Saturday, October 26, 2013

Little Town on the Nellie

Many of you know I have been working on period costumes for reproducing scenes from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have also been collecting props as well as dolls that showed Mary and Laura, Carrie and Grace in the different stages of the books. So there is a small Laura and a Big Laura (teenager) as well as later, married Laura. 
The scene I have been working on again, off again is from Little Town on the Prairie. Laura is about 15 ? it is unclear sometimes in her books) , and Nellie Olsen, her old nemesis from Walnut Grove & Plum Creek, walks in late to school. She can hardly believe her eyes!

The original picture from Little Town on the Prairie, showing Nellie looking down at Laura  on page 130-131. From the chapter 'Miss Wilder Teaches School'
Below, my interpretation of the scene with dolls in 1:6 scale---

Laura is an old 1995? Dorothy from the wizard of Oz doll that needs a new body. (I am planning on buying an obitsu body that is about 21 or 23 cm high since she was short) The desks were from Ebay, floor is scrapbook paper. Laura's dress is off of Ebay too- I cannot remember but I think it is from their series of dolls in colonial, pilgrim, and pioneer dress. This was pioneer 2 shopkeeper, I think. I have another dress like this without the apron for teenage Mary Ingalls. I made the brown leather books, the one Nellie is holding and the ones on Laura's desk. 
Nellie is Joyful in Japan Poppy Parker from the W club. I knew, I knew as soon as I saw the photos that this was the one doll I HAD to have for my Nellie. The arrogant and lofty side glance, the bun, fit the picture perfectly. Joyful in Japan makes an elegant version of Nellie Olsen and I am pleased with how this preview of the scene is shaping up. 
I just finished her dress this week. I had to redo some Gildebrief patterns to get the jacket just right. I may try again since my version does not have the hanging Boleyn sleeves with the ruffles of organdy like hers and what Laura describes. I took some artistic liberties with her dress. I am thinking the cream skirt does not entirely do this outfit justice so I may see if I have enough fabric to do her skirt with the polonaise like Laura describes to match the jacket. Here are some closeups of Nellie, being extremely ladylike...

I had the fabric for the skirt on hand, but the lovely fabric for her jacket was from Hancock fabrics in one of those quilt squares. I knew when looking at the design of a paisley type it would be somewhat historically accurate to the patterns back then. Nellie's clothes supposedly came out of a church barrel so they were 
nice dresses, and were made from cast off's since her family was now poor and lived on the edges of town.
The tiny lace was in my 'stash' and was perfect to create the ruffles at her neck wrists and throat. 
In a book on Laura's life- and questions she herself answered, Nellie Olsen was a composite of three girls that Laura knew, made into one character, evidently who all had the same unkind qualities. It has always fascinated me what made Laura round it down to one girl, unless it made keeping track of dialogue and the storyline easier. 

I hope you enjoy this re-visiting of Little Town on the Prairie and the Little House series. ~Lisa


Vanessa said...

I love that outfit you made! It's beautiful and she makes the perfect Little House on the Prairie character. Who knew.

Vanessa said...

I love that outfit you made! It's beautiful and she makes the perfect Little House on the Prairie character. Who knew.

Anonymous said...