For your free patterns and tutorial videos, please scroll down to the second set of bullets.
You may recognize the lovely doll I’m showing above. Yes, she’s the “Steffie” face mold doll that I rescued from my local GoodWill, and I’ve been cleaning her up and making her some pioneer-style clothes.
There’s a long story behind my choice for Pioneer-style clothes.
In 2019, women across the United States celebrated the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. At that time, I signed up to take a class on pioneer women in Idaho (the state where I live) at Boise State University.
One of the people I learned about in that class was a little-known pioneer named Elvina Moulton. She was the first documented Black Idahoan woman pioneer, and I wanted to honor her memory by sharing her story with you today, for Black History Month.
As you can see on the information sent to me by the First Presbyterian Church of Boise, Elvina Moulton was born into slavery and walked from Missouri to Boise, along the Oregon Trail.
That’s right, I said WALKED. Can you imagine?
So I made the pioneer dress, thinking it might look something like Elvina’s dress — but that was before I saw this photo of her. Now I’m thinking about including the gingham dress as part of a series of costumes in honor of Elvina Moulton. Maybe this gingham dress can be her “work dress” and another of my designs can more accurately represent the dress in the photo (perhaps her “church” dress).
But I want to do more research on her. I’d like to travel to Boise this spring or summer to see one of her actual dresses (perhaps the one that’s shown in her picture). I may also make an apron (like seamstresses and laundresses would have worn in the 1800’s) and perhaps a pair of bloomers with a petticoat.
That’s my plan. I really want to delve into Miss Moulton’s life, learn more about her, and create some type of memorial doll clothes patterns, to honor her amazing pioneer spirit here on my website.
But now let’s see how I created my Elvina Moulton “work dress…”
I actually used the pattern from my Renaissance “princess dress,” which is shown below:
The “outer sleeve” cut line was used to create a casing for the gingham dress. Below, you’ll see the sleeve with its elastic casing at the end. This image is showing the sleeve inside-out:
Okay, now when I place my fingers inside the end of the sleeve and straighten out the elastic end, you can really see the casing nicely:
I don’t know if you can tell, but both the sleeve and the casing are separate pieces. I folded the casing along its two longest sides and tucked these in before sewing the casing to the base of the sleeve.
Now I just need to decide which doll to use to represent Elvina. I don’t have any dolls that look like her, per se, but after last Tuesday’s discussion about the identity of my “Steffie” face Barbie, I’m considering using her.
I agree with JoAnn W. and Shari A., who both suggested that this doll is an early Teresa. So this doll is a “woman of color,” although Mattel never meant for her to represent a Black person.
But Elvina went through such hardships in her life, like this little doll did! Just look back at last Tuesday’s blog post to see what I mean.
And I think the Steffie face mold looks more like Elvina than any of my African American dolls. Have a look:
I really want to honor this lady! So who should I pick to represent her? The dolls shown above are (left to right from Miss Moulton’s photo), the Steffie face mold doll that we think is probably a Teresa doll; a recent African American Tall Barbie fashionista; Queens of Africa; Petite Barbie.
I also have the Made to Move Barbie shown below, but I don’t think she’s a good fit either. Her face is too “smiley,” and after enduring slavery and walking all the way from Missouri to Idaho, I can’t imagine Elvina Moulton spending her days in cheerful bliss. I mean, I hope she did, but let’s be real here…
What are your thoughts? Should I use the Steffie face mold Teresa doll (who kind of looks like Elvina), or should I instead use a doll that’s meant to be Black for sure? Please leave your comments. I’m curious to know your thoughts.
And please share this blog post with friends and family of color. I want an honest, unbiased opinion from the African American community at large.
Today’s patterns will fit these dolls:
Here are your free, printable PDF sewing patterns and tutorial videos for making the outfit shown at the top of this page:
- Free printable PDF sewing pattern for an 11 inch fashion doll Renaissance Gown
- Tutorial video showing how to make this dress
- Tutorial video on how to create a casing
- How to do a whipstitch
- How to sew snaps on fabric
- How to do a backstitch
- How to gather fabric
- How to press seams open, using a hot iron
Feel free to pin, like, or tweet about my free patterns and tutorials. You’re welcome to share the following image on social media as well:
Disclaimer/Credit/Affiliate Marketing Link:
To honor the trademark rights of the doll companies mentioned in this blog post, I am including links to their websites here. Please feel free to visit their website and consider purchasing one or more of the dolls mentioned.
Queens of Africa dolls are products offered by the Slice by Cake company, which holds the trademark for them (™). They were designed by Taofick Okoya. Please visit the Queens of Africa website to learn more about their company and its trademarked toys, books, and fashions.
Barbie, MTM Barbie, Francie, and Vintage Barbie dolls are products offered by Mattel, which holds the registered trademark for them (™). Please visit the Mattel Toys website to learn more about their company and its trademarked toys.
Liv dolls were products designed and distributed by the Spin Master company, which still makes dolls and toys today (although the Liv dolls are no longer in production at the time of this blog post). The Spin Master company held the trademark for the Liv Dolls (™). Please visit the Spin Master Toys and Games website to learn more about their company and its trademarked toys and games. Please be aware that the Chelly Wood animated doll is a Spin Master Liv doll that has been re-painted and had its wig colored to appear to look like the real doll clothing designer, Chelly Wood. This was done as a creative project by Chelly’s daughters, and the Spin Master Toys and Games company was not involved in the doll’s makeover in any way.