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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Hello doll lovers! This blog was created to tell you about dolls I have made and classes I teach on doll making at Attic Window Quilt Shop in Comstock Park, Michigan (a suburb of Grand Rapids). My goal in teaching is to pass on the love of making heirloom quality dolls. Most of the dolls I make (and hold classes for) are designed by Gail Wilson - visit her website at . Page down my blog for some fun doll links including antique doll sites and hard to find doll supplies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good Grain Lines and the Columbian Doll

Hello Doll makers!  Happy doll day to you.   Yup, she's finished and up on the Etsy Shelf where I keep all my Etsy offerings safe and dust free.  Here's a picture of her before she went up on the shelf in her dust proof cover:

There are additional pictures on the Etsy site if you wish to see more. Click on this blog post title to take the short cut there.  There will be a rare black version of her on Etsy as soon as I can get her finished.

Now it's time to prepare for the next doll class at Attic Window Quilt Shop - The Columbian Doll.   The antique Columbian doll that inspired our class doll lives at the Wenham Museum near Boston.  She was made by Emma and Marietta Adams  (1890's in Oswego, NY) .  Miss Columbia got her name as a result of winning an award at the 1893 Columbian Exposition of the Chicago's World Fair. She went on to travel internationally to raise monies for children's Charities.  For more information about Miss Columbia and her travels, please visit the Wenham Museum site at:

Today I will be making the body of the Columbian doll designed by Gail Wilson so that I have a class example for our first class on Aug 4, 2011. It's not too late to jump into class, purchase a pattern for the Columbian Doll from Gail Wilson and come to class with your sewing machine and basic sewing supplies.  All the skill required is basic sewing skills. The rest we'll cover in class.    Gail's website is:  The columbian doll is in the historical section in the cottage industry doll.  Tell her you are taking my class and she'll let you know the items besides the pattern that you will need (shoe leather, buttons, etc). 

The first step in sewing the body is to find the grainline of the fabric.  This is parallel to the salvedge.  Easily done UNLESS the salvedge has been cut off. No worries, just find a similar fabric with a salvedge and find which way the stretch goes.   The stretch is perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to the salvedge. So now you know you want to lay the grainline indicators on the pattern along the not stretchy grainline of the fabric. 

 The next step, which I actually do way before I start cutting into the fabric is to copy my patterns onto cardstock and  extend the grainline on the pattern piece all the way to the edge of the pattern on both ends.  Then I laminate the patterns front and back and cut out the patterns.
On the fabric, I take a ruler and pencil and run a pencil line down the grain line. Take your time and make sure you have a good grainline.  If you are not flush with fabric, you may wish to lay out the patterns to see where the pencil lines should be drawn, then remove the pattern piece and draw the line. 
One you have a nice long pencil line (longer than the pattern piece), you can lay your pattern piece on the line of the fabric so that the extended grain lines on the pattern match up with the grain line on the fabric.  Make sure they line up at both ends and then draw around your pattern piece.

Why is it important to get good grain lines?  It helps to maintain the shape of the doll as originally intended by the designer.  If you don't follow the grainlines, you might end up with a short fat doll instead of the doll shape you were supposed to have. This means that the clothing may not fit well.  Having said this, there are times you might WANT to disregard the grainlines. For example, if you want to make a second doll with the same pattern and don't want it to be exactly the same, you can flip the grain line in say the head and end up with a fatter head.  The doll will look different, but if you keep the body the same, you won't have issues with the clothing not fitting. 
Here are two NY dolls I made, flipping the grainline on the black version to get a different shaped head. I ended up adding hair of yarn too, so it is really different.

Or if you wish to make the body short and fat too, you will need to adjust the clothing patterns to account for that. One way you can do this is to make your adjustments on the clothing fabric when tracing around the pattern pieces and then make the article of clothing out of paper towel. It's a good way to test the fit of the item on the doll without cutting into your fabric.  Once you have the perfect fit, you use the pattern tweaks on the real fabric.  

I hope I helped you become a better doll maker today!  Take a break from the summer heat and have some doll fun today! Thanks for stopping by - Julie

Gail Wilson dolls I have made

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