Visiting the Queen

Long ago, I read Elswyth Thane’s novels of England in the Edwardian age. The descriptions of the house parties in the country manor houses, the gala dances in London, and being presented to the royal family stuck in my mind.

Today, my Toni doll has her presentation to the Queen. For the occasion, her silk dress is heavily embroidered with exquisite details of flowers and leaves in the palest of pinks.

toni doll in official presentation portrait for meeting the Queen
Toni’s official portrait for her presentation to the Queen. The tradition was to send the portrait to the newspaper, then the young lady was officially out in society.

There’s a hint of bare shoulder but the bodice is modestly high so certainly no cleavage revealed.

bodice of Toni's presentation dress
Details of the bodice on Toni doll’s silk dress.

Her hair is arranged Gibson girl style with an impressive plume curving gracefully to frame her face.

Toni and feather in her hair
She’s wearing a wrist corsage that was given to her by her beau for this occasion.

She carries a fan to cool herself while waiting a long time in line for her turn to be presented. None of the young ladies can sit down and risk wrinkling their perfect outfits.

Find Fashion Inspiration in Books and Graphics

Books like these can inspire your doll outfits. They are available from Amazon. Also, most public libraries have reference books showing clothing from different eras.

La Belle Epoque: Vintage Style Fashion Illustration JournalLa Belle Epoque: Vintage Style Fashion Illustration JournalLa Belle Epoque: Vintage Style Fashion Illustration JournalCostume in Context: The Edwardians and the First World WarCostume in Context: The Edwardians and the First World WarCostume in Context: The Edwardians and the First World WarBeauty and Hair Dressing of 1912Beauty and Hair Dressing of 1912Beauty and Hair Dressing of 1912

Assembling the Costume for the Doll

How did I make this outfit for Toni? The dress is a silk handkerchief that is draped around her body and pinned in back. I’m lucky to have the smallest Toni, as some of the larger ones wouldn’t be able to get a whole evening dress out of a single handkerchief.
The feather and miniature roses are from my stash of accessories. The plastic fan is a pin. I didn’t want to use the doll stand which would clamp in an unsightly way around her waist, so I covered it to serve as a pedestal that Toni could balance herself for her portrait.

Try an Elswyth Thane Historical Novel

If you want to sample some Elswyth Thane vintage fiction, Tryst is my very favorite one, but they are all keepers.

The Light Heart by Elswyth Thane / Duell, Sloan and Pearce Publisher (Hardcover) 1947The Light Heart by Elswyth Thane / Duell, Sloan and Pearce Publisher (Hardcover) 1947The Light Heart by Elswyth Thane / Duell, Sloan and Pearce Publisher (Hardcover) 1947Tryst by Elswyth ThaneTryst by Elswyth ThaneTryst by Elswyth ThaneThis Was Tomorrow by Elswyth ThaneThis Was Tomorrow by Elswyth ThaneThis Was Tomorrow by Elswyth Thane

Making a Doll Outfit from Fleecy Fabric

Use Inspiration to Make Doll Clothes with Kids.

Designing outfits for a doll is fun and can be an inexpensive activity with a child or grandchild. It’s likely that they have a doll already. You probably have many of the basic supplies for making the doll clothes. You just need various fabrics, a needle and thread and a pair of scissors.

This page is to get you thinking about what to make for the doll to wear. You won’t need a pattern, just your imagination and some time. Let’s get started making doll clothes.

Let the Material Spark Your Ideas

for making a doll outfit

These fleecy scraps were saved from an old raincoat lining. They were going to become cleaning rags until we decided to make a doll outfit from them.

Drape the doll in the fabric and consider what you can make. My first thought was a floor-length wooly coat and a matching hat. There wasn’t enough fleece to make the back of the coat though or sleeves.

Here we try some brass buttons that had been saved. The look is sort of a Dr. Zhivago or cossack style.

Another idea was to make old-west chaps for the doll. It was easy to find a photo on the internet showing what the chaps would look like. The one below is from our family photo album. We didn’t have a cowboy hat though to complete the look.

vintage postcard of jesse mcghee in cowboy outfit
My great-uncle Jesse was not a real cowboy even though this outfit looks pretty authentic.

The next idea was to make a fleece vest. This would require a minimum of sewing and the fleece wouldn’t require hemming. Keep in mind the skill level of the child making the doll clothing.

Play around with some ideas for finishing the project. Cut the pieces needed from the fabric after measuring them against the doll for size.

Turning Fleecy Fabric into a Doll Outfit

Photos by Virginia Allain

fleece for a vest for a doll
These 3 pieces of fleece are enough to make a vest for a doll. The larger piece is the back. The button will fasten it in the front.

The Finished Doll Outfit – Fleecy vest with a red evening skirt

The final outfit ended up being for evening wear. The skirt is simply a scarf folded in half over a rubber band.

  • Slip the rubber band on the doll at the waistline.
  • Drape the scarf over it.
  • Pull it around to form a complete skirt front-and-back.sabrina in red dress and fleece vest

A Sewing Machine for the Young Seamstress – to learn to sew doll clothes

You can hand-sew the pieces together, especially for a simple vest like the one here. It also makes a good project to learn how to use a sewing machine. Of course, a child needs close supervision working with sharp items like scissors, needles, and the needles of a sewing machine.

NEX Sewing Machine Children Present Portable Crafting Mending Machine with 12 Built-In StitchedNEX Sewing Machine Children Present Portable Crafting Mending Machine with 12 Built-In StitchedView Details

 

More Ideas and Patterns for Doll Clothes