For Christmas, the GB received a special gift - a bed made by the Bear for her 18-inch doll. Her doll is made in the style of an American Girl doll, but a less-expensive version. She received the doll for Christmas the year before last and named her Nora. She loves Nora and plays with her every day, dressing her and trying to manage her hair (Nora's hair is sort of a problem). Nora goes to her own make-believe school and ballet class, and she sleeps in the GB's room at night. They are good friends.
As an aside, I really enjoy the GB's interest in dolls. I liked them a lot when I was a little girl too, and honestly, I still do. The GB sleeps with her old baby toy, a soft doll she named Stinker when she was about two. She also has a sweet Corolle baby doll named Nellie, who gets the same kind of daily personalized treatment as Nora. The GB named Nellie when she was very young, in honor of her vanilla-scented head; she called her "Nilly" at first, which eventually became Nellie. When she was given the doll who became Nora, she thought it would be nice to have her name begin with N as well, and she chose Nora for her name. The GB likes this naming pattern because her own middle name begins with N. She did not wish to name the doll after herself, however, so she thought about names for a few days, running through Nina and Nancy before settling on Nora. She said she liked Nora because it rhymes with her friend's name, Cora. See, it's all very complex.
Anyway...back to Nora's bed. The Bear built it, using his own design plan, from a combination of pine, maple and poplar, all of which came from lumber scraps in his workshop. The LB helped him and even though they started the project a bit close to Christmas, they had it finished and ready to go just in time. They did a beautiful job. It's stained and varnished, and it looks as nice as any doll bed in the AG catalog, I think. My job was to make the soft parts, but I didn't have time to finish them before the big day. I felt badly, but there is just too much going on during those final days and weeks. I promised her that I would get everything made as soon as possible. The winter and spring were busy too, but I was able to work on the various parts a little at a time, and now it's all done and installed, so it's time to share it here.
In January, I finished an afghan for Nora, which I called Little Flowers in the Snow. You can read more about it on my blog here. This was a really fun little make. The GB has her own large version on her bed and she was happy to have one for her doll too. Nora slept under the afghan, with some other small blankets underneath her, for the past few months while she waited patiently for the rest of her bedding. The GB was somewhat less patient about it, but I know she was just eager and excited (even if it did feel a little sweatshop-ish now and then).
Nora's bed is made with a recessed platform that is just right for a thin mattress. I made the mattress from a piece of foam, cut from a larger piece that I bought off the giant roll at Hancock Fabrics. The foam is 1/2-inch thick. I really like this foam for doll mattresses, but it's obviously not appropriate for real babies or kids to sleep on (I'm sure most readers already know this, but I'm throwing it out there for safety's sake, in part because the clerk at Hancock sternly cautioned me about it). I covered the foam with a sleeve of calico fabric. It's just two big rectangles sewn together on two long and one short side, with the other short side left open to insert the foam. Then I sewed the opening shut and pulled the fabric as tightly as could around the foam and top-stitched along one of the long sides, just to make the cover tighter - and hopefully keep the foam from shifting around too much inside the cover.
The mattress fits really nicely into the recessed platform area. I also made a pillow for Nora, just a simple rectangle filled with toy stuffing.
The most time-consuming part of Nora's bedding was her quilt. I enjoy patchwork so much, but with school and all the small Bears' activities, I was only able to sit at the sewing machine for a few minutes at a time over the past few months. The quilt sort of languished until summer break began. For the first few days, the small Bears and I had almost nothing planned and just took it easy at home every day. It was the perfect time to leave my sewing machine set up for a whole day (I mostly use it at the kitchen table, due to lack of space) and get serious about finishing the quilt. It's just a very basic patchwork made with two-inch squares, backed with the same fabric as I used for the mattress and pillow, and tied with white crochet thread. I made it a bit too long in the vertical dimension, I think. But it's cheerful and cute, and I'm really happy with it.
Nora tried it out and she was happy too. She's been sleeping soundly in her tricked-out bed, at the foot of Miss GB's bed, every night since.
While we're on the subject of dolls and their beds, I should show you Nellie's cradle, which is also in the GB's room. The Bear made the cradle when the GB was about four years old, right around the time I started blogging. I had planned to do a full post about the cradle way back when, but I never got around to it. The cradle is not his own design. You'll laugh, but we got the design from an eBay listing (which we didn't buy) for a vintage 1950's doll cradle that helpfully provided every single dimension of the piece in the text of the listing. Really! We wrote it all down, he drew up a diagram, cut the pieces to the stated dimensions and built it. The design is really nice in that the bed part hangs from hooks, allowing the cradle to rock just like a real, old-fashioned baby cradle. We painted the cradle a pale aqua, to play off the vintage style, and I was tasked with making the bedding.
I made a mattress from the same type of foam, with the same kind of fabric cover, to fit into the recessed platform (fun fact - the Bear used a piece of masonite for the platform, left from our real baby crib, which was practically in splinters by the time our kids were done with it and was also an older drop-side crib so nobody would have wanted it anyway - fire and scrap wood it became! Nothing says "We're done having kids" like burning the crib, ha).
Nellie got a quilt too. Nellie's quilt is exactly like Nora's - a patchwork top, batting layer, solid backing to match the mattress and pillow, staggered thread ties. For me there is only one way of making doll beds, evidently. It's okay, though - I'm just a hobbyist trying to make her little girl happy. It makes me happy to see her enjoy simple playtime pursuits. She's shaping up to be a very caring and concerned little mama, which makes me glad too.
Sweet dreams, Nora and Nellie.