Monday, 16 January 2012

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett

It seems as though I've been dressing these dolls for ages. So much has been happening, and we've been so busy, that I just haven't had as much time as I would have liked to create and comfort myself with my dolls. I'm still trying to recover from a very low dip in my iron levels on top of everything else and my dolls are the one thing I know will always make me feel better and give me a sense of achievement.

Christmas is always a busy time in my house, and this year was no exception with our home full of family and friends and lots of visiting to do. It was a relief to spend a quite night in with Cris and quietly see the New Year in by ourselves.

Since then we've both been back to our day jobs, and have been busy buying stock and setting Cris up with his own Etsy shop -
He loves to treasure hunt at all our local thrift stores, car boot sales, house clearance shops and vintage and collectible fairs for small hidden Vintage, Retro and Re-Found objects and treasures. So we've set up Curious Cris so that we get to share what we find, and stop filling the house with stuff I love but have no room for :)

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett both capture the heart. As he changes from proud snobbish spoiled brat to the best romantic hero, and she learns to see past her first impression to see the man behind the attitude we all fall in love with the wonderful story brought to life by the wonderful Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice has to be my favourite book of all. I read it at least once a year, as well as watch the wonderful BBC adaptation (staring a very sexy Colin Firth) regularly – It’s even on my iPod!

I’ve wanted to make Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett for quite a while, but have always been put off by all of the tiny tailoring I knew they would involve. I finally plucked up enough courage to make them both and am so pleased with how they came out. Elizabeth in her soft empire line simple gown, and the tightly laced My Darcy in his chin high collar and tight waistcoat and trousers, a tall top hat making his imposing height even more distinguished.

I made Darcy wearing a long white fine cotton shirt that has baggy sleeves and deep cuffs and a separate collar over long drawers. He has long tight fitted trousers with a high waist and flat front, a gold satin waistcoat, high collar, long white cravat tied high under his chin, and a sage green double breasted tailcoat that’s pleated in the back. I made his top hat from layers of thick cotton fabric formed around an oval base so that is keeps is correct shape, which has a black satin ribbon band.

In comparison to Mr Darcy's straight laced tight buttoned looks Miss Elizabeth seems floaty and soft in her gown of layered white and cream cotton voile with a peach bodice and sleeves with a pin tucked hem. Underneath she has a long shift that has a gathered wide neckline and short tight sleeves, with a set of short stays to support her figure. Her dark red short jacket has sleeves that come down over her hands as they would have been styled during the Regency period, with lace at her neck to protect her dignity. I trimmed Elizabeth’s cream stripped bonnet with satin ribbon, lace and a satin flower.

After spending so long getting their clothes just how I wanted them I was so happy that they actually looked quite pretty, and stopped looking like aliens, when I finally put their hair on.

It makes such a difference to how they look, all those soft feather fronds drifting in the breeze. I normally like to add their hair first before the clothing, but on the last couple of dolls I've made I've left it off until the very end so it wouldn't get in the way when I was adding the sleeves and back of the bodice. Think I prefer this way for the dramatic effect, but they do look really odd and I'm not sure I can carry on worrying about if they will turn out ok or not until the very end.
Before I start my next doll I'm going to have to decide which method works best. But my brain doesn't seem to work yet this year.

I have managed to learn a lot about the tiny tailoring I'm always so scared of while making these dolls. A lot of it to do with making sure I have enough fabric to do things over if I need to and not knotting off all my threads until I'm totally sure things are right, but I've picked up a few new sewing trick's too.

Fitting Elizabeth's and Darcy's coat sleeves took some working out as they are very fitted right up to the shoulder. It's never so tricky with softer fabric, but the thick cotton I used wouldn't behave at all. On Darcy's I held them in place with pins which was a bit awkward in such a fiddly spot. And I found a better way when I sewed Elizabeth's first coat by tacking the very top of the sleeve to her shoulder before sewing on the body, then folding that back and taking out the tacking stitches.

You may have noticed I said Elizabeth's first coat, which was a long pelisse with a pretty pleated back and rounded corners at the front. I was really pleased with it until it was all done and I took a good look at my handiwork.
I looked like a raincoat, and not a nice one!
In fact, it looked like the kind of raincoat a very unfashionable granny might insist wearing everywhere, even in the heat of summer. It was terrible!

I made her a short jacket instead with the deep collar and double breasted front and I think she looks much younger and fresher now. I couldn't even bring myself to show you all the horrid Granny Mac as it was just too bad.

Even though I've only just finished these two my mind has already wandered off to my next doll. I want to make a large sized doll again as I've not made one in a while and have the perfect doll waiting for me all curled up naked in a box. In my mind I keep coming back to a Victorian Street Walker, all decked out in bright colours and tatty round the edges. In some rich woman's cast off gown that's been badly altered to fit and overly trimmed with extra lace and ribbon to try and attract custom. Her whole outfit made up of slightly mix matched layers as she trys to do her best with what she has available and can afford. Her legs flashing and too much of her bust on show. I've not got so far as the details yet, but I know she just has to have thick red hair.


  1. So utterly fantastic... & a Victorian Street Walker to come? Perfect :)