Fran Robison returned to the McCarty-Fickle House on Thursday to put the Ladies of Loveland in their summer attire. She had most of the ladies dressed by the time the guests arrived in the evening, but had saved three of the dolls for the program.
She began with Albina Washburn. She explained that even though the ladies wore different “visiting dresses” during the summer, they still wore the same type of undergarments. Albina is dressed for the 1865 period. These doll cloths are exquisitely detailed and authentic in style. Robison relies on her extensive collection of Harpers Bazar magazines and other original sources to make her creations.
With the dolls outer garments removed, you can see the representative undergarments worn by ladies of the period. Even though these undergarments are not visible when the dolls are on display, Robison has taken as much care with the “unmentionables” as she has with the beautiful dresses. The corsets even have plastic “whalebone” stays.The skirt she removed from the Albina doll is made with a cartridge pleat, it hangs from the waist piece on many, many thread loops, allowing a natural pleat and free flowing movement of the skirt.
Albina wears a delicately detailed blouse that is almost completely covered by her jacket. Robison explained that no lady would go out in public without wearing her jacket. It was necessary to be covered from neck to wrist and all the way to the floor. Note the detail in this jacket, fastened with hook and eye closures and featuring tiny face buttons, it authentically recreates the mechanics as well as the style of the 1860s.
Albina’s summer clothing is of lighter weight material, but is still multi-layered and covers everything except her face and hands. All Robinson’s dresses are fully lined, as they would have been full sized.
The last doll of the evening was Dr. Mary Foster, dressed circa 1905, the Edwardian Period. Times had changed, steel rod had replaced whalebone in corsets and Foster wears a simple skirt, but Robison’s attention to detail has not changed. The lovely blouse is never seen when the dolls are on display.
Fosters summer outfit is abundantly lace and Robison said it was her favorite outfit. The material is very sheer and there is no lining, instead the bodice is layered to hide the undergarments. Note the beaded bag hanging from Foster’s waistband. Robison said she found a beaded bag and cut it down and attached it to a smaller frame.
This is a truly amazing collection of dolls. The size and quality of the dolls is astounding, the clothing is amazing. These dolls would not be inexpensive. Robison said she paid $250 for each doll and she estimates that she spends 120 to 150 hours sewing each costume. With three changes of clothes plus undergarments, that would be between 400 and 500 hours per doll. Add in the cost of materials and the value would be several thousand dollars.
You have a chance to own a doll with Robison’s clothing. She has created an outfit straight from Harpers Bazar for “Mallory.” The Berthoud Historical Society is holding a “silent auction,” actually a sealed bid auction, for Mallory. The bids will be opened on December 4, Christmas in Berthoud day. You can stop by the McCarty Fickel House to make your bid.