(You can read her story here.)
The Wife was a great learning experience. Until I made her, there had been a gap of several years in my dollmaking, and I was feeling very insecure. I knew what I wanted - her lying sprawled on the bed, one stocking off and dropped to the floor - and I could see her in my mind's eye, but how to accomplish that was another matter.
I was at a show and mentioned at a doll booth what I was wanting to do. "I want her to be asleep, but to have at least partially visible bare legs and feet," I said, "but I can't seem to find anything like that."
"Aha!" the doll maker said. "How about the sleeping Santa mold? Lots of people use this face for females."
"Perfect," I said. "I can just see her, in her wimple.... But what about the legs? All these dolls have straight legs; I want hers bent. "
"Don't worry," she said. "You just enjoy the show and I'll fix her up for you," and before I could say anything else she was already taking a doll apart! Sure enough, when I came back by later, there was my rewrapped doll, with the sleeping face and the new bare bent legs that I wanted. I was thrilled at her doing this for me, considering she was doing quite a brisk business at the show.
Unfortunately, when it came time to actually dress Alisoun, the Wife of Bath, I was still thinking of miniature dolls in the same way I used to think of my real life dolls. So, I worked very hard to make her dress as "real" and authentic to the period as possible, using a great piece of dull red silk for her dress (Chaucer said she wore red stockings and I wanted the dress to match), finding the appropriate trims and including underwear and a petticoat, all nicely finished, as well. Anyone picking her up and viewing her from all angles would have seen that I had spent as much time making the back of the doll's dress as presentable as the front, too.
Well, live and learn.
When I tried to lay her down on the bed, exhausted and somewhat disheveled from her travels, she just perched very unrealistically atop the bed linens; no weight to her at all. No matter what I did, she would not lie there in a natural way. So, holding my breath and shaking my head with dismay, I started cutting away all the excess fabric at the back of that carefully made dress and petticoat. Cut a little, lay her down, spread out the skirt. Cut away some of the bedding under her, remove more of the back of her dress, lay her down, fiddle with the skirt. Finally, I said to heck with it, this is it, and glued her in place.
Now, of course, after many years on the MiniDolls list, I know much more about assembling dolls, and draping and gluing fabric. If I had put her together myself, knowing she was going to be lying on the bed, I could have saved myself a lot of grief by arranging her legs first, then making only the front of her bodice and skirt to save bulk as she lay there.
Well, at least I didn't have to worry about goofing on the wigging, since her head was covered with a wimple!
You can find out why she is so exhausted that she only got one stocking off before she fell asleep by reading her story here.