My 17th Century Bru Fairy

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Meet Mademoiselle Bru. She told me that she wants to dress in 17th century costumes. I think she wants to be a fairy.


This is an early 17th century masque costume drawing by Inigo Jones (1573-1652). He was an architect, stage designer and theatrical masque designer.

When I got hooked on 17th century embroidery, a good friend asked me how it applied to dolls. My first reaction was, why does it have to? Then, I did some research and stumbled on this image.

My Bru has always been an enigma to me. She just doesn’t seem to fit into the 19th century. So, now I have a plan…

I love the masque costume for many reasons. It is for a fairy. It is blue. It includes an embroidered waistcoat (see Pocahontas) and embroidered shoes. It is gorgeous.


My Bru stands 36 cm (just over 14″) tall and is marked D on the back of her head.


She was made in France around, or just before 1870, and has very pale bisque, pierced ears, and her original blue eyes.  She came to me as a red head, just like Jones’ fairy.

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Her original fully-jointed wood body is a knockout. She can twist at her waist and has jointed wrists and ankles. Her body has its original paint finish. I will take creative license with her costume. It will not be exactly like the Inigo Jones image.

In the early 17th century, panties were not worn. The main undergarment for women was a linen smock, but often the smock was not completely covered. This fairy has a transparent smock with blue trim at the neck.  Many smocks were decorated with blackwork embroidery (in black, blue, red or pink). I am going to try to do tiny blue blackwork instead of plain blue trim on her smock.

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I tried one pattern, from Thomas Trevelyon’s Miscellany of 1608, which is available online on Folger Shakespeare Library’s site.  It’s the blue design at the bottom of the image above.  It is ½” tall, but I think the pattern is too busy and that ½” is just too big.

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So, I found this pattern (marked with arrow) on another website. It is from an Italian needlework design book of 1561. I’m going to play with it and see how small I can sew.


I found a picture of a pink long-sleeved set of stays on the fabulous V&A website. So, I have the first two layers of her costume planned.

This project will begin in earnest after I complete one or two of my other WIP’s (works in progress). My flip doll is almost done. Stay tuned.


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