Tag Archives: american girl

Hurry up, Spring!

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Spring is my favorite season of the year!  The birds singing, the snow melting, and colorful bulbs pushing up through last year’s leaves make it a magical time.  It might even BE spring where you live, but where I live we apparently have a few more months to wait.  And what better way to wait than sewing a dress your dolls can jump into as soon as those crocuses come up?

Maybe it’s because of the abundance of pastels in 1930s prints, but to me many 1930s styles seem “springy” and this dress, shown on a Maplelea Friend doll is no exception:mina with flowers

It’s based on a Bleuette dress from May, 1933, and has been resized to fit Maplelea/AG.  What originally attracted me to it was the lovely cross stitch motifs, but it’s a nice, basic pattern that could work for a lot of modern outfits too!

Make it in T-shirt fabric, iron on a glittery motif and wear with leggings.  Find a fabulous print and take it to the next level with ruffles/ribbon/rickrack.  More ideas are in the pattern.

Click HERE to download

And if you’re still wanting to make stuff to wear right now when it’s cold, check out Anna’s cute slippers here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/129049505@N06/16554605595/

She added a few touches to turn the felted slippers into little mice!

Have you seen the new BeForever limited edition sets?

They are all very cute, but at $48, not exactly an impulse buy.  Is there one you like enough to want to see it appear here as a pattern?  Go check them out, then come back here and vote below for your fave.  Stay tuned to find out the winner!  (poll closes in a week)

[poll is now closed]

Célébrons le carnaval!

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Carnaval/Carnival is celebrated in many countries of the world as a sort of “last hurrah” before Lent.  Traditions range from dressing up in costumes and eating fried food (Europe) to parades and “King Cake”.  In the US, it is usually short, and centers on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Pączki Day in Chicago).  Apparently, in Quebec City, it’s a looong festival that ends this weekend.  Unlike many other areas of the world, where this time of year is warm and pleasant, the Quebec version is all about snow…the mascot is even a snowman!  (see more here:  http://carnaval.qc.ca/en/)

So to participate in the festivities, I made my doll a toasty new hat.  This style is sometimes called lumberjack or trapper hat.  It’s most traditional made in plaid flannel with furry lining, but also looks good made to match your doll’s other winter gear.  (Yes, in the pic she’s really on a mountain in CO, not at Carnaval, but I couldn’t find any public domain images to photoshop her into, so use your imagination!) :)

Click here for free pattern to fit Maplelea and AG

Pictured above is my new Maplelea, KMF10 renamed Mina.  Several of you emailed/commented and said you had ordered a new Maplelea after my blog post about them being on Amazon and you’ll be happy to know more projects are coming for them!  If you’re wavering, and need some “enabling”, their quality is the same, or maybe even a little better than AG, but the price is less!  Also, their boxes are very robust and perfect for storage of a doll and many outfits, and instead of the AG access to a boring website you get with their modern dolls, with Maplelea you get a cute little journal in English and French that your child (or you) can fill out to help define the doll’s personality.  You can see some pages from my doll’s journal here.

 

I also wanted to share this gorgeous Maru outfit made by Katy

(see the full post here: http://1960sgirl.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/fine-feathers-make-fine-maru/)

If you explore her blog, you’ll find she puts a lot of thought into choosing fabrics that match each doll’s coloring,  meaning outfit and doll complement each other perfectly!

Little Darling in Japan…week 1

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This might be my most ambitious series yet.  People have said they enjoy the multi-week series I’ve done, like the summer sew-alongs or shoe school, and I also find it enjoyable to explore a theme in more depth.   When I’m doing the blog, I definitely welcome input on what you’d like to see, but also, as the number of followers grows, I have to remember the old saying, “You can please some of the people some of the time…”

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 When I made Little Darling this school uniform, she looked so cute, I thought about a whole series of her in other traditional clothing from Japan.  And then I decided she needed some accessories and furnishings too, since they add so much to a display, and what she’s got now is enough to furnish a little room!

Chances are, if someone says “Japanese clothing” to you, your mind conjures up a yukata, the single-layered cotton kimono tied with a thin matching belt or possibly an obi.  But historically, there have been lots of different types of Japanese clothing suited for various purposes.  Little Darling seemed like a good choice to showcase these, because she can easily share clothes with other readily-available dolls like Corolle Cheries, Natterer 13” dolls, Betsy McCall,  Hearts for Hearts, and even some BJDs.  Another advantage is that she is just small enough that it wouldn’t be too hard to make (and store) some cute furniture and accessories.

A few weeks ago I put a request for resizing help on FB, with the result that I can also bring you the AG size.  (Thank you, Beth!)  Sadly, no one volunteered to check the versions for Sasha/KnC/Maru/Ann Estelle, so I’m testing those myself and may be selling the pattern with all the sizes and more complete directions sometime in the future.

Pattern for school uniform (AG and 13″-14″) is here

Tutorial for some school accessories is here

While I’ve tried to convince DH that we actually need to go there to take the photos, we don’t have a reliable farm-sitter to take care of our pets, which means I haven’t actually been out of the Denver metro area in years.  I’ve been scouring the web for public domain images and just taking the pix in CO, letting your imagination pretend she’s in Japan. :)

I hope you and your favorite little doll will have as much fun exploring Japan through these sewing and crafting projects as I did!

 

Suggested Reading: (a few books I own and love)

The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka (good English-language reference on traditional Kimono and how to wear)

Make Your Own Japanese Clothes Patterns and Ideas for Modern Wear by John Marshall (modern adaptations by a Westerner, but good basic patterns)

Japanese Homes and their Surroundings by Edward S. Morse (Fabulous reference, not just about houses but how people in Japan lived in the 1860s, right as Japan opened to foreigners.  This is in the public domain and also available as a ebook on archive.org)

A Japanese Touch for Your Home by Koji Yagi (nice pix of interiors)

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (children’s fiction) by Rumer Godden

Little Plum (children’s fiction) by Rumer Godden

ドールハウス和のしつらえ (Japanese Dollhouses) by Takako Mizohata and Kozue Kuboki (hard to find and shipping is expensive, but worth it if you like miniatures!)

 

Free LEGAL downloads of a few ebooks:

https://archive.org/details/japanesecostume12guns (book on Japanese costume from 1923)

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1580&context=tsaconf (paper on historical clothing)

https://archive.org/details/bookofkimonodesi00kabu kimono design book from 1884

Folk tales:

https://archive.org/details/ancienttalesandf00gordrich

Tale of Genji as a Manga!

https://archive.org/details/manga_Asakiyumemishi-TheTaleOfGenji-v01

https://archive.org/details/manga_Asakiyumemishi-TheTaleOfGenji-v02

 

This is a list of other Japanese and Asian-style patterns I’ve done that are free on the blog:

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/free-pattern-for-february-kimono-geta-obi.pdf

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/geta-and-sandal-update-for-ag-dolls.pdf

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/hinamatsuri/

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/hinamatsuri-crafts.pdf

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/free-pattern-for-february-kimono-geta-obi.pdf

https://jenwrenne.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/doll-hakama-pattern/

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/hakama.pdf

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/asian-jacket.pdf

https://jenwrenne.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/asian-vest-final.pdf

Printable origami paper:

http://www.origamiway.com/printable-origami-paper/

 

 

 

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!  :)

 

 

Where’s Jasmine?

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Ok, time for the next contest!!

Jasmine is west of the Mississippi.  She’s pictured below dressed for the 40th anniversary of an annual event that just happened in March.  First 3 people to guess exactly where she is (specifically the building she’s in!) win the new pattern collection available here!  Post your answer here: https://www.facebook.com/wrenfeathers

So, a Carpatina Julia joined our doll family recently and demanded to be dressed like a princess.  With my love of other cultures and their clothing, the one or two European princess dresses I was going to make expanded into a collection of 6!  And then the AGs got jealous and it just spiraled out of control.    :)

The collection “officially” comprises:  Medieval England, Renaissance Italy, Ming Dynasty China, Ancient Egypt, Medieval Persia, and a modern sort-of Princess…the Jingle Dancer Powwow princess pictured above!  But lots of the patterns could be used for other things too.  With a bit of imagination, the Egyptian one could turn into a Balinese dancer, the Chinese one could turn into a Korean Jeogori and you could probably even shorten the medieval English dress and turn it into a modern Irish dance dress or even something from the 1940s.

Carpatina Julia in a “tomboy” version of this princess “dress” using just the bodice with leggings.

A girl for all time Clementine as “Lady of the Lake” – Medieval Celtic Princess

Carpatina Julia in an Italian Renaissance gown

My AG “Violet” as an Egyptian princess

Magic Attic Rose as a medieval Persian Princess

Pattern also includes a Powwow Princess jingle dress and Ming dynasty Princess.  See more here

Also, by request, more patterns are available for Saila (or other 18″ dolls).  You can now dress her for winter in an arctic parka called an amauti, or summer, in a calico parka called a kuspuk (pictured below)  Both patterns available as a set here.

With all these new patterns, I’ve reactivated the coupon code 20off20.  Paste that in at checkout on etsy and it will take 20% off your purchase of $20 or more.  It expires at midnight on April 15th.