Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Doll Clothing · Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll · Reference Materials

Waved Braid or The Amazing Things You Can Do With Rick Rack

I’ve always been rather fond of rick rack.  It reminds me of my childhood.  The dress I wore to my first day of kindergarten was trimmed with white rick rack and I remember seeing it on countless aprons and kitchen curtains during my youth.

In truth, rick rack or waved braid, as it was first known, has been in existence far longer than I have. 🙂  I haven’t been able to track down an exact date yet, but it was certainly available when this papier-mache  milliner’s model was made in the 1830’s.

The waved braid on the dress above is an exact color match to the dress fabric.  Both the braid and fabric are cotton and I am speculating that they were dyed to match.  The dress is original to the doll.  Three rows of waved braid circle the skirt and the bodice is adorned with a lavish combination of braid and knotting.

Waved braid and knotting trim the bodice of this 1830's doll's dress. (click on image to enlarge) Collection of the author.

By 1882, when the following paragraph from The Dictionary of Needlework was published, waved braid was certainly common place and was being used to trim children’s clothing.  It’s not a far leap from children’s garments to doll clothes, which explains why waved braid is often seen on doll clothing from this era.

There are also waved cotton braids, used for trimming children’s dresses, which are sold by the gross, cut into lengths.  The numbers are 11, 17, 21, 29, and 33.  There are also waved worsted braids for children’s use, which are sold in knots of 4 or 5 yards each, and sold by the gross pieces.  The numbers are 13, 17, and 21.”

Waved braid trimming the neck and sleeve edges of the original chemise that belongs to one of my antique Izannah Walker dolls.

In the 1880’s it was also popular to do crochet work using waved braid.  Some fantastic laces can be created in this manner.  I don’t crochet, but if you do and would like to read more about how to make this type of lace, follow this link.

This is the lower edge of a doll's petticoat, from my collection, that is trimmed with tucks and an extravagant use of waved braid.
Having the patience and perseverance to hand stitch the points of waved braid together, with a single thread, is rewarded by the spectacular effect you can achieve for very little money.
A close-up of white lace created by combining crochet with waved braid.
The use of colored braid with crochet gives an entirely different effect to this antique lace.
This waved braid lace is destined to grace the petticoat of one of my Izannah Walker dolls. It will look just perfect peeping out from below Turkey red skirts!

No matter what name you call it by, waved braid, snake braid, corrugated braid, rick rack ( alternately ricrac, ric-rack or ric rac) is a very authentic choice for trimming historically accurate, mid-1800’s reproduction doll clothing.

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Doll Clothing · Other Types of Doll Making · Reference Materials

A Visit to the THE ROSALIE WHYEL MUSEUM OF DOLL ART

Last month, while in Kirkland, WA for a family wedding, I had the chance to visit the Rosalie Whyel Museum in neighboring Bellevue.  Sadly the museum will be closing in a few months on March 1st, 2012.

If you can get to the museum before it closes, do so!  The collection is wonderful.  The highlights for  me are the two Izannah Walker dolls, a lovely pre-patent doll dressed in red wool challis, with a trunkful of belongings and a tiny 13 inch patented doll with the molded shoulder-plate.  The wooden dolls are also amazing, especially one 24 inch George II era English wooden from 1750-1760 with a large original wardrobe of superbly sewn garments.

Brian was quite a good sport about the length of time I spent in the gallery that houses both the Izannahs and woodens.  About the time that I was performing a host of contortionist movements, in an effort to see the seams and hems of the clothing on the Izannahs and George II wooden, he laid down on a bench in the gallery for a brief nap.  No, I’m not kidding 🙂 – it was a very slow day and we were the only visitors.  Since he was occupied, if not terribly comfortable, I felt free to sketch and make notes to my hearts content.

The day following our museum tour we headed over to Rosie’s Too , which is  a second, off site,  collectible doll shop owned by the museum.  I found a cute, tiny black bisque baby doll and an antique chemise just the right size for one of my Izannahs.

If you can’t visit in person, the museum sells  a book entitled The Heart of the Tree, which chronicles their 2002 exhibit of the same name.  It’s a lovely book and I didn’t mind paying the $49.95 cover price, but I do wish that it included the fantastic 24 inch 1750-1760 doll that I mentioned above.  I had to make do with buying several postcards of her and her wardrobe.  They also sell a small paperback souvenir book about the museum called Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art Opening Our Doors to You for $11 or $12, which has a nice photo of their pre-patent Izannah.  I did not buy their larger book THE ROSE UNFOLDS”
RARITIES OF THE ROSALIE WHYEL MUSEUM OF DOLL ART Volume One.  It wasn’t so much the $79.95 price tag as it was the size and weight of the book.  I just couldn’t face dragging it around Washington, then on to California and finally back to Connecticut 🙂  I may have to break down and purchase it a some point, because it does have large lovely photographs of both of their Izannah Walker dolls.

You can also find photos of both the Rosalie Whyle Izannahs in the article “Izannah Walker – Godmother to Cloth Doll Makers” by Susan Hedrick, Soft Dolls & Animals, Summer 1998 and a photo of just their pre-patent Izannah in “Early American Stockinette Dolls: Part 1- Izannah Walker and Martha Chase Dolls” by Judy Beswick, The Cloth Doll, Fall 1998.

If you would like to read more about the museum there is a nice article on page 14 of the July 2011 issue of Antique Doll Collector.