Being New Year, it is customary to make resolutions. Mine are pretty general; just get those unfinished pieces of sewing, artwork and writing completed. I didn’t need to write a list, I have known for too long what needs to be done. So, I started with the calico doll, which has been in bits since my granddaughter stayed last year.
Phemie wanted to make a rag doll and I said I’d help her. I immediately felt nostalgic, for when my eldest daughter was around the same age, we had made a calico doll together; Dorothy she’d called it. “I still have the pattern,” I told my granddaughter and rummaged in my craft box. The book was a little tired looking, but intact, rather like myself in some ways after Christmas. I opened the book and unearthed more treasures. My daughter’s name, written at eight on the inside cover, and the pattern pieces we’d cut out together. “Now, what do we need?” I asked Phemie, once we’d looked through the remnants. “Calico,” she said, and off we went to buy some.
We ran out of time to complete our task before she went back home to Australia and I promised to finish the doll in her absence. We had got so far as to select a few fabrics, but now it was my job to fulfil my obligation to my granddaughter. I like putting the finishing touches to such projects (despite the procrastination at completing them), and gathered green linen for the base outfit, and contrasting pieces of quilting squares, for aprons and a scarf. But first I had to stitch the stuffed limbs onto the body as securely as possible.
I knew that Phemie wanted the doll to have long hair, and wear many layers of clothing, so I got going, and gradually the doll took shape. I had the clothes sorted, but now came the fun part, creating the right look for the hair and an appropriate expression on the blank calico face.
I made a rough sketch of potential features. This would do, I thought, and I’d make the hair long, using dark brown 8-ply wool. But first I made a petticoat in green, and a long skirt to go over it, with an elasticised waist. I wanted the clothes to be removable so if Phemie wished to make her own set for the doll it would be easy for her to remove them, and perhaps, see how she could achieve something similar. I decided to add a calico jacket too.
Now it was time to finish the details, to make this doll come to life. I attached the hair, added earrings, two small pearl buttons with loop backs, using materials I had already. I don’t like to buy extras if not needed. All that was left to do, was to stitch on her face.
The doll looks slightly ruffled in this image because she didn’t want to stand for her photo. And now, since Christmas has gone, I guess I shall be making a personal delivery to my granddaughter with our ‘special’ doll.