Thursday, February 7, 2008


Godey's Magazine was the first and premiere Women's magazine during the 19th century. It was epitome in social deportment and style. So, in the 20th century to now, it still has influence for research and study of that era.
In 1946 McCall's pattern company came out with a 12" doll with clothing pattern based on the Ruth Gibbs collectable porcelain head dolls. Ruth Gibbs designed her own version of the old china dolls. She produced only finished dolls. I think I already had a 7" Gibbs doll. I just loved her. She was dressed, but I made her about seven dresses. I had a small box for her. Her name written on the dress is: 'Mayalee' .
But, I didn't find the pattern until I was in Junior High School. I almost missed it. Because that was the last year the pattern was published. Whew!! And I didn't find it in one of the larger town shops. I found it in a local dress and fabric store. The owner had to order it too. She told me it was close to close out and I may not be able to get it. But, she ordered it and I crossed my fingers.
Two weeks later we went to town and checked to see. And joyful things!! A copy of the pattern had arrived. I was so pleased. I could barely wait to start. But, first I had to get fabric. And to figure out what to use for stuffing.
My first doll from this pattern was made out of an old cotton underslip. In a peachy color.
And she was stuffed with the absorbent cotton. The kind found in the Red Cross section.
It's what we had on hand. The arms gave me fits. They were too narrow. I had to recut them wider so they could be turned to. The Lady doll had an embroidered face. I did it twice to look good. The first time I used three strands. NOT!! Too coarse and clunky looking. The second time, single strand of floss. Came out nice.
The nicest thing too, was that my Mother took me the big town, so I could find the nice fabrics to make the dresses out of. She was a little non-plussed. But, She was sort of into what I was making. I found just exactly what I needed. The same fabrics shown on the pattern. I purchased pink taffeta for the underwear.
The only thing, is that when I began to make up my first dress. The pattern mentioned; 'lining'? Lining?. Oh, my. Well, I hadn't read that. And had nothing to use instead. So, everything is made without it.
I have made over time, about a dozen of the dolls and dresses. I have sold a number of them too. The only original dress is the rust taffeta. It has a black flocked pattern. I have not found that fabric again. And that is why I kept it. This doll is the second one I made. The ball gown she has on, Is made from a piece of the fabric I used to make my Maid-of-Honor dress, I wore to my older brother's wedding. (That IS another story.)
All of my first 6 dolls were made on my Antique 'Speedlight Rotary' treadle sewing machine. My Grandfather gave it to me. Therefore, It was so special to me. I sewed a lot with it. I really liked it, much better than the electric Singer I bought later.
The photos are of the pattern front. Then the doll herself. She came out 12 1/2". I She has on the Ballgown with narrow sleeves. The rust taffeta is supposed be a 'Dinner Gown'. The aqua cotton satin; Walking dress, the pink check; a morning dress, the pink dress with black trim; a tea gown. That fabric also is a remnent from a dress I made for myself. And there is a marled grey felt paletot., which is a medium length coat.
I did make up the wedding dress. Out of a too heavy damask. And turned out, the tulle was too stiff. So, I was never happy with it. I was always going to make another one. But,
I'm really not into weddings and bride dresses


Kathy said...

A very beautiful doll! Wonderful job! :) - Kathy

Endment said...

I had never seen her before - she is lovely and the story is a wonderful addition to her appeal

a painter said...

Beautiful wardrobe! Love your story about the doll and pattern. I have a vintage doll from this pattern. I have a 7 inch Ruth Gibbs doll, too. Love and collect vintage cloth dolls and make them, too sometimes. Your wardrobe is the prettiest I have seen! Your wardrobe really is so lovely!

Frances Davidson said...

I was so pleased to see this note when I googled Ruth Gibbs Dolls. I have just re located my dolls and would like to share them with my granddaughter. However, I cant find my patterns and the clothing in the case which has been closed for about 30 plus years look rather sad. Any ideas on how to freshen them up and where I might find paper patterns for the doll? thanks,

Anonymous said...

How lovely to see your doll and her dresses. And how lovely that there's still an interest in the Ruth Gibb dolls and the patterns. I used to have the original patterns, but unfortunately my mom discarded them after I went away to college in the 70's. (I think I have one original pattern piece left.) Eventually I found a copy of the patterns on eBay. Now, once I find just the right fabric, my doll will finally have a finished dress, after all these years!