This is the story behind my "James" and "Anna" graduation doll patterns and involves my Dad, my niece, and my twin granddaughters.
When both my twin granddaughters and my niece were graduating from high school and college, respectively I wanted to give them something special. For me, that usually involves something crafty that I'd made or, and this may come as a surprise to all of you, a doll. So, I decided on a doll. But, I didn't want just any graduation doll. I thought how about if I take their graduation picture and transpose that onto a doll's head using iron on transfer paper. Nice idea. Bad application from the start.
So, I set about to design a stand alone graduation doll that would have each of their respective graduation gown colors. I knew I wanted the doll to be stand alone and wanted the body bottoms to be made out of denim. I decided that I would use popcorn kernels to weight the bodies down. So, I began by scanning in their respective graduation pictures and then setting about to crop the images and adjust the image size until their faces would fit on my graduation doll patterns head. I should have known right from the start that this was going to be a disaster. I just couldn't seem to get the right size face with the right size head. In any event, I finally had something I could work with and transferred the face to my cloth head piece.
Then I put the three dolls together using my rough draft pattern pieces. The doll's bodies and graduation gowns came out wonderful. Their faces were an entirely different story almost bordering on scary. See for yourself. What do you think? Scary, frightening, yuck?
The first person to receive her doll was my niece. Well, the graduation doll was the talk of the graduation barbecue until my niece arrived and I gave it to her. Everyone thought the doll was creative and unique. My niece loved it but thought it was "CREEPY!" She wasn't sure whether she should thank me and keep it or thank me and hide it at the back of her closet. I have to admit it was pretty "creepy" and pretty scary looking. I suppose having ones face on a doll is "creepy" and just the looks of the doll was pretty scary. Not that her face is scary or anything. It's just the flat dimensions on what's supposed to be a three dimensional face just didn't work. Flat faces look great on pillows. On dolls, that's another story.
My twin granddaughters were the next group to receive their graduation dolls. Once, again, everyone thought they were unique, exceptional, and downright scary. My grandsons wouldn't even look at them. They were too scared. My granddaughters just laughed and got a kick out of showing all their friends their "frightening" graduation dolls.
So, I decided I had to make something positive out of this disaster and decided to design the graduation doll with an embroidered face. After all I already had the rough draft pattern. All I needed was a face. Instead of doing just one doll pattern I decided to do two: a male graduation doll pattern and a female graduation doll pattern. I could easily alter the clothes underneath the gown to suit either a male or female.
Since all of my dolls are named after relatives or ancestors I decided to name my male graduate after my Father, who graduated from college on the GI bill after WWII. That seemed appropriate and a nice way to honor him and his accomplishment which, I'm sure, at the time was difficult to do. After all, WWII had just ended and he had fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. To suddenly be going to college in an idealist setting had to be an adjustment for him.
I then decided to name my girl graduation doll after my oldest niece,Anna, who had graduated from college with a BA in Geology and was going on to pursue her Masters and then her PHD. She definitely had a long road ahead of her so it seemed appropriate to name my female graduation doll after her as well.
My Anna graduation doll pattern is for a 20" girl doll. She is a free-standing cloth doll with a square bottom denim base. She has a long tunic shirt with fringed 3/4 gathered sleeves and square-bottomed denim pants. Her face is embroidered and she has round black button eyes. She is wearing a white satin graduation gown with 3/4 sleeves and is holding a bouquet of silk ribbon flowers with streamers and diploma in her right hand and her commencement exercise booklet in her left hand. She has long flowing red hair framing her face and has a white graduation cap on her head. A string of pearls and ribbon bow decorate her outfit.
My James graduation doll pattern is for a 20" boy doll. He is also a free-standing cloth doll with a square bottom denim base. He sports a long cotton shirt with rolled sleeves and square-bottomed denim pants. His face is embroidered and he has round black button eyes. He is wearing a black satin graduation gown with 3/4 sleeves and is holding his diploma in his right hand and his commencement exercise booklet in his left hand. He has wild curly brown hair framing his face and has a black graduation cap on his head.
Unfortunately I only made one of each doll so I will not have either "James" or "Anna" for sale as a finished doll on my Linda Walsh Originals Dolls website when it is finally up and running. However, both the "Anna" graduation doll pattern and "James" graduation doll pattern are on my Linda Walsh Originals Graduation page and are available as either print patterns or E-Patterns on my Linda Walsh Originals website.
Well, this story had several phases. It was a nice idea whose application was downright frightening and was rescued by creative embroidering. Hopefully, you'll agree. If you'd like to try your hand at transferring the face of a graduate you know please do so. Maybe you'll have better luck then I did. If not, the embroidered faces in my "Anna" and "James" graduation doll patterns are just adorable. At least, they won't cause nightmares.
Posted by Linda Walsh Originals - "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"
Linda Walsh Originals Dolls - "Dolls for Grown-up Girls!"