A very good friend of mine is having a bit of a torrid time of it. She is a particularly big fan of my dolls, so I made her a present. It’s a bit whacky woo woo for me, but she is made as a healing doll. I know that people who go in for this sort of thing often claim that rose pink is a healing colour, but for me blue which is the colour of the sky and the sea and the infinite and utopia is much more therapeutic. So this doll is all in shades of purple-y blue.
I made her while I was at my mother’s and she is made of scraps from the substantial fabric bank at mum’s house. The body is made from an old sample pack of Rose and Hubble fabric. They are now out of business so the doll is almost an historic artefact and record of Britain’s mighty textile past. The head is scrap curtain lining, and the hair is waste yarn from a textile factory. So she represents recycling and saving stuff from landfill.
I made the pattern myself and I stitched it entirely by hand. It would have been quicker to have made the doll on the machine, but for some reason I wanted to hand stitch her. I was surprised how sturdy my stitching was. The stuffing did not strain the seams.
I had a bit of a go at needle sculpting her face:
I’m not sure it was entirely successful. The back stitch down the centre to make a nose is a technique that a lot of US doll makers who make something called ‘Prims” – primitive dolls – use. It’s very easy but looks better, I think, on dolls which you are trying to make look ancient and battered and, indeed, primitive. The eyes and mouth are beads. I put some dilute koh-i-nor paint around the eye sockets and on her cheeks. My mother thought she looked like the swimmer, Rebecca Addlington, so we called her Rebecca.
I thought her clothes looked a bit sixties hippie infused boho chic. I used to wear these sorts of trouser suits as a little girl. My aunt made them for me. She was a professional dressmaker and made children’s clothes and bridal outfits. I was a beautifully dressed child! She also had a magnificent bit bag full of scraps from wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses. I suspect that my love of textiles, making and luxury fabrics got a good start from my aunt’s bit bag. I was a bit surprised to open the September issue of Vogue and discover I may have been channelling high fashion when I saw this advert:
I like the flared trousers and that would be an easy thing to incorporate in another doll.
Rebecca was a great hit, and here she is at the handover in a very nice restaurant in London:
The waitresses all rather charmingly worked round her.