Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A bed for Nora


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.

35 comments:

  1. My daughter has the cane-work crib that I played with as a child, and my mother played with before me. It never had a beautiful quilt, though! I love that you made mattresses and bedding to fit the wonderful bed and crib and it's all so pretty. I'm sure your daughter will treasure these lovely things. Sam x

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  2. I do so love how you and your Bear have made everything yourselves, it makes it so very special. What a brilliant idea to copy down the dimensions from an Ebay listing. I'm so impressed with both the bed and the cradle. And the bedding is lovely too, no doubt your Girl Bear loves to tuck her dolls up at night. I still remember my dolls from when I was little, and the handmade clothes that my very talented great auntie made for them. CJ xx

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  3. Lucky little girl to have such crafty parents. The beds are so sweet. Never played much with dolls as a child, though I liked paper dolls, it was the fashions I think.

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  4. You two might be the best parents ever. I love that you have both made wonderful things for GB to enjoy for years to come, and hopefully keep for her own children.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  5. This is so sweet! I love all the special touches, and the matching afghan! When our girls were young Bob made them a doll cradle, the type with wood over the head part and rocking legs. They just loved it!

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  6. Hi Jennifer, the doll beds and their lovely bedding are wonderful. What great gifts to play with and cherish. I had a little chuckle at Nora's hair. Doll hair can be so persnickety. Regardless of the hairdo I know she is loved and that is what counts.

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  7. arent these the sweetest things ever - you are so talented Jennifer! with 3 bulky boys in the home there hasnt been any pretty feminine accessories in my life for over twenty years. who knows may be this little one growing in my belly may bring that back?
    have a lovely day and thank you for sharing - hugs and sparklings from the other side of the world.

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  8. Oh my gosh, it's all so beautiful! I'm sure both will be kept forever, my girls use an iron bed with handmade sheets and a quilt that was made for my mother-in-law when she was a little girl. I love dolls too, and I feel so lucky to have it with us. Thanks to American Girl, dolls seem to stick around longer these days too. Love the Afghan too.

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  9. What beautiful makes - that crib is amazing! When L was little, R made a small cot for her doll, Amelia. Sadly, I wasn't into crafting at the time, so missed out on all the fun of making small blankets and quilts. I love that LB helped to make the bed for his sister too. Nora and Nelly are very lucky dolls! xx

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  10. I can just imagine how thrilled she is with both the crib and the bed so beautifully decked out by you. I remember that I had what was called a 'treasure cot' for Christmas one year. The metal frame made by my father, and all decked out in pale pink silk, overlaid with pink ballet net and edged with rosebuds by my mother - I thought it was wonderful.

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  11. What wonderful beds, quilts an afghans. So beautifully made. Your daughter will have many hours of pleasure from them. B xx

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  12. beautiful! both of them! adore patchwork too!
    you could make slip covers for the mattresses so they can be changed over when she wants to change the bedding?
    very lovely dolls she has there
    you could search for one of those 'doll hospitals' you know the ones where they take your doll & bring them back to almost new, to redo Noras' hair?
    the crib & beds are cute, your Bear should make them to sell, bet he would do well at that, very clever with wood
    great post
    thanx for sharing

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  13. They are both wonderful beds and the accessories are amazing too, made with love and giving your beautiful daughter lots of treasured memories.

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  14. They're fabulous, all of them, crib, bed and bedding. Those dollies are so well looked after, your GB is going to make a wonderful mummy.

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  15. How adorable! The little bed for Nora and the cradle too are so beautiful...how clever the Bear is to make these! And your sweet doll quilts and little crochet blanket are perfect too. I love seeing children tucking up their toys, it is so sweet to see them being gentle and caring.
    Helen xox

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  16. very lovely!!! that took a lot of work and planning, it looks very nice! and love the colours of all the textiles! :)

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  17. Oh How SWEET!!! Nellie and Nora look so happy with all their new bedding -- and what beautiful beds! I especially love the little cradle -- what a wonderful piece of craftsmanship! You've done a beautiful job on the bedding -- I'll bet GB is thrilled.

    Our new little granddaughter-to-be will inherit a love of Barbies from her mother's side of the family and a love of baby dolls (just like Nellie and Nora) from me. I'm secretly hoping the baby doll side wins out -- I'm certainly going to do a lot of baby doll gifting to help out LOL. And I laughed at your comment about Nora's hair -- I have old baby dolls that need to go to the doll hospital and have a hair transplant -- my sister and I wore their hair out LOL!

    Thanks for sharing Nora and Nellie!

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  18. I think you and The Bear are truly amazing, Jennifer! You put so much time and thought into parenting. Not only that, but you are both incredibly talented. The bed and the cradle are so sweet. And you're right about the bed being better than anything in the AG catalog. When my girls were young we spent hours pouring over those catalogs.

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  19. They are both beautiful and what a perfect match - the Bear's carpentry skills and your attention to detail in the soft furnishings. They will become family heirlooms as I'm sure your daughter will always treasure them. Nellie and Nora look very comfortable!

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  20. Lucky dolls wish I had a quilt and blanket and quilt just like that, only me sized
    Clare xx

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  21. I think it's wonderful how daddy made both doll beds and you made the bedding.. how loved you have made your daughter feel. I wish all little girls had such caring and talented parents such as you both. I have an antique baby cradle, for the mattress I put in a pillow that just fit and found a doll quilt at a craft show. I should show it sometime. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. The cradle is amazing. When I asked my girls what toys they wanted to pass on last year, the baby clobber was the first thing to go. I was a bit sad but they chose a wooden train set over babies!! Your girl sounds so sweet looking after them so well. She will always remember those homemade things. Jo x

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  23. The beds and bedding are adorable - and special. No wonder GB loves them so much!

    I found a pin on Pinterest once about using fabric softener to untangle dolls' hair. I saved it just in case I ever needed it. Here's the link to the blog post that explains how to do it - I haven't tried it myself but it sounds feasible.
    http://www.ourkidsmom.com/is-your-rapunzel-doll-tangled-how-to-detangle-doll-hair/

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  24. The cradle is wonderful and really well made x

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  25. So sweet and really well made too! Love the bedding!

    -Soma

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  26. I can just imagine how thrilled she is with both the crib and the bed so beautifully decked out by you. I remember that I had what was called a 'treasure cot' for Christmas one year. The metal frame made by my father, and all decked out in pale pink silk, overlaid with pink ballet net and edged with rosebuds by my mother - I thought it was wonderful.
    Charlotte
    thekitchen.site

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  27. Oh how beautiful Jennifer. The blue cradle is a mini version of the yellow cradle I had for my first baby. How I loved it! The bed is so sweet, and very special indeed. I also had a doll bed made by my father - I wonder what ever happened to it? The little patchwork quilts are adorable, and your little girl must be so thrilled with it all.

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  28. Oh, these are adorable. I like the stories behind the dolls and beds as much as the finished products. The aqua crib is so beautiful and your patchwork bedding is just perfect. You've made a lovely thing here, and done a lovely thing too. Nora and Nellie certainly sleep in style! xx

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  29. Oh my goodness, both you and your husband are so creative! What a lucky little girl your daughter is to be blessed with these beautiful doll cradles and covers. Much prettier and of course, more meaningful than anything from a catalog or store. I would've loved this as a little girl...I loved my dolls, too. My first and favorite doll was Thumbelina. My mom told me that I left her in the laundromat (I was 3) and that when we went back to get her, she was gone. My mom said I just cried and cried...and even she cried, too. I don't remember any of this, but I do remember my Chrissy doll with the hair you could pull out the top of her head. And I had tons of Barbies. Played with them all the time.

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  30. It looks wonderful. I love those little quilts they are adorable.

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  31. When I was very young, about three, I received a doll in a home made cradle, made by my dad, wearing a (knitted) dress made by my mum, and bedding,malso made by my mum, it was one of my best christmas gifts ever, and I had the doll (still in her original dress, her wardrobe was very scant, poor thing) for years. I think she eventually got left behind in a house move. The bed and bedding you have made for GB will be treasured for many years, it is adorable X

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  32. When I saw the squares you showed being sewn together in one of your past posts I wondered what you were working on, and missed if you already explained, but now you have delightfully satisfied my curiosity! Thanks to your family effort Nellie and Nora are surely having sweet dreams :) Thanks for telling the happy story, Jennifer. xxxxxx

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  33. When my oldest son was a toddler, he carried a baby doll with him everywhere and would get very upset if he accidentally left it behind. :) The doll bed and cradle and all the accessories are extra special because they were all made by the two of you with lots of love and attention. GB is one lucky girl to have such creative parents.

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