Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts, Part 2: A dream come true

The second picture-heavy post in the same day. I wasn't expecting this one and I want to get it posted while it's still fresh in my mind.

Take yourself back to 1959. What? Some of you weren't even born then? Okay, so imagine yourself back to 1959. I was about 7. My father was a minister and while I remember having a comfortable life growing up, there was rarely any money for "extras." We had a chihuahua named Pepe. He was always a little hyper for me, and I think my parents felt that way as well. Anyway, I wanted a Barbie doll so badly. Maybe my parents were just looking for a way to pass that hyper little dog onto someone who would love him more. So they asked me if I was willing to get rid of the dog. If so, they would use that money to buy a Barbie doll. I know. Shocking. Sorry to all you dog lovers. I totally sold the dog out for a Barbie doll.

The first edition of Barbie had a blond pony tail. I am a redhead and by the time I got my own Barbie, they had come out with the "bubble cut." Imagine the early 1960s. Jackie Kennedy was all the rage, and with her incredible sense of style, it filtered its way down even to Barbie. My Barbie had a red bubble cut.

Somehow, maybe for Christmas or birthday, I don't remember, but Barbie also acquired a canopy bed with a dressing table, chair, "French" armoire and a couple of "store-bought" outfits. I was completely amazed to have a Barbie, and to have her living so stylishly.

While I got rid of nearly every other toy, I saved my Barbie, in the original box, never with the idea that she would be a collectible, but with the hope I could pass her on to a daughter. Or a granddaughter. That happened today.

I had checked with Christa a few months ago, and she said it was fine. You never know these days if mothers want their daughters playing with a doll whose figure is so unrealistic. But this morning Charlotte also had the most adorable Dorothy doll from the Wizard of Oz, and Tiana (spelling?), so the timing seemed right.

We got the box down and started taking things out. Wow, what memories came flooding back. I learned to hand sew with this doll. While I had a couple of purchased outfits, like this stunning red velvet swing coat with white satin lining and a Jackie Kennedy "pillbox" hat and the black dress with the organza collar and a matching big hat (think Kentucky Derby...),

more and more outfits came spilling out of the bag, outfits that were mostly hand sewn. Even though I was the one who made them all those years ago, this morning I was shocked at the detail I had put into them.

An evening dress (modeled by Tiana), which consisted of a long strapless dress, and then a cape kind of thing that you would put your arms through and it would wrap around your shoulders, complete with a train:

A red denim wrap skirt, lined in red and white ticking stripes, where one tie went through a little opening and tied in the front:

That little white dress with gray flowers, next to the red skirt, was actually made from fabric from a dress my mother wore to church, kind of a shantung silky thing.

Here we have a corduroy coat, with an attached scarf to wrap around your neck. Check out the fringe on the ends of the scarf.
Here we have a three-piece knit ensemble (I think it used to belong to a skirt my grandmother wore at one time) which consists of a pencil skirt, short-sleeved shell, and jacket to complete the outfit, a long satiny evening gown with sequins, a short summery party dress with eyelit overskirt, and two pairs of high-waisted pants.

Here is the white dress again, the summery dress, and another flower shift-style dress with an odd sailor-collar thing I guess Barbie tied around her neck, and then a pretty pink wool coat.

A see-through overskirt (not sure what Barbie wore it with) but check out the rickrack on the border, and some capri pants with little flounces on the bottom (wow, the elastic really crackled when I stretched it out a bit).
Probably my favorite, this pink wool number, with the black embroidery trim and black fringe (sorry about the weird fit around the bust--I think Barbie needs to have the darts pressed down and she'll be just fine...)

This is what I had forgotten: all the hand sewing, darts, tucks, trim. While Charlotte was busy changing Barbie's outfit from one to another
and Levi was doing the man thing and getting the furniture in order,

I was lost in memories...


05 08
Maggie said... #

Looks like great fun for everyone. What an accomplished designer/seamstress you were as a kid!! The cute pink outfit with black trim is nearly identical to one of my Midge's (Barbie's best friend) outfits, which was also homemade. And I gave up sucking my fingers to get Midge. I still have Midge and her amazing assortment of hand-sewn and knitted outfits.

Q @ JAQS said... #

Thank you for that post. It brought a lot of memories back for me too. My mother have not saved anything (ANYTHING) from my childhood after I left for college, so I don't have all the belongings to reflect back on. But reading your post I try my hardest to remember the clothes I made for my doll and the memories that will be ingrained in me forever.

Thanks you.

wishes, true and kind said... #

Oh what fun, and what memories! My first Barbie had the BEST wardrobe. We rarely bought clothes for them or even bought more than one -- our mothers and their friends sewed such perfect little outfits for them. I hate to say it, but those were the days!

Carla said... #

We just may be twins separated at birth, I'm not sure! Born the same year with red hair, my only complaint is that I never had one of those red-headed bubble hair Barbie dolls. What fun...sewing all those tiny clothes couldn't have been easy. How old do you think you were when you made them? Thanks for sharing!

Pippa said... #

My sister had the blonde "bubble-haired" Barbie and I had the blonde (yellow, really) pony-tailed Barbie. We had the black shiny cases and scads of clothes, shoes, accessories, and hangers. Do you remember the earrings? No caution then about small pieces!

When we were about 11 or 12 and past playing with dolls, my parents asked us if we would like to give our Barbies as Christmas presents to two little girls, whose mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer. We knew the father and had met the mother and the girls a few times, so, of course, we said yes. It did not matter to us that they were Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas, we did. So off went the Barbies. We also sent Skipper (remember her long hair? and she had a great Christmas dress - red velvet on top with a white satin skirt, lace-topped socks, and black flats), a red-haired Midge, and other assorted items, including Skipper's puppy.

Now when I see the original Barbies, I think not only of the clothes that were bought and made for us, but also about those two little girls and hoped they loved the Barbies as much as we did. I hope they, like so many of us, remember happy times playing with Barbie dolls when they see posts like this.


Anne at Film and Thread said... #

I never had a Barbie, but I still have the red-haired Midge from my childhood and the hand-sewn outfits that my Mother made for her. I can't even imagine wanting to sew in such tiny detail. And you are the one who made your outfits? Amazing!

Pinkadot Quilts said... #

What a charming post....it made my day!

Needled Mom said... #

How fun!!! I remember sewing clothes for my dolls too - pre Barbie ones!!! Did you hear that those wraparound skirts are making a comeback? I love the idea.

Terriaw said... #

First of all, I can't believe you sold out your dog for a Barbie doll!

Okay, moving on, these treasures are so fun to have! I still have two boxes full of my old Barbie goodies. I haven't pulled them out in a couple years, so it's fun seeing so many similar things in your collection. How fun to have a granddaughter so you can play again!

Kaye Prince said... #

Wow Cindy, your outfits are just incredible! You did a fabulous job! I had a similar experience recently while going through boxes of "stuff" back at my Mum's house - I found so much that I had made including quilts (where I used pulled apart cotton balls as the batting) for my miniature dollhouse.

I also have my Mum's Barbies from the 60's and early 70's (and all their outfits too) and just love them! I've been collecting vintage Barbies for a number of years and have some really fun ones in my collection!

felicity said... #

Cindy, I loved this post so much. Thanks for sharing your memories, and your incredible hand-sewing!

Crystal said... #

Oh my gosh, this makes me want to go through all my barbies! I love the clothes you made for them. They're absolutely beautiful and so special!

I'm not sure if I told you but the very first thing I ever sewed was a barbie dress. I was 6 and I sewed two pieces of fabric together with a running stitch. I was totally baffled when I tightened the thread...and the whole side of the dress scrunched up. I was sure I was doing it right although no one ever taught me to sew. I got really mad and gave up on sewing Barbie clothes after that.

Grandma G said... #

I don't remember ever having a Barbie doll. I love the outfits you made... how creative you were!

Little Spouse in the Old House said... #

That one Barbie looked a little like Jackie Kennedy. Oh the memories! Hey today I watched Bobby Flay cook crepes and thought of you guys!! Love, Janice

Andrea said... #

Wow, that is so cool. I sewed a ton for my barbies as well, but not as well as you! holy moly! darts???

um. i had a red wrap skirt just like that as a child. except mine was bright red. with flowers inside. and then mom dressed me in a green vest. and put an apron over the skirt. and then i looked german. ;-) baaaddd memory.

Jennifer said... #

How fun! I wasn't allowed to have Barbie dolls so I loved living through you for a few minutes. I'm so amazed at the outfits you made!

What a neat day to pass Barbie down to Charlotte and enjoy your memories at the same time!

Jennifer :)

Jen said... #

How sweet! I can't believe the detail in those outfits you made! There was a Barbie exhibit at my library last month: Barbie through the decades. It brought back so many memories and was amazing to watch Barbie evolve. Especially the careers! Now they have a pregnant Barbie, which makes me laugh. I remember stuffing a Barbie sized mixing bowl inside Barbie's silver jumpsuit and calling her the Barbie Mommy. Oh, the places we went! Thanks for this great post!

French Armoire said... #

It's nice see children playing with there toys and enjoying it make me want to go back in my childhood days.

Doris said... #

I love this post. I can so relate. As a child of the 1970s, I had more than one Barbie, maybe 3-4. Not much for store bought furniture and clothing, but lots of handmade outfits (and furniture!) crafted by me, my Mom and Grandma. For me, also one of the few toys I never discarded.