Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Hi All,
Okay, here she is, all done. She's  a 22 inch, all cloth doll. Her name is "Lady Esmeralda, the Royal Court Sorceress".

Her hair is decorated with feathers, flowers, beads, a skull, and a bat!

 I made her mask in the shape of a bat. I decorated it with tiny pieces of lace, and painted it all black.

 Here's a shot of her poison ring, and skull decor on her sleeve.

Have fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Hi All,
Here's more of my progress on my 18th Century Witch doll.

Here is a start on the fan she will hold. I embroidered the fan pattern with black faceted beads sewn to resemble a spider's web on  black sheer organza.

 I like to finish as much of the arms & hands as possible before sewing them to the body. As you see, I've added the sleeves (same combination of fabrics as the over-skirt and bodice), the lace "mitts", some beaded bracelets, and I painted her fingernails -- which is very hard to do once the arms are on the body!

Here, I'm embroidering the black lace on the stomacher (the triangle on the front of the bodice) with beads and sequins, after I've assembled the bodice. Again, like the skirt, I want to add some "witchy" bits to the bodice -- maybe a spider or skull??

Okay, here's the whole costume, (mostly) done.The over-skirt is sewn on, the bodice is added (hand-sewn at the waist to the skirt), and the arms added.

As you see, I've decided to add a spider charm to the bodice (dyed orange with alcohol ink.) 

Also, while working on her, I brought her to my "art" friends to see her work-in-progress, and they all agreed she needed a mask-on-a-stick in her hand, -NOT a fan! --(Oh well, I'll just save the embroidered spider web for another project someday). So, I put a wooden dowel in her hand to pose the arm. Now, I just have to make the mask!

Okay, time to work on the head and wig.

 Here's her head, already needle-sculpted, with the face blocked in with a tan pencil. I've sewn a "hair pad" to the top of the head to hold up the large hairstyle common in the 18th century.

 I've sewn some "wefts"  for the wig -- one out of creme wool, and one of orange mohair. My plan is to make most of the wig out of the creme wool, and add little "streaks" of orange here and there in the wig.

The only reason I'm using hair from different animals is ---It's what I had in my hair stash! I don't know if you can mix hair from different animals in the same wig, but I guess I'll find out......

 Okay, this is where it gets messy. I glue the weft along the hairline in the reverse direction -- this is to hide the raw ends of the weft. Since I'm working in reverse, I've already glued on the bits of orange hair, before adding the wool.

 And, after lots of jabbing with a felting needle, and MANY layers of hair spray, here's the finished wig. The little sausage curls on the sides are made by winding the wool over plastic soda straws (and spraying the hell out of them!)

Usually when I make a doll, I sew the head to the body, then do the face, and do the hair last. But, I've learned that SO many things can go wrong with the wig, I wanted to keep them separate until the wig is finished. Because I knew this hairstyle required so much hairspray, I didn't want to paint the face on first, and then have it ruined by all the spray.

Here I am, trying out some ribbon and flowers on the back of the hair -- just for fun.

Well, I'm pretty happy with how the wig turned out. I don't do wigs very often for two reasons: One, because I'm not very good at them. And Two, if it's a "styled' wig, it's so hard to control the hair and keep it from NOT looking like a rat's nest! (That's why most of my dolls have TURBANS or HEADDRESSES - they are so much easier to do and maintain!)

You may also notice I made little ears for her, which I never do. (Again, turbans and headdresses cover the ears!) But, I felt she needed them, as I want to give her dangling earrings. (And you need ears to have earrings, right??)

But, with an 18th century character (my FAVORITE period in costume history) you just can't get away with doing a hat -- the hair is what makes the whole "look" so extravagant!

So, she's almost done. I just have to finish her face and put it all together.
 Stay tuned for the finished doll......

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Hi All,
 I've started on a new WITCH doll for Halloween. I wanted to do something "grand" -- not a bunch of assembly-line dolls like all the Ghost dolls I just finished.

So, I've decided on an elegant 18th cent. Witch doll. I'm going to send it to Houston for the big Quilt show at the end of Oct. for Pamela's "Treasures of the Gypsy" challenge.

(To find out more about the "Treasures of the Gypsy" challenge, go here.)

She's going to be about 25 inches tall, after I get her hair done.

Here are some work-in-progress photos:
Here's the basic body (made of doe-suede, of course), with the stockings, shoes, and pantaloons. Those two funny "saddle bags" on her hips are her hip pads to help hold her skirt up on the sides. Women in the 18th century would wear hip pads, or a hoop skirt called "panniers" (which is a French word literately meaning "buckets", because it was shaped like two buckets on the hips).

Now, I've got her petticoat on. I've pinned on her arms and head to get an idea of the pose. I made a quick paper fan for her hand, as I want her to hold something. --Either that, or she'll hold a mask on a stick. (Haven't decided......)

Okay, here I'm working on her underskirt -- only the front triangle will show. I'm using Treasures of the Gypsy fabric and beaded trim -- that's an orange taffeta fabric with an overlay of a sheer orange/red stripe fabric. I've added black lace to the bottom with some orange/gold trim. In the center is a design made with orange beaded trim surrounded by black trim and lace. -- As you see, I use a lot of fabric & trim, even for a doll!

Now the underskirt is gathered and sewn to the waist. You can see how the hip pads help with the period silhouette. Since this is a WITCH doll, and not just an 18th century dress, I decided she needs to have some "witch-y" trim added. So, I've added some brass charms in the shape of jack-o-lanterns, some orange skulls, a black felt bat, and some tiny spiders in trim on the bottom.

Here's her over-skirt, which is open in the front (to reveal the underskirt). The over-skirt is made of orange satin brocade covered with a fun spider-web netting. Again, using lots of trim down the front, including some bat-shaped sequins with even tinier orange skulls on them.

This is a close-up of the trims I used. As  you see, I've layered several trims together. There's a black velvet trim with sheer gathers on the edge. Next to that is an elaborate embroidered gold and orange trim, which I've layered pieces of another embroidered orange/bronze sequin trim on top, along with more sequins & lace. (I dyed those little white skull beads using orange alcohol ink.) You can barely see the little red/orange star motifs peeking out behind the lace, sewn down with black sequins.

Okay, time to put on the over-skirt! Stay tuned for more photos!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Hi All,
Okay, after lots of trial and error, I was able to make corrections to my blogger account, so I can now download photos. Many thanks to Romona for all her help. Romona is much more "computer-literate" than I, and was kind enough to write to me and tell me what to do.

I finished my "Dearly Departed" ghost dolls. They are about 19 inches tall. The bodies are made of white doe-suede fabric, while most of the costumes are made of gauze. I made them for a Halloween show I'm getting ready for in Sept.

I've tried to add little accents of sequins and trim to each one.

Each of the dolls has a wooden candlestick as a base.

Most "ghost" dolls I've seen all tend to have long white hair, but I wanted to do something different, so I gave each one a different style turban.

These lost souls wader around earth, looking for someone to guide them to their afterlife.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Problem with Blogger

Hi All,
Sorry about not posting for a while. Blogger is having a problem uploading photos. It seems to have something to do with Internet Explorer. I've been reading their forum to fix the problem, but the only solution they offer is to switch to another internet system (which I don't want to do). If the problem isn't fixed in the next few weeks, I will have to switch to another blogging system. I will keep you updated. Thanks. -- Arley