Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Cockney Girl From Neasden - The Face of '66'

Every summer I get into the Mod '60's mood.  Hard to believe for someone so entrenched in the fashions from 1900 and back!  But, yes, that's me, too.  Hey!  I was 10 years old in 1967 and longed to be in swinging London, wearing those fabulous Mod outfits Mary Quant designed, and marrying Paul McCartney.  On the periphery of course, because I had just gotten my Twist'n'Turn Barbie, a Francie and a great double trunk to store their groovy outfits I worked so very hard to collect for them.  Yet still, I knew there were great things happening that I was missing out on being so young. Time and tide, and all these dreams and dolls were stored away for another time.

I began collecting Franklin Mint dolls, probably, twenty years ago.  And, one of the dolls I collected was their Twiggy with her Mod wardrobe trunk and three extra outfits.  Three?  Heavens!  How could that be?  When Scarlett and Rose (Titanic), even Sandy from Grease had so many more.  Disgruntled that they didn't do more for her, I sold the collection, only to recollect it several years later.  And, there it sat, but I had it once again.  Their Twiggy was such a beautiful doll.

Then along came the Mod Poppy Parker (Integrity Toys designed by Jason Wu), following the more proper, modest Poppy that came out a couple of  years prior.  I had to have them.  They are gorgeous petite 12", articulated fashion dolls.  Some call them the adult's "Barbie", but they are beyond Barbie.  With a price tag to match, too.  Come to think of it, I went nuts for Willow and Daisy of Somer and Field's, The Mod British Birds (which I still have, and the whole collection, too.)  But, yes, I love the Mod 1960's clothing.  And, every summer, almost June the first on the dot, I fall in love with Mod all over again.  Last summer was collecting Dawn dolls and all the mint-in-box clothing sets I could get my hands on.  Tiny Dawn.  Be still my beating heart!

This summer I had to have the Mattel Twiggy that came out in 1967.  I found an almost perfect one on Ebay this June and didn't hesitate this time around.  The doll originally came with four other outfits made especially for her, and I was able to acquire those as well, one by one.

I even started a new board on Pinterest for Mod and 60's fashions.  While searching the fashion, there was Twiggy, the real model wearing her fabulous costumes by designers such as Mary Quant, who's mini skirt stole the fashion world of that time.  Suddenly I thought, "I could sew for my Franklin Mint Twiggy!"   I'd seen the reproduction laser print set of the 1967 Minnow Co., Ltd. Twiggy Paper Dolls, while I scouted Ebay for Twiggy anything.  An uncut, vintage original could not be found, so I bought the reprint.  Its just scanned pages, but would provide me inspiration for creating clothing for her.  "Let's put an end to her sadly limited wardrobe!"

I happened also to find a set of the Franklin Mint Twiggy "face" hangers, and bought those to hang her new clothing on.  This was going to be fun.  And, that's exactly what I'm doing.  Having fun.

First I had to make a basic pattern to get started.  I turned her green mini dress inside out and traced it on a piece of paper towel.  After many renditions and fittings, I had a pretty good first pattern and grabbed the first bright print I could find in my stash.  It was an orange and navy plaid on the diagonal.  Lining this little dress was turning out to be quite a problem since I hadn't done "sleeveless" in awhile, but I did figure it out.  At night I was on the search for pleather and bright, quality vinyls.  I also found a new doll, out of the U.K, called A Girl For All Time, who's designers chose the Mod '60's as one of their themes.  Her name is Sam.  She's a slim body 16" girl, whose shoes "did it for me". Of course I had to have her.  I wish to sew for her, too.  Mod child's clothing.  But, back to Twiggy.

As I continued working on this mock-up, a first pattern try, just to get the feel of designing for Franklin Mint's doll, I realized it was coming out rather nice and decided to keep working on it.

I added a six panel newsboy cap in the same fabric, then went to Michael's looking for beads for earrings.  They really didn't have anything worthy of Mod earrings, but I did find large link chains.  One of these became a permanently attached belt, and two toggle loops became her earrings.  This really was fun. 

Since she only had three pairs of "squishy" Franklin Mint shoes and a pair of boots, I decided to see if any other Franklin Mint dolls shoes would fit her.  Rose's fit.  And, they are low heels.  Diana's (as in Princess Diana), fit her, too, but better with stockings.  Finding shoes that could possibly look good with Mod is rather difficult, but sometimes they work out okay.

The end result was a jaunty London look that tickled me so much I posted three photos to Facebook.  Encouraged by the reception they received, I pushed forward.  I was going to anyway, but trust me, the praise is always welcome and encouraging.  How are we to know we're on the right track without feedback?

While all this was going on, Integrity released their Mallory Martin.  She's a 16" Poppy Parker doll, and this one was done in Mod clothing this time.  Just as when the 12" Poppy Parker was first released, they'd originally done the 16" in That Girl style.  The nice thing about Ebay these days is that sellers know we want the clothing.  One doll is enough.  So now I have a rather Jean Shrimpton looking Mallory Martin and the clothing sets from Jason Wu's Mod line.  I can't wait to try the clear vinyl coat on her.  I'm temped to try making one for Twiggy.  If you're not getting the picture yet, I immerse myself in whatever I am "into" for the moment.  I even brought out my Willow doll to display with the others.  AND, I am reading Twiggy (Lesley) Lawson's autobiography from 1997.  What a fabulous read!  I really like this girl.  What spirit!  The autobiography is also giving me an in depth view of what the swinging sixties in London were all about.  Last summer I read Jean Shrimpton's autobiography, and the two make good shelf partners since Twiggy idolized Jean.  Who wouldn't?

When the paper doll book arrived I began studying the costumes on the pages given.  There aren't many, but they're all wonderful.  I knew there would be at least five I'd have to make and the first one would be this shorts set I call Summer in Neasden.  Neasden is the town Twiggy grew up in and would always call home.  I also added many photos of Twiggy modeling on my Pinterest board for ideas.  Three are a must to do and fabrics are on the way for those.  I think I might need more Twiggy Face hangers.

If this journal post seems "all over the place" to you, its because there is so much that goes into an idea.  The one idea.  To sew an authentic Mod wardrobe for a Twiggy doll.  Remember, this plaid dress was a test, just a mock up.  What I'll be making her are clothes Twiggy actually wore. 

This little space age looking short set caught my eye immediately.  Rather "early Star Trek", don't you think? A high necked, split skirted tunic with poufy green shorts.  While simplistic in appearance, it would take three tries before getting the tunic right.  I'd also originally chosen a much lighter blue trying to match the reproduction paper doll outfit.  Then I realized that these paper dolls were almost 50 years old and had been scanned and printed.  The clothing was bright and happy back then. 

I think the hardest thing about making this set was lining the top.  It is fully lined on the machine and it took some interesting "twists and turns" getting it sewn that way.  I always go back to the Magalie Dawson way of lining a dress, but as this is not a dress with sleeves, and has a split skirt.  It took some real ingenuity to figure out how to do it.  Without having seen Magalie's video, it would be hard to explain how I did this, but I can say that the top and armholes had to be sewn first.  Then turned inside out to sew the sides, then turned inside out again to sew the split skirt and finally all pulled through the neck hole.  Once that was done, the neck band goes on.  And, of course, now that I know how to make this top, I'll never do it again.  And, that's the way it is with almost every costume I make.

The belt taught me a trick.  First, I did sew it, then turned it right-side out.  This takes time, but Oh how it wrinkles, and then you must press the seams.  This is always difficult.  Most of the time you can't get a crisp edge and end up with more fabric turned under than you want.  So I misted it.  Quite heavily, then began to manipulate the fabric.  It worked.  Perfectly.  You don't even have to iron it, just let it dry.  Now this costume is made with Kaufman's Kona cotton, and that could be the reason this worked so well, but I will use this technique anytime I have to turn something right side out and press it.  Even silk can be misted.  

Her earrings are "Mod" beads from China.  I had to order them by the bag, and will never use 99% of the bag, but when you're only paying $1.99 for 100 beads, who cares?

I hope you'll enjoy this new journey with me.  Its fun.  Its bright.  Its swingin'.  Its Twiggy! (And, maybe Sam if I have time ;))

Miss E. Mouse

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful collection! I never knew you were a secret closet mod girl and Poppy parker collector! I ADORE poppy parker. She is the main focus of my Integrity collection after Agnes Von Weiss, and Victoire, which they have disappointingly stopped producing- I love 50's and 40's style clothing. Poppy is a mix of mod and the demure 50's and 60's with her sweet face. I adore your Twiggy! I never knew Franklin Mint made one of those and this is the first one I have seen, my mother collected Franklin mint dolls. Wonderful dress.