Oct 152012
AG doll Kaya — Niya Dressed In My Pattern — Niya Undressed

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I’m especially fond of Native American Culture and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories of the American Girl doll Kaya. A few years back Springfield used to make a native american doll named Niya. She is the doll I used as my model for this pattern. If you don’t have a Niya doll, then a Maria (or Sofia) doll will do just fine.

Springfield Collection Doll Niya in a homemade Indian Princess outfit.

The pattern for Niya’s clothes is my own invention, designed after looking at several patterns for Indian Princess doll costumes. The fabric was purchased on sale at my local fabric store. It took less than 1/2-yard for the dress and overlay. I think the material was intended as an upholstery fabric, but I could be wrong. It’s stiffer than ultra suede, similar to microsuede, only not as expensive as most microsuede I’ve seen. The trim came from AC Moore. It’s a cream colored cotton braid. I accented the front of the cape with small strips of red leather cord topped with a plastic gold bead. It was very challenging to sew through the red leather cord and if I had it to do over again I would choose yarn or even ribbon. Anything that is easier to sew. I only did 3 because it was so hard to get the needle through the red leather cord. The necklace is made from inexpensive glass beads strung on a thin elastic thread. I have a lot of them leftover from kid and craft projects over the years. The hair ornaments are big plastic buttons that were found on sale at Hancock fabrics about 15 years ago. They have lurked in my button tin until I rescued them for this project. I ran a short length of elastic thread through the button shank and then tied it and trimmed the ends. They fit on her braids like any elastic hair band would. The ends of her braids are tied with simple cotton string. Kiyah’s boots are inexpensive Springfield doll boots I bought at a going-out-of-business sale at a craft shop in the late 90’s. I stashed them with my doll stuff until bringing them out for this project.

Close-up of bodice overlay

The outfit I designed isn’t associated with any particular tribe. It’s modest and the cape gives it double coverage, which my inner anabaptist finds very pleasing. If you’re making a historical character, this pattern can be made suitable for both Pocahontas and Sacajawea by using different colored fabric and varying the trim. I think an ecru or ivory fabric would be great for Pocahontas.  A darker color would do for Sacajawea since she is traveling. A baby in a papoose would be a fun and historically accurate addition to Sacajawea’s ensemble. Felt is inexpensive and widely available at craft stores in 36-inch square yard packages. It is very easy to work with, especially for beginners. It would work perfectly for this dress.

  5 Responses to “Make It Yourself Monday: Niya’s Native American Outfit”

  1. And for anyone who wants to have Niya again, Sunshine crafts dot com is selling them again, naked and w/o a box (except a shipping box). She’s slightly darker than the newer Maria/Sofia doll. You should also know that the doll comes w/ braided hair and there is a permanent part sewn down the middle of her head, giving her less hair than the dolls w/ loose, unbraided hair.

  2. Thanks Sharry! I forgot to put that part in. I’ll include it on Friday for sure. Niya is a lovely doll. Lots of fun to play with and I really like that she’s Native American. I know Maria can stand in for her, but Niya holds a special place in my heart.

  3. You are a life saver! My three year old granddaughter fell in love with Kaya and everyone recommended not to buy that particular doll until the child was 10 yrs of age. I found your article and pattern and was still able to buy Niya and am in absolute love with that doll. My granddaughter is soooo happy with her Pocahontas doll and if the doll’s loved too much and the hair gets ratty, we are not going to care. A three year old needs a doll that can be loved as she is too young to understand that the expensive doll is more of a “collector” type thing and not a doll to play with.

  4. O-O-Oh Maggie, you’re a woman/girl after my own heart! Love dolls. Always have and always will love dolls!
    I guess it started some time around the time I was somewhere around 8 or 9. My mother was a semi-invalid from the time I was about that age until she died at 78. That was about 67 yrs all told. Since I was the older child I was the one who took over all the cooking, washing and ironing, trying to keep hardwood floors dusted every day and about every 6 wks, remove the old wax from hardwood floors, scrub them and reapply wax and then buff them with an old mop with flannel tied around the bottom of the mop handle.

    The lady across the street was an artist and after I finished my chores for the day I went over there and she taught me how to draw paper dolls, sew doll clothes and do simple drawings. I LOVED it! It was a whole new world and so much better than the real world I lived in.

    And I haven’t lost my love for dolls. I bought commercial patterns (Simplicity, McCall’s, Vogue) back in the ’80s for cloth “American Girl” dolls. I’ve made one and it’s finished except for the hair. I don’t want to use yarn. I’ve been looking at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s but haven’t found what I want. I also have 3 Springfield dolls: Abby (blonde and blue eyes), Olivia (I think–the red head with the green eyes), and one that’s a brunette with brown eyes. I’m toying with the idea of buying the Maria doll and using her as an American Indian. My youngest son is married to a lady who is quarter Indian and she looks it. I would love to make an Indian doll and wardrobe for Dawn, just as a keepsake.

    There is a company called Platypus owned by Colette Wolff and she has doll and wardrobe patterns and instruction booklets on “The Fine Art of Stuffing Dolls and Animals” and another called “The Fine Art of Making Faces on Cloth Dolls”. Plus many more on the subject of cloth doll and stuffed animal making.

    I have the pattern for “Veronica Fashion Doll”.. and all of the period costumes that fit her. The costumes are:
    1760, 1775, 1790, 1805,1860. I bought all of this in Nov 1995 and still haven’t done anything with it. I would be very curious if there were any later costumes, i.e.., 1917, 1920’s, WWII era. The mailing address is

    Box 396, Planetarium Station
    New York, NY 10024-0396

    I don’t know how current this address is (it has been 20 yrs) but more than likely if it’s still in business, you’ll find them on the internet. You might also want to see about getting in touch with Jodie Davis. She has books and books on cloth doll and stuffed animal making. Probably most of her books are out of print so you might try E. R. Hamilton Books and Abe’s books.

    Some book titles by Jodie Davis:

    Easy to Make Fairy Tale Dolls
    Easy to Make Cloth Dolls and All Their Trimmings
    Teach Yourself Cloth Doll Making

    My favorite is Teach Yourself Cloth Dollmaking and has a pattern for a doll called a “pancake doll” and I made one for a Christmas gift for the ten year old granddaughter of my bff. I made the doll on the machine and all of the cloths by hand with no patterns wile I watched TV. And it was a blast! And I did make one very important lesson and that is on a cloth doll you MUST brace where the head and neck area or you will have a very floppy doll head before long. I saved popsicle sticks (after I’d cleaned them and they dried) and they worked great. Both ends are rounded therefore I believe it’s the safest option (and least expensive) around.

    One more thing (I promise) Joan Hinds has put out a book called, “Home Decor for18″ dolls” . It was published in 2003, so I don’t know if it’s still in print. I found my copy in a bi-annual library book sale for $4.00. It’s a beautiful book and would make a little girl’s (or a doll crazy woman’s) year for some of the things in this book.

    Just one more thing. There is an old, old book called American Costume Dolls: How to Make and Dress Them by Nina R. Jordan with two copyrights. First is 1941 and the second is 1969. It was $5.oo at a local used book store here in town.There’s gold in them thar old book stores, ya know?

    Sorry to take so long. But I love dolls. (Am I repeating myself?) ;0)


  5. Hey Frankie. I am not familiar with Colette Wolfe, but the others that you mentioned I have read. Jodie Davis is a talented doll maker and she has given me a lot of inspiration over the years. As has Joan Hinds. I own almost all of her (Joan’s) books, excluding the newer ones that are essentially reproductions of some of the older, out-of-print books that she published with her former partner.

    Nina Jordan’s book about costume dolls is a long time favorite of mine. It’s similar to Edith Flack Ackley’s book “Dolls To Make For Fun & Profit.” Both were foundational books for me when I learned cloth doll making.

    The Veronica doll sounds lovely. Historical Costume dolls are a big favorite of mine. There are a few books from Dover that are very affordable and offer similar historical fashion dolls.

    An Easy-To-Make Godey Doll by G.P. Jones
    Easy-To-Make Dolls with Nineteenth-Century Costumes by G.P. Jones
    Make Your Own Southern Belle loth Dolls and her Wardrobe by Claire Bryant
    Make Your Own Old-Fashioned Cloth Doll and her Wardrobe by Claire Bryant

    All of the dolls are somewhat similar, and the fashions are inspiring. I’ve made both dolls, from G.P. Jones and Claire Bryant and they are a little bit challenging but still easy to make and fun. The clothes are beautiful.

    Another great cloth doll artist is Estelle Ansley Worrell. Most of her books were published in the early 70’s and focus on American fashions from the colonial period to the early 1900’s. They are Barbie sized for the most part, although one of her books has patterns for several different sized dolls and teddy bears too. Her dollhouse book is about making period furniture for Barbie sized dolls out of cardboard that is glued together to make it extra strong and thick. The furnitur is so affordable and beautiful, as well as being incredibly sturdy.

    I found a lot of escapism in dolls and paper dolls as a girl too, and as an adult, they still give me so much pleasure. Thanks for sharing your recommendations and your story Frankie. It warms my heart to know other women feel the same way about dolls that I do.

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