Textile Toys

I like to use old toys for Christmas decorations.

red cloth toys

Red Riding Hood doll, red horse, teddy bear

The red horse was handed down to me when I was a baby, from a neighbor of my grandmother’s.  My mother restuffed it and replaced its tail at one point.  I always loved Red because he was a horse, but it bothered me that his eyes were always closed.  That’s why one eyelid is missing – I was looking to see if there was an eye under there.

I can remember my parents taking me to get the Red Riding Hood topsy-turvy doll when I was about five.  We lived out in the country in Iowa at that time and I remember stopping at a little house where an old couple lived.  We had never visited them before, and I don’t think we ever saw them again, so it must have been a trip just to purchase the doll.  I have no idea why we bought the doll – I didn’t collect dolls.  I loved the dolls I had but don’t remember asking to get any more, until I was older.  I sat on a little needle-pointed footstool while the grown-ups visited, and then the lady went into a back room and brought out this doll.

blue cloth toys

sailor doll and grandmother doll (reverse of the Red Riding Hood doll)  in front of old toy trunk

I hope I was polite when I received it!  Because even as a child I never saw the point in topsy-turvy dolls – you can’t play out the story because both dolls can never be present together!  And I always felt bad for whichever one was upside down and covered up with the skirt.  I have since seen these dolls where the wolf’s head is hidden in the grandmother’s cap, but this one does not have that feature.  So this was not one of my favorite toys when I was young.  I think the only reason I kept it was because I was raised to respect anything handmade.  Also, it was the one doll of mine my sister didn’t beg me to hand down.

Now, though, I kind of like the grandmother doll – you don’t find many dolls who look old and vaguely cranky.  I don’t think she would have been taken in by any wolf!

The little sailor doll belonged to my father-in-law when he was young.  My father-in-law entered the Navy at the end of WWII – so this doll represents him to me.  The little blue toy trunk was his too.

The teddy bear is the only one that didn’t belong to a family member.  I bought him at a craft show about 20 years ago.  I think he was sewn about then, from a scrap of antique overshot fabric.  The craftswoman did a beautiful job!

overshot detail

close-up of a two-inch square of the fabric

Whatever you create, wouldn’t you be happy if it lasted as long as these things have?