A New Old Doll

I am sometimes intimidated by owning antique dolls over 100 years old. It is a big responsibility being the caretaker for a part of history. Antique cloth dolls intimidate me the most. They need to be protected from sunlight, humidity, temperature changes, dust, moths and other bugs, and handling by humans.


That’s why several years ago for my birthday I got two reproduction Izannah Walker dolls made by Gail Wilson. The dolls are 10″ and 3″ tall. Both dolls have molded papier mache heads, painted by Gail, and cloth bodies. I love the painted shoes.


The larger doll came dressed in her chemise and pantalets.


I sewed a cartridge-pleated slip for her with vintage tatted edging.


She came with a set of patterns, so I needed to sew for her.  I made her dress, apron, and cape.


You may recognize the cape fabric, it is the same wool I am using to make an embroidered jacket for my Huret.


The cat pattern was included.

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The 3″ doll came fully dressed.


Of course, these dolls needed a place to live and lots of stuff. I used a shelf in our office bookcase to house them. The walls and floor are foam board covered with fabric, then adhered to the bookcase with blue tape.


The beautiful painted miniature blanket chest was made by Robert Enders of South Mountain Folk Art. It is painted with a copy of a scene from a painting by American primitive artist Rufus Porter.

Gail Wilson has been making kits since 1981. Her instructions are complete, easy to follow, and always teach me something new. I have purchased some directly from her website. Many of her kits have been discontinued and can be found on eBay or at doll shows.

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Supergirl and I made some of these together.


I made the miniature quilts. Making the pieced quilt in the hoop taught me how do paper piecing and I love it. It is made from 14 different fabrics and the design area is only 1″ x 1″.


I didn’t do the cross-stitch sampler, which came from one of Gail’s kits. I don’t do counted cross stitch. I cannot do counted cross stitch. I bought the finished sampler on eBay.

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We still have several more kits to complete These are just a few of them.


It is believed that Izannah Walker started making her delightful cloth dolls in the 1850’s. If you would like to learn more, check out the Izannah Walker Chronicles, or the True Friends website’s link “About Izannah Walker”. If you are a member of UFDC, they offer a wonderful study set about her dolls.


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