This is a close-up of my latest doll, Sandie. This was inspired by the very earliest dresses that Laura Ashley sold in the early sixities.
It’s hard to find photographs of the very early Laura Ashley dresses which were quite different from the milkmaid styles of the seventies and eighties. This photo from Martin Wood’s book on Laura Ashley shows the very simple dresses that she started with:
Essentially the dresses were very simple, printed in panels and sewn together with a pocket on the front, a bit like Clothkits, which some people will remember. The very first ones were striped like this one and started out as gardening smocks, but younger women started buying them as dresses. The patterns became more elaborate:
And I was lucky enough to see one at St Fagan’s Museum of Welsh life on a recent visit. Here’s my sketch:
By this time the dresses have separate bodices and are definitely meant to be worn alone. My version is made from IKEA fabric but the scale was about right, and the daisies had a sort of sixties feel.
One thing that really pleased me was that when I showed it to the Medieval Historian he immediately said “Oh, sixties” which was great. I based the hair, which doesn’t photograph well, on the sixties icon, Jean Shrimpton:
I remember the long hair and thick fringes from my youth. I love the glamour of Jean Shrimpton who seems to me to be the epitome of that particular look:
I took the pattern for the dress from Venus A Dodge’s great book on dressmaking for dolls which I blogged about before, and just put a pocket on the front. The pendant isn’t really the right colour but the period feel was great. I think it was donated by my friend Amanda. The earrings which I think really do give it a sixties ‘dolly bird’ feel are from my friend Beatriz, who gave me an earring and necklace set. I wear the necklace a lot, but not the earrings, so I recycled them for the doll.
While I was looking for photographs for this post I came across this paper dress which also reminded me of being quite a little girl and making paper dresses at school:
I was interested to see how clearly I remembered all this stuff and how easily it came to mind.