1970 Spiegel for Velvet

Over the years, as an archivist I have mentioned why the Spiegel catalog outfits seem to be so hard to find. The truth is, the outfits were constructed of very flimsy fabrics that ravel easily. They also weren't constructed well. The outfits below arrived in varying states of disrepair. Many of the seams were torn. Most of them weren't back-tacked so the stitching had started to come away from the garment.

The first pictures show some of this lack of quality:

Here is the front of the red polka-dot dress, before restoration.

Here is the back.

The entire shoulder is "out" on this piece.

This shot well-illustrates the loose woven fabric selected for this pair of pants and also it shows how the stitching is coming apart. All of this is very typical for Spiegel.

For this restoration, I had to pick the hem seam out. Then I reinforced the entire skirt edge with very light-weight fusible interfacing. After this application, I trimmed the fabric edge to free it of all loose threads. Then it was re-hemmed. The entire white collar was removed very carefully since about 50% of it had come unattached and sewn back into place. The garment was then steamed while on a doll to give it back its shape.

The necklace is original to this entire set of clothes from the 1970 Spiegel catalog collection for Velvet.

This adorable ballerina outfit needed light reconstruction. The ballerina slippers are original to the collection. Curiously, when they arrived, they were much too small and there was some question as to their authenticity. If they weren't made too small in the first place, then they have shrunk with age over time. I make this assumption because they are rather firm, not pliable. In order to get them on her feet, they were softened in boiling water and reshaped while on her foot.

When the shoes arrived, an inquiry was made of the seller, asking for a bit of history. They were part of the entire collection found on this page. The seller described the lot as originating at an estate sale; it included a Velvet doll, this set of clothes, the featured jewelry and accessories, and these ballet slippers. The archivist in me is 100% sure that they go with the set, in spite of the fact that they are smallish. Additionally, just like the other shoes that were sold for Velvet in later years in the Spiegel catalogs, the slippers are also marked "Hong Kong." Therefore, there seems enough evidence that they went to this set. A few months after the purchase of this Spiegel collection, another lot was purchased that contained parts of the ballerina outfit and it included yet another pair of these slippers. They too are very small and firm, non-pliable and difficult to put on the doll, identical in every way to the first pair. The second lot arrived with a Velvet and parts of several outfits found in the Spiegel catalog. Now that two pair have come along, both included in Spiegel catalog sets, it is a sure thing that these slippers are indeed from Spiegel.

It is very nice that the instep on the slipper arches enough that it causes Velvet to be counterbalanced and she can stand up straight in them!

The butterfly hair barrettes are original to this collection of Spiegel clothes. They aren't shown in the catalog. In fact, they didn't appear in the Spiegel catalog for Velvet until 1973. But since this set turned out to be 90% complete when it arrived here, I feel like they belong to the set, perhaps they were a substitute for another hair ornament that the catalog showed that year. At any rate, aren't they sweet!?

Here is a close-up showing the fronts of the barrettes.

And here are the backs, showing how they closed.

This next outfit confused me a bit. The catalog states that there are six complete outfits. If this is the case, then this little dress would be one of the dresses and the burgundy sateen coat that seems to match so well would have to go with it, counting it as an outfit. However, it just can't stand on its own. It has no snaps or any sort of closure (brrrr!). It actually seems to be meant to be a little jacket to go over this dress. So there are truthfully only five complete outfits and the description isn't quite accurate.

See? Doesn't this look nice over the little striped dress? And it repaired rather well. The purse is original to the entire collection.

"It's for you!" says Velvet. Yes, this phone is original to the set. The pantsuit didn't require a large amount of repair work.

This little suit is adorable! It was the only two pieces in the set that didn't require restoration.

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All text and photography, August 2007, Beth-Ellen Colvin