Author Archives: jenwrenne

“Plastic Surgery”


October is…? month.  It’s so many things!  It was going to be Polish heritage month on the blog, but then I found out it’s also German, Romanian, Filipino, Italian (and probably some others as well) Heritage month, depending which list you’re consulting, and of course the first two weeks are the end of Hispanic Heritage month, which started Sept. 15th.  In “topic” months, it’s Depression Awareness, Anti-Bullying, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Arts and Humanities month, along with probably a bunch of others I didn’t get emails about 🙂  I’ve mentioned the “Paradox of Choice” book before, and that too many options are not a good idea, because they can be overwhelming.  I’ve also been so busy sewing for myself lately that doll stuff is on the back burner; a month with a topic would have been a great idea to pull me back onto that track and I even toyed with making up some kind of silly theme for the month like unicorn-riding. So…there might be a topic or not, and there might be posts or not, because another thing it is is parent-teacher conference month, which often means a lot of IEP-related paperwork for me.

Well, there is a post/project for today, and the title is because whenever we do modifications on a doll, DH calls it “plastic surgery.”  🙂

I have a fun and fairly easy one for you this week that could potentially make a big difference in your doll’s photogenic-ness.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago with Mienna, I really like her wired insides, and it turns out, the more I interact with her, the more I like the ability to separate the legs for better standing.  You can see in the promo pics of OGs (link) that they often cross the dolls’ legs, which of course means they were originally on a stand that had to get photoshopped out, which is a time-consuming process and reduces the spontaneity of being able to share pix. 

The second thing I love about the wires is the ability to just put a little more “life” into the arms.  The OGs and Maplelea share an arms-at-the-sides pose that looks a little stiff and unnatural (more so on the Mapleleas in my opinion) compared to the AGs or Journey Girls.  So even though I haven’t been bending Mienna’s limbs at 90-degree angles, with the wires it’s possible to bend the arms into a nicer curve at rest that doesn’t feel so stiff.  As you can imagine, seeing the prospect of better posing with one OG made me take a good look at the rest of them, because many of the newer ones (Melina, Leticia, Rafael, etc.) have face molds I find very attractive, but don’t show up on the blog because of posing limitations.  So, this past weekend when we were at Target and they were on sale, we snapped up a posable one with the standard face mold and decided to see if some “plastic surgery” was possible that could improve posing on a head I liked better.  Spoiler alert – it was easy!  So my now-custom Rafael can stand and pose far better than before, and the standard head got swapped onto old his body, so there wasn’t any waste of parts in the process.

Do you NEED to do this?  For an OG play doll, no, and in fact, you’ll violate the safety testing if you modify the dolls at all, since safety testing got done with the dolls as they came from the factory, so there’s a possibility your modifications could result in a doll who is not child-safe.  If you’re an adult wanting better posing ability though, click here for the tutorial.

Heirloom lace dress for Nancy Famosa and Wellies


I have a VERY special pattern for you today!  It’s suited for intermediate seamstresses who live somewhere so hot they just want to close the curtains, crank up the AC and sew for a few hours. 😉 That’s actually not me…the weather has been really pleasant up here so far this summer aside from some hail and a few days in the upper 80s, and we’ve never had this much rain that I remember, so the wildflowers are just incredible.

OK, back to the dress!  It’s shown above on a repro Nancy Famosa “Romántica” but the dress is inspired by Nancy “Caribe” from maybe 20 years ago (not sure – please comment if you know).  I’m just in love with this new Nancy, who has a gorgeous warm brown skin tone and sparkling turquoise eyes (they photographed a little on the greener side here).  Her hair feels softer than some of my other Nancys, so it may be they’ve used a different/higher quality hair for this one. 

  I know Nancy is not all that easy to find in the US, so before you start wondering who else it will fit…

Yep!  Even though they’re about 3” shorter, the Wellies have a very similar torso and arm to Nancy and can wear this dress too!   It would be a precious little flower girl or first communion dress for them, or use colored lace and a print fabric for a more modern/everyday look.  The dress is ankle-length on Nancy, and floor length on the Wellies, although changing the length on a rectangular skirt is no problem.

Get the pattern free here

Love this pattern and want to donate?

You can enter the amount of your choice (in whole dollar increments) in the box to left of the payment options below. Thank you!!


Speaking of the Wellies, I got a number of emails asking if the mini Maru collection would fit them.  I actually didn’t think so, but it turns out I was wrong!  The raglan T sleeves are a little tight, but otherwise all of the shirts and dresses fit them just fine as you can see here:

The 13″ size pants are too small, but there are similar (free!) elastic waist Wellie pants here: and their size of the Versatility pants is here:

If that makes you change your mind about whether to purchase the collection, or you missed it the first time, you are in luck! 

My etsy shop is participating in their Labor Day sale and this weekend EVERYTHING is 20% off, no minimum purchase or coupon code required! 

Happy long weekend of sewing! 🙂

Cricut (or scissors) sandals for Nancy Famosa


So, summer’s been over for me for a few weeks now, and it’s been a rough/busy start to the school year! 

Even though (or maybe because?) the blog posts were less frequent, this summer was filled with all kinds of sewing and crafting.  Over the summer, I set myself a challenge called “ANDED” (A new dress every day) for two weeks for a special new Effner/Boneka doll, and somehow got caught up in researching and learning new embroidery stitches/techniques from India. 

I told myself these dresses would become blog posts, and I’d do a little series on embroidery, but it was just so much fun sewing I didn’t want to stop and take pix and write about it! 🙂  Anyway, she’s got some AMAZING new dresses and even some half-finished furniture piled in a box, and I’m hoping to get to those embroidery posts eventually.  I also did a lot of sewing for my Petworks Usaggie, who welcomed some new bunny and cat companions, and then started a house project for all of them which also might appear here eventually.  

(jacket pattern is from Dolly Dolly #20)

Non-doll-related crafts included indigo dyeing and finally getting around to learning kumihimo on a marudai, after years of doing it on foam discs.  Some decluttering happened in the craft room, and all my colored pencils finally got organized into little drawers, which ended up being WAY better than I even anticipated!  In the past, I’d often choose which brand to use for a project and get them all out of their case onto the desk, then have to hunt through another brand’s box in frustration when that one specific shade of pink wasn’t available and then spend a long time reorganizing and cleaning everything up at the end.  Having all the soft, compatible pencils I use most (Coloursoft, Prisma, Polychromos, Pablo) organized in one place means it’s so easy to just pull out all the drawers of one color and choose exactly the one I need, and slide them back in when I’m done.  Specialty pencils (like Derwent Inktense or Graphitint) are still relegated to their original boxes, because they aren’t easily interchangeable, but the boxes are easier to get to with all the other pencils categorized together. 

Messiness and creativity often DO go hand in hand, but a clean, organized workspace can really put you in the right frame of mind to be creative!  

Another thing I thought would be a good idea and inspire summer crafting, but really hasn’t been worth even its discounted purchase price so far was a Cricut Maker.  Their customer service is good when you have a problem, but the maker is not as foolproof as I’d like.  I mean, a cutting machine that cuts into itself and doesn’t notice and stop immediately?  Yeah, that happened.  Also cutting in the wrong spot and wasting my materials.  Grr.  Cleaning up the sticky mat afterwards is not a lot of fun either, and then there’s the annoying software which is web-based but for some reason keeps needing to install updates on my computer.  Anyway, I used it because I wanted some precise cuts on these sandals and was pretty pleased with the results. 

Obviously, you can cut perfect rectangles with a rotary cutter and ruler, but the precision of the scallops and soles on these sandals really delighted me.  My final step in shoemaking is usually trimming/sanding the soles so they all line up perfectly and it wasn’t necessary this time! Tip:  I used faux leather that had a shiny side and a fabric backing (check the upholstery or costume sections at the fabric store) with the shiny side down to help with cleanup. The regular (fine point) blade worked fine with the super grip mat and the material set to bonded outdoor vinyl.  In the close-up pix, you can see some raggedy edges of the fabric backing of the vinyl.  If that bothers you, make sure to choose vinyl with a non-fray type of backing that looks like felt or knit.

Here is the link to the pdf

with instructions and a printable pattern you can cut out with scissors. These sandals were for my Nancy Famosa (reedición) but the fit is forgiving since they’re sandals. They could potentially work for any doll with a similar or even a little larger size foot like Animators/Sasha/AGAT. If you’re cutting out by hand, it’s very easy to adapt the sole to fit your favorite doll.

I *think* you should be able to access the cricut version of the project with the link below. Make sure the long ankle strap measures 4″.

There’s an AMAZING dress coming next week to go with these sandals. It’s a bit of a challenge, but if your sewing space is your happy place, it will be a perfect way to relax over the 3-day weekend 🙂

Mini Maru collection and SALE!


The long-awaited mini Maru collection is here!  People kept emailing me about whether the 20” collection (link) would fit their little ones…nope.  But now it will!  If the mini Maru dolls are new to you, here’s a comparison:

L-R : Wellie wisher, Paola Reina las Amigas, mini Maru Tanya, Little Darling, 14″ Betsy McCall

Yes, they’re almost exactly the same size as Little Darlings, with longer arms.  They’re also like Little Darlings in that they’re sculpted by Dianna Effner.  The difference is in the price…they’re around $100.  My favorite of the larger ones is Tanya, so I ordered the smaller special edition to be her little sister; it’s always fun when dolls can coordinate like that!  

They definitely look like siblings, but the mini’s skin doesn’t have quite the same golden glow, her eyes are darker, and just due to the smaller size the face painting is not as detailed.  Are you thinking I don’t like her as much?  Not at all!  Don’t tell the big ones…but the mini is even better!  I remember doing the photos for the original size ones, and it was rough.  A 20” doll is a pretty major thing to haul around through a forest taking pictures.  Their tiny feet relative to body size and weight make them precarious to stand on uneven ground, so they often had to lean on things for safety. 

My mini Tanya and all her clothes packed up easily in a small plastic box with a handle and headed out for pictures.  She balanced easily in fun places…

Held lovely, natural-looking poses, and the camera just loved her!

Even better – this size is large enough to sew for easily on the sewing machine, but small enough that it doesn’t need a lot of fabric.  If you’re used to sewing for larger dolls, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that your scrap bag can provide all kinds of bits and pieces to clothe your little ones – for free!

Yes, Little Darlings can share these clothes too!

Best of all, the mini Marus have two boys, and this collection is perfect for them too!  The button front shirt, fitted pants, elastic waist pants, standard T and raglan T will form the core of a great basic wardrobe for boys!

See all the patterns in the collection in my etsy shop here

Through Saturday take 20% off your purchase of $20 or more with code 20OFF20

Smocking an insert panel


A while back, Brenda sent me this adorable pic:

She used the machine smocking designs from this collection.  If you don’t have an embroidery machine, you can use the guidelines in today’s tutorial to smock by hand if you know how, or there are mock-smocking directions in this pattern which, incidentally, will also provide you with a sloper to use for drafting your own version for whatever size doll you’d like

Here’s my version of Brenda’s dress on Disney’s NEW Animator Mulan. Yes! They’ve changed the faceups of several dolls including Mulan, Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. They have improved them tremendously in my opinion, and though it doesn’t show well in the photos, Mulan and others have a thin strip of gold paint in their eyes that just glows in the sunlight! I’ll probably be collecting the rest as soon as they’re on sale!

Get the smocked dress tutorial here

SSA Week 5: Let’s go to the beach and…nap?


No snow this week, but I was in a coat while taking these pix. Good thing dolls don’t get cold like people or they definitely would not have stayed out by the lake so long in these outfits!

Get both sizes of this pattern (AG and 16″) here:

Let’s go to the beach and…nap?  😊 While I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that’s a fine idea, most children probably go to the beach to swim!  So, were they swimming in these beach pajamas?  Nope!  Here’s the scoop:

By this time, swimsuits for actual swimming looked similar to what we’d wear now, just with a bit more conservative of a cut, especially at the leg openings – what we call “boy short” swimsuits today.  Based on the old catalogs I’ve perused, they were often made of wool, but a new fabric called “lastex” was beginning to catch on.  It was made from a rubber/cotton or rubber/rayon yarn, and must have been so much more comfortable, especially when wet! 

Here is a pic (not mine) of Shirley in a 1930s swimsuit:

Unlike today’s beaches and resorts, where people stroll around in swimsuits all day or maybe just throw on a pair of shorts over them to go to dinner, the 1930s were a bit more glamorous.  The style icon Coco Chanel popularized beach pajamas a decade earlier, when it was still a bit scandalous for women to be seen in pants in public, and by the 1930s they were ubiquitous attire for strolling the boardwalks and being seen in resorts.  

As children, their mothers may have worried about tearing the lace on their petticoats climbing trees, but I imagine these little girls who experienced the freedom of running around to play in pants continued to influence fashion by choosing pants for casual/recreational wear as they grew up!

Can you believe this is already the last week of the sew-along? I’ve been feeling a bit of a disconnect with it this year because of the pix being scattered in random places, so it feels like there’s no way I could be seeing them all which is really the “funnest” 😉 part of the SSA for me. Keep posting your pix though and inspiring everyone else! Here are a couple to whet your appetite to check out the flickr and instagram pages:     

There are some great ideas on the flickr page, like these dirndls (click to go to flickr and see who posted them!)

SAL week 3, dirndl

And this one I actually had to look twice, because at first it wasn’t clear that it was the nightgown from week 2, cleverly styled as a robe!

SSA 2019 - Starlette Robe for KNC doll

The tagging on Instagram might not be putting all the pix in one spot for everyone to see…you actually have to tag me in the photo, not just use a hashtag for it to show up on this page.  You can see which ones have shown up here:

One great idea I really wanted to share was using bias instead of rickrack on this dirndl:

Yes, it’s the end of the sew-along, but don’t be sad, there are TONS of fun things coming up in the next couple of weeks!