Living in a "Doll" House

No, I don't mean we live in a small house. I've already talked all about that.

And no, I not referring to these doll houses and miniature medieval castles. Those are currently still stored in the black trailer in our yard because there is "no room at the inn" (sorry, couldn't help myself) for both them and a Christmas tree. Floor space is at a premium in this small chalet.

What I mean by living in a doll house is that my children, all of them, love dolls. Even my growing into a young woman child. The day will come when she outgrows playing with dolls but given her talent and interest it just may be that creating dolls and their clothes remains with her as a potential business or simply a pleasurable hobby for quite a few years yet.


Laurent, happily sandwiched between his sisters in birth order, also loves dolls.

Last, last year (we're so near the end of this one it feels like last year is really the one still on the calendar) I made Laurent a cloth doll. He desperately needed a more "grown up" doll in addition to the first doll I made him - his beloved Rick - who I sewed six years ago, when Laurent was just four years old.

Laurent still plays with Rick. Unbelievable, especially considering how hideous - in a weird and loveable way - he looks. Whatever possessed me to sew a blue purple doll? Who knows.

Anyway, a couple years ago now I sewed Laurent his "newest" doll, named Tristan. Last Christmas Celine outfitted Tristan with a complete wardrobe.

Something about the crafting groove during the month of December always brings my kids back to their dolls and this month Laurent decided Tristan needed new clothes. Celine, Laurent and I have been sewing Tristan a few items to round out his wardrobe.

A sweater (made with leftover wool felt from my mitten project), blue fleece mittens, a scarf, and (not pictured, but so cute) new camo pj bottoms.

It is so much fun to mother these creative kiddos!


Three and half years ago Celine made Isabella

This photo from the summer when Celine was nine melts my heart. My talented daughter, who faces life straight on with confidence and those big blue eyes.

Isabella was in need of a wardrobe update, happens somewhat frequently around these parts. This month it was a grey wool winter dress with colonial style, lace trimmed sleeves and eyelet petticoat. A lace sash around the waist adds the finishing touch.

Of course a doll needs a winter cloak. Celine fashioned Isabella's out of brown fleece, finishing it with a silver broach fastened with a cleverly disguised safety pin.


Brienne, happily (for me at least) still all child, has the most dolls of all the kids.

There's her Bitty Twins - Adeline and Joah (ssh...don't tell but they are getting etsy-found clothes this Christmas). In addition to the twins there is Eleanor, Annabelle (purchased at Common Ground Fair two years ago, handcrafted by an eleven year old boy) and Rose the Raggedy Ann doll.

Eleanor's wardrobe has been lacking the flair Brienne likes in clothing. She purchased this sparkling pink fabric and trim months ago and had been begging Celine and I to help her turn it into something beautiful. This month we relented.

Celine helped with the pattern and I helped with the sewing.

And what's winter without a fur edged crushed velvet cloak? Cold! Especially in these parts.

Wanting to get in on all the doll making (and bless my doll-loving littlest one), I am sewing Brienne one of these Pocket Pixies for Christmas. And now that we own the pattern the kids can make as many as they like.

A few notes about doll making

  • Making dolls with my children was something that naturally evolved. I didn't start my parenting journey with a doll making intention, it just kind of happened.
  • I find it interesting that my kids naturally gravitate to crafting dolls without faces. Especially considering I knew nothing about the "waldorfy-ness" of this doll style till fairly recently. As Celine says, without a face, "you can imagine what the doll looks like. She might be smiling, sleeping or frowning. Brown eyed, green eyed or black eyed". Brienne adds, "or purple eyed!" (smile). The kids all want to add, "If you make a face on the doll it might not turn out the way you want and might ruin your imagination of the doll".

  • Someday I hope to write a "supplies you need to stock for sewing with your kids" post, a follow up to this paper craft post. In the meantime I'll just say felt and fleece are wonderful materials to work with. And our children return to those fabrics again and again.
  • Socks are the best place to start if you want to make dolls with little ones. Google it to find a pattern, there's got to be ton of crafty blogs out there with free tutorials for sock dolls. I wish I had kept track of the books we borrowed from the library when we needed doll making inspiration. Alas, I didn't. But I'm pretty sure this is the book we used for making Tristan.
  • When kids start making dolls, or inexperienced adults for that matter (Rick being case in point) they can look kind of wonky, to say the least. This is all part of the fun and great memories. The kids laugh their heads off (with fond memories) at their early sock dolls. Dolls lovingly stitched with their pudgy three and four year old hands. And my heart does a little lurch at those memories.

More doll-related posts (peeks into our past) from the FIMBY archives

  • Crafty Mama - The story of Rick's birth from six years ago. Bet you didn't know I've been blogging that long.
  • Creative Mess - Sewing a friend for Rick who ended up being named Ruby (the red headed doll in the above photo)
  • How to Make Boots for Your American Girl Doll - One of FIMBY's most popular posts.
  • On Rainy Days We Sew - "sewing little things with and for them (my children) is one way I communicate my love. Investing time, energy and presence into the process of creating"

It's time for me to go finish that doll I'm making for Brienne. The kids (and their dolls) are bouncing off the chalet walls. They can hardly wait for the arrival of my parents tonight which will get the Christmas celebrations under way.

I'll be back on Christmas Eve Day to share some photos with you. If you're too busy to make it back here tomorrow I wish you (and your dolls) a Merry Christmas.

Published later: Doll Making ~ Your Questions Answered with Celine.

« Does This Mean We're Minimalists? ~ A Tour of Our Chalet
May Your Days Be Merry & Bright »
  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Dec. 23, 2011, 4:23 p.m.

    And you don't have an ecourse - yet. (Saw a comment from you somewhere recently about not having an ecourse.) You've got so much to offer - from homeschooling to soap making to doll (and clothes) making. Merry Christmas!


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 23, 2011, 4:57 p.m.

      Jennifer, here's my dilemma with that - I only have so much time to write and produce content. Writing for FIMBY is my heart and soul. I LOVE it. It brings me so much joy to blog and connect with you all. In our current income-earning arrangement (and given what my courses would be worth etc. vs. what Damien can earn) I can't give any more time to outside homemaking/homeschooling tasks right now. Anything I did would come out of my personal writing time, which is what I share here. And I'm just not willing to give that up.  This is actually a bit of a catch 22 I'm in right now. I want to grow beyond basic FIMBY and earn money from what I know and have to offer. Yet... because I love my homemaking and homeschooling tasks I'm reluctant to give those up and sacrifice time I spend with my children... doing stuff I talk about in this very post! Plus, the time I would put into an e-course would not yield what Damien can earn for the same hours worked.  It's all a big time balance in our home right now. And I am committed to not losing sight of my true mission and life calling right now - raising these kids.  I'm actually writing about all this right now (behind the scenes) and will publish these thoughts on success & homemaking & growing as a writer beyond this blog etc... in the New Year. Sorry to rattle on here but your comment is very fresh and relevant to where I'm at right now. But thank you for your vote of confidence!


      • Jennifer @ kidoing!

        Jennifer @ kidoing! on Dec. 23, 2011, 8:28 p.m.

        Oh, I so understand. I have put aside a lot to focus on being here for my kids. I don't begrudge it, but there is a time and place for everything. I still do not have consistent time to put aside for my blog...some day.

        As my kids get older, though, I can envision them working alongside me creating a small business. If you decided to pursue something like an ecourse in the future, wouldn't it be cool to have your talented kids take part (Celine could do the site programming, Laurent the art work and Brienne the modeling!).


  • Kristina

    Kristina on Dec. 23, 2011, 4:53 p.m.

    I think a handmade doll lovingly made by mama would be the most treasured gift a child could receive. I love your dolls! Merry Christmas!


  • Marian

    Marian on Dec. 23, 2011, 7:04 p.m.

    I love the dolls. My youngest child is named Tristan so I love the name of the doll. Maybe you like to take a look at a house for mice I think it is beautiful. It's placed in our library in Amsterdam. I am a mother of three, 2 girls and a boy, grown up already. I love to read your blog. A merry Christmas to you and your family from the Netherlands. Marian


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Dec. 24, 2011, 3:34 a.m.

    Wow! I am just plain amazed at how talented your children are (and how beautiful they are too! They are just vibrant!!). I wish I could help my girls sew such beautiful clothes... I can do many things, but sewing is just not my thing...


  • Jen @ Anothergranolamom

    Jen @ Anothergranolamom on Dec. 26, 2011, 9:32 p.m.

    I have loved making dolls since I was a little girl. When my daughters were 6 and 3 we were expecting a new brother, and I bought new dolls for them and spent my nine months of waiting making a very elaborate wardrobe for the new dolls. Have you ever read The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett? I thought of these dolls and their wardrobe as "the Last Doll" that Sara received. For the past 6 years those dolls and clothes have been a constant presence in our home. Now they craft doll clothes for their own little doll families, and my only sorrow is that I don't have more time to play this with them. Congratulations on spending this kind of time with your kids.


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