Tuesday, May 8, 2012

McGuffey Ana, a Doll of the 1930's

The Alexander Doll Company, founded in 1923, is still in operation today.  In 1928, a high quality line of dolls were produced and advertised as "Madame Alexander," which is the name now commonly associated with their dolls.  Alexander dolls were produced with only a few different face molds, the doll's originality lying in the various costumes.

The McGuffey Ana dolls were made from 1937 to 1943 and came in sizes from 9 inches to 22 inches tall.  They were made with the Princess Elizabeth face mold.  All were made of composition and had sleep eyes, except for the smallest 9-inch dolls.  The dolls (except for the 11 inch) had open mouths with tiny teeth showing.  They usually came with a braided wig.  McGuffey Ana dolls were dressed in old-fashioned dresses, often with pinafores.  They wore high-top two-button shoes.

My McGuffey Ana has "13" incised on her upper back.  She has brown sleep eyes and blonde hair in the characteristic braids with curly bangs.  In the photo at the left, she is shown wearing the dress in which she came to me.  It is an original McGuffey Ana dress, with a label so stating attached to the back neckline.  It is very possible that this dress originally came with a pinafore.  The shoes are replicas that I made from brown leather.

This photograph shows McGuffey Ana in her original combination.  It is a slip with a little eyelet ruffle.  The slip has attached underpants, which also have the eyelet ruffle.  The slip closes in the back with a safety pin.  The underclothing of early 20thcentury dolls often did not have any applied closures, such as buttons or snaps.

I decided to make a small wardrobe for my McGuffey Ana by replicating original McGuffey Ana outfits for which I found photographs on the Internet.  All of the dresses have high waists and full skirts.  All but one have short puffed sleeves.  The most often used trim was rick-rack sewn so that only one side of points showed on the outside.  Here is the first outfit that I made:

 This replica is a red plaid dress with puff sleeves and red rick-rack trim at the neckline.  Over it is worn a white dimity check pinafore, with white rick-rack trim at the neckline and on the edge of the sleeve ruffles.  The dimity that I used is not as transparent as the original.  Both garments close in the back with snaps.

 The second replica is a peach cotton dress with puff sleeves and white rick-rack trim at the neckline.  The accompanying pinafore is a pink rosebud cotton print that has a square neckline and sleeve ruffles.  The peach color of the dress isn't quite the right shade, but it will have to do.

Next is a light green gingham check dress with long straight sleeves that have white cuffs with lace trim.  The dress has a white Peter Pan collar with lace trim and a green silk ribbon sash that ties in a bow at the back.  Again, the colors aren't quite right, but I like the match between the sash and dress fabric color better in my replica than in the original.  The hat that my McGuffey Ana is wearing is also a replica.

The next replica is a blue-flowered cotton dress with puff sleeves and blue rick-rack trim at the neckline.  The puff sleeves on this dress have a little self ruffle.  The pinafore is white organdy with white rick-rack at the neckline and white organdy eyelet flounces around the armhole.
The next dress is made of brown striped cotton.  It has puff sleeves and brown rick-rack trim at the neckline.  This pinafore is constructed in a different manner from the previous ones.  Rather than a full bodice, front and back, this organdy pinafore has a bib in front, with eyelet flounces extending down to the waistband.  The back ties with organdy sashes.
 The final outfit that I replicated is a pink dress with puffed sleeves and pink rick-rack trim at the neckline.  With it was an organdy pinafore.  Rather than make another plain pinafore, I chose a piece of organdy eyelet embroidery with which to make the pinafore's skirt, with matching sleeve flounces.  This pinafore is constructed in the same way as the pinafore for the brown striped dress.  The organdy eyelet embroidery has lovely lily of the valley flowers above a scalloped eyelet border.  I found the eyelet at Farmhouse Fabrics and have been saving it for something special.  This is it!
On the left above is a picture of a hat that I found on the Internet, which said that it was an original McGuffey Ana hat.  I made a quasi-facsimile of it, shown on the right.  The flowers that I had on hand for doll hat-making are not quite as elaborate as the flowers on the original, but they are the same color combination.  
Lastly, the photos above show the trunk that I made in which to store McGuffey Ana's clothes.  It is a modified version of the McCall's pattern for an American Girl doll trunk and is made with foamcore board covered with cloth.  The inside has a rod for hanging McGuffey Ana's dresses and a drawer for her accessories.

My First Doll

This is the first doll that I ever made.  He is a Pilgrim, the result of a class project in second grade.  He is made of newspaper and painted white, most likely with tempera paint.  My classmates made clothes for their Pilgrims from construction paper, but my teacher, who knew that my mother was teaching me to sew, suggested that I sew an outfit for my Pilgrim.  And so I did.

The construction is a bit primitive.  The seams are all on the outside, with very large stitches.  There are no hems, but the pants do have cuffs.  He sports a construction paper belt with a very large buckle, as well as collar and cuffs that once were white.

My poor dear Pilgrim is rather dilapidated, but considering that he is nearly 60 years old, he has every right to be.  There once was also a Pilgrim woman, a helpmate for my Pilgrim man, but she was lost in time.  The Pilgrim man survived, a treasure from my childhood, the first in a long line of dolls that I have loved.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Carina: A Lenci Doll of the 1920's

Carina is a reproduction of a 1920's molded felt doll, made by the Italian firm of Lenci.  The Lenci company was begun in Turin, Italy in 1919 by Elena Konig Scavini, whose nickname was Lenci.  Lenci dolls are made of felt, with pressed felt faces that were usually then oil painted.  The dolls became very popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  In 1939, Madame Lenci sold her company to her director, Garella.  Many of the dolls made by Lenci represented children, some made with pouty faces.  Usually, the eyes were glancing to the side, which has become known on the American market as “flirty eyes.”  Other dolls made by Lenci represented adults, some representing historic or living people, others representing a variety of nationalities.
Feltpro (www.feltpro.net) sells a kit for making a reproduction Lenci doll.  The picture at the left is from their website, and shows two of their reproduction Lenci dolls.  The bodies are made of felt that is sewn together and stuffed.  The arms and legs are jointed, and the head swivels.  The face is made of pressed felt, which is sewn to the head back and the whole is stuffed.  The face is then painted and a wig applied.
The photo at the left is the Lenci that I made from a Feltpro kit.  (This picture was taken with my old, on-its-last-legs camera.)  Making the doll was definitely a learning experience!  As can be seen in the photo, my Lenci turned out to be quite a bit plumper in the midsection that the photo from the Feltpro website.  When they say to stuff the doll firmly, I stuff firmly!

At the left is a sketch of a doll from the 1927 Lenci catalog, whose outfit I chose to replicate.  This outfit, as many of the Lenci doll clothing, was made from felt.  The plaid skirt fabric was made by piecing together felt squares and rectangles.  I tried to find felt thin enough to piece together, but was unsuccessful.  In addition, my doll, standing at 15 inches tall, is considerably shorter than the original Lenci dolls, and that may have been a factor.  So I decided to use cotton velveteen, which was as close to looking like felt as I could get and still be able to use the same construction techniques as in the original clothing.
 Here is my finished Lenci reproduction.  The white and magenta velveteens are from Farmhouse Fabrics.  The skirt is pieced together from squares of white velveteen and bands of magenta, and then navy blue soutache is stitched on top to make the plaid fabric.  It looks as if the vertical bands of magenta get narrower toward the top, but they do not.  The effect is due to the skirt being gathered onto the bodice, which pulls in the tops of those vertical bands.  The collar and sleeve cuffs are made from the white velveteen, and the blue bow at the neckline is made from the soutache. The shoes are modeled after those made for the original Lenci dolls.  They are made from the same magenta velveteen as the dress.  The ribbon ties for the shoes and for the bonnet are hand-dyed silk ribbons.  The bonnet is modeled after those worn by many Lenci dolls.  The doll in the sketch that I replicated did not have a bonnet, but my doll’s hair was a bit unruly and I thought a bonnet would help.
Here is a close-up of my Lenci reproduction’s face.  I named her Carina.  Cara means “dear” or “beloved” in Italian; Carina thus means “little dear.”  I do think that this doll is a little dear, so the name fits.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sasha: A Doll of the 1970's

Sasha dolls were created by Swiss doll artist Sasha Morgenthaler, who was born in 1893 and died in 1975.  The dolls were first produced in Germany, by Götz (1965-1969 and 1995-2001) and then in the United Kingdom, by Trendon (1966-1986).  According to Wikipedia, Sasha dolls are "characterized by their individualism, their realistic expressions, their unique color, and the extreme attention to detail in the manufacture of the dolls as well as their clothes."  Sasha is made of hard plastic, with elastic stringing that enables her to hold poses.  She is also able to stand without the aid of a doll stand.  Sasha is 16" tall and has the same relative body proportions as a young girl. 

Sasha was one of the many dolls that my daughter had in her childhood in the 1970s.  A few years ago, I bought a brunette Sasha to represent the 1970s in my doll collection.  The clothing sold for Sasha was so well made and so enchanting that I was enticed into collecting them for my Sasha, rather than sewing clothes for her myself.  In addition to the things I bought, I did end up knitting a few things for Sasha. One of the things that I find amusing is that, with a few exceptions, Sasha's color palette is red, white and blue.  She is a patriotic doll!  Here is her wardrobe:

Here is Sasha in her iconic blue checked yoke dress.  This was the dress most often sold on Sasha.  It is the dress in which my daughter's Sasha came.  There are two snaps at the back yoke and a snap on each sleeve cuff.  Underneath her dress she wears blue checked bloomers.  The socks are replacements, but the shoes are original to Sasha.

Here she is in her navy blue cord yoke dress.  This style was one of the first ones mass produced for Sasha.  This is a later version, as it has Velcro closures.  Underneath Sasha wears blue cord short pants.

Sasha is wearing her blue dancing dress.  This is the dress in which she came to me.  The dress has a sash that ties in a bow in the back.  Sasha also came wearing white tights, as seen in the photo.  She should be wearing her dancing shoes, which can be seen later on in the photo of her ballet ensemble.

Here Sasha is wearing what I call the white ruffle dress.  It has ruffles at the armholes and at the hem.  There is a separate sash that ties in a bow at the back.

Sasha is wearing her white pintuck dress.  The pintucks are difficult to see in the photo, but there are vertical pintucks down both the front and back of the dress, as well as horizontal pintucks at the lower edge.  The cuffs and collar all have small gathered ruffles.  Sashas who came in this outfit had center snap black shoes.  As my Sasha does not own such a pair, she is wearing her original black slip-on shoes.

Here is Sasha wearing the slip that came with the pintuck dress.  It is good to have a slip to wear under a white dress, to prevent any embarrassing see-through during the photo shoot. 

Here Sasha is wearing a pink short-sleeve yoked dress, which has deep vertical pleats on the lower portion.  The separate belt closes with Velcro, as does the back of the yoke.  The little Peter Pan collar is white.  This is one of my favorite outfits.  Sashas who came in this outfit wore knee socks and black Oxfords, as does my Sasha here.

Sasha is wearing her school girl uniform.  The patch on the upper right of the jumper is the Trendon emblem.  The white long-sleeved shirt closed with snaps down the center front and at the cuffs.  Sasha wore white knee socks and black oxfords with her uniform.  It originally came with a black tie belt, which was missing from the one that I bought.

Here is Sasha in her mariner's outfit.  It has a white sleeveless blouse under the middy shirt.  It is supposed to have a black tie, but it also is missing.  The skirt came with large stains, but I was able to soak them clean.  The skirt is open completely down the back, but has a large overlap, for modesty's sake.  Sasha is wearing her white knee socks and black Oxfords with her mariner's outfit.

Sasha is now wearing her red Scottish kilt with a white fisherman's knit sweater.  She looks like she is ready for the Highland games!

This is one of Sasha's more casual outfits.  The A-line jumper is made of red denim, which looks pinkish in the photograph.  The jumper straps snap closed at the front.  There is also a snap on the right side under the arm, to give room in getting it on and off. The short-sleeve shirt is navy blue check.  In accord with the casual look, Sasha is wearing her brown sandals.

Here is another casual look.  This dress was sold as a smocked dress, but the "smocking" is just two rows of slightly gathered white stitching.  Sasha wears a matching pair of shorts underneath, which are definitely needed as the dress is very short.  She is wearing a straw hat, which I was told when I bought it that it was sold by Trendon for Sasha.  I'm not sure about that, but it does fit her.

Continuing the casual theme, here is Sasha in what I call her French sailor's outfit.  It does have a rather French look to it.  The light blue top is denim and is very stiff on her.  The jeans have a leatherette belt, which is needed, as the waist of the jeans is too big.  Sasha is wearing her white Oxfords, which rather look like boat shoes, as well as her red beret.

Sasha is now wearing her brown cord farmer's pants.  Originally it came with a white cotton short-sleeve shirt, but mine did not, so Sasha is wearing a white T-shirt with the farmer's pants, as well as her brown sandals.  This is another iconic Sasha outfit, first made in the 1960's.  She looks very comfortable in it!

This is another of my favorite outfits It is a summer play outfit, with a pair of blue cotton shorts, a matching hat, and a white cap-sleeve T-shirt.  It also came with a pair of red and white striped socks to wear with white Oxfords, but the socks are so thick that it is impossible to get the shoes on over them.  The outfit also came with a blue-and-white striped tote bag, in which Sasha carries her swimming suit.

Sasha in her red and navy striped swimming suit is ready to take the plunge!  The suit is cut low in the back, down to her waist.  This is the only time that Sasha got to go barefoot.

Sasha is a budding ballerina.  She does have problems doing pliés, though, as her knees do not bend.  Here she is wearing her dancing shoes, which have ties long enough to cross in front and then encircle her ankles, as true ballet shoes do.  The leotard is supposed to have a white tutu, but mine came without.

Here Sasha is wearing the ballet cape that came with the outfit.  The cape is sewn part way up under the arms, to form sleeves of a sort.  It is bound in black and has a small collar.

In cold weather, Sasha wears her red duffle coat.  She can pull up the hood to keep even warmer.  The coat has two small brass buttons for closures.   The duffle coat came with a pair of black leatherette boots, but try as I might, I could not get them on her.  So instead, she is wearing her jeans and black Oxfords.

In rainy weather, Sasha can wear her navy vinyl raincoat with matching rain hat.  The coat snaps closed with two white snaps.  It came with a pair of white boots.

In the 1970's, the Golden Hands Encyclopedia of Crafts was published in 98 weekly installments, which covered a wide variety of needlecrafts.  I purchased all 98 installments and made quite a few of the projects in them.  In four issues there were projects to knit or crochet for Sasha.  I had plans to make those outfits for my daughter's Sasha, but never got around to it.  I've now made some of them for my current Sasha.

In the U.S. version of Golden Hands, this was called a party dress.  In the U.K., it was a nightgown.  In the magazine, it was knit in yellow, with a white ribbon and white lace at the hem.  The skirt has a simple lace pattern and the bodice is knit throughout.  I've put a French blue ribbon through the eyelets, with a matching ribbon for Sasha's hair.

The pattern for the party dress came with a matching coat.  The sleeves are in the same lace pattern as the skirt.  There is a single-button closing at the front of the high waistline.

Here is a peasant's outfit from Golden Hands.  The shaped A-line skirt has a knit-in waistband.  The bib has long straps that cross in the back.  The blouse has lace gathered lower sleeves, a high knit collar and buttons in the back.  The knit babushka, which were very stylish in the 1970's, has the same striped pattern as the skirt and bib and has a knit lace edging.  I knit this outfit in the same color combination as the original in Golden Hands.

This Aran-style sweater is also from a pattern in Golden Hands.  In the same issue there was also directions for a pair of bell-bottom pants and a long vest to be worn over the sweater.  I haven't knit the vest or pants yet, as I haven't figured out what color would be appropriate for the 1970's but not look too awful.  I made up the pattern for the little knit cap myself.
I modified the Golden Hands sweater pattern to make this Fair Isle sweater and cap for Sasha.  It actually is a mock Fair Isle knitting pattern.  In true Fair Isle, two colors are used to knit each row, with the alternating use of those colors forming the pattern.  For this sweater, each row was knit with just one color, but the colors changed row by row.  The pattern was made by knitting some stitches on the row but not knitting other stitches, rather just moving them from one needle to the other.  This method gives a miniature Fair Isle effect, the right size for a doll's sweater.

I am trying very hard not to be enticed into buying any more outfits for Sasha.  There are a few pieces missing for the outfits that I already have, which I would like to find.  These include the white shirt that goes with the farmer's pants, the white tutu for the ballet outfit, the black belt for the schoolgirl uniform and the black tie for the mariner's outfit.  I do not hold out much hope for finding the last three.  I imagine that the tutus, made of fragile net and designed to attach and detach for the leotard, did not often survive the young owners' childhoods.  The black belt and black tie, once separated from their respective outfits, are not easily identifiable as Sasha clothing.  On the other hand, I do have yarn and patterns to knit a few more sweaters and caps for Sasha.  In fact, I did knit one other set, a red-and-white Icelandic style sweater.  Nearly every row was knit with two colors, which I find very exacting.  I knit the cap first and it fit Sasha just right.  I knit the sweater next and when finished, I discovered that it was far too small, fitting her skin tight -- not quite the look I wanted!  I bought more red and white yarn, but haven't had the heart yet to knit that sweater again.  One day, though  . . . .


May 10, 2015

I found and/or replace most of the missing items, plus bought one additional outfit.  Here they are:

 My big find was an original tutu for the ballet ensemble.  The elastic at the waist of the tutu was shot, so I replaced it.  It attaches via Velcro to the center front of the leotard, keeping it in place.  It is four layers of white tulle gathered on the elastic.

I was missing the belt for the schoolgirl uniform, but had no hope of ever finding an original without having to buy the entire outfit again.  So I bought some 1/2" black twill tape to make a replacement.  I don't think that the twill tape has the same heft as whatever was used for the original belt, but it is black and fits around Sasha's waist.

I had the same problem with the necktie for the mariner's outfit and solved it the same way.  The replacement tie is 1/4" black twill tape, which I think makes a fairly decent necktie.  I'm not sure why Trendon put a black tie on a navy shirt, as it doesn't show up very well.  I'd have gone with a red tie if I were the designer.

The new outfit that I found are a set of nightclothes for Sasha.  The photo shows the nightgown and slippers.  The nightgown gathers with a ribbon at the neckline and is made of cotton.  The design is utter simplicity.  The slippers are terrycloth and actually remain fairly easily on Sasha's feet.  I wasn't sure that they would.

Lastly, here is Sasha's bathrobe.  One of the things that I find endearing about Sasha's clothing is how typical they are of the clothes that a real child of the 1970's would wear.  My daughter wore clothes similar to many of Sasha's outfits -- unlike the clothes that Barbie dolls wore back then!