Civil War Battle’s with Cats!

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Yesterday It was a beautiful day and I actually had some free time(gasp!). I decided to take a walk since the weather was so nice and I ended up at an fun and offbeat attraction Gettysburg called ” Civil War Tails at The Homestead Diorama Museum”. If you like cats, the civil war, history or dioramas you will love this place! I figured this museum would have beautiful dioramas and the rest would be ok. The rest being the tour portion.

I was partially wrong.

The museum does have beautiful Dioramas. But Rebecca (one of the sisters who gave me a tour) was knowledgeable beyond what I find in most museums! As I was looking at the dioramas, she was regaling me with the history of every scene and going into technical detail on how they were constructed! I was blown away. Right now this is a very small museum but they are working to expand right now.

So now for the important details:

This museum is run by two sisters Ruth and Rebecca Brown. They are both awesome!

There are a grand total of 8,500 cats in the museum but *only* 6,000 are on display in the dioramas. That’s a lot of cats. Rebecca told me it takes her only 7 minutes to make one cat. If she is sculpting a horse with a cat rider that takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.  That’s impressive.

And there is only one dog in the museum:

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There are 3 huge dioramas and many small ones. Currently they are in the process of making Little round top.

Now I will leave you with the photos and the website to get more information on this wonderful attraction!

The Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints

 

This is what Currier and Ives called itself. The name says it all! If you go to antique stores, browse eBay etc. etc. you have probably seen these cheaply produced but colorful lithographs before. They vary in subject matter from landscapes to pretty ladies to kittens. But the subject of today’s post is not those subjects but Mourning prints.

During the Victorian years  (1837-1901) there were many popular types of mourning art for a person’s walls. One type was hair wreaths or hair art. These would have been  pricey unless in the case of the hair wreath, you did it yourself. Another type of mourning art was embroidered mourning pictures. Think of these as a huge investment and to own one you needed to have money to “burn” so to speak. What did the average person in the mid-19th century do for “mourning art”? Currier and Ives had the solution. They were selling every other genre of cheap artwork and then added mourning art to their repertoire. These were printed so that you filled in the name and dates of your loved one or loved ones. Many you find today are framed in the “Currier and Ives” style frames. This is a simple frame that has a thin layer of veneer on it.

I have several in my house and LOVE them! They adorn my living room walls for all to see. After staring at these for a while, I decided to reproduce one for Lydia Ann.

There were many to choose from so I just picked the first one I saw and went from there. I figure I can make more at a later date if I want to(which of course I will!). After I had the images printed to the correct “scale” for Lydia Ann and other 16″ to 18″ antique dolls; I contacted a company to custom make the frames for me.

After waiting for a little bit for those to arrive and assembling the pieces; voila! We have doll wall artwork!

The finished project:

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Then after I took the first photo I couldn’t stop myself from playing dollhouse:

 

Here   is the link to buy your doll her very own copy of this limited edition product!

If you want to see more period style artwork for dolls comment on this post or contact me through my shop on Etsy with your suggestions!

Two Year Blog-a-versary!

birthday-cake-2-year-oldTwo years ago to this day I did my very first blog post on Lydia Ann the Traveling doll. I didn’t have any followers and had no idea what I really wanted to write about. I think I have figured out a flow to my posts now after two years, finally!

So thank you to all my followers and lurking readers who aren’t following the blog (I know you are out there).  I hope to write more and be around for many more years! Now join me for some cake and mixed drinks!

 

Berlin Wool Work Slippers Supplies

The last post on this subject I showed you different examples of berlin wool work slippers for dolls. We also had Mr. Wikipedia help us out on what exactly this technique is. Essentially this is not a hard project, just time consuming. Time consuming because of altering your doll shoe pattern, finding supplies and actually doing the work.

So here is my post to help you out in this process should you decide to tackle it!

First off you need supplies. I started with this pattern. Yes it is a patterns made for the reproduction Huret’s but I resized it for Lydia Ann’s feet. What ever pattern you use it just needs to be close to the shape you are looking for. I just happen to have had this pattern since I am currently costuming a Huret doll.

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Next you will need the “canvas” or the fabric. I will apologize in advance here because I don’t remember what my fabric was called. I swear I thought it was called Penelope cloth but then I looked it up and that is definitely not what I am using. So look for needlepoint fabric in 16 or 18 count. I don’t even know what size fabric I am using either. I am sorry for the lame vague advice. Sue me. I had it in my stash. I bought way too much of it years a go and need to use it up.

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The next thing you will need is thread. I am using two different types of thread. One brand is Bella Lusso. I did not buy my thread from here. I found mine on eBay since I try and grab eBay bucks whenever I can. This thread is pure merino wool and is beautifully soft to work with. The next brand is basically over dyed Bella Lusso thread; its called Thread Worx in crewel weight. I bought mine from an independent embroidery shop but I know there are other places that carry this thread. This thread is also pure soft merino wool.

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I want to take a minute to talk about the threads to use in this project. I used what I had on hand except I did order the Bella Lusso thread. For 19th century needlepoint type  projects over dyed thread is almost non existent.  I used what I had in my stash because if I did not I would be wasting mumble…mumble…..mumble…… amount of dollars that I spent on thread. I will not disclose how much I have spent that day in the independent embroidery shop. Nobody.Will.Know.That.Ever. So if you aren’t using what you have in your stash buy the correct stuff and go for basic non over dyed thread!

 

So now that I have bored you all with my supply list(with almost no photos! gasp!) stay tuned for the next post about starting your project!

Berlin Work Doll Slippers

 

 

 

French fashion Doll wardrobes contain many beautifully made hats, bonnets, dresses, outerwear and shoes. Among the shoes was more than likely one pair of Berlin wool work slippers. You might be asking yourself “What is berlin wool work?”, I have an answer for you from Mr. Wikipedia( he is so smart except when he is not). Berlin wool work is explained as follows:

Berlin wool work is a style of embroidery similar to today’s needlepoint. It was typically executed with wool yarn on canvas.[1] It is usually worked in a single stitch, such as cross stitch or tent stitch although Beeton’s book of Needlework (1870) describes 15 different stitches for use in Berlin work. It was traditionally stitched in many colors and hues, producing intricate three-dimensional looks by careful shading. The design of such embroidery was made possible by the great progresses made in dyeing in the 1830s, especially by the discovery of aniline dyes which produced bright colors.

This kind of work created very durable and long-lived pieces of embroidery that could be used as furniture covers, cushions, bags, or even on clothing.”

You can find many different patterns for Berlin work in the fashion magazines of the 19th century. I have seen bags (of all sorts), suspenders, chair covers, foot stool covers and slippers. Slippers and bags are my favorite type of berlin wool work! Now if you want a basis of comparison with another needle art, Berlin wool work is similar to needlepoint. Now take a lesson from me and don’t ask your local needlework store for Berlin Wool work supplies. They will look at you funny; like you have three heads. Just ask for Needlepoint supplies.

The next few images are From the period of 1859-1865. These are a few of the variety of slipper patterns that were published. They put out some crazy patterns and some simple ones are well.

My personal favorite out of those is the green with a white bow. Simple yet elegant. Obviously you can see how gaudy these designs could get.

These next few images are going to be of original DOLL sized Berlin wool work slippers.

This next pair is a professionally put together pair of slippers. You can see the attention to detail in the piping around the sole and how perfectly the sole is attached to the slipper upper.

While searching out examples to show you I found this latter pair of Berlin work slippers. These were made around 1890 probably for a Bebe style doll. Look at the floral detail on the toes!

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I wish they put something in the photo for scale because they look like full size slippers! I assure you they are not.

Stay tuned for my next post on reproducing these tiny treasures!

Miniature Doll Mayhem!!!!

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OK so there is no mayhem involved but it got your attention right? Right! This project has been in the works for a little bit. Every time I thought I was done with it, BAM! I was missing something to go further. But I was able to finish my sample last night and another little doll is in the works for the shop as I type.

So you know that you could get china heads and parian dolls in small, medium and large sizes (not the actually size classifications for dolls by the way…) BUT did you know that during the 19th century you could get tiny dollhouse sized dolls too!

These were not just for dollhouses though. They were just another size you could buy and play with. Most girls in the 19th century did not have dollhouses but they had imaginations and that’s all you need! So you could have a couple of whatever sized dolls you owned and could play for hours. The dolls need not be the same size to have fun.

I own a few original 19th century teeny tiny dolls. Both have been redressed through the years. The larger 7″ one by me and the small 5″ one by the previous owner.

Here is the 7″ girl:

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And when I received her many years ago:

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She is much happier now. Can you see her smile? She was redressed by me years ago as her original dress was in tatters. One of her arms was shattered and put back together during ownership by another. Also she is kind of bow legged but I still love her.

My little 5″ girl was dressed in red polyester by a previous owner but its not horrible. I wont replace the dress just yet.

Here’s my little 5″ girl:

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Here is the reproduction 5″ doll posing with her “sisters”!

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She has sweet childlike face and is dressed in a lavender printed cotton dress with drawers peeking out.

She will be available in my shop later this week. I will have two of these girls in this print dress. If you want one of these cuties in a specific fabric contact me!

 

 

Is it Summer yet?

 

 

I have been in a funk lately. When that happens I know the only thing that will  pull me out of it is DOLLS! DOLL THINGS! DOLL DRESSMAKING! While a friend was in town the other week we stopped by Needle and Thread in Gettysburg. If you haven’t been, you have to make a trip! Its like shopping in New York City without the pricey plane ticket and hotel costs. I picked up a semi sheer striped cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I knew I had to make a doll dress with it. So to Pinterest I went! The only requirements for my search was summery, sheer/semi sheer, stripes and pagoda sleeves. I personally love pagoda sleeves on summer and warm weather clothing for this time period due tot he fact you can go without underserves. It helps keep you cool in the heat.

The Victorian’s were not stupid.

After a few sessions on Pinterest going back and forth on designs; I settled on two original dresses to take inspiration from. One of them I used more so than the other but they are both very similar to each other. Both of these dresses met my criteria as well.
Here is the first one:


Here is the second one:

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My doll sized copy of this dress went together pretty quick and easy(which is good because some days I have no patience for long and drawn out projects). The dresses I picked are simple in design and really let the fabric do the talking. The only trimming on this dress is  the ruffled self fabric trim on the pagoda sleeves. That trim is similar to one of my inspiration dresses. I used my pinking machine to trim the edges and add visual interest.

Here is my doll sized copy:

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What I enjoy about putting these outfits together is finishing them off with accessories. For this ensemble I added a miniature engraved belt with burgundy silk “belting” (aka silk satin ribbon) and a complementing day cap. I used so many elements from multiple fashion illustrations and originals its hard to really pinpoint a few examples of what I copied.

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For the day cap I used scraps of silk Point D Esprit netting trimmed with cotton lace in blond and black topped with light mint green silk ribbon. I had actually made this cap just randomly the other week, but while I was doing the photo shoot for the dress for this post I needed to add headwear. I love making small accessories for dolls! Its very relaxing for me.

I have many friend’s who own dolls (or is it the other way around?) but these dolls are not as well dressed as they want to be.   If you find a dress from a fashion plate or a museum that you want made for your doll; I can do that! Did you miss this post? You can see my favorite doll sized version of an original ensemble in that post! Most of the time when I want to make a dress for my dolls that’s how I start. Looking at originals in museums, private collections or fashion plates. I can also make matching dresses to what you might own in your wardrobe!  If you have a doll that wants a new dress, cap or bonnet just message me via Repro Dolls.

See you next time!

Reproducing an 1860’s Skating Ensemble

The day before Christmas in 2016 I started a project that I thought would be done in a week. Boy was I wrong! This outfit was done as of Christmas day 2017 minus the matching fur muff.

Since Lydia Ann has pretty much everything I own plus way more; its hard to decide what else to make her. I struggle with adding pieces to her wardrobe I would never wear like fancy sheer garments and what I consider superfluous outwear. I know there are so many variations on outwear but if I personally don’t wear it; I never dress Lydia Ann in it. That’s how I roll. So back to my awful decision making process.

For Christmas 2016 I basically just finished her matching ball gown to my star silk. I was disappointed in myself but for some reason I didn’t have time to make more? I’m really not sure what my excuse was. So the day before Christmas 2016, I started her skating ensemble and like a delusional person thought I could complete it in a week. Yeah right.

Long story short, it took an entire year of working on and off, sourcing supplies and procrastinating. So first I will show you the original ensemble and then my copy.

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Here is the link to the MET’s collection listing.  The original is made out of silk and fur. I am not sure of what the batting is made from, its either cotton or wool. My money is on wool as this outfit is supposed to keep you warm.

For my copy I used a burgundy silk taffeta quilted with cotton batting to keep the bulk at a minimum. I searched out a few white/off white vintage fur collars to use as trim. I had to find a short hair pelt so the scale would look right. On some projects I don’t worry so much about scale but since I was putting so much effort into this I wanted to go the extra mile. Sourcing the fur took me the longest actually; a half year to be exact. The quilting of all the pieces was done long before that. I didn’t copy the hat from the museum though. I looked through fashion magazines at the time and found images of a toque style hat in velvet with trim. I like the look of the matching hat since this is a very high fashion look. I have not had a chance to finish the matching muff , that is the last piece of this outfit to finish. Sadly since its now warming up I wont be able to do a snow photo shoot with the matching muff until next winter. But that’s fine.

So I guess everyone is ready to see the finished product? I hope so or I’m not really  sure what you are doing reading this post.

 

 

Now that this ensemble is pretty much done; I’m at a loss as to what big project to do next for Lydia Ann.  If you have any ideas, comment and let me know! I can use all the help I can get some days!

Happy Birthday Lydia Ann!

On this date 7 years ago, Lydia Ann made her debut to the world on Facebook! I believe I had her in my possession for a few days before that but she had to at least be dressed in undergarments before she could be presented to the world.

I personally can not believe and her and I have been having adventures for 7 years now! She has been with me through a few men in my life and MANY ups and downs. Two marriages to be exact! What can I say? I know what I want and I will have it no matter what!

Lydia Ann was what rekindled my love affair with dolls. I have always had this love but she woke it up for me again. After her I started buying antique dolls as well. Now  I make reproduction dolls to sell and none  of that would have happened if I had not bought Lydia Ann! Seriously I wrote a huge long winded post on it if you care to read it here.

She started out as a way to unwind after work years ago. Sewing for her and coming up with new and fun accessories was something that helped me through that time. I mostly still have everything she started with though some things have been replaced.

But without further ado, behold the birthday girl:

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She doesn’t look a day over 4 years old! 😉  Now for those who care to gift Lydia Ann with birthday offerings she loves things like silk fabrics, french fashion accessories and wine. She prefers sweet wines. 😉

*If you have a birthday offering message me for the address. 🙂

Maybe one of these years I will do a proper birthday party for her. But for now she is enjoying her online party!

A Reproduction Jewel Casket for Lydia Ann, Inspiration images.

After two years of acquiring jewelry for Lydia Ann I have decided that she needs a place to keep it all in. Basically this happened after I went looking for one of her pieces and it fell out on my floor from between some random objects.

Oops.

A jewel casket is needed.

So here are my inspiration images:

Monogram:

8619853_master The monogram on her casket wont be as fancy but it will be done in gold!

Quilted silk lining:

quilted silkWhy stop with luxury only on the outside? The feet on this one are a fancier version of the casket I am making.

This next casket just inspired me with the gold and what I presume is tortoise shell or faux tortoise shell.

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The shape:

shapeThis is a much fancier version of what I am making BUT we know the average lady did not own this box. Lydia Ann is more of an average “lady” but don’t tell her I said that…..

 

Stay tuned for the finished product!