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Saige Dresses for Success

I loved making this dress. I want to rave about Matilda’s Closet who designs and distributes this pattern in PDF form. Although this pattern is on the complicated side (I didn’t know how to put it together without reading the directions), the pattern directions were easy to follow and so were the photos.

A closeup of Saige's dress with a large collar and pleats down the front

Since this is a close shot, I’ll interject a note about these buttons. I have a beautiful collection of buttons, and I have more pink accessories than I could ever dream of using. But I was surprised that I had no tiny pink buttons, except for buttons with four holes. I prefer two holes so I used these. You might notice that my sewing stitches on the buttons are all horizontal. No matter how you stitch your buttons, I suggest that all buttons be stitched in the same direction. This way, the precise direction of the thread adds to the design. In addition, the stitches look better if you overlap the button threads as little as possible.

I love these little hoop earrings (or demi-hoops) that are made by 2 Sisters Sew Crafty. These earrings are classy like plain hoops can be, but the ends of them are straight so that they fit into the doll’s pierced ear and head. I think I got the pearl bracelet from Carpatina awhile back. I don’t see it now but the site has some pretty jewelry.

Here’s a full shot of the dress that only looks good with long hair that is pulled back or off the neck due to the size of the collar.

Full view of this dress for success

The two pleats above the waistband and the two below the waistband are simple to create. The pattern pieces are marked with notches on the pattern edges. The marked fabric pieces are folded so that the notches meet, creating a fold for each pleat. This same method is used at the skirt part of the dress. When the top and skirt are sewn properly to the waistband, the pleats line up. If you look at both these top photos of the dress, you can see the pleats. If you go to the Matilda’s Closet pattern, you will see other photos of this dress. The pleats are much easier to view on the dresses made of solid fabric.

A view of the dress off the hanger reveals more of the construction. These attractive tabs are inserted into the side seams.

Dress off hanger

The side zipper (four inches long) can be spotted below. I also hand-stitched a strip of one-inch bias tape to cover the seams of the wrong side of the waist band. When I can, I keep the inside of my doll clothes tidy. In general, both finished and covered seams hold up better than unfinished seams if a garment should need laundering.

Off the hanger with view of zipper and liner band

I haven’t used other patterns by Matilda’s Closet, and I don’t know her personally. I usually favor “vintage-styled” doll dresses, but I adore this dress pattern.

I originally planned to try out patterns by a few doll clothes designers before creating my own. But I’m having so much fun sewing that I’ve gotten sidetracked. I’ve come across various patterns in PDF form, all of them good in one way or another. I’m impressed by the pattern pieces, even the ones that are hand-drawn. I enjoy looking at dolls styled by designers, bloggers and AG lovers on Instagram. I love American Girl (and Madame Alexander), and I’m having a great time styling these beautiful 18-inch dolls.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

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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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imagesYou can find us on Pinterest.

 

 

African Fashion

I used cotton muslin as a test to see how this simple cut fits and drapes. I also took the photo with my iPad, which isn’t too bad, but I think I’ll stick with my Nikon in the future:

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I realize that this fabric is translucent at best, and I used a cording remnant just as a test, without color as a factor. I have some beautiful African cotton prints, and I will make my own cording with one of these. My final choices will transform what I have so far into something beautiful. I’ve been experimenting with head wraps, and even though this muslin is light weight, it is still too thick to use for a scarf.

I have several more complicated ideas in mind for both skirts and tops but I wanted to start with something simple.

I love this doll. I am tempted to remove the label at her waistline, but I think her value will drop if I cut it. American Girl probably holds more dollar value, but these Madame Alexander dolls are no longer easy to find, especially the ethnic looking ones. Although I’ve come to love American Girl, I prefer Madame Alexander when it comes to these facial features. And look at her great hair!

I first spotted this particular face on Amazon (used) for $300. I kept my eyes opened, and when Madame Alexander released a small batch that included an African doll with these beautiful features, I snapped her up. I loved her massive hair, but I recently made her more chic. I washed and conditioned her hair before cutting it; she might need a spritz of water here and there to re-curl the ends. Here are before and after photos:

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So far I’ve re-styled several of my dolls. My new Asian doll turned out frightful. Not to worry. I get great advice from bright little girls—through their YouTube videos and blogs—who can advise me on how to re-style dolls and how to remove their wigs. I hope to post some positive results soon. In addition, I look forward to finishing the African-styled “look” above.

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A Vintage Print for Doll Clothes

After warning readers about the risks of buying remnants, I couldn’t resist this print that has a beautiful vintage look. I can think of several ways to use this print, but I chose a dress with simple lines. You can find this “Recital Dress” pattern in Joan Hinds’ book, Doll Fashion Studio.

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As usual, I tweaked the pattern that called for contrasting bias tape to outline the sloped chest seam and the waist seam in the front. I decided that corking would look richer; I prefer a thin, subtle color contrast. I also added the plain strip of pink at the bottom of the skirt.

My dolls have several pairs of pink shoes but I decided to pick up the darker color in the print with these burgundy ballet flats.

I had already been working on ways to streak my dolls’ hair but American Girl beat me to the punch by developing some contrasting strands of hair that come in a package of pink, blue and lavender. If you lift up a section of hair, you can easily attach a strand of pink with a small clip.

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This photo shows a better view of the purchased belt. I originally wanted a pink belt to match the cording but now I prefer the lighter color. I like to coordinate fabrics and accessories, but I do not like things to be matchy-matchy.

By the way, this fabric remnant was full of flaws. The weave had several pieces of thick thread that created visible bumps in the design. I had to recut some pattern pieces.

I’m happy with the fit of this beautifully lined dress, and I will probably adapt other patterns from this bodice. All visible edges have been serged. All rough edges are safely tucked underneath the lining.

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I am unbelievably picky about the neatness of my work and the standards that I would pass along to someone purchasing my doll clothes. This dress will probably be my first item listed at Etsy.

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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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