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.
I never added a kitchen because I a) ran out of wood and b) wasn’t really sure how to go about furnishing it. So the other day I found a new rement set called “Country Life” that cried out, “Hey! Finish that kitchen and furnish it with me!”:
And then, along with that there’s another new-ish set, “Grandparents’ Home”:
[Images from re-ment website, click them to go to it]
As always, when I introduce a large collection, a coupon code appears!
Use the code 20OFF20 to get 20% off any order of $20 or more until midnight on Sunday.
What happened to April?
Um…I’m thinking she went to summer camp and forgot to bring her journal? 🙂 Actually, she disappeared for the summer after you voted for the SSA to focus on Paola Reina and then the Wellies came out and I got carried away by their cuteness. With the summer now over (for me anyway) I’m feeling very sad and guilty, because I had all sorts of travel plans and was going to take pictures of her at various interesting places here in CO. She’s actually been sitting in the same chair in the same outfit ALL summer long – although at least she missed my rattlesnake encounter at Garden of the Gods! So anyway, I can bring April back and start making patterns for her again, or if you’d rather, I can focus more on the Wellie Wishers/H4H sizes in anticipation of their re-release in a few months. This poll will close next Tuesday:
Today is France’s national holiday, a bit similar to our 4th of July in that they both have parades and fireworks. It’s also the perfect day to introduce you to my new(ish) doll, Francoise!
I stumbled across the vintage version of this doll on Pinterest a long time ago, and she reminded me of Bleuette, a French doll you might be more familiar with. Not because they look anything alike, but because they were both associated with magazines that regularly published patterns for them. Francoise was associated with the magazine “Modes et Travaux” and was introduced around the time Bleuette’s popularity was waning. Francoise was not only a much more durable doll, but associated with a magazine moms may have already been getting for themselves, unlike Bleuette’s “La Semaine de Suzette” which was intended for children.
Her inaugural pattern in 1951 had the following introduction: (my translation – please excuse any errors)
We present to you “Francoise” whom your parents will be happy to offer you for Easter, if, as we don’t doubt, you have been wise and have worked hard in class during the second trimester. Francoise is a ravishing doll of celluloid with beautiful porcelain eyes shaded with natural eyelashes specially designed to be easily dressed. You are beginning to sew and knit, you will therefore be very proud to be able to make for yourself, like your mom, all the clothes for your little girl. To that effect we will give you in every issue models destined for Francoise with all the explanations, patterns and advice for you to make them. M et T is not only your mom’s favorite magazine it will also be yours since in each issue you will also have “your” page.
The doll you see above is an overpriced reproduction by Petitcollin of the 1950s doll by the same name. Given that with shipping from Europe I paid about the same for this naked doll as an AG and she was actually made in France, I had high hopes for her quality. Alas, they were dashed. Her box arrived in poor shape – never a good sign. Her body is made from some kind of squishy plastic, like a substantial dog toy or a rubber duck, and her head is harder plastic. The squishy part was covered in some kind of powder, and when it was washed off, it was clear she had a lot of random scratches, rubs and marks.
some of her seams are quite poorly trimmed/filled out
I also ordered some expensive (~$15) shoes at the same time and they don’t match. One has circle cutouts, one looks more like stars.
But…I had waited SO long for her (shipping took ~3 weeks) and didn’t want to deal with the nightmare of exchanging her. She has such a unique face and I had already made her a TON of clothes that I fitted on my Sasha. All of those patterns might be ready as soon as next week!
Ok, Jen, I scrolled past all your text, where’s my free pattern? 🙂
This was the second folk costume to appear for Françoise in 1953. It claims to be from Marseille, but after doing some research I feel like it might be typical of Provence. There is an amazing blog for folk costume enthusiasts called: http://folkcostume.blogspot.com/. This image from Provence is from that blog and looks very similar to Francoise’s costume in my opinion!
Since it includes several pieces, we’ll do half of them this week and half of them next week. Don’t have a Francoise? It works fine on slim dolls like Sasha and Magic Attic too!
Were you wishing for something for the Wellies instead? I’ve gotten a lot of requests for this:
And came up with:
I know, you just want to put your doll in those jammies and read her a bedtime story right? Even if she is being naughty and jumping on the bed 🙂 Several people have emailed me or posted pix of things they had already made for H4H and similar-size dolls that fit the WW, and it gave me an idea…
Here’s how to get this PJ pattern:
Make something (or find something you already made) from an OLD Wrenfeathers pattern that fits the Wellie Wishers (free on this site or from my etsy shop, it doesn’t matter)
Post a pic of it here (or somewhere else online if you can’t figure out flickr – do NOT just email me the pic!)
Post a comment with the link to your pic and I’ll email you the PJ pattern!
If I don’t have a Wellie can I still have the PJ pattern?
Um…not right now. I’m not being mean here! Obviously not everyone has a Wellie Wisher, but I also know that those who do want to sew for them. And how cool is it to find out you might already have patterns that fit? I got out a TON of old H4H clothes and some of them fit my Wellie Wisher, but taking and posting all those pictures was daunting. I’m offering the PJs as an incentive for people to do some of the picture taking and posting for me so we all can share the news about what fits!
It would be super great if you could find things that are NOT already posted; those would be the A-line jumper, puff-sleeve blouse and smocked A-line. There are several cute things in the international collection that fit, other things from that same H4H sew-along, etc.
Princess dresses including this one coming soon!
Totally off-topic but if you want a colored pencil comparison…
I know lots of you do other crafts besides sewing and I do too! There’s been a wildfire burning about 20 mins northwest of our house, and in my stress I’ve been sitting in my dirty house doing a lot of drawing. Why waste time cleaning when it might all go up in flames, right? I recently picked up Wendy Hollender’s book on botanical drawing, and got it into my head to do one tulip from that book in all my different colored pencils. I have so many sets because it’s impossible to decide which one is “the best”. Ironically, Wendy suggests only a small set of polychromos, but lacking those I thought I’d see what came closest. I think if for some reason I had to limit myself, I’d choose Derwent Coloursoft as my softer, main pencils, and either the Durer or Polycolor as my “detail” pencils, although I’m saving up for some Polychromos, so maybe I’ll add that info in the future.
In order to not have differences in the drawing detract from the pencils, I just did one, then scanned and printed it out multiple times on Strathmore 75lb mixed-media paper. The scanner doesn’t quite do justice to the colors, but the settings were the same for all:
What? You want a pattern for this week too? Ok, fine… 🙂
Remember when we did shoe school last spring? (If not, scroll down to find those links) I said that sewn shoes get made as “innies” or “outies” and there was another type called “lasted” which are named for the way they’re made – on lasts.
As I learned from my New Year’s stats, many people from Ravelry find their way to this blog. So I’m going to assume there’s a sizeable percentage of you that know how to knit/crochet. What about felting?
There’s something kind of magical about felting, where a loose mass of wool becomes a firm 3-D object. I was an avid needle-felter for a while, but my adventures with wet-felting raw wool were usually terrible, and I rarely have success with any of those knitting/weaving projects whose directions end with, “and now just toss it in the washing machine with some jeans and wait for the felting magic to happen!”
This, on the other hand, is a really easy and fun project, as well as a great way to use up little leftover bits of yarn. If you have some gauge swatches gathering dust, this could be a great use for them too!
Even if you are the world’s second slowest knitter (I’m the slowest) 🙂 you can probably make these cozy felted doll slippers in an afternoon. And best of all, the size is easily adaptable to many different sizes of dolls!
Doll is Maru and Friends “Savannah” wearing PJs from patterns available here
In case you were anxious to find out if I did get a new Maplelea, the answer is yes! I’ll let you wait to find out who it was, just like I had to wait, but she’s very cute! 🙂 After spending so much time on the Ten Ping outfits, it’s quite different to suddenly switch back to a “very large” doll, and some of you will be thrilled to know more 18″ doll projects are on the way for her over the next couple of weeks!