A scrapbook of whatever I'm making, collecting, or just obsessing about
at the moment.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Long years of doll collecting, making, and dressing

I've decided to switch the focus of this blog from reading and literature to doll making and collecting. For one thing, there are already lots of lit blogs, but not so many about dolls--especially the vintage variety. For another, dolls are more fun to write about--way more fun.

I will show you dolls from my collection, dolls being repaired, dolls being dressed, cloth dolls being constructed, patterns for cloth dolls and their wardrobes, books about dolls, and maybe a few pictures of interesting dolls at antique stores.

And I'll start with a doll that survived my childhood, Twist N Turn Barbie. 

On the right is my own Twist 'n' Turn Barbie, and on the left is a like-new version that I found for $2 at an antique fair--the best deal of the day, since that pretty "Knit Now" dress would have been maybe $10 all by itself. She was in good shape, just very dusty and dirty. A bath brought back her minty beauty. You can see how faded my original doll is, especially in the face, and her eyelashes are mostly gone. And she had to visit the Tricks and Manners doll hospital for a re-paint job because I rubbed most of her eyes off when I used to make them brown or green with colored pencils. So it's nice to have a perfect new model--almost like going back in time.

This is how she would have looked when new-- In 1967, you could exchange your old stiff-legged Barbie for the new style pose-able one, and I remember vividly doing exactly that. You had to have a coupon from the newspaper, along with your $1.50.  I still remember the pile of Barbies sticking out leg-first where the sales clerk threw mine...and did it cause me a pang? Nope, not much--the new doll promised to be much more of a companion, and she was. Let's face it--we love 'em, but those old Barbies had a stern expression.

Happily, my cousin Karen got the same doll, so we could play with them together. We pretended we were photographers and snapped pictures of them with invisible cameras.

My Barbies never owned any official, purchased clothing; they were outfitted exclusively by my sister Mary or my mother or myself.  Mary made an exquisite kimono, along with some charming easy-on clothing from felt, and my mother crocheted a light blue tutu. I couldn't sew, but I created many elegant ensembles for her out of Kleenex. In those days, Kleenex came in many pastel colors, so she had pale pink and yellow and blue and green gowns, held together with straight pins or scotch tape. Strapless gowns were easy to drape: you started with the bodice, folding in darts; then gathered up a second tissue for the skirt; and held it all in place with half of a third tissue for a sash.  Or you could poke two holes in a tissue for her arms to go through, and end up with a nice knee-length street dress with wide, fold-over collar and a belt.

Wish List: The blonde and light-brown haired versions of this same doll. Mattel recently issued a reproduction of this doll for the nostalgia buyers. That's where my doll's reproduction orange swimsuit and fishnet cover-up came from--bought it on ebay. But I didn't buy the reproduction doll set itself, as it was the red-haired version and somehow I didn't care for it. Although, if I find one for a good price, I will probably buy her! The orange bottoms in the picture, though, are the old 1967 ones. My antique-store doll was wearing them under her dress.

To Do List: Get out my Joan Chiara patterns and pick out one to make for these new best friends. If you have any interest at all in costuming Barbies (and Kens and Skippers and many more) you need to see her huge illustrated list of patterns--check out the link in my "Favorite Sites" sidebar.

If you remember the old "Brady Bunch" TV show, you might recognize "Marcia Marcia Marcia!" in this commercial about the exchange program:

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