Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rag Dolls

My grandmother, Ruby, was a talented seamstress.  She was one of the older children in her large family so there was plenty of work for everyone.  Ruby's older sister was tasked with helping to mind the younger children.  Her older half-sister had the job of scrubbing the floor as she was blind and that was a chore she could do.  From about the age of 10, Ruby was the one who made clothing for the family, beginning with underwear and pajamas

 I don't recall ever seeing any patterns in her house, so I asked my mother if Grandma ever used them.  To the best of her memory, Grandma never would buy a store pattern.  After all, they cost 25¢ which was deemed to be a complete waste of money.  When Mom was in school she was required to sew a pair of pajamas for which she needed a pattern so Grandma helped her make her own.  Once when they were shopping in Salt Lake City, Grandma saw a dress she liked, so she stopped and found a pencil and piece of paper in her purse and sketched the dress so she could go home and sew herself one like it.  As a little girl many of my dresses were sewed by my grandmother from patterns she designed and made herself.

When I was about a year old, Grandma made me two rag dolls complete with little dresses and bonnets.  I named them Annie and Bonnie.  They have long since worn out and live only in my memory.  Recently I found a little green box and wondered what could be inside.  When I opened it I realized immediately that they were some of the patterns and tools that Grandma had used to make my rag dolls.  My goal became to see if I could figure out how to use her things to create dolls of my own.

It took me a while to think through the process.  I did make some changes along the way.  The original dolls had hair and faces painted on using stencils.  The box contained a variety of faces.

I didn't have appropriate paints, so I just embroidered a simple face on the new dolls.  The stencil at the upper right was meant to use for the hair, but the dolls I ended up with had oddly shaped heads, so I decided the new dolls would have yarn hair.

When I looked at the various pattern pieces, I realized they were a mixture of different sizes so I had to make some adjustments there to make them fit.

 There was even a pattern for the doll's body in the box.

While my new dolls don't look just like the originals, I'm happy with the final result and for the experience of following in Grandma's footsteps.


Jana said...

And one little girl likes her dolly very much.

*Aliese* said...

So cool! My mom actually used Ruby's Sun Bonnet quilt squares to make quilts for my sisters and I for Christmas; I absolutely LOVE it. My quit was even the original pink one my grandparents (Kay and Marilyn) had, but she unpicked it (it was falling apart and needed some generous TLC) and put the whole thing back together in a new quilt; it's beautiful and one of my very favorite possessions now! I'll be posting pictures on my blog eventually.

Nancy said...

Aliese, some of those sunbonnet blocks ended up at our house as well. I made them into a quilt/bedspread which was used by some of my girls for many years.

Kristin C said...

I made a sunbonnet quilt too! I used some of Great Grandmas pieces, and filled it out with some new ones as well.

As a side note-- do you realize how much you look like your Grandma in that picture Mom?

Nancy said...

When I used to go visit my grandparents, people would come up to me and say "I don't know your name, but just by looking at you I know you are Roma's daughter."