Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baby Dolls by Joan Russell for Woman's Day (1964)

This set of patterns, designed by Joan Russell, makes a chubby baby doll which can be varied with different facial features and hair colors, plus a wardrobe of clothes. It was offered to readers of Woman's Day magazine in 1964.

The pattern is described as making five different dolls, but they all use the same pattern pieces. They are made in baseball head style, but unlike most dolls with this construction, the front face piece is wide enough so that the face is flat and the head more square than round. The baby's arms (with stubby, separated fingers) and legs are stuffed separately and then attached.By varying the embroidered facial features and colors of yarn hair and appliqued fabric eyes, the maker is instructed to make the characters of Sleepy Head, Angel, Red Head, Cry Baby and Cherub. No size is given for the dolls, but they look like they would make up about 16" tall.

The pattern includes a complete wardrobe of clothes to sew, including a smocked dress and bonnet with bloomers; coat and hat; underwear, bib and blankets; one-piece pajama and nightgown with drawstring bottom; bunting; christening outfit with eyelet gown, coat and bonnet; plus knitting instructions to make a sweater, bonnet and booties.

Joan Russell's dolls are fairly simple to make, and the outfits have some interesting details, like the smocked and knitted pieces. This is a classic '60s cloth doll pattern.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rosy-Posy and Wide Eyed Suzy Dolls from Woman's Day (1968)

In the 1960s and '70s, Woman's Day magazine featured an article on inexpensive Christmas gifts to make in their November issue. Cloth dolls were always included. These two dolls, Rosy-Posy and Wide Eyed Suzy, were offered in the November 1968 edition. In addition, two Mother Goose dolls designed by Joan Russell were included in the same issue, with an order form to send away for patterns for the complete set of five.

19" Rosy-Posy is like a pancake doll, except that her front and back are pieced together from three separate fabrics first, then sewn together all at once. Her body and arms are made of print fabric to look like a dress, and gathered lace trim adds to the effect. The instructions call for brightly colored iron-on fabrics to be used for her facial features. I don't think these are widely available now, but with the advent of fusible web like Wonder Under and Stitch Witchery, any fabric can be used. Her hair is made of rug yarn.

Wide Eyed Suzy is a 12" pancake doll and meant to be made of felt, with glued-on eyes and mouth and embroidered yarn freckles and eyelashes. Her dress is also felt with appliqued felt dots, and she has yarn hair.

The patterns for both dolls are given as tiny grids which need to be enlarged to be used. With such simple designs as these, this method is easy enough, even without the use of a scanner or copier. These patterns would make great first sewing projects for young children.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mandy #883 - Vintage Black Cloth Doll Mail Order Pattern

Mandy is a mystery mail order pattern. No company or designer name, or date is on the pattern, just the number 883. The return address on the envelope is Needlework Dept., 220 Fifth Ave., New York 1, N.Y. This may be another branch of Reader Mail, Inc., the company responsible for Laura Wheeler, Marian Martin and Alice Brooks patterns, among others.

No size is given, but it looks like Mandy would make up to be about 17" tall. She is designed as a black doll, as the instructions call for her to be made from brown cotton material. Her body is separated pancake style, with the suggestion of fingers in the scalloped tips of her hands. Her facial features are to be embroidered in satin stitch and her hair is to be done all in French knots from "heavy black knitting worsted."

Mandy's outfit is in the stereotypical "mammy" style, with an apron over her dress and bandana over her hair. Ankle strap shoes and under pants complete her ensemble. If you want practice using the binding foot on your sewing machine, this is a good pattern to try - the sleeves, neckline, apron, shoes and bandana are all bound in bias tape, which adds interesting detail to an otherwise simple pattern.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Butterick 16" Holly Hobbie Doll and Wardrobe patterns (1990)

In 1990, Butterick issued a pattern to make a 16" cloth Holly Hobbie doll wearing an old fashioned dress and floppy hat, and a separate pattern to make a wardrobe of clothes for her.

The doll looks fairly simple to make, but has some unusual construction elements. Her head is shaped with darts, and her yarn bangs are sewn to the top of the face piece before the doll is put together. The rest of her hair is applied after she is stuffed. Each arm is made with one piece of fabric; the back seam of the arm is more like a dart. Her shoes are sewn to the bottom of her legs to form her feet. She has a rear end shaped so she can sit. Her facial features are meant to be painted on, but you could embroider or draw them with markers as well.

The clothing pattern that comes with the doll pattern makes a dress with lots of gathers, and a floppy hat with bow. No underwear pattern is included.

The separate clothing pattern makes a jumper with blouse, bloomers and hat; a dress with bloomers, a coat and hat, and a nightgown with night cap. Everything is trimmed with eyelet ruffling. The sleeves, bloomers and night cap are all gathered with elastic. The buttons on the front of the coat are decorative only; it closes with snaps, as do the blouse and dress. The nightgown has a velcro closure.

The patterns both include iron-on transfers of the Holly Hobbie logo. It would have made much more sense to have the transfer for her facial features, or the design on her dress, rather than having to trace them from the pattern piece or paint them freehand.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Butterick 3668 - Simple 11.5" Doll with Clothes & Carrying Case (1994)

Butterick pattern #3668 makes an 11.5" girl doll with a complete wardrobe of clothes, and a carrying case to take it all with you. It is dated 1994.

The doll is made in a separated pancake style, with simple facial features to be drawn on with markers, with a little powdered blush for her cheeks. Her braided hairstyle is made from worsted weight yarn. Her shoes and socks are part of her body. She has mitten hands.

She has a complete wardrobe including camisole and shorts; dress trimmed with lace; nightgown; top and jumper; overalls and vest; and coat. Her straw hat is to be purchased. The carrying case includes a bed for her with blanket and pillow, and two pockets to hold all her clothes.

The pattern is fairly simple, but with detailed instructions, and the doll is sturdy enough for play. A nice beginner pattern, or for a parent and child to make together.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Martha & George Washington Doll Patterns by Ella DeHart (1968)

Ella DeHart self-published many doll patterns in the 1960s and '70s. This pattern makes 12" George and Martha Washington dolls, with their complete outfits.

Martha Washington has a quarter-seamed head and torso, with separate bust pieces to be stitched on after her torso is stuffed. Her legs are shaped like heeled boots. She has mitten hands with stitching to indicate fingers. Her arms and legs are thread jointed. She has embroidered features and yarn hair.

George has a somewhat different construction. His quarter-seamed head has a round pate piece and separate ears. His torso has a gusset that starts at one shoulder, goes down and around and up to the other shoulder. His arms and legs are thread jointed like Martha's. His hair may be a wig or yarn. The instructions call for both dolls to be made from felt.

Their clothing is detailed and mostly appropriate to the late Colonial / early Federal era in which they lived. Martha wears a dress with quilted underskirt and two petticoats. She also wears pantalettes, which were not introduced until after her lifetime. The instructions call for a bustle to be worn under the overskirt, in the middle of her back; the cover illustration instead shows a bustle on each hip, which would give the impression of panniers (side hoops), more appropriate to Martha's time, or at least to the way she is usually remembered. Her shoes are to be made of felt and cardboard, and she carries a fan you can make from paper and toothpicks.

George wears a shirt, stock (neckband) with lace jabot, knee breeches, hat, shoes and stockings. His suit and hat are to be made from felt. Personally I would skip the stockings and make his legs from white felt, as the maker is instructed to do for Martha.

Ella DeHart patterns are very interesting but she was notorious for the lack of detail in her instructions. You really have to know what you are doing to make one of her patterns. This one would be a nice challenge for someone who likes to make historical character dolls.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

McCall's Crafts 5515 - American Heirloom Dolls (1991)

McCall's Crafts pattern #5515 titled "American Heirloom Dolls" makes a very simple cloth doll with no facial features or hair. Her outfit is designed to be made using vintage linens such as pillowcases, napkins, dresser scarves, etc; but any fabric can be used.

The doll is a very simple separated pancake style with stump hands, jointed at the hips and stitched across the shoulders. While she is not intended to have facial features or hair, the maker can add these as desired.

The gown has eight variations, including a button band down the bodice, optional slip and apron, yoke and vest treatments on the bodice. Some hints are given on how to take advantage of embroidery or lace edging on a piece of linen. The doll also wears sunbonnet. This pattern has quite a bit of gathering, but is otherwise fairly simple.

This doll would be a great way to display not only your vintage linens, but also a favorite piece of clothing that belonged to you or a loved one, or even a piece of a wedding gown. With a project like this, a piece of your family history could be shared and enjoyed, instead of hidden away in a box in the attic.