Downton Abbey

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Let Freedom Ring!

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My sister, the Mayor, is quite the crafty and rather gifted girl. A year or so ago when I was at a quilter’s estate auction I spied a lovely old dressmaker’s dummy that I KNEW she would like. I would have liked it too, but I have no room!

I’m so glad I gave it to her. She came up with something quite lovely. I probably would have decoupaged some old vintage advertising on it or some such thing. Not her! She spent days toiling away. It’s a sight to behold in person, with it’s swirl of patriotic bunting and rhinestones and pearls. The draping of the fabric reminded me of the Statue of Liberty. Therefore, I have my sister to thank for the inspiration for O.L.D. No. 92…

Thus begins the description for #92, Independence! You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness me wee dear sister finds dolls scary, because she would give me a run for my money. It’s not for nothing that I sneak into her house in the dead of night, a particularly scary doll clutched in my fist, whispering in the dark, “I’m gonna bite you with my nice….sharp….teeth.” Ah, the times we have! Plus, it keeps her good and scared of my dolls, and keeps me safe up here on my perch alone.

For those of you who don’t know, Julie and her husband Scott (the First Dude) live in a rather mansion-y house here in town, and I feel very fortunate every time I drive up her driveway. “Why, yes! I know these people who live here! That’s right, I have friends in this manse! Sure, they’re related, but…they like me! They really like me!”

I would never say this out loud to others, and they could probably give two flips about it, but to me it’s a privilege. I love Julie and Scott’s home. It was built in 1893, and the living room is large enough to boast two gorgeous old crystal chandeliers. There’s a cloak room in the entryway, and you can picture couples pulling up in horse and carriages to attend a ball. This thrills and fires my imagination.

There are two staircases, one for servants close to the kitchen, and the main one that leads up from the living room for the family. The main one has a landing with a bench, should you care to rest between climbs. Two staircases! That kind of house.

Which is why I knew Julie would have the space for that wonderful dressmaker’s dummy that nobody wanted. At that estate sale there were three in all. Two fairly nice new ones, and this old number with its cast iron base and chipboard body with the dented boob. The other two went for $15 or $20 each. The one I wanted…nothing! I bid $2 and held my breath. SOLD! Of course, I told Julie as I magnanimously gave it to her that I paid $50, but…that is neither here nor there.

The Statue of Liberty is wearing sandals! Mine are made from gold foiled leather.

Julie and I like to give each other little surprises now and then because life can be a tricky thing. But even with her busy schedule of Mayoring and working full time, she makes everything look so effortless.

I based my torch on this Staret brooch from the 1940’s.

“Whatcha doin’?” I’ll casually ask during one of our many, many conversations per day. “Oh, crafts.” And then I’ll go over to her house, and she’ll show me all these things she’s made! Wonderful things! When I first saw what she’d done with the dummy, I said, “Um, can I have that back…?” Of course I was just joking. Mostly. Well, at least I could steal the inspiration…

I love this image. It makes my toes curl with fear, but I love it.

Julie had this wonderful old bunting she used for her dummy. I alas did not. I hand painted each and every star. “Oh, I’ll just zip downstairs to the kitchen, paint the stars, and while that’s drying I’ll….” NO SUCH THING. Turns out, painting hundreds of starts takes awhile. After all that painting, I then scrunched up the fabric so you couldn’t really see them anyway. No matter, I wanted scrunchy bunting, and I know the stars are there…

Thank you, Thomas Barrow.

The beading was so much fun to do, but also time consuming! If it weren’t for Dowton Abbey, I might have injured myself. I’m currently watching all six seasons of “Downton Abbey” over and over as I sew. Thank goodness I find it engaging, because sometimes sitting there for hours with beads and threads and sharp, pointy needles…*bonk!* Next thing you know, your head droops, and there goes an eye…

Independence was a labor of love, and I hope you love her as we celebrate America’s birthday this coming week.

Bathing Beauty Macie was adopted by…Hillary P. of New York, New York! And to think I’ve never been there! THANK YOU, HILLARY!

With that, I leave you! Happy July 4th! You’re my favorite.


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The Mayor Takes A Holiday


You can see her damaged neck in this picture. Poor thing! Bless her heart, she was determined to go…

“You are the best helper ever!” I exclaimed. And Georgette was. She truly was! Turning her head this way and that so that I could finish the work on her shoulder plate and around her neck. “Oh, no!” I cried. “What’s wrong?” a worried Georgette asked. “I’m sorry, Georgette. Today’s not your day. You’re going to need a lot more repair.” I showed her the large chunk of compo that had just come off the center of her neck. “There’s no way the milliput will dry in time…”

“But I have to go today! You promised!” Georgette insisted.

She is absolutely right. And I’m a chick of my word…

Last week The Mayor, aka my sister Julie, took some time off and we finally did what we’ve been trying to do for a long time: we had a movie date! Except in this case the “movie” was two episodes of the latest season of Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey HAT1I ignored the fact that it was already Tuesday and I hadn’t yet figured out what type of clothing I was going to make for my next O.L.D. The afternoons when Julie and I are both free are few and far between!

O.L.D. No. 00031 is a Madame Alexander “Special Girl” and her name is Georgette.

So there Julie and I lay in the specially made nest that Julie created for us in her movie room. Pillows and fur blankets with buffalo chicken wraps and Good & Plenty’s a-plenty. And we watched. And I was inspired.

Inspired by the hat of a so far minor character. It was swoopy! It was one-sided! And it had a tassel hanging from that one side, dangling ever so fetchingly! I designed Georgette’s entire outfit based on that hat. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThank you, Downton Abbey! Once again, you’ve come through for me.

Granted, I didn’t get it identical, I only got it similar. Did I mention there were Good & Plenty’s? And gummi peach rings? Oh. Well, there WERE. I got Georgette’s hat the way I remembered it amidst the feasting.

Downton 1920s coatI lay in bed at night thinking of these things. How can I get the swoop I want and what materials to use. I knew I wanted to use chipboard for the brim. But it has a grain, and with the direction of the grain and the length required, I would need more than one sheet. How to make it seamless without a crease? Hmm…TWO layers. Wait! That would be too stiff! All right, a staggered layer then…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHer coat was based on a coat that I’d also seen that seemed the right era. And on one of Mary’s coats that I found in my research, I finally figured out a way to do a buttonhole with little risk: A placket!

Georgette also represents the first in what I am calling “The Ann Series.” Remember how I used the last of my “Handmade by Ruth” tags? Well, I found those other tags I bought at the same time that say, “Specially Hand Made by Ann.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI realize of course that my name isn’t Ann. But these are nifty vintage tags and I was having tag withdrawal and Julie’s middle name is Ann! So, HAH! A connection! Plus, I’m noting it on the tag so that when any of the Ann series appears on “The Antique’s Roadshow” of 2172 or thereabouts, the appraiser will know it’s genuine. There are six “Ann” tags in all…

In the meantime, I still have a little more work to do on Georgette’s shoulder plate. And the next O.L.D. is just a twinkle in my eye. Here’s a hint: there shall be singing.

Rosemary and her baby and her baby’s baby were adopted by…Michelle E. of Colorado! The latest streak continues! Thank you, Michelle. You’re a mysterious angel…

With that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, this is Ann saying you’re my favorite!


East of Edith

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently received a very nice note from the woman who adopted Poor Edith.

Thank you for the lovely doll that arrived in the mail. I started out collecting antique bisque dolls over 30 years ago. Progressed to dollhouses and then to dollhouse dolls. Have discovered after just collecting everything that am only satisfied with little dolls with beautiful clothing. The clothing is what gives me the most satisfaction. If were to be reincarnated would choose to come back as a designer of beautiful clothing. Am looking forward to more Downton Abbey this winter. This doll is spectacular. Keep it up. You are just doing great work. As I am constantly on Ebay, will keep my eyes open for future dolls from you.

Carol, South Dakota

I think Edith is going to be very content.

One Lost Doll down. Hundreds to go….

Happy Monday!




It’s getting mighty frosty here in Iowa, as it is I’m sure in other places too! Last night I found myself singing “Anatevka” from Fiddler on the Roof as I took my dog Teddy out for one more break before going to bed. I looked the part, all bundled up with my trusty scarf wrapped ’round my head. Not unlike today’s gallery image (to the right, above).

We went to Spencer’s Pumpkin Palooza at the correct time and date yesterday and it was as GLORIOUS as hoped for! More so! An excellent time was had by all. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR. I can finally reveal my TRUE self. >>>>>



I don’t know WHY people always get Julie and I confused. Just because we’re both blonde! And have the same pointy chins! And always wear black!


<<<<< There’s the young man himself – SPENCER – behind my sister Julie and my brother-in-law Scott. Spencer was so helpful and industrious.

frostpddA-HAH! See? When you go on the right day, there are others in the patch! There were still more riding the horse drawn carriage, and having their faces painted, and eating chili and perusing the bake sale…FALL. Is it no wonder that it’s my favorite? Next to WINTER.

As for the “history” referred to in the title, I confess to you that it is hard putting myself out there. It’s easy enough to risk failure when no one you know is looking, but difficult to purposely go out and invite friends (and I hope we are) to watch you. In this venture of writing this book and all that it entails, my job is to Put Myself Out There. Up to and including when I list my worked upon dolls on ebay. And while I am at times “out there” (or so I’m told), I’m not naturally inclined to be Out There/out there. Know what I mean? Of course you do.

Included with each doll that I send out into the world will be this lovely certificate put together by my brother, Dennis. On it, I would write down the name of the doll, the number, and the date.



ACK! You’re going to think I wear the same thing all the time! Secretly, I do. But if you look closely, this is a DIFFERENT striped scarf. So, HAH!

As always, he did a GREAT job.


Farewell, Dear Edith. I knew ye well.

Well, I listed my first doll. And I didn’t say a thing. Remember Poor Edith? She was snatched away in less than two hours! You can see her listing here.

It was a much needed boost to my confidence. I want you to know, I don’t expect all my girls to leave me so quickly. I also want you to know that this is a labor of love, I always experience a pang when I send them away. I also experience a pang when no one out there falls in love with them as I have!

Regardless, Lost Doll No. 1 has left the hideaway.

I’ll be listing Lost Doll No. 2 soon, I just want to add some beading to her cloak. Like Edith, she’s not my usual composition-type doll, she’s a Civil War era china head. Yes, I am slow, and yes, I will sometimes fail RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, but my heart is always in my work.

And THAT is the important thing.

Happy Columbus Day!


Downton Abbey, Shallow Hal, Doo-Dah! Doo-Dah!


Scarlet O’Hara Gone With the Wind

Perhaps it’s the medication, but there are strange hallucinations afoot. For example, all through my stay at the hospital, and even here at home, I’ve been wearing what I think of as The Corset.


Rose from Titanic

Because of my dainty state, ‘tis not one of those lace up ones where you have to hold onto a handy tall bed bannister whilst your lady’s maid or mother or mammy ties you in, (“Eighteen inches! It’s just got to be eighteen inches!), instead it’s a modern contraption that uses velcro and fuzz.


Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey

In the hospital it would take two nurses at first, one on either side two hold and fasten the two halves together, and later I would helpfully hold one side. I was pretty out of it, I confess, so when I actually SAW the thing unfurled, scrolling to the ground, I had a moment like this:

What the – ?!


Hal from Shallow Hal


I’ve often related to this somewhat inappropriate yet wildly appropriate scene from “Shallow Hal.”

“This shirt!” I will say to myself, “It’s HUGE. How could it possibly fit me?!” only to have said shirt fit quite nicely.

Or when it comes to my lovely visage: “Wrinkles? What wrinkles?! I haven’t changed a bit!”

In the movie, Hal has had a spell cast on himself, where he only sees the true beauty of things. This explains his surprise at his gorgeous slender girlfriend’s humongous undies.

Aren’t I lucky that I seem to have had a similar spell cast on myself?

Shouldn’t we all, especially when it comes to ourselves? Life is hard enough as it is! Therefore, I shall continue.

*She walks in beauty,

like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies

And all that ‘s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes

In my mind, at least. Which in some ways is all that matters.

*Poem by Lord Byron

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya

As I’ve previously stated, I’ve been going through a Downton Abbey phase. It’s my night light when I go to bed so I can see the bats (that so far have not arrived. I think the pencil in the keyhole of the attic door is working! Knock on wood. But I digress) as I fall asleep.

So it was amazing to me to see the actors from this period PBS drama in real life, and what a difference a little makeup makes. Even if you don’t watch the show, I think you’ll see what I mean.

For example, the evil Miss O’Brien, who would stab you as soon as look at you:



And the crotchety Mrs. Padmore, Ruler of the Kitchen:


What a sweet and genteel lady!

Even Mrs. Hughes, the rather dowdy head housekeeper, fer cryin’ out loud:


Glamour puss!

And let us not forget, Poor Edith, she who was deserted at the altar:


Who would EVER leave THAT I ask you?!

So when I caught sight of myself, all hot and sweaty and without a stitch of makeup after I toiled away taking my Christmas lights down (I figure it’s June, why not?), I decided to be very brave and try the same thing. So here, without further ado (gulp!), is my before:


And here’s the after:


Just kidding! That’s Phyllis Diller! HERE’S the after:


Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. It’s amazing what a little powder and blush and a hint of mascara will do…


April Fifteenth

Every April 15 a tragedy occurs. No, no, not taxes! Although those are no fun either. In this case, I mean the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I am a huge Titanic buff and have been ever since I discovered the condensed story in a Reader’s Digest magazine when I was a little girl.

When I first saw my home, I was struck by how some of its features looked as if they were from the same era of the Titanic. I confess to being disappointed to discover it had been built in 1913, one year after the sinking. I would have liked to have been living in something as old as the Titanic itself.

This is my fireplace, an upgrade from the standard offered in the Sears catalog of Sears House Kits from whence it came.

This is my fireplace, an upgrade from the standard offered in the catalog of Sears House Kits from whence it came (see my Sears House in an earlier post).

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Poor Edith!

Edith with Bike

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI absolutely adore Downton Abbey. So when I saw this little girl she immediately reminded me of that era. Let’s pretend she’s Mary! Alas, we cannot. Clearly she is an Edith. At just 7″ tall she’s quite unusual because of how her legs are bisque to mid-thigh, amongst other things. Not to mention, how many dolls do you know who have betrayed their OWN SISTER to the Turkish Embassy?

Still, as a middle child myself, I can certainly understand her plight, always being outshone by siblings and being overly sensitive about everything. So I made a little outfit for her based on this costume:

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