By T.K. Wilson
My mother’s own doll collection was a curiosity to me as a child. She had such interesting and lovely dolls, crafted with much more care and ingenuity than many of the ones I had! Best of all was Beautiful Crissy, the famous doll with the growing hair.
Manufactured by the Ideal Toy Company starting in 1969, Beautiful Crissy stands at 18 inches tall, and was one of the first doll lines to offer African American dolls. (Barbie’s African American friend Christie hit the market in 1968, by comparison. “Black Barbie” herself wouldn’t arrive until 1980!)
Crissy was an instant hit in the USA and around the world. Crissy came in a box emblazoned with mod art and adorable mod fashions were available for purchase. Ideal improved on Crissy with every passing year, adding new gimmicks and gadgets, not to mention several family members and friends, including Kerry, a friend from Ireland (I believe that she was inspired by Twiggy, the popular British supermodel) and cousins Brandi, Velvet, and Cinnamon.
Recognizing the popularity of the Crissy family, enterprising crafters sought out patterns for making Crissy’s mod wardrobe. Official patterns from McCalls and Simplicity were produced by 1969, crochet and knit fashions for the “it” dolls were especially popular in Australia, where many Crissy dolls were made.
Below, you can see my mom’s original Crissy and a Velvet I purchased off Ebay. The halter top dresses are ones I made from an original pattern.
What about Crissy today? Crissy collectors are still very much around and Crissy dolls are actually quite easy and fairly inexpensive to come by on Ebay. Less easy to come by are authentic Crissy fashions, which is where crafters can come in. There are resources where the enterprising craftsperson can find period produced patterns for both 18 inch Crissy and 15 inch Velvet. First, many libraries may have vintage pattern books for doll clothes, so you should always check there. Online, the tireless efforts of collector Beth Colvin have brought forth a treasure trove of patterns for sewing, crochet, and knitting. You can check that out here: http://crissyandbeth.com/Sew.html
You may be asking yourself: Why would you bother with a doll that was made literal decades before you were born? For the simple reason that I hate to think of toys ending up in landfills when they could still be saved and loved. Plastics take YEARS to decompose into the environment, and quite frankly, it’s a shameful waste. Crissy dolls are so well made they could easily make another generation of children happy, if the right artisan tends to them. That’s why I’m here. Doll dress and restoration is an art, one I’m happy to do for all who ask.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.