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Up, Up and AWAY WE GO!

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I walked into the living room and there she was, surrounded by all the lost dolls, old and new. They sat there enthralled as she performed nursery rhymes.

So what to do with her? The goose was a dead giveaway…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 127, Mother Goose and Guy, her gander. You can see their adoption page HERE. She’s a 15″ Effanbee Anne Shirley. I love them for costumed dolls.

Several months ago my own wee dear sister Julie sent me a Pin she found interesting. It was a Halloween costume of a little girl dressed as an elf sitting on a mushroom. The girl’s legs were the mushroom’s stem, meanwhile, fake legs were posed crossed-legged on the mushroom.

Adam as “Woody Riding Bullseye”

This sent my imagination flying. I had done a similar costume myself for my son, Adam. One year for Halloween he was “Woody Riding Bullseye.” What fun to make a costume for a doll along those lines! I kept my eye out for ideas, and suddenly, there it was: an old tin toy of Mother Goose astride her gander.

The tin toy inspiration

But when it came right down to it, that goose was going to have to be HUGE in order for the entire body of a doll to fit within. For practical purposes, and not wanting this doll, now that I’d finally gotten to her, to take eons to create, I decided that the doll herself would be riding a goose. Making that goose sturdy enough to actually support her and not fall was challenge enough.

Thank goodness for WIRE HANGERS!!

“I buy you nice clothes, and you put them on WIRE HANGERS?!”Me, doing my best Joan Crawford

I chose the thickest wire hanger I could find from the tangle of them hanging in a basket from the knob of my sewing room door and bent it into an upside down “U” shape with the top of the U following the curve of the goose’s back, and an “L” at each end for the center “toe” of Guy’s foot. With the remaining bits of hanger I made two “V”s for his feet and a smaller “L” behind for stability. I then found all the available bags of cotton balls in Rolfe. Some from my own sewing room, the last remaining bag at our grocery store, and Julie’s bag besides. This goose is STURDY.

But in my last post, I promised an illusion! This was when I was still planning for the dolls legs to be the goose’s legs. A-HAH!! More wire! Not hangers this time, but a fine wire light enough to stay afloat while still being sturdy enough to support the fabric and lining for Mother Goose’s cape. And, voila!

I’d like to thank fellow Rolfian Jule H. for the nice box of fabric. I used some for this skirt. I love fresh blood! Ahem.

You can find the pattern for the goose HERE. There aren’t any directions, so you just have to wing it. Har. These are the jokes, folks!

I modified it a little. I wanted our goose, who is named Guy, to be able to open and close his beak so I added extra pieces and inserted some folded chipboard. I also inserted a square dowel into his neck so he would never droop. His eyes are black glass beads, and his bow is 100% silk from an upholstery sample square. Guy measures just over 12″ tall.

Sweet Jennifer to the rescue again! She printed this image for Mother Goose’s book.

So there you have them! The FIRST for Halloween 2019.

Izzy the Bee Charmer was adopted by Barbara E. of Diamondhead, Mississippi. Izzy reunited with two of her O.L.D. sisters and from what I hear is very happy indeed. Thank you, Barbara!

And with that I leave you on this thundery, rainy day. Nothing like a good thunderstorm! And nothing like YOU, for you are my favorite!

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Always The Bride

I can’t always be in the living room when a new O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) arrives. I was currently in the kitchen at the crucial moment when the noodles for the mac and cheese I was making for our supper needed to be drained. I am nothing if not an accomplished cook, and the house dolls and Hazel loved this particular feasting extravaganza.

I was hastily adding the butter and cheese powder to the pot so I could meet our new arrival when the strains of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” reached my ears. Dot and Betty slowy entered the kitchen behind a sweet Anne Shirley in what could only be called a procession.

“Ooh, a bride!” I exclaimed. With my previous doll, I had learned that it’s not always a bad thing to use a new arrival’s existing clothes for a theme.

“We can make a veil for you, and a lovely bouquet…”

“If you please,” the new girl said softly, “I’ve been a bride forever. I’d like to perhaps…kick my heels up a little bit…?”

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 123, Marilyn. She’s a roaring 1920’s Flapper. You can see her adoption page HERE. As you can see, Marilyn is an Effanbee Anne Shirley. She’s 18″ tall.


I could certainly see why she’d want a change of pace. While she was in her wedding gown, everywhere she went she had to walk step, meet. Step, meet. It’s a very hard and excruciatingly slow way to get around. Even just following her into the kitchen from the front door, while sweet Betty was very good, matching Marilyn’s stately pace, Dot had clearly grown impatient. By the time the tiny trio entered the kitchen, Dot had turned her part of the solemn procession into a conga, complete with enthusiastic “Ha-cha-cha!”s at the end of every familiar musical line.

It was definitely time for a change. Time for BEADING.

…it’s really quite glorious. Here’s a better view.
Here she is with her coat. You can’t really see the pattern of the fabric…

I channeled Marilyn Monroe from “Some Like It Hot” for our Marilyn’s dress, with a more fitted style. Then bead by bead…by bead….by BEAD I stitched. Shiny black ebony with splashes of gunmetal gray for color. Ahem.

For actual color, rather than making her T-strap style shoes black to match, I chose red. Marilyn’s crown is made from a rhinestone necklace turned upside down and attached to some of my beloved chipboard (thanks, Jennifer!) with some 100% silk covering it.

But even with all that beading, and all that detail, that’s not the only reason this girl took longer than my targeted two weeks per O.L.D. Into each life a little rain must fall, and we Iowans have been getting plenty of rain lately. We’ve been lucky enough to have *avoided tornadoes, but we’ve had very strong winds nonetheless and finally, after 12 1/2 years of finding shingles in my yard after every storm, my roof has started to leak. This can mean the death of a house! The death of the Hideaway! So I’m doing my best to work my magic to arrange some kind of financing.

Secretly, I didn’t want to get on and off the ladder, so I climbed out my bedroom window.
Not the actual hole. Not to brag or anything, but mine’s bigger.

While waiting for a fix, I decided to do my best to patch the worse hole, which is in the porch roof. I got everything I needed and climbed a borrowed ladder, worried I might not be able to see the hole. Gulp. Oh, I could see it all right. It was three feet long by about 6 – 8″ wide! I looked at the measly piece of metal I’d brought with me to cover it and knew I’d have to improvise.

I improvise for a living! I got the scraps of wood left over from when I fortified my dollhouse. That and the shingles I’d picked up off the road years ago north of town. I thought they’d make nice, antique-y looking backgrounds for miniature portraits and landscapes. I stretched the puny tube of tar as far as I could and got to patching.

I’m proud to say that my patch lasted for not one, but TWO storms! If at first you don’t succeed…I will try again! As soon as things get a little drier. Wish me luck! And hopefully someday soon my fellow Rolfians will see Roofians atop my house. Fingers crossed!

Sweet Shelley was adopted by Sweetest Janey J! Janey lives in a magical floral forest in Oakland, California. Thank you, Janey!

And with that, I leave you! Stay dry! You’re my favorite.

*I spoke too soon! Our town siren blared this afternoon at 5:00 for a decent chunk of time. We were in a tornado’s path. Lucky us, nothing’s happened…YET.


Dot heard it first, the distant and rapid tattooing of a drum. We had just opened our windows for the first time since winter began and there it was: Boom-boom!! boomboomboomboomboomboom BOOM!

Hearing that beat I was instantly transported to my childhood. I grew up on the north shore of Oahu, a horse field away from the Polynesian Cultural Center. We used to walk there and get coconut ice cream cones. At night I would lay in bed, listening to the distant music of the shows they put on featuring different Polynesian islands. You could always tell when there was a Tahitian dance going on by the fast and energetic beating of those drums…

One of the Maori years.

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 121 Tahiti! The Tahitian dancer. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I have a confession to make: I’m all kinds of confused about Polynesia and Hawaii and the relationship between the two. The reason is this: growing up in a small town on the the island of Oahu, every May 1st was a big deal. It was May Day! As you may or may not know, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.

The Queen looks impressed.

For weeks before hand all through elementary school we small kids would prepare, painting stripes on to paper and then cutting them up into strips for our skirts if we were going to represent the Maoris that year, or hula skirts out of coconut tree fronds and leis that would last through the day long celebration if we were going to be hula dancers, and working on said dances to present to the King and Queen of the festival. There were seven cultures in all: Fijian, Samoan, Tahitian, Maori, Hawaii, and, um, two more I can’t think of right now. To this day I can vociferously shout a Maori war chant at the drop of a hat, complete with waggling tongue! Sadly, no one ever asks…

Tahitian dancers are kind of like Vegas showgirls with a native twist and a lot more wiggle.

Also, there are seven islands that make up Hawaii so that must be where all these different cultures come from, right? After all, we had native Fijians, and Samoans, etc., right in our school! But no. Some of those are from someplace called Polynesia. Huh? No matter! Wherever these islands and cultures are, they’re near and dear to my heart.

Tahiti Anne “before.”

So it’s odd that I never thought of doing a Tahitian dancer before this. Once I got the idea, there was NO STOPPING ME.

Thanks for the feathers, Suzanne!

I was fortunate to find just the right candidate: It was an 18″ Effanbee Anne Shirley with brown eyes and somewhat deeper than usual toned skin, once she was cleaned. Anne Shirley’s have very nicely detailed stomachs and waists and I love using them for my costumed dolls. Luckily, this girl was also wearing a thick acrylic replacement wig, so I didn’t feel badly taking it off. I found a human-sized, human hair wiglet. I stripped it down to the wefts and sewed them to a new skull cap I’d made just for her.

My sister-in-law Suzanne had out of the blue sent me a box of odds and ends after she’d tidied up her craft room. One of those odds was a bag full of feathers. How fortuitous!

My Dad always loved his Hawaiian shirts and wore them throughout the rest of his life. So when I found a fabric that greatly reminded me of one of his shirts, a sort of tiki brown and white pattern, I had to sneak it somewhere into Tahiti’s outfit. I put it at the back of her headdress and used it for the strap that attaches it to her head:

My Dad with two of my brothers and the headdress back. The brother on the right is the future husband of my sister in law Suzanne, who gave me the feathers. The brother on the left is a STINKER.

You know what’s tricky? Sewing seashells to fabric. Turns out, because of their curved nature seashells cannot be sewn with needles. Instead, fishing twine must be used. Only fishing twine is sturdy enough to push through the contours of each and every unique shell. Unfortunately, it’s not sturdy enough to push through fabric. So sewing shells onto Tahiti’s headdress and belt required threading the needle with twine, sewing the twine up through the fabric, removing the needle, pushing it through the shell, putting the needle back on to push back through the fabric, repeat. For each and every shell. This is why this girl took me a little longer.

She also has a fern headress and lavalava cover up (insert). I found the one Hawaiian shirt in the whole thrift store here in Iowa to make it.
In full regalia.

The “Kukui nut” necklace is made from large dark brown glass beads with smaller wooden beads in between. The grass skirt is made from a human size hula skirt. I split the strands for a finer texture. The tassels are embroidery floss. Her “undies,” also known as a bathing suit bottom, were made from one of Julie’s halter tops from her wilder days.

From the thrumming drums that were the lullaby of my youth, to the feathers from Suzanne and the halter top from Julie, to the fabric that reminds me so strongly of my Dad, this girl has the story of my family woven all the way through. It’s been such a joy to work on her.

In the meantime, Poison Ivy was adopted by…Janey J. of Oakland, California! Though we’ve never actually met, Janey J. is quickly becoming like family herself! Janey also has Leilani, my Hawaiian hula girl.

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

TUG O’ WAR(drobe)

My heart went through a plethora of emotions upon seeing this little girl at my door. First, of course, was EXCITEMENT. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day when an American Child would come strolling into my house! AT LAST!!

The next emotion was dismay. Honestly, 83% of the O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) that come here are naked and bald. But this one was different: Someone had loved this girl enough to remold nearly all her fingers, and then inexplicably put her away, most likely in an attic judging by the fly dirt. Without even a rag to protect her! All those years…

The final emotion was determination. To misquote Shakespeare, “If you prick me, am I not sawdust and glue?” 

This girl, special and forlorn, deserved to be loved again no matter how daunting the task. So without further adieu…

Hazel Twigg No. 107 is an Effanbee American Child doll, and her name is Holly. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Left to right, 1.) Before. Those aren’t freckles all over her face, that’s all I’m saying about THAT. 2.) After cleaning I picked this wig for her from my stash. It too was filthy and tattered. 3.) Wig washed and mended and paint touch up done. 4.) “Before” arm showing the worst of the chipping paint and the previously repaired fingers. All in all, these repairs and cleaning took nearly three days to complete.

Upper right corner in the orange.

“American Child” dolls were manufactured in the 1930’s for about four years by the Effanbee doll company, who would later manufacture Anne Shirley dolls which were produced for 20 years, making the American Child doll’s much more rare.

There were six different face shapes in all. That combined with different hair and eye colors meant that little girls could have dolls that looked just like themselves!

They were also one of 17 dolls chosen for the “Classic American Dolls” postage stamps that came out in 1997. It had taken nearly 10 years to decide which dolls would make the cut, so you know they’re something special.


As you may know, my sister Julie who is The Mayor also works at yon post office in Pokey, and I love old dolls! She tries to keep me realistic, bless her heart. I told her my plans for Holly.

“She does NOT need THREE DRESSES!”

This was the first time in months I had seen Julie for any length of time. Cold weather makes hermits of us all. I vaguely noted as I followed her tiny waving fists that her knuckles were almost as chappy as mine. It’s been a long winter here in Iowa.


Julie, sensing that my mind was elsewhere, jumped as high as she could, stretching her arms upwards as she tried to regain my attention. It worked.

“Huh,” I responded as I took in her rosy cheeks and snapping blue eyes. “I would’ve thought you’d be more upset by the two coats.”

“I AM!” This time she both waved her fists and stomped her feet. It was good to see her again. I’d forgotten how very cute and little she is.

She’s been right a lot in the past, but maybe this time she was wrong! I was determined to TRY. There was so much I wanted to do for this rare and unusual little girl.

There was a LOT. That red, white and blue dress was trickier than it looks.

Reader, I worked day and night. When I told Julie a few days before Holly’s adoption date what was left to be done, she said, “There will be other dolls!” (Meaning, “You can make those other things for THEM.”)


It was 3:00 Easter Sunday afternoon and adoption time is 6:33. I’d been working since 5:00 in the morning, frantically finishing allll the little touches. I won’t tell you all the things I attempted and failed at, either due to lack of skill or time, but bless my heart, I tried! I touched base with Julie.

“I have to finish NOW. It’s not like taking pictures takes no time at all! All those outfits to change in and out of…”

“Another reason to whittle things down!” she replied.


I was giving the coat one last ironing. That lowest button would have to be lowered just a bit more – later. Where was that hat…?

Suddenly the smell of something burning accosted my nostrils. “Whatever could that be?” I wondered to myself. NoooOOooOOOoooo!!! IT WAS THE COAT. I had singed that beautiful wool! It wasn’t a mirage, it was there. PERMANENT. On the one panel that I’d done my first hand sewn buttonholes on!

“That’s okay, it goes well with my eyes!” sweet Holly cheered me.

“Plus, it matches the buttons!” kind Betty chimed in.

Well, there was nothing for it. I gathered the smoldering coat, found the hat that was laying nearby, as well as all of Holly’s clothes and my camera, and went into my photography/shipping room. I made that 6:33 adoption time by the skin of my teeth.

Maybe next time I’ll listen to Julie. Maybe…

Little Navy and smaller Bean were adopted by Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! This is Gwen’s second O.L.D. Thank you so much, Gwen, it’s nice to see you again (POET)!

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






First, Do No – WHOOPS!

When you handle as many of these O.L.D.’s as I do, you’re bound to have a mishap now and then.

I have a doll up for adoption. This isn’t her “official” post, but if you like, you can see her page HERE.

When she arrived, it was only upon closer inspection while cleaning her that I discovered that some of her fingers had been broken and reglued, and others had been completely rebuilt! I’m happy to say it wasn’t a bad job, but the angle was slightly off on one, and another was a little too short…hmm….to fix or not to fix?

I had her two little arms in one hand and was taking pictures with the other to ask another Holder her opinion, when CRASH. I dropped her arms! Two of her little fingers broke off! “No problem,” I thought confidently. “This isn’t my first rodeo with DeWees Cochran hands,” I said snootily to myself, preening because I knew what these types of hands are called – even though there was no one around to witness my brilliance.

To rebuild fingers, it’s a good idea to insert a pin into the stub for strength. Have you ever tried to hang a picture in an old house, only to have the hammer practically bounce back into your face because the wall’s so hard? This Anne Shirley’s fingers are IMPENETRABLE. I was going to need a drill bit. A really, really small one.

Here is the story in picture and song. Also, I’m probably dancing…

Here are the hands BEFORE. See? Not a bad job! The pinky on the left hand was a little stubby, and the ring finger on the right was at a slightly off angle. But not a bad job at all…

AFTER THE WHOOPS. Dingity, dangity…And, to add insult to injury, I LOST THE RIGHT PINKY, which was original and reglued!










That pin just bent and scratched the heck outta me.











I usually insert stronger-than-normal pins that I’m able to “drill” in by hand. But as small as this drill bit was, it required a thicker piece of wire. I used a lawn flag thingy…

While I was at it, I sanded the slightly stubby left pinky so I could adjust the angle. Note the inserted wires are curved, because Dewees Cochran fingers are curved.










After rebuilding. I use an epoxy called Milliput. It’s from jolly old England.

HANDY TIP: Emery boards are AWESOME for rebuilding fingers. They’re thin to fit in between, and rigid for maneuverability.










HANDY TIP: These types of hands have a clear-ish, orangey nail polish. To achieve this, just mix some orange paint in the right shade with a little craft varnish. Voila!


So now the left pinky is a little longer and at a better angle than before.

The ring finger is slimmer and longer. 










Was it worth the extra effort? I secretly don’t think so. If I could pull a Cher and turn back time, and NOT drop those poor little hands, I would do so. Glass half full, practice makes perfect. Yessirree, a few dozen more dropped hands, and I’ll have these hands down to a T.

You’re my favorite!


Call of the Wild

There was a knock at the door. Hazel rushed to answer it, and I was a step behind her. 

“Come in! Come in!” Hazel cried. She loves the arrival of new lost dolls. “You’re an Anne Shirley!” (she’s also getting quite expert at identifying them). “But what’s your name?” she continued.

The little girl’s pretty brown eyes looked up at us from her somewhat dirty face. “Sahara,” she said proudly.

“Goodness, Sara! Have you got the hiccups?” I asked.

Suddenly, “BOO!” 

Dot had jumped out from nowhere. For being such a small doll herself, it was a very loud “boo.”

“Dot!” I exclaimed. “You scared the new girl!”

“That was the idea!” Dot said. “I was trying to get rid of her hiccups for her. I been waiting my whole life to do that…” she muttered to herself, a satisfied grin on her face.

The new little girl laughed. “I don’t have the hiccups, my name is SaHARa! You know, like the desert.”

She hadn’t even stepped out of the entryway, and I knew EXACTLY how she would be dressed…

My mom was able to find this picture from that night.

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 90, Sahara! You can see her adoption page HERE.

I have a soft spot for Safari girls. One of my favorite things about my childhood was how much my parents loved each other. There truly is no greater gift to give your children.

I remember one night in particular, It must have been around Halloween. My dad dressed up as a Sheik, and my mom dressed up as a Safari girl. I remember how beautiful my mother looked with her glamorous false eyelashes, and how funny my dad was as he really got into character to capture this gorgeous maiden. He took her in his arms and dipped her just before they swept out the door. It was pure joy to see them this way.

So of course I JUMPED at the chance to do my own Safari girl!

Reader, I swear to you: I’m doing my very best to try and get one girl up for adoption a week. After all, there are so many O.L.D.’s clamoring for their turn, in addition to me needing to keep a roof over their poor heads in the meantime! But try as I might, I lost two days on this one girl.

The first lost day was with the helmet. When you think of it, there are few dome-shaped things that exist that one might use. There are round things aplenty! Domed things, not so much. No matter, I had WIRE HANGERS! I could make my own! I spent all day grunting swearing and forming and shaping, trying to get the right angle. Trying to get them secure so that I might pull fabric tautly over them. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

I used the red one from a set just like this. If you ever have a colander emergency and Sahara is your girl, you’ll know just what to do!

But try as I might, it just wasn’t going to work. So what could I use? A-hah! Kitchen gadget drawer to the rescue! I used the largest of three small strainers. While I’m still not 100% happy with her helmet, at least she has one! And with that sturdy metal, she can go into any construction site without fear. Bonus!

The second day was lost over a monkey. I always have such visions of what my dolls will look like, imagining their “gallery” picture on eBay. In my mind, Sahara was surrounded by animals; a giraffe’s neck soaring out of sight. A colorful macaw on her shoulder. A monkey doing a photo bomb in front. I TRIED SO HARD.

I started with the monkey. It would have been absolutely worth it to me if it had worked! But even with all that toil, what I was getting was not one bit cute. In fact, he was a little scary looking. And just how was I to do the giraffe? It’s not as if I have “mini giraffe-pattern” fabric laying about. I swear, I contemplated appliqueing each little misshapen brown spot onto some pale yellow fabric if I could find some in the right shade. The macaw’s hooked beak was another matter…reality finally kicked in, and my sister Julie The Mayor got to say, “I told you so!”

Once I figured out an alternative so I could finish Sahara sometime this year, it was Julie that provided me with the styrofoam ball. She already given me the vintage animal cake toppers in the past, which is how I got the idea for this unusual accessory in the first place. I was contemplating using the somewhat dented styrofoam ball I had on hand because I dislike leaving my house. It was Julie that convinced me to use hers, as it was more dense than most and therefore took paint more easily so I could make a planet for these animals to march around.

I was so pleased when I finally figured out what to use to make Sahara’s binoculars: if you guessed chess pieces, you guessed right!

“You’d better not pooh-pooh it!” she implored when I told her I was on my way over.

HMPF. Apparently, I “pooh-pooh” things a lot! Well, I’m aware now. How ungracious of me to pooh-pooh a gift horse! I kindly thank you, sweet Julie, and I shall attempt to pooh-pooh as little as possible in the future.

And I’d like to thank the Box Fairy that has been leaving boxes on my porch, answering my plea! No pooh-poohing here!

Vivian the Vivandiere was adopted by…..Michelle E.! She of Hudson, Colorado! I swear, it warmed my heart to see her again, because I take comfort in familiar things. Thank you, Michelle! And a thank you to all those that are familiar, and those that will be familiar in the future…

With that, I leave you! Happy next adventure, you’re my favorite!

The Hills Are ALIVE!

1atgal1I could hardly wait to answer the door. After all, it had been a long time since the last Once-Loved Doll had arrived and I was growing restless. So I reached the door first.

“Toni!” I exclaimed. “Hmm. Well, no matter! ALL are welcome here,” I ushered her inside.

“Why wouldn’t she be welcome?” Hazel asked, coming up behind me.


This is Antonia (ANNE SHIRLEY) as she arrived.

“Well young Hazel, as you know, 99% of the time we work with composition dolls,” I responded, proud that I was an expert on ALL kinds of dolls, not just composition! I kept myself from preening as I continued, “Toni here is a hard plastic from the 1950s.”

Hazel gazed at Toni, a look of confusion on her face. “That’s odd! She looks like an Anne Shirley to me!”


This is an Idea hard plastic TONI doll in a slightly different original outfit. You can see my confusion.

I mentally shook my head and kindly smiled. After all, I remember when I was young and brash and thought I knew everything….

“No, no, Hazel. See? This is a Saran wig…”

Suddenly, it was MY turn to look confused. I confess, for a moment there my mind was blown, uncertain as to what it was seeing. “Anne? Um…Toni…?”


THE SNOW QUEEN That’s a whole lotta white.

Meet O.L.D. No. 76, Antonia and No. 76.5, Rabbit! You can see their adoption page HERE.

Sometime in this composition Anne Shirley’s life, someone gave her all of a hard plastic Ideal Toni’s clothing including her wig!

I decided I kind of liked the platinum curls on her! Plus, I’d been wanting to do a snow queen for a long time. Hmm….


We’ll do a WINTER SOLSTICE QUEEN instead.

Turns out, Antonia’s eyes were green, not the frosty blue that would be ideal for a snow queen. Plus, I don’t happen to have a whole bunch of different white fabrics. Winter Solstice Queen it is!

I started with her gown, finding some nice but odd curtain-style fabric that was a pale celery green. I finally figured out what this fabric reminded me of…


On the left is my fabric. On the right is the Von Trapps!

Making clothes out of curtains has precedent! And “The Sound of Music” is one of my favorite things.

mehcSpeaking of favorite things, besides pointy hats, another favorite thing of mine is “something riding something.”


I couldn’t find the image from the magazine, but you get the idea. Cute, right?!

It all started years and years ago with one of my favorite magazines: “Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion.” There’s free paper doll in every issue! What’s not to like? I miss that magazine….Anyway, there was a Christmas edition, and in it were decorating ideas for the holidays. She’d taken a small stuffed polar bear, and there was an elf riding it! It was the CUTEST THING EVER.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to re-create that polar bear for myself. Well, I’m halfway there! I created the polar bear, but he’s going with Antonia. Still, whoever adopts him, it would be awfully fun – with or without a sprig of holly around his neck – to put an elf or a small Santa Clause riding on his back. Antonia wouldn’t mind!

1atrabbitThe polar bear’s name is Rabbit. My sweet sister Julie gave me the cutest little jacket from the 1950’s that she thought was rabbit fur. It turned out not to be. But isn’t that sweet that she is so generous? She also gave me the fun fur for the collar of Antonia’s cape. My neighbor Brandi give me the sprigs for Antonia’s crown. Once again, a village helps create these Once-Loved Dolls!

Rabbit was fun to make. He has a wire armature inside and is stuffed with sawdust and cotton balls. Thank goodness our little grocery store had some on hand! It’s amazing how many it takes. I got the pattern to make our dear polar bear HERE. Best site for all kinds of stuffed toy fun.

1Lugal3School has been in session for quite some time now! O.L.D. No. 75 Lucy and her little dog too have I’m sure long since settled in…Colorado! At the very welcoming home of Michelle. Thank you, Michelle!

And with that, I leave you! Happy “Fall is In the Air”! You’re my favorite!

Second Chances

O.L.D. No. 74 is finally up – for a second time. Her name is Glory, and I briefly had her listed a few weeks ago. But she was so far from being ready that I almost immediately took her down again. It wasn’t fair to her! She’s finally ready, and you can see her adoption page HERE. This is how her description begins…

1Ggal“Guess what?” I excitedly said to my sister the moment she answered the phone.

“What?” she patiently asked.

“The next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) is number 74!!” I squealed. There was silence.


“7-4!! As in JULY 4th! The 4th of July! Just around the corner! AND I DIDN’T EVEN PLAN IT THAT WAY.”


It’s all fun and games until the dog gets ahold of your hand. I rebuilt her four fingers using an epoxy from our local hardware store right here in town!

It takes very little to excite me.

When we searched for an inspiration outfit and both sent the exact same image to each other at the exact same time (see picture), I knew I’d found my muse. Fast forward a few weeks.

“That better be one spectacular jacket!” the peanut gallery, aka my sister Julie, said.

“It is! It IS,” I promised. By now I’d missed the 4th of July. By a LOT. 


The inspiration image.

But never mind that. The important thing is that it IS still July, and it’s always a good time to love one’s country, and to celebrate it. So without further adieu…

Glory’s face mold might look familiar to you. She’s an Effanbee Anne Shirley. I’ve used this particular mold several times before. One of my favorites!


I sewed tiny glass beads over the flowers on the stomacher.

Usually, no one besides me ever sees one of my girls until she’s sent off to her new home. This time however, I was in a quandary as to length of skirt. After having spent a lot of time piecing the strips of red and tea-dyed white linen together, and then top-stitching every seam, I didn’t want to cut the length of it and then regret it, wishing it was longer. If I’ve learned it once, I’ve learned it a thousand times: you can’t uncut fabric.



I took the almost finished Glory over to Julie’s house for a second opinion. Our conclusion? BOTH. I had recently purchased a plethora of wonderful hooks and eyes at an auction and decided I would sew the hooks around the bottom of the hem inside the skirt, and the eyes near the waistband. And, voila!

Our decision made, Julie, who despite her good heart is not really a fan of dolls, said, “This jacket is beautiful. You need to really show it in pictures.”

GlsaReader, this made my day. Yes, she’s my sister, but sometimes I work in a vacuum! In my little sewing room, spending days – DAYS! – trying to find that lot of hooks and eyes I recently got at that auction months ago, because all the hooks and eyes need to be vintage, and they need to MATCH.

I swear, my absolute best treasure I ever got is my sister Julie.

Speaking of Julie and second chances, the time has FINALLY COME. I originally wrote about it months ago HERE. For the second time in her life, Julie will get to hold the little boy she gave up for adoption over thirty years ago. This time when she holds him, she’ll be able to allow her heart fall in love. I’m so happy for her, and can’t wait to meet our Andy.

1lzfullhalfO.L.D. No. 73 and 73 1/2, Lulu and Emmie, were adopted by Hillary P. of New York, New York! We’ve heard of her before! Thank you Hillary!

And with that, on this boiling but beautiful afternoon, I leave you! Happy summer! Happy family! You’re my favorite.



The Snowman’s Tale

1vsgal3Ooh, it’s that time of year: Snow, snow, snow. And Christmas is coming! In strolled Victoria with her very pretty face and rosy cheeks. Why, she looked as if she’d been gallivanting in the meadow next door. And she had!

Meet Victoria! The Girl Who Built A Snowman In the Meadow. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Victoria is yet another Anne Shirley! I love this mold and have used it many times (do a search on this blog for “Anne Shirley” and you’ll see what I mean!). This particular girl – O.L.D. 60 – is of the 18″ variety.

Because it’s the Christmas season and perhaps triggered by Victoria’s name, I decided to create a Victorian-inspired outfit for her. And I wanted her to be doing something…wintery. Well, what’s more wintery than building a snowman? And guess what his name is? PARSON. See what I did there?

In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown…

christmas snowman1

Here’s my inspiration snowman, as you can tell.

And thus begins The Snowman’s Tale: I didn’t want my snowman to be small. I wanted life-sized! Life-sized for an 18″ doll, that is. And I wanted his arms to be jointed, which meant he’d have to be fairly firmly stuffed. Readers, this portly fellow took every bit of batting I had in the house. Also, I ripped open a pillow. THAT kind of determination. I put some brown rice I had on hand at his base to keep him upright.


He’s holding candy canes here, but he also has a twig from my backyard. Options!

The snowman I’d chosen to model Parson was wearing a newspaper hat. Finding just the right newspaper was the very next step.

A friend, we shall call her Jennifer, for that is her name, saw that I’d used old newspapers in a previous O.L.D., and a few months ago she gave me a stack of newspapers from the now defunct Rolfe Arrow.

When I make a paper hat, I want it to be interesting. Plus, this is a happy time of year, so I want no depressing stories. I did several different tries, but you can’t always pick which headlines and articles will land where. Finally, I found the one that I wanted. It was from 1967. Here it is. I bet you can guess why someone saved it:


A happy story! I mean, it doesn’t seem like it at first, but it is in an unusual way! Plus, I love that it mentions Rolfe, which besides being my home is the town that Reliance in Hazel Twigg is based upon.

I was in a rush so didn’t read the article. I did happen to notice that on the inside of the hat there was a picture of the fortunate man’s unfortunate hat:



Back to the snowman’s tale: the night before last I was at a friends barn with some other friends, including of course The Mayor. This is no ordinary barn. It’s filled with hunting trophies, memorabilia from old Rolfe, and all sorts of nifty things. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see! Except for its size, it’s very un-barnlike. It also had heat, and most importantly for that fine evening, a big screen TV. The Iowa Hawkeye game was on!

1vaallWe were all talking, as people do, and my current doll came up in the conversation, along with her companion and his unusual hat. Well, guess what: IT WAS THE HOST’S OWN FATHER. Not only that, but framed up on the wall, surrounded by yellowed old newspaper clippings, was that very same hat. In the flesh – or the cloth, as it were.

So our little Parson – who is very big to Victoria – will be coming with a little bit of history of his own. And that is Parson’s Tale.

1rgalaRaven, who was O.L.D. No. 59, never got her just dues! I had a post written in my head (Everybody Loves Raven) and everything! I just got too far behind to catch up. Luckily, she ended up in good hands: Michelle E. of Colorado! THANK YOU, Michelle!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Monday Eve, you’re my favorite.

Finding Your Inner Ha! Cha! Cha!

Such a quiet girl . . .


. . . until you put a bunch o’ fruit on her head!

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch your name. What did you say it was?”

It was then that I learned that I kind of know how to read lips, because the tall – for a doll, that is – girl standing before me made whispers sound like shouting, but still I understood.

“Miranda!” I exclaimed. “How pretty!”

As I got to know Miranda, I learned the reason for her quietness was that she was extremely shy. Not sullen, not sad, just shy. With Halloween just around the corner, I knew just what to do to get Miranda out of her shell…

Thus begins the adoption page for Miranda. You can see it HERE. She ends this Wednesday.

Our Miranda is a 21″ Effanbee Anne Shirley mold. It’s no secret I love Anne Shirleys! I’ve used them before in previous O.L.D.’s . . .


Interesting how a slight change of skin tone and eye color – and wigs, of course – can change a girl’s appearance.                     Katniss Everdeen, Effie Trinket, May Flowers and Carmen Miranda.


I’ve been wanting to do a Carmen Miranda for a long time and was waiting for an O.L.D. named Carmen to come strolling through my doors. Therefore, it took a little time before I figured out that a Miranda – even an extremely shy one – would do every bit as well!

In anticipation, I’d been swooping up mini fruits whenever I see them in thrift stores. In all that time, I only found one bunch of grapes! Thank goodness I got the little bag that contained them. It’s just not a Carmen Miranda without the grapes!

A previous Carmen Miranda also made a wonderful contribution. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present Our Current & Future MAYOR!


Also a very shy and retiring girl!


When she found out I was going to do a Carmen Miranda, she instantly gave me the fruit jewelry she made! Famous Fruit!



Plus, she’s been a very good Mayor.


Miranda also comes with street clothes, and I made a hat stand for that hat! After all, there’s more to life than cha-cha-cha-ing! Or is there…?



Speaking of generous, I am so very lucky to have so many generous people in my life. SO MANY! If I named them all, this would be a novel rather than a simple blog post.

glcThis time, a shout out goes to Janey! A new old friend that I’ve never yet met. She sent me a box of goodies, and in that box there was a pin to wear. A HAZEL TWIG(G) pin, from the 1940s! It’s made from Bakelite and REAL hazelnuts depicting hazelnuts hanging from a twig. And purchased from a seller in…Iowa! How nifty is that! Thank you, Janey!

I tell you, the signs they are-a overwhelming…

Sweet and brave Gracie went to…Elaine D’A, in Midlothian, Virginia! Thank you, Elaine! I know Gracie will find it easy to be brave in your beautiful state. Especially this time of year. How I love it!

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


What Do April Showers Bring…?

I hand-stitched every one of those flowers onto that dress. It was fun, but tricky what with my snaggy fingers, all those petals, and thread mixing together in one task.

It’s rare that I know WEEKS in advance what an O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) is going to wear, but with this girl, such is the case. The MINUTE I decided to create “April Showers”, May Flowers became a twinkle in my eye. I had to wait for the right month, of course. And now it’s here…

Thusly begins the adoption page for O.L.D. No. 00041, MAY FLOWERS! You can see her adoption page HERE.

Turns out, there’s a lot of showers in May as well! I had a heck of a time getting any decent photographs of her, given my sophisticated photography set up (daylight and my choice of two curtains), but One Does What One Can. Then we got a tornado warning, so I stopped…(all was fine).


THIEF! Ahem.

When I told The Mayor my idea several weeks back, she mentioned a magazine cover that had a dress very like the one I was describing, so I looked. HMPF! Someone stole my idea in advance! Clearly, there’s nothing new under the sun.

I had previously chosen another girl for May Flowers, but had a fiasco with her face (don’t ask! But her turn will come. I had to move on, knowing it would take some time to make this dress). Therefore this May, aka 18″ Anne Shirley, stepped in. You might recognize her face. I used the 21″ models of this same mold for previous O.L.D.s, the Katniss Everdeen and Effie Trinket types. I LOVE Annes!

These roses here. Red on red, I know. But they turned out well and were easy to do.

I also decided to make my first pillbox hat for May’s “street clothes” outfit. Awhile back, my lovely and loved sister-in-law Suzanne sent me a care package full of this and that. Amongst the treasures were these pretty little shabby fabric roses. I adored them! I used them very sparingly (is this doll “Suzanne rose”-worthy?). None of the previous O.L.D.s have them. It was longer ago than that. I frequently desired to make my own, but couldn’t figure out how. Turns out there’s this thing called the In-ter-net. Voila! I found an excellent, clear-cute site HERE. People make necklaces and attach them to barrettes and all sorts of things with them.

I modified mine a little, turning the fabric twice so there were never any raw edges and sewing them with a needle and thread rather than using glue because I’m funny that way.

Here’s the wrap inspiration.

Why aren’t hats with veils more common? It would be much cheaper than a facelift! Hmm….

Speaking of flowers and May, a belated THANK YOU to the Secret Fairy who put that beautiful pot of flowers onto my porch! SO PRETTY. And also, a thank you to Fairy Jennifer for all the recent treasures, including many of the flowers used for this dress.

Here is May’s before picture. She was in very decent shape. All her fingers and toes…but her dress was tattered and you can’t tell, but she was desperate for a bath…

Fairies are coming out of the woodwork! Another Fairy, Cindy we shall call her, came by with lace curtains and informed me that she always keeps an eye out for things she thinks I could use. I AM BLESSED.

Francie & Ginger are making their way to….Colorado and Michelle! Thank you, Michelle! Hope you truck in some sand for these bathing beauties…

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

The Trouble With Tribbles


Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket.


Our Trixie, with faded features, exaggerated cupid’s bow lips, and no hair.

Oy!  What a week this past week was! It goes like this: you get an idea in your head, your muse whispers that It Can Be Done, and that’s it. You have to go for it and there’s no time to second guess yourself! So O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 22 is a bit, shall we say, unusual.

Her name is Trixie and she just so happens to be the same type of doll as the previous O.L.D. Kat: a 21″ Anne Shirley. This girl had no hair and her features were a bit faded, not unlike the Effie Trinket character in the latest “Hunger Games” movie, Mockingjay Part 1. Not only that, but you could tell Trixie had a rough life. Her fingers were broken in a most unfortunate position. Look if you dare!


Different day, different lighting. It all depends on the weather in my sophisticated studio. I spare no expense when it comes to photography!

I have since repaired them, the muse was whispering, so off we went. Trixie’s lips had also been repainted with fingernail polish, a fix I usually abhor. But this time, for this character, the exaggerated bow worked. I didn’t remove the paint, I filled it in.


Here is the Effie Trinket character in her glory days. I love the mix of eras: there’s Elizabethan, 80’s, 40’s you name it!

What to do for her hair? THIS is why I rarely throw anything away. Why else would I have kept the partial acrylic silver/gray wig intended for humans? I never thought I’d use it, but I kept it anyway, as has become my mantra: just in case. And THAT is where the title for this post comes from.






On December 29, 1967 an episode of Star Trek entitled “The Trouble With Tribbles” aired. In it, an innocuous life form, pretty much a fur ball, is brought aboard the Enterprise. The problem with this small life form is that it is born pregnant. Soon Tribbles were overtaking the entire space ship, getting into various systems and eating all the supplies.


In this picture, just one “Tribble” is showing.


A better view of both Tribbles.

The term “Tribble” entered my brain several times whilst working on Trixie. For her signature wig, I took some of this wig hair and wrapped it around two styrofoam balls, stitching them shut. They looked just like Tribbles! And they were very troublesome to attach to the wig I created too, let me tell  you. I finally got it to work and after a spritz or twenty of hair and glitter spray, she was finally done.

tribekMeanwhile, Kat is the 11th O.L.D. headed to our dear friend Michelle E.’s home in Colorado! Trixie may end that streak, as she is just So Strange. Despite all the Trouble (with Tribbles!) that I took, not to mention that it’s Thanksgiving week, Trixie might just go for a song.

You can see her adoption page HERE. No matter what, I adore her and I wouldn’t change a thing, Tribbles and all. Neither would Trixie. Because just like the Effie Trinket character, she secretly has a heart of gold.

I’ll leave you with this last funny that I stumbled across, right after I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for YOU. You’re my favorite!

Now, here’s the funny:tribblespm

Trials and Tribute-ations

I was also going to call this post “The Day the Music (Stand) Died.” You’ll soon learn why…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor some reason, you rarely see a composition doll with long, dark hair. Even this girl didn’t start out with her hair that way. Sometime in her life, her wig had been replaced with a human hair wiglet. But when all is said and done, it suited her.

Not only that, despite her blue wool dress, she was something of a tomboy. So I did something I rarely do: I begged her. I begged her to let me dress her as Katniss Everdeen.

“Who?” she asked. Well, of course she wouldn’t know, having been dormant for who knows how many years. But I showed her pictures and she was immediately taken with this character from the Hunger Games series. It helped that her name happened to be “Kat” with a “K,” as in KISMET!

Katniss1aSo it was decided: I would make a hunting outfit for her, the white wedding dress, and if I had time, I would modify the blue dress…Kat stopped me right there. “I want the black wedding dress with the wings,” she said firmly.Katniss9

“Well, I can make the black dress, but the wings, um….how would I even do that?”

crowJust then a crow flew past the window. I had a bow and arrow, ready to go. Hmm…


But then, what else? Since I’m the one who insisted on the main character, I felt I had to give in. I racked and racked my brains. The wings would need to fold, otherwise, she’d be knocking everyone down in her path! What folds? A music stand! I knew I had one in my attic.


We just used the upper parts not marked with the official-looking red, squiggly lines.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy brother-in-law, aka The First Dude (his wife being The Mayor, and all) kindly cut the stand for me. Sparks flew!

Turns out, music stand joints are pretty flopsy when not attached. It took some doing to get the wings to stand out; a combination of leather, elastic stringing and proper weight distribution. A lot of trial and error. But we got them to work! And they do indeed fold down.

In addition, Kat had her fingers rebuilt. The Effanbee Doll Company Anne Shirley is one of the few composition dolls to have separate fingers. They’re very distinctive with their orange nail polish, and they frequently break. This 21″ girl was no exception. She was missing five out of her 10 fingers! Someone had repaired them in the past, but they were crumbling so I decided to redo them. This is why O.L.D. number 21 took longer than most. You can see her adoption page HERE.



I modified the blue dress our Kat arrived in to resemble the Tribute dress Katniss wore in the first Hunger Games movie.

katniss effie reaping

Look at that blue dress! You can see why I saw the resemblance.

And now I’m hard at work on No. 22. She is closely related to Kat in more ways than one.









OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe streak continues! Annie was adopted by Michelle of Colorado. New record! That’s TEN for her! Thank you, Michelle!

And with that, back to the sewing room. Happy Wednesday, you’re my favorite!

Victims Three


“One, two, three – WHA – ?!”

Now if you’re smart, and I think you are, you will notice there are four little maids in the picture. Ultimately, I will be dressing them all, but I’ll just do two – or three – at a time. Plus, I like “The Mikado” and was originally going to use three, but this last little girl snuck in at the last minute.

The reason I chose these four is because they’re each excellent examples of things I want to show during my first live broadcast this morning at noon eastern on Ustream. Yes! The thrill is undeniable!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first girl is Effanbee’s Anne Shirley or Little Lady. Both dolls were from the same mold. Anne was named for the character in “Anne of Green Gables” and was made to resemble the young actress who played Anne in the movie series – and who I believe changed her name to Anne Shirley.

What makes this doll distinctive is that she has individual fingers rather than the usual cupped hands of most composition dolls. The problem with that is the fingers would frequently snapped off, as with this Anne. Either that or she really, really wants World Peace. I’m going to rebuild her fingers.

It won’t be the first time! I once had an Anne with her middle and ring fingers missing. I wrote in her description, “We think she’s trying to say, ‘I love you.’” Comedy GOLD!


She also needs her lips touched up.

The second girl is the one who snuck in, bald head and all. I love wig searches! I have a several shoe boxes full and it’s always fun to try different wigs on and see what would look best. She is no one special, just one of many of the unidentifiable dolls made by one of many doll manufacturers.

And on that note, we come to the third and largest. I believe she’s a “Special” doll by Madame Alexander. That’s her name! Her worst problem is terrible cracking and lifting on her shoulderplate, but I chose her because I’ve had another “Special” come through. See what difference a different wig and a slightly different paint job makes?



You will not believe the difference when she’s clean.

The fourth girl is exceptionally filthy. She is a Princess Elizabeth type. Back then, doll companies were swapping doll molds like little boys used to swap marbles!

If anyone out there has dirty composition dolls, I can show you an easy cleaning method using a common household item you may already have on hand, but that at the very least you can readily find. She also needs re-stringing, as her joints are a little loose. Good times.

So these are the victims! First the refurbishing, then the fabric choices and dress designs for each including coats, hats and shoes, and then I’ll be listing them on ebay so they can finally find good homes where they will be loved and enjoyed again! I’ll note their progress as I go here as well as on my show. Make-up! Wardrobe! Clapper! ACTION.

Fingers crossed that they turn out well. With a little magic and elbow grease, they will!