Tag Archives: american girl sewing

Is it really back-to-school time already?

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Where we live in the mountains, none of the houses have air-conditioning, since at our altitude it rarely gets unbearably warm.  In fact, last week, we actually had our heat on because it poured rain for two days and the high was 50F!  Down on “the flat” where I work it’s a different story…always at least 10 degrees warmer and without the afternoon showers that cool things off.  And now it’s mid-August.  You know, the hottest time of the year when people would prefer to be up in the mountains?  And yet, we go back to school next week, which means it’s time to go on a spending spree with the large budget of zero dollars my district provides their SLPs to buy fun stuff like tissues, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, stickers, markers, glue sticks, lollipops, etc.

I had a professor in my undergrad SLP classes who told us all the time, “You should be able to do therapy with nothing but a paper clip!”  Her point was not to rely on pre-made materials to motivate and instruct, but on yourself and your own knowledge and skills.   I agree with her wholeheartedly, but when a kid sneezes on your paper clip and has snot running down her face, you also need tissues and hand sanitizer.  🙂

Maybe your doll needs something cute, cool, and comfortable to deal with her un-air-conditioned classroom, or maybe she’s still on summer vacation.  Either way she will love this dress and you can learn about the three different types of angles you might want to use to clip various seam edges so they press perfectly after you turn them.

DOWNLOAD THE PLEATED DRESS PATTERN FREE HERE

A few more things:

I realized later there wasn’t a clear link to the smocking pattern last week, so I updated that post, but here it is again: https://www.etsy.com/listing/196456657/classic-smocked-dress-set-for?ref=shop_home_active_1

If you don’t have a paypal account, my etsy shop is now set up to accept credit cards AND etsy gift cards!  I organized it a bit too, and you can see categories now in the sidebar to help you quickly find things.  Here’s the link

I had planned to list a bunch of pre-pleated kits for smocking in case you are eager to try machine smocking but don’t have a pleater.  I went out and bought a bunch of fabric, washed and dried it, and then realized it might be a big task to make them in all the different sizes and keep them organized somehow, so…

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This is what I have available right now.  It’s a lightweight poly/cotton blend gingham.  The one that looks black is actually navy blue.  Let me know what size doll you need it for and I will pleat the front panel for you according to the pattern measurements and include enough fabric to make the rest of the dress for $8 plus shipping (about $2 probably)

If I don’t melt in the heat, more Back To School projects are coming soon!  Also stuff for Sasha Baby, and there’s still a big historical project in the works…

IMG_0350 a R If you’re new to the blog, there’s a GREAT post with backpack, lunch,  and assorted school supplies tutorial here

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Unless your dolls are going to back to school at Hogwarts, in which case, they’ll want the stuff here:

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/hogwarts-spellbooks-for-dolls-tutorial/

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/hogwarts-robe-pattern-for-slim-18-dolls/

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/harry-potter-costumes/

 

 

 

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!  🙂

 

 

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!

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

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.

New patterns and tigers and bears…oh my!

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Ever wonder happens when you buy one of my patterns?  (Well, obviously, you print it out and go sew)  Me?  I do a little happy dance, and then I add that total to a list I keep on my fridge.  That’s my budget for buying new dolls, fabrics, trims etc.  Buying new fabric and dolls inspires me to create new patterns for you, but you are also encouraging me to produce more free patterns.  I try to give back to the doll community and keep a good ratio of  free patterns to more complex ones that end up being for sale. If you’re thinking, oh… that’s nice… another free pattern, I will share with you some of the emails that I have gotten. There are moms and grandmas out there who literally have to save up to buy the little girl in their life a Hearts for Hearts Girl or Target’s version of AGs.  I have gotten more than one email from them saying they can’t afford to buy patterns or new fabric, but are so thankful they can use my free patterns and cut up old clothes to make things for their little girl’s doll.

The newest collection I’ve created is a Regency era set.  Most of the pieces are based on AG’s Caroline wardrobe, and I was doing this as a personal project, thinking that I might end up with a Carolyn for Christmas.  Well, “Santa” informed me that probably won’t happen, but Lanie was nice enough to fill in as a model.  If there’s going to be a Caroline at your home soon, or your other dolls love to pretend they are in a Jane Austen novel, these patterns will let you clothe them in AG-style outfits for a lot less than it would cost you to buy the “real thing”.  Everything you see below is included in one set of patterns to fit AG-size dolls here:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/165050561/regency-sewing-pattern-set-for-american?ref=shop_home_active

And since I won’t be needing any Regency-era outfits, you can have a chance to win the whole collection of outfits pictured above!   **Any purchase you make in my Etsy shop between now and November 10th is your chance to win the whole collection if you put the word “Caroline” in the notes to seller.**  (In case it’s not clear, doll, shoes, and socks are not included )  I will put all of your order numbers into a box and choose one on November 11.  If you have made a purchase in the last week or so and want to enter the drawing, just find your order number and send it to me in an email with the word “Caroline” in the subject.

Need another incentive? Use the coupon code 20off20 and save 20% off any $20 purchase! It’s good until Nov. 11

Last year, someone (I think it was Barb) asked for Halloween costumes that could be creative, like something other than the standard witch, ghost, etc. Well, it took a year, but I came up with something that can fill a wide variety of costume needs!  It can also serve as cozy pajamas, and it’s just adorable when dolls dress up as teddy bears, no matter what time of year it is!
Violet wanted to go as a tiger this year, and Atsuko decided to be a teddy bear. There are no instructions included with this pattern, it’s fairly straightforward.  If you can sew a raglan T-shirt and basic pajama pants, you can sew this.  (CLICK photo to enlarge)

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DOWNLOAD THE COSTUME HERE

I apologize that I did not have time to resize this for Sasha/Kidz n Cats. Enlarging the 13-14″ pattern to 133% should work, although you may need to adjust the length of sleeves and pants.  Quarter inch seams are included.

You know how I said two new historical collections were coming?  Well, the next one has been delayed a bit, because it’s inspired by Molly, who AG is retiring at the end of this year 😦 and Clementine, the new doll from “A girl for all time,” who is supposed to be from the 1940s.  She was supposed to arrive mid-September, then late September, then was supposed to ship this week…well she hasn’t yet, but when she finally does arrive, she’ll have lots of new clothes ready and waiting for her!

Her measurements are similar to Sasha’s, but she is jointed like the earlier Kidz n Cats.  When the company first started, I sincerely contemplated Matilda, but you had to order the dolls from the UK, which meant high postage costs.  They now have a US website: http://www.agirlforalltime.us/ which is offering free shipping at the moment should you want to get one (which really makes me regret pre-ordering Clementine in August!)

So I leave you with a “sneak peek” of what’s to come next week (assuming Clementine arrives soon for her photo shoot):

More fall fashion…

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This top reminds me of the very short empire-waist Sasha dresses from the 70s.  She wore them alone or sometimes over pants.  (All these photos will enlarge if you click them)

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You can gather the sleeves (or shorten them) and wear over pants or  lengthen into a dress.

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Leave the sleeves ungathered for a more AG “Julie” 70’s look.  She’s wearing this over the gathered pocket skirt from last week.

DOWNLOAD THE DRESS HERE

And in flood updates, I haven’t been more than a mile away from my house in two weeks but they expect to have the main road out of our canyon open by…Thanksgiving.  Then again, our gas wasn’t supposed to be turned on for another 2-3 weeks and we just got it back yesterday!  Hooray!  And not a moment too soon, since the snow line should be dropping to 7500′ tonight.  (For you flatlanders, “snowline” means that precipitation falls as snow above that altitude.)  For the moment, with the road closures, I have had to take a leave of absence from work.  Bad for me, since the best part of my job is working with kids and the yuckiest part is the paperwork/bureaucracy.  Now I won’t be able to see the kids or get a paycheck, but I still keep getting emails about paperwork to do. 😛  It’s good for you, though, because I’ll have more time to devote to sewing/blogging.  So look for lots of new stuff and probably a coupon for my etsy store next month!

Oh, and speaking of “good for you” I also made this to go with the skirt the JLY dolls come with, since I think that pink tee they come in looks like a onesie:

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Violet’s kawaii smock is a ROUGH pattern I made for personal use  (ROUGH = pieces aren’t marked and there are no directions) but I thought I’d post it here.  Lots of you have been sewing since before I was born, so I’m sure you can figure it out.  🙂 It would make a great PJ top too in flannel or a lovely dress if lengthened in a dark/print fabric and contrasting white yoke/collar.