I found this vintage 1961 Advance sewing pattern for a Barbie Doll Wardrobe, and wow, is it ever fabulous! The pattern is licensed by Mattel (makers of Barbie) and includes 6 super stylish fashions. I was struck by how very Mad Men these styles are, and how Barbie was always on the forefront of fashion from the very beginning. I could definitely see Joan or Betty in these!
The designs are for a:
- Sun Dress – with poufy petticoat attached.
- Oriental Sheath – wiggle glamour!
- Strapless Party Dress – fab poufy evening gown.
- Oriental Kimono – fashionable wrap-around.
- Sports Separates – tennis, anyone?
- Coat – this is the bomb.
- Panties – oh yes, the panties; can’t forget the panties!
This particular pattern is kind of poignant because it looks like the original seamstress was somehow interrupted in the middle of making the doll wardrobe. Most of the tissue pattern pieces have been cut and carefully refolded. However, there is one pattern where it includes some black satin fabric cut and pinned to the pattern pieces. They never got around to finishing it up.
I like seeing vintage patterns that were actually used. Many include notes, calculations, fabric swatches, and magazine clippings; a somewhat more intimate peek into a certain part of their life. I even found a pair of really sharp small scissors in one pattern, which I use every day. Sometimes they can be a treasure trove.
What is interesting about this pattern is that it is geared toward young girls doing the sewing of this Barbie wardrobe for their doll. Folksy step-by-step instructions, with lots of helpful advice and pleas to “ask your mother” if you run into difficulty. This was a time when most women sewed and girls were taught the basics of sewing in Home Ec classes; there was a general assumption that most females had sewing knowledge. My mother was an excellent seamstress and sewed most of her wardrobe, and for me and my sister. I was required to take Home Ec classes growing up in the 60s and 70s. I did learn to sew, but it never “took” for me and I gave it up. I do, however, appreciate those who do sew. I love vintage sewing patterns and have quite a big collection of them. They are a valuable scrapbook of vintage homemaking fashion history. And in the words of Advance Patterns: “Sew Now….Have Fun”. 🙂