Reincarnation of a Vest Doll
(14 inches/36 cm -- not including hair)

This doll is in the Spring 2006 issue of "Art Doll Quarterly" in the "Show and Tell" section, p. 122-123.

This doll began its life as a vest! More on that below ...

Here's the back side.

And a close-up of the head and hair ... I really like the hair! Kind of like Don King meets Divine in "Hairspray."

A number of years ago I made a vest. It was UGH-LEE!!! I just kind of sketched out some shaping, used colors I liked willy-nilly, and used a very simple sc, ch-1 pattern (where the sc is in the ch-1 space in the previous row). It was too long, oddly shaped, just icky. I never wore it. It sat in a closet for years. I tried it on recently for kicks and my husband said it reminded him of "Maude" of '70s fame. Here it is in all its glory.

So, I was pretty sure than most of the yarns were wool and decided to throw it in the wash and see whether it would full. Well, it did and it didn't -- some of the yarns were not wool, but most were. Someone suggested that with some embellishment post-fulling I might still be able to wear it. Not in this lifetime!! Here it is post fulling:

And here's a close-up, showing some portions that did and didn't full.

So, I decided to cut away the parts that didn't full and see what I could do with what was left. Here are the pieces spread out on my ugly basement floor. Not that the pieces are so beautiful the way I've cut and arranged them ...

So I pulled out a few pieces that kind of suggested body and legs to me. I trimmed them to match, though one piece was a couple of inches too short. I added a piece across the top of that short piece in a T to make arms. Then I added some pieces on the sides of the other matching piece to make arms on that piece. I had a basic doll body. Since my original crocheting was a very hole-y pattern, the felt had some holes in it. I crocheted across these to fill them in; these are the chain-y looking lines pre-fulling shown below. I considered adding some more interesting freeform crocheting to cover the holes, but decided to stick to the basic linear look of the original crocheting instead.

I crocheted around the border of each piece, pinned them together, and crocheted the two pieces together, all using the same sc, ch-1 method of the original ugly vest. I did the same kind of thing for the head pieces that I found, and then attached those to the body, leaving only the top of the head open for stuffing. I added the hair, which was strands of a cord I created (ch, sc into hump of ch, repeated). I decided not to weave in the tails, which ended up producing a nice effect when fulled. So, when I had all that together, I threw the whole thing back into the washing machine to full it again. There were still some holes, both in the original fabric and in the additions I'd made. So I crocheted some more, threw it back in. I repeated this process several times (and once more after stuffing) until I was happy with the results. I went through various attempts at faces (definitely not my strong suit): crocheted a separate face that looked goofy sewn on, no face, and finally decided on just the button eyes. Here she is again ... I think I like her ... my silk purse: Reincarnation of a Vest doll!

And I have lots more "formerly a vest" pieces left for future projects!

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