This is Miss Arabella Doll, she came to live with us on my daughter’s 5th birthday & has become a well-loved member of our family.
Each year, around this time, I start to brainstorm & gather ideas for gifts that I’d like to
make & give to my family, friends & (yes) pets at Christmas. While jotting some thoughts down this morning, I had a sudden FLASH of inspiration ~I ran & grabbed this book from its permanent home beside my sweetie-girl’s bed.
Ever since she was little, my Arabella has loved dolls. When I came across this delicately illustrated book by Tasha Tudor, I knew she would love it. Since she’s in late kindergarten & will be starting Grade One soon, I had already been planning to use it as part of her alphabet lessons. Now, I have a few other ideas for it as well!
Last Christmas,Miss Arabella Doll received gifts from Arabella & the rest of us (it’s hard to keep them straight as they both have the same name! Well, I usually do a pretty good job… HA HA) She got a small knit purse from Ara’s big sister, Hilary; some spiral knit stockings from me & my husband hacked an Ikea night table into a small, doll-sized wardrobe.
This year, I think I’ll make a few things using this book as an inspiration. It tells the story of a doll named “Annabelle”, her amazing Victorian wardrobe & many belongings which are carefully admired & played with by two darling little girls.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you probably know that in a former-time (aka “pre-kids”) I was a demi-couturière making custom historic & formal dresses for private clients. I still have many of my tools & supplies in my studio & Arabella loves to play at dress-making .
Lately, I’ve been working on some doll clothing patterns for The DOLL Lessons & Arabella has been watching me keenly. She’s taken to cutting, pinning & sewing some old pillowcases which we bought at the local charity shop in an attempt to create a princess gown. Of course, it isn’t easy…
but she’s up for the challenge. Having recently seen the original Disney-version of Cinderella, her eyes lit up during the dress-making scene. If mice could make a gown in a few minutes, then she could, too !
At this point, I’m planning to make a simple gown (not quite this elaborate), a muff (probably knit), some shoes (something I’ve been meaning to get around to for AGES) & I’m going to get my husband to ante up with the wooden hangers he promised for the wardrobe so she will be able to hang up all of her goodies.
Yes, this will all take time but I actually look forward to making these special gifts for Arabella & her doll.
Yes, I could go & buy some which were designed for a factory-made plastic doll but I would have a hard time seeing her play with them. I make a real effort to buy ethically produced food for my family – chocolate, tea & quinoa to name a few; natural fibres to work with (organic or better yet, local!) & try to instill in my children a love of quality & fine craftwork.
To my mind, HOW something is made & WHO makes it is extremely important. Every maker works some of her energy & intentions into her projects. I want my kids to know that what they play with is just as special as what they eat or read or the people they spend time with. Every little thing makes a difference!
It’s one of the joys of teaching them to work with their hands, they actually appreciate something we’ve made for them ! They know what it takes to come up with an idea, source & gather the tools & materials, design a project & then make & finish it.
This Christmas morning, my Arabella will thrill to find a few small packages under the tree for HER Arabella. I can’t wait!
P.S. I’ve had many emails about The DOLL Lessons which I taught in the spring. I’m pleased to say that the course is still open for enrollment but only until December 14th.
If you’re thinking of making a doll this winter or spring –
Click HERE for details… the course won’t run again until JUNE 2015 !