I couldn't find a gift I cared to buy for a little girl in our family. After I thought about it for awhile, I remembered I have a pattern for a very simple doll. So, I made one. I only remember making one other stuffed doll-like moose couple, representing Frank and I, of course. Silly, huh? With my limited experience, this doll turned out to be a little more of a project than I envisioned, but it turned out fairly well. The nice thing about it is a two year old doesn't do much of a critique on a home made item. The adults around her might, but she didn't. She just took it to her miniature recliner with her sippy cup and they both watched cartoons together.
I found this pattern at lds.org, here. It has recommendations for fabric and such, but I have always liked to try to make things from what I have on hand. I had some old fabric that has a more open weave pattern than regular cotton, it's almost like a tight weave burlap, and I thought it would work well. It is a little darker brown than I would have chosen if I were shopping, but these scraps have been around for probably 20 years. It's good to get some use from them.
The hardest part of this project was turning the doll right side out after stitching up most of the body. The pattern chooses to leave the opening on the inside of one of the legs which makes sense if you're thinking about limiting visibility of the slip stitched final closure after it is stuffed. But I found it difficult to turn and difficult to stuff the head and arms from this location. For working purposes, it would be much easier to leave the opening on the side of the body instead.
Do you know how many pairs of old, clean panty hose you can get in a small doll like this? I probably used at least 15 pair, which is good, since I have been saving them for quite a while. There aren't many women that wear panty hose any more, but I do. I'm very old fashioned in that I must wear panty hose and a slip with a dress, or I'm just not dressed. And don't look at the feet very close, because one of them turned out bigger than the other, rather noticeably. But when you're playing with a doll and you're two years old, it won't matter, right?
The clothes for this doll are very simple. I decided that every little girl needs some ruffles, so I brought out the bag that has Frank's grandmother's Eastern Star dresses. She gave these to me before she passed away, and I have used bits and pieces in several projects. This gave me a gauzy covering for the little shirt, and a couple of layers, along with another piece of lacy fabric for a ruffledy skirt. It took a bit to get them adjusted correctly, but I liked the way they turned out.
The next challenge was the face and hair. I found it interesting to make the eyelids and nose out of the same body fabric. The recommendation was to make the eye pieces out of felt, but I didn't have any, so I got out my bag of embroidery thread and took a stab at it. It looked pretty funny until I got all of the detail finished, and it turned out better than I imagined. Not great, but okay. The hair was another story. They have several examples of pig tails and baby loops, but I wanted some curly blondish hair to sort of match that of the little girl who was receiving this doll. I got out a big tapestry needle and did a combination of loops and straight cut off pieces of yarn tied in place until I had a nice messy mixture that almost looks like hair if you use your imagination.
It was fun making this doll. All together it probably took me about four to five hours. I sent a picture of it to a friend when I finished, and her comment was that we will need to know how to make toys for the children after the collapse comes, because they won't have all of the electronic gizmos and contraptions they have now. People used to make their children the toys they had, or they didn't have any. I guess this is one of the reasons I made this little girl a doll. Good old, imaginative play, without batteries or electricity appears to becoming a thing of the past, much to the detriment of society, in my humble opinion. Imagination requires children to think instead of react. It involves a whole different set of thought processes.
Through much of my teaching career I would bring my special education students out to our farm on a field trip. We would be gone the whole day, playing at a park, having sack lunches, then
visiting the farm to see baby goats or lambs, baby chickens and the garden. They always had a great time. It was the only day of the whole year I would give them a soda and a snack bag that had crackers and candy. Otherwise, I never provided any sugary snacks for them. I allowed the kids to bring something to play with at the park as long as it would fit in their backpack. But one of the main rules about toys is that it could not be electronic or have batteries. No cell phones, no game boy things (I know their called something else now, but I don't know what it is.), only plain, old fashioned toys. Otherwise they could run and play, all day long and use their imagination. It was great. By the end of the day, they were tired and happy.
I'm glad I made this little girl a doll for Christmas. It reminded me of yet another important skill we will need, to provide loving support for children when the world turns upside down.
Until next time - Fern