Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fourth Clue: Prisoners of the Lake

So, let's talk about those mermaid dolls.

They aren't really mermaids, as you found out at the end of our Quest post - they're regular maiden dolls

 with legs

but which some MadEvilBadSorceror turned into tails

and trapped in stasis by magic and crepe paper

 in an underwater lake.

And our party guests undertook to free them, restore them to consciousness with pixie dust 

and return them to their original leggy maidenness.

Time for some backstory now. I didn't originally design this doll for the Fairytale party. Some version of her has been in my mind for a long, long time. Like several years long. Initially she was a round-headed baby doll. Then, as the kids grew out of their baby doll phase, she became other things - some with round heads and some flat. This summer, she manifested as a fairy-mermaid-princess who has a regular-person alter ego - exactly the sort of pretend play scenarios that my girls now favor. I experimented with various aspects of her, both to attain Ultimate Cuteness and to distill the construction process to its absolute simplest form. She started out like this,

her first draft was this (I am not crazy about her lips), 

and she's now this.

Emily, who was privy to all my demented doll experiments, loved their fantasy potential and thought that we should give them away as party favors (easy for her to say). Fairies and mermaids, she claimed she saw in their future, along with a whole host of other ideas. I always listen to my kids when it comes to what works for playing with toys - they are the ones with the hours of experience under their belts, after all.

So the little maiden doll evolved further - from felt hair to yarn hair, which Emily said was more mermaidlike because it could move underwater, not that we verified that scientifically,

in different colors, just like human people (alas - we could not find this nice fabric in other skin tones also),

and a removable tail and bra (read more about my kids' Mermaid Outfit Rules in this post)

times twelve.

And because they couldn't possibly have tails 24/7 - apparently, the really fun mermaids are the morphing species (see same linked post for my kids' Mermaid Behavior Rules) - they needed regular dresses. Although my children's definition of regular is the same as Disney's definition of what a fairygodmother would send you off in to a ball. 

Again, times twelve.

And that was how we prepped for the party. 
Now you know the story.

The girls really loved these dolls - they'd come down to the sewing room each day to check on my progress and to offer impassioned suggestions for dress colors (rainbow won) and hairstyles.

But, if you remember, I told you that this doll had been living in my subconscious long before there were any parties, and that I was in the midst of fleshing her out when the Fairytale party came along. So it only made sense to continue my experiments on her and create an entire doll subculture. 

I'll leave you with that one photo and revisit them again a few posts later when I can do them justice. You'll have to be patient. Some part of it will be a tutorial and some a pattern you can buy to make gifts for the holidays. Various aspects of it are already in the testing lab with Grandma G, my fabulous pattern tester. 

In the meantime, I want to finish the Fairytale Party posts - there are only a couple more left, and then the story will be complete. 

And the Halloween costumes, of course. And Wool Skirts.


  1. Yep, Grandma G's been having fun! Can't wait to get at those tails! :)

  2. I'm looking forward to the tutorial. By the way, I've had absolutely no luck finding a suitable doll fabric (skin coloured, durable, velcro will stick, not felt). You seem to have found some fabulous fabric. Would you ever consider listing small portions for readers to purchase? I'd definitely love to buy something tried and true.

  3. Hey Lier, you are awesome!... and the dolls..... oh the dolls!....
    I was reading your post when my 3 years old daughter came along... and she felt in love! of course. "Mama, I want the pink one.... and the purple one.... and the green one..." oh gosh, it would be fun to make one...... Do you mind if I try?.... your drawing is very effective, but the only part that I am puzzle is the hair..... oh the hair!....
    Anyway, brilliant as always.
    Thank you for sharing!

  4. So cute! Can't wait to learn more about the dolls.

  5. I recently made a calico doll for a friend and it was surprisingly impossible to find a pattern that I liked! Hard enough to find one that fit my criteria (non-knit fabric, smallish, downloadable) let alone one with a nice shape to it. I ended up sketching on up for myself and I liked what I ended up with but the way I did it was a bit dodgy - good enough for a grown person's display doll but it wouldn't last any amount of real play. I'd love to have a properly trialled pattern!

  6. So cute! I recognize the green tail fabric. I used it last Halloween to make the mermaid side of the reversible mermaid dolphin tail for my indecisive daughter.

  7. Simply adorable! Can't wait for the tutorial & pattern! ;D

  8. UAUU!!!!!!
    Você realmente é demais... é um encanto tudo que faz com as meninas.
    Uma fonte de inspiração.Tenho uma menina de 07 anos e costumo criar fábulas também em torno dos personagens...Mas voCê supera.INCRÍVEL!!!

  9. Ooooooh I can't wait for more details on these!! MD

  10. These are fantastic and will definitely be on my homemade gift list this year! My girls spend most of their time playing as or with mermaids & fairies. Can't wait for the tutorial and/or pattern. Thank you so much, Lier! I am always inspired by your creative ideas and the way you engage your kids in the design process.

  11. For doll skin fabric - consider doing web search for "Waldorf doll supplies" for many connections to great knit "skin" colors covering a spectrum of skin tones.

  12. Oh wow! LOVE the variations you came up with for this doll! Can't wait to see the pattern!

    BTW, we are making your rainbow wings (from your bug party) for my girls' Halloween costumes this year. I just have to make it to a fabric store (tomorrow!!!) Thank you for all of the inspiration and tutorials you share so generously on your blog!

  13. There's a first birthday coming up which I feel compelled to sew for. I think this may be the project!


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