Tag Archives: ssa

Summer sew along week 1

Standard

It’s the Shirley Temple sew along!

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 “Movie Dolls.” 

 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)
  • Nightgown
  • Dirndl (jumper) and blouse
  • “Beach Pajamas”
  • Cape

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.

Get this week’s pattern here

Summer Sew Along Week 1

Standard

Yay, it’s time for the summer sew-along!  If you’re new to the blog, this is an event to motivate you to complete a mini wardrobe on a theme for your doll by sewing one garment each week.  This year it’s an Edwardian summer wardrobe AND a bunch of accessories, mostly sewn, some crafty!

Here’s how it will work:

Each week’s sewing pattern will be posted on Thursday – make sure to get it that day!  Most of these can be easily shrunken for 13-14″ dolls like Hearts for Hearts and Cheries by copying the slim size at 77% and you’re welcome to do that if you don’t have any 16″ dolls like AGAT, Sasha, etc.  If you miss a week, the patterns and their associated accessory will be available in AG and AGAT sizes on Etsy afterwards.

Sew along each week and post pix of what you made.  Get inspired and comment on others’ photos here. Note that I sometimes like to share your pix from there on the blog, so make sure to have sharing turned on/off if you do/don’t want that to happen.  Complete each week’s outfit and get the related accessories pattern free, complete all the weeks and get the bonus sewing/accessory pattern!

To reiterate:

Step 1: post pic of what you made each week here:  https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/

Step 2: enter your email and the link to your pic here by next Thursday: https://goo.gl/forms/iA85Pu6rpSlCMxW62

Step 3:  Receive your accessory pattern by email next Friday.

This week we have an Edwardian Garden Party dress:

28285113128_00922b19ce_z

Get the pattern here TODAY ONLY

 

 

 

 

 

SSA Week 5

Standard

Every time I’m gone for a while the posts are long.  Just scroll past the text to the bottom for the pattern if you’d like! 🙂

I wish you could all have seen the smile on my face this morning as I went through the flickr page and saw what everyone had made!  I started pasting some of my favorites here and then there were too many, but I did want to share this pic from Sylvie:

because when I told my mom I was taking Lottie to Korea, she said, “Oh I think you should take that other cute little one you have instead…what’s her name?  Ten Ping?  She looks more like she could be Korean”   I totally agree, but if you’ve priced both dolls recently you’ll understand why Lottie got to come with 😊  Although they’re similar in height, Ten Ping is wider, more like a vintage Ginny, whereas Lottie is more like a Tiny Betsy:

IMG_6986comparison (2)

L-R:  Ruby red Gigi, vintage 1950s Ginny, 1980s Ginny, vintage Tiny Betsy, Lottie (Karate)

See the vintage cuties in the photo above?  They’re the reason the sew-along patterns are going to stay posted (rather than reappearing in my etsy shop) and you’ll have an unprecedented EXTRA MONTH to get your sewing done because I’m feeling generous due to generosity toward me.  Here’s the deal:  If you’ve been sewing along and posting your pix here you can enter your links to your photos by July 5 here and get a free pattern for Betsy’s dog, Nosy, which will be sent out July 6.

If you miss that deadline, you can enter until July 31 on this form and you will get your Nosy pattern Aug 1.

IMG_2489r (2)

Lottie had a great time in Korea, although there were many dangerous creatures that tried to eat her…

IMG_6966r (2)

and some that she made friends with.

See more of Lottie in Korea here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskY4QTr9

And now the part you scrolled down for:

IMG_6983r (2)

Get the pattern here

Also, my mid-century furniture/accessory project didn’t appear last week, so here it is:

IMG_6929r (2)

It’s a chair based on a McCall’s pattern for Ginny/Tiny Betsy but enlarged and adapted to fit 14″-15″ dolls.

Get the chair pattern here

Pattern for Nosy is available to those that complete the summer sew-along.  Here’s how:

  1. Post your pix here
  2. Enter your links to your photos by July 5 here and get a free pattern for Betsy’s dog, Nosy, which will be sent out July 6.

 

Now that the sew-along is over what will be appearing?

(Don’t read if you prefer surprises) 🙂

Cuteness!  Different sizes!  Since I took May off from blogging (but not sewing) there’s a bit of a backlog that may appear as a post a day of mix/match patterns in AG size that you will love!  After that, there are some totally adorable felt Lottie accessory projects, (definitely appearing) followed (almost certainly) by Lottie clothes and then I’m toying with several ideas for an easy (maybe foam core?) house for 8” dolls since that is a sadly neglected scale.  The only issue there is what style could suit all my dolls of that size from the Lotties with their different interests, (Fairy? Hanok? Science lab? Tent? Hogwarts?) to Betsy and Ginny, who’d clearly prefer a mid-century one with their original McCall’s cardboard/fabric furniture.  That will take us about up to August and back to school/work and feverishly working on a new pattern collection.  If you’re like me and counting down the days until August 24, (56 more days!) you might be able to guess what the next collection will be!

Summer sew along week 1: swimsuit

Standard

Time for true confessions…I took the whole month of May off from blogging to deal with “work-work” and also work on the SSA.  During that time I managed to complete a bunch of stuff for a new AG series, some super cute patterns for Lottie and drafted (but didn’t sew) 3 dresses for the SSA.  Then, in a panic, I finished 2 SSA outfits today!  🙂

35020195415_f9ee3bc35d_m

Based on your votes, this year’s summer sew-along will be 1950s dresses for Wellie Wishers inspired by Betsy McCall paperdolls.  Being gone for so long, I have about a million things to say, but am running out of time, so will just quickly post this and get to the rest later.

The good news is our “Betsy paper doll” SSA will run the whole month of June this year, starting on the first!  The good/bad news is I won’t be here for all of it.  This year, for the first time in more than 10 years we’re actually taking a vacation!  Yay!  So, I’m setting up automated posts to appear for the two weeks I’ll be gone, but won’t be able to see your flickr pix or respond to comments and my etsy shop will be closed during that time too.  This year, I’ve also hoping to have a 1950s-style craft associated with each week that might anything from a simple papercraft to a woodworking project.

Are you new to the concept of the summer sew-along?  Here’s how it works:  You sew along with each week’s project and post your pix on flickr here:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/

If you finish all the weeks you can get a bonus sewing pattern, which this year will be for Betsy’s dog, Nosy sized to be a companion for 14” dolls, or maybe a mini dachshund for 18” dolls.  I did finish him already and he’s super cute!

Ready to get started?

34980220926_1bdca7c740_b

Note:  you will want to use thin fabric like batiste/muslin weight if you’re doing the ruched sides! (Thank you, Sophie!)

Here’s this week’s pattern

Here is this week’s craft project (an entire doll-sized magazine full of Betsy paperdolls!) and here’s how to fold it

 

 

Oh wow, it’s Wednesday again already?

Standard

I know you’re reading this Thursday, but obviously I do the posts a day or more in advance.  Here I was, going full steam ahead with yet another a new project (Yes, really, despite the unfinished Prettie girl, Ten Ping and Sasha baby projects) and suddenly it was time to post week 2 of the summer sew-along.  How did that happen? 🙂  This week we’re making these fun, easy sandals:

To help you with resizing, there’s a foot comparison chart here.  You’ll notice the PRs are not on it, since I didn’t have them at the time.  Their feet are just a teeny bit shorter than the corolle cheries, but this pattern fits both dolls well.

Here is the free sandal pattern

I’m having so much fun seeing your dresses from last week!  If you haven’t already, check them out here

There were a few I wanted to post here, but the upload settings didn’t permit sharing a link…

I wanted to call your attention to a comment that the AG size sundress may be too small for some bodies:

(Thanks to GrandmaKnits for pointing this out)

But it does fit others, as in this knit version by Lydia Weber:

It can be shrunk for AEs:

DSC_0670

Photo above by Rosetownjoy

And lengthened:

Photo above by Elizabeth Gibbons

And have piping and decorative buttons:

Photo above by gammerangel

And (I’m guessing the H4H size) can fit the super cute vintage Betsy McCall:

betsydress1

Photo above by Violava loves dolls

There’s also a strapless version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/52964665@N05/27473298036/in/pool-2825314@N20