Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hitty, the Revised Edition

Rachel Field's and Dorothy Lathrop's book, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, was originally published in 1929.  In the 1990's, the story began receiving criticism for not being politically correct, particularly in how former slaves were portrayed.  Other books were similarly criticized, especially Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  Some critics suggested that it is inappropriate for children today to read these books.  I would argue that all books reflect the values and beliefs of the time in which they were written, and that people -- children and adults alike -- can learn much about those times by reading the books that were written in them.

In light of the criticisms, Rosemary Wells wrote a revised version of Hitty, which was published in 1999.  She shortened the length of the book by more than half and completely change the story line in the second half of the book.  The revised version was published as a large format picture book, one that included many colored illustrations drawn by Susan Jefffers.  The Hitty pictured in the illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop very closely resembled the real-life Hitty doll that Rachel Field and Dorothy Lathrop shared.  The Hitty that Susan Jeffers drew was a much younger, more childlike version.  In the first half of the revised version, the descriptions and illustrations of Hitty's clothing remained close to that in the original book.  On the other hand, in the second half, the clothing is unlike anything in the original book.

The first Hitty that I bought was a resin version made by DeAnn Cole, called Hittykins.  DeAnn later made a resin version of the doll in the revised edition, as illustrated by Susan Jeffers, which was then called Hittykins 2.  Planning on making the dresses in Susan Jeffers' illustrations, I bought a Hittykins 2.  She appears in the photo at the left.  Several years have passed since I bought the revised Hitty, whom I named Hitty Hope.  This year, I finally started replicating the outfits in the revised Hitty.  So here they are!

Here is Hitty Hope in her underthings.  Both the chemise and pantaloons are made from Swiss batiste, with an edging of Swiss embroidery.  I threaded two strands of pink embroidery floss through the entredeux on the edging, to simulate the trim shown in the illustration.

In the original book, the child Phoebe Preble sewed Hitty's first dress and underthings.  In the revised edition, it is Phoebe's mother who does the sewing.  This is the dress that Phoebe's mother made for Hitty.  I made the printed fabric by first drawing a block of yellow dots on a red background in Microsoft Word, using the circle template in the drawing tools.  I then copied the block of 4 x 4 dots into Photoshop, miniaturized it, copied the block enough times to get a row that was 12" wide, and finally copied that row enough times to get an image that was 12 x 15".  I printed the image on a piece of batiste ironed onto freezer paper, using my lovely new wide-format printer, and voila! I had the fabric for Hitty's first dress.  The trim at the bottom of the skirt is narrow soutache.  The trim around the yoke is piping that I made from silk charmeuse.  I dyed the silk for the piping and the silk ribbon for the sash, using good old Rit dye.  The cap is made from white batiste, with cotton lace for the trim.  I left the ties longer than in the illustration, as I had enough problems tying a bow that little.

In another illustration, Hitty is shown wearing the Preble dress with a yellow bonnet and green sprigged shawl.  I made the print for the shawl in Microsoft Word.  I found an illustration of a fabric that had green sprigs online, copied one of those sprigs into Word, miniaturized it, and then copy-and-pasted it into the pattern seen in the shawl.  The green lines at the border of the shawl were made with the drawing tools in Word.  I printed the shawl onto a piece of cotton voile, thinking that the very sheer, thin voile would drape nicely over Hitty's shoulders.

Here is a closeup of Hitty's yellow bonnet.  I made the pattern for the bonnet from regular printer paper, trying it several times to get the size and shape just right.  The bonnet itself is made from wool felt that I bought on Etsy and is trimmed with a length of silk charmeuse bias that I dyed red.  The ribbon in the hat band and bow is silk satin ribbon, dyed yellow to match the trim of the dress.

In the original Hitty, the text mentioned that Hitty had an everyday Quaker dress, but there was no illustration of it.  The revised version provided the illustration.  So here is Hitty's everyday dress appropriate for a little Quaker doll.  I made the print for this dress in the same way as for the Preble dress.  Hitty has a fichu of white batiste with rows of tucks, which took me some experimentation to figure out how to handle the tucks in the back.  She wears the fichu with a white batiste apron and a little demure Quaker cap.  The cap is made from the same pattern as the cap with the Preble dress, but the Quaker cap is trimmed with a fabric ruffle rather than French lace.

In addition to a suitable Quaker dress for everyday wear, in the revised edition Hitty had a Quaker "best dress" for wear to First Day Meetings and on special occasions.  When looking to replicate the Quaker best dress, I faced a dilemma, for there were two distinct versions in the revised book, differing mainly in the style of the bodice.  The illustration above shows my compromise between the two.  My version is made of satin batiste, which has a bit of a sheen to it suitable for a best dress.  The buttons are tiny 2mm seed pearls.  The Quaker bonnet was made in the same fashion as the yellow Preble bonnet, also from wool felt.

This is the dress that appears on the cover of the revised edition.  It appears nowhere on the inside pages.  This is one of my favorites, because I think the color looks so good on Hitty, with her dark hair.  I dyed the fabric for this dress, using satin batiste.  There is a narrow cotton lace at the neckline and wrists, and again the buttons are 2mm seed pearls.

This is the dress that Hitty wore in the antique shop, in the last chapter of the story.  It is also one of the dresses on which I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out exactly how I was going to accomplish replicating it.  At first I was going to try to find fabric that had incredibly narrow blue stripes on a white background.  Then I decided that the dress was probably supposed to represent a white-on-white fabric, like a dimity, which is the fabric that I ended up using.  The lace yoke is made from val laces that I cut apart just to get the narrow bands of lace dots -- in 3 different sizes.  I never did find a lace that would work for the pointed edging, and ended up using a lace that had rounded points that weren't as wide as those in the illustration.

The illustration of the back view shows a different color ribbon than that used in the front view.  The ribbon that I used was a closer match to the front view than the back view.  The skirt trim is different in the front and back views, as well.  The front view has 4 ribbon bands; the back view has 2 bands plus lace trim around the bottom.  I went with the back view on that one.  This dress also illustrates some of the differences between an illustration and an actual dress made for a 6-1/2 inch doll.  One difference is that there is no closure at all on the lace yoke, which brings up the question of how was Hitty able to put the dress on?  Another difference is that the ribbon sash in the illustration is very drapeable, even with the double ties.  That just didn't work with the satin ribbon that I used.  I wonder what type of ribbon would make those lovely drapeable double loops on a 6-1/2" doll?

This last dress is the one worn by Hitty to the Cotton Exposition in the revised edition of the book.  It is out-of-order in my listing here, as Hitty wore this dress before the one she wore in the antique shop, described above.  I saved the Cotton Exposition for last partly because it was the last one that I made, but mostly because it was the most elaborate and the most difficult to make.  In the revised edition, the beads on the dress are supposed to be black pearls.  The beads in the illustration are a medium to light shade of gray, which are lighter than black pearls actually would be.  Because black pearls were way out of my price range, I used beads made of hematite.

Here is a closeup view of the skirt.  While the skirt in the illustration is much wider than the one that I made, by my calculations, the illustration skirt has 8 embroidered flowers around, while the one I made actually had one more, 9 flowers.  My skirt is 12 inches in circumference, and I had difficulty getting all 12 of those inches gathered into Hitty's much smaller waist.  There is no way that I could have added in a greater length of fabric around without resorting to cartridge pleating to gather the waist.  I also simplified the beading a bit.  I tried replicating the beading pattern exactly, but it became too much visually.  The flowers and the pink scallops on the skirt were done on my embroidery machine.

Finally, here is a closeup of the bodice and the headpiece.  The scallops on the bodice and sleeve were all done on the embroidery machine, which does much more even work than I can do by hand.  The beading pattern on the bodice follows the illustration nearly exactly.  The beading pattern in the headpiece is also pretty close to that in the illustration.  However, in the illustration, the beads are gray only around their perimeters, and so appear much lighter against Hitty's dark hair than my hematite beads do.

So that is the tale of Hitty Hope, who wears the clothing shown in the illustrations of the revised edition of Hitty: Her First Hundred Years.

No comments: