Mary Frances Doll Laundry Bag

My daughter just finished up the first sewing project in the Mary Frances Sewing Book. It is a Doll Laundry bag. She sewed it entirely by hand using basting, half-backstitching, hemming, and overcasting hand-sewing techniques. It's all good practice for her.

I gave her this little scrap of Lecien fabric and thought the stripes would help her keep her stitches straight (sewing up the sides) and even (hemming and backstitching the casing for the ties). Plus, she *really* wants to try and do things as close to the book as possible, and it looks like Mary Frances used some striped fabric as well.

She's very proud.

And she is completely entranced by the book itself. I keep finding these little set-ups around my sewing table. If you look closely at the basket, it holds a lot of the "characters" in the book that she's made or found objects to represent - the Fairy Lady, Mr. Silver Thimble (it looks like she made him out of wax and a rubber thimble), Tommy Pin Cushion, Scissor Shears, Needle Book (I need to actually make her one), Pen Cil, Work Basket, Bees Wax, the Needle of Don't Have to Try (which ends up being me :) ), and of course, the little bird she has perched on a clothespin - the Sewing Bird.

Ironically, the other night I was assisting her with ironing the laundry bag. We were using a tiny iron, which I thought would be easier for her to use. I had my hand placed over hers and I was explaining why I thought there was no mention of irons in the Mary Frances book - how ironing can be dangerous for kids to do without adult supervision...and then I placed my left index finger directly on the rod!!! Oww. You can still kind of see my fingerprint below.

So that has slowed me up this week a bit. Being left-handed, I really need that finger!

Anyways, I am almost done with a doll for my niece! I should have pictures up next week. I have a second doll I'm working on for my oldest that she's already named and will be making the doll wardrobe for from the Mary Frances book.

Right now, she's onto project #2 - a doll apron. Project #3 is a doll handkerchief and then she'll move onto to the clothes!


  1. I am so amazed at you and your daughter! How cute she is sewing and obviously so detailed and serious about it. wow! what fun! the bag is adorable....tell her i am so impressed! ;)

    i can't wait to see what she makes for her doll!

  2. Such a priceless gift you are giving your daughter; my Mother taught me to sew, and my Grandmother to crochet, and these have remained lifelong passions.

    Can't wait to see your latest creation, and your daughter's :-)


  3. Thanks so much Tasha! It won't be long until you're sewing with your little girl :).

    Thanks for the encouragement, Beth. It definitely is a special time of day when she and I sit together and sew. It's great to hear that you have such fond memories (and it's obviously a passion of yours!)

  4. What a wonderful post! How nice to share such special moments with a child! I'm sure they will be her most precious memories when she is adult.
    I recently discovered your blog ... how wonderful! I love your dolls! They remind me of the Little Lulu and I can not help but notice that they have unique aspect of American vintage dolls ... I'm Italian and here I've never seen something like this!
    Excuse me if I ask you a question, you know where I might find some tutorials to try to make one? I am still not so good with sewing (I learn by myself, step by step, mistake after mistake) but I know I will not rest until I try!
    Thanks to show these beautiful dolls that give so much inspiration!

  5. Thank you for your kind words. You can find copies of vintage cloth dolls around the internet. Try http://gailsdollpatterns.com/ or ebay. The pattern I use is one that I've drafted, but the head is constructed similarly to many American cloth doll patterns from the 1940s/1950s.

    I'm self-taught as well, and still make plenty of mistakes (that's how you learn!) Beth at this blog
    has a great tutorial for making a cloth doll that might help. Best of luck.

  6. Thanks for your advice!
    I can not wait to get to "work"! Dollmaking is such a pleasure!
    ps: I "discovered" your blog reading Beth's one! :-)

  7. Beth has some great advice! I already had two dolls stuffed (the one I just finished and the one I'm working on), but I'm eager to try some of her tips on my next batch (like spritzing the fabric with water while stuffing, etc.). She's definitely knows a ton of info!