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, April 19, 2014

Cut up an early dress?

Absolutely no contest.  When a child's hand stitched garment has survived intact or even mostly so, who am I to destroy it as an antique forever!  Most of my larger dolls wear old clothing that I have carefully hand tucked or softly hemmed or otherwise altered to look right on the dolls, using long loose stitches easy to back out. 
Pictured here is an infant's long dress from the mid 19th century made of  the ubiquitous "double pink" which was and is so pretty on a child or a doll. To use on my doll it needed to be shortened by many inches. I turned up a neat hem and never mind that it is 8 inches wide.  I did not iron the hem in, but just softly ran it though my fingers to press it the least bit so it hangs nicely.  I have taken pictures inside to show the simple construction, just two rectangles with the top corners cut away, then sleeves applied that are each a simple ruffle the same width for its whole length.
Now here is the temptation, look at the doll and see that like so many the upper arms are not pretty and should be covered. Ah, part of the 8 inch hem would do nicely to fabricate longer undersleeves to give a great look! But I cannot cut it so undersleeves will have to wait and be made later of soft white goods.  I am watching now for an apron to tie around her middle.

This doll, an early glass eyed papier mache head made by Andreas Voit about 1845 or 50 went through  my house fire in 2005. She is entirely repainted by me as she was blackened, almost charred, by the smoke and fire.  I have kept some of these large glass eyed Voit children anyway, as they will not come my way to buy again. 
This doll head style with her center parted short hair and wispy curls at the sides was doubtless an inspiration for some of the dolls made in this country by Ludwig Greiner. I show one of his earliest dolls marked only with a black stamp "Patent Head"  (ex collection Winnie Langley)  and another slightly later doll with a standard 1858 Greiner label.  Thank you sweet friend Martha for the little cape you crocheted for her.  Her dress is original to her I believe, a nice sheer wool plaid. I have very few dolls in original clothing and I treasure the ones that are.

 This Motschmann baby has her complete original outfit in the cradle with her, including dress Jacket and cap.

 The dolls know a photographer from EAL  is coming next week and they are all aflutter hoping to slip into the pictures.  e


  1. Dear Edyth,
    Happy Easter! I think of you so often and enjoy seeing your beautiful home and garden and most especially your dolls. I will always love the Voit and Greiner dolls. They have long been my favorites. Thank you for sharing and have a blessed Easter. Tricia ♥

  2. P.S. Can't wait to see them in Early American Life. Congratulations!

  3. She is beautiful! As are all the rest. I love the "double pink"--even when it looks like a solid from a distance, the color is soft but not overly subtle.

  4. Edyth ~ The Voit doll needing longer sleeves is a treasure - her expression is so dear and sweet. Cannot wait for the EAL issue
    that will capture your gift for discernment of beauty and placement.
    Your home looks so warm and welcoming.... you do such lovely
    work.....with that little help from Friends.....

  5. Those dolls are adorable and I really like the dresses on them!


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