Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vintage Toy Patterns

Over the past five years (ever since we found out we were getting kiddos!) I've collected quite a few vintage toy patterns.  They range from thirties though seventies, with at least one nineties thrown in.  Don't get me wrong--I own every modern toy pattern, too!  From personal experience, handmade toys are likely to hang around when the store bought toys break and get thrown away.  The first toy I made for Gracie was from a free PDF pattern.This one is far from vintage, but it's the right size and shape for a one-year-old to carry around.

My very next foray into toys was clown dolls from around the 40s.  My sister, who claims to be scared of clowns even admitted it was too cute to be frightened of!  Most of the vintage toy patterns I've made tend to be of the mail order variety, and the clown is no exception.
    I made one of these for Lizzy in April, only to have Gracie demand I make one for her, too.  :) Which I did--for hers and Ricky's second Christmas when they were 18 months old!  It had gotten lost in the toybox.  The best thing about dolls like this is that their clothes are easily made from leftovers. It's a good way to use up scraps that are too big to toss, but not big enough to use on clothing projects.  Toy patterns like this one usually include margins, which are an extra set of lines around the patterns that are meant to be cut off.  Because the seam allowances tend to be small, I usually leave them in place.

The next toys were a sock monkey and a sock elephant.  I got those patterns from a vintage 50s book, though they're still available when you buy the traditional socks for it--Rockford Read Heel socks.  The sock monkey looks like every other sock monkey you've ever seen, but finding the elephant pattern was something new.  Since, at the time, Gracie was taken with "elpitents" (and she even pronounced the p!) it seemed the perfect gift at the time. 

That Christmas brought along Lizzy, and for her, it was another of the "first" dolly, plus a turtle from a 70s pattern for Ricky. His first ever toy was a beanie baby turtle, that he's very attached to, and, aside from tractors, turtles are his favorite toys. 

At the time, my sister-in-law was pregnant with Nikki, so I decided that Gracie needed a baby doll of her very own,  (I not want a baby, I want toys!)  For this one, I turned to a 30s mail order pattern that I just had to have because it was soooo pretty.   It helped that the doll came with patterns for three bonnets, diapers, a romper, a dress, and a coat.    Last Christmas was store bought toys because I'd been sick and didn't manage to get anything made.  But then came April, which is the start of present sewing season, as all of the kids have May birthdays!

I made a clown for Lizzy (picture above), and from yet another vintage pattern, a frog for Ricky.   Also a mail order, the original pattern was meant to be transferred to the fabric.  (And yes, that's a turtle below it, which Ricky will be getting for Christmas!)

The eyes were supposed to be embroidered, but I cheated and bought the eyes from Joanns.  He's the cutest frog I've seen in a long time!  I was lucky enough to find fabric that coordinated perfectly--he's green with white spots on top, and white with green spots on his tummy.  A basic knowledge of embroidery is necessary for most vintage toy patterns (and quite a few clothing patterns, too--embroidery was something most women learned how to do!)   But lucky for us, there are tons of sites out there that will teach you any stitch you need to know how to do.

For her birthday, Gracie got an Alice in Wonderland doll.  Out of all the public domain copies of vintage patterns I've used, the Alice pattern was the only one from the big 4.  This one was an early 40s Simplicity pattern.  The most frustrating part was that the shoes didn't actually fit!  It required a bit of stuffing to get them on the poor doll's feet.    The worst part, really, was tracking down soutache braid that matched the doll's dress. 

This was right before I put blush on her cheeks.  Gracie loves her doll, and even though she knows it's Alice, she immediately dubbed it, "Tangled"! 

Nikki got a dolly for her birthday, too.  It's a small, 9" doll with jointed limbs from yet another mail order vintage pattern.  Doing curls for once was interesting.  I learned that if you wrap wool yarn on dowels, boil them, and then dry it in the oven, you have curly yarn!  This one was surprising in that the dress didn't fit.  I used the correct seam allowances, and even pulled stuffing out of the dolly, but the dress was too small, so I ended up sewing it onto the doll. 

It was just the right size to fit in Nikki's hands, and she commandeered it several times before her birthday, too!  I painted the socks and shoes onwith non-toxic paint  here instead of embroidering them, which was something new.

 In a few months, I'll probably start looking for more toy patterns for Christmas.  And chances are, they'll probably be vintage!