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Thursday, 10 August 2017

USA 2017 - Sasha festival part 2

On Day 2 of the Sasha festival, we had a buffet breakfast with everyone else attending the festival in the big ballroom. Then we set up our Dress a Sasha entries in the room where the meet and greet took place the previous evening.  There were 6 categories altogether, 2 for adults (made and assembled by adult or assembled by adult), 2 for teenagers (made and assembled by teen, assembled by teen) and 2 for children (made and assembled by child, assembled by child).  In the event, there were no child entries and only one teen entry, in the made and assembled by category and that was my daughter's entry.  She was disappointed to not have any competition.

Several months ago when we were looking at what the theme was for the festival and the specific theme for the Dress a Sasha (Forever young - games and pass times) she opted to go for a game.  She came up with the game idea herself - Pin the tail on the donkey and decided upon the classic Winnie the Pooh characters because they play a version of that game with sad Eeyore the donkey.  She wanted to make it a birthday party game and she decided that she wanted her dolls to have the characters on their clothes - but how to achieve this was the next big question.  I suggested she draw the characters and asked my sister if she could print them onto fabric as she owns a printing company - though it is 6,000 miles away from us!  She told me she could print onto pure cotton as the inks she uses would not stick on poly-cotton, so when I went to Cape Town in March for a conference, I visited a large fabric shop (Fabric City) for plain fabrics and found some slightly thicker than I had hoped cotton fabric in pale blue and beige.  My sister also had some white pure cotton t-shirts in her shop so the designs were printed on 3 different fabrics, with space between them to allow for making several outfits. 

Pin the tail on the donkey - game (entry by DollMum's daughter in the made and assembled by teenager category)
My daughter also designed a birthday banner which was printed twice on the beige fabric (just in case there was a problem when sewing the first one, which there wasn't).  When I returned from Cape Town I was able to show her the designs she had drawn now printed on the fabric.  She had copied the classic pictures by Ernest Shepherd free hand with pencil on paper - her own interpretation of his drawings and had designed the birthday banner entirely herself.

I helped her adapt a pattern to make very simple t-shirts for Laura and Edmund (with no shoulder seams or need to set sleeves) however they required bias binding around the edges which she stitched on using the sewing machine then hand hemmed them on the inside.  Baby Amy's outfit was a bit more complicated - I had a romper pattern which she used, however it meant putting elastic into the leg edges, another technique to relearn as she had previously made the gathered shorts with sailing boats on them for Edmund.  She sewed bias binding around the neck and back opening.  All the outfits required her to sew on press studs, for the romper 2 poppers by the crotch and one on the back.  She was glad that she had trimmed the sleeves with lace, as it looked pretty and was quicker to do than the bias binding!  She made a skirt for Laura from a fat quarter of pretty fabric, gathered with elastic at the waist and a patterned stitch at the hem in contrast thread. 

Laura wore the Winnie the Pooh with Piglet drawing, Edmund the Eeyore drawing and Amy the Winnie the Pooh with his honey pot drawing.

The handkerchief around Edmund's eyes was an ancient one from my mother's collection of hankies (it even has a hole in it so she folded it so he couldn't peep!). For the tail I gave her several short lengths of grey wood tied with a ribbon and she decided to braid/plait it before inserting the drawing pin.

Edmund wearing the handkerchief, Eeyore t-shirt and holding the tail with its drawing pin and ribbon
The banner was relatively easy for her to sew.  In the workshop I made the stand for the banner, much like a simple doll stand with a thin dowel fitted into a base board (of plywood), however this needed two dowels the right distance apart and the base board needed to be no wider than 17.5 inches, to make sure it fitted within the 18 inch by 18 inch limit we had been given.  The dowels could not be glued in as the props had to travel flat in our luggage.  The fabric was folded over top and bottom and stitched, then folded over on either side to make long tubes for the dowels and stitched.  Simple but effective.
The Birthday banner behind Laura and Edmund
The stand for the Eeyore picture was a simple miniature wooden easel we found on a local market, she put a piece of card on it and the picture was printed out on A4 paper. 

Eeyore on the easel as Edmund tries to pin the tail in the right place
On the same market we had found the 'Winnie the Pooh - Eeyore's tail' book, this went in her display too.  Both Laura and Amy had patterned ribbons with a party theme from my collection of ribbon. Finally she decided that Baby Amy had to be holding something as she watched Edmund trying to pin the tail on the donkey, and we had a plastic rattle the right size.

Baby Amy in her Winnie the Pooh romper while holding her rattle
I would like to thank Inkwell Print of Cape Town for printing on fabric for my daughter's Dress a Sasha display.

My dress a Sasha entry was a favourite pass time - for a doll festival it felt right to enter 'sewing for and playing with dolls' as this is something I enjoy doing, an old fashioned and very useful skill.  This gave me the lead for period of costume - one of my favourite Louisa May Alcott books is 'An Old Fashioned Girl' - the story of Polly Milton who visits her rich friends the Shaw family in the city and becomes an example to her friends of truly embodying the essence of life in the face of financial poverty.  In one chapter, she successfully distracts the bored 6 year old sister Maud of her friend Fanny by helping her make clothes for her dolls as she sews clothes for her own younger sister's doll back home.  Later, even Fanny who has 'outgrown' dolls, gets happily involved in sewing for them, much to her grandmother's delight.

The book was published in 1870 and was probably set in the early 1860s period.  The book mentions that Polly wore simple grey or blue merino dresses with a bow in her curls.  So I bought some dark blue wool fabric and decided that Florence would be Polly for this display. However I didn't have a girl toddler for Maud (the perfect excuse to seriously look for one).

Setting up my Dress a Sasha display - An Old Fashioned Girl - sewing for and playing with dolls (DollMum's entry in made and assembled by adult category)
In my display 'Polly' wore a winter dress of dark blue merino of the 1860s, trimmed in an understated way, with black boots (the same boots she wore for my Dress a Sasha in 2012).  In the book she longed for more frills, ruffles and trimmings until her mother pointed out in a letter that true beauty is inside the wearer of the clothes, not the clothes. 

'Polly' in her dark blue merino dress, sewing for dolls

By contrast, little 'Maud' (my new Iona, Maud is not her new name), wore a fashionable slightly off the shoulder 1860s child's dress with puffed lace trimmed sleeves, red boots, lace trimmed pantaloons (which were just going out of fashion) and crinoline (just coming into fashion) to display her full gathered skirts.  I made the crinoline with white pipe cleaners and ribbons.  Both pairs of boots were made by Lisa Hartley (who delivered the new little red boots to me in record time).

'Maud' in her 1860s dress with crinoline and pantaloons holding her dolls

'Polly' and 'Maud'

I had great fun assembling all the items for Polly's sewing basket, however the basket itself was a particularly lucky find (on ebay) as every small basket I'd looked at wasn't the right size or shape.  I knew from Louisa May Alcott's descriptions that it had to be a 'work basket' and when this basket came up in the search results I was delighted. 

I had found some very tiny, short embroidery needles in their original packet in our local Oxfam shop, we already had the small cotton reels and sewing pins, the  tiny scissors from a sewing kit had ugly red plastic handles which I spray painted silver and I made the miniature pin cushion.  The trimmings were for miniature dolls clothes which I carefully rolled up and placed in two tiny dovetail boxes I had made years ago and placed them into the wooden chest.  The tiny buttons were for miniature dolls too, the bowl I put them in was also from my dolls house. Polly's sewing (a partly made skirt) includes one of the needles which was really difficult to thread as the eye was so small.

Polly's sewing basket, complete with fabric, needles in needle case, cotton reels and scissors

The reels of trimmings in their wooden boxes in the chest
The antique doll in the box was another lucky ebay find - she has a cloth body and a china head and lower legs and arms.

The antique doll (which came as displayed, only wearing a scarf, in her own little card board box) along with the pincushion and buttons on the table

I explained about Polly in the label on the display:

Polly has her sewing basket complete with scissors, cotton reels, sewing needles, pins in her pin cushion and a box with trimmings, fabric and buttons. She is making a dress for the antique doll as Maud plays happily with her redressed dolls.

An Old Fashioned Girl - sewing for and playing with dolls by DollMum (with the book in the background)
I will show the photos I took of the other Dress a Sasha entries in another post - they were all wonderful. 

After we had set up our displays we had a look at the others then went to join everyone else for the next bit of excitement in the ball room - the Gift Exchange.  Each of us put a number (our registration number) in a bowl.  The first person with a gift drew a number from the bowl and the person whose number was called went up to receive the gift, then drew the next number.  This worked really well. 

In the exchange my girl gave one of my toy kits and the Sasha sized Halloween felt glove puppets I had made.  These went to Ellen C.  My girl received a lovely white dress (made from a vintage tea towel) with a vintage mini Holly Hobbie doll to go with it, a perfect companion for Sasha.  Later she also received a surprise extra gift as Peggy had been given a super little American flag outfit by Shirley B and decided that it would be perfect for the youngest English visitor.  This outfit became Laura's (now famous on the Sasha Morgenthaler group on Facebook) travelling clothes as she explored the USA in our road trip after the festival. Thank you Peggy and Shirley for your generosity with this additional gift.

My girl at the Gift Exchange with Cheryl C who gave her the dress and Holly Hobbie

Sheila explains about Holly Hobbie to my girl at the Gift Exchange
We had some time to look at the lovely Raffle dolls on display before lunch, which of course everyone wanted to win!  We also looked at the amazing range of Helper raffle items, each with their own paper bag for our hopeful tickets.

Raffie, the Elke with repainted eyes, and her lovely outfits and accessories

Raffie and her accessories

The beautiful 'calendar girl' donated by Ellen C with her lovely outfits donated by several different people, one for each month of the year

'Calendar' girl and some of the outfits

'Calendar Girl' outfits
A long table of Helper Raffle items

Surveying the Helper Raffle items

Looking at the Helper Raffle items

View towards the Children's Fund Auction items from the 'Experts' tables, as Anne V set up her 'Expert' display

The next post is all about the Experts tables as Baby Mabel had her big moment.

If you've missed it, see part 1 of the Festival.


jamamy said...

Another most enjoyable post. I can't believe all the trouble you both went to for the Dress a Sasha competitions. As a newly to the festival last year I also entered and was surprised how few entrants there really were out of the 100+ attendees. I loved seeing what was there though, thank you for the virtual inspection of your amazing entries! Great to see the grand prizes too and it was so lovely of Peggy to donate 'travel garments'!

Ginger said...

A great post once again and I am amazed at the detailed planning and execution to create both of your wonderful displays. Also nice that you visited Louisa May Alcott's home place after the Festival. A wonderful experience for your girl and I smile to think of her talent and creativity being put to work to create such an amazing display. I am sure you are proud of her accomplishments. The raffles were so nice and so were the helpers and I liked the new way for the gift exchange too. So many generous Sasha people! 😊 xxx

Triciamj said...

Your and your girls dress a Sasha entries are incredible, such attention to detail, and now I have another Louisa May Alcott story to read - it sounds very similar to Meg visiting Sally Gardner. :-)

DollMum said...

Tricia, I've always loved Louisa's books, ever since my mother read Little Women and Good Wives aloud to my sister and I on Sunday evenings before bedtime (I was almost always making something while she read). I remember crying over Beth's death in Good Wives and subsequently bought several of her other books from second hand bookshops, including An Old Fashioned Girl (abridged edition, I recently bought the complete version). In many ways it elaborates on the theme of Meg visiting Sally Gardner, however the character of Polly is not identical to Beth, and now that I'm reading Louisa's letters and journals, I've realised in some respects Polly is similar to Louisa in her occupation, though with a nice touch of Beth thrown in for good measure. I hope you enjoy An Old Fashioned Girl.

Serenata said...

I really enjoyed reading about the whole process this morning of how the Dress A Sasha displays came about and were made up. Well done to both of you to two fabulous well designed and worked displays. It is a shame there weren't more entrants in the children and teenagers sections this year. I wonder why that was?

Well done to both of you.

Jane said...

I enjoyed your first Festival post and this one is even better! Your attention to detail in the Dress a Sasha is wonderful! Love it :)

Unknown said...

I've got a copy of An Old-Fashioned Girl that I haven't read for donkey's years. better read it again now!