She Writes … and Plays with Dolls Too (Part 1)

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Other Craftiness | 1 comment

So I’ve been taking a semi-forced break from writing recently. Not because I wanted to, but because my characters haven’t been talking to me, the plot has several holes large enough to run a herd of cattle through, and I need to sit down and read several books for research purposes, but haven’t had the focus to do so. Homeschooling also started in full swing. I decided to give my brain something else creative to chew on for a while instead.arwen

It seems everybody is making plushies nowadays. I’ve seen some awfully cute ones of hobbits and Time Lords and consulting detectives. I’ve always been good at making things, so I thought I’d try my hand at making plushies. I drafted my own pattern and stitched away, and in a couple of hours I had succeeded in making an Arwen (to keep my daughter’s Bilbo plushie company).

Jill loves her Arwen plushie (and is now begging for an Aragorn), but making it just didn’t float my boat. Guess I’m not a plushie kind of girl. But the idea of doll-making stuck with me. I’d seen a couple of patterns for rag dolls that looked like fun, so again I drafted a pattern and started in. This time I decided to use my own characters.

First up was Starla Anderson, the heroine of An Uncivilized Yankee. She turned out so well that I immediately made her little sister Danica, who is the main character in A Great Wide Nowhere.

sisters1Here are the two sisters. Star is wearing her “uniform”: a Confederate shell jacket with a standing collar, a shortened gray skirt worn over loose trousers (when you spend all day in the saddle, long skirts don’t work too well), and the green sash of a surgeon/Healer.

I got even fancier with Dani’s outfit. Since I had made the plum linen gown featured on the front cover of her story, I had scraps left to make a doll-sized version. Turns out I’m pretty picky about historical accuracy even with dolls, so this dress has the flattened front with all the fullness in the back that an 1867 skirt would have had.

I was having entirely too much fun making these, and I told myself, “Well, if I have the two sisters, I have to make the two brothers.”


Lieutenant Travis Black came first. I was determined to make his outfit accurate too. I spent a long time researching the proper colors for a cavalry officer’s trousers but only after sewing on a nice wide yellow stripe down each of the legs did I discover that only the NCOs had the wide stripe. Commissioned officers had a narrow welting sewn into their trousers seam. Sigh. Oh well. The first pair of pants looked like low-rise jogging pants anyway.travis1

And here’s Travis! Isn’t he just the cutest thing?!  He’s got the single bars of a 1st lieutenant on his shoulder straps (which took FOREVER to make) and is wearing the short, practical shell jacket that so many cavalrymen preferred. Beneath that is a plain linen shirt, and rust-colored braces. Even though you can’t really see them, I put suspenders underneath the jacket. I also finally figured out a way to make decent-looking boots. Here Travis is following Army regulations by wearing his trousers “unbloused”, or outside the boots. And you can just barely see the yellow welting along the seam of his sky blue trousers.

Captain Robert Black will obviously be next. However, I’ve decided to fully document his creation from beginning to end. My next few posts will cover the actual doll making, adding the distinguishing characteristics (brown hair, brown eyes, sober mouth), and then making the clothing.

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One Comment

  1. Loved seeing these dolls! What fun!

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