When my sisters and I were growing up, each of us had one special doll. I don’t remember the name of Jean Ann’s doll (she is 12 years older than I), but I vividly remember Sally’s Toni doll, my Miss Revlon doll, and Mary’s Shirley Temple doll. Sally made wonderful doll clothes for all three of these dolls, which were the envy of all our neighborhood friends (even the ones who were spoiled and generally had nicer toys than us, like Anna Marie McGonigle).
My Revlon doll was lost in the panic of my parents’ move to Seattle when my dad became ill. Sally kept her Toni doll for a long time, but eventually tossed it because it was in pretty bad shape. Mary, who is crazy for dolls, managed to hold on to her beloved Shirley Temple doll and all of her clothes.
Several years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to fix up Mary’s doll so she could be displayed. Her Shirley is a 1957 Ideal 19″ “Twinkle Eyes” model with Saran hair and an unusual blue version of the “Stand Up and Cheer” dress. The doll was very dirty, her hair was a mess (although intact), and her original dress was totally unrepairable. It took almost a year to find the fabric for a new dress — a vintage white cotton organdy with a blue flocked coin dot. I was ecstatic because it was exactly the same fabric as the original. I purchased a copy of the original Simplicity pattern that Sally used, and adapted the short dress pattern to make a reproduction of the manufactured dress. I’m very happy with the way this turned out.
I found the solution for the rooted Saran hair on a blog somewhere. First I cleaned her hair by spraying it with 409. Then I rinsed it, rolled up the curls on pieces of plastic straws, and fastened them to her head with straight pins. Next I wrapped her rolled-up hair in cheesecloth and dipped it (avoiding the face) into a pan of near boiling water for a few seconds. Finally, I placed her on a towel and let her hair dry completely before removing the straw rollers, which took a couple of days. I wish I had a photo of the “before” hair, but I do have the “before” dress.
Now here is the updated Shirley — all cleaned up with her new hairdo and her new clothes which I made from the same pattern.