The blouse was kind of difficult to manage– I didn’t feel like sewing one (and in any event the actual fabric was sold out online), and couldn’t find anything similar ready-made, so I decided that I would try to paint a plain white blouse to match. After a lot of digging on eBay I found a blouse with a banded collar and a ruffle down the front— not quite the right shape of ruffle, but I figured it was close enough to start with.
I decided right away that I would only bother painting the design on the sleeves and collar, since the rest of the blouse wouldn’t show beneath my vest. I carefully detached the sleeves from the blouse, then removed the cuffs and unpicked the stitching from the long seam up the sleeves so I had flat pieces of fabric to work with.
To make my pattern for the painted design I went to the Mood Fabrics site where the fabric was available for sale and adjusted the zoom on my screen until the ruler was actually correctly sized (as measured on screen). Then I just put a piece of paper up to the screen and traced out the design in pencil, going over it in heavy black pen afterwards.
I traced the design out onto my fabric using Jacquard water-based resist, basically forming a dam blocking off the areas I wanted to color in. Once the resist was completely dry I stretched the fabric over cardboard frames I’d constructed from a storage box, and pinned the edges to keep it taut. Then I diluted some Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint and did some blotchy watercolor painting inside the resist lines in shades of blue.
It totally didn’t work.
So to go with my 1915 picnic dress, I needed a hat to shade my delicate complexion from the sun (or something like that). I tried using my flowered Edwardian hat but it seemed too elaborate for the relatively casual dress, so I went looking for something new.
Since it’s summer there are plenty of straw hats available, but most of them are pretty floppy and that wasn’t what I was going for. I thought I’d start with something more boater-shaped, but apparently I was cutting it a bit close time-wise because most of the cheap boater options online had a 2-3 week shipping time, which was too late for my upcoming picnic.
I ended up with a costume gondolier hat, which is coarser straw than I would’ve liked, but it looked about right. Many purchasers complained that the crown was too shallow and the head circumference was too big, making it sit oddly on the head, but one reviewer (a woman after my own heart) noted that it was perfect for puffy Victorian/Edwardian hairstyles, which I thought made it worth a try.
Once the outside of the trunk was finished, it was time to tackle the inside. The original paper was yellow with tiny flowers on it, and was stained and even slightly ripped in places. I knew I could do better, but while scrapbook paper and dollhouse wallpaper were both available, neither of them came in sheets large enough to fit the 13″ height of the trunk. This was only a problem in two of the compartments (since the other two had drawers to take up vertical space), but I really wanted to avoid horizontal seams, so I had to think of something to take up space either at the top or bottom of the trunk’s walls. Continue reading
Now that I had a new doll with a collection of clothing, I needed a place to put it. The original wooden wardrobe from the eBay auction was too small to fit everything, so I went searching for something else. Most of the available trunks, however, were sized for 18″ American Girl dolls– too large for my small doll, even with her ever-growing wardrobe. (it did occur to me at this point that since I was replacing the clothes anyway, there’d been no need to get a 12″ doll and I could’ve saved myself a lot of alteration and trouble by just selecting a bigger one)
Continued searching turned up pictures of what seemed to be the perfect trunk– a double-wide case with a compartment for a doll up to 13″ tall, a compartment for her clothing, a Murphy bed, and a vanity table with mirror. Unfortunately, it was a vintage item that had originally been sold at Cracker Barrel, and was very difficult to find on the secondary market.
Finally, I found one for sale on eBay and managed to win the auction. It wasn’t in perfect condition, but since I planned on totally revamping it anyway that wasn’t a deal-breaker. Not shown in the above picture is the Murphy bed, which I removed from the left-most compartment to make more space for clothes. Continue reading
I blame this project entirely on Pinterest. I was browsing through the “Kids” section when I saw some really adorable pictures of play kitchens people had made for their children by repainting nightstands and attaching faucets and/or burners to the tops. Seriously, these things were cute. And hey, I loved cooking, so surely my 2-year-old would want to be like Mommy, and would need her own play kitchen! Heck, having a play kitchen would probably keep her from trying to use the real stove– making her one was practically a safety precaution!
I immediately started plotting where to find some nightstands of my own, but the local Goodwill was pretty short on furniture and there was a mysterious dearth of garage sales in my area, so I had to look for another option. Plunging back into Pinterest, I found examples of people modifying existing play kitchens (which, as a whole, are pretty cheesy looking in their original plastic glory).
Always preferring to do superficial modification rather than major construction, I started looking for a decent base to start with, and that’s where IKEA came in. Ah, IKEA, a store where the layout doesn’t just encourage impulse buying, it actively tries to snatch your purse before letting you find the exit. IKEA had a basic play kitchen that was just crying out for a makeover, and for once, the fact that it came completely disassembled would be a plus, as it would facilitate repainting.
Honestly, a kitchen doesn’t get more basic and utilitarian than the IKEA one. And sure, my daughter would probably have just as much playing with it, but I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun looking at it every day. Continue reading