This packet of McCall's doll's clothes home sewing patterns (No. 418) was made in 1936 by the well-known American sewing pattern manufacturer, The McCall Manufacturing Co. The patterns are for clothes to be made for 13 to 25-inch "Movie Dolls" and the illustrations on the packet resemble the famous child movie star of the 1930s, Shirley Temple.
Shirley Temple began her film career at the age of four in 1932 and rocketed to fame in a few brief years. Her "feel good" films produced in the depth of the Great Depression attempted to bring hope and optimism to the cinema viewing public to help them forget their worries for a short time. Shirley continued to make films until the age of 12, then only a few more in her teens until retiring from the industry in 1950 at the age of 22. Despite this relatively short film career her name is still commonly known 70 years later (in 2011) and her films continued to be shown on Australian television well into the 1970s.
Many items of merchandising were produced during the 1930s about the popular and timeless film star. In 1937 "The Australian Women's Weekly" noted that Shirley Temple earnt 50,000 Australian pounds from her four films over a year and a further 100,000 pounds from associating her name with commercial products. Probably the most popular of all were the Shirley Temple dolls which were prohibitively expensive for most families. At least the clothes for a similar sized doll could be made by a mother or grandmother at home with the help of this McCall's sewing pattern. During the Great Depression and well into the 1970s sewing the family's clothes was undertaken with the help of McCall's patterns where the latest fashions could be made at a fraction of the ready-made ones.
This McCall pattern was used by Mary Griffin to sew doll's clothes for her daughter, Daphne, in Mackay, Queensland, in the 1930s.
Curator, Transport & Toys
"Shirley Temple is Big Business" in "The Australian Women's Weekly", 18 December 1937, p.36.
McCall's from Wikipedia
Information provided by Daphne Kingston, 2011.