Toni – Pioneer Girl

I was telling Toni about my family’s pioneer days in Kansas and Oklahoma. She was intrigued that my grandmother actually lived in a sod house as a little girl. The stories made her think of Little House on the Prairie, so we decided to go with a pioneer costume today.

Toni’s clothes closet.

Checking in her closet, I see one dress that might be just right for a pioneer girl costume. That dark blue one with the polka dots and long sleeves would serve the purpose.

Toni still wanted to scope out what outfits were available online. We found several but again, these came with a doll. All the dresses without a doll were little girl styles from the 1950s and 1960s or too fancy for pioneer times.

A lovely Toni in a long red dress (ebay seller: antiquesnemethdi13)

So, here’s Toni in her blue dress. For the true pioneer look, I’ll need to make a sunbonnet with a wide brim. She also needs some high-button shoes. For now, she’s going barefoot which actually may be quite appropriate for a pioneer who needs to save their shoes for trips to town or for going to church.

Toni doll – the pioneer girl look

For comparison, here are a vintage family photo from pioneer times from our Vining family album. The sod house part is on the right behind my grandmother and her siblings.

Vining family in Oklahoma (photo from Virginia Allain).

Toni – Polar Bear

The October blog challenge suggested we interview someone for our blog. Toni said she was too shy to go on camera, so I had to settle for a simple question/answer format.

  • Me: “How did you develop an interest in wearing costumes?”
  • Toni: “I get tired of wearing little girl dresses all the time.”
  • Me: “So going back to the 1950s and 1960s is not a dream of yours?”
  • Toni: “No, I’m at least 60 years old, and a lot has happened in that time. I spent years stuck inside a box and now I want to experience life and different cultures, different eras.”

Movie Star?

I spotted a white fur jacket worn by a Toni on the Etsy site. Would that make a movie star costume suitable for the 1930s and 1940s? After hunting around on the Internet, I couldn’t pin down a specific photo that would be a good match. Both Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe appeared in white fur wraps, but not in short fur coats.

I found photos of Shirley Temple in a white full-length fur coat with a muff from the movie, Bright Eyes. That would be complex to recreate as there was a fur capelet, dangling fur accents, and a white Robin Hood style hat.

Polar Bear Costume?

Then I thought of a polar bear. This sweet Toni has platinum blonde hair. Give her some white tights and 2 bear-style ears and her costume is done. If you want to have a polar bear face mask, I found one that you can download online or use it to draw your own mask. The download is probable for a child-sized face, not a doll-sized one.


If you happen to be an animal rights activist, I’m not promoting that anyone go kill an animal right now to make their Toni doll a fur coat. If you are wanting to make a coat, there are faux fur available for crafts and sewing.

This particular fur is likely a domestic rabbit who ended up on someone’s dinner table in the 1950s and the fur repurposed. Actually, we raised rabbits when I was a child in 4-H and our rabbits won dozens of ribbons at the county and state fairs over the years. Feeding our family of eight, we had many a meal of roast rabbit, fried rabbit, etc. We never tried making anything with the fur though.

Toni’s Suffragette Costume

Many decades ago, women marched and demanded the right to vote. Known as suffragettes since they fought for women’s suffrage (voting rights), these were dedicated women who eventually achieved their goal.

Feminist_Suffrage_Parade_in_New_York_City,_1912 creative commons photo suffragettes
Women march for the vote in 1912. The white dresses were a unifying look. (creative commons photo)

My Toni doll has a variety of outfits from different eras but she didn’t have a suffragette costume. In the past two years, women have been on the march again to call attention to political issues that affect them. Some protesters dressed in suffragette costumes to participate and to call attention to how long women have had to struggle to achieve equality.

The other day as we disassembled a broken-down laundry cart, the texture of the bags inspired me to start to work. There’s nothing like free fabric that will be going to waste to get my mind into design mode.

toni suffragette costume creation
Cutting out pieces for creating the suffragette costume.

The fabric had a slight stiffness to it even after washing. Its weave gave it sort of a linen look. It should be just right and I had lots of it. That allows me to experiment with some variations on the look.

I’m setting this aside for the moment, but further down the road, I’ll finish the project. I’ll need to make her a sash from some satin material and get a small flag for her to carry.