Sunday, February 3, 2019
Doll Dressing and More
As I was dusting, rearranging, repairing, and dressing dolls in my collection, I started to wonder about how other collectors managed their dolls. I’ve always thought managing a doll collection was a lot like a management job in general. There are lots of hats to wear and juggle, albeit tiny ones, and lots of multitasking!
So, do you dress dolls all at once? Do you sew for your dolls? I tend to gather the undressed dolls first. We have a thing in my family about leaving naked dolls around, unless they are Venus statues in miniature or Frozen Charlottes. My grandmother, a seamstress, used to gather the naked dolls I left out at night, and then make clothes for them. Often, by morning, the poor nude dolly had a whole new ensemble.
I tend to find an outfit for the doll first. I like to go through my doll clothes, and match outfit to doll. Sometimes, I will buy a thrift shop doll just because I have clotjes for it. I love the 18inch American Girl lookalikes, especially the Madame Alexander variety. They are fun to dress, and I once picked up the Heidi Ott version with a whole wardrobe of handmade clothes, complete with labels. The wardrobe opened as a bedroom, complete with a little Murphy bed. Other times, there is a terrific piece of old lace or material I just have to make into something.
After I find the clothes, I work on a series of dolls at once. Some get wigs, others clothes. I look for underthings, accessories, then think about the hair. The dolls get cleaned up first, but sometimes I save hairstyling for last. Barbie shoes go on the very last; they get lost too easily. If the doll is displayed, I find her shoes. If she gets packed a way for awhile, I wait on putting on her shoes.
Sometimes, I find a more appropriate or older outfit. Then, I will switch clothes. I like to take spring and summer afternoons to launder doll clothes; I add Febreze or Ivory Liquid to the water and soak them, and usually wash them by hand. I’ve taken some costumes for dolls to the cleaners; they charge as if they were baby clothes, usually.
My mother was terrific at dressing dolls. Every Christmas, one of my dolls got a makeover. She knitted and crocheted, and I found a half finished outfit in her things after she died. I have lots of treat knitted doll pieces displayed on my dolls; tiny purses were her specialty. She was a wiz at Barbie clothes, even to making tiny beaded boots and leather look coats.
Just curious; I’d like to know how you put outfits together when you need to dress your dolls. Happy Collecting!