Monday, March 23, 2009

Blue Monday ~ Vintage Barbie Doll Dresses

Happy Blue Monday! To celebrate my first-ever participation in a "Mr. Linky" activity, I chose Blue Monday because blue is my favorite color.

This post shows my much-loved and hand-sewn Barbie doll dresses. These "Gone with the Wind" dresses, as I affectionately referred to them during my childhood, were designed and created for me by one of my grandmother's "beauty shop" customers.

In the early 1930s after finishing the 8th grade, my grandmother completed "beauty school" to become a beautician and eventually open her own shop in Detroit, MI. Most of my grandmother's customers were the Polish ladies from the local neighborhood and Catholic parish. I have many wonderful memories of getting to go to work with my grandmother for the day, rinsing perm rods in the wash basin, sweeping up hair, and unrolling the rollers from "set" hair-dos. I can still smell the permanent wave solution, shampoos and conditioners and hear the droning of the "old-fashioned" hair dryers. I would listen in awe as the ladies chattered about in Polish, a sound so familiar, yet uncomprehensible to my American ears! A special treat was when I was given a few dollars and allowed to run downstairs (my grandmother's beauty shop was upstairs over a Croatian bakery) and buy myself a cookie or donut.

One customer in particular was a family friend of my grandmother's and quite the accomplished seamstress. In addition to these beautiful Barbie doll dresses, she also sewed several toddler dresses for me in various pastels with as much lace, ribbon, and crinolines as you see on these doll dresses!

The Blue "Bubble" Dress

Each dress had a minimum of three layers or crinolines.

The complete "vintage" set. These Barbie Doll dresses are about 40 years old so I suppose that makes them "vintage". Does that make me vintage?!!!

Recently, while conversing with an "old" new friend via facebook, she shared with me how much fun she had playing with my beautiful Barbie doll dresses on my parents' front porch. As you can imagine, these dresses were quite the hit with the neighborhood girls. They were glamorous and brought sheer delight to us 10-year olds! Today, my four-year old adores these dresses and gets the same satisfaction from playing with them as her mommy did. Together, we carefully change Barbie's ball gowns and allow our imaginations to run away with us!

For more BLUE finds, please visit Smiling Sally here.


  1. Hi Valerie, thanks for visiting me at front porches swet tea. I love your barbie dresses so pretty. What a treasure you have there and so many good memories to share of the hair salon.

  2. At around the same time, I was sewing Barbie outfits for my daughter. I had a pattern, but I made nothing as gorgeous as the gowns you've shown here. Thanks for sharing. Happy Blue Monday.

  3. Hi, Valerie! Welcome to your first 'Blue Monday'. The dresses are wonderful. I'll have to share your blog with a friend who sews Barbie clothes. She's a big Barbie fan!

  4. I loved that memory of Your grandmother and her salon! Barbiedolls however I have no realtion to at all :-)

  5. Happy Blue Monday to you...thanks for sharing your Barbie dresses and story...hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  6. I only wish I knew what happened to my Barbie dolls! I had one with a Jackie Kennedy outfit, complete with pill-box hat. I have a suspicion that a cat we had destroyed a lot of stuff in the attic, in a particularly odorous manner, and they were thrown out. Waaaah! :(

    Tink *~*~*
    My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

  7. Barbie's came after I quite playing with dolls (but not by much) -- mine was a Little Miss Revlon -- I still have her and some of her clothes. Waiting for a grandchild!

  8. Hi Valerie,
    Oh wow! I love these beautiful dresses!!! What a wonderful memory and you took me right back to my childhood. My Aunt use to sew at that and for many years more, Barbie outfits. I so wish I had all of them now! But your post totally took me back to the day. And I can recall this favorite outfit of mine, it was a sundress and big sun hat! the It was a dark navy with lil flowers on it! It was just one of my funnest outfits! I passed them on to my nieces instead of saving them. They were well loved and used though. Thank you so much! Have a great week!
    Hugs and Blessings,

  9. Lovely doll gown and lovely story, Happy Blue Monday! :O)

  10. The Barbie gowns are beautiful. And - what wonderful memories you have of your grandmother's beauty shop.

  11. Valerie, What a wonderful post! These dresses are just beautiful ♥ My grandmother made all of my clothes, including little aprons, and silk ribbons for my hair. Unfortunately none of it was kept. I loved reading about all of your wonderful memories of your grandmother. It brought back many lovely memories of mine. Thank you.


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