Tag Archives: american girl

What’s so special about Schoenhuts?

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If you like to take pictures of dolls, you appreciate how important jointing is.  The picture above is the patent for Schoenhut’s spring-jointing system.  It was revolutionary at the time, (1910s) and it’s sad that it didn’t become more widely used, since it’s common to see those dolls still able to hold their poses even after more than a hundred years!

If you like to take pictures outside, you also appreciate durability, so that after you pose them climbing a tree, they don’t get destroyed “jumping” out of it when you step back to take the picture.  Schoenhuts had wooden heads, whose paint, I’m sorry to say, was not as good as their jointing.  Many of their faces now look ghastly, and it’s probably a very hard decision for their owners as to whether or not to have them repainted.

Can I share a cute story about doll durability?  Several years ago when my niece was younger, she brought her AG doll to a family function, and my great aunt was moved to reminisce about a doll she had as a child.  “When I was younger I had a beauuuutiful doll,” [as one of 13 children, it was probably the only new doll she'd ever had] “and I left her out in the pasture one day and a cow stepped on her head and broke it.”  [This would have been the early 1920s  maybe, and they lived on a farm.]  “I ran into the house crying and Ma took down the catalog and said, ‘We’ll send for a new head.’ “

I like that story for a few reasons.  First, the simplicity of childhood from that era.  I’m willing to bet a lot of money that the only clothes that doll ever had were ones sewn for her at home by my great aunt or another family member.  Instead of soccer practice, swim lessons, and playdates, that doll’s owner had a bunch of farm and household chores to finish before she was allowed the privilege of playing with the doll, and that play consisted of  “adventures” or tea parties with acorn and leaf cups and saucers outdoors in the cow pasture, rather than manipulating a pile of accessories from the AG store.  I also like the “fix-it” mentality, which I do realize was a necessity under the circumstances, but how many plastic dolls have you seen at garage sales or thrift stores that were sadly abused and then discarded for a newer, better one?  (If you want to fix them up – Here’s how )

Anyway, the USPS made a replica of two Schoenhut dolls in 1997, and I recently acquired one.  It was originally dressed as a boy, but reminded me a lot of the carved-hair girls at the time like this one: [photo from Pinterest]

So “he” got a dress and became a “she” because I love little girls’ dresses from the 1910s.  :)

In case you’re wondering, “Schoenhut” (haven’t named her yet) is a slim ~17″ doll.  By “slim” I mean more like a BFC than KnC, but since fashions of that time were loose, they can easily share.

“Schoenhut” stands alone and poses great!  The head is a little wobbly, probably DH needs to look into that…

Speaking of joints…did you know Tonner released a new jointed 10″ body this year for Patsy/Ann Estelle?  There’s also a new girl with this body named “Half Pint”.  And since someone else I know bought three new dolls in one week, I felt justified getting one for the month :)  Yep, I’m sewing for her too!  (See more pix of her here)

Her poseability is fair to good, although her head doesn’t tilt and she has trouble standing alone on uneven ground outside.  So does Minouche, that’s why the AG is holding their hands :)

I didn’t plan on it, but Half Pint’s adorable, chubby body is a perfect little sister to the AGs, so I drafted the big/little sister dresses above, and then resized also for KnC/Sasha and H4H/Cheries.   Then the dress on Galina and Schoenhut above became a prototype for this one:

You can see all the new patterns here 

Wow, this post is getting long!  The summer sew along is in full swing, and you can marvel at everyone’s creativity here

Everyone who’s participating and sends me their photo link by midnight tonight gets this easy jumper (AKA pinafore dress) pattern for their 13″-14″ girls:

If you’re participating, thank you!  If you missed last week, click the photo above to get this pattern on etsy for all sizes and jump back into the sew-along this week!  Post your pix to flickr and send me a link by Thursday, June 26th.  Next week will be a 4-way reversible dress/pinafore…I know you’ll like it!  :)

 

 

Where’s Jasmine?

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Ok, time for the next contest!!

Jasmine is west of the Mississippi.  She’s pictured below dressed for the 40th anniversary of an annual event that just happened in March.  First 3 people to guess exactly where she is (specifically the building she’s in!) win the new pattern collection available here!  Post your answer here: https://www.facebook.com/wrenfeathers

So, a Carpatina Julia joined our doll family recently and demanded to be dressed like a princess.  With my love of other cultures and their clothing, the one or two European princess dresses I was going to make expanded into a collection of 6!  And then the AGs got jealous and it just spiraled out of control.    :)

The collection “officially” comprises:  Medieval England, Renaissance Italy, Ming Dynasty China, Ancient Egypt, Medieval Persia, and a modern sort-of Princess…the Jingle Dancer Powwow princess pictured above!  But lots of the patterns could be used for other things too.  With a bit of imagination, the Egyptian one could turn into a Balinese dancer, the Chinese one could turn into a Korean Jeogori and you could probably even shorten the medieval English dress and turn it into a modern Irish dance dress or even something from the 1940s.

Carpatina Julia in a “tomboy” version of this princess “dress” using just the bodice with leggings.

A girl for all time Clementine as “Lady of the Lake” – Medieval Celtic Princess

Carpatina Julia in an Italian Renaissance gown

My AG “Violet” as an Egyptian princess

Magic Attic Rose as a medieval Persian Princess

Pattern also includes a Powwow Princess jingle dress and Ming dynasty Princess.  See more here

Also, by request, more patterns are available for Saila (or other 18″ dolls).  You can now dress her for winter in an arctic parka called an amauti, or summer, in a calico parka called a kuspuk (pictured below)  Both patterns available as a set here.

With all these new patterns, I’ve reactivated the coupon code 20off20.  Paste that in at checkout on etsy and it will take 20% off your purchase of $20 or more.  It expires at midnight on April 15th.

A spring/summer hoodie for Hearts for Hearts and resizing tutorial

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From time to time people ask me stuff like “How did you learn to sew?” or “What kind of sewing machine should I get?”  A question I’ve been meaning to address for a while is:

“How do you store your doll clothes?”

There are probably more doll clothes than people clothes in my house.  Smaller wardrobes and sets (like the 1940s collection, for instance) get stored in clear plastic bins by collection.  Random things I make get stored in large bins categorized by doll, and sometimes divided up in the bins with bags.  Like a large bin for AGs might have bags inside of skirts, shirts, pants, etc.

I’m embarrassed to admit my dolls generally sit around the house…unclothed.  Apparently they’ve discovered that if they stick around in one outfit too long I stop sewing for them, but if they don’t have anything on it urges me to sew something.  They usually wear a new outfit for a week or so and then it goes in a bin.  It’s not the best system ever, since stuff gets wrinkled and then I have to iron it if they ever want to wear it again.

I’d love to know how you store yours!  You can share as a comment or on https://www.facebook.com/wrenfeathers.  While you’re there, check out the adorable  dress Eva Lotta resized for her Paola Reina!

Speaking of resizing, a huge thank you to Marlene who helped with the Ballerina/Ice-skater conversion to AG size for Isabelle.  Both sizes are now included in the pattern, and if you already have it in the smaller size and want the AG pattern pieces just email me!

 

And yet more resizing…in fact, a free tutorial and pattern for this hoodie  in 14″ doll size

 

Get the resizing tutorial and hoodie here

Coming soon:  Another installment of “Where’s Jasmine?”  and a new pattern collection for all three sizes of dolls!!

Sorry, it’s been a while…

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Did you miss me?  Probably you didn’t notice I was gone… :)  Just as my neck was finally feeling better enough to sew after my car accident, I was drowned in IEP paperwork and parent-teacher conferences, so you’ve all been craftier than me lately! Here are some new ideas people have shared to inspire you:  (I did my best to link to their creators or where these were originally posted, if one of these is yours and doesn’t link right please let me know!)

Margo used the Hogwarts shirt pattern to make a blouse with unique cuffs for her unique (OOAK) KnC:

And Eva-Lotta did a very nice job sewing faux leather to make this toasty jacket and skirt for her KnC:

Marge made the Fall gathered pocket skirt for Spring.  Modeling it is her new Toys R Us Journey Girl, and if you’ve ever debated getting an inexpensive 18″ doll you just can’t go wrong with them.  They are leaps and bounds nicer than the Target dolls, and cost only a little more (around $32).  All of them have beautiful face sculpts and eyes, with a solid neck plate which allows for wearing tank tops without a fabric body showing AND gives them tilt-able heads.  Added bonus?  They’re a bit smaller than AGs, so if you make something that comes out a little too tight, the JGs are thrilled to have it.  :)

Carol made two sizes of the Navajo outfit to go with a storyline for AG and H4H.  She says  “This is my imagining of the Route 66 adventure Molly went on, and that the little Navajo girl, whose clothes Molly admired, actually gave her an outfit to wear!”

Can you guess what pattern this next one came from?

Believe it or not, Elisana used the Halloween pattern to make this cute reversible jacket!  (Click pix to see more on her blog)

Have you made something you’re proud of lately?  Share a pic here

Speaking of Facebook, Jasmine was in Chichicastenango, Guatemala for the last contest.  Kayla and Clemetine were “vacationing” there when they met her and they made a scrapbook of their travels you can print and fold into a doll-size book.  Folding instructions are here   scroll to the page that says:  “Folding the magazines and diary”

Get the tutorial for the huipiles she was selling here

And an embroidery design I digitized based on photos of the “real thing”.  One will fit in a 4×4 hoop, but requires re-hooping.  The other is for a 5×7.  I think I have a way to post these now, so you don’t have to email me for them, let’s hope this works!!

SMALL .pes huipil design

LARGE .pes huipil design

A bunch of fabulous new patterns and another “Where’s Jasmine” contest are in the works for (I hope) the end of March…stay tuned!

Where’s Jasmine?

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Some updates and the next contest:

Queen of Hearts 1

Craig Sharp of http://sharpdresseddolls.com  was nice enough to resize the Queen of Hearts for AG dolls!  It’s going to be used as the March sew-along project on the SGOT AG yahoo group.  If you are not a member, you can join here:https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SGOTs_AmericanGirlDollGroup/info

Craig’s version can be downloaded here  The original version for slim dolls is here

**CONTEST****CONTEST****CONTEST****CONTEST****CONTEST****CONTEST****CONTEST**

Where’s Jasmine?  She’s in a country famous for brightly colored weaving.  She is almost 6500ft above sea level in a town with a 400 year old church.  This church was built on the foundation of a (knocked down) pagan temple.  Interestingly, the 18 original pagan temple steps are still used by priests of that religion, who burn candles, incense and occasionally chickens, to their gods.  Tell me what town she’s in and win one of what she’s selling… Post your answer on Facebook HERE.  Winner will be chosen randomly from all the correct answers posted in the next 24 hours and I’ll post some pix of her there as soon as at least one person guesses correctly… 

Panama!

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Thanks to everyone who participated, we had a winner in the “Where’s Jasmine?” contest VERY quickly!  I know not everyone uses FB, but I did it as a facebook contest so all the entries would have the same “time stamp.”  Sometimes when I send things from one email  to another (like forward things from work to home) there’s a lag of several minutes, and I wanted to make sure it was fair to everyone.  Also, you can see immediately what other people guessed.  The winner will be getting a shirt like this:

And everyone gets the pattern for it here

I have the embroidery in .pes format, just email if you want it.  Note that there are a LOT of little strings to cut but it’s still WAY faster than doing it the “real” way.

I’m so happy with my new Jasmine!  The universe must have seen the issues I was having lately with Saila and Henrietta and finally smiled on me.  Not only did I get Jasmine, I also got an Adora Kayla, and look what they got me for my bday.  (Thank you, Bday Fairy!)

AND best of all, they had no stains, scratches, shiny spots and are very nice quality dolls for the price.  They are not quite the same size as AG/Maplelea, as they are a little thinner and shorter, with shorter limbs.  You can see the difference a little in the photo with Jasmine and Saila above.

Too cold where you live to think about making that blouse?  Check out what Elisana did with the Halloween pattern:

See more on her blog here: http://costuraquasereta.blogspot.com/2014/01/costurando-pra-netinha-parte-1.html

More Maplelea stuff…

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So Saila “said” she needed a sled.  In Inuktitut these are called qamutiik.   I have seen some amazing antique ones made out of caribou antlers and bones, but nowadays most are made of wood.  They are made to be pulled by dogs/snowmobiles, and probably by kids having fun. :)

Amazingly, these sturdy sleds are lashed together, not nailed or glued.  Historically, nails would have to be imported, and glue even now needs certain temperatures to cure and might not hold up in snow/wet/subzero temperatures.  Lashing the qamutiik together with cords means you can make it in any weather with materials you have at hand and make repairs easily, even if you’re far from home out on the tundra.  It’s a pretty amazing sled!

So, Maplelea makes a qamutiik for Saila, but it has holders on it to keep her sitting up straight, which I didn’t see much of while researching real ones.  I made one that looks more authentic.  It’s slightly less useful than the Maplelea one, since she will tip if you try to pull her around on it, but as a prop it’s pretty cute and easy to make.

Download sled pattern here  and Download snowshoes here and her boots (kamiik) are also coming soon!

I’m getting around to a body comparison post, but Maplelea and AG do differ a bit in body type and size.  Fitted AG pants look baggy and too short on Maplelea dolls, so I drafted some just for Saila.

The pattern is on etsy here

I also put together a toasty winter wardrobe with cutting lines for AG and Maplelea.  For shirts and baggy/stretchy pants, it works to just extend the hems to accommodate Maplelea’s longer limbs.  I called it “fleecy fun”

It includes leggings, looser pants with a contrasting panel,  a colorblock top and a zip front top.  The tops can easily be turned into vests by leaving off the sleeves.  You can get it here  Yes, it will include slim pattern pieces in the next week or two.  They’re done, I just need to make final versions and take some cute pictures.  If you already bought it, you should be able to download the smaller size pieces from etsy when they’re available! 

Last but not least… Facebook.  I had made it a new year’s resolution to get better with moderating comments on the blog.  I do read and value ALL of them (even from the mean people who complain about what I haven’t done, rather than thanking me for what I have done) but I usually end up responding individually, and I would like to make things more interactive and see pictures of what you’re making.  SO I started a FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/wrenfeathers.  Right now all that’s on it are some Kidz n Cats pictures my husband took last year, but I would LOVE to make it a forum for you to share your doll/sewing/crafting thoughts and pictures of your creations.  Also remember you’re welcome to sell things you make from Wren*Feathers patterns and you can put links to those on the FB page too!

Since I’m apparently in charge of ordering my own birthday presents, I’m getting an Adora Jasmine next week:

I was supposed to get a Kidz n Cats Henrietta, and I did, but she arrived severely damaged.  (I’m having bad luck with that lately, so keep your fingers crossed Jasmine is ok!)  KnC wanted us to mail her to Germany for them to try to repair her, since she was a limited edition and couldn’t be replaced, but honestly, when I’m paying THAT much for a doll, I see no reason she should not come out of her box in PERFECT condition.   I refuse to pay overseas postage and wait a month or so to end up with a re-worked,  second-quality doll, so Henrietta went back.  I’m bummed, because the KnC are so poseable I LOVE photographing them, but I’m kind of excited for Jasmine, because she looks so ambiguous there are lots of interesting ethnic outfits in my sketchbook for her right now.  Look for her to appear (maybe in a Carmen Sandiego-type contest on Facebook?) soon!

Make doll snowshoes!

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Happy New Year!

So, Santa brought me a Maplelea Saila!  Sadly, Christmas morning was ruined by the shiny spots on her face probably due to the box lid rubbing on her during shipping:

Maplelea nicely offered to exchange her, but the cost and annoyance of international shipping, plus awful past experiences with exchanging damaged dolls made me think twice.  And I learned a valuable new thing:  30-40 mins of gentle rubbing with steel wool is fabulous for removing shiny spots from vinyl dolls like Maplelea and AG!  In fact, DH practiced on a thrift store AG and really made her look a lot better!   After recovering from her “plastic surgery”, Saila wanted to get out in the snow, so I made her some snowshoes: (and jeans, boots and parka)

Yeah, we do have snow, but it’s blowing past the house at 30mph, so I had to take the pix inside. :(

Download the snowshoe pattern here

And then I was making this vest for myself from handwoven fabric and the colors made me think of the arctic, so I made a tiny one for her too, from the scraps:

If you’re a weaver and want to know, it was Harrisville shetland and “Paint box” brand yarns (similar to Noro Kureyon) in the warp sett at 9 epi and just the shetland in the weft at 9ppi.  The human size pattern is the “kimono” vest from Paw Prints pattern company.  It’s a very easy pattern that goes together quickly and fits well, as long as you make a smaller size than you normally wear.  I changed the shape a little to make it fit a doll’s body better.

Download the vest pattern here

Coming soon:  A sled for Saila, jeans and boots made especially to fit Maplelea, a set of toasty mix-match fleece garments, and possibly the parka in the snowshoe pic (I know it doesn’t look like it, but that parka pattern was SO hard to figure out…even harder than Lederhosen and overalls which previously tied for the title of “hardest thing I ever drafted”)

Stay warm!

Mix and Match part 1

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Well, everything I planned to have ready today is not appearing yet.  Here’s why:   I took some of my time off to go through old bank statements (yes, I know, I should have been more “on the ball” about it…) and found out someone somehow stole my debit card number and has been having fun with it.  For a while.  And so, at first, I was too upset to do anything, and then, when I finally calmed down, it was a nonstop marathon of checking through mountains of financial records, and then making phone calls to the bank, police, various companies the charges were made at, etc.  It seemed every time I sat down at my sewing machine the phone rang again, to the point where I wanted to toss it out the window.  Moral of the story, learn from my mistake and CHECK YOUR STATEMENTS IMMEDIATELY!

So, needless to say, many of my fabulous patternmaking plans for this week got put on hold.  But let’s talk about the contest, shall we?  The hard thing about a contest like this is…you have to choose a winner.  Being a pretty indecisive person, it was SOO hard to choose one!  I had planned to post everyone’s entries here, but technical difficulties are preventing that.  Most people sent them as .pdfs, and I can’t find a way to display them without downloading each one separately, saving to my computer, then uploading them here with a separate link to each one.  I’m reasonably certain of two things:  one, you’d rather have me making patterns than spending hours down/uploading stuff, and two, you’re pretty unlikely to want to separately click to open 40 or so pdfs.  So, just a few examples…

There were many good ideas, and several people submitted a lot of them, so there were close to 40 in all.  I was especially touched by how many mother-daughter entries there were.  Should I pick my favorite?  Hmmm, which one would that be?  There were a few that were fantasy-style, elegantly draped, or had details I LOVED, but got pretty complicated when turned into the “real thing” and never made it past the muslin stage.  (Yes I made (or at least tried to make) muslins of the entries I especially liked)

This one, for example, (by the talented paper-crafter Marge from http://maricopastamper.blogspot.com/) had lovely draping at the shoulders and tucks and a laced up back.  But I will tell you that it is super difficult to get perfect tucks in satin, and downright impossible to get them to line up in the front, even with patience and advanced sewing skills.

There were several entries by children who had some great ideas, and went the “extra mile”  not just drawing dresses but  also accessorizing their outfits with hats, jewelry, etc. like these:

Then there were some really special ethnic and historical entries, by Ryan M, whose daughter is the beneficiary of his amazing paperdoll drawing skills

 

Then the more I thought about it, I figured since everyone couldn’t win an outfit, the best idea would be to pick something everyone might like to get as a pattern, and would be accessible to newer sewers too.  Since there were multiple entries that looked to be from the Edwardian era, I ended up choosing one elegant “grown-up” one as the winner to get the outfit, and then merging ideas for several others together for a more child-like dress as well. They will appear together in one pattern set as soon as I can get them finished.  Resizing and trying to make interesting variations for 3 different dolls takes way longer than you’d think!

I’m keeping everyone’s designs in my “stuff to maybe make in the future” file, and if your design gets used I will send you that pattern free!

One thing I DID manage to accomplish was the first installment of the mix-match wardrobe.  YAY!   DOWNLOAD IT HERE.  More will be coming next week.