Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pity & Prudence Butternut

My little hands have been
 very busy sewing a couple of
"Butternut" dolls that are
 reminiscent of the earlier
 American cloth dolls. 
Pity is a simple Prairie or Pioneer doll.
  One look at her and she brings to
mind the covered wagon, the sod home on
the prairie, the log cabin in the woods &
 the adventurous American pioneer.
In my opinion this style doll is
truly the all Americn cloth doll.
Here she is next to a doll body that has not
been aged. Pity & Prudence were tea dyed
 and then over dyed with a solution made
 from crushed walnut shells.  This dye can
 be sprayed from a bottle or daubed on
with a cloth to achieve the desired effect.
Their clothing & bonnets were aged this same
way.  It is a natural dye, acid free & non toxic.
Poor "pitiful" dolly, her head is too big, her hands
are too fat, her legs too short & her body
is a bit stumpy.......hence her name!   However,
 those are the features that give the "make do"
 Pioneer doll such charm!
 Pity may be a simple style
Prairie doll but she needs a full
Her underpinnings are sewn from muslin.
Her petticoat is lace edged and has a
hook & eye closure.
The pantalettes & short chemise have
tie closures.
 He dress is a wonderful deep blue and
rusty brown reproduction cotton fabric. 
The collar is lace edged; a lone
antique wooden 2 hole button with a
beautiful patina is sewn on the
front.  Hook & eye closures.
 Her brown calico Poke bonnet has button
 hole stitching around the brim.  Her apron is
 Pity and all her clothing are hand sewn
and aged for that well loved look.
I am fascinated by the early American
 cloth doll that is home made.
 It seems to me the earlier the doll the
 more highly detailed they are made.  Doll
 hair is painted, made from wool, fur and even
human hair is used.  Faces can be finely
 painted, drawn or embroidered. 
 Bodies are made from cotton, leather, linen
and stuffed with a variety of things.  The
clothing is detailed and reflects the
style of the day.  The majority of dolls are
 dressed to represent adults not
children or babies. 
Each is unique, made from no pattern,
and one of a kind....

Prudence is fashioned after that
type of early cloth doll.
  Her body is more proportionate.  Her arms
are slightly curved, her legs have stockings
 and shoes.  She has a simple embroidered face,
but detailed hair.  All elements I have
seen in early dolls.
Prudence wardrobe includes
a dress, petticoat, pantalettes,
and a straw Spoon bonnet.
Her underpinnings are sewn from cotton &
are edged with lace. 

 Her reproduction cotton plum print dress has a
 tiny lace edged collar & hook and eye closures.
 Her wool hair is plaited, and fashioned
into a small high bun.
I have hand stitched Prudence a spoon
 bonnet from fine Milan straw embellished
 with a vintage milliners ribbon.
 (1930's old store stock)
Prudence comes with a primitive
buttocks basket, handmade
by my good friend Teresa especially
for my dolls.
Prudence, her clothing & bonnet
are stitched by hand and aged for
that well loved look.

 Pity and Prudence will be available at
Early Work Mercantile May 1st.
Please stop by and see all the wonderful
early American offerings!


  1. Sherri, I LOVE these dolls!!! The aging is just perfect. Your hands have been busy stitching these wonderful dolls...all hand made, right? Do you have a secret place you shop for the fabrics you use to make the beautiful clothing?

  2. Mary, Thank you for the compliment on the dolls. I have been busy, and yes I do sew everything by hand....goofy me. Below are a few links (you'll have to copy & paste the links, or search by name) that I have purchased fabric from. There is also a quilt shop in Springfield I go to that carries some repro fabrics but I mostly buy on line. I find repro fabric is rather expensive but it is all I use for dresses. I also mostly buy in 1/2 yard increments so I don't repeat, and can get more variety. I am just careful to look for small prints and purchase several prints at one time as shipping is rather expensive.

    Hope that's helpful. Are you working on a doll now? I am looking for a photo or postcard for the MAIDA challenge.

  3. Hi Sherri, Your dolls are soooo lovely. You did such a wonderful job on the clothing and all the underpinnings.I love your bonnets too!


  4. Stunning dolls, details are awesome, love them both. I will have to visit Early Work Mercantile this month for sure. What is your ID over there?
    Hugs from Connie

    1. Thanks Connie, I am at Early Work under Little Cabin Creations.

  5. Oh I love Pity! Something about that stitched nose, wow. Your work is so inspiring, holy cow, Sherri. If I didn't know better, I'd swear they were antiques.

  6. Love both dolls, Sherri! I really like their embroidered faces (since I can't paint faces!) This gives me inspiration to try again.

  7. Sherri, thanks for the fabric info...I will check them out! I am working on a couple of new little dolls to go with my Old West collection. I think we are all inspired by your work!

  8. I really like your new dolls. I bought a grungy pattern, mainly to see their antiquing techniques. I think they distress the cloth before they make the dolls. this makes sense, as you wouldn't have to worry about getting stuffing wet later on. You probably already do this. I have been thinking about trying to make a simple old looking rag doll and some that look like the Hatch collection. Your dolls are a big influence in my wanting to do this. They are so pretty.


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