Tag Archives: girl for all time

Geeking out about textiles

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If you read this blog, I’m going to assume you like to sew, and if that’s the case it’s reasonable to assume you like textiles too.  Maybe you even occasionally create them yourself by knitting/crocheting/weaving, but for the most part, we get the vast majority of our textiles from a store, after the fibers have been processed, spun and woven by machines.  Those machines have developed to such a high level that a computer can control each individual thread to weave something as complex as a photo!

For much of human history, people needed to spin and weave cloth by hand.  As a spinner/weaver I had a revelation a few years ago looking at an Egyptian mummy in a museum.  Those yards and yards and yards of wrapping that looked so precise and perfect, had been not just hand woven, but hand spun on a drop spindle!  So when a new mummy exhibit came to the DMNS, I wanted to see it, if only for the textiles.  It was GREAT and I’d like to share it with you!

Egyptian mummy bandages were made of linen, and from what I’ve seen in museums, usually “singles” yarn.  They appear to be woven to the exact width needed; making me wonder if maybe weaving mummy bandages was a specific occupation, since so many yards of them were required for each mummy.  You can often see different layers, and I also wonder if lower-quality bandages were underneath, camouflaged by very high quality ones on top?

A real awakening for me was seeing the Peruvian mummies.  I adore textiles from Central and South America, and seeing them in their “pure” (pre-Spanish-influence) forms was exciting.  Most of the Peruvian mummy wrappings were singles yarn, spun a bit thicker than Egyptian mummy wrappings, but a few were plied, for example the lower part of the final layer of this mummy’s wrapping: 32183426762_e224bf142c

It’s about the thickness of sport-weight yarn. We modern yarn users can simply choose from what suits our purpose at the yarn store, but a 2-ply yarn requires almost 3 times as much work to produce the same length of yarn, since you need to spin each ply separately and then ply them together.  Keep in mind all this was being done on drop spindles like those below: 32213589011_3c045cf2a6

And now comes my favorite part of the entire exhibit:

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Unfortunately, there’s nothing for scale, so you can’t see how finely woven this was, but the background compares to modern quilting cottons, with the bird motifs woven in brocade in something similar to a few strands of embroidery floss.  Another thing to keep in mind is that this was woven on nothing more complex than a backstrap loom!  All the bird motifs were placed in by hand.

When the conquistadores came, they completely ignored the amazing treasures being produced by highly skilled weavers, demanding gold instead.  Thankfully, the Peruvians preserved part of this textile heritage in their mummies.

This is a textile fragment from around the same era as the birds above from this book http://www.thamesandhudsonusa.com/books/the-andean-science-of-weaving-structures-and-techniques-for-warp-faced-weaves-hardcover that I’m reproducing:

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As I weave it, I’ve been thinking a lot about the weaver who made it.  Who taught her to weave?  Why did she pick that weave structure, which is far more time/labor-intensive than some others she could have chosen?  Where did she get the pattern?  Was she making it up or copying an existing textile?  Did she spin the yarn herself?  Who was she weaving for?   Did she have to rip out as many rows as I have because of mistakes?  And finally, did she ever think that over a thousand years in the future her textile would end up photographed in a book to be replicated by another weaver she’d never met?  Although it’s almost certain she was illiterate and had no way leave her words behind, her weaving now “speaks” to others across centuries and leaves a legacy few people can hope to achieve.

If you know how to do twill pickup or want to reproduce this in some other way that uses graphing (needlepoint, etc.) here’s the chart I made based on the drawing in the book:

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OK, and finally, a little bit about dolls! 😉

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Since Santa brought me a new loom, I’ve been doing way more weaving than sewing, but I did receive the AGAT Nisha that I’d had on pre-order and she is just a GORGEOUS doll!  Her book wasn’t available (at least I couldn’t find it) to learn her story, so I had to make some guesses based on her name.  The name “Nisha” got its first hit as being from Sanskrit meaning “Night” when I googled it, and further research turned up:

  • Name Nisha In Arabic : نشا
  • Name Nisha In Bangla : নিশা
  • Name Nisha In Urdu : نشہ
  • Name Nisha In Hindi : निशा

From this I made a guess that she’s probably of Indian descent, which meant I could dive into the amazing world of Indian embroidery and textiles.  I made her a salwar kameez from this pattern, which came out a few years ago, with a slightly modified neck and hemline:

Here is a short tutorial on making very narrow hems when you don’t have a hem-rolling foot.

Even though I do have one, it’s not easy to turn a 90 degree corner, so I used this method to hem her dupatta (scarf).

Want the pes files?  They are free with purchase of the pattern, just put in notes to seller that you want them.  If you already have the pattern, just hunt down your order number and email me that you want them!

il_570xn-1169351813_nxc1The design on this kameez is also new and can be adapted to fit onto the H4H size by shortening the sides of the neckline.

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You can see in the closeup the circles are sized to fit tiny sequins or silver beads you sew on by hand for a shisha-type look.

Another thing we know about her from the AGAT website is that she likes 1980s clothes, and I started a few outfits that are a) based on patterns/clothes authentic to the period but b) still attractive enough that I’d like them today.  This is the first one, which should be available next week (February 2):

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Bienvenida Nancy!

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

I am so thankful for all your support and encouragement!  The coupon code 20OFF20 is active in my shop from now through Monday to help you get a head start on your holiday sewing!

 

nancy intro

This is from an early Nancy Famosa catalog.  She’s a doll that was made in Spain starting in the late 1960s.  It says, “I’m Nancy.  I want to be the most elegant of all the dolls you have.  I present to you all the ensembles with which you can make me happy.  How happy I will be if you give me all of them!”

Wow.  Talk about presumptuous!  The parents should not just buy the child a doll but ALL her outfits too!

I don’t think anyone could argue that fashions of the 1950s and early-mid  1960s were anything but stylish.  Once you get to the late 1960s through the 1970s, it’s a whole different story.  Most of us don’t have to research any farther than our own family photo albums to find clothing from that time period that, in retrospect, we might label “hideous”, no matter how stylish it was at the time.

In the US at this time, Nancy’s counterparts would have been Crissy and her cousin Velvet, and when you compare the two, Nancy’s clothing really did look a lot more elegant.  I started doing a little research and realized the 1970s did have a certain style and it was THE era for handmade stuff and decorative clothing!  There was actually a toy series called “The Sunshine Family” and their accessories included a craft store with a spinning wheel and pottery wheel!  They had a truck they drove around to craft fairs with and all their sets came with little booklets for kids to make miniature crafts from household materials for the dolls to “sell”.  They get my vote for “BEST TOY EVER!” even though they were a little before my time and I never played with them.

OK, back on topic.  I recently got a reproduction Nancy Famosa called “Yo quise ser tenista”.

The 1970s were the first time pants were really considered appropriate women’s attire for any occasion, and Nancy had a profusion of them!

Elastic waist pants are great for doll garments intended for kids, but not so much for adult collectors.  Firstly because after many years the elastic eventually stretches out and your garment is ruined, and also because it can make for a bulkier waist, which limits what type of top you can pair with the pants.

Perfectly-fitted non-elastic pants can be just as difficult to draft for dolls as for people, and I’ve avoided it for my AGAT Clementine by telling myself it wasn’t appropriate for her era.  Someone requested wide-leg pants for her Sam a while back, but I wanted a nicely-fitted waist, so it’s taken a while!  Awesome news:  AGAT and Vintage-Repro-Nancy can share pants!

More awesome news: Two versions of well-fitting 1960s-70s pants are now available in one pattern here

The pattern includes two versions – one with slightly-flared legs and and one with super-wide legs that you might call “palazzo pants” or “elephant bells” depending on your age.

They make for a perfect repro of the 1970s “hippy” outfit for Nancy, who some of you might have guessed will be making some appearances on the blog.  The original pants appear to have had painted flowers, but I digitized them for machine embroidery.  The .pes file is free with purchase of the pants pattern – just put in “notes to seller” that you want it!

Here is a free pattern for her T and necklace

In case you’re wondering how big she is, here is a comparison photo:

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L-R 1970s Sasha, Fisher Price My Friend, Nancy Famosa Reedicion, Kimberly, New Nancy Famosa, Crissy, New Kidz n Cats

Chatty’s smock dress

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I was on the Wrenfeathers Flickr group and found some cute holiday pix to share:

This one is shrunken versions of last week’s pattern on Ann Estelle and Linda McCall by Rosetownjoy:

Christmas sisters

And this gorgeous photo of Sam is from Mary D.  dressed in a pleated dress from the 1960s collection.  Not many dolls could pull off fabric with such a bright, bold pattern, but her neutral coloring and orange tights set it off perfectly!

Sam’s been on my to-buy list for a while, but I got really bummed that Girl For All Time had a bunch of holiday promotions and didn’t include her, so I guess I’ll have to wait a bit.  Speaking of doll purchases, if you’re a US customer who was getting your Maplelea “fix” from amazon, you may have noticed there’s very little left in stock.  I actually emailed Maplelea about that and they said they were having such strong sales in Canada, they had to hold stock back from amazon’s US site.  They do plan on restocking though!

This week’s Chatty pattern is her smock dress, shown in the center of the pic below:

 

Get it here

Next week will the last week of the CC series 😦 but two more dresses (Sunday Visit and Nursery School) will be available on etsy.  In the meantime, preview originals of those dresses here and here.

 

1950s and 60s dress patterns are here!

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Wow, this has taken a long time!  As you might be able to tell by the green grass in some of the pix, I started these over the summer.  And finally, now that it’s snowing this week there are TWO sets of dresses premiering.  All of them are historically accurate and based on outfits for girls from that time.

A 1960s collection sized for both AG and slim 16″-18″

(yes, including the new Girl for all Time, Sam!!)

Lots of mod styles and color-blocking to be found here!
This was a girl’s dress, but looks very much like a pink one made for Sashas…
AND

A 1950s collection sized for AG.

  It doesn’t say so in the etsy listing, but two of the dresses in this set (the blue flowered one and the pinafore dress) do include tested pattern pieces for slim 16″-18″.
This flowered one is my favorite
Or maybe this one…it’s hard to decide!
Click on any of the pix to go to the listings and see more!

And as always when I introduce collections, there’s a coupon code, just in time to get some patterns in anticipation of holiday sewing!  Use the code 20OFF20 from now until midnight Sunday to take 20% off any purchase of $20 or more.

On the blog survey one person asked for a 1930s outfit for Ellowyne based on the covers of Nancy Drew books.  That sounded like a fun project, but when I started looking at them it was hard to choose which one I liked the best.  If you were that person and have a specific dress in mind, could you please email me or leave a comment?  A pic would be super helpful.

Here today, gone tomorrow!

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Well, this pattern was more difficult to figure out than I had anticipated, but I did promise it would be free… So today you can download (FREE!) the blouse part of the overall outfit you voted for a few weeks ago.  BUT make sure to download it today, because it’s going to disappear tomorrow!  Next week we’ll make the overalls.

The expanded version of the pattern, available all at once in my etsy shop right now, also includes a puffed sleeve variation, a skirt to make the overalls into a jumper AND an additional set of pattern pieces sized for slim dolls like Sasha/Kidz n Cats/Girl for All Time/Kathe Kruse.

Happy New Year!!

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Really, Jen?  MORE doll clothes?  YES!  Doll clothes are a vital part of play for children, helping to spark imaginations and create new scenarios. I’m a speech-language pathologist, and at work I see a big difference between language-disordered and typically-developing kids in how they play with dolls.  I have a few sets of wooden dolls with magnetic clothing covering everything from princesses to sports outfits to swimsuits.  For a kindergartner I might give them the dolls and hold on to the clothes, pretending I’m “the store.”  A typically-developing kid will walk her doll over to me and say, “I’m going to the beach, can I buy a swimsuit please?”  A language disordered kid is more likely to say something like, “I want a pink one.”  If they like the dolls, this is a great way to teach vocabulary. “Oh, you want a pink swimsuit.  I bet your doll is going swimming, what else does she need to take with her?”  It can also help scaffold stories.  First, the doll gets her suit, towel, etc., next she drives to the beach, etc.  So, although many people might not think of them that way, doll with a nice variety of clothes can be a really educational toy, especially if an adult is willing to add to the wardrobe/join in the play.  For older kids to adult collectors,  sewing for dolls is a wonderful way to “play” with them and develop a valuable skill at the same time.

The New Year always brings a statistics summary from WordPress.  One of the things they list is my top five referring sites:

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I wasn’t surprised Pinterest was at the top, with 15,272 referrals, as well as referrals from my own site to other patterns on the site.  A big surprise for me was how many referrals came from http://www.ravelry.com/ and http://www.agirlforalltime.com/. I guess I hadn’t even realized they knew who I was!  In thanks to AGAT, and because I know a lot of people got a new Clementine for Christmas, I’m offering this new, authentic 1940s snow suit pattern FREE!

It’s been snowing and far below zero for a couple of days, so Clementine took advantage of the “heat wave” (15F/-9C) to make some snow angels and go sledding today.  I made her outfit based on this 1940s Carolyn Lee paper doll drawn by Queen Holden.  I share Nicki’s Baba’s opinion about white mittens, (anyone get that reference?) so I made them red. 🙂

 

Get the pattern here 

Thanks for reading the blog! I wish everyone a fabulous 2015!!

 

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/