Tip Trade #2

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Sol asked for a tutorial on making servants and grubby children's wear on the list. Wanda's answer was so good we decided to post it here.


The key for me is to have things grungy from the beginning, rather than making something pretty and then trying to mess it up. Search your stash for the thinnest, palest cotton prints and solids, including some open weave that ravels easily, yet is in scale. Also, often times, the back side of fabrics is more suitable to suggest a faded look. 
I would recommend using coffee and tea, and/or a dirty water wash to dye your fabrics, including any trims, before you even start. Coffee gives a browner look; tea generally looks more pinkish; a dirty water wash gives a grayer look. This softens the new look, and then any additional dirtying you do - with chalks or stains - will make your costume look even more realistic. 
Children's clothing was often hand-me-down, so often would be either too small and getting tight, or too large. They might have a shoulder seam ripped, buttons missing or buttoned crookedly, an uneven hem, or a hem coming loose.  If the boy wore long pants, the knees would be baggy, scuffed and worn, perhaps even holey.

Clothing might have a shoulder seam ripped, buttons missing or buttoned
crookedly, an uneven hem, or a hem coming loose. And for girls, a dangling sash
and a crooked petticoat tailing out on one side adds to the realism, as that
is how I looked when I was a child. lol

Most females wore aprons. For your grubby little girl, her apron would be
well worn and soiled, perhaps with one side of a pocket hanging down, sashes
dirtier, wrinkled and twisted, and partly undone.

Poor children often wore hand-me-down shoes, if they had shoes at all; so,
if possible, make them look too big. Scuff them with an emery board and have
the flaps gaping and without laces, or with laces dangling. If you make
socks, have them wrinkly around the ankles, as if they are bagging and sagging
down. If your child is barefoot, use a dirty water wash over the entire legs
and feet, allowing it to soak in around the toes and toenails. Plus use a
dirty looking chalk at the heels. Same goes for the hands, although you might
include a redness to suggest chapping at the knuckles.

Their faces for the most part would not have a rosy look, which suggests
health, but a grayer, paler look, with more sunken cheeks. If you are painting
the eyes, make them a bit bigger than normal and add shadows all around. If
you do use blush, put it on and around their poor little noses. For the hair,
a stringy unkempt look is appropriate, as well. If you use viscose,
experiment by powdering or using chalk to dull it.

I would recommend experimenting with all these techniques before you
actually work on the doll so that you have an idea of how grungy you can make
things. We do not want to overdo, we want our child to be realistically unkempt,
but appealing.


LATEST ADDITION: April 14, 2008
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