Sunday, March 18, 2007


I have written about dolls several times. However this story starts with a book I found at the school library, Or it may have been the Bookmobile, And a little cloth doll. The title of the book is; DOLLS TO MAKE FOR FUN AND PROFIT by Edith Flack Ackley. I was so delighted. In those days, when one bought clothing, it was always came wrapped in several sheets of nice tissue paper. We saved it all. I talked Mom out of a couple of sheets so I could trace all the patterns in the doll book. Because school was on, I had to wait until Summer vacation to even begin working on a doll..
I always felt that I didn't have enough dolls. Also, I wished for some nice little dolls. Sort of Dollhouse size. So, my Mom had shown me how to make tiny pocket dolls from pipecleaners. I was delighted. After I found the EFA doll book. . I really wanted to make my own. So, one day after school was out. I was looking at the patterns I had traced and trying to figure what I needed to make a cloth doll. Then, when we went to town, I would know what to ask for and buy at the Variety Store.
I went to the kitchen and asked Mom, ''what is muslin?' What kind of material is it? Because I had been thinking all week about making a doll. She kind of stopped what she was doing, thought a bit, then reached in to a drawer and handed me a clean dish towel and, 'I think this is muslin of a sort. But it should be ok for your project'. For her to sacrifice an entire towel so I could make a doll. Was really great. It was nice of her.
'Oh, wow Mom, thank you, but is it really ok for me to cut this up for dolls?'
She said, 'yes'. You've been talking about it all week. So just go do it."
That also meant I wouldn't be required for housework for awhile. I always did my share anyway. Keeping house is hard work.
Anyway, I did trace out and stitch my little doll. She was 6 inches tall. I didn't know better and used the running stitch. Which I found to my dismay, was wrong. When I began to turn the doll right side out. The seams began to unravel. I worked it very carefully and got it turned. Mom suggested that perhaps a backstitch would have been better. Oh, my yes. She gave me some surgical cotton to stuff the doll with. It came from the First Aid stash we kept around. I used a pencil to stuff with and mended the seams as I went along. Finally I had the thing stuffed. Sorry looking thing. Then I had to embroider a face, find something for hair. And decide what to do for dressing the doll. You know what. I did get the doll all done. And I have no recollection about where the fabric pieces came from. I had, some: pink organdy, some white organdy, and a piece white stripe dimity. Very amateur and ragged looking. But, hey she was the first cloth doll I ever made and with no help. Still, I really liked the doll. As it turns out, she is the only EFA doll I ever made. She was too simple. Though I do cherish her and the EFA book. Maybe if I had had at that time, my own copy of the book. I may have made more. But, I only had the patterns I had traced. No instructions etc.
What is really wonderful, is that after all these years, doll collectors and cloth doll makers, have newly discovered this terrific, talented, revolutionary Lady and artist. Last year the UFDC had an Edith Flack Ackley doll as the Convention Doll prize. Also, there was a wonderful display of The EFA dolls. And in the June 2006 issue of The Antique Doll Collector, had a nice article on Edith. Now, I have found a website or two devoted to the EFA dolls. It is very nice that Mrs. Ackley is still appreciated after all this time.
Later I found a doll pattern by McCall's and I made those. The Godey Lady Doll and her wardrobe. More satisfying and more complicated. The dress patterns were lovely too. I will tell about them in their own story.
Anyway, here is a picture of my little doll with the book. Now I wish I had dated her. I found a copy for my own on eBay a few years ago.


Dannielle said...

She's a marvelous first attempt!

I really love the fabrics you used for her dress. I have been on the lookout for similar lightweight cotton fabrics but am having the hardest time finding any. It seems most of the lightweight, almost sheer fabrics are synthetic fibers these days.

AuntieBunny said...

What a wonderful first EFA doll you made as a young girl and her clothes are so pretty too!! I'm waiting to receive my own copy of DTMFFAP, I hope I do as well with my first EFA doll, and I'm all grown up. :)