Author Archives: jenwrenne

Happy Spring!

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You might remember April from a few years back?  She sometimes had links in her journal to related projects and one was a verbnitsa (Вербница) doll to celebrate spring.  I loved the one I had made, and it stood on the window sill above the kitchen sink ever since it was made.  Strangely enough, last night it was suddenly gone!  On the eve of the spring equinox!  My best guess is that it tumbled down into the compost bucket that sits on the counter next to the sink and accidentally got emptied outside.  Well, I was not about to tramp through snow to dig around in the compost pile to verify that when it’s fairly easy to make a new one, but I did have to go hunting around for the directions again.  In case you’d like a new little dolly to help you celebrate spring, here they are:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b83ywyrnmc6hnvw/Verbnitsa%20dolls.pdf?dl=0

What else is new in the Wren’s Nest? 

I’m trying to switch back to the once/twice-a-month thing posting schedule I was doing in the early days of the blog but do have an update on a previous post about uniforms from here: https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/uniform.pdf

Thoughts on the uniform “thing” written two months in:

It’s got a lot of pluses and a few minuses.  Some of the pluses first – it’s really easy to get dressed in the morning.  I rotate between tan/green pants and jeans, so it’s a given that the same style/color will get worn twice in a week, but I have multiples of each pair, so there’s always a clean one waiting.  The pants pretty much all match with the tops, and then I reduced my shoe rotation to one black and one brown, which makes that part easy too.  No one seems to have noticed (or at least said anything about) the severe reduction in my wardrobe at work, and seriously, I didn’t expect anyone to.  Because if anyone really has enough free time on their hands to be keeping track of my clothes, I’ve got some paperwork they can help with! 🙂 

Having a uniform also made me realize that sometimes in the past, “I have nothing to wear” was code for “I’m really nervous about whatever I’m getting dressed for”.  I went panicked to DH a while back saying “I don’t know what to wear today” and he grabbed some pants and responded, “You have a uniform, so what goes with these?”  As it turned out, there were three clean shirt choices and they all matched, so I grabbed one and that was that.  I realized what I had actually been agonizing about was a meeting I anticipated would be stressful and part of that involved thinking about how I’d be seen/judged during it.  Not worrying about what I was wearing let me focus more on what I needed to share and everything actually ended up fine.

On the downside, I haven’t gotten any compliments on my clothes this year either, but that’s just vanity talking, and it’s a small price to pay for giving up the morning clothing saga I used to suffer through.  One other thing I didn’t take into consideration was how COLD it is my work space in the winter.  As the weather started getting colder, I came in one morning and the thermostat said 63.  Yeah, Fahrenheit!  A few hours with the space heater got it up to a balmy 67 and I was able to take off my coat.  So a small number of sweaters got added to the rotation to layer as needed.

Thoughts on the uniform “thing” – seven months in:

Now that the weather is supposed to be getting warmer, all kinds of beautiful clothes are back in stores and people are starting to wear floaty, frilly, flowery things.  I wish I could say I didn’t care in the least and was happy to keep wearing the same uniform of solid blue/gray/green top and tan/green/denim pants I’ve been rotating through for all of fall and winter, but I have to admit it would feel nice to put on a new dress in a flowery print to help feel like spring is here.  The flip side of that is:

a) It’s WAY too cold in my work space for a gauzy dress 

b) I’d go back to a crammed closet full of stuff worn only a few times 

c) I’d be back on the hamster wheel of a wardrobe crisis, or at least a lot of decisions every morning

Thoughts on it today:

As I read this over I realized how long it’s been since I had a difficult-wardrobe morning and had even forgotten what it often used to be like. That’s a huge improvement in my life! There are also no days where I feel like I look terrible, because although every outfit is pretty much the same, it’s a look that was originally chosen because I liked it. So, final verdict is that the “uniform” will stay in place, at least for now, because the pluses far outweigh the minuses. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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This week we complete the outfit with the blouse, which was based on the OG Fashion Fiesta Blouse.  

Get the pattern here!

It’s SOOO cute online, but of course it’s never in my Target to buy.  Aside from that, I’m not the biggest fan of fluorescent colors any more (haven’t been since about 5th grade) and I thought the look could be improved greatly by more intentional placement of the motifs.  The look of the original is exactly what it is – machine embroidered fabric, cut and sewn for a trendy, boho-type look.  If you want that look, the pre-made outfit is a great deal, it even comes with shoes and a bag!  I was going for something a little more traditional and hand-made looking, for timeless style that won’t go out with the boho trend.

I’ve included a graph for simplified motifs using hand cross stitch and you have a couple of options included in the pattern.  The easiest is to just complete the whole thing on coordinating 12ct cross stitch fabric and use that as your front bodice fabric.  Cross stitch is a great form of embroidery for kids to get familiar with handling a needle and thread, and it’s hard to have it come out looking terrible as long as they can count.  You might even consider doing the first half the stitches, so all the counting is correct and then helping the child do the second round to cross over them.

 If you’re really in a hurry, I also digitized a .pes design – the link is in the pattern.

Are you thinking the unusual yoke pattern is a great embroidery canvas?  Or a perfect use for a small piece of embroidered fabric?  Or eyelet?  Or an overlay of fancy lace/trim?  I agree!  The construction of this is similar to this dress: https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/back-to-school-time-already/ so if you need more text explanations, it will be helpful.

Fastest ever OG Pants

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Sorry it’s been a while. Thanks to Lisa for the encouragement I needed to put out a post! 🙂

If you are like me, you might have a fixed idea that certain patterns/styles go with certain fabrics.  Sometimes it’s purely for aesthetic reasons (sure, you could make a prom dress out of Spiderman flannel…) and other times it’s for durability, or some specific characteristic of the fabric like drape or stretchiness. 

With doll clothes you can sometimes bend the rules a little more because you don’t always need to take wear/comfort into account.  One of my former fixed ideas was that stretchy fabric when used for pants should be very stretchy to be comfortable, and gets made with an elastic waistband. 

I recently got a new Our Generation Leticia  [link] who has the lovely new face mold shared by several other dolls including Melina [link].  As I’ve mentioned before, although the regular OG face mold is cute, this new face mold has an artistically-sculpted feel to it that I love and I hope they continue to use it for more dolls.  I first saw her online a few weeks ago and had been checking and checking the supposed stock of them at my store on the Target website.  Even though it said she was not in stock, I happened to be there and it turned out she actually was, YAY! 

Even further off topic…we were waiting a while for a price check since she wasn’t ringing up correctly and, probably just to make conversation, the checkout girl asked if it was for my daughter. I thought about just saying yes, because that would be the typical response, but said no, it was for me, and when I got a weird look I then went on to talk about my blog as sort of a rationale about why I needed her.  Being very introverted, I usually don’t do that, and it made me wonder how many doll-collecting adults (if asked) actually don’t admit the dolls are for themselves when they buy them.  I think the type of doll might factor into that equation too; for instance, if you’re buying a Bleuette, she is very expensive,  has artistic value in addition to historical, and these days is clearly not a child’s toy.  But a $25 doll from Target is marketed to be a child’s toy, so buying it as an adult feels quite different.

Anyway, the pants Leticia came with bent my old fabric/pattern rules in a happy way.  They were double knit, so sort of stretchy, but not as much as T-shirt fabric or fleece.  They were definitely not pants-weight fabric for a human, as they’d likely wear out quickly, but for a doll that’s not a concern.  As a seamstress, I thought there were several things to love about them, most importantly their simple construction.  Instead of a waistband or facing, the top edge just had a  narrow, single-fold hem because the knit wouldn’t be likely to fray, and then they closed with velcro in the back.  So the fit was slim, taking advantage of the fabric’s slight stretchiness to allow the doll to still sit comfortably, but without the hassle of an elastic waist!  Also, it was great to see such nicely-fitted-at-the-torso pants that were specifically made for an OG body.  I don’t have an enormous amount of OG vs AG fitting experience, but the OGs do seem to be a bit more consistent with body sizing from doll to doll than AGs, who have been manufactured over a much longer period of time. 

So, I took some measurements of the originals and replicated Leticia’s pants as a pattern for your OGs, with original fabric suggestions of light to medium-weight, and at least semi-stretchy.  That would be anything from double-knits to sweatshirt fabric to the lighter twills/denims that have lycra woven in to give them some stretch.  At the last minute, my stash refused to cooperate, so I ended up adding a bit of length and ease and making the girlfriend-cut cuffed pants she’s wearing now with non-stretchy fabric, and just serged at the top where you’d do a single hem or face with bias. If your stash DOES have stretchy fabric, you can take in the legs at the side seam by about 1/4″ to make them tighter.

GET THE PATTERN HERE

These pants are SO fast and simple to make you can easily make lots of variations of them, and this pattern would also be great to use if you’re teaching a child to sew.  Next week will be the shirt!

Summer sew-along?  Already?

Yep, time to start brainstorming!  I have so many ideas for this year including sewing and accessorizing for tiny dolls like Lottie or Ginny, various historical themes like Viking or Elizabethan (yes, I did a whole Elizabethan thing when Elinor came out and it never got blogged yet, if you can believe that), travels along the Silk Road, Fairy Tales, (different story and associated costume each week), OGs Go to Camp, a sew-along specifically for boy dolls (AG/Kidz n Cats/OG/Sasha), and finally, I had a vague plan to design a modern, coordinated cut-and-sew wardrobe that you could either order as yardage and make everything at your own pace or I’d also post the individual patterns each week on the blog if you’d rather make it in your own fabric.  To save on fabric-printing costs, that one would probably be for smaller-size dolls, maybe Hearts for Hearts or even tiny ones like Lottie.  Post a comment to weigh in and suggest what you’d like to sew!  I’ll leave comments open for a few weeks to collect responses, but the actual sew-along theme will be a surprise!  Most likely it will happen again in May this year.

Make a kimono with “fake” lining

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Have you heard the term “grail” doll?  Mamachapp Moko-chan, specifically this pigtail one, was one of my grail dolls and eventually did arrive and then got hidden to be a present for some special occasion. I found her while cleaning the doll room because DH is apparently not a good hider of dolls 😉  He is good at taking pix of them though, as you can see from Moko-chan’s first photo shoot: https://www.flickr.com/photos/67465307@N08/albums/72157697316555690 

I recently got another version of Moko-chan, who came in a kimono.  You might recall from some previous posts the difference between kimono and yukata, but to avoid linking here, I’ll mention one main difference, which is lining.

Many tiny doll clothes sell for exorbitant prices, and Azone/Obitsu are some of the higher-end ones of these. You can get this 21cm Obitsu body for around $20, and maybe another $20for a head with rooted hair, so what you’re really paying the high price for with the Mamachapps is basically the eyes, styling of hair, and clothing.  The pictures of this doll in her promotional photos made it look like she was wearing a lined kimono, so I was startled to take it off and find out that it was not only unlined, but the seams weren’t even finished on the inside!  I did love the effect of the fake “lining” though, for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s definitely easier and takes less fabric than lining the whole garment, and secondly, it avoids the dreaded“bulk” I’m always going on about with doll clothes.  Something I found very interesting though,and wouldn’t have come up with on my own is using fabric on the BIAS for this purpose.  This is a great idea that really improves the drape of the pieces, especially the lining for the body itself, helping it to curve nicely around the body rather than sticking out stiffly.  Fabrics cut on the bias don’t fray the same way as those cut on the straight grain, so I can even before giving of the sleeve “lining,” although I still would have preferred it to be at least pinked.   

Of course, I needed to make a kimono for my original Moko-chan too, so the pattern here is based on the one her sister came with.  It fits an Obitsu 21-23cm body or anyone else with similar measurements such as Dal, Tiny Betsy (shorten arms and bottom hem), or even Licca and Blythe bodies. Don’t have any of those?  The tutorial for fake lining can be used with any yukata/kimono pattern on the blog but is probably most useful for the small doll ones like Ten Ping or Little Darling. 

Get the tutorial here

There are more kimono patterns to use with this “lining” technique here:

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/free-pattern-for-february-kimono-geta-obi.pdf (this fits AGAT and Kidz n Cats)

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/more-ten-ping/

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/?s=little+darling+in+japan

Bex’s school uniform!

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Hello everyone! Here’s my first post from Japan! We are living in Mie prefecture with the Hasegawa family while mom helps them get certified as an organic tea farm. Just like our family, the Hasegawas also have two daughters near the ages of my sister Della and I and also one older brother. Tomorrow I’ll be starting school with Yuki. She writes it like this: 雪 isn’t that pretty? Maybe I’ll learn a new way to write my name too?
Love, Bex

BTW Here’s a pic of me in my new uniform:45544751591_8146d4f264_z

Get the jacket pattern here

Hogwarts shirt pattern here

Skirt shown is from this costume, although I plan to make it again in plaid.