Wednesday, February 17

Back to the '50's and '60's!

For a long time, I've wanted to post the items in this photo below and tell the story behind them. Interestingly, it took a post from Pat*Sloan to finally make me do it! In her post today, she shared a picture of the new Engineer Barbie and mentioned that perhaps we could lobby for Barbie to be a fabric designer or a craft spokesperson in her next career? (You can click here to read her blog post - don't be frightened by the polar bears, just scroll down, then pass the Lizzie B chocolate quilt and then you'll see Engineer Barbie.) Her post got me to thinking of my first and only Barbie and how I wanted to be a fabric designer. It really brought back the memories. I knew I had to write this post. And so, what you see here is the stuff of dreams............

It may just look like a couple of Barbie doll dresses and some little sewing accessories but oh, it was so much more to me when I was growing up in the 1950's. Yes, I had dreams that I would grow up to be a fashion designer. I bought every Katy Keene comic book I could find! I loved to go in the drugstore and see a new issue on the magazine rack. I'd buy it and go home and read every story and then cut out the paper dolls (too bad I didn't save even one of them!). I would also draw my own clothes for her, and then Barbie came along! She was the model for my designs! I got a Barbie doll for Christmas (1961), the one with the bouffant hair, a brunette, a real beauty!! I also got a Barbie light-box so that I could draw designs of my clothes just like a real designer. I remember it so well! That package of Wright's trim is a reminder that I would often save up three wrappers, enclose my dime and send away for a "generous package of clippings of wright's Trims suitable for trimming dolls' clothes." The packages came in white envelopes and I loved to watch our mailbox, Box #2, to see it stuffed with that envelope! I still have bits of those trims!!!

Sadly, though, my Bouffant Barbie is long gone. Oh, she was with me for quite some time but she has a sad story. Family friends with their kids came to visit one night. The parents enjoyed playing cards, usually 500, while all of us kids had a great time dragging out all the toys! This night, one of the little withheld to protect her identity :-) .........bit the nose off of my Bouffant Barbie! I was so sad. But in spite of her missing nose, I kept her. She was in a shoebox when I got married and traveled along to San Diego. She survived Hurricane Camille in Mississippi. She made the trip across the ocean when the military transferred my husband to a base near Tokyo. She made the return trip to Iowa and then we moved to New Jersey. When our household goods arrived at our apartment, the boxes with Barbie and other treasures, plus most of our daughter's toys, never made it to our door. They were either plucked from the warehouse in Newark or delivered to the wrong address, but no amount of tracking ever found the boxes.

So, you might wonder, how did I end up with Barbie's dresses? My mother kept them in her cedar chest and I didn't even know it!!! She pulled them out of a box a few years ago and I was thrilled to see them! I remember making that black and white sundress - separates so that Barbie could wear the top with shorts or slacks and the skirt could be worn with another top. The wool sheath is sooooo 1960's. It's fairly worn and the wool is beginning to deteriorate. I keep the dresses in this little case from my mother, along with the Sunbonnet needlecase she gave me and the chalk marker in the felt case that she made me in the late 1960's. The felt strawberry is made with a hair clippy. How many of you remember those? And, of course, there were a lot of sequined felt crafts done in those years and this little birdie is one of them. Yes, these are the things of dreams.
I never became a fashion designer. My high school guidance couselor thought that was too hard a field to get into and advised that a secretarial course might be a wiser choice. I can still feel my heart sink. I remember that day clearly and can see the road, the houses, the cornfield beyond the window next to his desk. My fashion design dreams died that day but it didn't stop me from sewing or designing. I sewed for me, my husband, our daughter. I made curtains, bedspreads, upholstered furniture, and made my first quilt. In the 1970's, I began making 1" to 1' scale miniatures for years and put every ounce of talent I had into all those miniature scenes. You can see them at these links........ TeenyTinyQuilts ..... ValentineMinis ..... EasterMinis ..... HalloweenMinis ..... MiniatureChristmasTree. There are more mini scenes. I just haven't taken photos of them yet!

These days, I don't do too many miniature projects .........the eyesight gets to be an issue when you get older! Now, I enjoy my quilting and I really love working with wool and making penny rugs. If you follow my blog, you know I do a few programs on my collection of old quilts (some family quilts and many bought by my dad at auctions in Iowa). I love to teach at quilt groups/guilds and also offer a "Wooly Wednesday" class at FireFlyQuiltShop. I love to share my designs and enjoy my Yahoo groups. I always have "too many irons in the fire" but that translates to.......... "I am never bored!" As I told my son tonight - I am having "sew" much fun!

I am getting a bit tired, though, and have lots to do in the next few days. I need to finish a block I designed for the Cotton Spice BOM that will be posted in March. I have a new block - tulips for spring - to post to my Seasons group and a new design to sketch for my Wooly Buddies group. Plus, I have a guild workshop to teach on Thursday evening and need to assemble kits for that. I should close up shop for the night (or morning as it's after midnight).

Hope something I shared reminded you of some "pleasant memory" from the past! And I must add.........Thanks, Pat, for your post about Barbie. It was the inspiration I needed to get this post out of my head and here on my blog! Oh, and if they ever do a Barbie Fashion Designer, I will be right there to buy one!!!!

Lights out! Sleep tight...........



luv2quilt2 said...

I never had a Barbie, but I bought one for my younger sister for Christmas in 1960. But I always loved little dolls and got them wherever I could, and kept them well dressed. How I loved those little dolls.

Pat said...

I am certain you'd have been an outstanding fashion designer......and am sorry you were so disappointed not to follow that dream. are one heck of a designer anyway and many have found lots of happiness in seeing your designs and in making creations from your patterns. I truly LOVE your mini's, too. They are absolutely incredible!!!

Kaye said...

I never had a Barbie either but my dtr who is 44 still has 3. They have a few pieces missing or damaged but she even has saved some clothes. When she resurrects them I will send a picture. I loved reading about your Barbie and your dreams. It sounds like so many of us. Thanks for sharing it with us

SarahVee said...

What a wonderful story, Sandi! Thanks for sharing. You inspire so many with your designs. I can feel your heart sinking in the guidance counsellor's office. How many dreams were crushed this way. . . My 8 year old daughter loves to do fashion shows with her Barbies. I think it's a wonderful creative outlet for her. Congrats on all you do - and have done - to keep designing in your life!!

Needled Mom said...

I loved reading this story, Sandi. It so reminded me of my own sewing adventures. I made all of my doll clothes and loved the designing process. I still have my dolls and clothing in my hope chest. I should pull them out sometime. My dolls were pre Barbie, but I did make Barbie clothes for my little sister.

Isn't it a shame that you were turned away from the fashion industry. Back then the only "sensible" options for women were secretaries, nurses or teachers. I'm glad things have changed.

BTW, we lived in Pensacola when Camille hit in 1969. Wasn't THAT a thrill?????

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

I never had a Barbie either. I think I was too old by the time they came out. Baby dolls was more my style.
I just want to say that high school guidance counselors have squashed more dreams for young people than anything else. I think in the 50s and 60s they were trained to stear girls toward the secretarial field--or marriage.

annemarie said...

Wonderful post - Oh how I remember sending off for the packages of Wrights trim - I know I sent it in every chance I got. They were so perfect for doll clothes some of which I still have. Wasn't life in the 1950's the best!

Owl Lady said...

I remember sending for Wrights trims for making doll clothes for my own dolls and for my daughters' dolls. Barbie didn't reach our rural area before I outgrew dolls, but my younger cousin had them.
School counselors often "tracked" girls into careers deemed suited for women - secretary, nurse, teacher, stewardess.
Sandi, the design industry lost a highly creative person when you were discouraged from pursuing your dreams. We gain when you share your wonderful designs and encourage us to believe that we can do it.
I too loved paper dolls, drawing not only the clothes, but also the dolls themselves. Some good memories!

Crispy said...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us Sandi, it was an enjoyable read. I didn't have dolls, I was more interested in playing soft ball or foot ball with my brothers :0)


CieAngel said...

You may not be a fashion designer but you are a designer. I personlly think what you design now is much better than clothes. May not make you as much money, but think of all the people you bring smiles to with your designs. I've noticed that big designer clothes get worn once or twice( heaven forbid lol). What you design gives us joy everytime we look at it.
Huggs to you.

"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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