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Sewickley Pick

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1pjf4I’m sure that if you’ve lived on this planet for any length of time, you’ve heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, gentle reader, I would like to assure that such is not always the case.

Several months ago a lovely woman, Diane M. of Sewickley Pennsylvania, contacted me out of the blue. She had several enchanting old dolls that she wanted to have go out to good homes, and she thought that I might be just the person to make that happen. She wanted to know if she could send them to me. And she wanted nothing. Nothing at all in return.


That’s PJ on the right. She’s an Effanbee Patsy Joan.

A few days later, two huge boxes arrived. Boxes filled with several beautiful old dolls, eight in all! Not only that, there were several items of clothing, and socks and trims and other doll related things.

Does this sound too good to be true? Apparently not!

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 65 Patsy Joan – PJ to her friends. You can see PJ’s adoption page HERE.


What girl doesn’t look better with a freshened face and touched up lips?

I’d written about this fortunate and true stroke of luck several months ago, and now I’m finally getting to them! I won’t do them all in a row, but Sewickley Series #2 is coming next.


PJ’s head had been broken and lovingly re-glued long ago. I camouflaged it a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve been going through a pom-pom frenzy. I know I’m not the only one this has happened to!

Mayor Julie stumbled across a pound of 100% cotton pom-poms for next to nothing, and we went halfsies. Do you know how many pom-poms it takes to make a pound? A LOT. PJ happened to speak up right when they arrived, so she got pom-pomed. I strung aaallll those pom-poms together for her scarf, and then dotted her hat with them.


Also, do you see that last outfit? Those jammies? Do you see what PJ is wearing on her feet? BUNNY SLIPPERS! The first pair I’ve ever made – and most likely not my last.


They’re fully lined in pink satin, fer cryin’ out loud!

These Sewickley dolls came with a lot of clothes already made. I cannot let a girl out of my hands without making something for them myself, so that shall be the trademark of the Sewickley Series: lots of clothes.

O.L.D. No. 64 Heroic Helen was adopted by Sandra B. of Myton, Utah! Sandra also adopted No. 42, Valerie the Happy Wanderer. Thank you, Sandra!

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

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The Mouse Who Would Be KING

We were in the midst of decorating our Christmas tree when there was a knock at the door. We all raced to see who could get there first. Not that it mattered; only Hazel and I could reach the knob, us being the only humans. The rest of the dolls certainly couldn’t. Even Elizabeth, who at 21″ was the tallest. No matter. We raced all the same.

Standing on the porch was a little shivering Schoenhut dressed all in black. 

“Come in! Come in!” we all cried. We ushered our newest arrival towards the fireplace – not too close, seeing as how she was made of wood.

“What’s your name?” I asked, once we had settled her comfortably in a chair with a blanket and hot cocoa.

“Let me guess: Ruth!” Dot said, giggling.

I couldn’t help laughing myself. It’s no secret: I always wear black.

“My name is Clara,” our new little girl said softly. “And I know exactly what I want to be…” 

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved doll) No. 98, She of the Nutcracker Dreams. You can see her adoption page HERE.

This girl comes with a LOT of stuff. A nightgown, two dresses, a coat and hat…

A stocking full of goodies including a little German doll, dancing ballerinas, a rocking chair, an old afghan, and of course, a nutcracker or two. She comes with a LOT.

I wanted Clara to have Nutcracker characters dancing around her head. so I took these old plastic ballerina ornaments I had and repainted them and then I made this contraption, because I am insane.

But Reader! If you could know what I originally wanted to include with her! The MORE that I wanted to do! It is only the powerful waving fists of my wee little sister, the reasonable chidings of my patient mother, and TIME that keep me contained.

When I put my dolls that I love so much up for adoption at 6:33 Central time on a Wednesday or a Sunday, it’s by the skin of my teeth that I get them done. And the last minute furious flurry that takes place is something to behold. Nothing’s sacred at the end! I throw things searching for a shoe that might have fallen off, barrel through piles looking for a missing hair ribbon. You get the idea. In fact, the other day I was laughing to myself. When I’m done with a doll, my sewing room resembles the setting of Charles Dickens “Ghost of Christmas Present” in A Christmas Carol:

Picture no beard and fabric instead of food.

Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch…

NOW I’ve given him a crown…

Which brings me to the mouse of the title of this post. In the Nutcracker ballet, the Nutcracker that Clara receives for Christmas comes to life, defeats the evil Mouse King in battle, and whisks Clara away to a magical land. So of course I wanted a Mouse King for my Clara too! I was going to make one, but then in the desperation of time, I was going to use the one I had on hand and just give him a crown and a sword. But then I ran out of time to do even THAT.

See that writing? That is CHRISTMAS to me. I can’t tell you how many hours my siblings and I would sit under the tree, searching for our names in that dear, dear script.

Thirty-three years ago this very Christmas I was gifted a book from my mom and dad called, “The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book.” It was for these excruciatingly cute mice.

Also at that time, there were these popular bears made by the North American Bear Company, made to resemble celebrities and used clever plays on their names.

Left to Right: Abearham Lincoln, Kareem Abdul Jabbear, Bearb Ruth, Sza Sza Gabear and Beartsy Ross.

“A-HAH!” I said to myself in my musical, lilting voice. “I want to do the same thing with RODENTS.”

Of course I wanted my rodents to be appealing, and the patterns in this book would fit the bill. So I came up these characters: RAT Butler, ScarRAT O’Hara, RODENT Valentino and MozRAT. This couldn’t fail!

This doesn’t look like a fair fight.

I never gave up on this idea, even though I only got as far as Mozrat. And through all the moves in my life, and there have been plenty, Mozrat and this book have come along with me. Even the move when all I owned fit into my dearly loved Volkswagen bug. But I get so determined to get what I want when I finish a doll, that almost NOTHING will stand in my way! Except the finality and peskiness of time.

HEAR THIS: If whoever adopts Clara happens to read this blog post and mentions “Mouse” or “Mozrat” to me, this dear old friend, dust and all, will be coming to you to do battle for the heart of a maiden with a Nutcracker.

No. 97 Heidi was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California, a name that is becoming more and more familiar! This is number 4 for her. Thank you, Linda!

And with that, I leave you! I hope you’re having a very jolly season so far. Merry Christmas, you’re my favorite. SEND SNOW.

The Royals

The red-faced girl at the door with her arms full of clothes looked vaguely familiar. 

“Haven’t you already been through here?” I asked suspiciously as I relieved her of her burden and ushered her inside. I was secretly alarmed. Had she been rejected…?!

“I knew it!” she said triumphantly. “I KNEW you’d forgotten about us! I’m part of the Sewickley crew. You’ve kept us separate from the others, tucked away in a box in the shipping room…”

Reader, it was MY turn to be red-faced. I’d forgotten they were there…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 97, Heidi, who also happens to be part of the Sewickley crew. You can see her adoption page HERE.

That’s me on the left, Holly on the right.

My description for this particular girl is pretty lengthy.  I always figure if someone doesn’t want to read the flotsam and jetsam, they don’t have to as long as the pertinent points are easy to find.

Truthfully, I could have written pages and pages about this girl, and the memories she evokes! But here in this place, I’ll just write about one.

This memory has to do with my childhood and my best friend growing up, Holly. I’ve written about her here and there. She was my Julie before Julie was born.

Both Holly and my’s dads worked at the same place; The Church College of Hawaii, aka C.C.H., as it was known back then. It’s currently BYU, Hawaii. My father was in the college administration, her father was in maintenance. Both had perks to their positions: my dad would bring home reams of scratch paper. During church, I would kneel between the rows of pews, facing the back of the chapel, using the bench as my desk, and I would sketch the people behind me. At least I was quiet! Or Holly and I would make countless, countless paper dolls with an infinite number of outfits for each that we would design our very own selves.

The perks from Holly’s dad was movies. Laie, Hawaii where C.C.H. was located was a very small town on the north shore of Oahu. There were no movie theaters and this was long before the luxuries of Blockbuster (who?) and VHS. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to watch whatever was on the three whole channels of TV, and that was IT.

Enter Herb, Holly’s dad. The college would occasionally show movies in the auditorium. For .25 you could go see an old movie, like “The Wizard of Oz,” or “Pollyanna.” Besides being a character, Herb was a very resourceful fellow; he was able to get a projector and movies and bring them home for Holly and I to watch. Just we two! It’s hard to remember a time before instant streaming and downloads. Back then, getting to watch a movie at a time of your own choosing in the comfort of your own home was HUGE. HUGE.


One of my favorites was “Heidi” with Shirley Temple. For some reason, a scene stuck out in my mind that I’ve always been taken with: on her way to meet her mean old grandfather for the first time, Heidi doesn’t have a suitcase. So not only are her arms full of clothes, but she’s wearing lots of outfits layered one on top of the other. She gets hot and drops her pile in the middle of the street and starts pulling off sweaters and endless skirts. I just thought it was the niftiest thing.

Enter O.L.D. No. 97! When the Sewickley crew arrived, not only were there the nine dolls, there were tons of doll clothes and some fabric and trims. One wonderful Sunday I got to sit in bed surrounded by these recent arrivals and go through the clothes and see who fit what. Heidi made out like a bandit.

I made the coat, the hat and the carpet bag. Other than that…


Here I made the red velvet hat to go with the blue velvet outfit, as well as the robe and the bunny slippers.

I have a soft spot for the name “Heidi.” Not just because of the movie, but also because my best friend Holly has a sister named Heidi. Our O.L.D. Heidi has Holly’s unusual coloring of brown eyes and blonde hair. And she has a lot of clothes and a place to go and no suitcase to put them in.

It’s been a pleasure and a series of wonderful flashbacks working on this doll. Of two little girls who got to eat popcorn or homemade anise candy or lime slush in the formal living room and watch flickering scenes of magic whenever our hearts desired. Royalty couldn’t have had it better. Thank you, Heidi! Thank you, Holly! Thank you, Herb!

And thank you to a new face, Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio who gave Mary Ellen a home! Turns out, there’s a doll club in Toledo, and they recently had a Hazel Twigg program where those that had ’em, brought ’em for the others to see! How nifty is that? I tell you, it tickles me pink.

As do YOU. Know why? ‘Cause you’re my favorite!


Susanna’s current page with her new nose. My mother gave me a new camera that I hid for safekeeping. I have GOT to find it. These photos are awful, but you get the idea.

O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 83 is named Susanna. You can see her adoption page HERE.

To touch up, or not to touch up? That is hardly ever the question, especially when it comes to composition dolls. Of course I’m going to do something!

Schoenhuts, however, are an entirely different animal. Older, rarer, and more expensive, Schoenhut dolls attract a whole different breed of those who love them and are drawn to them.

I had one last Schoenhut, and this girl was more worn than the previous two I’d had in the past. Namely, the paint on her nose was gone, showing the wood beneath. I had joined a Schoenhut group on Facebook when I’d received my first doll of that type so that I could learn more about them. Who better to ask what should be done to this girl than those who adopt them in droves?

The consensus was that I should leave her alone. Some even sweetly provided photos of Schoenhuts with far worse wear. I secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Good! Because that would give me more time to focus on the clothes, which is my favorite thing to do.

So I got to work. I cut up an old mohair sweater of mine and sewed it into a doll-size sweater, embroidering it with flowers in vintage wool yarn. I made a coat and a hat and two dresses. Sewed little leather shoes with glass buttons, and two pairs of socks. After days of toil, she was ready. I took my pictures in dubious light, and finally put her up for adoption.

An hour into her offering, my phone rang.

“Now, don’t be mad,” a squeaky voice said.

“Whyever would I get mad?” I said in my musical lilt, recognizing my sister The Mayor on the other end of the line.

“That NOSE. You have GOT to do something about THAT NOSE!” I could practically see her jumping up and down and waving her tiny fists as she spoke.


Susanna’s sailor dress is made from bonafide old ticking. I had to work around the worn spots.

No! My mind rebelled. The pictures are done! She already has a bid! And watchers! And she’s only just begun!

Still, my sister had given me a niggle of doubt. But she doesn’t even like dolls! I shouted back at that niggle. Hmmm…Better to ask for a third opinion from someone who actually does like dolls. I called my friend Brenda. She looked at Susanna’s link.

“I think your sister is right.”


“….you should touch up that nose. And the eyebrows. And the eyes. And the eyeliner. And the lips….”

I huffily took down Susanna’s adoption page, and got back to work. It wasn’t all bad. It gave me a chance to do other things I’d wanted to do but ran out of time for. I added a reversible belt to her brown dress, and turned the vintage half slip I’d found for her into a full slip, complete with tea-dye and a ribbon accent. When she was completed, I took a second round of pictures, not quite as good this time, but at least her nose and the rest of her face was DONE.

It’s a tricky thing, this touch up of these old dolls. Their skin is not all one color. There’s patina! I actually had to layer several different colors to make her nose repair unnoticeable, and I was as subtle with the rest of her features as I could be. I didn’t want to make her look like new, and I didn’t want to idealize her features. I wanted her new mother not to know that anything had been done – if she hadn’t been told first.

And THAT is the story of NOSEGATE.

Our darling Jefferson was adopted by…Cecilia S. of Foster, Ohio. Another new person! Thank you, Cecilia! And yes, that song was on my mind all morning as I packed little Jefferson for his trip. I HOPE you know which song I mean. Surely, it can’t be THAT old…

And with that, I leave you! Hunker down, Iowa! The ice storm’s a-coming! You’re my favorite.

P.S. If anyone gets the title image joke with the “Know when to Stop” written in it, I shall be tickled pink. Go, Packers!

Avon Calling, Freedom Rings!

1f2aaThe very first thing I said to the future O.L.D. before me as I opened her box and lifted her out was, “You look as if you’re saluting me!”

And she did! When I lifted her out, her arm came up in a bent position to her forehead. It was good to have an ice breaker for this latest arrival. I almost felt as if I should be down on one knee before her. A Schoenhut! A SCHOENHUT.


Look at the poses they can hold!

Albert Schoenhut was a German immigrant who opened a toy factory in Pennsylvania in 1872. He started making dolls in 1911. Schoenhut dolls are not composition. They’re carved completely of wood and have steel spring hinge joints. They truly are works of art.

And now here I was in the presence of one such gem, staring up at me with those big blue eyes.

1ffHer name is Freedom, she is O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 71, FIFTH in the Sewickley Series, and you can see her adoption page HERE. This is how her story began…

“I have one more O.L.D. that really should go to a new home,” sweet Diane, giver of that wonderful group of Sewickley dolls (so named because they come from Sewickley, PA) instant messaged me a little over a month ago.

No matter how an O.L.D. arrives, I’m always happy to see her, and the Sewickley dolls have been especially sweet, so I was of course pleased to see these words. 


Some inspiration photos. These are Americans! I liked the idea of jodphur-style pants. I made spats and shoes instead of boots, so that the shoes beneath could be worn separately with her other outfits.

Then Diane continued, “I don’t know if you would be interested in her because she’s a wooden Schoenhut, a little bit older than 1930s composite girls…”

Reader, my heart both leapt and plummeted. I have always, always wanted a Schoenhut and had never even touched one before, let alone seen one in real life. It would be very hard to let her go. Diane’s next words stopped me in my tracks.


Another inspiration picture.

“You can keep her if you want.”


Fast forward and backwards: Several months ago Julie, my wing woman when it comes to thrift stores, came to me with three small vintage flags she’d found: An American flag, a Marine Corps flag, and a P.O.W. flag.


Close-up of Freedom’s hat up top. You can see my confusion! In the inspiration photo below, I thought the trim was a zipper! “How clever!” I said to myself. But, nope! Turns out, it was piping. Ah, well! The zipper adds a nice weight.

“Thank you!,” I said. “I’m going to do a Memorial day O.L.D. one day…”

Well, that day had arrived. I was surveying the throng before me to see who would receive the special honor. It was not something to take lightly. I confided to Julie that I wished I had a doll who could salute. Then *clench!* I remembered: I do…

Like many of the Sewickley dolls, Freedom came with a lot of clothes. Lovely old clothes that I can’t look too closely at. How’d they do that? With all the tiny, perfect stitches? Even the buttonholes are hand sewn!

As for the Avon reference, “Avon calling!” was always a familiar refrain growing up. Both because my mother sold Avon for many, many years (with seven kids to raise, you did what you could!), and because it’s a family name. My grandmother was named Avon, and one of my sisters has it for her middle name.

If you’re familiar with the Avon lady, you’ll remember these:


‘Member those? I used to love them! My mom would let me have one every now and then. I felt so grown up.


See ’em? There are TWO. “Russet Rage,” and “Deep Sea Coral.”

Well, it turns out, those little mini lipsticks have been around awhile! And like many things, they weren’t always encased in plastic! See if you can spot them in this picture here:

Can you? They make perfect little bullets or some such thing for Freedom’s belt! Also, remember when I took apart all those watches for the last Steampunk girl I did, Thyme? Turns out, the leftover buckles are the perfect size for dolls!


I made a fraction of these clothes. She comes with a LOT.

Working on Freedom was as exhilarating as it was exhausting. But, oh! I’m going to miss her.

Of course, my sacrifice is nothing compared to those men and women in the armed forces that we pay tribute to this Memorial Day. I’m thankful every day that I live in this great country.

I won’t have another O.L.D up for adoption until next Sunday. Every girl is special to me, but Freedom was especially so. THANK YOU, Diane! I will never, ever forget you! There are still more Sewickley dolls to come…

I’ve “met” so many wonderful people since I began this Hazel Twigg journey! One such person is Hillary P. of New York, NY, who adopted O.L.D. No. 71 “Fire & Rain” Taylor. Thank you, Hillary!

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


Outlander Returns

1cgalThe resemblance was uncanny.

It’s not often you see a composition doll – that’s not a Snow White, that is – with black hair. Granted, it was not this girl’s original wig, but still. She had just arrived and was in fairly good shape, upon first inspection. With that thick black wig surrounding her delicate features, for the briefest of moments I thought one of my girl’s had come back to me. She was the spitting image of O.L.D. No. 43.


Here’s her “before” picture. Hardly different, but her wig wasn’t quite right.

Then she told me her name, and things got uncannier still.

“Claire,” she said, in her soft sweet voice.

A new claire dress fullz


How fortuitous! Because weeks before, The Mayor of the tiny town in which I live sent me the image of a dress via email. It was from the second season of the STARZ series, “Outlander.” The mayor knew I had already done an Outlander doll. She was number 43, done almost a year ago when another pretty girl named Claire knocked on my door. When I saw second season dress, I felt a pang. If only, if only…ah, well!


I had a scant half yard to work with and even had to put some panels of similar fabric within the folds of the skirt to have any kind of fullness. “Why don’t you pick another fabric instead?” the Mayor squeaked. She knew my response before the words were even out of her mouth: NO.

Now, standing right here before me, was my chance…


Thus begins the description for Claire II. You can see her adoption page HERE.

At 18″, she’s a few inches smaller than the previous Claire.


After I took the first pictures, I touched up her lips and added “earrings” (they’re hanging from her human hair wiglet) for a splash of color.

I’m not quite sure who gave me this nice, large print. “Too large for a doll, probably,” I thought. But you never know, so I tucked it away. And then came the Outlander season two dress. PERFECT.


I’m not a fan of the new straw hats made for dolls. They’re thickly and slopily woven and just don’t look right. So here’s my solution, and it’s totally doable by anyone! All you need is something you can find at thrift stores and garage sales everywhere, a can of tuna, hot water, and nerves of steel.

placemat1Here’s what I did: you know those round woven place mats? They come in all kinds of colors. Why, the other day I found one in green for .50! This was my first attempt at using one for a hat, but I thought it was worth a shot, as I like the tighter weave.

1czallI took the place mat, ran some hot tap water over it, worked it over a tuna can, because that was about the right size for the crown of the hat (you would of course find whatever can or container would be right for your little girl), put some fat rubber bands around the hat and the can to hold the shape, and let it dry. If I had it to do again, I might have tried maybe boiling or almost boiling the water, but I only had one place mat in this shade, and therefore only one chance.


Her square-toed turquoise shoes turned out cute.


Yep, it was a dark and stormy day…

Here’s where the nerves of steel come in (and I’m just kidding about that). After cutting in increments – you can always cut more, but you can’t cut less! – until I got the hat brim size I wanted, I sewed bias tape aaaallll the way around the edge of the brim. My thread broke twice and then my bobbin ran out of thread, causing a few swearwords, I confess, but I hit both sides of the trim on the whole thing! I’m kinda proud of that…

Abigail, the 4th Sewickley FOUR All Seasons, was adopted by Hillary P. of New York! That makes three for our girl Hillary. Start spreading the news! A heartfelt thank you to all who bid.

And with that, I leave you! Happy rainy (a clue!) April, you’re my favorite!

If Ever I Would Leave You

Abigail“Dot! It’s not polite to stare,” I whispered as softly as I could, while still trying to reach Dot’s very distracted ears.

“Naturally, I’ve seen you around,” I said louder to the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll), “seeing as how you’re from the Sewickley clan, but what exactly is your name?”

The little Sewickley girl seemed as entranced with Dot as Dot was with her.

“Abigail,” she murmured back.

abigailnailThe constant staring between the two was beginning to draw attention. All the other dolls currently waiting their turn at the Hideaway slowly began to gather around the pair.


A kitten caused the broken pinky. For some reason, she doesn’t remember how she got the nail in her forehead…

“Oh! Um…Abby for short, then?” I asked, trying to make conversation. I don’t like any of my girls, whether they’re missing limbs or hair or anything else, to feel awkward.

“No, just plain Abigail….” she trailed off. Suddenly she gasped. With her eyes still trained on Dot, her hands flew up to her forehead. She started laughing. “So that’s what you’re looking at! I’d forgotten I still had it!”

Abigail leaned down so that Dot could touch the nail – the nail! – sticking out of her forehead. 

Dot has seen it all, I can tell you that much. But I don’t think she’ll ever forget the fourth doll in the Sewickley Series…

1AallThus begins the description for Abigail. You can see her adoption page HERE. Besides being No. 69, she is the FOURTH in the “Sewickley Series.”

You know what else there are four of, ‘specially here in Iowa? SEASONS! And thus the “Sewickley FOUR All Seasons” theme was born. See what I did there? With “foUr” instead of “for”? GENIUS!


Ooh, look! He actually IS handsome!

While I was working on Abigail’s clothing, one song in particular ran through my mind. While he’s a teensy bit before my time, to me the definition of “Handsome Man Singing” is Robert Goulet. Even if I never saw him before! When he sings, he just sounds handsome.

Know which song of his I was thinking of when I was working on Abigail? Oh sure, it’s in the title, but I’ll say it again here: If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot and quite possibly the most romantic songs ever sung. It’s about undying love through all four seasons, and it’s sung by a very handsome sounding and looking man. What could be better?

If ever I would leave you, it wouldn’t be in summer
Seeing you in summer, I never would go
Your hair streaked with sunlight, your lips red as flame
Your face with a luster that puts gold to shame

But if I’d ever leave you, how could it be in autumn
How I’d leave in autumn, I never will know
I’ve seen how you sparkle when fall nips the air
I know you in autumn and I must be there

And could I leave you running merrily through the snow
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire’s glow?

If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime?
Knowing how in spring I’m bewitched by you so
Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall
No, never could I leave you at all

1a1234aAnd with that, I leave you!

Har. Just kidding. Not quite yet…

First! Sweet Patsyette, dressed for half the holidays went to our generous friend  Janey J. from Oakland, California! Thank you Janey!

And with that, now I leave you! But not forever…because you’re my favorite, no matter the season.

A Goose Walks Into a Classroom…

1pygalI don’t know where exactly I saw it, but I thought it was the cutest idea ever, and I kept it in the back of my mind to use one day; in an elementary classroom there was a life-sized statue of a goose. The goose had different outfits in anticipation of different holdays. What fun! For the children especially! Holidays bring us all together and are a good source for many of the traditions we hold dear. Anticipation of those holidays is half the fun! Wouldn’t that be a great idea for an O.L.D.?

The time had finally come. O.L.D. No. 68, third in the Sewickley Series, was going to be my goose. She’s a Patsyette doll from the Effanbee Patsy family measuring a mere 9″. You can see her adoption page HERE.



I confidently sat down and decided which holidays I wanted to do. Ideally, I would have liked 12 altogether; one for each month. Alas, holidays don’t always fall in line that way. I narrowed it down to seven logical choices and got down to business.

First up, Thanksgiving. This would be a cinch! I’d do a witch for Halloween, and they could both share the same basic black linen dress! PIECE OF CAKE.

“Oh. Hmm….” I thought to myself in my musical voice. Turns out, a pilgrim is pretty dull in color. Only black and white! You know what’s not dull in color? A TURKEY. I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, so I kind of made one up as I went. I chortled as considered making a tiny axe for Patsyette to carry too, but was stopped by a horrified mayor. “No!” she cried. I listened.

1pyhaMaking the Thanksgiving outfit with the addition of the turkey took longer than I thought it would. No worries! Halloween would be a breeze. After all, I already had the witch’s dress! Then I decided that since the Pilgrim had a turkey, the Witch should have a cat. This time, I found a pattern I liked. Excellent! This should be no problem at all…

1pych1The instructions were in Japanese on a Spanish speaking blog. “That’s okay, I’m a visual person…” Still, it took me awhile to realize that the step-by-step pictures started on the right side of the page and moved downward and then towards the left. This still would have been okay. Alas, I started out with black velvet. It proved too much of a slippery bear to sew for something so small. All this realization didn’t happen at once. It took all day! WHOOSH. Another day lost. I started the cat over with wool felt the next day and finally finished. Time for Christmas…

1pyus123The elf ears were a late addition. I love them! Christmas went fairly smoothly. Maybe I could finish this thing! If there were ten days in a week, that is…

Nope! It was clear I was going to have to whittle the number of holidays down from seven to four. Since the ones I’d done so far were all clustered together in fall and early winter, I decided to do a 4th of July Patriotic costume so that Patsyette would have something to get her through the summer.

1pytag2The good news is, this leaves the door open for….ANOTHER GOOSE. The Mayor came up with an excellent idea for that future goose. I can’t wait! In the meantime…

Carole was adopted by Kathleen S. of Houston, Texas. A new mother! Of an O.L.D., at least. Thank you, Kathleen!

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


The Bigger They Are…


While Carole is not a Sewickley doll, this collar is from what I call the “Sewickley Stash.”

I’ve never seen Dot at a loss for words before, but there she was, staring at the newcomer, saying nothing at all. I could see why. It wasn’t just that this new girl was tall – the tallest O.L.D. so far – it was that she was BIG. Big everywhere!

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” I asked. She had one of the friendliest faces I’d seen.

“Carole with an “e,” she promptly replied.

1ccoatThese big girls are tricky and sometimes hard to place. Not every prospective little mother out there has space for a girl like this!

Dot still hadn’t made a sound, Betty stood at her side, sweet and quiet as always. They looked so small, what with Carole towering over them. I looked at the small space on the sofa, where Dot and Betty had been sitting together reading before the knock came at the door. Suddenly, I had an idea…

ssinspThus begins Carole with an “e”s description. She is O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 67 and you can see her adoption page HERE.

The average height of the dolls I usually present is around 16″ give or take, thanks to the large number of 13″ girls that I love so much. Carole is a respectable 26″. Imagine a room full of these large girls. Not everyone has the space! So I had to make her clothing extra, extra special and try that much harder to do right by her. Therefore she took more time than most. Her coat alone took me two days!

1ctag1Plus, I wanted to make more than one dress for her. The vintage seersucker I’ve had on hand for years had become almost invisible to me. Until Carole arrived! It practically leapt off the shelf – after wriggling it’s way out from between aaaallll the other fabrics.

1callTraditionally, seersucker is blue and white stripes. I had solid royal blue, and red, white and blue stripes, which made a more patriotic outfit a natural direction in which to go.

And for the first time ever, I was able to use baby shoes on her feet. The straps have to buckle at the very last hole to fit! They’re the cutest things, patent leather with suede soles from the 40s or 50s.

So here we have a very large girl, wearing human-sized shoes and taking up as much fabric as two or three regular-sized O.L.D.’s! How could she possibly not take up more space?!

Being big in size also means you have a generous lap for others to sit upon. When placed that way, Carole takes up very little room at all. Plus, other dolls enjoy her company.

“Pat in the Hat(s)” Patsy was adopted by Hillary P. of New York, NY! She is the same excellent woman who adopted the tooty-fruity Carmen Miranda. Thank you, Hillary!

And with that on this beautiful, Spring-like day, I leave you! Happy Thursday, you are my sunshine! And, of course, my favorite.



The Way You Wear Your HAT

1p1234“Hmm. Hmm…..,” I said, as I tried the little hairpiece this way and that. Patsy sat quietly in my lap, freshly cleaned and strung, with her rosebud lips touched up, her eyes shining with excitement.

Finally, I gave up. “What we have here is a conundrum,” I said. “This is the wig that was meant for you. It came with you in the box and everything! The problem is the base of it is too small. If I spend time trying to sew the hair to a larger netting, I won’t have the time I need to make your clothes.”

Suddenly, Patsy’s eyes weren’t just shining; they were filling with tears.

I touched her little nose with my index finger. “Wait a minute! I know just what to do.”

Patsy looked at me hopefully and I started laughing, patting my own messy hair. “The same thing I do when I’m having a bad hair day and have someplace important to go. Hats. HATS! I’ll make a hat for every outfit you wear.”

Thus begins the description for Patsy, O.L.D. No. 66 (which is lucky number 33 twice, and therefore not unlucky at all!) and SECOND in the Sewickley Series. You can see her adoption page HERE.


I didn’t make all the outfits. Some I just mended and modified.

It’s always a relief to me once I have a direction for a doll, and then all I have to do is sew. So I happily sewed away, planning different hats for each outfit this girl wore. When she was put up for adoption, I proudly sent a link to my doll friend in New York, Brenda. Which begets the second part of this post, and the second part of Patsy’s description on ebay:


Here’s Patsy before and after her wig was shifted. I can’t believe I made a mistake! I’M AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

“I’m not so sold on that wig,” my friend, who knows her dolls very well said.

“How come?” I asked.

“Well, her molded hair is showing…”

She was right. In my defense, I’ve seen dolls with molded hair showing beneath their factory original wigs. Also, this exchange all took place via email, as she and I have never actually met. Which is good (for her). I’ll often wistfully tell my sister that sometimes I wish she would come and sit in my sewing room with me so that I could bounce ideas off her.


Patsy got bunny slippers too. Hers are in blue instead of pink. It wasn’t until after I took this picture that I realized I forgot the little pom-pom tail. This shall be remedied.

Alas, Julie knows me too well. She knows that I would ask her opinion, she’d give it, and I’d quickly shoot it down and go my own way. Plus, I’d laughingly bounce wads of fabric off her head and say, “Get it? Get it?!”

However! This just goes to show you that sometimes I DO listen. NOTE PATSY’S NEW ‘DO. There was a section of the wiglet that had some shorter strands. I decided to try the wig with those as bangs, so I removed it, rotated it, and voila! Whaddya know? My friend was RIGHT.


No. 65 Patsy Joan and No. 66 Patsy.

You may notice that No. 66 Patsy looks an awful lot like No. 65, Patsy Joan (PJ). That’s because Effanbee made a whole bunch of slightly different molds and called them the “Patsy Family,” when Patsy – the original – proved to be so popular. There’s even a Patsy Ruth! She’s rare. As am I. Ahem.

Speaking of Patsy Joan, she was adopted by Michelle! Ma Belle! of Hudson, Colorado. Thank you, Michelle. I hope you adore her.

HT11Book #1 was one by…Shawn P. of Loma Linda, California. Guess who he bought it for? His granddaughter. Guess what her name is? HAZEL. How nifty is that? She’s only three, so it will be awhile before she reads it. But when she does, I’ve snuck a few tidbits throughout the pages. Shawn is the proud owner of THREE of the top 10 books! Thank you, Shawn.

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


The Happy Horde

Horde [hawrd, hohrd] 1. a large group, multitude, number, etc.; a mass or crowd.

111houseI could just as easily have called this post “The Horde of Happiness,” because that’s what they’ve given me! Usually O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) arrive at the Hollyhock Hideaway one at a time, sometimes days sometimes months apart! Occasionally, two will arrive at the same time, causing much excitement, so the following story I am about to tell you is rare indeed.

Dianes SallyA couple of weeks ago via my Hazel Twigg page on Facebook (please feel free to “Like” it if you haven’t already), a fellow lover of these old dolls sent me a picture and asked me if I recognized either of the two dolls photographed therein. I recognized the one in green instantly. They leave my house, but they never leave my heart! I’d sewn for her many moons ago, before Hazel Twigg was even a blip of a twinkle in my eye.

I sent her this picture:

“That’s her! I think I got her from . . . Magic Elizabeth?” she asked.

“Yes! That was me!” I explained how Magic Elizabeth was the title my favorite book  when I was a little girl, and how I liked it so much that I named the main doll in Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway Elizabeth.

magicelizabethcoverMagic Elizabeth was written by Norma Kassirer and illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush (they also illustrated The Borrowers). It’s the story of a little girl named Sally who has to stay with her cranky old aunt in a scary old home. While there, Sally sees a portrait of a little girl from long ago holding the most enchanting doll she has ever seen. She is heartbroken when she learns the doll was lost, and is determined to find her. She sneaks up to the attic to search for clues and finds an old diary and is transported back in time . . .

A little girl, an old house, an attic, and a doll! Those are some of my favorite things! Clearly.



Back to the story of the doll in green. This wonderful woman, who we shall call Diane M. of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, for that is her name, had some also enchanting old dolls that she wanted to have go to good homes to be loved again. So she sent them to me!

Oh, MY!

Just. Like. That. For nothing. Along with bags and bags of precious old doll clothes and fabric and other treasures. How can I ever thank her? The best thing I can do is to send her a signed soon-to-be-in-print copy of my book (We’re talking SOON. In a couple of days I’ll have the proof copy in my very own hot little hands! More on timing later!). The other thing I can do is vow that I will find these dolls new homes where they will be loved again, along with a good portion of the lovely vintage clothes that came with them – after I study them to learn new things about sewing back in the day. Also, I’m going to enjoy these girls for a little bit. I love them already! But soon the time will come to say goodbye.

So look for these sweet darlings in the weeks and months ahead, as soon as I hear their siren call. Thank you, Diane! I’m a lucky, lucky girl. Thank you to all the generous, wonderful people out there.

O.L.D. schedule: While doing last minute things with the book and with having a slight breakdown with the O.L.D. I was working on, I haven’t had a doll up for adoption for awhile. New plan! I will have one up this Sunday, November 1st. After that, I’m going to start adoptions on Wednesday at 6:33 from now on. Sunday shall once again be a day of rest!

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

*By the bye, the caption in the gallery photo, “They say happiness,” is a nod to a song from the musical version of Scrooge, starring Albert Finney. I love that movie, and it’s almost time to start watching it again! This is my favorite time of year.