Friday, March 13, 2015

Miss Unity, a Hitty-sized doll

UFDC's Miss Unity
The shop on the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) website had a little doll for sale, named Miss Unity, that was just Hitty's size. She was UFDC's logo doll, made by Robert Tonner.  Every now and again, I'd go look at her and think about buying.  But each time, I'd click the X to close the page.  Five Hitty-size dolls was enough, I thought.  And I was running out of room for displaying dolls of any kind.

Then the Spring 2014 issue of UFDC's Doll News had an article by AnneLise Wilhelmsen, with patterns for four outfits for Miss Unity.  There was also a paper doll by Gael Shults, featuring some of the same outfits.  Immediately I went to the UFDC website to buy Miss Unity.  The patterns were the tipping point.  They were in the style of 1830's clothing, and as the story of Hitty in the original book began in the 1820's, Miss Unity would fit right in with my little Hitty family.  I had been looking at Miss Unity on the UFDC website for several years, and I was lucky to have bought her when I did, for she sold out shortly thereafter.

I made four outfits for my Miss Unity.  Three of the dresses are made with print fabrics.  In the early 1800's, the fabric printing process was greatly improved, and prints became very popular.  I went to the Reproduction Fabrics website to find 1830's appropriate prints that I liked and downloaded swatches.  I then miniaturized the prints in Photoshop, to make them a realistic size for Miss Unity.  I then had to copy-and-paste the swatch enough times to print out on a 12x15" sheet of fabric, which was more than enough for each of the dresses.

Here is the first one.  I love the soft blue of this fabric.  I used cotton batiste for the fabric, to keep it as light as possible for the small size of the doll.   I was amazed at the detail in the patterns.  Oftentimes, patterns for dolls this size have the bodice and sleeves in one piece, to simplify construction.  This pattern had a separate sleeve and separate front and back bodices.  It also had princess seaming on the bodice, so there were side back and side front pattern pieces.  In a princess seam, the two pieces to be joined have different curves, one concave and the other convex, which makes joining them a challenge, especially in the bodice for a 6-1/2" doll.  But who doesn't like a good challenge?

The second dress has a fabric pattern borrowed from Reproduction Fabrics.  I was trying to get a darker background color, but when printing on very light, thin fabrics with a computer printer, there's a limit to how much ink will be absorbed and thus a limit to how dark the fabric will become.  A thicker fabric will absorb more ink and thus can appear considerably darker.  I added a belt to this dress, copying the paper doll green print dress.

The third dress has the most complicated design.  The pattern instructions had the skirt pieced, so that the stripes ran vertically in the upper portion of the skirt, and then alternating diagonals around the bottom portion.  As I was printing the fabric for this dress from a computer, I just did all the piecing in Picasa.  The sleeves also have a bit of an elaborate design.  The sleeve heads have 4 rows of barrel pleating.  A narrow piece of the stripe is then sewn over the bottom row of the barrel pleats as a trim.

The fourth dress is my own variation of the Doll News pattern, based on a example of an 1830's woman's dress that I found on the Internet.  It has a gathered bodice with a pink silk sash tied around the raised waistline.  The skirt has Swiss embroidered edging with a large tuck above.

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