“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
The Jane Austen Look
Like many of my cloth dolls, I started by creating a Pinterest board to research the period and style of clothing that have been featured in the many Jane Austen adaptations in recent years. This cloth doll is mostly inspired by the character Elizabeth Bennet who was played by Jennifer Ehle in the BBC’s televised period drama in 1995 and also Kira Knightly in the 2005 feature film.
The dress had two main stylistic features that I wanted to capture. The first being the high waist and secondly the long hem in line with the ankle. I opted to go with the more fitted design used in the the BBC version rather than the fuller shape that was used in the film. This is mainly because I was using silk, which I felt would hang better and lend itself to the straighter look.
Using a technique described in Patti Medaris Culea’s book ‘Creative Cloth Doll Collection’ I created the pattern from scratch by placing, draping, folding and then cutting pieces of kitchen roll onto the doll’s body to create templates that could be turned into paper pattern pieces.
This was a new way of working and really the first time I have attempted to create a more complex garment of clothing for my cloth dolls. As a finishing touch, the dress was embellished with decorative blue trim, which I also used on the bonnet and shoes.
This was by far the most tricky aspect to create out of the whole outfit and it took me a while to figure out even how to create the shape of the bonnet, and again kitchen roll came to the rescue to help me visualise the shape I needed to cut the fabric into.
I opted to use felt, because of its rigid nature, knowing that would hold the shape and be free from fraying.
The shoes were created using the same felt and trim as the bonnet.
I found that hand sewing the trim around the edge of the sole was quite an effective way to create the sides of the shoe, without having to create a complicated pattern first.
Two strips of trim were then sewn across the top of the shoe to create the top section covering the toes.
Have you ever tried making a doll wearing period clothing? What challenges or successes did you have?