Monthly Archives: February 2012

Betsy McCall

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Betsy McCall dolls were big back in the 60’s when I was a child.  I absolutely adored them and all the little outfits you could get for them.  This was before the Barbie doll, and to my mind, a much superior product. 

My sister and I each had one, mine was a brunette, and hers a blonde.  I eventually ended up with both of them because she was several years older and not really into dolls that much anymore.  I had a little, round, pink, hatbox-type carrying case, the two dolls, and many, many outfits, complete with shoes and accesories.  

One of my fondest memories is going to Lipman Wolfe, a department store that was near our house, going to their toy department, and choosing a new outfit for my doll.  This was something that only happened on special occasions, which made it all that more special. 

Unfortunately, once I had grown up and moved out of my parents house my Betsy dolls were given away, along with a lot of other childhood castoffs.  I probably didn’t care about them much at the time, but a few years later I became interested again and started going to doll shows, only to find dolls exactly like the ones I had owned, but at 6 times the price!  Oh, snap!  If only I had hung on to my dolls!

Anyway, I purchased a blonde doll at one of the doll shows that I attended back in the mid-1980’s.  I payed $65. for her, and she didn’t even have an original outfit or anything.  It took me a long time to even find shoes for her.  I wanted a brunette too, but I couldn’t find one that was in my price range, so I eventually gave up. 

Several years ago I saw some new Betsy McCall dolls in a store, and I just about went crazy!  I wanted one so badly, but they were pretty expensive.  So one year, for my birthday, I conviced my husband to let me buy one.  There was a cute little doll store out in Beaverton, Oregon that I found on the internet.  Sadly, it no longer exists.  But, my kids and I went for a ride and got me my brunette Betsy McCall doll!

She came with a little camisole, socks and shoes.  That was it!  The clothes were $25. or more per outfit!  So, this is what I did.  I got a pattern from JoAnn fabrics, and then I bought two different colors of fabric, and I made my two dolls matching outfits!  I really enjoyed doing it and I think they look fantastic!  See what you think.  

Betsy and Betsy

  I think I will always prefer the Betsy of the 60’s, but I have to admit, they’re both pretty cute.   Here’s a close-up of their sweet faces.  Eat your heart out Barbie!

 
Two sweet Betsys

 

 
 
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Danielle is here!

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I’ve been working on making a new doll pattern (still in editing stage).  This doll is my representation of a little girl that was one of the flower girls at my nieces wedding.  I so fell in love with the look of that little girl, that I decided, then and there, that I was going to make a doll of her.  So, this is it!

Meet Danielle! 

Danielle the flower girl

Since I am planning to send this doll to my niece as a gift, I naturally had to make a second one to sell.  The second one came out slightly larger, but still basically the same doll.  I used some synthetic doll hair, that I purchased from JoAnn’s, and I used some daisy trim on the dress.  I embroidered french knots in the center of each flower to make it more like the orginal dress, and to add some color and dimension. 

Danielle and her twin

 
I will eventually publish the pattern once I am sure I’ve worked out all the kinks.  I hope you enjoy my new creation!
 
 
 
 

Button Dolls

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My version of the Button Doll

When my daughter was in middle school our Girl Scout troop went to The End Of The Oregon Trail Museum.  We spent the night camping on the grounds, and we got to tour the museum.  It was a lot of fun.  The only thing that really bothered me was the freight trains that ran through the town ALL-NIGHT-LONG.  It seemed as though I had set my tent up right on top of the train tracks.  Anyway, I digress.

When we were in the museum they showed us the wagons that the pioneers used and talked about the kinds and amounts of things they had to take with them as they traveled across our country.  One of the things that I was particularly interested in was a handmade doll, called a button doll. 

Now this doll was not really very attractive, but you could tell that it was made with things that a mother might have on hand and it was also practical.  The doll’s head and body were made from flour sacks or other rough cloth.  The doll’s clothing was made also from flour sacks or from old clothing that may have been discarded.  But the doll’s arms and legs were made up of strings of buttons!  The buttons were salvaged any time a piece of clothing was discarded or sent to the rag bin, and they were used to replace lost buttons, or when a new piece of clothing was made and required buttons.  At this point the mother would just borrow back the doll and remove however many buttons she needed, then she would re-string the doll’s arm or leg and return the doll to her child.  Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

Needless to say I was enthralled by the idea.  I bought a modern doll from the museum’s gift shop (see photo below),  

Raggedy Ann Button Doll from the Museum Store

but then I decided to try to make my own.  So my daughter and I bought a bunch of buttons and stuff from JoAnn’s and got busy.  We made a lot of dolls and sold them at a local toy store, and St. Agatha’s Holiday Bazaar.  We also gave many away as gifts.  We also taught a class on how to make them at Sellwood Middle School.  I think you can see why we liked them so much.