Saturday, June 28, 2014

Working On My First Izannah Walker Inspired Dress For Aletha

In my last post, I showed the interior of
a beautiful 1800's silk jacket that was
sewn in a common period construction
technique called flat lining.  When I 
started making period dolls, I wondered
 if doll clothing was made in the same manner.
Over the years, I've visited the Kansas
City Toy & Miniature Museum many times
 and admired their wonderful Izannah
Walker doll, Miss Mary & her beautiful
wardrobe.  Oh, if I could have seen inside
the clothing!

Thanks to Martha Bishop, I purchased this
back issue of Antique Doll Collector that
has a wonderful article about Miss Mary.  I was
"over the moon" to see such detailed photos 
of this pristine doll and her gorgeous wardrobe.
  Miss Mary's clothing was finely sewn by
a professional seamstress, and constructed
just like an adults would have been.  Much
of the sewing looks to be by hand &
all of her bodices are flat lined!

You can purchase a back issue at the link below.
Well worth it, if you love Izannah's.
Antique Doll Collector
 For more information about these
wonderful dolls, visit Dixie Redmond's
Izannah Walker Chronicles 
For Aletha's Izannah inspired dress, I wanted to make
the bodice as closely as I could to Miss Mary's.  Her
pink sprigged cotton summer dress is flat lined in
white cotton.  The reproductions cottons you find
 today are much heavier than the finely woven cottons
 of the mid 1800's.  Flat lining was necessary to add
 strength and body to a bodice.

Miss Mary's ruched (gathered) bodice has short sleeves,
 I chose long sleeves for Aletha, with a small decorative 
fold, that I will repeat in the skirt.

All of Miss Mary's dresses, have hook and
eye closures sewn on the under bodice, to 
prevent strain on the delicate outer fabrics.
Even the waist bands of her dresses are lined.   
Isn't that ingenious?
Aletha sitting pretty for a fitting.  She's not
suppose to see her dress until it's done........
I think she's peeking!

 My sewing skills don't even begin to compare,
but it was a fun challenge to give flat lining
 in miniature a try.
Miss Mary's dress skirt is gauged (cartridge
 pleated), I'd better get busy or I'll never
get the dress done!
I don't flat line the clothing on the dolls I make to
sell.  My dolls are small & it's just too much bulk.
 Aletha is a special personal doll & shes larger.  
Frankly, it took me twice as long to make this bodice. 
Making dolly clothing in true historic fashion
 certainly would not be a profitable venture!
 Just in case you want to see how it's done, or have a
special doll and want to give it a try, I am working
on a very boring tutorial.  It's mostly photos
with very few directions, but at least it's not
 white on white. 
Thank you Keith for allowing me to use
 my photo of Antique Doll Collector.


  1. I admire you women who make such beautiful clothing for your dolls. I can barely follow a purchased pattern for sewing clothing, and could never make a one-of-a-kind style. Your work is so neat and the fabric is perfect for your doll. It does make me want to try once more.

  2. You always do such exquisite hand sewn details. I've seen bits and pieces of this article but would love to own the back issue.

  3. Sherri the hook and eyes attached to the interlining is ingenious. I have that back issue of ADC and have looked at it many times and didn't see the wonderful construction on the dress. I will definitely make another IW doll just to use this technique. Your an awesome teacher...thanks so much for sharing....Alice

  4. I always love to see your hand sewing, Sherri. It makes me happy to think there are people intent on recreating such an almost-lost art.

  5. What a beautiful dress your Aletha will have; can't blame her for peeking! I find stitching dolls' clothes fascinating, and really is why I make dolls. I have found so much inspiration from your beautifully hand-stitched doll clothes, and have learned a bundle to boot. My favorite book on this subject is "Sewing Victorian Doll Clothes ~ Authentic Costumes from Museum Collections" by Michelle Hamilton. I think you would love it. And, for sure, I am looking forward to your next tutorial!

  6. Super fine dress. This fabric is just about the prettiest I have seen. Perfect, perfect work. I appreciate that you have gone to such hard work in making Aletha's Dress. No dress could have suited her better. She is lucky to have you to fuss over her and the other dolly's.


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