Mad Wife In The Attic

Corinne by Italo Cremona (1971) — Her History and a Jacket Pattern

xCorinne_139forblog
In 1971 and 1972, I received Corinne dolls for Christmas.  They were featured in the Sears Wishbook:  “The 15″ Italian beauty with luxurious hair you can style almost any way you can imagine.”  Who could resist?  This larger doll with her lush hair and her fashion pose was different from Barbie.  Corinne was easier to sew for, so Barbie was cast aside and Corinne became my fashion victim.  I eventually gave all my dolls away except for the Corinne girls–there was just something special about them.

SearsWishbook_1971_P012forblog

#1 Lovely Corinne in maxi-skirt, jacket and boots. This girl arrived in 1971. ~Page from 1971 Sears “WishBook” holiday catalog.~

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#5 Corinne in mod slacks set and vest. This girl arrived in 1972. ~Page from 1972 Sears “WishBook” holiday catalog.~

A few years ago, I got the girls out and cleaned them up.  There were many mends on the clothes and I had to laugh at my crude repairs– I can only imagine what the outfits I made from scratch must have looked like!  While sprucing them up, I got inspired to learn more about these dolls who came onto the doll scene so strong, but seemed to disappear completely.

Who Was Italo Cremona?

Italo Cremona was born in 1891.  He worked for a celluloid manufacturer and learned about business and plastics, then started his own company in 1922 in Gazzada, Italy.  He gave the company his own name and his family lived in rooms above the factory.  His sons Bruno and Fernando were born there and they would succeed their father managing the company.  Italo and his sons were innovative and progressive managers and would steer the company through a turbulent 20th century.

The company’s first products were typical celluloid combs, glasses and toiletries.  They innovated new plastics and were the first to use injection molding in special presses they designed and built for making sunglasses.  Italo Cremona stuggled, but survived World War II and the death of Mr. Cremona in 1946.  The sons left school to manage the business and with the help of the Marshall Plan in 1947, the company retooled.

The young Cremona brothers were soon managing a company of over 600 employees.  Their most successful product was sunglasses but they wanted another product that wasn’t as seasonal.  They began manufacturing dolls and toys in the 1950s and found immediate success.  They patented a system of interlocking building blocks called Plastic City and they were extremely popular.  They looked a lot like Legos:

Box of Plastic City School game - You can build the whole world!   1960s and 1970s.  This photo is from www.museoweb.it

Box of Plastic City School game – You can build the whole world!
1960s and 1970s. This photo is from http://www.museoweb.it

By the late 1960s, Italo Cremona employed more than 1000 people and they made millions of dolls, sunglasses, and building block sets.

Amica glasses-Italo Cremona with seven interchangeable lenses. 1969 Archive of enterprise.

Amica glasses-Italo Cremona with seven interchangeable lenses. 1969 Archive of enterprise.

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There was a devastating fire in 1974.  When rebuilding, they focused on high technology and efficiency which greatly reduced the work force.  As toy manufacturing moved to China, the company focused on designer and performance eyewear.  An important partnership with Gianni Versace was abandoned when the designer was murdered and that enterprise was sold to the eyeglass company, Luxottica.  Italo Cremona now designs jewelry and fashion accessories but employs less than 100 people.

There is more information about Italo Cremona on MuseoWeb Dell’Economia Varesina.  http://www.museoweb.it

Among those millions of dolls were my two Corinne dolls.

Later, you could buy a very similar doll in simpler packaging and her clothes were usually less detailed.  I think that doll was sold as “Vanessa.”  There was also a later version with a jointed waist so she was more poseable.  Italo Cremona made their most popular dolls in a dark skinned version also — the dark Corinne is especially lovely.  This is a picture of a friend’s doll wearing an original Corinne fashion:

xAACorinne

Outfits were available separately.  This is a really cute outfit that is still in the box.  This also belongs to Joan.  Check out the fabulous illustrations of quintessential 70s fashions:

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My dolls have lost their sun glasses–I’m sure I broke or lost them immediately.  The doll in yellow is wearing a replaced jacket.  Her original imitation leather jacket disintegrated and turned into a gooey mess.  I got some thin and supple yellow suede and reproduced her jacket.  It isn’t exactly like the original but pretty close.  If you would like to make a similar jacket for your doll, the pattern is below.

You can download this pattern on Flickr (click on photo to go to Flickr).

Basic Assembly Instructions for Jacket

I used lightweight suede, but pleather or ultrasuede should work well also.  If you use a woven fabric you’ll need to change the pattern to add shoulder seams.  If you are using leather, you can use a leather glue to baste and also for the sleeve hems.  When pinning leather, try to only pin in the seam allowances because pinholes in leather may remain visible — suede is more forgiving.

Cut 2 sleeve pieces and 1 of each of the other pieces out of leather.  Cut the same pieces out of lining.  I used a 4 way stretch netting for the lining but you could use something else as long as it is thin.  Choose something that won’t stain the doll.

Sew the sleeves to the jacket body.  Make small gathers in the top of the sleeve.  Press the seam toward the sleeve with a warm (not hot) iron.  Do the same on the lining.

Press a 1/4″ hem in the sleeves but don’t stitch.  Cut 1/4″ off of the sleeve lining hem.

Trim 1/4″ off of the outside edge of the collar lining.  Place the collar lining on the leather — wrong sides together.  Press the outside edge of the collar under 1/4″ and top-stitch in place.  Find the center of the collar and the center of the jacket back.  Pin the collar to the jacket with right sides up, and stitch in place.  The collar should end about 1/2″ from the center front.

With right sides together, stitch the side seams and sleeve seams in one continuous seam–keep the sleeve hem unfolded.  Press seams open.  Use a dowel inside the sleeve to press those seams open.  Do the same with the lining.  Turn the jacket right side out.

Trim 1/4″ off of the front opening edges of the lining.  Pin the lining to the neck and collar — right sides together.  Stitch the lining to the jacket around the neck.  Snip the seams, turn and press.

Put the lining inside the sleeves and match up the seams.  Use leather glue or fabric glue to glue the sleeve hem.  Be sure to get the lining inside the glued hem.

Fold the leather over 1/4″ along the front opening.  Keep the folded points at the neck opening tidy.  Make sure you catch the lining.  Baste with glue then top stitch up the front and stay stitch around the neck in one continuous seam.

Pin the band to the bottom of the jacket right sides together.  Place it so that the pointed end lines up nicely with the front of the jacket — remember the edges of the band will be turned under 1/4″ and stitched.  You can baste with glue.  Also pin the band lining to the inside of the jacket and stitch all the layers together around the bottom.  Fold the band and lining down and press.

Trim 1/4″ off of the other sides of the band lining.  Fold the leather over the lining 1/4″.  Baste with glue then top stitch all around the band.  If the straight end of the band is too long, just cut it off.

Overlap the jacket front and sew decorative buttons to the front.  I used the buttons from the original jacket.  Sew snaps to the inside.

And, now she’s all set for another 40 years!

This entry was published on April 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm. It’s filed under Doll Clothes, Sewing, Tips, Tutorial, Vintage Dolls and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

18 thoughts on “Corinne by Italo Cremona (1971) — Her History and a Jacket Pattern

  1. So bizarre that you posted this. I had this doll, and she was my favorite doll (next to Barbie of course.) I had always thought that my doll was a Ferga doll, but after seeing this blog post, I’m absolutely certain that this is the doll I had. My uncle worked at Kresgee’s in Philadelphia and he bought her for me for Christmas. I had her until my eldest was born in 1994. She looked horrific because I played with her so much that her vinyl split and my dad sewed her head on. (Yeah—you read that right–he used this thick twine and glued her head into the hole.) This really takes me back. Thanks for the memories. xoxo

    • I would love to have seen your Dad’s repair!! I’m imagining it and cracking up. Actually, it might appeal to a certain type of doll collector these days LOL. My Dad had the same technique — we learned to never ask him to do repairs. Black electrical tape was his tool of choice. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that we both loved this doll 🙂

  2. Giulia on said:

    Wow, what a wonderful post! I love and collect Corinnes, although I never had them as a child. I find them so beautiful and intriguing, I am actually rerooting one! We’ll see ^_^

  3. Melissa on said:

    I have a pair of these sunglasses in the original case all the lenses still wrapped and with the instructions it looks like my great grandmother wore them once then never again they are in almost perfect condition and I’m trying to find someone to appraise them. They are amazing.

  4. Hi Melissa! Do you have the Amica round glasses? Can you get in touch with me? Thanks 🙂

  5. I just want to pop in and thank you for the information, and for the pattern! I just got a Corinne, and will try making one soon! Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. BTW, what was the blouse like under the jacket? or was that a dress instead of a skirt? I’d sure love to know! Thanks

    • Thank you so much and I’m thrilled that you’ll use the pattern. Now, I’m very glad I posted it. Believe it or not, there was no blouse under the jacket. I guess she was a free spirit! Actually, I figure it was cost saving to have nothing underneath. I think it would be nicer with some kind of little top though. I put a Tonner Tyler sweater on Corinne once and it fit nicely. I’ll bet there are some basic stretchy Tyler tops that would work great under the jacket.

  7. Jan McIver on said:

    Hello–lovely pattern, thanks so much! PLEASE, PLEASE tell me what shoes I can get for my poor nude Corinne (flat foot, so the “Jackie” hi-heels do NOT fit her. Help!

    • Hi Jan — Shoes for these dolls is a little tricky. I’m lucky that my girls have their original shoes. They have flat, slender feet. I can’t think of any other doll with a similar foot… I have loads of shoes for my Asian ball jointed dolls, and they’re all very wide in comparison.

      You could try to make shoes. One of my Corinnes wears a boot made out of pleather. Many of them wore this kind of shoe. It’s basically just a sock. It doesn’t have a sole or anything. You could just sew one up out of leather, pleather, or ultrasuede. The other dolls have little black slipper type shoes. You could make something like that also. Or maybe make sandals. Maybe I’ll whip some up as a tutorial…

    • Giulia on said:

      Hi, if you are interested I am selling a few NRFB packets of original Corinne shoes from my collection on ebay at them moment 🙂 I agree that some shoes for slim 1/4 BJD dolls fit them but tend to be too big in size, the handmade boots are a great option!

  8. Penny on said:

    Hi! I’ve just discovered these beauties, I already own a very pretty Sebino Bettina who seems very similar. However, I was just wondering if I could ask about Corinnes eyes, in a lot of the listings, both for new and used dolls they seem to have blue above their eyes, is this supposed to be eyeshadow or is there a problem with vinyl discolouration? Any advice you can give greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Penny, The Corrine dolls all have blue eye shadow. All of my dolls have it and the ones I’ve seen in photos all appear to have it. I haven’t seen problems with vinyl discoloration on these girls. I’ve seen other vinyl doll lines that change colors or have internal mechanisms that cause the vinyl to get weird spots. If these dolls aren’t stored in bad conditions (like a hot attic or a damp basement), I think the vinyl holds up well. They could have staining from their clothes but I haven’t seen any with that either. They often get a tear in the vinyl around the neck — that is the most common flaw I’ve seen. Also, a few bad haircuts by young beauticians.

  9. Jan McIver on said:

    Reply to “MadWife” –(reference to poor Bertha in “Jane Eyre”?) and to Giulia:

    1. Thanks, Giulia, for the tip on the original shoes for Corinne–of course, eBay Italy would be a rich source for packaged clothes! I’ll take a look.

    2. “Madwife”– I am creating a wedding gown for my Corinne using lace and slipper satin from that time–from a sewing family, thank God; so have loads of vintage fabrics. It’s based on an Albert Angelo bridal pattern that I think captures Corinne’s interesting blend of innocence and elegance. Give me some time this summer, and I’ll try to post the photo.

    And I am going to make my own shoes. I think some 1/4 BJD Dollfie may fit the doll. But I am going to make cork-soled sandals for her. Sling-back should also be easy to make.

    Not too bad for a doll that I found flung onto a heap of toys at Goodwill years ago and had no idea who she was. Glad she came to me.

    Thanks,
    Jan

  10. Gayle Brown on said:

    I just took a chance that I might find some information on my doll that I saved for many years! It was so great to hear about the history of the doll that I though was just a cheap non-discript doll since that is what my mother would have normally bought for me. I was around 10 to 12 when I recieved her for Christmas. I just moved this past year, and saw her again when I got to her box, (she is still in the original box although it is falling apart), I wondered if she was worth anything, besides my memories, and several doll clothes my mother had made for her. She was special to me and I wanted to keep her nice, thus keeping her in the box. Funny, I can’t find any of my barbies!
    I loved seeing the Sears ad! We kids loved to pour over the pages every year, and I can’t believe how cheap the doll sold for; but today, it probably would sell for $40- $50 I think. I also appreciate the history written of the doll and the company who made her.

  11. Penny on said:

    I’ve finally got two of these lovely girls, one still in her box! I wanted to pick your brains about hair colours produced if you know or could point me in the right direction? I’ve seen a doll and she is not ginger but her hair looks quite coppery? Anyway, if you can help I would be most grateful. Thanks

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