The Historic Collection: Phoebe goes to the 1940s

Just as doll clothes can be used to teach a child to sew; doll clothing is a fun way to learn about history. As I mentioned in my Etsy feature last February, it has been a goal of mine to create an historic line of doll clothing. For each period I introduce, I will have information on the girls clothing and dolls of that period. I will also link to any children's literature from or about that period.

And most importantly, I will offer a collection of Phoebe dresses designed to represent the girls' clothing of that period.

I wanted to start with the 1940s, for no other reason than that I LOVE the clothing from that decade.

Girl's Dress Pattern from AllsFairyVintage

Girls dress pattern from  The Selvedge Shop

Girls dress pattern from The Selvedge Shop

The clothing in the first half of the decade was impacted by World War Two, which began at the end of 1939. Because of the War, Americans needed to be frugal. Clothing became less fancy and feminine and more utilitarian. Clothes were designed to use less fabric, skirts were less full and shorter. Princess line dresses, circle skirts and pleated skirts replaced the gathered full skirts.

Austerity became chic. Women were encouraged to mend and reuse. Buttons were reused. Old sweaters were unraveled and the yarn used to knit other things. 

Because nylon and silk were in short supply, women used make-up to paint their legs. However, for girls, white ankle socks became trendy. they were called Bobby socks after the British police officers.

Girls Dress Pattern from All the Precious Things

Because of the war, a military style became chic. Squared off shoulders, shirt dresses, lots of pockets, belts and braided trim were used on women's and girl's clothing. Sailor dresses with stars and piping became popular.

During the war, many women joined the work force because jobs had been vacated by the men at war. This change also influenced fashion. Women started to wear pants and girls fashion followed. Girls started to wear pants for playtime.

Seventeen Magazine debuted in 1944, and although the word "teen" wasn't used until the 1950s, the concept of teens as a separate group was starting to germinate.

Fabrics that were used in 1940s girls clothing included: woven plaids, rayons, striped seersucker, gingham, and dresses made from feedsacks.

The dress collection I have designed for this decade is derived from girls' dress styles of this period and uses close approximations of the fabrics and trim (taking scale into account as much as I could.)

My next post will introduce my 1940s doll clothing line, "Phoebe Goes to the 1940s", which will also be available in my shop shortly. Below is a sneak peek.

I will also have a post about additional resources for this period (they are fun).

Vintage doll dress
Vintage doll dress