Jess Brown Dolly
Finally, the weather broke – literally, the clouds finally cracked, rain poured down, and my craftroom is now, once again, a pleasant place to be. And, while my Jess Brown doll might be sitting around in her skivvies, I was comfortable in my t-shirt and shorts.
How cute are her little pantaloons?? So cute. The clothes in the book are super simple to make, and were probably the least time consuming process of making little dolly.
This is the drawstring dress that’s on the cover of the book. In keeping with the themes of the book, I did plunder my tiny stash of vintage fabrics for this embroidered piece. While I love it, Joe thought she looked kind of nun-ish, with the smock like shape of the dress, and the high neck. I love the simple look of the dress, but I think my niece might agree with Joe at least as far as the fabric goes – I don’t think she’d appreciate the vintage fabric – I think she’d just think it was old. So, I think I’m keeping this doll experiment, and that’s ok.
And now for a look at the hair. During the week, I said a heartfelt goodbye to all of my moth riddled sweaters. I had them stacked in a pile, while I came to terms with the fact that they were too destroyed to be fixed. That process took a few years. But, finally, I felt ready. Even though they were filled with holes, it was with a heavy heart that I threw them into the washing machine to be felted beyond recognition. So, this head of hair was born from my favorite GAP sweater. The handmade sweaters that I felted turned out much to thick for hair, but will find their ways into other projects.
As you can see, I had no idea what I was doing. The instructions in the book tell you to cut strips and sew them to the head. Not that helpful really. So, I started with the ribbing, and sewed that on, like they were bangs, I guess. Then, I sewed on a strip across the back of the head. Then, I got the idea to cut shorter strips, and roll them up at the bottom, like curling hair, I guess. I think it would have looked better had I not sewn that strip down the middle – but that I had sewed the vertical strips to the front bang strip. I don’t know. It’s just hair, no biggie. And it is super soft.
And here she is, finished! Well, for the most part. I think I may use a ribbon around the neckline of the dress instead of the embroidery floss that the pattern talked about. But, for the most part, done. And, I do think she’s very sweet.
So, final thoughts. As far as the pattern goes, it’s simple, but . . . I think the pattern was designed for the sewer who is afraid of sewing curves. Pretty much you sew a straight line, pivot, sew. The only true curves are around the head, hand, and the foot – sort of – the leg is folded in half, and sewn. I think if I were to make it again, I’d definitely do the base of the doll differently – so that it doesn’t come out like a triangle with pencils sticking out of her. And, to avoid the pencil like leg, I think I’d make them longer, with a knee bend. And, if you sew the arms on after – whether you attach them with buttons or just sew them on (like Tilda), you don’t need the stuffing hole in the back. We’ll see.
And, in keeping with the notion that every child deserves a “comfort” doll as Jess Brown calls them, I chatted with my niece last night about making rag dolls as part of her bat mitzvah mitzvah project. Right now she volunteers with my nephew’s autism meet up group, The Friendship Circle. I thought maybe I’d make a bunch of doll parts, and Danielle would help me stuff them and dress them, and then we’d give them to the kids at Hanukkah. Danielle thought that was a great idea, but we’ll see if there’s any follow through there. If there isn’t, it’s no biggie – she does enough work as it is with the kids. I would like to make some dolls to donate though. While I don’t have any problems with the pricing of Jess Brown dolls – they’re handmade, with the best material, and have a definite high end vibe to them – I disagree that they are in fact affordable. They are affordable to a certain market, sure, but not the market I’m privvy to. Maybe if my plot with Danielle doesn’t work out, I’ll think about donating them to a pediatric ward of a hospital or something. Our office does a toy drive every year, but doesn’t accept handmade toys. I”m thinking if I leave off removable parts like buttons or plastic eyes, they should be ok. I don’t know – still plotting.
The great ragdoll experiment continues!