Monday, 9 June 2014

Well Hello, Dolly

Many thanks to Sue Freer and her lovely Etsy treasury for the inspiration and the title for this post.

As a child, I always loved my dolls. There was first of all my baby doll, Caroline. She had a cloth body and plastic head, arms and legs. Caroline also had platinum blond hair which turned very fuzzy and was not improved by the haircut I gave her. My nana knitted her a lovely layette, which I still have, although my daughters' "love" sent Caroline to the doll cemetery.

Caroline's ensemble, minus the ribbons
Then there was my beautiful bride doll, Cheryl. My mother made a gorgeous bridal outfit for her from an Enid Gilchrist pattern, which I have since acquired. Cheryl had beautiful blue eyes and fashionably short early '60s hair, and I thought she was almost as beautiful as my mother. The bridal outfit has long since fallen apart and Cheryl herself also fell victim to my daughters' love, although I still have the lovely little knickers that my mother made.
Cheryl's knickers
My third notable doll was Su-ella, named after my favourite cousin. She alone still exists, along with my dolls' pram, though she is sorely in need of a refurbish. (And the pram is sorely in need of a scrub!) Su-ella is a celluloid headed doll with noisy closing eyes. I always referred to her as a "big doll". My nana also made her now very grubby pink layette, which includes knickers, vest and bonnet.
Thankfully, my daughters didn't like her, which is why she survives.

Su-ella - I fear age has left her blind in one eye

My baby and her pram

Here I am with my doll and pram  in about 1967-68
I have written lovingly of my Barbie and her wardrobe in an earlier post.

I learned to knit by making the dolls' clothes in these lovely old books that belonged to my mother and my grandmother:

As I mentioned before, my mother and grandmother made  beautiful dolls' clothes for my sister and me. My grandmother did the knitting and my mother did the sewing. I think my mother made the outfit for my bride doll, Cheryl, from this book. She certainly made this fairy doll for my sister. She would sit up late at night after we were asleep for weeks before our birthdays secretly sewing us a special outfit for a special doll.

 I have collected quite a few vintage dolls' clothes patterns over the last couple of years since the collecting bug bit me. I found these old Patons books from the 1940s to go with my mother's from the 1960s. Many of the outfits are the same, just modelled on "updated" dolls.

I have also come across some old sewing patterns:

I am not much of a sewer and I have sold most of these. However, I couldn't part with this last one. I thought I might make them for my (future) grand daughter in my retirement, (maybe).

One of my favourite books is this Little Girls' Sewing Book by Flora Klickmann, from 1915, also mentioned in an earlier post:

I have since also been lucky enough to find The Little Girls' Knitting and Crochet Book and The Little Girls' Fancy Work.

These books contain supposedly simple projects to be worked by children:
Delightful dolls' clothes:

Dolly's chemise, knickers, flounced petticoat and flannel petticoat

The stitches you must use, and how to do your French seam
A doll's muff in loop stitch

These books also show how to make a complete set of bedding for your doll, including embroidered coverlet, and how to make a chintz covered cradle.

And how I do so wish that I could send away for these patterns:

Well, I guess I could still send away, but how I wish they would arrive in the mail from 1915, as if it were simply a place on the other side of the world!


  1. I love vintage dolls too!!!!

  2. I have the older, black and white version of that Patons book C12, I've come across a 70s or 80s version in colour, but never with the other patterns added and from the 60s. They really re-used their patterns over the years! My copy was my grandmother's so probably dates from the 1940s when my aunt was a small girl.

  3. Yes, I would say those B&W cover copies are from the 1940s.