Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'm Being Replaced!

I'm being replaced!" "I'm being replaced!" "You're replacing ME!" the little girl cried.

"No, you're not. I am NOT!" I answered.

"Yes, I Am!" "Yes, you are!" she replied stomping her foot, acting just like a spoiled little girl.

"NO, YOU ARE NOT! And, NO I am not!" I answered. "Now stop this, right now!" "What is the matter with you?" I asked. "You're our Linda Walsh Originals logo. The very image of Linda Walsh Originals. Why, on earth would you think we'd replace you?"

"Because, because!" she whimpered. "Because I saw her?"

"Saw, who?" I asked. "What are you talking about? You're really trying my patience, Little Girl!"

"I saw the Victorian Woman. The beautiful Victorian Woman. The one on the new aqua colored banner. The one you're replacing me with!" she cried. "She's so beautiful I don't blame you for wanting to replace me."

"Oh, for goodness sake, Little Girl. I'm not replacing you. She's not more beautiful than you are. We just wanted a little older image for the new club we are starting. Don't worry. She's not going to replace you. And, don't ever think that you're not beautiful. You are. You're our beautiful Little Girl."

"Oh, Linda. I'm so sorry I bothered you with this. I just saw the poster and jumped to conclusions. She's so beautiful I just thought....." said the Little Girl.

"That's okay, Little Girl," Linda responded. "I would never replace you. I love you. Now, run along."

And, with that the Little Girl ran along to tell the other "dollies" they were wrong. She wasn't being replaced like they said. They got her all upset for nothing. See, Linda would never replace her. They'd see.

So, off she went to the "Dollie Storage Room." But, when she got there what she saw just took her breathe away. The Victorian Woman was in the "Dollie Storage Room" talking to the other "dollies." Everyone was looking at the Victorian Woman. How could they not? She was just so beautiful.

"Who is she? And, what club was Linda talking about?" the Little Girl wondered. "Maybe Doris Marie might know. I'll ask Doris Marie. But, where is she?"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Story Behind My "Celia's Wedding Dress" Doll

I don't know if you remember the article I posted last year entitled "The Story Behind My Celia's Doll and Doll Pattern."

To remind you, Celia and Elmer are my sister-in-laws parents and have been married for over 50 years. Last year they were having a yard sale because they were downsizing and moving out of their big house into a smaller home. Celia, knowing my love of old material told me I could, basically, have anything I wanted. Whatever didn't sell, including her wedding dress was going to be pitched.

I asked her if she was really going to throw her wedding dress away and she replied, "What am I going to do with that old thing?" I told her maybe she should make a doll out of it for her daughter. At first she scoffed at the idea. Then when she'd thought about it, she replied,"That's a great idea. Why don't you do that for me and give it to my daughter."

So, I told her I would add it to my to-do-list which was already getting to be multiple years to complete. I put it on the back burner.

Well, Celia, is and, I suspect, always has been a bit of a wild child. Just look at the picture of her in her tennis outfit. You can see she's a feisty, full of life, try it once kind of gal. Celia is a ball of fire and I just love her to death. She's over 80 years old and makes me tired.

During the course of the year I happened to be at a church craft show with Celia, my sister-in-law and my mother. On the way out of the church Celia turned to me and said," Linda, do you think you could make that wedding dress doll for my daughter before I die!"

Well, you have to know Celia to know that this was a funny line. Funny, but she meant it. So, I made a mental note to try and get the doll done for Christmas as a present for my sister-in-law.

What I wanted to do was to capture the beauty of the dress. It didn't matter to me whether or not the doll had a face or was faceless. The point was the dress.

So, I sketched out a pattern for the dress and tried to use as much of the original material as I could. Luckily, the dress was still in pretty good shape, as was the veil. Some of the tulle had disintergrated but, a lot of it was pretty much in tact.

If you look at the wedding picture of Celia & Elmer (picture to the left and above) you can see that the dress had a lace bodice insert with lace sleeves, a satin heart-shaped bodice, a satin covered with lace front panel, and satin covered with fine tulle flowing skirt.

The back of the dress had a very long train covered with tulle. There were buttons all along the front of the dress as well as straight up the back. The veil was a cap lined with small pearl beads that had a long section of tulle that would hang down the back and compliment the tulle on the train.

The sleeves were scalloped and had a row of buttons as well. There were two layers of tulle underneath the dress as well. Needless to say there was a lot of tulle and a lot of detail on Celia's wedding dress.

Foolishly I sketched the dress and did not take a picture of it before I cut it up. Why I didn't take a picture, I'll never know. I just didn't. So, when it came time for me to put the doll together I didn't have any pictures to look at. Just my sketch. My sister-in-law provided the pictures for me to use for this story.

Keeping in mind that the sentimentality lay with the dress I wanted the dress to be the focal point of the doll and nothing else. So I decided to make her a self standing, 13" tall, bridal doll without any legs. That way the dress would be showcased. I also wanted to utilize the original buttons for their sentimentality even though they were too big for the doll. I decided that three buttons in the front and two on each sleeve would be good.

I wasn't sure what color Celia's hair was when she was younger and decided because "she's a hot ticket" that I'd give the doll fiery red hair. I also decided that I'd embroider her face, give her a shaped and padded nose, and embroider her mouth with red floss. She might as well be wild all around.

So I started sewing the dress. Everything was going well until I tried to put the dress on the doll. The lace was so old and so brittle that it just started to crumple. YIKES! I had the whole dress together when the lace around the neck just fell apart. What could I do? The whole dress was already together. Tulle underneath, tulle overskirt, train, heart-shaped bodice, lace scalloped sleeves, everything was already sewn together. YIKES!

I decided that I had to add a something to the neck to hold the lace together and had to add a second layer of lace behind the top layer of lace on the bodice that was crumbling. I had no sooner gotten the second layer of lace sewn when it started to crumble. At this point I just wanted to fling the dress. But, I had too much time invested in it and Celia really wanted her daughter to have it.

I had to do something to hold the neck of the dress together so I decided to use some of the satin from the original dress to form a neck band and cover this with a string of embroidered floral lace. I added pearl beaded gathered lace to frame her face. The neck might not look exactly like the original dress but, it worked. At least I could get the dress on without it crumbling any further.

Luckily I had saved her cap veil in tact and could use it as a visual guide for my doll's veil. I used a couple of layers of the crumbling lace from the dress for the cap and supported it with tulle and a row of pearl beads.

When she was finished I decided to add a splash of burgundy and cream silk florals with burgundy and cream streamers for her bouquet. The burgundy was a good compliment to her fiery red hair, red lips, and complimented Celia's fiery personality.

When the doll was finished I wasn't really happy with her. I thought that I had captured the essence of the dress. With the exception of the neck it looked like Celia's real wedding dress. Plus for sentimental purposes it had the original buttons on it.

But, I wasn't happy with the doll itself. I thought she turned out too short, her nose wasn't quite right, and, whether I liked it or not, the collar was too big. However, my sister-in-law loved it and so did Celia. In the end that's all that really mattered.

So my sister-in-law told my younger brother that she needed a curio to showcase her new doll and that became his woodworking project over the winter. My brother moaned and groaned and made it seem like he wasn't amused. But, I know and she knows that he loves making furniture and, truth be told, he loves the dolls. Plus, he's really good at making furniture. So, despite his protesting, he designed a corner curio with lights and mirrored back panels to showcase the back of the dress.

My brother finally finished the curio a month ago and I have to say that despite what I don't like about the doll she looks beautiful in her lighted curio with the mirrors all around. Plus, she really does capture the essence of Celia's wedding dress. And, you can't put a price tag on the joy and sentimentality associated with utilizing the original wedding dress. It is definitely a one of a kind doll.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Little Girl Dresses!

Do you ever get that feeling that things were meant to be? When things are more than just a coincidence? I did, today. And, it had to do with "little girl dresses." Several discussions and designs converged today for me.

What am I talking about? Well, it has to do with some new patterns that I am designing, a discussion I had with my daughter-in-law, and my Grandmother's birthday, which was in June, shopping with my nieces, and my granddaughters turning 21 this year.

My Grandmother was born in 1896 and would have been 110 years old. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1975. While she is not here with us now she has left an indelible impression on me, my life, and my creativity. She has also left me with some wonderful memories. One of those has to do with "little girl dresses."

I must have been 4 or 5 and can remember standing in my room and looking up at the rack in my closet that held the "little girl dresses" that my Grandmother and Mother had bought for me.

They were frilly, flouncy, lacy, filled with tulle underskirt dresses and I just loved them. I could stand and look for hours at my dresses.

I, of course, wasn't allowed to touch them - I'd get them dirty. They were for our best occasions which I was hoping would be that day or the next day just so I could wear the dresses. Inevitably, a holiday or special occasion would occur and I would get to wear one of my dresses.

These were the type of dresses that you would twirl in and they would flounce out. I would just twirl and twirl and twirl in them. Around and around I'd go.

In our family room we had some steps right next to a sofa. When I was wearing one of these dresses I would love to stand on the steps and them jump down into the sofa. As I did my dress would fly up in the air like a parachute and then come landing down on me.

Of course, everyone could see my frilly underwear, leotards, slip, etc. when I did this - but, only for the briefest of moments. My Grandmother would "tsk, tsk" and would give me one of those looks of "that's not a lady like thing to do!" I'd just look back at her and smile. I just had to be me. And, then I'd look over at my Mother and she'd be smiling. She knew I just had to be me, too.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I was talking to my daughter-in-law on her way to work as she was stuck in traffic. She was telling me about her Grandmother who stored everything including all of her "little girl dresses" and all of her dance recital outfits. I told her I would love to see them and that she should never throw them away. I'd just love to takes a picture of all of them in a circle laid out in their glory.

I mentioned to her that one of the best shopping trips I had was a "birthday" shopping trip with my niece when she was about 5 or 6. She was so much fun to shop with. You never knew what she was going to do or what was going to come out of her mouth.

We, literally, spent hours in the dressing room while she tried on every frilly "little girl dress" they had, every outfit, hey - everything in the department in her size. She'd try it on then prance in front of the mirror, go outside to look at herself in the three mirrors, and on and on and on it went.

We filled two racks of clothes in the dressing room that day. When we were leaving we looked at the racks of clothes she had tried on and just laughed and laughed. I think we bought one outfit out of what had to be hundreds that she tried on.

During the conversation with my daughter-in-law I mentioned that my twin granddaughters and her niece's would be 21 this year. Where have the years flown?

I fondly recalled how I used to buy them frilly, fancy "little girl dresses." In fact,some of my favorite pictures are of them in their "little girl dresses" or in their dance recital outfits.

We, also, went on "birthday" shopping or "just visiting" shopping trips. They too, tried on many, many "little girl dresses" and other outfits and we always had a wonderful time. We called them our "shop til you drop" girls shopping excursions.

So what does all this have to do with worlds converging?

Well, right now I just happen to be designing and sewing "little girl dress" ornaments. I just happen to be talking about "little girl dresses" with my daughter-in-law. I just happen to be recalling fond memories of my Grandmother and my "little girl dresses." I just happen to be talking about shopping excursions with my niece and "hundreds" of "little girl dresses." And, I just happen to be picturing my twin granddaughters in their "little girl dresses."

Five generations of "little girl dresses." Of course, my Grandmother had THE BEST "little girl dress" as you can see from the black and white picture above.

So, I thought I would share some of my fond memories with you and share some of the pictures.

I don't think it's coincidental that I love Victorian dresses, that I loved staring at my own "little girl dresses", that I loved buying "little girl dresses" for my niece's and twin granddaughters, and that right now I'm designing and sewing some "little girl dress" ornaments. Nope, not coincidental at all.

My Grandmother has certainly left an indelible impression on me, my life, and my creativity. I hope I have done that with my own granddaughters and nieces.

As for my daughter-in-law, well, she is just going to have to get all those "little girl dresses" and dance recital outfits from her Grandmother. I need a picture for my Linda's blog.

Yup! I definitely need a picture of them in a circle laid out in their glory. "Little girl dresses" all laid out in a marvelous circle. Oh, Karen...............I need a picture of your "little girl dresses!" Oh, Karen...........

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oh, No! We Can't Be a Featured Shoppe!

"Oh No! We can't be a featured shoppe for the month of May on Annie's Folkart Square website. We just can't!" Jael cried.

"How could Linda do this to us?" Jael asked.

"Okay, maybe I could understand if it was just Linda. She does things to us that no self respecting person should do to their dollies. But, Annie? Annie from Folkart Square. She'd never do such a thing! Would she?" Jael exclaimed.

"I don't know why you are so upset Jael," responded Baptist. "All I can say is WE LOOK GOOD!" "Just look at how well our colors compliment the Folkart Square colors. WE DEFINITELY LOOK GOOD!" Baptist exclaimed.

"Oh, Baptist! Is that all you care about - how GOOD you look?" Jael asked.

"Well, yeah!" Baptist exclaimed. "What else would I need to be concerned with?" he asked.

"THE OTHER DOLLIES!!!!" Jael cried. "THE OTHER DOLLIES will start talking and whispering again and, I can't take it any more," Jael sobbed.

Baptist started to pace - back and forth, back and forth just outside the dollie storage room. He couldn't have his sister so upset. Guaranteed she was a little shy - okay, maybe, VERY SHY, but this was going too far. He needed help. "I've got to find Doris Marie," he said. "Jael please stay here and STOP crying!" he exclaimed. "Everything will be alright! All the dollies love you! he said.

And, with that statement he went off to find Doris Marie. She would know what to do about Jael and how to approach Linda with yet another infraction. But, damn he had to admit - WE LOOK GOOD!