I have approximately 180 of these mini mannequin patterns from the 1930′ thru the 1950’s. The nice thing about these patterns is the fact that they are not “doll” pattern per say but accusal miniaturized full size patterns.
While the larger mannequin dolls were used in fabric stores, someone got the bright idea to use a smaller version of the same doll as a child’s toy. Several versions of this mini mannequin were produce for sale and advertised as an educational toy to teach young girls to sew. The dolls were called teenage mannequins or fashion dolls and could be bought separately or in sets. The smaller mannequin or “fashiondol” (the spelling is correct) sets were designed to appeal to mothers of young girls and were advertised as a way to teach little girls to sew.
Several different types of sets were sold from different pattern companies. Each company seemed to have their own style of doll. The least expensive sets were just a $1.00 and included just the doll with removable arms, a small wooden stand for the doll and a few basic sewing supplies. The 1946 Sears Christmas catalog listed a 7- piece rubber mannequin set for $1.79. The set included the doll, three patterns, fabric for a dress for the mannequin doll, tape measure, and a sewing book, “Hints For The Young Designer”. The 12 piece mannequin and dress form set listed for $3.19. It included a mannequin doll and wood stand, dress form, three patterns, fabric for a dress, thimble, thread, tape measure, needles, dress trimmings, and is 66 page instruction book. The top of the line sets included a small sewing machine, the doll and stand, a dress form or “dummy”, fabrics, patterns and various sewing supplies.
The doll sizes vary from company to company from 11-3/4″ to 20″. The most common size appears to be
12-1/2″. Most of the earlier dolls were made from composition and usually didn’t survived till the present, since the composition would crack or craze and flake off and the dolls were very fragile and would break easily if dropped. Later dolls were made from rubber or plastic. You can sometimes still purchased one in good shape.
Extra patterns were available separately for these dolls. The price range was 15¢ each or 25¢ for a set of three. The extra patterns were usually a mail away item.