Tag Archives: doll

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

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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:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/

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:

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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

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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.

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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)

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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! 🙂

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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: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2825314@N20/

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:

 

 

 

April’s Halloween Dress

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April should have appeared before Halloween, but everything got off a week because of Kenny’s “illness”.  Luckily this dress is good for any time of the year, with a sweater or jacket over it for cool weather.  April’s cardigan from January would probably be perfect, just not buttoning in front.  NOTE:  It was fitted on April, who’s a bit slimmer than some of my new AGs. It’s fine on Journey Girls and would be a bit loose on newer KnC bodies.  You can see in the pattern pix it fits the newer AGs, but the fit is quite slim – probably too slim for larger-bodied older AGs!

Download her Halloween dress here

 

Read her journal here

(yes, some months are missing but it explains the costume and ties in depression awareness month)

 

October is Depression Awareness Month

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A while ago I heard a radio piece http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/08/25/emotions-college-students that mentioned how to help your college-age kids be more “authentic” online.  They brought up the fact that we all feel pressure to keep things “happy” when we post on social media, and I’m no exception. I do my best to keep this blog happy and upbeat even when I’m feeling the opposite of that.  This October we’ll acknowledge (celebrate?) Depression Awareness Month.  Projects chosen for this month are, of course, fun doll crafts – yes, I can apparently work a doll project into any theme!  🙂 But each one was chosen for a specific reason.

I hope this wouldn’t happen, but let’s just pretend you overhear someone saying this to someone else:

  • You’re stupid
  • You’re useless
  • You never do anything right
  • You’re a failure
  • No one likes you
  • You’re ugly
  • No one wants to hear what you have to say
  • You’re garbage
  • I wish you’d never been born

Are you already plotting how you’d intervene?  Of course!  But what about if you can’t hear it?  One part of living with depression is YOUR OWN BRAIN saying this kind of thing to you.  Imagine this… Your friend has had that sound track playing in her head ever since she woke up at 3am, insomnia and bad thoughts both courtesy of her depression.  She actually managed, despite all of this, to take a shower, get dressed, choke down some cereal and drive to work!  Yay!  And then she opened her email and checked her to-do list and went and hid in the bathroom and cried for five minutes because it was too overwhelming.

How can you help?

You’ve heard the expression “The elephant in the room”?  Depression can be just that.    Here is a good site that gives helpful tips for talking to someone who’s depressed:

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/news-1594-143.html

 This week’s project is based on McCall #419 from the 1930s and resized to about 3”, which is a good stuffed animal size for a variety of dolls or small enough to keep out as a reminder of “The elephant in the room”.  Make it in feedsack print scraps for Kit or period fabrics for any doll after her era.

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Download here

Wellie Wardrobe Week 3

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This week’s leggings will be a permanent pattern here

They match well with the items from the previous two weeks as well as just about anything else!  Made in thin fabric they are a good substitute for tights to tuck into the “Wellies’ Wellies” 🙂 without excess fabric on the foot to make them fit too tightly.

Enjoy!

There is a Melody…

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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!

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It might also interest you to know they may soon be available at a Toys R Us near you:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/mattels-american-girl-to-be-sold-in-toys-r-us-stores-1472643023

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!

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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:

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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:

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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

Bonne fête nationale!

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Or Happy Bastille Day if you speak English 🙂

Today is France’s national holiday, a bit similar to our 4th of July in that they both have parades and fireworks.  It’s also the perfect day to introduce you to my new(ish) doll, Francoise!

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I stumbled across the vintage version of this doll on Pinterest a long time ago, and  she reminded me of Bleuette, a French doll you might be more familiar with.  Not because they look anything alike, but because they were both associated with magazines that regularly published patterns for them.  Francoise was associated with the magazine “Modes et Travaux” and was introduced around the time Bleuette’s popularity was waning.  Francoise was not only a much more durable doll, but associated with a magazine moms may have already been getting for themselves, unlike Bleuette’s “La Semaine de Suzette” which was intended for children.

Her inaugural pattern in 1951 had the following introduction: (my translation – please excuse any errors)


We present to you “Francoise” whom your parents will be happy to offer you for Easter, if, as we don’t doubt, you have been wise and have worked hard in class during the second trimester.  Francoise is a ravishing doll of celluloid with beautiful porcelain eyes shaded with natural eyelashes specially designed to be easily dressed.  You are beginning to sew and knit, you will therefore be very proud to be able to make for yourself, like your mom, all the clothes for your little girl.  To that effect we will give you in every issue models destined for Francoise with all the explanations, patterns and advice for you to make them.  M et T is not only your mom’s favorite magazine it will also be yours since in each issue you will also have “your” page.


The doll you see above is an overpriced reproduction by Petitcollin of the 1950s doll by the same name.  Given that with shipping from Europe I paid about the same for this naked doll as an AG and she was actually made in France, I had high hopes for her quality.  Alas, they were dashed.  Her box arrived in poor shape – never a good sign.  Her body is made from some kind of squishy plastic, like a substantial dog toy or a rubber duck, and her head is harder plastic.  The squishy part was covered in some kind of powder, and when it was washed off, it was clear she had a lot of random scratches, rubs and marks.

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some of her seams are quite poorly trimmed/filled out

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I also ordered some expensive (~$15) shoes at the same time and they don’t match.  One has circle cutouts, one looks more like stars.

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But…I had waited SO long for her (shipping took ~3 weeks) and didn’t want to deal with the nightmare of exchanging her.  She has such a unique face and I had already made her a TON of clothes that I fitted on my Sasha.  All of those patterns might be ready as soon as next week!

Ok, Jen, I scrolled past all your text, where’s my free pattern? 🙂

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Click here

This was the second folk costume to appear for Françoise in 1953.  It claims to be from Marseille, but after doing some research I feel like it might be typical of Provence.  There is an amazing blog for folk costume enthusiasts called: http://folkcostume.blogspot.com/.  This image from Provence is from that blog and looks very similar to Francoise’s costume in my opinion!

 

Since it includes several pieces, we’ll  do half of them this week and half of them next week.  Don’t have a Francoise?  It works fine on slim dolls like Sasha and Magic Attic too!

Treasure Hunt

Were you wishing for something for the Wellies instead?  I’ve gotten a lot of requests for this:

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And came up with:

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I know, you just want to put your doll in those jammies and read her a bedtime story right? Even if she is being naughty and jumping on the bed 🙂  Several people have emailed me or posted pix of things they had already made for H4H and similar-size dolls that fit the WW, and it gave me an idea…

Here’s how to get  this PJ pattern:

  1.  Make something (or find something you already made) from an OLD Wrenfeathers pattern that fits the Wellie Wishers (free on this site or from my etsy shop, it doesn’t matter)
  2. Post a pic of it here (or somewhere else online if you can’t figure out flickr – do NOT just email me the pic!)
  3. Post a comment with the link to your pic and I’ll email you the PJ pattern!

If I don’t have a Wellie can I still have the PJ pattern?

Um…not right now.  I’m not being mean here!  Obviously not everyone has a Wellie Wisher, but I also know that those who do want to sew for them.  And how cool is it to find out you might already have patterns that fit?  I got out a TON of old H4H clothes and some of them fit my Wellie Wisher, but taking and posting all those pictures was daunting.  I’m offering the PJs as an incentive for people to do some of the picture taking and posting for me so we all can share the news about what fits!

It would be super great if you could find things that are NOT already posted; those would be the A-line jumper, puff-sleeve blouse and smocked A-line.  There are several cute things in the international collection that fit, other things from that same H4H sew-along, etc.

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Princess dresses including this one coming soon!

Totally off-topic but if you want a colored pencil comparison…

I know lots of you do other crafts besides sewing and I do too!  There’s been a wildfire burning about 20 mins northwest of our house, and in my stress I’ve been sitting in my dirty house doing a lot of drawing.  Why waste time cleaning when it might all go up in flames, right?  I recently picked up Wendy Hollender’s book on botanical drawing, and got it into my head to do one tulip from that book in all my different colored pencils.  I have so many sets because it’s impossible to decide which one is “the best”.  Ironically, Wendy suggests only a small set of polychromos, but lacking those I thought I’d see what came closest.  I think if for some reason I had to limit myself, I’d choose Derwent Coloursoft as my softer, main pencils, and either the Durer or Polycolor as my “detail” pencils, although I’m saving up for some Polychromos, so maybe I’ll add that info in the future.

In order to not have differences in the drawing detract from the pencils, I just did one, then scanned and printed it out multiple times on Strathmore 75lb mixed-media paper.  The scanner doesn’t quite do justice to the colors, but the settings were the same for all:

Colored pencil comparison