Monday, 7 March 2011

Jemima and Mary Ellen

Hello dear readers, welcome to this bright and sunny week! Looking back at the first photos I loaded up for this blog post, I was shocked to see how dull and shadowy it was when I took them last week. Hooray for the sun and blue skies!

Over the last week or so, I've been crafting in miniature. Into the HenHouse came a new little lady I decided to give a make over. I've called her Jemima, don't know why but she looks like a Jemima to me. Jemima took up a ridiculously indulgent amount of my time last week!

With Jemima being somewhat more miniature than I expected when I unwrapped her from her brown paper, I found all sorts of things in the Den came in useful which I might not normally use that often: my mini ironing board, perfect for dolly sized clothes; and indeed, the travel iron (which never travels anywhere!) but is brilliant for ironing little things and tight corners.

Goodness me, sewing dolly clothes is an exercise in extreme patience. It's nice though, almost relaxing and soothing (except when things don't go to plan!), which I needed after my busy quilting week. I hunted out all my most cute mini-flowered fabrics and dinky little buttons. Most of the work was hand sewing. Dress making is not my most favourite thing but I have made a handful of garments, enough to know the basics, which I applied on a miniature scale.

Here's Jemima in a skirt which took me the best part of a morning to make! I had seen a maxi dress in a shop window on Oxford Street last week and thought I might make a similar skirt for myself one day, (photo duly snapped with 'phone), with tiers of fabulous flowery fabrics for the skirt. Instead, I ended up making it for Jemima!

But it didn't just stop with Jemima because another little lady was awaiting a make over too! She's become Mary Ellen (her name will prompt a chortle from my family, I know!) She is even smaller than Jemima!

And so my girls started to emerge from their chrysalis (errm, not sure what the plural is?) I loved paying attention to all the little details: beautiful millinery flowers recently bought from VV Rouleaux, pretty velvet ribbons...

..scraps of felt and teeny tiny beads...

...snippets of hand embroidery...

...vintage lace and teeny tiny glass buttons...

Here comes Jemima, resplendant in 1950's Mary Jane style.

And Mary Ellen, everything about her is perfectly "ditsy"!

When these dolls arrived in the post I couldn't help myself from having a laugh! They were a lot smaller than I had imagined, a bit grubby, Jemima's eyes were very faded (looked like she'd had a good night out on the tiles!) and someone had clearly given their locks a trim! But you know, I found this really endearing, indeed love the fact that some little girl somewhere once loved these dollies and took time to play with them and even style them way back when (Mary Ellen is dated 1965, Jemima 1980). I know I did the same myself. I remember cutting my Sindy doll's lustrous long hair and being so upset afterwards. As a die-hard long hair afficionado to this day, I should have known it would be a mistake! But on these girls, I like it, especially on Mary Ellen whose little bob suits her perfectly, I think.

So there you are, I have regressed back into my childhood, rather pleasantly to be honest. Now I must really get on and do all those chores awaiting me, it has felt quite indulgent making over these ladies, I confess.

Oh dear, what to do then, with this even smaller one who begged me to take her home from the vintage jumble sale on Saturday!

Will she make it to the "make over" mantelpiece?


  1. I have to confess that I am not a doll fan at all - but your handy work is lovely! Looks like a lot of patience was needed :o)

  2. Now look at those two lovely ladies, don't they look pretty!

    Victoria xxx

  3. Dolls can freak me out, but I like the way you've gussied these two up, they look most approachable.

  4. Ahhhhhhhh need them! Such fantastic little clothes, wish I had them all for myself!!! very clever and cute and ditzy x
    Nattie x

  5. Jemima and Mary-Elen look very pretty. Were Jemima and Mary-Elen your child hood dolls? You have given me some ideas for dolls clothes - thank you. I loved my dolls as a child, and I have been making dolls clothes for dolls I have to give to Caitlin when she is older.
    Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  6. oh wowza beautiful- even my daughter said look at those pretty dress' sweet x

    lovely photography as always, i love your vintage style ;0)x

    soooo lovely to see the sun!

    x kazzy x

  7. Oh so sweet, now they look lovingly cared for.
    Carol xx

  8. So pretty, love their pretty outfits....oh to be a child again! Dev x

  9. You are so patient Helen! Fabulous result! They both look very pretty!
    Rachel x

  10. You've done wonders with those two, the clothes are lovely, you must give the new "tiny" dollie a makeover too. Lucey xx

  11. Great makeovers. You did a fantastic job on them.

  12. Took me right back- that is how I started dress making-sewing for my dolls, then progressed to sewing for myself.My Grandmother made some gorgeous clothes for a baby doll I had one Christmas and matching bedding.Something so delicious about real things, only tiny.
    The clothes for the baby doll fitted our very patient cat.He looked very sweet in a bonnet and robe under the little quilt in the doll's pram.But he drew the line at bootees and mittens.

  13. I just posted a comment under my husband's i.d.oops! The cat in a hat was mine!

  14. You have done the girls proud - I'm sure they are very happy with their makeovers!
    Lovely to see you & the rest of the family on Saturday. Hope Munchkin's tiger is settling in!


  15. They're both lovely. I remember having dolls like that. I bet that third one is looking on in envy at the other two. Better keep her lying down with her eyes shut til she's had her makeover too!
    Whenever I take dolls and their assorted paraphenalia to vintage fairs it always amazes me how many people comment on how children don't play with dolls these days and also how the children come and want to push the prams and put them in the cots! Let them play I say.

  16. Oh don't they look pretty in their new clothes?

    I used to knit for my dolls when I was little. I did have a toy sewing machine but that's as far as my machine sewing has ever got.

  17. I remember having a doll similar to the one with dark hair and finding myself alone one day with a pair of scissors I did have a day of let's pretend to be a hairdresser! I was then very upset when I realized that it wouldn't grow back and made the doll look ugly! Well done you for making those dolls beautiful again!

  18. Glad i'm not the only nutter who will sit for hours making clothes for Doll's and Teddy's!!,for no reason in particular, other than it's quite fun! They look great sat on your shelf, x
    Sophie x

  19. What pretty, pretty girls. They remind me of dolls from my childhood. They are so lucky to have such beautiful outfits. x

  20. Yes, I remember having dolls like that - and loving dressing them up - and cutting their hair!! You've done them proud!

  21. Very pretty...I think dolls' clothes are quite difficult to make because of the size...very fiddly.
    Love the results!

  22. From the moment I saw these little dollies - looking a little forlorn it has to be said, I read on with anticipation as one by one your photos revealed their makeovers. I found it so lovely seeing their dinkie little clothes pain-stakingly put together. It's the kind of thing I used to really enjoy doing - I used to make wedding dresses, party dresses and ballet outfits for Sylvanian family and dolls. I once clothed a litttle family of bears who were naked and came with an empty picnic basket - which I filled with little cups and plates made out of modelling clay along with food for them to eat. Yes, I am getting carried away with my own memories! This sort of thing is such fun though and your dolls look so cute with their makeovers - I love their little shoes and all the attention to detail. The dresses are just so pretty! Dolls always seem to get haircuts - I did it to several myself and so did my dughter; somehow it doesn't twig that it won't come back! You've really livened up those dolls and I've loved reading about it.

  23. It's funny how a little job turns into a "very long time consuming job ". Well worth it though. ciao Alison

  24. Love the Julie Arkell type vibe going on here! Your patience is clearly greater than mine!

  25. What patience - they look lovely x

  26. Lovely Hen, I love the detail :) x

  27. O wow wow wow they look amazing i love them and your little ra ra skirt i had one in the 80's when i was a little girl i loved that skirt. You have done such an amazing job i want a doll now so i can make some clothes for her ;-)) Beautiful well done you, loved your post, dee x

  28. Brilliant,Hen!

    I remember knitting many trendy (!) outfits for my sister's Sindy doll,when I was quite young!

    But have you seen the book I've just would suit you right down to the ground!!

    Sal ;-) x

  29. I love Mary-Ellen's peach felt slippers, I want some!
    Gosh Hen you really have the patience of a saint!Such a labour of love but all worth it as they look so gorgeous on your mantlepiece. I love all the colours you have put together on
    Mary -Ellen, did I mention that already? (Going bonkers today!)

    Sarah xXx

  30. You have made two sweet dollies even more precious! They look darling on your mantel. Love your Liberty quilt, too! Bess

  31. They look so fabulous now. What great makeovers - I could do with one of those! x

  32. I have one like your smallest one ..she is my Xmas tree Angel Aunt made her for my
    1st birthday so she has just sat on her 51st Xmas tree...lovely blog

  33. Mary Ellen is soooo cute. I recently bought 2 18" dolls, some patterns and fabric to make some doll clothes. Hey, I'm 50 years "young", and feel like playing dolls.


You are warmly encouraged to leave a comment here. Your comments are emailed directly to me so rest assured I read and treasure every one. Thank you for supporting my blog with your comment. X