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.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and bought and sold antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. Some of the posts featuring rug hooking are gathered under the banner For Cathy. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Busy with doll sewing on these very cold days

I know it has been a long time between posts. I have been making replacement bodies for antique doll heads for a few weeks now. I feel if I don't complete these dolls now I might never do it.  So I am pleased as Punch to have this going well. Tonight the 6th one is sitting on the vanity letting her glue dry over night. These last two are labeled Greiner dolls, big girls 33 inches tall. Pictures below of some of my darlings plus the old lady herself in a selfie at 11 tonight.
This tiny china lady with a bun hair do is very choice.



And the little red hen said....

A nice group of chinas all with covered wagon style hair do's


I hope to get a nice large china done before I quit for this round. It already feels so good to have these pretty far along. E
I had an email a little while ago about this post and here is my answer to it:

Hello Pat, Thank you for writing, nice to hear from you.  I need to do a tutorial on making bodies for china and other shoulder heads and put it on YouTube for people to access easily.   I will likely never get to that.  I will try to answer a little of your email here. First I use Morning glory polyfil to stuff the bodies with.  There are other good ones and some not so good.   

 I like plain Elmer’s glue to attach the heads. I leave them a full 12 hours sitting up to dry. I place them on my bathroom vanity on a paper towel in case some excess glue should drip down.  If it does I used too much or in the wrong place where the china is not snug against the stuffed fabric torso..   The shoulder head should fit the torso, not have to be forced down hard over it.  This forcing onto an over full body breaks many a papier mache doll’s shoulders.  When you push on polyfil it pushes back. Never use sawdust, it will eventually rot the fabric it touches, and sooner sometimes than you think.  Real cotton is a great stuffing if you are lucky enough to have that.  Wool feels nice and works well but draws insects and you do not know where the doll might be stored later in its existence, I want to say “life” because they are almost alive to me.

  If needed to keep the head in place, a long strip of bias tape is good to wrap round the doll’s neck to waist and around and back several times and pin in place til dry.  You might keep a piece for this and reuse it.  Be sure to set the head in place well, I work in front of a big mirror so I do not get it crooked or turned up or down.

 I rarely sew through the sew holes of the china head, and if I do, I pull a small piece of ribbon or twill tape through the holes in the shoulder head and sew those down to the front and back of the body. Much better than trying to sew through the holes. This extra safeguard is good for a very heavy or large head.  Put the ribbon or tape in place before gluing on the head, and sew the tape ends down after all is dry.  Of course you can use just the sew holes and no glue.

I am sorry I do not have a good source of china hands and feet to recommend. I will be glad to pass along anything sent in by readers.  They are sometimes available at doll shows.  I have a large supply bought years ago, and I supplement it with porcelain hands and feet from Ebay or RL.   I keep boxes of extra doll parts.  Often they do not fit the one I bought them for and I must try again.  Be sensitive to what is and is not a good style for heads of a given era. Look at a lot of all original dolls.

 The little china hands and feet need to be tightly attached. I sew a sleeve/tube large enough to turn right side out over the piece.  I place for instance a china arm in the sewn sleeve with the wrong side out. On the end of the china arm, I gather a thread and pull it tight and then wrap it twice around the arm keeping the thread in the grove it should have, and knot it.  Then I turn the extra fabric back out of the way and put a tiny line of Elmer’s glue on the end of the china arm. Pulling the fabric back over this to glue it to that edge gives extra insurance against loss later.   Now turn the fabric sleeve right side out and voila! An arm read to stuff lightly and sew in place.   The part of the arm or leg closest to the torso should not have any stuffing, (top of the fabric tube.)  This allows them to fold well. 

    Have a great time with your growing doll family, Edyth


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