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Marshmallowjane Gets a Haircut

This week Marshmallowjane went to The Cutting Room to get her hair cut and styled. Although she isn’t the most gorgeous model we have, she is the president of our organization. It is her sense of style and individuality that makes her a natural leader. Because she inspires others (she is often imitated), it was important for us to find her a qualified stylist.

The photo below shows Edith’s dedication to give Marshmallowjane a perfect cut; it was no surprise to hear Edith comment, “I must do a meticulous job. Her hair won’t grow back.”

marshmallowjane's first haircut by Edith at The Cutting Room

Here are “before” and “after” photos. What do you think?

Although Marshmallowjane enjoys adorning her long hair with crazy color, she wants a chic style to go with her new Derby (or bowler) hat.

before and after

I’d been planning on cutting Marshmallowjane’s hair for the last year or so. I have some “looks” that I want her to model that scream for a shoulder-length bob.

Warning: American Girl dolls are expensive. I think cutting a doll’s hair should take much thought and consideration. I’ve cut the hair of other dolls (Madame Alexander) with pretty good luck. These dolls are usually cheaper, and making a permanent change isn’t much of a risk. The newer Madame Alexander (18-inch) are sold with their hair in braids, pigtails, and other styles that kink or wrinkle the hair. I’ve purchased such dolls, thinking that I could somehow get rid of these permanent kinks myself. I’ve had a little luck, but I completely ruined one doll’s hair after watching a YouTube demonstration on how to carefully use an electric straightener.

I thought I was careful. I’d purchased the Madame Alexander doll because of her rare “Asian” features, even though straightening her hair was a gamble. Since I got bad results, I will have to find a wig to go with her pretty face. For now, she will have to take a back seat to my American Girl dolls.

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Asian Dolls Are a Rare Find

Madame Alexander joined Walmart to make an exclusive small set of dolls. I don’t know when they were released. These small sets of limited dolls come and go very quickly. I clearly need no more dolls, but Asian dolls are next to impossible to find. And when I saw this doll, my heart melted. If I decide not to keep her, I can easily find her a home.

Normally, I wouldn’t buy a doll with styled hair like this because, chances are, the rubber bands will cause the hair to permanently bed. Here’s what she looked like in the box—or on the side of the box.

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This doll is one of the “My Life” dolls. She is “My Life as a Hair Stylist.” After seeing this doll at Walmart, I went home and looked for her online. I couldn’t find another one like her, so I went back the next day and bought her.

She comes with some problems. The box says she is “totally posable.” I don’t know what that means but she will not stay standing, unless I lean her against the wall. This is true of most 18-inch Madame Alexander dolls, compared to the American Girl doll who will stand up by herself. A.G. is easier to photograph for this reason.

I did not notice until recently, that Madame Alexander’s head is joined just below the chin; whereas, American Girl’s head is permanently connected to her neck, and it is her neck that connects to her upper body. I love to take pictures of my dolls after I’ve styled them, and I find it challenging to get this girl to look straight forward at the camera. Her head wants to look up.

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The biggest issue of all is her hair, which is “permanently” crinkled and tangled, with a big part in the back of her head. Also, her bangs are styled in a “fresh” way that calls for them to be crooked with a noticeable space on her forehead on just one side.

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As you can see, the back is a frightening mess. I do not recommend buying this doll for your little girl, even if you could find one, unless you don’t mind taking a risk with her hair.

After doing some research, I’ve found some great advice and directions on how to straighten a doll’s hair. This involves the use of a hot iron, and the box clearly states not to use a hot iron. If you are reading this, please send me some positive energy.

There’s also the matter of the hair cut, which was originally styled to fit into two pigtails; the cut is an uneven nightmare. I will probably trim it myself. I recently cut and restyled another doll’s hair. I will post the results of my doll’s new look (unless venture turns into a dismal failure).

A note on my reference to “Asian” dolls. My reference is politically incorrect, of course. I’m using this convenient umbrella to cover Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other Asian beauties. I’d say this doll looks more “Eurasian.” But what do we expect from a doll company? Madame Alexander does a pretty good job at representing other races. I have two African American M.A. dolls and they’re’ so beautiful. One of them has big lips and an extreme afro, while the other one looks more bi-racial. American Girl makes beautiful dolls but they all have the trademark thin lips with two little teeth. They make an “Chinese” doll named Ivy. What do you think?

If you want an Asian-looking doll for you or your little girl, please watch for the new batches of Madame Alexander that pop up out of nowhere, especially EARLY in the holiday season. American Girl’s “Ivy” is one of their Historical Characters that is always available, at least for now.

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Polka Dots and Pinstripes

Today’s model, Lily, has fair skin that must be protected from the summer sun. Her black hair makes her a perfect candidate for this black and white and gray outfit, Butterick 5864.

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I love the pants fabric that consists of small black dots on gray that gives an optical illusion that the dots are textured. The polka dots coordinate beautifully with the pinstripe seersucker hooded jacket.

I like to give props when I can, and this pattern was fun to work with. If I get the opportunity I’ll make this pattern again. Here are some significant tidbits about sewing this outfit:

  • The pattern included a collar that goes on the neckline just above the hood. I added it at first but it looked weird. There was no way to make it lie flat on top of the hood where it joins the neckline.
  • The pattern called for pseudo buttons that are sewn above hidden snaps. I prefer real working button holes whenever possible, and I’m getting pretty good at making buttonholes with my Singer Quantum 9960.
  • These pants are very clever: They have elastic at the back waist with a waistband in the front that covers the raw ends of the elastic. I will probably use this type of waistband with elastic for various kinds of pants in the future.
  • I could have used the polka dots for the hood and the pinstripes for the lining, but I chose the reverse so that the polka dots are more visible around the face. This folded band is stitched down on the ends so that it stays back.

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Mixing Prints with Simplicity 2458

I love mixing prints–or in this case mixing a pinstripe and a print. This Simplicity design 2458 isn’t something I’d normally use. But I think it’s cute:

I have not been satisfied with the fit of most patterns recently, but this one is a gem. The top has elastic inserted in the back near the waist which creates a better fit.

I learned much about ribbon while doing this little exercise. From now on I’ll work exclusively with silk or rayon whenever possible. Polyester can be stiff, and it doesn’t drape the way I’d like it.

I changed my photography set-up, and that was a bad idea. A few unwanted shadows in these photos, but if I wait for perfection, I’ll stand still.

One of the purposes of this blog is to show my setbacks as a doll clothes maker and designer. There is more to learn than I had anticipated but this process has given me the opportunity to see what other doll clothes and patterns are available and what other doll clothes lovers are doing.

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Girls Just Want a Fun Hat

Note to self: Do not make this dress pattern again. In fact, toss it into the garbage. My model below looks as cute as a button. I saved her “look” by giving her a hat.

This hat is a strip of velvet knit, folded in half (right sides together) so that the fabric becomes a thinner strip with the ends cut diagonally. I stitched the fabric together on the long edge, leaving an opening in the center, large enough to turn the strip right-side out. I folded this thick velvet strip into four pleats and tacked the pleats together. I gathered a piece of netting down the middle and tacked it onto the velvet. I added a flower, and voila! I attached the hat to the doll’s head with a hat pin.

When I make a new outfit, I try it on all my dolls to see which one looks the best. Any black in the fabric looks best with black hair–or blonde hair. Not brown. I have plenty of beautiful shades of browns and tans for my brown-haired dolls.

Here’s a full shot of the dress, Simplicity 4654. This dress was supposed to be a holiday dress. I’d planned to add a beautiful black sash and bow, but the bodice is far too loose at the seam line under the chest.

I previously made this same pattern in an October 14, 2011, blog entry. I remember thinking that perhaps I’d stretched the fabric. But I was careful this time. The bodice might be loose to ease the fit of the set-in sleeves.

Setting in a woman’s or child’s sleeve is easy. You put a row of basting stitch on the stitch line and ease the sleeve fullness into the bodice without making an ugly tuck in the sleeve. With doll sleeves, it’s easy to make an unwanted tuck in the under-arm area of the bodice. I notice that most of the sleeves of the eight-inch Madame Alexander costumes are very full and gathered. These full sleeves are probably easier to sew.

Any suggestion for perfecting the setting in of doll clothes sleeves would be appreciated.

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