Thursday, September 13, 2012

D is For Dollikin

Dollikin with her suitcase, preparing to leave on a trip around the world.
Phew! I've been sewing like a sweatshop employee lately! Besides finishing this extensive set I also had to help all the girls from church learn to sew skirts last night! That was a learning experience! Who knew they would think to start shooting each other with pieces of elastic? Well, anyway, here is my latest BIG project. I have so much time in this one I'll never get paid for it. But that's okay because it was a true labor of love!
When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was Tasha Tudor's A is For Annabelle. Annabelle was a doll: "Grandmother's Doll" is how she is described. I guess today we'd describe her as a French fashion doll. She was a grown up lady doll who lived in a chest with all her many clothes. She had some piece of clothing or an accessory for every letter of the alphabet. Grandmother's parents were evidently extremely rich! Annabelle had an umbrella, opera glasses, gloves, furs, hats, boots, coats...the beautiful illustrations showed little girls dressing her and playing with her. I could have died from jealousy! I wanted a doll like Annabelle in the worst way. My mother and grandmother bought me an old-fashioned china head lady doll to try to give me one like Annabelle, but she didn't have any extra clothes, so she was unsatisfactory.
I have often thought if they could have found a Revlon or Dollikin for me it would have fit the bill perfectly. My mom was a girl when the Revlon and Cissy dolls first came out, but she didn't like them. She liked child dolls because she liked pretending she was their mother. Her family also would not have had enough money to buy all the accessories that make those dolls so much fun. I have found, however, through my work with these dolls that it's a lot more fun to look around and really SEE things in a different light so that you find uses for everyday things that can act as accessories. In this case, a thrift store grab bag yielded the tiny clear glitter plastic pencil case. I thought it would make a great doll's suitcase, and the idea for the world tour was born!
I've had this Dollikin for a long time. I always planned to sell her, but I've had some trouble letting go! She's a really nice doll. She has none of the loose stringing you usually find and which is so hard to repair. Her hair is really nice and it's cut in an unusual style. When I got her she had lots of little splits and cracks that needed repair. I fixed all these with Kwik Plastik and repainted the repairs with oil paint.
Dollikin gets a repaint after her body repairs.
I fixed her knees, which get those really common splits, her hand and foot. She had existing repairs to the front and back of one knee. Since these were very stable I just painted them to make them less visible. The only cracks I left undone are under her hand in the wrist joint. These are not visible unless you over-extend the joint and they are not necessary to repair for stability, so I left them. I worried that trying to rebuild them would cause the joint to be unable to move smoothly.
I left this crack unrepaired because it isn't usually visible.

A repair to one knee

Another knee repair

A repaired hand

A repaired foot

Existing repair to the back of the knee
After all her repairs Dollikin can stand alone and hold poses. She is very sturdy and should be ready for many more years of play. This is one of the nicest dolls in my "collection" right now. Of course, since most of my dolls are for sale my collection is always evolving!

The doll after repairs and repainting.

This doll captured my imagination immediately. I think she really recalled Annabelle to me. In actuality, she's much more poseable and unique. Annabelle would have had a kid body and china limbs and head, so she would have just had to sit around. Dollikin can move so many ways and is so realistic you could really use her as an artist's mannequin if you wanted to! She even has a little sculpted almost six-pack on her stomach! If my daughter had shown even a third of my interest in this doll I could have used her as an excuse to keep Dollikin, but my daughter has so many dolls she doesn't think this one is anything special! She's really begging for the poodle!
When I got this doll she came dressed in a beautiful Spanish ensemble sewn for her by her previous owner. That lady didn't even need a pattern; she just draped the Dollikin to get the dimensions! This gave me the idea of the traveling doll. I decided to send Dollikin on an old-fashioned World Tour...
Dollikin in Paris
Ahh, Paris in the springtime! Dollikin strolls the boulevards with Francoise, her French poodle. She stops at a Patisserie to sample the tarte aux fraises, made with just-picked local strawberries. Her sweet pink dress, sewn from buttery, thick bridal satin, is the perfect choice. The hem is embellished with silver and clear glass beads, and she wears her "pearl" brooch at the neck.
Her wool felt cartwheel hat has a cutout in the center to accommodate her hair. Her 1950s shoes in pink and aqua with rhinestone trim are the ideal finishing touch. It's still a little blustery, so Dollikin dons her wool trapeze coat with pink bridal satin lining. The coat can be folded out at the darts so the lining shows if Dollikin wishes.
Francoise, Dollikin's faithful friend, loves the excitement of Paris. She belongs to the fashionable capital. Francoise's wool felt body matches Dollikin's coat. Her black curls are hand-applied wool and acrylic yarn and her eyes and nose are Czech glass beads.
Francoise, the wool felt French Poodle
After a few weeks, Dollikin begins to find Paris a bit dull. She books a First Class cabin on the train to sunny Spain. The Spaniards can't believe how quickly she picks up the local dances. She's a natural in her red and black mermaid skirt gown, with black lace shawl, beaded hair ornament, and rhinestone choker. The hair ornament is really a big old 80s earring! Her 1950s red elastic pumps match her dress perfectly. These needed a little repair, just re-gluing of the felt and stuff like that.
Dollikin's Spanish dress
The repaired red shoes
Since Dollikin doesn't ever settle down for long, before you know it she's on the jet to Asia. She wants to visit China and Japan. As always, she adapts to the local habits. She picks up some gorgeous silk undergarments, lace and bead trimmed tap pants and a bra. She's so pampered in her silk and sheer nylons!
Dollikin's silk underwear with vintage sheer nylons and shoes
Dollikin finds the Asian persuasion to lounge in silk so compelling, she also buys an original Uneeda Lotus Blossom 3-piece ensemble. Nothing is as comfortable for entertaining at home!
Dollikin's Lotus Blossom suit
I would like to insert here that I have actually traveled quite a bit in China and all the people I see are always working like dogs, not lounging around in silk, but I'm going with the 1950s American perception for this story! It's a nice idea, anyway! The Lotus Blossom suit was in deplorable condition when I got it. I have made extensive repairs, but it still very fragile and shows its age.
The Lotus Suit before repairs
Finally, Dollikin decides to head home with all her exotic fashions. It's too hot in China for poor Francoise, and Dollikin wants to show her new wardrobe off to her friends!
I'll tell you what: not only is this my dream doll, but she's wearing my dream wardrobe as well! If only I had Dollikin's figure and were only 18 inches tall so I could make all my clothes from scraps! I would have absolutely loved this doll when I was a girl. I'm still having trouble selling her now!


  1. I like this type of doll. She's very pretty after repaint!

  2. Thank you! You are so sweet! I didn't paint her face at all though, so she was pretty anyway! Amanda

  3. You are so talented! She is just lovely. I'd keep her too.

  4. Thank you so much! I hope you get to feeling better soon! Amanda

  5. I love what you did! I just found my Dollikin today, dressed in the Lotus outfit. I think I need a pattern now to extend her wardrobe.

  6. Thank you! You can find many Revlon and Cissy fashion doll patterns on eBay to fit 18 inch fashion dolls and they will work for Dollikin. You can also buy the pink dress, coat, and dog shown in this post in my eBay store! :) I made them from Revlon doll patterns.


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