Fashion Doll Restore4: 14RA
Grocery Store Doll
By: Roselyn Gadia-Smitley
Photo1: 14RA Doll (1955-1959) Headshot. Closeup headshot photo of my 14RA doll that has sewn-in new hair and dress ensemble. Her face paint is original and without any retouching. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
Purchasing nude lots of 1950s fashion dolls through the internet (via auction sites as Ebay) is a fun hobby for me. However, I make sure that the dolls are free of marks on the face. I pay very little for the auctions with the exception of mailing. Many times, the costs of mailing are higher than the price of the dolls. I live in a small university town in the U.S.A., so this is an avenue for me to acquire dolls.
One of these dolls that I acquired through an internet auction purchase is a 17" 14RA (marked at the back of the head). She is also marked with a raised letter "A" at the lower back of her torso. (I have a boxed doll similar to this one whose name is "Jasmine" distributed by Adanta.) These type of dolls are referred to by some collectors as "grocery store dolls" as they were made available through grocery stores in the United States.
This doll has a soft vinyl head with a soft vinyl one piece stuffed body. She has high heel feet. Her head is rooted with dark brown saran/nylon hair which has been severely cut and balding in places. She has an open & close eye mechanism with soft nylon eyelashes. Her face is perfect and beautiful. Her body however, has many scratches and in some places stained.
The most challenge I have with this doll is the very poor condition of the hair. I did not want to root the hair as I am more of a restorer, rather than into refurbishing. This doll was my very first attempt in sewing hair into the head. I visited the only hobby store in my small town and saw curly nylon hair for dolls in small packages. The hair only came in two colors: blonde and black. I decided to purchase the black hair as it matches the black eyelashes of the doll. Her original saran hair was a dark brown color.
Stitching her original hair in very small bunches with chain stitches, I stitched circular rows of transparent nylon thread throughout the doll's head as a base. I placed my stitches, just to secure the remaining hair flat to the head, without going through the holes of the head. These stitches can be removed if desired, without damage to the very short original hair. Researching the internet, I decided on a short hairstyle that was also worn by many women in the 1950s. I cut the curly nylon hair into manageable lengths of about 16". I whip-stitched the curly strands into the rows of chain stitches that I previously made, leaving loose curls unsewn. I left tufts of the curly hair in uniform intervals as close as I could to create new hair for this doll. After the procedure of sewing was done, I fluffed the curly hair to expose individual strands to make it look natural. To keep the curly strands from snagging, I created a net headpiece, leaving only small peeks of curly hair at the front.
Photo2 Photo 3
Photo2: 14RA Doll Closeup. Right side closeup photo of the head. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
Photo 3: 14RA Doll Closeup. Left side closeup photo of the head. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
Photo 4: 14RA Full Length Photo. Full length photo of the 14RA doll in this article. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
Dressing the doll was the fun part. Going through my boxes of fabrics for recycling, I selected a pink satin from an old stained dress and overlayed black net at the top. The black net is the same material that I used for the headpiece. The one piece torso made it difficult to dress and undress this doll. I designed a gown that opened completely at the back that is strapless. To keep the gown secured, I added V-straps at the front of the bodice which closes with snaps at the back of the neck. To complete the ensemble, I made a wrap of the same materials. I am very pleased with this endeavor. My $1.00 purchase was worth the effort and created such fun in the process.
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For additional information, click at these links:
HISTORY OF THE DOLL
COLLECTING BARBIE DOLLS ON A BUDGET