Mad In Pursuit Notebook


Doll #6: My Sweet Chatelaine, the Helper Doll

3.8.2014. I thought I had put aside my dollmaking for a while, but I had a sudden inspiration. I needed a little helper to carry my hand-quilting tools when I get out of my chair to momentarily take care of other business.

I had a "blank" (see image) already cut out of coffee-dyed muslin for a pocket saint. I shortened it to 4", sewed her up (adding a pink ribbon loop), turned her inside out, stuffed her with Poly-fil, and whip-stitched the opening. My new trick involved sticking pipe cleaners in her arms to make them, in dollcraft terms, "positionable."

Not wanting to fuss with fabric scraps for clothing, I decided to paint her. But first, I had to give her a face. For this I used Pigma Micron pens, Prismacolor pencils, a Sharpie for eye color, and a Sakura Gelly-Roll for eye whites. The face always turns stuffed cotton into a real doll.

I painted the body all over with Jacquard Dye-na-flo, mixing fushia and violet. Then I had fun brushing on the Lumiere metalics.

My chief "engineering" problem was how to equip her for her job. My solutions:

:: Her stuffing makes her a good pin cushion. She can readily secure a big needle, so that was taken care of.

:: Black elastic bands were fitted around her bod to hold the small embroidery scissors. I sewed them in place at her sides.

:: A shortened ball chain holds the needle threader (an extra large one for the thick perle cotton I'm using for the quilt project).

:: The biggest challenge was how to get her to hang on to a thimble. I was going to make one of her hands big and fat but I didn't like the deformity -- what if she had other duties besides quilting? Solution: I modified a rubber finger tip by cutting off the end and attaching a waxed linen strap. The metal thimble fits over it snugly. Then I can stuff the finger cot I use down inside the bucket/pouch. (A finger cot is like one finger of a latex glove, which I wear on my index finger to pull the needle through three layers of material.)

I think she looks like Joan of Arc, reporting for duty. (The scissors held on her back look a little like angel wings, eh?)

I named her Chatelaine, after the thingamabob that Victorian ladies wore at their waists to hold magnifiers, keys, match holders, etc.

I started testing her last night to see how she holds up to the pressure of performance. So far, so good.