I must say my life has been pretty low-key the past few days...I am still in the middle of "purging" my closets and I am not sure how much longer I can stand all the excess that is spilling out into the hall and other rooms. I am determined to do it right and this means I will just have to suffer "the visual noise" for a few more days!
While organizing my pictures, I thought it might be nice to show you some of my Great Grandmother Sallie Atkinson Whitfield's handiwork. She was quite the seamstress and a poet! (I may have inherited something from her, but not her height or build...can somebody say "skinny"...after 8 or 9 children?! Yikes)
As a teenager, Sallie sewed not only her own clothes but the clothes of her 8 younger brothers and sisters.I am privileged to have a precious blue stripe "day" dress and a blue checked gardening bonnet of hers. Below is a picture of a picture I quickly snapped in the hall, without proper lighting, behind glass and my battery pack in the camera was dying! However, it is my Granddaughter Gracie wearing her Great, Great, Great Grandmother's blue bonnet. (I will post a better rendition of this picture later! )
Miss Sallie began dressing china dolls in 1938 well after she was 60 years old. My own grandmother, Edna Whitfield Alexander, was able to keep that doll collection of over 60 dolls intact until a few years before she herself died. The china heads, hands and feet were from Germany and the bodies were muslin stuffed with sawdust. Grandmother Whitfield copied Victorian costumes from the famous Godey's Lady's Book. (This magazine was probably the most influential woman's magazine of its time. Hand-tinted foldouts showed the Victorian lady the most up to date fashions.) Her dolls ranged in size from 10-24 inches and were shown throughout the south and the east including Washington, D.C. Below are two pictures. The first is the cover of the National Geographic that included a picture of my grandmother and the dolls and the second picture is the one that actually appears in the 1951 magazine. (Grandmother is third from the left.)
A 1985 news article stated,
"Each doll wears the authentic hairstyle of her period and each little costume
hides tiny cotton pantalettes and slips trimmed with lace and ribbons. Accessories
include bonnets adorned with ribbon and tiny silk posies, parasols, fans and
Some of the dolls from my collection are pictured below. If you appreciate beautiful detailed handwork, you would love to see these "up close" and personal!
I keep this doll under a hand blown glass dome. She is over 73 years old. Her black silk dress is beautifully beaded. She carries a silk purse and has tiny lace and flowers on her bonnet.
Many dolls were special ordered and purchased by ladies throughout the southeastern United States. Below is a picture of a doll with a note attached. My G Grandmother did not select this material and felt the plaid was out of scale to the doll. The doll was in a special collection in Springfield, Illinois.
Below are some of the smaller dolls in their day dresses.
The baby in the cradle was similar to a Frozen Charlotte doll. The cradle was made by my father for his mother's little doll. Many of the fabrics have faded over time.
I have a postcard featuring the dolls. The cards were sold in various shops around the south. You can see the various details of some of the dolls on the postcard below. One of my favorites is the doll in the green on the left with the purple parasol. (That's Victorian speak for umbrella!)
These little beauties were much trouble! They wore silk, which frayed easily over the years. They had to be stuffed with tissue when packed and everywhere they went they caused quite a commotion! However, you can see why I love them and try to treat those I have left in my possession with the very best of care. I hope GG Sallie would be pleased!