestions but she didn't like any of them. Then she asked me to tell her all the girl names I know of. So I began a lengthy and monotonous list. Irene! Anne liked Irene. Then she glanced at the door and changed it to Doreen, which is still a very nice name. Then in a final loving gesture of paternity she changed it to Boreen, because sometimes dolls are boring. So this is Elsa Boreen and I am a grandma.

It will be nice to have a better doll for Anne to bring along next season. Well, if little Elsa Boreen lasts til then. She's currently being played with quite heavily. Rose's doll needs a new dress so that will be forthcoming shortly.



  1. "So this is Elsa Boreen and I am a grandma." Thanks for the chuckle :D
    Sometimes good enough will have to do when dealing with little ones - Elsa Boreen will work just fine at events, I'm sure. I rather like the dress.

  2. I'm not sure if mentioning this will be a bad idea and induce you to hate me if Anne sees it, since you may end up making a full layette for a doll, but have you seen the Godey's series on "How to Dress a Doll" published from April 1860 to August 1860 and "How to Make a Bed" in September & October 1860?

    I mention it only because seeing the tiny pattern pieces you made reminded me so much of seeing the tiny patterns in the Lady's Book on (I ended up downloading the pictures of all the pages for 1852 and 1854-1864!).


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!