An Introduction...

Welcome to my new blogspot...and to start, a little about my journey here...

I have a background in costume design and I have been making dolls for many years. My recent creations have been cloth dolls inspired by antique dolls and my family history (another of my favourite pastimes). I also love creating anything with fabric and I'm enjoying experimenting with different styles and designing unique items.

In this blog I will share doll info, tips and tricks that I have learnt over the years and also pics and even a few patterns, so please check back often to see what's new....

Sunday, 31 January 2010

The smallest china head...

At just under three inches tall, this is the smallest china head I have come across so far. She is an 1890s German china head glued on to an old (probably 1950s) plastic body. I decided not to try to remove her from the body and worked with what I had instead. She looks rather nice in her tiny hand crocheted dress...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Penny wooden dolls

These are four circa 1900 'penny wooden' dolls (so called because they were originally sold for a penny usually by street vendors). They were crudely made with simple features and wooden peg joints ( so they're also known as peg dolls) and generally sold without clothes so were dressed by mothers and daughters. The two on the right (back) are in their original clothes and the other two I have redressed myself.

Wooden tuck comb doll

Among my small collection of wooden dolls is this wonderful old tuck comb doll. She measures 18 inches tall and she has a fairly crudely painted face, but really nicely carved hands and feet with painted red slippers. At some point she had earrings, there are tiny fittings still in her ears. I think she will look lovely once she is redressed.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

New Bodies..

A couple of almost completed doll bodies. The smaller one is tea stained to give more of an aged effect (I have also painted the boots as I prefer them with a boot design akin to the original china legs).
The larger body is for a reproduction parian head, so her lower limbs have been painted (they just need boot details and a coat of varnish to finish).

Blonde china head circa 1885- 1890

This lovely blonde lowbrow china head dates to about 1885-1890. She is one of the first completed dolls with a new body of tea stained calico and a pretty rose print fabric dress.
I have heard it said that for every 10 black haired china heads there was just one blonde haired china head produced, I don't know how true this is. They don't appear to be as readily available as their darker haired counterparts, but I have been lucky enough to acquire a few of differing sizes.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Reproduction China Head

This is a beautiful reproduction china head made in 1964. She has all the detailing of the 1890s lowbrow and is very good quality. I have designed her a new calico body (along with using a rather nice pair of vintage white porcelain legs), then dressed her in pretty cotton prints.

Hints and tips...

A good way to avoid damage to your dolls feet is to use an empty cotton reel, add a circle of felt to each end (this needs to be slightly larger than the cotton reel so that the reel itself does not come into contact with the feet), then thread either ribbon or cotton tape through the centre, making a loop at one end and back through the centre again so that the two free ends are at one side.Place the loop over one leg and with the cotton reel between both ankles, draw up the ribbon and tie around the other leg, this will stop the legs from bashing together.

Monday, 11 January 2010


I thought I might share these doll patterns with you, they have been available on my old blog, but as I will be concentrating my efforts here I thought they should move with me too. They are all my earliest designs from my first steps in doll making. I made these in felt, but you could use other fabrics.
I hope you enjoy them:

The waiting room...

Here are some of the reproduction heads, all waiting for bodies, many of them need a good clean and some of them are waiting identification (it's always good to know what you're working with), alas some will always remain a mystery as they have no markings at all.

It's always helpful to know the era these heads have been made to represent so that the costuming is authentic. I have the added challenge of 'guess the age', as some of them have child like features, so the body designs will need adjusting.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A little history...

I have discovered such a lot from delving into my family history, it's always a huge source of inspiration.
I found six generations of dressmakers (not surprising then that I was able to teach myself to sew) as well as shoemakers, cordwainers and weavers.
In this photo are my great grandmother, Annie Newlove (who was one of the dressmakers) and some of her children.