OK, we’re 3 weeks in, are you keeping up? After last week’s dirndl and blouse, you might be ready for a quick and easy project – here it is! Living where we do, it’s pretty much a given that there will be a snow picture as part of the summer sew along, and here it is:
Apologies for not responding to comments/emails as well of the lack of explanation/etc. in this week’s post. It’s move-in week for my mom and we’ve been incredibly busy trying to put in new flooring and get things ready at her new place. Next week will be better 🙂
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.
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!
Saila is modeling the hoodie that will be in the free pattern tomorrow if you get your entries in on time! Please do not email me asking to bend the rules just for you. It is a slippery slope, and if I do it for you then I have to do it for everyone else, and it’s not fair to the people that followed the directions. About 60 people so far were able to successfully put pictures onto Flickr and submit those links correctly in the form…so yes, it CAN be done!
Once you’ve finished with everything, make sure all your photos are in the group here.
And then go here to submit all your links at once.
Yes, you can just put one link if you put all your items in one pic!
Yes, it’s fine to have a friend/family member post your pic for you from their account and put it in the group, just make sure to ask them for the links to your work to submit with your email address.
There are a few people who submitted only their email address but no links to any pictures. If you did that, you will NOT be on the list, so make sure to put in a link to your pictures!
The pattern for week 5 and a bonus pattern will be emailed to you on Thursday, so you need to submit your entry by the evening of July 1st. I’ll compile the list and send out the new patterns July 2nd in the morning as soon as I’ve had enough tea to feel awake and able to complete that task 🙂
Make sure to get it NOW because like last week’s, this link will disappear on Sunday!
To reiterate…you do NOT need to send me links to your pix every week, but keep posting them on Flickr. You’ll send all the links at once after next week and then you’ll get week 5 and a bonus pattern for the outfit below emailed to you!
I love doing the summer sew-alongs, partly because I love seeing what everyone makes! Even these simple patterns have been customized in so many cute ways – have a look at what people have made here. You can also comment and encourage your fellow sew-along participants. I did a whole bunch of that the other day, and then our internet went down and my comments seem to have disappeared! We’ve been having so many thunderstorms that knock out power it’s incredible, but it’s supposed to warm up and dry out soon, and then maybe we can finally turn off our heat for the summer!
Oh look…another Paola Reina!! This is Dasha.
I made this from the infinity dress pattern, using the placket instructions to make a slit at the neck. The apron design was inspired by the Middie Blythe in the Oski Tebya Lyublyu series.
And more eye candy…Cassie sent me these from her blog :
Even though they were originally 1930s style dresses, they look totally up-to-date in these modern fabrics!
Speaking of modern fabrics, I just love this take on Kit’s sundress from Debra W. A unique fabric that looks almost like taffeta and is perfect with Caroline’s eyes!
Need a break from sewing? It’s rare, but sometimes I do! If you’re into arts as well as crafts, specifically drawing, I just found some GREAT colored pencils!
[image from dickblick click to see on their site]
Like a lot of people I have a love-hate relationship with prismacolor. Love the color laydown and blendability, hate the leads breaking every time I sharpen and dulling so quickly. So I’ve been doing a little research and ran across these oil-based pencils by Koh-i-noor called Polycolor. They’re not too expensive, and are very smooth and so BLENDABLE! The only downsides are that they don’t blend well with some colors of non oil-based pencils, so you can’t necessarily mix brands, and the white is not that functional for much but blending, since it doesn’t show up well over other pencils or watercolors. But unlike many other pencils, there’s no waxy buildup and you still get the bit of sparkle of the paper underneath even with lots of layers of color.
I should have chosen something more colorful, but this was a drawing I happened to have done in the new pencils. I’m working my way through this excellent book that I gifted myself as an end-of-school-year present:
If you like birds, this is a fabulous book! It’s not like most “how to draw x” type books where you just get a bunch of examples to copy. He gives a nice grounding in bird anatomy from bones to feet, eyes, feathers, etc. and encourages you to get outside and draw what YOU see. Sadly there are no chickens in his book, which is the bird I see the most. 🙂 However, going through his instruction and explanations inspired me to take the time to really look at “lap chicken” (yes, we seriously have a chicken that likes to hang out on my lap if I’m sitting outside) today in a different way, and see how similar she is to other birds I’ve been drawing.
Click the book to go to his site where you can see sample pages.
Hooray! It’s almost time for summer vacation! And no sewing is getting done this week because of all the end-of-year stuff keeping me busy at work. But guess what that means? Yes, the emails have been coming in for a while now asking about the summer sew-along. So…time to get ready, because it will start next week!
As you pull out the box of your daughter’s summer clothes and start sorting through what fits and what you’ll give away, hang on to one cute print and two coordinating solid T-shirts she’s outgrown.
This year’s summer sew-along is going to be, as usual, a mix and match wardrobe. But this time, as an added twist it will be structured as a “sewing school” to build up your skills week-by-week as we explore different techniques to be successful while sewing knits on a regular sewing machine! At the moment, the patterns are sized for Maplelea/AG, but depending how quickly I finish my other major project, sizes for other 14″-16″-18″ dolls may be available too.
There’s a pretty awesome new pattern and embroidery collection, some of which is pictured above, that may be available by next week. Later this summer or early fall a historical sew- and craft-along should be coming specifically for 14″ dolls, and there are also roughly a million other unfinished projects in the works that I hope to concentrate on finishing this summer 🙂
I’ll leave you with some eye candy of this gorgeous chicken sundress Marge made for her new Kit.