Not one of mine…

Mandy In The Cap

Mandy In The Cap

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve inherited my tendency to devise complicated and multi-element projects from my mother. She’s just finished one – she’s published a book (The Bridges of Dee – do go and look!) and I’m quite insanely proud of her for that – but once the bulk of the work was done on that, she looked around for something else.

Do you remember Mandy, last seen modelling the Glittering Gentleman’s Nightcap? Well, we’ve still not quite worked out what we’re going to do with her, but at the same time we found Topsy, who was my mother’s doll before she was mine. Topsy is made of papier mache, and jointed with elastic bands to hold her together, and in form she’s much closer to a newborn. So my mother decided to make her a layette, decorated with various forms of bobbin lace.  So, over to you, Mam…!



Meet Topsy. Her looks belie her age, since she was “born” just before the Second World War, 1939 or thereabouts. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know her – too young to read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, so Mam must have named her for me. She is made of papier-mache, with her head and limbs attached by means of a internal rubber band, renewed many times over the years. She has survived numerous house moves, and somehow I could never persuade myself to give her away. About two years ago, she came down from the loft during a general clear out, but still tugged at my heart strings. I decided to treat her to some new clothes (she being naked at present) and let her rest in honour on the spare room bed.

She is a baby doll, practically newborn, so I began by making her a baby vest such as I, and my daughter, wore at this age. It’s tied with ribbon bows at the front as getting a singlet over a baby’s wobbly head is awkward. It is made of fine knitted cloth with the turnings retained with feather stitch, very wobbly feather stitch, looking a bit like the tracks of a drunken spider (can spiders get drunk?). It’s a long time since I stitched, the cloth is unstable, the size of the garment small; excuses, excuses, I know, but I’m enjoying the work. Then I embroidered her name in backstitch. Her nappy is cut from the lone survivor of my daughter’s nappies, so nostalgia is in high drive.


  1. Such well dressed young ladies!

  2. Janet Brandt says:

    Topsy is adorable!

  3. PennyBaugh says:

    Absolutely delightful!!! I loved reading her story. Oh how many, many times I’ve wished that I had saved all of my childhood dolls. Your Mother’s book looks wonderful.

  4. Kim says:

    Congrats to your mother on publishing her book! And Topsy is so sweet. Reminded me of several babies I have stored away I should retrieve and consider dressing.

  5. Sue Jones says:

    The book is most impressive, and Topsy is a treasure.

  6. Carolyn says:

    What a great project your mother undertook writing and painting for her book. Wonderful.

  7. cathy daniel says:

    Oh how could we forget Mandy in the Cap!? But anyway, Topsy is lovely, especially in her new gear. I remember from my own childhood those dolls with the internal rubber bands holding everything together…. suddenly feeling very old. Actually it was probably my mother’s doll that I’m remembering. We even had a shop called the Dolls’ Hospital where folks took their dolls to get ’em mended. All sounds a bit weird nowadays..

  8. Congratulations to your Mum on publishing her book! I love Topsy – I wish I had kept my childhood dolls, but I do have my rag doll which I bought when I was 23!!

  9. Anita says:

    Topsy is so cute.. Congratulations to your mother Rachel!

  10. karen says:

    what a wonderful project. I have a very old baby doll and my mum still has her baby doll. Mine is dressed in Charity shop finds which suit it well…

  11. Lady Fi says:

    Topsy is adorable!

  12. Deepa says:

    Topsy deserves the special treatment after all these years.Special congrats to your mom on publishing “Bridges of Dee”. The effort behind it must have been massive.


  13. Sandy says:

    Congratulations on the book – that can be an everlasting sort of project!
    I don’t know if spiders can get “drunk,” that is, on things fermented, but some experimenters did feed some spiders strychnine-laced foods, to study the effect on neurosystems, and the spiders then spun webs that looked like they’d been through a lawnmower.

  14. Terrie says:

    So adorable and such nostalgia keepsake for a few generations

  15. Oh what a sweet doll and those clothes your mother made her match that sweetness. I had a doll that looks almost exactly like her but I think she was made of rubber.

    Thanks so much for linking your Azorean cutwork piece to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. I went searching for the finished piece but wasn’t able to find it. But the posts I did find it was lovely.

  16. jenclair says:

    What treasures! And congrats to your mother!

  17. Susan says:

    It’s now much clearer where you get some of your stitching interest and talent. I loved what your mother said about Topsy.

  18. Penny says:

    My mother passed on to me the doll that her great aunt had given her (which was probably Aunt Nellie’s childhood doll) It still had the original high button boots. Aunt Nellie was still alive -in her late 90’s and saw me playing with her when she visited my grandmother once. That Christmas I recieved a box with a complete wardrobe for her including a dress coat and little purse which my Great Great Aunt had sewn. I still treasure it.