November is Native American heritage month, and this year I thought it would be fun to do a series about something dear to my heart – moccasins! While the Chinese were binding women’s feet and Europeans were torturing theirs with ridiculous high heels, on the other side of the world people were producing shoes that were simultaneously comfortable AND beautiful AND functional! Most interesting to me was how well these shoes were adapted to their environments. The ones shown above are my version adapted from from patterns used in the Eastern Woodlands, perfect for a soft forest floor full of layers of leaves, while out on the rocky plains, harder rawhide soles provided more protection. Taller mocs that covered the ankles were used for protection in desert/ rattlesnake country and way up north they were both taller and made from/lined with fur to protect against the cold. All of these moccasins allowed for natural foot function, crucial for people who did a lot of walking/hunting/foraging, yet were frequently decorated by their makers, forming a beautiful finish to an outfit. Construction methods varied, but would have been accessible to anyone familiar with working leather, which was a skill all women had, since they were typically the primary producers of clothing for their families. Since it is a specialized skill, and for a variety of other reasons, I’ve chosen to substitute felt for leather in my doll versions.
Links to other native-style footwear patterns for some other sizes like Maplelea and Hearts for Hearts are here:
I haven’t been this excited about the release of a new AG since Cecile! What a gorgeous new face mold with pretty green eyes and beautiful, flowing hair. The original AG pictures of Nanea were released in February I think, and her face looked very much like Ashlyn’s to me, so I got her in the hopes she could be a little sister and started drafting patterns which were then resized to fit Nanea.
The result was this new big sis/little sis “1940s Island Collection”.
In contrast to my previous 1940s collection, which had clothes for all seasons, this one includes all warm-weather clothes with an authentic looking muumuu and really neat, historically-correct bathing-suit-lined dress. Nanea and Ashlyn are so sisterly looking it was tons of fun to set up scenes from a different point of view.
Generally, I’m just trying to show the outfits to their best advantage, but for this collection I actually found/bought/made some accessories and thought the pictures through, trying to tell a story or emphasize a relationship of two sisters with some of them, rather than my standard (unwritten) caption of, “Look how cute this doll/dress is!” No, I haven’t read Nanea’s book yet, so I don’t actually know if she even has a little sister; I’m saving it as my reward for finishing everything on my blog to-do list. 🙂
You can get the whole Island Collection now on Etsy and guess what? I signed my shop up for their labor day sale which starts today and runs through Monday. EVERYTHING in the shop is 20% off during the sale with no minimum purchase! Because the Island Collection just got added, for some reason it’s not showing up with a discount in the sale, so I’ve lowered it to $20 for this weekend as its sale price. After that it will be $25.
As you might have guessed, the next few weeks will focus on Nanea with sewing projects and crafts. The first of them is this ukulele. Soon to follow are (in no particular order) a Hawaiian quilt, a few dresses, quick-to-make leis, maybe some polymer clay food and printables. Have another great suggestion? Post a comment!
Exercise is a great mood-booster even if you’re not depressed/anxious. In addition to last week’s tips, getting someone out of the house for a brisk walk can be SO helpful. Yes, even if they’re trudging along behind you muttering, “I said I wanted to stay home. I want to go home. I can’t do this.”
Continuing in the vein of vintage patterns, this week’s is a mid-century gym suit. Doing a quick google search, it seems something similar to these one-piece uniforms were the norm for quite a while, from maybe the late 1940s through at least the mid-1960s, when my mom was in high school. This blue color seems to have been regulation in most of the country, with obligatory embroidery of your name on it. Anyone live during the era of these gym suits and want to share “fond memories” (I say that in the most sarcastic tone possible) or info about color/style?
In plain solid colors, it will make a great historical gym uniform for Molly/Emily, Mary Ellen or Melody.
This was kind of a time-consuming pattern to figure out and sew, and normally I put such things on etsy rather than free on the blog. In lieu of payment, if you download this pattern please get SOMEONE outside with you a few times this week to exercise! You’ll be boosting mood AND creating/reinforcing a social connection – both of which are essential to good mental health.
A podcast you might like that explores our attitudes toward exercise and motivates you can be accessed here: http://www.wbur.org/magicpill. You can even sign up for a 21-day motivational email-a-day to get you exercising! I haven’t heard them all yet, but episode 2 did have a sentence or two not suitable for children, so it might be best to read or listen with headphones if you have kids in the room.
So the poll was overwhelmingly (>60%) in favor of more stuff for the Wellies and I’ve put together a bunch of really cute things that are in progress for them – stay tuned!
It might also interest you to know they may soon be available at a Toys R Us near you:
Which might mean you will have to make a hard decision whether to use your TRU coupons on something besides the Journey Girls!
Enough people still wanted April that I will keep posting some stuff for her, probably once a month, but will discontinue her journal and just maybe post a little summary of the “back story” for that month’s outfit/craft if necessary.
With that in mind…remember how April REALLY wanted a doll like all her friends and her mom got her an OG and said maybe down the road she’d get an AG? Well, she did! It was Melody and her mom was so enchanted with Melody’s wardrobe she decided to sew some of the outfits in April’s size! Is that enough rationale to post some Melody outfits? 😉
I really didn’t intend to get Melody… My doll collection is quite diverse, but my darkest-skinned dolls don’t always make it onto the blog for their own protection. I often find the pictures come out better with a fill-in flash or extra bright lighting/sunshine and as you may be aware, a camera flash and UV rays can be VERY damaging to your dolls’ plastic. However, when I saw pix of Melody in her Christmas dress, I fell in love. It’s funny how a different dress can make a doll look so different!
I had every intention of buying the dress too, but up close the fabric looked cheap and I couldn’t bring myself to fork over $34 for it, especially when I could tell you’d only need about a fat quarter of fabric ($1-$2.50) to make it. So I did buy her the AG sparkly party shoes and made the dress myself. You can too!
This dress is technically intended to be her Christmas dress, but is so basic you can make it appropriate for any season or occasion by changing the fabric and altering sleeve length! If you’re looking for the perfect fabric, the one pictured here is from the “buttercream” collection at Joann.
Want some more ideas for what your Melody can wear? First of all, check here for FREE and very authentic patterns:
The Chatty Cathy patterns on etsy look great on her too:
If you’re looking for a movie to watch with or sort of about Melody to get ideas for clothing, I recommend “The Watsons go to Birmingham”. It’s a kids’ movie available on Netflix and based on a book of the same name by Newbery-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis. The book was better, as most books are, because the movie felt like it changed/glossed over some things for me. However, it is worth watching just to see and hear some of the vintage news footage as well as the period-correct clothing. The costume designer did a nice job on most of Joetta’s outfits, and I’m hoping to make a version of the ivory dress she wears near the end for Melody at some point. In the meantime, I finally finished the pattern for what turned out to be Melody’s peplum dress:
Someone sent me a link last summer to a pic of this dress, which had been “leaked” on ebay before we even had confirmation that it was Melody’s or knew what she would look like, asking if it might become a pattern. Apparently it’s becoming a “thing” for pieces to…let’s say, “go missing” from AG’s Chinese manufacturers and show up on ebay well before they’re officially released. All of Lea’s stuff was also find-able on ebay before she had been released, and various blogs seize this info and post it to give us sneak peeks. On the one hand, I really appreciate this, because I’m always eager to see new AG releases, but on the other hand it also means the picture quality is sometimes poor and it’s possible to not appreciate the clothes and dismiss the collection as something you don’t want before you’ve even seen it in professional photos or in person.
Anyway, I fell in love with the mystery doll’s peplum dress and spent a really long time getting the skirt to look perfect, scanned my final pieces and forgot about it. Now that Melody has come to live with us, I think it looks great on her! The style is a little mature, but in the first book it’s referred to as a dress that her older sister outgrew, so then the look makes sense for a girl her age.
It was brought to my attention that not everyone may be able to complete both a dress and sandals in a week during the summer sew-along, so I’m probably going to break it up, but your dolls DO need some cute sundresses, because they are (possibly) the perfect layering piece! At the bare minimum, it’s a cute dress on its own with sandals. Depending on the season, you can add leggings/cardigan/blouse/jacket/boots/hat, etc. Little Darling did a series with a “4-season” dress here: https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2014/10/
Since April is an OG, I’ve been trying to do patterns at least inspired by OG outfits once a month for her, and this month’s is loosely based on:
Instead of a ruffle, this one has a piped round yoke, which to me makes the dress look more elegant and higher-end. I named this dress “May Flowers” since the daffodils are finally up and growing even though our April “showers” were more like April “dump-five-feet-of-snow-overnight” 🙂
It’s a slim fit on an OG with a flush closure in back, looks great on Journey Girls and will fit the newer KnC dolls more loosely if closed with an overlap in back. It will likely work for Sasha copied at 80%, but make a muslin first to check. Have an older/bigger AG? See the end of the pattern here: https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/august-free-pattern-for-kidz-n-cats-and-sasha/ for a tutorial on adding some width at the back with buttoned closures.
Please keep posting your fabulous creations on the Wrenfeather flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/
Some recent cuteness for your inspiration:
A-line for mini AG by sewbig
Sasha as Maid Marion by Theresa
If you’re new to the blog, you might not know this, but for the past few years I’ve done a summer sew-along, where people make each week’s pattern and post pix of it. Long-time followers are surely looking forward to it, but this year, there’s the issue of April and what to do with her during that time. I had planned to have her travel around CO this year to see historical sites, etc. but the weather has so far not been cooperative with (seemingly) record levels of snow and generally not-nice weather to take her outside in. So…you’ve got two options: