Monday, January 5, 2015

One mystery solved, but there are still other unanswerable questions

Calico Lassie, Mary Makeup and Tressy
Some notes of explanation:  I was born in 1961, my sister Barb in 1963 and my sister Joan in 1965.  My grandmother Matilda moved from her bungalow into an apartment in 1966.
As a little girl, I had a non-Mattel fashion doll with a thin bubblecut made of white hair.  My mother says she bought the doll at a toy party in the neighborhood.  I always called this doll Tammy, since I had a Tammy case and outfit (I never had Tammy, but I remember buying the case!).  Mom said the doll was actually Debbie Drake.  This doll is long gone.
Advance Pattern B
For a while as an adult collector, I thought this doll was the American Character doll Mary Makeup.  But I don't think it was her, nor do I think it was Valentine's Debbie Drake or Polly, since they are poseable.  I've recently learned of a cheap straight-legged fashion doll named Debbie Dunbar, by a company called Davtex.  Some of the Dunbar dolls have growing ponytails, others have bubblecuts, some with thin white hair.  It's easy to understand the mixup, because Debbie Drake and Debbie Dunbar have similar names and Mary's, Debbie's and Debbie's faces are very much alike.
I don't recall any of my pseudo-Tammy's original outfit, although I do have one store-bought non-Mattel outfit from the mid-1960s from my childhood.  What I also have is a handmade matching blue skirt and blouse that she wore.  I always thought my grandmother had made this set, because I remember putting the outfit on the doll in the dining room of Grandma's bungalow.  But Mom told me yesterday that the fabric was left over from a maternity dress she had made for herself!  (This would have been when Mom was expecting Joan in July 1965.)  However, my mother does not remember making the outfit.
After Tammy's/Debbie's disappearance, the outfit was put with the Barbie and family stuff, of which I had by then numerous items.  The set always fit Francie-size dolls better than Barbie-size dolls, because it has a small bustline and waistline.
As an adult collector, I bought Mary Makeup, plus two more versions of this same outfit.  The ensembles fit her and her friend Tressy well.  Last year I discovered the pattern for this popular set.  It's Advance Barbie Pattern B, which I recently bought. It's dated 1961 but was probably sold for several years.  On the cover is a drawing of the shirtwaist outfit.  This is my theory: Mom gave my grandmother the leftover fabric, and Grandma had either purchased the pattern and discarded it when she downsized her household, or she borrowed the pattern and returned it.
So anyway, here are the three versions I own of this dress.  Mary Makeup wears the blue outfit.  Her friend Tressy is in a polka-dot version I bought online three years ago.  The tan and green print set, which came with a bunch of clothes I bought at an antique show in recent years, is a little larger and is worn by Calico Lassie.  The tan dress has a net slip underneath, which the pattern includes.  Note that although these dolls have bigger heads and arms than Barbie does, their chests, waists and hips are smaller.

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