June, 2015

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In Pursuit of LIBERTY

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There’s nothing I like more than doing a patriotic doll – especially when the 4th of July is just around the corner! So when this sweet girl crawled in and told me her name, I knew she was the one. I didn’t care that her arms were in terrible shape! Not to mention the fact that she didn’t have legs at all….

Meet O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 45 Liberty! Or, “Libby” for short. You can see her adoption page HERE.

As Magic Elizabeth, I’d done several patriotic dolls in the past:


I was using a different color background fabric then.

This time I wanted to do an earlier era version of a patriotic doll. Something from around, say, 1912 or so. One of my favorite years because of the Titanic. I searched for inspiration…


At first I was going to make a gourd-like hat like this one. But then I decided it just wouldn’t compute in a photograph.

A Saturday Evening Post cover. Not Norman Rockwell! This artist is J.C. Leyendecker, and he was Norman Rockwell’s mentor.

A dropped waist dress! A newspaper hat! PERFECT. She should march in a parade. But what should she carry? A paper sword to go with the hat? Too flimsy. Some kind of firework? Too dangerous! A DRUM. I knew I had one around here somewhere…. Apparently, I’d given it away. I should make one! But how? Then I saw the picture below of a boy marching with a drum made from an oatmeal container.

“Hmm,” I said to myself in my lilting,  musical voice. “The little boy is carrying the drum sideways because proportionately it’s too small for him to use upright. But, ooh! The size of an oatmeal box is just right for a 21″ doll!”

patriotic drumI went to work on Liberty’s outfit. At first, I tried using a recent local paper to make Libby’s hat. Too new! It didn’t look right. I knew I had a reproduction  of the 1912 New York Times announcing the Titanic sinking somewhere. Maybe I could somehow age it with tea and *gulp!* cut that up instead. I headed to my attic. I didn’t find the Titanic newspaper, but I found a treasure trove of other things. Amongst them some 1970’s editions of the “Rolfe Arrow,” our former very own town newspaper that is now defunct. I also found a 1965 article listing all the U.S. presidents to that date. Both items were already nicely yellowed with no effort from me.

Lastly, I found an old flag that I’ve been packing from house to house for years. I counted the stars on that flag. There were 48. I did some research to discover at what point in time there were 48 states. 1912. That’s the year I was aiming towards! It was meant to be.

You can’t tell, but on the medallion (that’s the red and white striped round thing) I made for Libby’s hat I was able to reproduce foxing. Unintended handy tip: I discovered that if you put a few drops of Old English furniture scratch cover into the tea dye, the oil in the solution won’t allow it to blend with the tea. At first, I was dismayed. Not an overall slightly darker tone, as I had hoped. Instead, there were random brown spots. But then I realized: Foxing! Excellent.

I also took a leap of faith with Libby’s shoes. The brown leather I had on hand was too shiny. So I made the shoes, and then I took sandpaper and fingernail polish remover to the leather and scrubbed away. Phew! It worked!

I hadn’t quite finished putting the flag pole together when I took this picture. 6:33 waits for no woman!

The entire time I was creating Liberty’s outfit, I was channeling a busy but good mother, whose little girl wants to have a parade. She certainly wouldn’t have worn her best shoes, newspaper hats were all the rage, and her cape would be light cotton, because it was July after all.

It took a lot of trial and error and figuring to make that drum. But it all worked out in the end! And now Liberty can proudly march down the street, an instant parade wherever she goes.

Speaking of the 4th of July, because the weekend after this will be a holiday weekend, O.L.D. No. 46 will begin July 5 at her usual time of 6:33 instead. Right now she’s a twinkle in my eye. A prancing, enthusiastic twinkle she is indeed….

Our sleuth Irene is headed to….Colorado and Michelle E.’s house! A huge thank you to all who bid, and thank you Michelle for giving her a good home!

With that, I leave you! Happy FRIDAY!!! You are, of course, my favorite.

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By Their Baggies, Ye Shall Know Them


It’s elementary, my love.

Oh sure, she may look like an ordinary O.L.D. going about her business, walking her dogs. But look out! Because when she dons her cape and grabs her spyglass, it’s certain that there’s a mystery afoot, and she is going to SOLVE IT.

Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 00044. You can see her adoption page HERE.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my sister Julie, aka The Mayor and I are frequently confused one for the other.

A few weeks ago she and I met at the train tracks near her house for a short visit walking our dogs. We parted ways, she and her dog Toby heading for her house, me and my dog Teddy heading for mine. In the distance coming towards me, I could see a friend named Karen. When we finally met, she said, “I knew it was you! Because of the white bag!”


Julie says the one on the left looks like a gerbil. HMPF!

She was absolutely right. I’m always carrying a white grocery bag, and it is usually filled with, well. You can guess. Bless my heart. Julie carries a much more elegant and non-see-through black bag.

I’ve also mentioned that I have other odd jobs besides sewing for these dolls that I love so much: I’m a dog walker. More white bags. More…you know. So when I had a busy week full of various dog walkings, I decided to combine two of my loves: dolls and dogs.

My original plan was to create three dogs and to have said doll be a dog walker like myself. The week was a busy one, and after making two dogs I could see the writing on the wall. There would be no time to make a third and to make her clothing. I wouldn’t be caught naked walking around town, and I didn’t want the next O.L.D. to be either!

Another friend who works at the vet’s office (KISMET! The vet! Where dogs go) had recently given me a lovely bag of different plaid wools plus other treasures. I was going to make the next girl’s clothing and then try and go back and make an additional dog. By Friday, I could tell it wouldn’t fly. I had the coat and a pink dress made, but I still had a hat, a second dress and another odd job still to do and Sunday was flying towards me.


Cheryl has given me so many, many wonderful things. THANK YOU, CHERYL!!!!

But that fabric! That fabric looked like….Sherlock Holmes to me. That was the only way I could possibly be satisfied with just two dogs. To call them “Watson” (<free pattern!) and “Holmes,” and to make the girl into a sleuth. I didn’t want to call her Shirley Holmes. Was there a girl associated with Sherlock himself? Yes, there was! A sometimes girlfriend named Irene. Which also happens to be my middle name! And I’m a dog walker! Full circle.

I added a cape and made a deer stalker hat, and wonder of wonders I had a doll-sized spyglass on hand. Perfect! Irene the dog-walking sleuth was born.

This has been a tough few weeks for our little circle here in Iowa. Julie’s husband Scott, aka “The First Dude,” headed to California when he learned his thirty year old son from a previous marriage had a stroke. I’d met Evan a couple of years ago when he came to Iowa for a visit. He was extremely likeable.

Things were looking up. Evan recognized Scott and that he was there and they spoke to each other. For awhile it looked as if Evan would pull through, albeit with a lengthy recovery time. Scott was almost ready to head home with plans to visit frequently in the future. But then Evan took a turn for the worse.


Evan looks just like his dad. That’s his wife Kayla and sweet daughter Heidi with him.

There have been varying times given for the time of death, which we have determined to be Sunday June 14 at 9:30 am California time. The reason for that is because as in life, Evan is a giver and because of him three people now have a second chance. We’ve learned a lot about the sacrifices that come with being a donor. It’s worth it! So worth it. But it’s very, very hard. Julie is flying out to be with Scott at this difficult time. My heart and prayers and love go with them. I don’t think there’s anything harder a parent can face than the loss of a child. Know you are loved! Come home safe! And know that while you are gone, Toby will be in very good hands. He’ll be walked by someone carrying a white bag. And confusion will reign.

Meanwhile, are there rocks in Colorado and do they stand? Because that’s where Claire is headed! To Michelle E. house! I’ll bet Jamie can find her there. I bet Jamie can find her anywhere, from what I’ve been told. Thank you, Michelle!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Thursday! Hug those you love! You’re my favorite.

Standing Stones Gather No Moss

1940s Claire

1700s Claire

Meet O.L.D. No. 43 Claire from OUTLANDER. You can see her adoption page HERE.

“Outlander”?! Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with it. Secretly, I’ve never seen it either. Two of my sisters have been raving about it for a very long time. First about the books, and then about the series on STARZ. From what I’ve learned in my research, heaven help me if I ever get a peek at yon series, I might never be seen again. But I digress…


Claire arrived clothes-challenged, naked and bald, with her poor head split in two.

The first outfit I ever remember sewing for a doll (before that I would create clothing for paper dolls for days on end) was when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was a Shakespearean-style outfit made of blue velvet and white satin for a Barbie. I’ve always had an affinity for costumes!

She has clothes and hair now!

However, not all my girls that wear clothing other than the traditional garb of the 1930s and 40s do well. How to tie the two together? Because sometimes I feel the need to go off the beaten path!

Enter Outlander. It’s a story that takes place in Scotland both in 1945 AND the 1700s. Perfect! Claire, the heroine, travels back in time when she is in Scotland on her honeymoon and goes to see some ancient standing stones and she touches them and is transported to the past and some hunky fellow named Jamie.

Here are some of the inspiration photos and my interpretations:


This dress was my main inspiration. GORGEOUS.


Of course, I had to work with the materials I had on hand. The darker fabric for our Claire’s outer dress was the most suitable. It was the same fabric I used for Jill Sparrow’s pants – although this time I used it right side out. However, there was something super stiff and scratchy about this fabric. I decided to take the plunge; I boiled it in vinegar water. Much softer now! And easier to work with.

Lucky me, the inspiration dress has lots of raw edges. I didn’t hem Claire’s outer skirt, I just left it raw. Not only that, I purposely “rawed up” the lace, just as the inspiration dress had.









A person’s neck must get awfully chilly in 1700s Scotland, because Claire has all these super nifty neck pieces that are all the rage. Our Claire needed one too! Since I didn’t have time to teach myself to knit, I picked some loosely woven upholstery fabric and went with that instead.











Here’s the 1940s inspiration outfit I used. I was going to use a blue closer to the original outfit, but while it was the right color, it wasn’t the right kind of fabric. So I – gulp! – used the same vintage fabric I’d previously used for the bathing beauties. I confess, that smarted! I wanted to make bathing suits galore! But the color was right for my purposes. So, snip! *Sniff* And on we sew….

A girl from two eras! Whatever will be next…?

The Happy Wanderer Valerie has long since wandered her way to….Utah! A lovely woman named Sandra B. of Myton, Utah is enjoying her as we speak. Thank you, Sandra!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Thursday! You’re my favorite.

FINIS! And the Fortunate Son

HT_12_cover_CBRDid you feel any magic in the air last Saturday, say around 8:07 in the morning Central time? I did! Know why? Because I finished the book. And it’s exactly 78,000 words. A SIGN. It took way longer than I thought, and no wonder: I’ve added five new chapters! And the story is much better for it.

Besides the second outfit I wanted to make, this girl needs a LOT of work. If you look closely, you’ll see that her head is split clear in two.

I was going to hurry and try and get the doll I’d been working on finished and put up for adoption the next day. I was having the same battle with The Mayor as always. This doll is somewhat specific and I really, really wanted to make two outfits for her, especially as the first outfit was so unusual and “off the beaten path,” as they say. The Mayor just wanted me to get her up for adoption as is, with just the one dress so she wouldn’t have to watch me stress all weekend. Then she had a bit of a family emergency herself, so we both decided to stop everything and smell the roses and I took a second week in a row “off” (still toiling away, and those storm windows aren’t going to put themselves up in the attic!).

Plus, this way I get to make that second and more traditional outfit. We’ll see if you think it was worth the extra time. Coming soon!


First Grade. Seems like yesterday.

Also, I couldn’t let this day pass without expressing how very much I love my son and how proud I am of him.


At his recent senior prom with his girlfriend the lovely Sara Axson.

Look at him! You can see it in his face: He was a great boy who has turned into a Good Man. Adam is funny and charming and smart and has such a strong sense of right and wrong. He was an absolute joy to raise, my little mini-me who is now so much taller than I.

Today he graduates from high school and soon he’ll be going to college. I’m so excited for him and for all the adventures he has ahead! Of course I’m a little weepy as I type this. I’m a mom! A very proud mom. I love you, Adam and I am so very fortunate that you are my son.

Next week, back to normal! With blog posts and weekly dolls and battles with The Mayor and the like. You’ll never guess who won the last O.L.D.! You won’t! Until then…

Happy Friday! You’re my favorite.