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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Such a lot of dolls to look after

While my great grandchildren seem bent on demolishing their Barbies,  I spend time now and then making mine neater.  Too hot to work on my sun porch, this is what my dining table looks like.

 A beautiful Voit child with the classic leather body was an expensive doll impressively  dressed  but when I examined her I found that someone had used a dab of glue to hold her wig on, and then later someone took the wig loose and a spot of the dolls' finish was  torn away. I have meant to fix that for years.  My favorite compound for mending papier mache dolls is Elmer's wood filler. It dries a nice color too that matches the doll's composition.    A dab of the filler, left to dry an hour and then sanded, and painted with black  Liquitex artists acrylic tube paint Leaves the black pate in nice order again.

While the pretty but not really proper dress is off, the doll's beautiful white kid body is more exposed and I can see that the gussets of the elbows are very fragile.  After all this body dates approximately 1845. Some would say 1830.   I am wrapping the mid arm with inch wide strips of bias cut muslin, my standard  solution for many dolly ills.  The elbows will no longer flex as I move the doll about and dress her, but neither will the old leather give up and pour out the saw dust which will eventually rot the whole thing.   Wrapping like this does not use pins or glue (horrors) or any thing damaging to the old dolly.  A few stitches hold it in place.

The unders on this doll were never really made for her. The chemise is a full size child's garment, just folded and pinned with safety pins to hold it on the doll.  The waist band of the pantalets lacks a lot of meeting around her chubby middle.  I will look through my stash of doll unders and see if I can do better for her. Meanwhile I can rinse these nice little garments and add them to the stash till needed.

Agnes is another big heavy girl. She has sat around waiting some little touches and finally I have made the changes that make her more attractive. Presentation really  is everything!    She needed shoes which I fitted for her, and a petticoat which was lacking, and I shortened one from the stash  by making a big hand stitched  tuck all the way around, hiding it under the broad band of tucks.  I made undersleeves of old tule for her arms.
While working with Agnes I have to be careful that she does not clap her heavy china hands together and break them!  Jackie found Agnes for me early one morning at Brimfield.

Today a child size dress came from ebay.  Look at the box!  We are glad a doll or a painting was not inside as it looks like it was run over by a vehicle.  The dress is fine and Lucy likes it ever so much.

All in all a pleasant day working on the doll family.  e


  1. I received my Pockets and Roll Ups book and am absolutely thrilled with it. It is so well written, photographed and the patterns are easy to follow. I am also so happy that you signed it, that is such a bonus. I will treasure this book and will soon start making my own roll ups from some cutter quilt tops. I had no idea this book existed, even though I have been reading your blog for years. I guess I'm not very observant. But I'm happy to have it now.

  2. My great granny made my grandma a doll from a kit I suppose in the 20's She looks a lot like Agnes. She is named Nellie after my GG. She has hand stitched clothes with the tiniest hsndstitched buttonholes. Granny had 11 children so she was a sewing whiz. In a few days she would have been 118, but she went to the Lord 14 years ago. I love having Nellie in my sewing room to keep me company and remind me of my two Grannys.
    Agnes is so lovely. Her new clothes are quite fitting. It wouldn't take much for me to start adding a doll or two ...haha. My daughter's American Girls are still all packed up from the 80's. I figure some day a granddaughter can find d that treasure.
    Thanks again for the show & tell. I love it!


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