Doll Clothes A Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, December 22, 1912: Went to Sunday School this morning. Ruth and I went up to hear the Xmas services this evening. Twas tonight moonlit.

1912 doll clothes

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sounds like a lovely day—and a walk home in the moonlight sounds like a nice way to end it .

Between Sunday School and the evening service did Grandma manage to find time to finish making last-minute gifts? . . perhaps some quickly made doll clothes for young people on her gift list.

Both then and now, there’s a mad dash at the end to finish making gifts. I found an article in the December, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal called “Quickly Made Doll Clothes” which featured outfits made from some patterns that the magazine sold.

These quickly and easily made doll clothes should be especially welcome at this busy season, when the dressing of the children’s dolls is generally a last and hurried task.

All the little clothes both for the girl and boy dolls have been cut from one piece or kimono shaping, thus eliminating the difficult making and adjusting of little sleeves, and each garment has few seams and may be cut from a very small piece of material.

doll dress

1912 boy doll clothes

1912 boy doll clothes

1912 doll dress

14 Responses

  1. I think perhaps you must be giving us hints as to some of her actual gifts….

  2. Nice gift ideas. I think it was probably much easier to make clothes for the big dolls of 100 years ago than it is for Barbie dolls today. My Mom would make some doll clothes for my sister’s dolls.

  3. Fun! I’ve bought some old dolls at thrift stores that I’d like to make some clothes for. They have beautiful porcelain faces, hands, and feet and were probably very expensive when new. I got each one for $3 and can’t wait to make them look nice again. I think it will be fun :)

  4. So interesting about dolls in that era and the joy of making new clothes. But, my mother grew up in that time and she told a story of receiving the most beautiful doll for Christmas – one with a porcelain face. She was never allowed to play with it though. It sat in the “parlor” which was closed off except for special visitors. Isn’t that an awful story? And of course that had a lasting impact so I was always allowed to play with my gifts and there was no parlor when I was growing up. Your posts are wonderful Sheryl and never fail to bring the past alive.

  5. Delightful pictures and delightful post. Conjures up sweet and comforting images of old-fashioned dolls in clothes made by hand…

  6. I made my own dolls clothes as a child, so can appreciate the joy of doing so Sheryl. I’m afraid it seems to be a dying art these days though. The children nowadays don’t know the fun they are missing out on! It does sound as though Helena had a lovely day and I’m sure she was looking forward to Christmas Day arriving. :)

    • I remember that when I was a child, I had a little box of cloth scraps that I used to sort and re-sort trying to figure out which pieces would make the best doll clothes. I liked to imagine what an outfit might look like if it was made from different fabrics–and (at least in my mind) each piece of cloth had the potential of becoming a really elegant doll outfit. It’s too bad that making doll clothes may be a dying art.

  7. It sounds like a very atmospheric day in the lead up to Christmas.

  8. I love the articles from the Ladies Journal that you share Sheryl. Thanks so much. Also, what a delightful expression… “Twas tonight moonlit”.

  9. Hold the phone, those doll cloths don’t look quick and easy to me…look at the detail on the jacket…it has contrasting cuffs and collar. Very dapper.

  10. How sweet are those little clothes?! I love doll clothes, and paperdolls, too. My daughters don’t like paperdolls and that makes me sad.

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