McCall 1007 - Clown & Donkey pattern

McCall pattern #1007, published in 1942, makes a clown about 14" tall, in two variations, and a donkey about 6.5" tall.

There has been some debate among vintage cloth doll collectors as to whether this pattern was designed by Edith Flack Ackley. Those who feel it was not, say that she put her name on everything she designed, and her name is not on this one. Those who feel it is her design point to the fact that the clown pattern is virtually identical to the one in her book, "Dolls to Make For Fun and Profit," published in 1938. It may be that her name is not on the pattern because she designed the clown but not the donkey; or it may be that McCall purchased the right to her design, but didn't credit her because of changes they made; or it may be that they copied her design, without feeling the need to credit her. If you have an opinion on this, or any further information, please feel free to leave a comment.

The clown is a pancake doll, double stitched across his shoulders, elbows, hips and knees to create joints. Both clown and donkey have embroidered features, with a transfer included for the embroidery. The clown's hair is made by sewing loops of wool yarn to his head. For one of the clowns, you make short loops and leave the top of his head bald. The illustration makes it looks like he has ears; but it's just the way the hair is sewn on (see the photo below). The other clown has longer loops, all over his head, which are then clipped shorter. The donkey has a yarn mane and braided tail.

The clown's costume consists of separate trousers and a jacket which is made to look like a shirt and vest. The two costumes are similar but not identical. The jackets are made to be removable, but the trousers are stitched to his body. The shoes may be made from leather, oilcloth or felt, and they are stitched to his feet. A scrap of ribbon makes his tie.

The doll shown below is beautifully made. He is not marked or tagged in any way. He was purchased at a doll show in New Jersey.

McCall #1014 Upside-Down Doll or Single Dolls 1942

McCall #1014 makes an "Upside-down" doll (what we would now call a topsy-turvy doll) or two different single dolls. The dolls with legs will measure 15" tall. This pattern has a copyright date of 1942.

The single dolls have identical body construction, with different embroidered faces and different hairstyles. One face has a serene expression, while the other has a surprised look. The maker is instructed to use "Shetland floss...embroidery wool or four fold Germantown" for the hair. There are darts in the back of the head to shape it. They have mitten hands and no soles on their feet.

Each doll wears a dress with short puffed sleeves, but trimmed differently. There is no underwear pattern for the single dolls. The dresses are made to be removable, even on the upside-down doll. One doll wears a hat, the other has a bow in her hair.

Dolls made from this pattern are not as commonly found as some of the other topsy-turvys. Black/white dolls, storybook dolls like Red Riding Hood/wolf/Grandma and awake/asleep dolls seem to have been more popular than blonde/brunette.

Glossary of Terms for Vintage Cloth Doll Patterns

There is an infinite variety of ways that a cloth doll can be constructed. But many vintage cloth doll patterns fall into a few basic styles. Here are some of the terms I use on this site to describe those methods.

  • Pancake - these dolls are made of just two pieces, one for the front and one for the back. An Edith Flack Ackley doll is an example of a pancake doll.
  • Modified pancake - still two pieces, but with darts to give the doll a little more of a three-dimensional shape. Simplicity 7234 is an example of a modified pancake.
  • Separated pancake - the body parts are all made of two pieces, a front and a back (or a right and a left), but they are sewn and stuffed individually and then joined together.
  • Baseball head - this type of doll has the head constructed with two vertical seams down the face - usually right through the centers of the eyes - like the seams on a baseball, to make it round. Design 7143 is an example of a baseball head.
  • Thread jointed dolls have separate arms and legs attached to the torso by a sturdy piece of thread or string. For thread jointed legs, the thread would be inserted at the outside of the top of one leg, go through the leg and the bottom of the torso, through the other leg and be secured on the outside. Arms may be jointed in the same way, through one arm and the top of the torso, and through the other arm. Baseball head dolls like Design 7339 are almost always thread jointed. Ella DeHart's George and Martha Washington are another example.

I will add more terms as I go along.

Popeye, Olive Oyl & Swee'Pea mail order patterns 1979


Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee'Pea patterns were issued in 1979, on the 50th anniversary of Popeye's debut in the comic strip "Thimble Theater" by E.C. Segar. The dolls are 16", 18" and 12" tall respectively. They were advertised in newspapers and magazines.

These dolls have some unusual construction details to make them resemble the original comic characters. All three have baseball style heads, but Popeye has a large chin piece added on and stuffed separately. Olive Oyl's torso is a rectangle with long thin neck, arms and legs. Their legs are constructed like pants, joined at the top. Swee'Pea has curved legs under his sacque. All have applied noses and felt eyes. Their other features, including Popeye's tattoos, are embroidered. Olive has yarn hair. Instructions to make Popeye's pipe and spinach can are included.

The instructions call for peach-colored nylon fleece or double knit to make the dolls. Popeye's body may be made from woven fabric rather than knit. Their clothes are made to be removable.

These patterns seem to be fairly common and are widely available as photocopies, despite being technically still under copyright. The lack of a date on the pattern, or any copyright information, may lead some to think they are older than they are.

Dolls that I have seen made up from these patterns are a couple of inches taller than what the patterns indicate. Not sure if the patterns are sized incorrectly, or it's caused by the stretching of the knit fabrics used to make them. Also, the heads seem to come out elongated rather than round. The maker of these dolls did a great job. I love the fiberfill "smoke" coming out of Popeye's pipe. Doll photos courtesy of ebay seller peggylbyrne.

Little Vogue #1336 - Big Headed Boy & Girl dolls

Little Vogue #1336 makes a 32" boy and girl doll with old fashioned daytime and nighttime outfits. This pattern is not dated, but probably was issued in the late '60s or early '70s.

The dolls have simple bodies but their heads are a little unusual. The face is one round piece, but the back of the head has extra pieces for shaping and they wrap around underneath the face piece to make a chin. Probably because of their large size, their entire bodies are lined with fusible interfacing. The dolls have flat feet (with cardboard inserts), mitten hands, tiny embroidered "O" mouths and large button eyes. Their yarn hair is in a simple style.

The girl's daytime outfit is a granny dress, fashionable at the time. The boy wears Little Lord Fauntleroy style suit and shirt. Both outfits are trimmed with eyelet ruffles. For nighttime, she wears a long nightgown, and he has two piece pajamas.

These dolls resemble the work of children's book illustrator Joan Walsh Anglund, author of "A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You," published in 1958.

Design 7143 - 9" Baseball Head Girl Doll with Wardrobe

This pattern was also issued by Alice Brooks as #7368 under the name "Best Dressed Doll." She is 9" tall and has a complete wardrobe of clothes. This pattern is not dated, but the Alice Brooks version was sold in October of 1953. The pattern for the doll is a transfer; the clothing pattern pieces are meant to be cut out.

The doll is a typical baseball head style with head and torso shaped by means of curved vertical seams. The arms and legs are made separately and attached with heavy cord. She has embroidered features; this type of construction requires the features to be embroidered after the head is stuffed. The maker is instructed to make her hair from "straw yarn" and then dampen it with water and curl on curlers "like real hair."

Her wardrobe consists of a sundress with ties at the shoulders, petticoat and panties, half apron, playsuit, long nightgown, snowsuit and cap, socks and shoes.

This pattern is just one variation of a classic style which was made in different sizes, with different outfits and hairstyles, and sold over a thirty year period. This small size makes a nice play doll, easy for a little girl to handle.

Design 7340 - Old Fashioned Girl Doll

Design 7340 is a mail order pattern to make an Old Fashioned doll about 14" tall. The pattern is undated, but the instructions calling for kapok to be used for stuffing and wool for the hair implies it was issued in the '50s or earlier, before synthetics were commonly used.

The pattern and instructions are all on one sheet. The doll pattern pieces are a transfer, to be stamped on fabric and then cut out, but the clothing pieces are meant to be cut out and used like a tissue pattern.

One piece is given for the front of the doll and one for the back, but the instructions call for a strip of fabric to be sewn in between the two halves, all around the doll, to make her more three dimensional. The back of the doll's head has darts to give it some roundness. She has embroidered features and yarn hair. The instructions illustrate wrapping the yarn around a pencil to make curls.

The doll wears a dress trimmed with self ruffles on the sleeves and ribbon bows, matching bonnet, petticoat and pantalettes trimmed with lace. Her shoes are embroidered onto her feet.

I love this doll's face. This is one I'd like to make.

Design 562 - 25" Girl Doll mail order pattern 1970s

Design 562 is a mail order pattern to make a 25" girl doll with one outfit. There is no date on the pattern, but an ad in the instruction sheet includes a six-digit Canadian postal code; these were introduced in the early to mid-1970s.

The doll is of fairly simple construction. Her head and torso are pancake style - one piece for the front and one for the back. After stitching it together and stuffing, the sewer is instructed to hand stitch back and forth at the neck using a running stitch, to form the doll's chin. This construction would tend to make a very floppy-headed doll, especially given the doll's large size and the knit fabric called for. The arms and legs are made separately and slip stitched to the torso. Running stitches at the elbows and wrists give the doll a little jointing. She has embroidered features and yarn hair in a simple pigtail style.

She wears a lace-trimmed dress with puffed sleeves, a pinafore, panties, hat, shoes and purchased socks.

Simplicity 7234 - 1951 Brother and Sister Dolls

Simplicity 7234 makes a pair of 16" dolls with embroidered features and yarn hair. There is no date on the pattern but according to "Stuffed Dolls and Toys, Book 1" by Loraine Burdick, it dates from 1951.

This is a transfer pattern. The dolls and their clothing are transfers to be ironed on to the fabric, then cut, sewn and embroidered on the transferred lines.

The dolls are what I would call a modified pancake style. There are only two pieces to each doll - one front and one back - but darts at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles give the doll some shape. Their curved arms make them very huggable. They have cute faces with pug noses and freckles.

The clothing is very simple, but the embroidered sailboat on his overalls, and the smocking on her dress, give it some interest.

McCall's 6831 - One and Only Creations Recycled Soda Bottle Dolls

This has got to be one of the strangest patterns I've ever seen. Dated 1993, the 27" doll has a torso made from an empty two liter soda bottle. Now, I'm all for recycling, but this is taking it a bit far. Cloth dolls are supposed to be cuddly!

The facial features can be either painted or embroidered. The maker is instructed to transfer the features using a "sharp pencil or "dressmaker's carbon and pencil" or Fantastic Face iron-on transfer. There are some cursory instructions for embroidering the face.

The hair is packaged synthetic doll hair, which may be hand-sewn or glued to the head. No instructions are given.

The dolls' hands are mitten style, with stitches to indicate separate fingers. The limbs are attached to the bottle by means of a button at the end of each limb, inserted into a slit cut in the bottle. You then glue over the slit to "secure" it.

Although four dolls are shown on the front of the envelope, they are all identical except for hairstyle.

The outfit consists of a dress with gathered sleeves and a button front; pantaloons and hat. There are three different styles of hats. Purchased shoes and socks complete the outfit.

While this is a pretty doll than any little girl could fall in love with, the construction seems flimsy and is unlikely to hold up to being played with.

Have you made this pattern?

McCalls 7116 - Heritage Dolls

McCall's pattern #7116, dated 1994, makes three different pairs of 15" dolls. On the front of the envelope, they are called Native American, African and Country Folk dolls. On the instruction sheet, they are called American Indian, African American and Pennsylvania Dutch.

The dolls have shaped heads with flat faces. The instructions say to "Transfer facial features," however, there is no iron-on transfer included; the design of the features is printed on tissue paper. The maker is instructed to "fill in facial features using fabric paints and following manufacturer's directions." No other help is given.

The dolls' arms and legs are sewn and stuffed separately, then attached to the body. The hands are mitten shaped. The maker is instructed to use "wool doll hair" for the Native American and Country Folk dolls and "yarn" for the African dolls. The instructions for applying it are very brief. The hair is glued to the dolls' heads.

The Country Folk/Pennsylvania Dutch dolls have a quilt as an accessory. This is to be made from pre-quilted fabric or a piece of a cutter quilt.

Although it doesn't look like a difficult pattern, due to the lack of detail in the instructions, it would likely be suitable for experienced doll makers only. The dolls as pictured on the front of the envelope are charming and have faces reminiscent of the antique hand painted Babyland Rag dolls made by Horsman.

I haven't seen any of these dolls made up. If you have made this pattern, please share your experience.