I made these dolls a month ago for a birthday party that was supposed to be in January. But the party got pushed back to next weekend, and while the dolls are still in my closet waiting for their big debut I thought I'd better blog about them now just in case I go into labor before I get another chance. I fear the details of my latest sewing project may pale in comparison with photos of a newborn child, and that would just be sad.
Because you might need to know for future reference what to make for the 4-year-old Little House on the Prairie fanatic and her 1-year-old younger brother.
According to the one book I've read on the subject, the Waldorf method has one-year-olds playing with "pillow dolls," dolls where the body is a square pillow with hands and head sticking out. This is an easy doll to make in some respects. There are fewer pieces to cut out and sew together than a full nude, and the hair is just a bit of embroidery that peaks out from under the (permanently sewed on) cap. Plus the colored body counts as clothes, so there's no set of clothes to make just when it feels like you're getting finished. On the other hand, the shirt pattern is designed to gather around the neck and sleeves, and it's rather tricky to get the gathering perfect if you're prone to OCD. And there's also a bit of gathering that happens naturally with the neck of this doll. That irks me to no end, even though I see it happening on the text book examples (just add more stuffing, my butt!). Still, the end result pillow doll is very cute and cuddly, and it's a good way to use up soft wool scraps. This one's body came from someone's unwanted sweater - either Jake's or Andrew's. Whoever it was, thanks!
The Laura doll was more interesting to me for several reasons. I set out to create a Laura Ingalls Wilder doll, and I like the choices that this forced me to make. First of all I love the way the hair turned out, even though it had to be "boring brown." I managed to use four different colors of brown yarn and that wasn't even all the options in my scrap bin. If you have infinite options of scrap brown yarn you know you knit for a house of boys.
The other fun thing about this doll was making the clothing. I'm always trying to make doll clothing as easily cuttable as possible, and I think this dress is the easiest construction yet. The skirt and top are each perfect rectangles, hemmed, with the skirt part pleated as it's sewn to the top. I left the back of the top open to be secured with a button. And since I hade my buttonhole maker out already, I stitched some buttonholes to neaten up arms. All in all you can sew everything flat if you do it in this order: hem the bottom of the skirt rectangle, hem 3 sides of the top rectangle, sew 2 buttonholes for the arms and one for the button, pleat the skirt rectangle against the top rectangle and sew (still flat), then connect the skirt to itself. Booya.
From this picture you can also see the back of the bonnet, which is similarly a rectangle hemmed on all sides. It's gathered on one side with a ribbon tied tight, and un-gathered on the other side with a ribbon sewed to the edges. Together with the dress, I think it makes a big impression for such incredibly simple sewing.
To my great delight Harvey and Zion stole the dolls off my desk and immediately identified them as Laura and Baby Carrie. I don't know if the sunbonnet tipped him off, but I feel like Harvey understands subtle cues of color and costuming.
You do realize these are gifts for our friends? I said about a million times over three days.
Then I made sunbonnets for the Suzannas and "going to town" hats for the PowPows, and that was a sufficient distraction to let me get the presents away from my children and packed into the closet.
Are there more Little House waldorf dolls in my future? Not before the baby comes. But after that, you never know. If I get the right invitation from the right little girl I can always be convinced.