Dolly Sized 1860’s Day Caps

When we dress in our 1860’s clothing we put on everything from undergarments to shoes to headwear. Girls dressed their dolls in the same manner in the 19th century! Sometimes these wardrobe items were handmade by the girl herself or her mother. Sometimes a nurse or nanny made them. Sometimes they were store bought as in the case with many French fashion doll wardrobes.

In my shop right now I have four different day caps. Two of these are for 18″ China head doll’s and two are for 14-16″ doll. I used a few different laces on them. Cotton heirloom laces and silk ribbons adorn these caps. The bases are made out of cotton and silk nettings.

The following links will take you to the shop:


Bye for now!

1864 Childs Confederate Flag Printed Jacket

Some of my favorite doll projects are finding original garments or fashion plates and copying them. Sometimes I run into the fact that a certain trim does not exist or its just impossible to make THAT tiny but most of the time I am able to achieve my goal.

Two years ago my boyfriend had fabric custom printed for me based on fabric that was used for multiple garments during the Civil War. It is a brown wool with printed  crossed Confederate flags. This fabric was produced in England and shipped through the blockade to the south. Two men’s shirts and two children’s jackets are known to exist today that were made during the war years. There is one dress that was made in the 1880s as well. In talking to Colleen Formby (who has done research into this particular fabric and patriotic aprons), garments during the Civil War made from this fabric would mainly be children’s and men’s garments. The one dress that was made in the 1880’s was more of a remembrance piece.

Todays post will be focusing on the child’s jacket I reproduced. I will be doing a separate post on the other garments because they are too awesome not to!

Now on to the details!

The original was wool but the copy is cotton. Due to limitations in technology, the printing wouldn’t be as crisp and sharp on wool in this scale. So I opted for cotton. This fabric was scaled to fit my 12″ dolls perfectly.  I also used brown polished cotton to line the jacket like the original.

The buttons on the original are ringer china buttons with an orange ring around the edge. The button I used was a plain china to imitate the button tab closure at the neck. I did not make teeny tiny button holes though. I used a snap on one side of the tab closure and the other side of the tab is sewn to the jacket. This makes it easier for  dressing and undressing, as well as wear and tear in that area.  This is not a period correct solution but I tend to go with this closure due to ease of use.

The original had two rows of  brown(?) trim and red tape on all the edges of the jacket. My copy will as soon as it comes in the mail!

This garment comes with an awesome story too! This was made by Mrs. P. B. Chambers of Statesville, NC for her five year old son in 1864. The fabric was purchased for $48 a yard in 1864, today it would cost around $500 a yard! I am not sure if the 1864 price is quoted in Confederate dollars or US but still the price is astronomical. The fabric itself was manufactured in England and went through the blockade to get to the South. It is noted that when this jacket was worn in the presence of Federal soldiers in Salisbury,NC, it was commented on severely. This garment was a political statement.

So now that I have gave you all the details on the garments, here they are!

The original:

My copy(sans trim):

If you are interested in purchasing this garment for your doll follow this link.

And if you are interested in looking closer at the original garment follow this link.

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!


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!!!!


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:


And when I received her many years ago:


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:


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


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!



A random 18th century doll post!

Sometimes as hard as you try to put together a highly organized post; it wont happen. I had another post written and thought that was going to be a good one to publish. I wrote it and it was hard work to connect all my ideas. So it is going to stay in my drafts folder a while longer.

Sometimes you just need eye candy to ogle and not do serious research. So today I decided to visit The MET museums online collection. I typed “doll” into the search bar and away I went! My plan was simple, scroll until I saw something I fell in love with, then run with it. So you may be asking now, what caught my attention?

18th Century dolls!!!

I have always been in love with type of doll. My favorite set is at the V & A museum in England. The set is of a couple named Lord and Lady Clapham! They are both dressed in the best fashion from the early 18th century including wigs. They are fabulous and one day I hope to have a set of reproductions.clapham1


Look at the atttude in the first image! They know they are a fabuous couple!

When I did my wild card search on The MET’s website, I didn’t find many actual dolls more clothes showed up. That is ok though! What I found is still fun to look at and drool over. So lets begin:

The first item that caught my eye was a painting called “Child holding a doll” from 1780. You can see exactly what shape frame it was due to the main part of the painting being faded. A little girl holds her doll in her lap. You can get a good look at the doll’s wig and dress.


The next piece is an engraving from 1742. It is called “The charming doll”.This is of a child looking at a well dressed doll just standing next to her on what appears to be a street. The child has this sour puss look on its face too. Maybe the child is upset that the doll is dressed better than her? I just dont think she finds the doll charming at all……

charming doll


The next few items are antique doll clothing in their collection.

This charming and well-tailored gentleman’s coat is embroidered in the same style a full-sized gentleman would have made. This is dated to 1740-1760. I belive the sleeves are a giveaway for dating this piece.

Picture 002

These gentlemens breech look to be made out of a scrap of silk with a larger pattern in it. I can just imagine the full size garment that this fabric could have made up during this time. Beautiful!


The final garment is a ladies silk jacket. I wish we could have seen the petticoat that went with this originally. I bet it was a fun set. I love the main fabric with the floral pattern. One thing I have noticed in 18th century dolls clothing is most times they did not bother to match scale.

womens jacket


The final item I want to spotlight is an actual doll! She is small and in a nice display box but a doll none the less! She is dated to 1748 and is displayed in a hand painted box. The hand painting reminds me what you see in wallpaper designs of the time. If you look close enough, you will see she has a little teeny tiny pocket watch hanging from her waist! Though I am not sure why exactly she is in a box, it has probably helped keep her in pristine shape for all these years.


Victorian Era Shell Dolls

The other day I was browsing the Strong National Museum of Play’s website while I was bored at work (yeah,yeah I know…I should have been working). I started to look through their collection of dolls from the 19th century. I saw the typical ones I have always seen and loved; wooden grodnertals, china heads and parians and French fashion dolls. One doll caught my eye, it was a shell doll. Occasionally, one or two would pop up but I never really considered them. A quick search on The Strong’s online collections yielded pages of results!
Before I show you the beautiful examples of shell dolls I found, I want to give you a brief history of shell crafting. Shell handicrafts date back to the 18th century. They were originally called “sailors valentines” and were most often made or brought back by sailors to loved ones. Sometimes these were sold for pocket money while a sailor was in port. These intricate works of art show attention to detail and creative use of different colored and shaped sea shells.

During the mid-19th century, seaside travel became fashionable. There were pages of fashion magazines dedicated to what to wear to these resorts and other advice on the subject. It’s no surprise that souvenirs were popular with tourists. Shell dolls became one of the many types of souvenirs available to travelers. Though these resorts were all over the world; the “base” dolls (the dolls that the shells were attached to) mostly came from one country. Germany produced most of the worlds dolls at the time, so it’s no wonder that the “base” dolls came from there as well! The “base” dolls were commonly paper mache or wood.  The examples I could study were made using cheaper quality dolls of the period. The one example of a doll that was made completely in France is made from shells alone, no “base” doll was used.
Lady’s magazines of the time such as Godeys and Petersons offered instructions on how to do shell handicrafts including dolls, picture frames, decorative boxes, mirrors, dresser sets, dollhouse furniture and shadow box scenes. Some copied the souvenirs you could buy at seaside resorts and some used their imagination to create these wonderful, kitschy works of art. This trend continued through the 1870’s and was included in books on how to do “fancy work”. Companies sold the supplies to do these in the comfort of your own home and for those not fortunate enough to travel to the seashore.  The Sears and Roebuck catalog sold shells to customers during the second half of the 19th century making this craft more available to the masses than before.

The first example of a shell doll here is from Brittany,France. This is the only example I have found from France so far. There may be other examples out there but I haven’t found them yet.

french shell doll

The next two examples are from Germany:

Z0072767german shell doll

My favorite doll out of the ones I examined is the one from Brittany. She is so very modern yet timeless. I have seen similar versions in modern seashore gift shops. This just shows what goes around comes a round.