Yasha, the 50-year-old doll

I don’t really enjoy sewing, it’s just a means to an end for me. I always imagined that if someone requested a substantial sewing favour from me, I’d try to politely explain that and decline. However, when a situation like that finally came up, it played out rather differently.

Recently, an older friend asked whether I would make some clothes for her doll. She said that the doll’s name is Yasha, and that he got him as a gift from a boy who liked her when she was a teenager living in Russia – some 50 years ago. She explained that Yasha came with an outfit, of course, but he was played with a lot over the years, also by her children, and the clothes were lost in the process. She said she made him a makeshift covering, as seen below.

I’ll be honest: this is not my favourite type of doll. There may be some actual style and design to it that I’m overlooking, but all I see is a doll like the ones that I used to see when I was a child, that already seemed out of date and kind of strange back then – I can’t undo the conditioning of these years. Also, I was disappointed to find out the doll was a boy – I would have liked to make a cute dress instead 😉 But all my personal preferences aside, I was honoured to be entrusted with such a precious keepsake, and I said yes 🙂

When I first got Yasha to work with, he was kind of… dirty. I don’t mind, and I’m assuming he stayed this way simply because we get used to things gradually collecting dust and such, and stop noticing it. I knew where to look for doll cleaning tips, but I was hesitant whether it would be a welcome intervention or not. In the end, I decided to only gently clean him with a damp magic eraser, no detergent, no submerging in water. (Spoiler: my friend did notice and seemed pleased).

The difference isn’t too clear in the photos, but still…

Before cleaning:

After cleaning:

Yasha looks like a toddler doll to me, but since I wasn’t sure, I wanted to go with something versatile age-wise. I decided on a fairly classic-but-cute outfit: overalls, a top, and a bandana.

I made the overalls according to the tutorial by MyFroggyStuff (it is my go-to for overalls for all sorts of dolls). I made one alteration, though. Instead of folding and hemming the bib, I added lining. I find it both easier to make and better looking.

The top is as simple as it gets, a white cotton tee. I really thought that it would look best this way – simple and classic. I also find that white is a good colour choice for dolls because it doesn’t clash with reddish vinyl tones, as many other colours tend to do. I used an Animator’s pattern and it was almost spot on, I just had to make the shoulder seam narrower.

Probably because of my relative inexperience, this already took me a couple of hours, but I still wanted to send Yasha home wearing shoes. I went with the simplest shoes that weren’t ugg-looking (I do like Uggs on dolls, but not necessarily worn with shorts…). I roughly followed a set of instructions I found on Pinterest. Unforunately, I don’t know who the original poster was. Nonetheless, the link to the image is here.

I also glued my shoes to craft-foam soles.

Honestly, mine did not turn out perfect… On one hand, I had considered making the shoes going the extra mile, but now that they were done, I mostly felt guilty for making them kind of wonky – unintentionally. I didn’t have the time to re-make them, so I settled for this pair. In the end they turned out a big hit! 😀 Both the doll’s owner and other friends present at the meeting (to which I brought the doll to return it) seemed to genuinely like them. I’m both glad and relieved, and still a bit embarrassed. There was hot glue showing here and there, and they are kind of uneven…

I topped everything off with a bandana – a simple hemmed triangle of fabric. Here is the final result:

I’m happy to report that my friend seemed happy with Yasha’s new outfit 🙂 Complementing the handiwork is the customary reaction to a gift and a favour, but beyond the words, it was the way she kept glancing at the doll throughout the meeting made me believe she really meant it 🙂 If so, I truly am glad. It’s wonderful to think that my craft played a part in a long story of a cherished doll and brought more enjoyment to it.

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