toys by the yard
The other day I was thinking about that fabric you used to be able to buy with dolls pre-printed on it - you would just cut them out and sew around the edges, et voila, you have a doll. Since that's more or less what I'm doing with the silkscreened dolls I'm working on (more on that later), I thought it'd be fun to see some vintage examples. I did a short search on eBay, which of course led to some "buy it now"s and bids, and here's the result. I was so excited to find a book, called Playthings by the Yard, written by Frances Walker and Margaret Whitton and published by the Hadley Printing Co. in 1973. Unfortunately, all the photos are in black and white, but it's a great resource anyway!
Apparently, this type of doll was first offered for sale in 1886. Most of the early ones seem to be pretty realistic images of animals, dolls, Santa Claus, people of the world. I'd love to see one sewn up and stuffed - I wonder how many still exist? In the 20s and 30s, and even into the 50s, lots of companies offered these printed panels as premiums (send in 10 cents and 3 box tops, etc). This Oxol doll from 1931 is one of those - Oxol seems to have been a type of cleaner. I love how graphic and bold this doll is! I'd give anything to see it in color - the book says she was printed in red, black and blue. There are also some Kellogg's dolls, and ones depicting various comic strip characters.
Many of my favorites, of course, are from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. At the same time I bought the book, I bid on this piece of fabric with an incredibly 70s blonde doll printed on it (it's copyrighted 1974). This is really almost too 70s for me, but I love the colorful ginghaminess of it, and of course the blonde curly 'do (similar to Tracy, don't you think? Except without the 'stache?). I remember having a few toys made from pre-printed fabric when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, including a strawberry pillow that (I think) my grandma made for me.
From what I can tell, this type of fabric pre-printed with dolls and toys is still available, or was until recently. Fred Flare offers a wonderful pre-printed dachshund toy that I'd love to get. The glorious legacy of toys by the yard carries on... beautiful, isn't it?