Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~ Edyth O'Neill

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Indigo magic

Finding old cotton fabric to make doll dresses is not easy.  Some years ago at a small antique show I purchased a textile piece which may have been intended for use as as a small crib quilt backing. It was about that size and was pieced in bars of three early fabrics but did not show to have ever been quilted.  The stiches holding the bars/strips together were of old brown thread which I think may have been home spun. I have only seen this coarse brown thread used on very early textiles.  When I tried separating the fabrics, the thread was rotten and broke up. The price seemed dear when I bought it, but it came to seem priceless to me as I held those indigo pieces in my hands.
 Pictured are two of these fabrics in strips, a green and the indigo. There was also an early red print.   The first of this blue was used in a precious doll quilt that my friend Johnetta B. made for my dolls. This was pictured on the back cover of my book Pockets and Roll Ups.  Unfortunately the tiny gem was lost in our house fire.


I have dressed two early wooden dolls in this indigo fabric in the past. Now I have another doll that is worthy of wearing most of the rest, this lovely Kloster Veilsdorf  china doll head, the so called Greiner China because of the similarity of hairstyles with American Greiner dolls. I will still have a small amount of the beautiful blue left, I hope to replicate the long lost doll quilt, though I could never rival Johnetta's wonderful stitches.


 I have had another china doll by this maker:  She has joined a friend's collection now.

These dolls are made of beautiful quality porcelain.  The doll I am dressing has two pieces of early hand stitched undies to wash and keep and a petticoat that is a make do and will be discarded.  Her dress is beyond my skill to mend so she will have a fresh one of this indigo print.   

 
An early little apron adds a good touch, and I will search my boxes of old doll undies for a suitable petticoat.  The doll's arms and hands, which I believe are original, will not survive much more putting on and off of her clothing. I hope she will stand as she is for years ahead.  e

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Simple tube dresses for dolls.

 
Click on photos to enjoy them larger!
 
 
So many dolls to dress.  When I do not find an old doll dress in my small stash of them I usually resort to a time honored way with a tube dress. Here is a lovely perfect little parian Alice  showing the new body I made for her this spring.  My friend Penny shared the sweet piece of early fabric some years ago and it has been waiting for the perfect use. The fabric was salvaged from the back of a ragged quilt.  The first step is to cut two rectangles for her sleeves and one larger one for the body of the dress.
Next sew the rectangles into 3 tubes, hemming a closing  in the center back seam.   Hem each sleeve. On each side of the dress body, make a slit longer than the sleeve will be set in, so a dart can be created on each side with the sleeve tube inserted. Be careful sewing in the sleeves, keep right side to right side. This is the only tedious part on the project.


 
It is not easy to see where to hem the dress yet, so I leave that till last. Beginning at the back of the neckline I turn under a scant 1/4 inch with a raw edge. I run a gathering thread (double thread) about 1/8 inch from the top of the fold leaving that 1/8th inch header.  By making a back stitch where I begin , leaving a few inches for a tie, and ending the same way after I fit the dress to the doll's shoulder, I have the neckline gathered and a tie on each side. Now try the dress on her and distribute the gathers. Judge where you want to make the line of gathering for the waist and make that row of little stitches leaving a tie at the beginning and after fitting the dress on her, make a tie on the other end.  Now you can see where to hem the little dress. The addition of a ribbon at the waist or an apron finishes the outfit. In this case I have given Alice the incredible tiny apron with Van Dyke points in a caramel colored print. The apron is barely over 4 inches long top to bottom!
 
 
A great many frozen Charlottes are dressed with a gathered tube and some trim added.  These are usually sewn on the doll after they are gathered on her.  I have a number of dolls costumed this way, Keep in mind the many sleeve shapes and lengths that can be used.  Bits of tatting or other trim can vary the look as will the addition of a cape or shaped apron.
 
This early doll is most unusual. The head looks like a milliner's doll having a papier mache shoulder head.  Not so.  The complete torso and head are made in one piece of wood. Some few dolls were made like this with mache or something similar molded around the wooden core of the head. That type is sometimes termed an alien head. This entire head appears to me to be made of wood as everywhere the finish coat of gesso is scuffed the wood is right there for her nose and hair and so on.  I believe her to be a transitional type  and a laboriously constructed one of which there would not have been many before the millions of papier mache heads were made.  The torso and head are all that we got. Jack carved arms and legs and I added cloth to hold them in place with out any glue or nails or such. The hair style is from the 1830's as you can see.
 




These dresses look alright on medium to small dolls. My large Sophia is dressed this way, better than not dressed maybe, but I think the tube dress is clumsy looking on her.  Have fun experimenting with simple sewing and great old calico.  e

 
 

 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Fredericksburg Cupboard?

Several times a month or even several times a week when other things are not crowding in, I stop by our local Hospice thrift store.  So often I pick up nothing or just a magazine or so, (art magazines a favorite) and wander out wondering why I bother. But about twice a year I come out grinning and I know why I go there!   Today is such a day! 
My friend Linda is working on her home and has said she needs more closet space, having taken one for a little office.  "A good old wardrobe would be a great help, but when would I ever get one?" 

So here it is and I just walked up on it and called her to come quickly. This one is constructed with wooden pegs and looks to be Texas German, likely local here as it has been in a shed where dirt dobbers have built many nests inside. If it had been in the hands of a collector or dealer it likely would have been cleaned at least somewhat and then of course might have been hauled from anywhere similar pieces were made. 

The wardrobe has only one very old coat of gray paint on the outside, and shows its long leaf pine inside and on the back.  Its small size makes it so much more usable than the often huge ones.   This one is barely taller than Linda herself.  Opening the door reveals the original peg rack in the upper back, with dear old hand made pegs to hang garments.  The piece is entirely undisturbed and needs just cleaning and tightening of one loose board low in front.  Linda is as thrilled with it as I knew she would be!  Gray stoneware and baskets will look wonderful on the broad top, and Linda has loads of those.  
edyth, doing the happy dance!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Make do for the big Motschmann head


Read more about her and see lots of pictures  on Maida Today.  Thank all of you who commented on this doll, she seems loved by many!  edyth  http://www.maidatoday.com/2014/07/a-motschmann-variation.html

Photos Paula took visiting me in Fredericksburg!


Paula and Brian Walton visited Fredericksburg before returning to CT after the UFDC Convention in San Antonio last week.  These photos show some of their stops while they enjoyed this great little tourist town.  Hope you  will follow the link to see this, plus a number of doll photos.  e

http://izannahwalker.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/izzybelle-visits-fredricksberg-the-final-chapter-of-izzy-b-s-travel-log/


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mouse needed

Here is the tall case clock I purchased yesterday for my doll family. The height is 44 inches. It is pictured here on my dining table with a full size old American painted clock in the back ground, as well as with a group of dolls.

If you like old clocks see Peggy Flavin's outstandingly lovely example here:
http://peggyflavin.blogspot.com/2014/04/eugenia-and-sister-elena.html
This post on her blog shows two Queen Ann style dolls playing on the old clock. 

I want a mouse to sit on top of this small clock in the doll's display. Any suggestions for making one email me at joneill816@austin.rr.com. I could stitch a simple one from my rug wool.  What shall I use for stiff whiskers?  A Steiff mouse could be there instead.  e



Monday, July 14, 2014

Doll show in San Antonio today.

  I have never attended a nice antique doll show before , auctions yes, good shows no,  which made today so special!  There is a doll show downtown at the same time as the UFDC convention this week in San Antonio.   I bought a large papier mache boy like one I used to have though a size or so smaller and a little Goodyear hard rubber head dating perhaps 1855 to 1860,  a  contemporary of my American pressed linen head dolls.  I also bought a tall clock (not antique but well made) the size of my other favorite doll furniture Jack made.  A small old doll quilt and a little blue striped dress were easy additions. 
A very large Steiff bear, signed, came home but is too large for the case I wanted to put him in. One of the replicas of a few years back, this one is the cream colored Margaret Strong bear in the largest size.   He looks a lot like my replica 1906, lost in the house fire. That bear I called Elvis because he said to me in a deep bear voice “I wanna be your teddy bear”.   This one I  call Rowbear for the show promoter. 




 As there were 5 bags, most heavy, It took two extra people to get me out of the hotel and onto the sidewalk.  It was a parade with Rowbear the bear looking over the top of his sack.   There was one spectacular big fashion doll there  shown with her owner, Val of Val Star Antiques in IL.     It was my favorite doll for best in the show.




 
In this picture in front of the Ida Gutsel cloth boy, see the tiny shoulder head? I did not see it till I lifted the Gutsel boy out to look at him and then saw the early little Goodyear head!

 I could not leave the clock, it keeps time and chimes from a battery run works.  Close ups of my purchases will be posted soon. 
I had a good time visiting with people,  met a friend of Dixie Redmond's.  A lady came up to me at the show and said are you Edyth? I said yes.  She is Terri  from another Texas town.  She said I recognized you from your pictures on your blog, love the blog etc.. She is a great fan of Dixie's and Kathy Patterson’s and Peggy Flavin’s,  and had a doll by Lone Pierette  in her booth for sale.  Lone is a great doll maker in Denmark. I enjoyed running into an internet friend.  Dixie has woven a great web of us together round the world making and enjoying dolls together.   e
 
 

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