Three little maids…these were known as ‘handkerchief dollies’. The story goes that these dollies were originally made out of men’s handkerchiefs [hence the name]formed roughly into the shape of a dolly, in order to keep little children quiet in church. Whether or not there was any truth in this story – I like it anyway. Tradition has it that they have no faces – this was because they were made from handkerchiefs that had to be used again. They apparently gradually morphed into something like these – plain and innocuous so as not to distract too much from the service. Another theory is that they were made for little puritan or Quaker children, hence the plain-ness, but that is hardly likely as they did not originate that far back, but more probably no earlier than mid to late Victorian times.
I made these, as is only fitting, out of plain calico entirely by hand. Although plain, a little feminine vanity creeps in – self coloured feather stitching embroidery and tucking decoration – and a little frill at the back of the bonnet – ostensibly to keep the sun from burning your neck, but a discreet opportunity to add that bit of frippery, and what goes underneath is anyone’s guess!