An Angel Doll
I’ve never had so much fun making a present. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to hide it away and only work on it at night while everyone was sleeping. It took hours and hours to make. Happy hours. Creative hours. Hours spent doing something that is bigger than me or my own family.
Every year at church we set up an angel tree to help the families in our neighborhood that need it the most. (You pick a tag off the tree and buy a gift for “Adult Male” or “6 month old girl” or whatever.) In the past Scott and I have always taken a few tags and returned our anonymous gifts. It’s part of what Christmas is all about anyway and we feel strongly about helping people who live right by us. But this year we just couldn’t do it. Instead, I helped make stockings for these angel tree kids. I could at least do that. But one day at church I was sitting there in class, the angel tree set up right in front of me. And I noticed a new little tag. A family had been added at the last minute. And right there in the center was one tag that I couldn’t stop staring at. It said “Girl, age 7. Want: doll”.
I stared at it for the entire 45 minute class. I have absolutely zero idea what the teacher was talking about. But my heart was racing, knowing what I was going to do. Then while I very impatiently waited for class to end (I did have the presence of mind to realize that it would be rude to stand up in the middle of the teachers lesson and walk right up to the front of the room…) I had a minor anxiety attack thinking of the possibility that when class was over someone else might get to it first. I KNEW this little tag was for me. As soon as the closing prayer was over, the “Amen” still hanging in the air, I maybe climbed over the empty row of chairs in front of me and snatched the tag as quick as I could. Maybe. But I made it. And that’s all that matters.
We didn’t have any money for Christmas, but I have enough craft supplies to circle the planet, twice over. And I knew I could make a beautiful doll without spending any money. But one that this little girl’s parents could never hope of buying. There was only a few days until these gifts were supposed to be returned so they could be delivered. But I talked to the woman in charge and told her I would never make it in four days. But I’d have it done and wrapped and at her house by the 22nd of December. Then I got to work.
I combined two different patterns to make this doll. She is part Poppy Doll (from Fiona Dalton at hop.skip.jump) and part Little Red (from Larissa Holland at mmmcrafts). I’d never made either of them before, but after I looked at the pattern pieces I knew I could combine my favorite parts of both to make this Christmas Doll. I did end up buying about 6″ of brown felt for her hair and braids. I just couldn’t make her hair jet black (I saved that for her shoes), or gray. And those were the only options in my stash. After I made my doll I started pulling out fabric scraps for her wardrobe.
And then I decided that I was going to go all out. Because little girls need dresses, and shoes, and a school bag. And it was Christmas. She just just wouldn’t have been right without them. Her shoes took a few tries to get right. They are black felt with a working button closure. Her school bag is purple felt with a vintage button clasp.
As soon as the bag was finished Creamie declared it “so baby cute” and then informed me that she needed keys and a phone and a chapstick and a notebook to go inside. But I thought I should probably make her some pants before I worked on minature chapstick. I tucked an extra set of hair ribbons and a silver heart necklace (a gift from a highschool boyfriends parents. I never even wore it) into her bag instead. I did have to make her pants twice because the first ones just didn’t come on and off easily enough. And the rest of her wardrobe pattern drafting went surprisingly well. I think I had my own little angel watching me, making sure i didn’t screw anything up too much because there just wasn’t the time. This little blue shirt has buttons up the back, and is fully reversible. The other side is a cute tealish blue gingham. I had plans to make her a pair of jeans and another shirt or two. But it just didn’t work out.
Because it was December, and I couldn’t very well send a little girl out in a little sleeveless shirt, I drafted a pattern for a wool coat too. The Little Red Riding Hood pattern has a beautiful red wool cape, but I didn’t have any red wool. And a Little Green Riding Hood just isn’t the same. I used the hood as a starting point and in much less time than I anticipated I had this cute green coat with wood buttons ready to go. See, that was the sewing angel watching out for me again. I kind of wish she’d stay around all the time.
Of course that wasn’t all, because she also needed some flannel jammies. So I drafted that pattern too. I had the perfect pink polka dot left over from making this blanket and amazingly the perfect color of ribbon trim. A small miracle. And I think adding 1.25 inches of 1/16″ elastic to the bottom of the long sleeves was one of the most frustrating things of the whole doll making procedure. Sheesh! I ended up threading it through with a needle because I didn’t have a saftey pin small enough to do the job. Those 2.5 inches of elastic were enough to drive me to eat up all my chocolate stash. True story.
And last of all, with just a few alterations to the jammies pattern I was able to make her a party dress. Because little girls need dresses as much as they need coats and bags and jammies and cutie little shoes. I finished tacking down the lining by hand while in the car on our anniversary lunch date the afternoon of the 22nd, and when I got home I added button holes and the sash. But I made it. Kind of. (I ended up cutting the drop off kind of close. But I was NOT letting her go out the door without getting a few pictures.) Santa was already loading his sleigh when I arrived, box in hand, smile in my heart. It was something I’ll never forget. I don’t know which little girl opened her on Christmas morning. But I hope she likes her. I hope she wasn’t wishing for a Barbie, or a Bratz doll or something lame like that. All Christmas morning I kept thinking about my little 7 year old girl, hoping she wouldn’t be disappointed.
I will make this doll again. I thankfully made (and kept!) my labeled paper pattern pieces so I won’t have to start over next time. I think next year I’ll make one for Creamie. And a little boy to go with her. (I already have a huge list of clothes I can make. ) While I was working on making this Angel Doll she asked me a few times who it was for. And I told her it was for a little girl who didn’t have any presents for Christmas. She probably didn’t understand, but she accepted the fact that it wasn’t for her. And she was totally OK with that. She gave this Angel Doll a lot of hugs and rockabyes before she was finished, and was happy to help me wrap up all her clothes in tissue paper and put everything in one big box. I can’t wait to do it again next year.