Friday, August 29, 2014

Wendy's Wedding

Wendy Kins from 1957 or later, dressed in a 1960s dress.

Today I finished my Wendy Kins bride doll. You first saw this doll in my Wendy Through The Years post:, which I will let you read for a more thorough examination of this doll's age. I was planning to make this a trunk set with a bridal trousseau, but I have three trunk sets in my cabinet right now, so I decided I don't have room for any more until one sells.

Wendy's unusual black eyes

This is the unusual Wendy Kins doll with the black pupil-less eyes, seldom seen, and the wig stitching described as "unique" by Carol Stover. There's more on that in my other post linked above. The rarest thing about this doll in my opinion, however, is her condition. She's just pristine! Her hair has a few fly-aways but is otherwise in its original style. Her face paint is clear and bright, her pale complexion is matte. For a doll of 50 or older, she's really in amazing shape. It's especially amazing when I consider the rest of the lot she came with. Every other doll needed minor to major repairs, and few of the clothes looked new. Of all that was in the lot the taffeta panties she's wearing are the only items that looked old enough to be of an age with Wendy, so I replaced their elastic and dressed her in them.

Vintage Alexander bouquet and necklace.

Handmade veil

I found a bride dress in the lot and was able to determine it is the #735/#730 gown of 1968-1972. The bouquet was in there too, but not the veil, so I made a veil from new and vintage materials. It has a little wired crown of flowers and you can pull the tulle over her face for the beginning of the ceremony. I thought an old Alexander cross necklace and gold sandals went well with the outfit.

The late 1960s tag
I was able to identify and date the dress using my Patricia Smith Alexander dolls book. The dress from 1968-1972 has one row of lace along the hem. The same dress with two rows of lace was used from 1973-1978.

The veil has a crown of flowers.

I re-strung Wendy with cord elastic. This is tricky with the old dolls. I want to get the cord tight enough to let the walker work but loose enough to prevent the seams from splitting. The walker works best if you sort of press the hips together as you move them, and you have to balance Wendy to get her to stand, but she will sit and stand alone. Her knees bend well. She has minor dings here and there on her limbs and body, but these are very tiny.

I found a crinoline that's very 1950s style, really full with a layer of stiff net under the tulle. This makes the dress stand out far and will also work under 50s style dresses. The crinoline needed new elastic so I replaced it. It almost makes the dress short enough to double as a First Communion gown if you wanted. My step-sister and best friend were both Catholic when we were growing up and got to wear the little First Communion wedding dresses. I wanted one so bad I was just sick with jealousy! I can remember my friend looking through the Sears catalogue to pick out her gown.

Wendy can sit and stand alone.

My little Wendy bride turned out very well, I think. You can find her and many other restored dolls in my store, so please check:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's a Cold Cold World

My little helper
Here I sit in my too-quiet house on the first full day of Kindergarten. Because of staggered entry, my son went one day at the beginning of the week and then again today. I'm trying to be positive. Today I had my first dental cleaning without any baby or kid in the room with me for 15 years. It would have been more exciting if I hadn't also been told I have the first cavity of my life! But when I get my filling I won't have a baby in the room, watching.

It's just so unnaturally still, though. I tell myself I have a lot to do. I should be up in the "sweat shop", as my husband named my sweltering attic office, sewing the endless procession of marching band cloaks. My son keeps bringing me more, but we are still only halfway done. I have a big pile of almost-finished dolls up there as well.

My little one wanted to be a "big helper" on his last day at home, so I took him out to work in the garden yesterday. Earlier this year my husband and teenager built me some cold frames from old windows my grandfather hoarded in his barn. I wanted these to start seeds, but lately I've been hearing so much about these "high tunnels" everyone's using to garden and I wondered if I could use the cold frames like that. A high tunnel is like a greenhouse, except that you plant straight in the ground instead of in shelves and there's no artificial heating. Most of them are thick translucent plastic stretched over a curved frame tall enough to stand inside. They can allow you to plant earlier and harvest later in the year. I know the HOA will never approve a real high tunnel in the backyard here! If I could only get on the good side of a farmer so I could have some land to work, I'd be so happy!

My patio with cold frames.

At any rate, I figure my cold frames are a more attractive, if smaller, solution. The problem is, we only get full sun on our gorgeous stone patio. I certainly don't want to mess up the design of the side yard. I've spent a full year working on it, trying to turn it onto a classic southern courtyard, like those you see in New Orleans or Charleston. I decided to line the frames up in front of the fence and rows of umbrella-pruned magnolia trees, and I think the result looks wonderful. I'm not all the way finished yet. The frame farthest to the right will eventually be moved in front of the spot where the wagon now stands, as it gets better light. All the kids' toys are kind of messing up my elegant vibe, but I only have to listen to the silence echoing through the rooms to be willing to overlook that!

Stones to re-use in the garden.

I can't imagine how much this patio must have cost to install. Some of the stones are enormous and they go all the way to the fence. At some point someone put soil right on top of them and planted over the patio. I can't stand the thought of that waste, however, so I've been digging up the stones under the soil along the fence and where I set the frames. I plan to use them in paths through-out the garden.

The strawberry border with new grass in front of it.

A few months ago I showed you the strawberry border I was planting along the grass. We dug up the yard and seeded, to give ourselves a bit more lawn. I want to beef up the stone edging I installed back then and transition those into a path to the garden. I really ought to be out digging up more stone and planting the last frame but it's 90 degrees and blazing sun right now. I went for my walk early and about expired. It's even hot right down by the water, which is most unusual, and I saw a dead fish floating close to shore.

A finished cold frame with seeds planted.

So, the last cold frame will have to wait until it's cool enough for hauling rocks and shoveling compost, maybe early tomorrow morning. I started seeds directly in the two finished frames. I planted lettuce, garlic, and cilantro in the first. I decided to try to use the greenhouse effect to eke out a last late tomato, peas, and cucumber harvest this fall. Those all need bees to fertilize them as well as staking, so I planted them together. I will open the cover to let the bees get to them and allow them to climb. I plan to grow cabbage and kale and maybe spinach in the last frame.

I sure hope the winter garden does better than the summer garden. We've had a heck of a time with our summer garden. Our tomatoes and peppers have been plagued by cold temperatures, fungus, and insects. Our rhubarb was really the only strong performer and it's done now. I plan to sterilize the garden soil by covering it with black plastic and letting it cook all the spores over the winter, so I'm not planning to plant a winter garden out there.

I am impressed with our strawberries. We are still harvesting about a cup each day, which is pretty good for August and the small number of plants we have. I put in a lot of Tristan and Ozark Beauty ever-bearing this year, and some Quinault as well. We just freeze the berries as we pick them so we can use them once we amass enough for a recipe. I'll keep you posted on how everything does.

My daughter is finally recovered, though it took more than two weeks. I decided to take her off gluten for a while to see if it helps her lingering symptoms. It's a ton of extra cooking, since it prevents her from eating breakfast and lunch at school as she used to, so I hope she's able to tolerate adding it back. I haven't felt wonderful myself lately. I've had a headache since Sunday, and it's Thursday now. I can't tell if I picked up her virus or if I'm just reacting to having to wake up hours before dawn to get everyone to school. Even our little five year old has to be on the bus before seven. I hope to someday have time to work on my store again. I'll let you know, of course!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wendy's Busy Week

Wendy's Ballerina Trousseau

Today I was finally able to finish a Wendy-Kins trunk set I've had in the works for a while. Technically I guess it's a boxed set, as I've included a vintage hat box to store everything. I do so enjoy making trunk sets! I know I make more money when I sell pieces separately, but I just enjoy the little sets so much! I modeled this on after a similar Wendy ballerina trousseau sold by Madame Alexander in the 1950s. This is not an original Madame set. I put it together from various tagged and untagged Vogue and Madame Alexander pieces.

Wendy and her things in a vintage hat box

Wendy came in a lot of dolls needing repair, including the Something Blue Cissy I have listed right now, a flapper doll, and a little Ginger doll. Wendy has the bent-knee walker body, a triple-stitched wig, and tan skin with very red lips. According to the Carol Stover Small Dolls book, this doll was made beginning in 1956.

The doll needed re-stringing.

The doll has molded hair under her wig.

Wendy needed re-stringing and had a small side seam split, which I repaired. I strung her somewhat loosely, since she already had a split, but tight enough that her walker will still function. She can sit and stand alone. Her wig was pretty much in its original set, although it was dirty and has some minor breakage. I cleaned it and fluffed the curls back up. Interestingly, you can see molded hair under this doll's wig, so it  was evidently used as Wendy as well as for boy dolls and baby dolls.

Her seam split, before and after repair

A while back I bought some doll wigs that came packed in a neat old hat box. There was a tiny crack in the lid, and whatever logo was once on the top was worn away. It's so cool, though, I've just been waiting to find a doll to fit in it. Wendy and her clothes all fit, although she has to bend her hips a bit, not stand straight. I printed her initial on parchment card stock, glued it on, and then finished the edge with buffing wax.

A vintage hat box custom-altered for Wendy

There's some wear to the box and an old label.

Once Wendy was all fixed it was time for the fun of dressing her up! On Sunday night, Mother tells Wendy to get ready for bed because she has a very busy week ahead of her. Wendy puts on her warm flannel sleeper printed with blue rosebuds. This is un-tagged but looks factory-made. It closes in back with round silver snaps.

Wendy wears an untagged flannel sleeper.

On Mondays Wendy goes to ballet class. She wears a pretty blue taffeta dress with gold and white trim. This is not tagged but is factory made. Under her ballet dress Wendy wears white lace-trimmed Alexander panties from a newer doll and plastic Ginnette shoes by Vogue.

Wendy's ballerina costume, with each piece very nice.

Wendy's a big girl now, and she can help Mother by dressing herself. She already has her Alexander panties, vintage and somewhat yellowed rayon socks, and vintage Alexander flocked black shoes on when Mother comes in to help her pick out a dress. "You're such a big help, Wendy-Kins!", says Mother.

Wendy can sit alone and bend her knees.

It's Tuesday, so Wendy and Mother do their shopping. Wendy wears her lovely red velvet coat with plaid bias facing, tagged Vogue, and her black, lace-trimmed Alexander bonnet. The bonnet is from a more recent Alexander doll, probably one of the international dolls.

Wendy's coat is tagged Vogue.

The coat is stiff and bright, with no issues.

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Under her red coat Wendy wears a blue and green plaid dress. It has no tag but it factory made. It closes in back with a tiny hook and eye like those used in Vogue's early outfits. There is some fraying at the neck of the dress, but I have treated it with Fray Check so it won't get worse.

The neck has some fraying.

Wendy's plaid dress

Wednesday is house cleaning day. Wendy helps Mother dust with her guinea feather duster with bamboo handle, handmade by me. Wendy wears her favorite day dress, a white cotton printed with red cherries and trimmed with tiny rickrack. This has no tag but does have the Vogue style hook and eye closure. This has minor age-related yellowing. Wendy keeps her dress clean with her Medford-tagged Vogue apron. The tag is very frayed and the hook and eye has some rusting around it. Someone wrote "Ginny" on the inside of the apron strap.

The apron is tagged Vogue.

Wendy's feather duster is handmade.

Wendy's cherry-print dress.

Thursday is Wendy's Brownie Scout day. She loves all her friends from Brownies, including Muffie and Ginger, who are also available in my store: Her dress isn't tagged and doesn't have a Brownie logo. It has two faux buttons on front and closes with two flat brown snaps in back.

Wendy's Brownie outfit

Wendy is often invited to parties on Friday and Saturday, so she wears her special dress. Father bought it for her while he was in Europe on business before the war. It's a beautiful Madame Alexander dress from the 1960s or 70s tagged Czechoslovakia. The skirt has an attached crinoline.

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Wendy's triple-stitched wig
A tagged dress from the 1960s or 70s

Wendy's fancy dress

After restoration Wendy look very good. Her feet have faint brownish marks from wearing shoes for a long time, it appears. She works well, and her clothing is mostly very nice, other than the noted issues. I hope Wendy finds a new owner who enjoys her as much as I enjoyed creating this set! Keep watching for another Wendy bridal trousseau on the way!

The feet are marked from old shoes

Wendy is marked ALEX.

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Wendy after restoration

Monday, August 18, 2014

You Can't Go Home Again, and Other Reasons to Work

A Portrette Scarlett doll

Today I got a big stack of packages, mostly new project dolls or accessories to complete older dolls. I am happy to have more things to work on, not that working has been easy lately with everything we've had going on. Our daughter still isn't feeling all the way well, despite having been taken to Urgent Care, the E.R., and her pediatrician. She's been X-Rayed and had an ultrasound. She's had blood work and all sorts of tests, but they can't find anything wrong and send her home telling us to give her Tylenol. She's scared and angry with us for not having cured her already. It's a terrible and terrifying thing to have a sick child and to be able to do nothing for her. We haven't gotten a bill yet, but we're on a high-deductible plan, so I shudder to think of the thousands of worthless dollars we've spent. While all that was going on I still had to find time to sew a bunch of marching band costumes, which I promised to do months ago. Then, my friend I usually walk with has joined a gym and goes to classes when I can't go because I'm driving my teen around at that time, so I lost my workout buddy.

On top of everything, the situation with the family member's baby I wrote about in my Wendy Ann's Tara Dreams post means we will lose our childcare, since my mother-in-law will be keeping that baby during the day. I was supposed to accompany my husband on a business trip to Cincinnati next month and now I won't be able to go. I was really looking forward to it. Cool, green Ohio summer evenings are one of my favorite things, and I love Cincinnati. When I was a girl that meant the "city" and we would visit often to shop or see a Red's game or go to King's Island. We were also planning a trip next summer to my native California, and now that's off as well. So, for me at least, it seems you really can't go home again!

Scarlett's costume

So, I've been feeling unbecomingly sorry for myself. I think I am just suffering from a fatigue of spirit. I've had too many people needing me to take them here and there and do this or that for them and not enough time to myself. Of course I know when school starts and I'm alone all day I'll miss all the bustle! I took myself on a walk to the lake to give myself a stern talking to about how lucky I really and and how much more I have than so many others. The lake was a riot of green this afternoon, jade and emerald, grass and leaf and lime. I feel a bit better now.

A "Nancy Drew" face doll

Gazing on riffled waves and walking under the trees centers me. I was able to remember all I've accomplished. Last night I ran about two miles of my five mile walk. My buddy doesn't like to run so I haven't been doing it lately. I've been cleaning everything, including all the bed linens and blankets and electronics we've used, trying to eradicate all my daughter's bug, and I'm nearly finished. I cleaned a huge stack of vintage doll clothes from the 1930s-1970s, including a new Scarlett O'Hara gown.

A 1960s or 70s Elise doll

You might remember a few months back a customer bought the dress off my Scarlett Roses Cissy without buying the doll. I found another Jacqueline-face Portrette doll from the 1960s or 70s in bad shape but with a nice dress I can use to re-style that Cissy. I'm thinking of giving her a Christmas outfit.

Nancy Drew, re-strung
Then I cleaned a big lot of dolls, including a pretty Elise, and re-strung a Nancy Drew, or Louisa, face Madame doll to sell as a dress-me doll. I'm about to start a big new project. I finally got my hands on a Sonja Henie doll. She was a famous Norwegian skater in the 1930s and 40s. I've wanted a Sonja doll for years. Very few of we Norwegians have been made into dolls! I love that Madame Alexander made a special portrait face for Sonja instead of just using a stock doll dressed as her, so she has her signature dimples and Norwegian pointed chin. I also love her blond curls and brown eyes. Blond hair and dark eyes are very Norwegian. I and my sisters all had this combination as little girls.

I think I've spent so much on Sonja there's no way I'll make a profit on her, so she'll be a labor of love. I have many pieces of her original trousseau with tags, however, and her golden skates and some skis (one original to her). Then I just couldn't resist a new pair of fancy skates! I may have to keep her for just a little while! I think I might make her a bunad, or traditional costume, as well. I don't know where she was from, but my family wears the Hardanger bunad, so that's probably what I'll make. I haven't embroidered any Hardanger recently. It's nice to feel excited about some projects again. That's the thing that makes my job worthwhile!

You will find many of these dolls in my store very soon, so please check:

Sonja Henie, from 1939