It’s daffodil time!


This is my favorite time of year!  Birds are singing and flying around busily with twigs and bits of fluff for their nests and every little flower pushing its way up out of the dirt makes me smile.  Every time I go for a walk I keep taking deep breaths to smell the beautiful blossoms on all the bushes and trees.

This week’s dress celebrates daffodil time!  It’s such a simple pattern, it seems to cry out for lace and embroidery and trim, but in this case I stuck with the simplicity of a daffodil – just some petals and a ruffle.

Get the pattern here

This is the final pattern of our 1950s series for 14″ dolls, have you been keeping up?  Posting pix?  If you haven’t, how about this for an incentive:  I’ve been working on some REALLY cute 1950s dresses for AG size that feature embroidery and other special touches and you can enter to win the new collection of patterns!  Here’s a sneak peek:

How to enter:

  • Post pix of all the outfits you’ve made from this 14″ doll 1950s series here. (Yes, you can take one photo of a bunch of dolls in all the outfits if you prefer)
  • Enter the link(s) to your photos here before April 26 at midnight [Contest is now closed]
  • The winner will be chosen at random by a number generator and announced next Thursday!

There is NO other way to enter.  Do NOT try to enter this contest by emailing me photos or ask me to enter you any other way.  You must post your photo(s) on the flickr page and then submit the link(s) in the form.

Don’t feel like going through all that work to enter a contest?  The new 1950s AG collection will be available on etsy next week!





And the winner is…


So the vote from last week ended up with the Betsy patterns as a winner, and I have to say

a) I’m happy we’re going in that direction and

b) I’ll have some more fun 1950s crafts besides the Betsy dresses!

This week, we’re back to our scheduled sew-along of adapted Butterick 7973.  For the bodices and blouse so far, I had to make a lot of changes for a nice fit.  This week’s pattern includes both the original and some notes and altered pattern pieces to adapt for Wellies and other dolls with a similar torso.  As a reminder, their measurements are similar but proportions/shape are different, especially at the waist.  So more fitted pants were difficult to have fit both equally well.


IMG_6720r (2)

Get the pattern here

Need a blouse? Get it here:

OK, and that’s all the time I have to post so I can go get the guest room ready for the weekend. Our guest bed is usually covered with dolls awaiting fittings/photo shoots, and piles and piles and piles of outfits, but when your niece gets a last minute flight, you have to run in there and shove all the poor dolls back into their boxes and do something with all those outfits…  Note to self:  visit her next time instead 🙂

Summer sew-along vote!


No, it’s not Thursday or summer yet, 😉 but I’m not on schedule to finish this week’s outfit and get pix/pattern done in time and got a little sidetracked by brainstorming ideas for the summer sew-along.  So there may not be a Thursday pattern post this week, but don’t worry, at least two more outfits from this series are on the way, just a little delayed!

If you’re new to this concept, the summer sew-along is a favorite of many here on the blog because it follows a theme, sometimes introduces new skills (like sewing with knits, making sandals) and sometimes also ends up with a coordinated wardrobe.  People share their ideas on flickr and inspire each other to do more creative things.  Speaking of the SSA on flickr, I went on today and found two recently posted pix made from patterns from last year and the year before!

This one was a bonus pattern from the knits sew-along two years ago if you completed all the weeks and posted pix of them – it looks gorgeous in this print by quickdrawannie modeled by Maplelea Saila :


And this perfectly piped one on Wellie Emerson by firstladycpm was from the sundress/sandal sew-along last year:


What will it be this year?

Even though you won’t see it until June or so, my planning and pattern drafting has to start now!  I thought I had made up my mind after lucking into a HUGE stash of actual vintage Betsy McCall paperdolls and ads for original Betsy dolls. If you don’t know what they look like, you can see online versions here. It seemed like it would be fun to choose summer outfits representing different years from the paper dolls and make them for the Wellies/Toni, since that size seems to be a favorite at the moment.  And THEN I saw Betsy’s bunny beach cover up (below left).

betsy blythe

If you are around kids, you might know the animal “theme” is very popular at the moment in kids’ clothing, from hats to backpacks to hoodies with animal ears/dinosaur scales/bird beaks/etc.  In fact, my Wellie owl cape is THE most-requested custom order ever, and even the Wellie Wisher Willa comes with little bunny ears.  In the Japanese doll world, animal themes have been popular for quite some time too, (for example, on Blythe above right) and I just figured it had finally made its way into kids’ clothes, so to see Betsy’s bunny beach cover up from 1951 made me think it’s not just a trend, it’s a great idea that’s been around for a long while!

Since both options sound great to me, I’m going to leave it up to you readers.  We’ll be using ~14” dolls as models, so Wellies, Hearts for Hearts, Toni, etc. will be able to wear these clothes.

Your summer sew-along choices are:

  • Betsy McCall paper doll outfits from the 1950s (yes, one of the weeks would be that bunny one, the rest would be regular summer clothes like swimsuits, dresses, etc.)  If I get super motivated, I might try to make Wellie paperdolls with the outfits, but no promises about that!
  • Cute, modern animal-themed outfits & accessories like hoodies, bags, etc.  This one could potentially have tips for sewing different types/weights of fabric, like fake fur

Please vote below – poll closes at the end of this week!


Green and White – 1950s style!


OK, green was not necessarily a 1950s color, but after making all the other things in pink and blue, I needed a change.  When I went to take the pix, I noticed it was “green and white” outside too, thanks to a snowstorm falling on the just-beginning-to-emerge grass.


The outfit for this week is a blouse/pants combo that looks perfect and vintage on Toni.  Girls in the 1950s might have worn this as play clothes or maybe for gardening or some other task, but it wouldn’t have been appropriate for, say, school.  On a modern doll like my Della, it seems to hint “vintage” in a really sweet way.  This would be an adorable outfit for a young child too!


Get the pattern here

Have a look at what’s new on the Flickr group or post your own pix here:

There are a number of new things on the flickr page, and here are some cute ones from the recent 1950s patterns, just in case you need more inspiration to get you sewing them:

Adapted pattern from Wrenfeathers

Willa in a “double dots” dress by Nonniebelle07


Great idea by Karen to shorten this for use with leggings


Wellie Wishers 50's dress2 jen bagrowski 005

How did I never realize Camille’s boots have little fins?  They are too cute and a great match for gammerangel’s sweet seersucker dress!


And this gingham dress by Marge makes me feel like Camille just kicked off her boots to run through the grass to a picnic!

Let’s make more 50s clothes for our smaller dolls!


For this week, we have another easy-to-sew mid-century dress that’s equally adorable on vintage or modern dolls.  You’ll notice this skirt is MUCH wider than last week’s.  Skirts in the 1950s were very wide, but it can be hard to gather enough fabric onto a smaller bodice to get that look.  Poly-cotton blend gingham is usually on the thin side, which meant more of it could be used than if I’d chosen a heavier-weight fabric.  A puffy petticoat can hold it out to Toni’s width, or you can let it hang naturally like Emiko’s for a less fussy look.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I was going for a vaguely “Dorothy” look on Toni with the shiny shoes 🙂

Get the pattern here

Share your creations:

If you post pix, it tells me you are enjoying the 1950s series and more things will keep appearing!  I spent last weekend on some 50s craft projects that your dolls might like and am also working on some larger size outfits too!

They don’t even need to be 1950s-inspired.  Check out the princess dress with clever crown from gammerangel:

Wellies at Target?

Yep.  Well, some of the SuperTargets anyway, as my husband noticed, which led to a “Awesome Husband” award last weekend.  I’ve had a rough couple of weeks and was super stressed out about work and DH wanted to go hiking and get my mind off things.  When he opened my car door, look who was waiting for a hug:


It’s the Wellie Wisher Kendall, whom I’m calling “Della” for short.  Apparently she’s the crafty/DIY gal of the group which he thought was a good fit for my personality.  It seems almost unreasonable that I’d like her so much – she’s just a piece of plastic, right?  But I can’t stop smiling every time I see her!  Receiving her this way made her a symbol that my husband acknowledged I was super stressed, and went out of his way to do something that would  make me smile. ❤

The ideals of beauty…as reflected in dolls


You might remember a few weeks ago, I posted a link to an article about bias in film toward an “idealized” beauty of the 1950s.  Kodak skewed their color film to bias a blue-eyed blonde with red lips and an overall cool tone to her coloring.  But it wasn’t just the coloring that epitomized the era; I’ve written before about how doll bodies conform to the fashion sensibilities of their times, like Patsy with her roly-poly body that looked great in sweet little 1930s bishop-style dresses. Likewise, 1960s Barbie’s outrageously strange proportions have morphed into Lammily in our times.

This week I’m comparing a hugely popular 1950s doll, Toni, with a similar-sized modern one, Wellie Wisher Emiko.


You can see first of all here, their body shapes are very different, even though their bust/waist measurements are almost the same.  Emiko’s torso is flattened out, whereas Toni’s is cylindrical.  The same dress can be made to fit both, but ends up looking very different!  See both in the same dress here and here or in the pattern below.

It’s also interesting to note that Toni looks quite “made up” with a fussier hairstyle, heavy lipstick and blush, and even some eye shadow, whereas Emiko’s coloring is more natural, yet both dolls are beautiful reflections of their own time.

I’ve been on a vintage sewing spree lately for 18″ dolls (more to come on that soon), and decided to also sew for Toni, using vintage Butterick 7973, supposedly sized for her.  (image below from Pinterest)


Well, I bought the original 14″ version, but it didn’t really fit too well, and since I was altering it anyway, I thought it would be fun to see if I could make the same pattern look nice on both body shapes.  It took more adjusting than I had anticipated, but so far it’s going well!  Toni’s body lends itself to darts, which were a major feature of 1950s bodices at the waistlines, even for little children who didn’t really need them.  Those same darts made the dress quite ill-fitting on the Wellie body.

The pattern was re-released a few years ago, as Butterick #5865 without any indication of who it would fit, and I posted some pix on flickr of one dress I made on a variety of dolls, noting that it seemed to fit the Journey Girls the best.  It’s also a reminder that my photography skills have improved a lot since 2013, because the pictures are not that great! 🙂


Anyway, I’m hoping to do a little sew-along of 1950s styles to fit 14″ dolls and hope you’ll join in!  They are quite easy to sew, and a great place to show off your small bits of vintage fabric and trims!

Get the pattern here

Share your pix on the Wrenfeathers flickr page here:

Speaking of the flickr page, I LOVE seeing what you’ve made with my patterns, and even though I’m on yet another historical bent, it’s nice to showcase sewing for our modern dolls that reflects modern interests and different cultures.  Check out what Lisa did with clever use of prints that mimics embroidery on the kamiz:

And Carol shows us that Little Darling’s Karate Gi will fit the Wellies too:




BHM Week 4


This week we’re focusing on the 1920s.  In Black History, this was the era of the Harlem Renaissance, which featured an enormous blossoming of creativity in art, music and literature.  Some important figures from this era include Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, etc.

The book I chose for this week is called Mystery of the Dark Tower: a Bessie Mystery by Evelyn Coleman (AG History Mysteries).  Being a children’s mystery story, the plot is not as engaging for an adult as some of the other books that have been featured, but it does a nice job of depicting an important era that’s often overlooked in Black History in favor of either the Civil War or the Civil Rights eras.  The historical section at the back is well done and would be a good jumping-off point to learn more about particular people/events.

In keeping with the “mystery” theme, it appears there was a curse on this week’s dress!  I have to admit being a bit heartbroken about how it turned out.  I chose a BEAUTIFUL 1920s dress from Pictorial Review, shown below with my recoloring of the model’s skin from the original pale pink:


Is that dress not stunning?  So I was super excited to make it, and saving it for the last week of BHM.  I spent an incredibly long time digitizing the embroidery and found some fabric in the perfect shade of green.  Then, on Monday when I was off, I started the project, only to find I didn’t have a dark enough green for the stems.  Not wanting to waste my day driving to the fabric store, I used another type of thread, which I should have known would break and shred in the machine.  Took machine apart, cleaned it out, started again using black for the stems.  This time, the evil embroidery machine offset the peach colored flowers somehow, so they didn’t line up with everything else and the rest of the fabric was ruined.

Back to the drawing board with the embroidery, I changed the bad flowers to some lazy daisies that I knew would work, but now had to choose a whole new color scheme, which I eventually did, although no ribbons or rickrack of the right colors were to be found in my stash to match, so they were omitted.  You’ll have to take my word that up close, the dress looks really delicate and pretty with the pale pastel embroidery, because my camera died.  Yes, the camera that was all set up to do a nice job photographing my darker skinned dolls without a flash!  So I had to use a different one that didn’t let me manually adjust the exposure the same way, and gave it the task of properly exposing both a pastel-on-pastel embroidered dress and Melody’s face.  It failed.  Either Melody’s face looked good and the embroidery disappeared, or  the embroidery looked OK but Melody’s face was too dark to see her features properly.  So it was overexposed and then I messed with the colors in a photo editor, which made them look kind of unnatural:


Get the pattern here

If you can break the curse and make and photograph a nice version share your pix here

While you’re there, check out Maribell’s idea to put cording instead of piping on the dress from week one – much easier but outlines the curves so nicely!

There are some interesting articles about historical bias toward lighter skin in both film and digital cameras here: and here: