If you've followed my blog for a long time you no doubt remember my obsession with my first baby doll: Velvet Skin Baby Dreams by Ideal. I had a latent memory from childhood which would express itself at night when I was dreaming. I would dream I left my baby, who wore a pink gown with a little pointed hood, on the floor by the front door and went back to get her she was gone (I know, I was a great mother!). I would look and look for her but could never find her and then wake up and feel such a sense of loss. This was occurring when I was in my mid-30s but the doll in the memory was real, from my early childhood. In the dream I could perfectly recall our house in California as it was when I was a toddler, something I can't remember in my waking life. I kind of remembered the baby doll in my dream. I thought it must have been a cloth doll because I knew it had a fuzzy face. I asked my mom about it and she immediately became very defensive. It turns out, the doll had a flocked face. The flocking was peeling off and turning brown so when I wasn't looking she threw it away. Shortly after that my father died and we moved to Ohio to live with my grandparents. I think the sense of grief I had in my dreams and my compulsion to search for her was my brain trying to get back the memory of my California days when I was a happy little girl and didn't yet know the loss of a parent.
My mother couldn't remember the name of my doll, so armed only with the information that she had a flocked face and hoping my memory of her pink gown with the pointed hood was accurate, I began searching online. It took months to find out her name and when I did I discovered she is a very rare doll. Apparently most of these dolls were thrown away when their flocking started to flake off. I made it my mission to find and repair as many of these babies as I can. Since then I no longer have the recurring dream.
As you can see from this doll's before and after photos, she gets pretty scary looking when she's been overly loved. For one thing, the original body fabric is a dark beige, so it looks dirty even when the doll is new. Ideal only produced this doll in 1975 and they significantly lowered the quality toward the end of the production. The first dolls had a flocked face and limbs and thick hair. By the time they discontinued the doll only the faces were flocked and the hair was thin and sparse. Even the better dolls have the low-quality hair so prevalent in the 1970s. It gets very frizzy with any kind of play.
This doll is one of the higher-quality early ones. I cleaned this doll, made her a new body using the old one as a pattern, gave her hair a boil treatment to straighten it and ran over the hair with a fabric shaver to trim the split ends. Her eyes were cloudy so I cleaned those with a cotton swab dipped in window cleaner. Her flocking is rubbed off her chin, cheeks, and the tip of her nose as well as in spots on her legs and arms. Despite all that she cleaned up well and looks much better. She's also much sturdier now and ready for gentle play. These dolls are really too delicate for rough play unless you want to have to re-flock them about every 6 months.
After many years of searching I acquired a mint-in-the-box Baby Dreams doll for myself. I used her original outfit to make a replica. As you can see, my restored Baby Dreams holds her own pretty well next to the mint one. I don't think you'd even recognize her from her before photo!
My mint doll is one of the later ones, not as high-quality, but still cute. She spends most of her time in her box anyway. I also use her original paperwork to make tags for my restored dolls.
I did the best I could with her hair. It never gets perfectly smooth. Of course you could re-root the doll or give her a wig. Whenever possible I try to retain the original hair because it's a very unusual pinkish-white blond that matches the flocking. Besides that, the lucky circumstance of the original hooded gown covers it very well.
I make copies of the original paperwork to use as tags. This doll has special eyes that open and close when you lie her down sideways and the paperwork explains that (I guess so people wouldn't be calling Ideal all the time complaining the eyes were broken). It takes a little practice to learn to work them.
I had stretch jersey knit body fabric especially for doll-making so that's what I used for the replacement body. As a result my doll is a little more toned-looking than originally. I like the pale peach shade so much better than the original brown. I couldn't believe it when I got my mint doll and found out the body was always that dark and dingy looking!
I'm very pleased with this restoration! Right now this baby is reserved. If her adoption doesn't go through I will list her in my shops and update this post. You can link to all my shops from the Home page. I have many more restored dolls for sale on eBay, Etsy, Depop, Mercari, and Poshmark.
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.