Tag Archives: american girl

There is a Melody…


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!


Click here for the pattern!

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.

The pattern is available on etsy here

April snowstorms bring…May flower dresses!


Thank you everyone for your condolences about Jasper!

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.

Get the pattern here

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


April’s journal and the rest of last week’s outfit…


I had planned to post Aprils’s journal once a month, but thought the first installment might help you learn more about her and enjoy the series more.  You’ll meet her new friend Julika (who was Santa’s gift to me)

And April’s own “new” doll, Sienna (who I bought a long time ago and was never able to work into a blog post)

 See April’s journal so far here

(note: this is a dropbox link, and will work now but may change when I update her journal)

If it looks grainy, click the “open” button and scroll to “open in adobe reader”

The cardigan to go with last week’s blouse is also ready:

Get the cardigan and socks pattern here

And if you’re a Star Wars fan, you might appreciate this:

Cassie resized and adapted some of the Little Darling in Japan patterns as Star Wars cosplay outfits to fit AGs and has generously shared them on her blog here

Oh no, the last Chatty Pattern?



I bet some of you want the CC series to just keep going, but there’s lots of fun modern stuff on the way for those that didn’t! :)  I actually did a few more things for Cathy, namely her “Nursery School” and “Sunday Visit” dresses.

 The Nursery School and Sunday Visit patterns are available on etsy 



This week’s free pattern is based on a paper doll, but the pattern was so similar to a vintage commercial pattern, I just used it instead, omitting the tucks down the front.  Neckline of blouse and jumper are faced with bias.  You might want to make the hem deeper for AGs to get the same look.

 Download it here

Is this OK?  Read on…

Does scanning parts of an old pattern and uploading them violate copyright law?  Well, when I looked into it, I think it’s OK in this situation.  First off, it’s possible they may be in the public domain, since the back of the envelope says it was copyrighted in 1963 (and thus expired 28 years later unless renewed) but there is no copyright info listed on the pattern pieces themselves.  Second, if they were renewed for the additional 47 years permitted, they’d expire again in 2030, but  section 108 of US copyright law says during the last 20 years of any term of copyright protection of a published work libraries and archives free to the public…“may—for purposes of preservation, scholarship, or research—reproduce, distribute, display, or perform in facsimile or digital form a copy or phonorecord of the work or portions of the work… ”  

So, as a website which has a rather large archive of my own doll patterns, I’m uploading these pieces for you here free for the purpose of preserving them, since the paper is aging rapidly.  You can download them for purposes of research/scholarship, (i.e. learning to sew a historical garment) but despite what some ebay sellers would have you believe, it’s probably not legal for you to reproduce this pattern and sell since the law also states “the reproduction or distribution” must be “made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage”.  

Hurry up, Spring!


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!


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


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…”


 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:


Tale of Genji as a Manga!




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










Printable origami paper: