July 17, 2012

Tiny Clothes

This is a story that spans four, maybe five, generations.  

My friend Debbie and I have known each other since we were 12.  Our moms were friends, too.  Debbie has a grandmother who is now 106 years old.  She used to do pretty much any kind of needlework and sewing you can imagine.  So she and I get on pretty well!

So here's the intergenerational tale.

More than a few years ago, Debbie's grandma dressed several Madame Alexander dolls for a church fund raiser, and was able to purchase an unclothed doll, which she planned to dress for Debbie.  She wanted to do the same for Debbie's cousin Phyllis, but could never find another unclothed Madame Alexender doll for sale.  (This was long before eBay!)  So Debbie's doll was tucked away in the closet until a couple of years ago, when Debbie's mom found it and asked Grandma about it.

Debbie's mom came to me with a request to make a set of clothes as a surprise gift for Debbie.  Grandma is hoping that Debbie will give the doll to her daughter Emmie and eventually maybe her granddaughter.  That would make this an heirloom for Grandma's great-great-grandchild.  What a spectacular idea!

I discussed the styles and colors with Debbie's mom.  She relayed all the conversations to Grandma.  Grandma had some pretty clear ideas of what items a well-dressed doll should have!  I'd never made doll clothes before, so it was a really fun adventure for me.

I found and purchased two 8" doll clothing patterns.  I made muslin mock-ups first.  I discovered that Madame Alexander dolls have very thick necks and also a cute little girl belly, both of which necessitated some alterations.  I also redesigned a couple of things to fit Grandma's instructions.  I used vintage fabrics for everything, since I was working as Grandma's proxy in this project.

Here's her school dress.  This is made of woven, not printed, gingham with ric-rac from the box of trims I inherited from Grandma's house.

Here's a little sailor style dress made from a white linen napkin.  Debbie's mom had made matching dresses like this for Debbie and her daughter.

Here's her party dress.  This was made from an old pillow sham.

Grandma requested a velvet coat and hat.  It snaps shut for ease of use, but has little gold buttons stitched on.

Here are her pyjamas, made of a rosebud seersucker and pink organza ribbon.

Her trousseau is appropriately completed with these undergarments.

And finally, here is Debbie's dear Grandma Wood, enjoying the finished project.

Debbie's doll now resides in a very small white suitcase that belonged to Grandma, along with a baby blanket that Grandma made for Debbie's son Nathan.

I couldn't be more pleased to be part of this project that spans the decades.


  1. I love the story and pictures put together, and am so lucky to have such an heirloom from Grandma and Ann!

  2. I love family heirlooms and family traditions. I enjoyed your story and pictures. Congratulations for helping a family with a friend's family.

  3. Amazing twists of fate brought the doll finally to you, Deb, its intended recipient! What a lovely story. Sorry Phyllis never did get one like it.

  4. What a sweet story, with such a happy ending. Each person involved contributed to the manifesting of this wonderful heirloom!

  5. Beautiful doll, beautiful dresses, beautiful story!

  6. AnonymousJuly 18, 2012

    This is my Aunt Mary, and this is such a nice story. Thanks for doing this for her Ann.

  7. AnonymousJuly 19, 2012

    What a great story and what a blessing for Grandma Mary to remember the details. There are many more stories of Mary as she told me some of them. Treasure the memories. Blessings to all of you from pastor Emilie

  8. Thanks to everyone for the great response! This certainly was a one-of-a-kind, heart-warming project.

  9. Most beautiful story..