Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prudence: Hitty Dressed as a Bride

In Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, midway through the story Hitty travels to New Orleans, where she ends up in the possession of two elderly gentile ladies, Miss Hortense and Miss Annette.  They came from an old, distinguished family and had fallen on hard times after the Civil War.  The ladies had been given the challenge of dressing Hitty to be displayed at the Cotton Exposition.  After much deliberation, they decided to use an old family wedding handkerchief to make Hitty a bridal gown.

When I was making the outfits for my first Hitty, Faith, replicating the clothes in the illustration of the original book, I first thought I would make the bridal gown for Hitty Faith.  I came to realize, though, that the bridal gown was so elaborate and would be so intricate to make that I would never want to take it off the doll.  Consequently, I decided to buy a doll specifically to wear the bridal gown.  The doll I choose was one made by Susan Sirkis, and is shown here in all her unadorned glory. She is almost an inch taller than the traditional Hitty, which I thought would be an advantage in making the bridal gown.  I named her Prudence, as I hoped she would be prudent in marrying.

I knew that the very full skirt of the bridal dress would require some support underneath, so I first made Prudence a hoop skirt.  I used thin hat wire for the hoops.  The vertical bands and waistband were made from 1/4" twill tape.

Next, Prudence would need a petticoat, to smooth out the ridges the hoop skirt wires would make.  I made the petticoat of white cotton batiste, adding a self-fabric ruffle around the bottom.

Below is the illustration of Hitty dressed as a bride from the original book and a photo of the bridal gown that I made:
The dress was made from a voile-weight cotton from Farmhouse Fabrics, called Swiss muslin, and from embroidered cotton tulle that I bought at the Little Trimmings website.  The silk tulle for the veil also came from Little Trimmings.  The paper roses trimming the dress and veil were from Mini-Dolls.

For the ruffles on the underskirt, I cut strips of Swiss muslin and ironed them folded in half.  The folded edge became the bottom of the ruffle.  I then used a 1" scale Perfect Pleater to make the ruffles.  My secret to getting the ruffles to hold their shape was to spray the strips with hair spray before inserting in the Perfect Pleater.  I made a bell-shaped lining and slip stitched the ruffles to it, bottom edge first.  The second row of ruffles overlapped the row underneath, to hide the raw edge of the lower ruffle.  Five such ruffles formed the underskirt.  The tulle of the lace is cotton, while the embroidery was done with rayon thread, giving the lace a little shimmer.

The sleeves are made from the same lace as the overskirt.  The sleeves are bell-shaped, with the back of the sleeve a little longer than the front.  The bodice is covered with a different version of embroidered cotton tulle.  The ruffle at the top of the bodice is 1/8" wide, made of Swiss muslin folded double.  The necklace is 2 mm seed pearls, purchased on the Gail Wilson website.  I can think of nothing else to write, except that it took three tries to get the bodice to come to a nice point at the center front.  I wasn't going to mess up anything on this dress!

So this is the end of my Hitty project.  Originally, it was going to be one doll and a room or two.  It ended up being six dolls, two rooms, and a ton of clothes.  I keep thinking up new projects, the number of which feels overwhelming.  I've been working lately on bringing some of my doll projects to completion, which feels wonderful!  There is, however, one last thing for Hitty not yet done.  I still need to find some twigs to put in the basket by the fireplace in the sitting room.  But I think I might leave that to do in 2016.

No comments: