Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane...

I've had my old Barbie dolls from when I was little packed away for so long that I forgot what I had saved. When I say "Barbie dolls", I mean Barbie, Skipper and Francie. Francie was my favorite and she was the one that I did most of my designing for. I think that I thought that some day if I had a daughter she could play with them. Then I began to think that they actually might be worth something, and I've even considered trying to sell some of them someday and so I put off letting my daughter play with them....

Well, the other day I dragged them out and let her play with them with the idea that she can play with them only when we can do it together. It was a real walk down memory lane!!!! I must have saved everything that I ever had for the dolls. I am amazed at how well the clothes and accessories used to be made. Now, I am risking giving away my my age, and it is a little scary to think that the toys I played with as a kid are now considered "antiques" (yikes!), but these doll clothes were made in the late 60's and early 70's! I even had a Twiggy doll! For those of you too young to know who Twiggy was, she was a famous British model and she was very MOD!

So, as I looked inside of boxes and boxes of stuff, and I found two shoe boxes filled with doll clothes that I made and designed all those years ago! I also found two patterns (that you see below) that got me started. When I looked inside the envelopes, I was in for an even greater surprise... I kept the patterns that I designed and created, complete with my very youthful cursive hand writing!

Please indulge me as I take this memory trip...

This is the pattern that I used the most: like I said, Francie was my favorite doll! She was Barbie's younger sister or cousin (I can't remember) so she wasn't as, shall I say, well endowed as Barbie. These patterns also fit Twiggy.

I made a few things for Skipper, but not as much and I didn't do as much designing for her either.

Here is the stash of patterns I designed, actually this is only a partial showing. As you can see, I used whatever paper I could get my hands on:  lined paper, tracing paper, plain white paper. I had to chuckle at the notes I wrote on the skirt pattern you see at the bottom right. It is for a 5 gored skirt, I have grain lines for plaid (on the diagonal) and straight for solid and print. At the hem, I have a note that says, "hem according to desire". When did I ever talk like that???

So, thank you in advance for letting me share this with you...

The navy hat and matching dress are made from a bonded fabric... perfect for those of us who don't like to hem! I avoided hemming then, and I still do! That's why I like working with recycling clothes and using existing hems! I noticed that almost all of the clothes I made back then weren't ever completely finished; they were left unhemmed, had no closures, had unfinished edges and I mostly used straight pins for closures. Basically, I was in too much of a rush to get my ideas out to actually finish anything!
The strapless eyelet top was my attempt to use the existing scallop edge of one eyelet lace for the bust line with added side darts. I did not, however allow for seam allowance and the back edges are unfinished and it doesn't even actually close in the back! I actually like the idea... hmmm, I just might be inspired by my past self!
The red gored skirt is made from the pattern I talked about above.

I remember that this is the first time my mom taught me how to do beading on a garment. She showed me how to draw a pattern on tissue paper, pin it to the garment, and sew the beads on right through the paper. Later the tissue is pulled off. As you can see, I got bored with this project and was on to another idea before I finished. I did, however make a matching purse for this!

For this outfit I used the rain coat pattern from McCall's which I lined and designed a hat to match, the rest are my own design. There's that 5 gore skirt again! I must have liked that blouse.. I made several versions of it! 

I think this must have been a very early design... it looks rather crude.

Hat, dress and bag are all my design. I cut out some of the flowers from the dress print and glued them to the hat.

I think that this was one of my later designs...judging from the amount of detail in this.

This is a maxi dress, made from the McCall's pattern.

This is a quilted satin robe, my design. It is lined. I think that I had some trouble working with this fabric; you can see the fraying at the gathers.

I remember designing the top skirt to match a skirt that my mom made for me! It was really a kind of  short made full to look like a skirt and had panels on the front and back to complete the illusion of a skirt.

The scarf is an early knitting project. The bag is made from bonded fabric and beaded handle. And a shift dress.

The Maxi dress is from the McCall's pattern, but the headband is my design. They are made in Dotted Swiss. 

Both the hat and dress are from the McCall's pattern. I loved that bonded fabric! No need to finish edges!

I can't say what I was going for here with this top (or was it a jacket or a dress?)... perhaps this was a lesson learned on making sure to allow enough for seam allowance and facings!

The coat is another version of the rain coat... Coat and boots are McCall's. The rest are my design.

A beach towel, pillow and beach cover up made from a wash cloth.

I also made clothes for a 16" doll that I had. Here are two dresses and a scarf  that I had made for that doll.

I even tried to design some shoes for the 16" doll. This is what they looked like. The sole and heel are made from cardboard.
So I hope I didn't bore you too much with my nostalgia... thanks for humoring me!

Creatively yours,


  1. Tks Donna. I can't believe you kept all that stuff! It reminded me of all the things I made when I was young... :)

    1. I can't believe I still have all this stuff, too! Actually I have my mom to thank, she is the one who packed it up years ago. It was moved, but mostly forgotten. Maybe she knew how much fun I would have rediscovering it all again someday!

  2. I love your designs. Very grown up.

    One reason I love making doll clothes is replacing the modern juvenile designs with something that could be sized up for wear on a grown woman. I made a few when I was a kid, but started back in earnest making things for niece a few years ago. Barbie is where I started and she'll always be the main doll in my heart, though I've enjoyed the American Girl doll sized items I've made in the last few months.

  3. What a treasure trove. Thanks for sharing

  4. Such groovy gear! It's marvelous that you kept it all this time.

  5. All the clothes I made originally as a child (including all of my dolls) were given to a cousin when she had a little girl. Of course, when I had a little girl, I never got them back!
    But, I've still got all the clothes I made for my daughter's dolls (some I had to get from her garage sales!).
    I think it is a hoot....I first learned to sew on a treadle that my grandma gave me.....
    So, I love your trip down memory lane.....I tripped along with you!

    1. I learned to sew on my mom's built-in Singer that has a knee pedal. I still feel that I can get more control with that machine than the more modern machines! I'm glad you enjoyed the trip!

  6. I love the felt hat with the band of flowers- how clever to cut them out and make a fully co-ordinated outfit. I also love the quilted coat that you say you had some trouble with. Gorgeous. Maxine

  7. I adore this! I couldn't sew as a child, but now I sew a ton! I mostly make 18 inch doll clothes for my daughter, but after seeing this, I am going to make sure that she learns to sew at a young age too! You can check out all my crafty blogging if you like at fakingitmostly.com