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Like a Living Doll

Kids Clothes by Meredith Gladstone: A Sewing Book
Gladstone
1976

Submitter: I found this at my local library. I knew I had to send it to you. It’s just dreadfully outdated – who is circ’ing this book???  OK, me, but that was just so I could get a color scan to send you.  The pictures are very 70’s “kids jus’ bein’ kids” natural – which actually makes it look like a child psychology textbook or something. The trippy picture with the rabbit jacket – the kid is like, ‘dude, I can see right through my hand!’ The obligatory plaid pants picture.  And Gregory.  No words…  My only hesitation to send this to you is that those kids in the pictures are my age now.  I feel bad for them.

Holly: Wow.  What was Gregory’s mom thinking?  I’m sure someone will think of a reason why this book is a great idea for a public library, but I just don’t see it.  One or two good patterns do not make a book worthy of an inch of shelf space.

30 Responses to Like a Living Doll

  • Oh. Mah. Good. Gracious! If Gregory wasn’t leaning toward gay before he was dressed in those overalls, I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t spark it.

  • Girl in bathrobe = scary, grey flannel dude = scary, putting your child’s name on their clothing (these days) = very scary.

  • Ha! My mother owned this book when I was a kid and I had no shortage of those appliqued jumpers! She also made that tie-front robe for me.

    I actually think the girls’ jumpers are quite cute and if I had a young daughter I would sew some for her. And I am drooling over the adorable double-buckle red maryjanes on the little girl in the second picture. Most of the boys’ patterns are too outdated to make these days, but the flannel coat is cute.

    I would check this book out because it’s great in a retro sort of way, but libraries shouldn’t hang on to books until they become retroactively cool.

  • The pattern for the button shoulder dress is pretty cute–with some modern fabric, and updated embroidery it could work. I agree with Holly though–one or two good patterns do not a useful book make.

  • While I can understand why it’s not good for a public library, I don’t see “only one or two good patterns” – they’re all good patterns, just don’t use the same color material they use! (Or put your kids’ names on their clothing for their own safety.) Those same overalls and such would be cute in denim or other kid-tough material.

  • I think it’s not a good idea to put kids’ names on their clothes and accessories these days…

  • Those pictures are right out of our family album, except for “Gregory.”

  • Actually, I think the photos are nice! And the outfits have become trendy again :O)

  • Except for Gregory and Jennifer, I think the patterns themselves are decent. It’s the choice of fabric and backgrounds that makes it hokey.

    Yes, something more recent would be better, but I think a book of fairly basic kids clothes and some appliques is something a collection needs.

  • Back around 1960 my mother made dresses a lot like those for me (and for herself – matching!). They were called shifts. I did not like them, because I was a little ingrate. They’re nice to look back on, though.

  • Those flowers, fruits, and vegetables would have required quite a bit of time to embroider by hand!

  • I guess every generation had its version of indecent childrens’ clothing, then. Maybe prostitots aren’t such a huge leap.

  • To be honest, I don’t really see the issue everyone has with putting your kids’ names on their clothes. I mean, I know WHY they have an issue with it, but in all honesty? If your kid is walking down the street talking to someone they know, most likely their name will be said at some point. Plus, if your kid is one of the 50 million Jacobs or Emmas, what difference does it really make? I could see caring if their name was something really uncommon, but (logically speaking), most kids have pretty common names. Plus, it wasn’t any safer a decade ago, when everyone wanted/had name plates on their bikes (they still sell them, but I don’t know if they’re as popular). In the ’90s, all the cool kids (with normal names) had their names on EVERYTHING…bike plates, pencils, notepads…

    I get the same “that’s probably not a good idea” feeling as everyone else, but logically speaking, it’s really no big deal. However, I wouldn’t sew my kids’ names on their clothes because…um…it’s kind of weird and they’d probably get made fun of.

    As for the patterns, when I first saw the girl in the bathrobe, before I could see the whole picture, I thought she was wearing some REALLY old-fashioned dress (from the neckline). And poor Gregory… I kind of like the plaid ones, though. And it’s kind of impressive that there are only 4 basic patterns.

  • Oh come on, guys, the ONLY thing wrong with Greg’s outfit is that he’s going shirtless underneath. If he was wearing a little white t-shirt under it you’d be all “OH HE’S SO CUTE!”

    Again, the sewing patterns themselves are not bad, just the materials used.

  • The problem is, Leigha, young kids get fooled easily. They don’t remember all the adults who’ve met them, and parents are always saying chastizingly, “Now, Corey, you remember Mrs. Farmer,” and so they pretend they do when they don’t. So parents really teach kids to pretend to remember adults they can’t remember seeing out of context or in different clothes.

    If an adult uses their name and says, “Now, Gregory, you remember me,” will fear of strangers win out over fear of adult disapproval? Do you want to find out?

  • Who puts their kids names on their clothes like that? Do their parents suffer from memory loss and tend to forget their kids names?

  • This is sooo bad. what if some stalker came up to them? ”Hey jennifer… i got some candy in the car…”

  • I have to say that here in Sweden these 70s sewing books have had a huge revival, together with the (perceived) more unisex children’s fashion of the times. Books like these are still to be found at our libraries and are very popular I think. The patterns are often very easy to understand and un-pretentious, with a sort of try-it-and-see mentality – playful. I don’t know if I think they should be weeded – fashion is outdated so quickly anyway. You need sewing books with basic patterns and techniques.

  • That jacket is terrific. I wish I had one of those!

  • Putting a name on clothes is a sure-fire way of making sure you can’t use them for hand-me-downs to their siblings. Except for George Foreman’s kids….

  • Some people have kids just so they can entertain themselves by dressing them up as they please. This may be a primary reason that some women want to procreate.

  • I recognize the girl in a bonnet from the front cover; my entire bedroom was decorated with her: bedspread, pillows, curtains. I don’t recall having a matching outfit, though. Yep, I was born at the tail end of the 70s going into the 80s.
    My mom used to make our clothes because we were too tall for the clothes marketed at our age. I don’t think she had this particular book, but she must have had similar ones, maybe a few years older, with smocking galore. Oh, and culot shorts; I wore A LOT of those (including that neon tie-dyed outfit with the matching shirt that was the lowest of low points in my personal fashion history.) She kind of stopped making so many clothes for us, however, when I came home from elementary school crying that the mean girls in my class had told me they only tolerated me because I had interesting clothes. I recently found some of the handmade outfits she made or bought, including some roughly similar to those in the photos, when she gave me all of my childhood stuffed animals and dolls, because those that survived or didn’t get passed down to my younger sibling apparently got put on them.

  • People have been saying it is dangerous to put your kids names on their clothes for as long as I can remember, so at least since the 80s. Considering how many kids are snatched with ruses like lost puppies and such I think it’s a pretty baseless concern. Not that it matters much since it is kind of lame to do in the first place. 😀

  • @AA–No, I understand the idea. Like I said, I feel weird about it, too. But as I also said, it’s not at all difficult to figure out a kid’s name. I could probably walk through Wal-Mart and figure out the names of half the little kids there, because people tend to use names in conversation. “Emma, stop doing that,” “Billy, come here,” “Jake, do you want this cereal?” If you really want to know a kid’s name, all it takes is a few minutes of observation.

  • All parents need to do is see that episode of Dexter where the Trinity Killer lures away a ten year old boy who’s name he learned from the back of his parents’ car and any writing names on stuff will end quickly.

  • Ooh, first comment is homophobic, ouch! Good to know that what you’re dressed in as a kid has a huge influence on your sexuality later in life. I thought the stereotype of gay men was that they were stylish, so it’s not even a well-thought-out comment at that. No cookie, Jasmine.

    Regarding the actual book – I’d replace it with something newer, personally, but that’s fashion for you. The actual clothes themselves aren’t that bad, or wouldn’t be if the fabric were different. Is that an actual knitting pattern I see referenced in there??

  • That’s an imitation Holly Hobbie on the dress on the front cover, right? Along with the boy in the hat on the one-piece thing. I had some Holly Hobbie stuff when I was growing up.

  • Holly Hobbie was all the rage in the 70s – as ubiquitous in my neck of the woods as Pierrot, Sara Moon prints and David Shepherd’s elephant pictures.

    [OK, I admit it, it was a slightly strange time…]

  • Is that Holly Hobbie, or Sunbonnet Sue? The generic image has been around since at least the 1920s, and is still around, morphed into Hello Kitty. I doubt very much that the sweater pattern is in the book. I do wonder why, if it’s cold enough for the boy to wear an Aran knit sweater under a fully lined jacket, the girl isn’t also wearing trousers. By 1975, girls were allowed to wear trousers to school.

  • I don’t have kids and I can’t sew, but if I did I would put names on their clothing. Just not their own. Just for fun.