Let’s go to the beach and…nap? 😊 While I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that’s a fine idea, most children probably go to the beach to swim! So, were they swimming in these beach pajamas? Nope! Here’s the scoop:
By this time, swimsuits for actual swimming looked similar
to what we’d wear now, just with a bit more conservative of a cut, especially
at the leg openings – what we call “boy short” swimsuits today. Based on the old catalogs I’ve perused, they
were often made of wool, but a new fabric called “lastex” was beginning to
catch on. It was made from a
rubber/cotton or rubber/rayon yarn, and must have been so much more comfortable,
especially when wet!
Unlike today’s beaches and resorts, where people stroll
around in swimsuits all day or maybe just throw on a pair of shorts over them
to go to dinner, the 1930s were a bit more glamorous. The style icon Coco Chanel popularized beach
pajamas a decade earlier, when it was still a bit scandalous for women to be
seen in pants in public, and by the 1930s they were ubiquitous attire for
strolling the boardwalks and being seen in resorts.
As children, their mothers may have worried about tearing the lace on their petticoats climbing trees, but I imagine these little girls who experienced the freedom of running around to play in pants continued to influence fashion by choosing pants for casual/recreational wear as they grew up!
Can you believe this is already the last week of the sew-along? I’ve been feeling a bit of a disconnect with it this year because of the pix being scattered in random places, so it feels like there’s no way I could be seeing them all which is really the “funnest” 😉 part of the SSA for me. Keep posting your pix though and inspiring everyone else! Here are a couple to whet your appetite to check out the flickr and instagram pages:
There are some great ideas on the flickr page, like these dirndls (click to go to flickr and see who posted them!)
And this one I actually had to look twice, because at first
it wasn’t clear that it was the nightgown from week 2, cleverly styled as a
The tagging on Instagram might not be putting all the pix in
one spot for everyone to see…you actually have to tag me in the photo, not just
use a hashtag for it to show up on this page.
You can see which ones have shown up here:
You might remember from the poll a couple of months ago that
I had a ton of ideas for the sew-along this year and asked for your input but
was going to leave it a surprise. Time
for the big reveal! You had lots of good
suggestions, but one person suggested Shirley Temple dolls. I sort of left that at the back of my mind,
because the dolls are vintage, were made in lots of sizes, and can be hard to
find. One point of the SSA is for lots
of people to participate, so it didn’t seem possible.
Some of the things
that really stuck out from the comments were that you wanted boy stuff, but
also lots of other sizes, and Sasha came up often. I had some majorly ambitious plans for that,
but as you might guess, it can take weeks-months to plan, draft, sew, take
pictures, and pattern-ify everything for a major multi-week sewing series like
the SSA. As I was starting this process,
my stepfather had a heart attack, and instead of drafting and sewing, I spent
spring break worrying and then driving home to be with my family. After that, my mom decided to move to
Colorado, so then instead of sewing, my amazing husband and I have been
spending all our weekends and after-work hours for the last month looking for a
place for her to live, then fixing up said place. The next step that we’re currently in is to
get everything downsized, then packed up and moved across the country.
There are times you need a break from all of life’s stresses
and and just want to sew something that’s not too difficult but still gives you
a nice sense of accomplishment of a completed project when you’re done. I thought I could handle resizing, but not
drafting from scratch, and looking at my new Natterer Starlette doll something
clicked into place…“starlet”…movie star…SHIRLEY!
My model is a Natterer Starlette, and I sized everything for
her, but it will also fit Sasha and
other slim 16” dolls, with some shortening of skirt hems if
desired. Most things (although maybe not
this week’s) should resize easily by copying at 77% for 13”-14” dolls like Hearts
for Hearts. Just like last year, I’ll
leave each pattern up for free download for a day and after that it will be
available on etsy in both slim and AG sizes.
A major change this year:
In the past, the SSA has been “finish-it-post-a-pic-a-week” and then if you complete everything you get an additional pattern emailed. Things are different this year for a couple of reasons. The first is, my husband reminded me that as participation grows from year to year (yay!) the least fun part of the SSA for me has become emailing and re-explaining over and over how to upload pix, dealing with mis-typed email addresses, people missing deadlines, asking for extensions, etc. The other issue that’s pretty major is that we always used Flickr in the past. They have changed their policy recently and now you’re only allowed a limited number of photos on a free account, so people may not want to upload there anymore. You definitely CAN (here’s the link: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/ ) or you can post on Instagram, which my niece claims she’ll help me figure out, and tag it with #jenwrenne.
How popular were the Shirley dolls?
In the 1936 Sears catalog, she was called “The World’s Most
Popular Doll” based on a claim that almost 1/3 of the dolls sold in the US the
previous year were Shirley Temples. I’d
be very curious to find out what her sales were in the rest of the world –
probably not nearly that high but “World’s Most Popular” makes for good
advertising, even if that claim is a little outrageous. 😉
The first Sears ad for her seems to have been in 1935, where
she was advertised as the “Only Original Shirley Temple” and the same doll was
sold in 4 sizes – 13”, 16”, 18” and 20”.
That’s unusual today, but was common from the early days of bisque dolls
with composition bodies through about the 1950s, for example, Toni dolls were
made in P90-P93 sizes, with the bigger ones being more expensive. Shirley’s price was quite high at $2.89 for
the 13” size and $5.79 for the 20”. As a
comparison, some other composition dolls of about 12-14” in that same catalog
started in price from about $0.25 and a 24” composition doll with a human hair
wig on the same page as Shirley was just $1.98.
Estimates around the internet vary, but the average yearly wage at that
time might have been around $1600, which I divided up by 260 work days/year to
give an average daily wage of $6.15. You
could further divide that by 8 hours into about $0.77 an hour. So, using that math the largest Shirley cost
maybe 7.5 hours of work for the average person.
What made Shirley so popular?
Mass advertising didn’t really come into its own until TVs
invaded every American living room and convinced children to beg their parents
for specific toys. But I’ll speculate on
a few things that may have made Shirley dolls so popular. First was the novelty of movies. In a world where we can instantly stream
hundreds of thousands of movies on our phones/devices anytime, it’s hard to
imagine what movies were like in the 1930s.
You may have had a radio at home to listen to in your jammies, but
movies were something special – an exciting event you had to go to the theater
to experience. In addition to being
cute, Shirley was a talented little girl who also sang and danced! It’s interesting to note that a lot of the
movies cast her as a child suffering a somewhat sad plight, for example, an
orphan, but everything always finished well in the end. This probably helped evoke emotion in the audience, as they first felt
sympathy for the poor little orphan, then happiness when things went well for
her. I personally like movies with happy
endings, and for a nation suffering through the Great Depression, this kind of
movie would undoubtedly have raised peoples’ spirits.
Another contributor to the doll’s popularity was probably
catalogs. Sears and other companies’
catalogs were the closest thing to internet shopping sites of the day, and they
did their best to get those catalogs into as many homes as possible. That catalog might have had a prominent place
in a farm home, as my great aunt recalled from her 1920’s childhood. When her doll’s head got broken by being
stepped on by a cow, her mother “took down the catalog” and said they would
“send for a new one.” This shows “the
catalog” was a connection to all the material goods a family could need/want,
even if they were far from a store that could supply those goods. When I think that the same catalogs with
pictures of Shirley dolls were in millions of homes across the country, I don’t
doubt that little girls or maybe even their parents, came home from the movie
theater after seeing the latest Shirley Temple “picture” on the silver screen and
wanted to hold on to some of that magic themselves. What better way than reenacting your favorite
movie scenes with a doll?
Shirley’s popularity in the form of both dolls and movies
remained strong for decades, and during that time several pattern companies
produced patterns for Shirley dolls in many different sizes; if they didn’t
specifically mention Shirley, they might have some kind of text saying they fit
Doll trousseaux, or
complete sets of clothing, are not new; people have been creating them probably
for as long as they’ve had time and resources to create them for dolls. Patterns for complete doll wardrobes were
available from at least the Edwardian era on, and I love seeing what was
considered an important part of a doll’s trousseau in different time
periods! This particular one included:
Combinations (one-piece undies and slip)
Dirndl (jumper) and blouse
In this pattern set, there are some challenging elements to some of these garments that make them not quite “quick and easy.” I really enjoy vintage patterns, and although in come cases I’ve simplified the construction of these to bring them more in line with modern sewing techniques, it’s fun to see how details differed from era to era and experience that connection with the past by doing things in an authentic way. I’ll try to note the changes from the originals wherever it’s necessary. In the case of this week’s combinations, the original had a one-piece back with a slashed and hand-rolled hemmed opening, which I changed to a 2-piece for ease of construction.
We had this 3’ pile of snow outside our front door that had been there since mid-January. In March, it started melting little by little and last Tuesday it was about 70 degrees and it finally went away completely! If you’re thinking that’s a great reason to make a cute little spring dress and photograph it outside, you don’t know the mountains of CO! The very next day we got 8” of fresh snow dumped on us. So I pulled out this coat pattern I made for my Paola Reinas back in 2015 (yes, there are SOOO many things on my hard drive that haven’t made it to the blog yet!) and resized it for my new doll, Milena (see below). By the time I was ready to take the pix, most of the snow was melting away, so it did end up looking Spring-y.
If you’re wondering, the new-to-the-blog doll is a Natterer/Petitcollin Starlette named Milena. I didn’t have time for comparison pix, but she’s very similar to Sasha with longer legs. The coat is a great fit on other 16” dolls too, like the lovely AGAT Elinor above.
This coat is inspired by sheepskin coats worn in parts of Poland, Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe. I say inspired, but not traditional, because this one has a princess cut rather than the separate skirt and back gathers you can see on close-up pix. Its flowers welcome spring, but the felt and fleece keep your doll warm when “Spring” means “still pretty icy, raw ‘n’ glacial.” 😊 The embroidery design is generically European, but the color scheme is taken from the Polish Haft Kaszubski (Kashubian embroidery). If you’re a fast seamstress, you could use pastel colors to make a really cute Easter coat to tuck into that special basket this weekend!
Shortened, it makes a great 1970s or boho-style coat for AG Julie or Sasha! You can easily paint the design or use fabric markers if you don’t have time to embroider.
Reminder: Today is the last day to get your entries in for last week’s Ramble costume and the boot pattern will be emailed tomorrow. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the links!
Oh my goodness…you did SUCH a nice job on the last two weeks of costumes!
I urge you to go see everyone’s work here, I’ll just link a few examples:
The safari hat is just perfect! This is by Juliette Auckland
The contrasting fabrics are such a nice touch here in this costume by sewbig
Check out the amazing pleats on the skirt here by slpslee
It seems to have resized just fine for smaller dolls too:
(By Helen Webb)
There were so many beautiful things from the first week too:
like this modernized version by Alison Moreton
This one by quickdrawannie
and beautiful lace on this one by catknapp
This week is an Edwardian Seaside Costume!
After last week’s challenge, you’ll be happy to know this one is pretty quick and easy! I had every intention of taking the dolls to what passes for a “seaside” here in Colorado, but long story short, it didn’t happen. I know lots of beaches near the actual oceans are rocky, so maybe we can imagine they’re not in my backyard, they’re climbing on rocks to get down to the water? 🙂
Get the pattern here today only
The resized ramble from last week is not quite ready for AG size yet…next week for sure!
If you’re wondering where I’ve been, it hasn’t been online, because Microsoft broke my hard drive.
Beginning of rant, scroll down to skip 🙂
Yep, I’m totally serious. The latest updates led to my computer getting stuck in a reboot loop that literally broke my hard drive. I do back up my data on a regular basis, but of course, the most recent is often the most important, so we had to get someone to remove the hard drive and retrieve all the data (I’m pretty tech-savvy but that was beyond my capabilities) and then struggle with whether to just buy a new computer or replace the broken hard drive, and then whether to just switch to Linux…which I wish we had done, but there aren’t a lot of machine embroidery options available for it. Then came the waiting and waiting for the new HD to arrive and be installed and all the fun of reinstalling windows and being terrified the updates would break the new HD.
So I had to temporarily close my etsy shop, since while all that was going on I no longer could access all my files, and every sewing project I had been in the middle of (summer sew-along, some resizing, a new AGAT collection) got disrupted. After many hours (about 8 so far) of re installation, all the software we had is not completely reinstalled, and some that is isn’t still fully functional, and some has been updated to new versions that are messing other things up. Yay.
And THEN I got the email that Bex and Elinor, who had been scheduled to arrive sometime in late March/early April (AKA in time for pix for the SSA) were not leaving China until April 18th and that slow boat from China would take 3 WEEKS (May 9th) and then they have to clear customs (another week? month?) and THEN get processed through their warehouse and THEN get actually shipped (at least another week…?)
Long story short…yes, your votes for the SSA were to start it in May, but with all of this going on we’ll just call the start date “ASAP” 🙂
Start here to skip the rant
On a happier note, I’d like to introduce you to a really nice new face mold from OG that’s currently on 2 dolls, Melina, a beekeeper and Julieta, a ballerina. If you thought you could never find a use for the flight suit from a while back, here it is! Make your doll a beekeeper outfit! Or just buy Melina, because her accessories are really nice and the new face mold is so attractive. (Note that there’s another beekeeper that has gorgeous eyes but the old face mold) To me, Melina’s face has something special about it that looks like it was designed by an artist to be completely different, and it’s just a bonus that the doll happens to be an OG and therefore inexpensive! Her freckle pattern looks realistic and her hair is nice and soft too, in comparison to my older OGs; I don’t know if the hair is a new upgrade for all their dolls from now on or specific to her, but it’s nice!
Image from Target here: https://www.target.com/p/our-generation-professional-doll-beekeper/-/A-52894721
You know how you look at the OG outfits online and then go to your Target and they don’t have them? Yeah, that’s pretty much always the case for me, and it’s really hit-or-miss about which OG items they’ll ship and which are “in-store-only” kind of things. This was the latest one:
So if you wanted it too and can’t find it guess what? I pattern-ified it for you! Although OG outfits are usually a bargain since they come with cute shoes and an accessory or two, like this one!
I will caution you that I’m using some different versions of my old software and it’s been working fine so far when I compare my new, scaled printouts to old ones, but if you happen to have printed this pattern out the same way you always print my patterns (with no scaling) and it’s not correct, could you please let me know?
Is there another OG outfit you want and can’t find? Post a comment with the link! Melina needs more new clothes and we need something to do before the SSA! She’s partial to summery and retro things at the moment… 😉
Just like you might have done, I also lined up outside the AG store before they opened on Jan 1st! The original plan was to get Luciana, and, like, all her stuff 😉 but instead I ended up with…a boy doll! Longtime followers know that boys had a major part in the blog at the beginning when I was smitten with the Kidz n Cats, and Sasha’s Gregor and Caleb have appeared from time to time too. The opportunity to do more with boy dolls was compelling, and instead of Luciana, I ended up with the doll you see above, who has a couple of names/themes right now I’m trying to decide between.
I had actually made the coveralls you see him wearing for Luciana before I saw them in person, inspired by pix people had leaked of her flight suit, but lacking the right color zipper to make a blue one. When I finally saw it, I liked mine better, even though it was challenging to make. The AG flight suit just has fake stitching to simulate pockets and iron-on prints for patches. It seems like quality is going downhill lately, with terribly cheap shoes on the truly me dolls and a much cheaper body.
When I put the coveralls on the new boy, DH said he looked just like an air force pilot, so I put him into a pic to make it more realistic.