This story is about a doll that is super special because I not only altered the bridal gown but restored her vintage headpiece.
Instead of buying a new doll, I started searching for a doll in thrift and vintage shops. The gown and veil had that vintage look so why not have an older looking doll as well. Fashion changes, sometimes doll faces change as well! I found a gently used doll that had a small waist just like the bride. She was beautiful and her hair and face were in great condition.
I still had the wedding dress so I was able to take measurements like the length of the train. I studied pattern drafting and am good at math. Creating the pattern was fun because of the small scale. I also used the pattern pieces to draw out the decorative details to show this plan to the client.
Every time I went looking for zippers, fabric and notions for clients, I looked for lace and tulle for this project. After several months and trips to local fabric stores, supply stores and the internet, I finally found everything I needed. I first tested my pattern pieces on a printed fabric from my stash. The sleeves on the actual wedding gown were snug. A snug sleeve on a doll that has no working elbows is fairly difficult. The netting of the sleeves and neckline were tricky but I managed a good fit, trimming several times and sewing by hand. Then, minor trimming of the waist was really the only other change that I needed for a perfect fit.
In the meantime, at the home of the client, a surprise emerged. bride doll from her childhood. Her grandmother had purchased it when she was a child. It was the most perfect doll to wear this wedding gown replica. This doll had survived a long time hidden in a closet. She surely deserved to make an appearance and be multi-meaningful to the bride.
I was so pleased to get a call from the bride about finding this treasure. Yes, I said the call was from the bride. Her mother was so excited about them finding the doll and with the dress replica in progress; she could no longer keep her secret.
I received the doll when the bride came for one of her fittings. I did not say anything about the size of the doll but I knew there would be a small problem. I confirmed that afternoon. Yes, the dolls were different sizes. OK, we have alterations on a doll dress pattern! I work on real clothing patterns all the time. This was the first time I would alter a doll pattern.
I was actually very busy when this doll arrived. I did however, take the time to remove her old clothing, give her a bath and shampoo. Then I set her hair with pin curls.
At the time, I had two young grandsons visiting my sewing room so I dressed her in a new slip and blouse. She stood with a couple other dolls overlooking my workstation for several weeks.
I finally had time to work on the pattern. This doll was a little shorter and thicker in the waist. The adjusting the pattern was not too difficult. I got a chuckle out of altering this doll pattern.
It is impossible to make an exact replica of the original gown trying to imitate the embroidered flowers and leaves. I had purchased a few styles during my searches. I choose the most similar looking ones, cut apart the pieces that worked best together and attached them to the gown. The most important detail to gown was the Swarovski crystals. The bride's gown had over seven hundred (700) crystals. The replica; I just know there was plenty.
Aquamarine on the bodice and sleeves, Peridot on the hem.
The most difficult feature of this entire doll outfit was trying to create a tiny replica of the vintage headpiece. It took me two tries but I finally settled for my second try. I focused on just a couple of details instead of all of them. A much better choice.
Several of my regular clients have made known their great appreciation of her story; the timely discovery and now her beautiful dress. I have gotten the most delightful comments from them, doll lovers both young and old.
It was over a year ago from the first meeting with the bride. The Wedding has taken place. "My girl" finally went home with her rightful owner. I will miss her.