I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Great Grandmother's Handwork

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!


danman49 said...

Beautiful collection! Thank you for sharing!!

Julie said...

Having something hand-made by grandparents (and earlier) connects us to those people -- we have something that they put their time and talent into. The dolls really help express their personality and eye for detail. What a precious collection of your great grandmother's time, talent, and personality!

hannah singer said...

Angela! What a treasure! The dolls and the history are priceless, thanks for brightening my day. Beautiful post;)


Donna said...

LOVED looking at these photos & reading about them all! How special these must be to you! Precious memories.

Peggy H. said...

I remember these dolls. Edna would invite me to come across the street to look at them when I was growing up and she had some of them out. They were exquisite. I'm so glad you have some of them. I had wondered what had happened to them. I need to tell you some of my stories about growing up across the street from your grandparents. I have some of their sheet music that she gave me. I want you to have it if I can just find it. I am not as organized as you! I thought about it when I saw the wonderful crafts you did with music!

monicamedwards said...

They're beautiful and what special things they are for you to pass on to your grandchildren.

Angela McInnis said...

Ladies, I deleted the last post...hmmmm. I was trying to send my response to each of you individually...ya'll posted your comments before I had a chance to do so. Thank you so much for your kind words..I DO love the dolls. In Grandmother's last days she just randomly gave away the dolls...to the postman, etc.. :( I very much hope they have been taken care of and loved! (Mrs. H: I'd LOVE that sheet music if you ever run up on it!)

Amanda said...

Treasures!! I am sure my grandmother's and her mother's treasures such as these burned in 1970.

Angela McInnis said...

We, too had a fire that destroyed some very precious things, but I keep telling myself...they are only THINGS. Precious nonetheless.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Great blog! These old dolls are just lovely!

Phyllis said...

I am so enjoying your blog and have gone back to read older posts which are so entertaining. I have always loved dolls since my childhood and now being in my senior years,I still love them. I am a doll artist so I truly appreciate you great grandmother's doll artistry and her sewing as I also sew and smock doll dresses for my baby dolls. I plan to follow your blog which I discovered from Tablescape Thursday. I posted on that site with my tablescape for the first time as my blog is very new....less than a week old....LOL...I am so happy to have found you.

Angela said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog,
I can see the love your grandmother put in making these pretty dresses, they are wonderful.
Thank you for sharing the detailed pictures.
Thank you for visiting me.
I am your latest follower and don't want to miss a post!