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AG Doll Clothes, Vintage Version, With Bed and Trunk

December 31st, 2011 11 comments

They’re vintage because I made them for Noilette, when she was very little.   Years ago, before Mattel bought American Girl, the dolls (and their clothing) were excellent quality (unlike the books, which, despite their “educational” pretensions, are pretty weak all around).  The size of these girl-shaped dolls makes sewing for them fast and rewarding; you get a lot of bang for your sewing efforts.

Running across various posts about others’ AG sewing prompted me to finally get out the camera and immortalize Noilette’s collection.  Here are the garments I made for her AG dolls a long time ago. (And, at the bottom of the post, pictures of the trunk and bed I made for her, too.)

First up, a sou-wester slicker and hat, made from a flannel-backed table cloth, and lined (badly, I’m sorry to say) in navy nylon.  The dark nylon is why the coat looks darker than the unlined hat.  You can’t tell here, but the brim of the hat is elongated, just as it would be in a proper, full-sized version.  The coat’s collar is a very, very fine pinwale cord, in brown.  Much more comfortable than PVC next to the chin!

The back of the slicker has a little vent:

The little chrome “snaps” are fake; there’s hook-and-loop underneath.  All of these items were made on my Pfaff 1229, and most of what I’m posting here was made from American Girl patterns. Does Mattel still sell them?  They were quite wonderful.

Here’s a prairie dress, complete with bonnet, simple bloomers, an apron (with pocket) and a floating pocket that also wrapped around the waist.  I’m not sure why I made a pocket on the apron, since it’s a bit redundant.  Because I could?

You can barely see the “growth tuck” about an inch above the hem.  That’s so frugal mamas could let the skirt down as the child grew taller.  The hem is faced with blue gingham; I did that on a couple of the garments, probably  just because it seemed like fun.

Moving forward to Victorian times, here’s a very badly wrinkled little cotton pinafore, trimmed in rick-rack, with a pink gingham dress underneath, complete with mini leg o’mutton sleeves:

My iron and I are not getting along these days.  I have a vague recollection that I made Noilette a matching outfit.

Naturally, I made a full-circle poodle skirt, though it’s very much the worse for fuzz.  This wasn’t the best quality felt around.

Here’s a surprisingly badly-made tutu.  I’m not a fan of pink, and I see that I managed to find a rather mauve-y shade for the leotard:

There was only one slipper in the trunk when I unpacked it today.  If these little treasures get passed down someday, I’ll have to make a new pair.

Here’s another dress; a generic drop-waist style that, I think, was also supposed to be from around the turn of the century:

I know; wrinkle city.  It’s all-cotton.  Those are little, tiny, woven checks.  Lovely stuff!

This little sweater set was supposed to have matching mittens, and may yet acquire them:

I didn’t use a pattern for these, just copied some larger ones.  Fitting was not much of an issue, so they worked up very quickly.  I think the checkerboard pattern on the hat may be traditional; anyway, I liked it a lot.  The figure on the hat is skirted, wiht doubel stripes between, all around the crown.

I’d forgotten about this little sweater:

It was also a very quick knit, but I was surprised at the infinitesimal button holes.  Easy to do, though, since you  just drop a stitch, and then pick it back up.


I’m not sure what possessed me to use quite so many buttons.  Probably an attempt at miniature verisimilitude.

This is my favorite outfit:

It’s a separate blouse and skirt, with a little Russian flair.  The hem is faced with red-and-white gingham checks.

This Victorian cape set, complete with beret and gaiters, is made of practical polar fleece, and lined with the same navy nylon I used to line the sou-wester.  Wool would have been authentic, though probably not if it were white.

The collar has a lovely shape, only part of which can you see here:

Little corduroy overalls, with a pocket on the bib, and the same faux snaps as on the slicker:

The turtleneck is open down the back, and closes with hook-and-loop fasteners.  It’s not very inspirational, but a necessary accessory.

Naturally, there are nighties in the collection.  This one is of a lovely heavyweight all-cotton flannel, with ruffles at the shoulder, wrist and neck, as well as mauve ribbon woven through lace trim on the bodice:

Everyone needs a cloud nightie, don’t you think?  Noilette had a matching one, of course:

I made the wooden trunk Noilette’s doll wardrobe is store in, as well as the wooden bed that fits inside.  I love unexpected challenges, and, at the time, my father was handling the plumbing, so I had to look elsewhere for projects, unlike these days.

The bedding is just a ticking mattress, with matching pillow, and a little quilt — a thin quilt, like the ones my great-grandmother used to make.  She used flannel for the batt, so that’s what I did, too.

Naturally, I used scraps for the patchwork, and the doll’s doll is wearing a copy, sort of, of the white flannel nightie.  Yes, those are miniature Little Golden Books.  I hate them, and wouldn’t allow them in Noilette’s library (not that the issue came up), but apparently I thought they were good enough for dolls!

I’m no pro at stencilling; I was very relieved when this turned out.  However, I think that was because I faked it, and pencilled the design, then painted it.

The trunk lid is made of extremely thin plywood, like that used on vintage plane wings, and nailed and glued into place.

Because we had cats, I made a cozy for the lid; the elastic needs replacing, but it still provides protection from the depredations of the current herd of cats:

As it turned out, Noilette was never very fond of dolls, possibly because, unlike her mother, she has always been very social and very fond of living, breathing people.  Nonetheless, she still appreciates handmade things, and one day may pass all this stuff down to a child of her own.  If not, it may eventually become someone else’s treasure.  Or not .  .  .  regardless, her mother had a great time constructing every piece, and that’s quite enough, all on its own.

Categories: Misc, Vintage Tags:

Minoru Sew-Along

December 23rd, 2011 5 comments

Tasia, of Sewaholic, is hosting a month-long sew-along, beginning January 16th,  featuring her latest pattern, the Minoru jacket.   Here’s the illustration from the pattern envelope:

Tasia’s patterns seem geared more toward pear-shaped women, and my body type is nearly the opposite.  That shouldn’t matter a lot for this style, though.  I’m sure I’ll be doing an FBA for this jacket, but I like its lines, that great tall collar, and the hidden hood.  Also, I’m in the mood for a sporty new spring jacket!

I’ll be making mine out of a mid-wale purple corduroy, and lining it with a red poly that is printed with, among other things, purple flowers.  I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought the print, but I’m expecting that it will be fun, not horrific, as a lining.

Both cord and the print look blue here, but they’re actually a deep purple. According to my Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool, the corduroy is 14-17, or, on colorhex.com, it’s f1865:

I’ll be using bright red zippers; in for a penny, in for a pound. My jacket is meant to be fun, not safe or arty.  (Stash-busting that poly is going to feel good!)  Matching thread was impossible; I settled for a slightly darker Gütermann, which isn’t photographing any better than the corduroy:

I’m not sure about the gathers at the neck, but I’ve seen so many marvelous versions of this jacket already that I’m willing to give it a try.  Google “minoru jacket” under “images” and you’ll turn up a bunch; Tasia also has a number of them on her website.

The Sewaholic blog is already full of tips for using the pattern, including a tutorial on sewing with waterproof outerwear fabric.

So far I’ve seen this jacket made in poplin; twill; canvas; a linen-cotton blend; a jersey; and a fine-wale corduroy, every one with a wild and wacky lining.  Inspired?  Stash-busting?  You could make this jacket from almost anything!

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Half-Circle Napkins

December 22nd, 2011 5 comments

Need a quick, last-minute gift?  These napkins are fast and easy to make and can be folded in a number of ways, depending on your mood, or whatever is going on at the table.  If you use appropriate colors, you can achieve a “Christmas tree” effect, which is how you’ve probably seen them done around this time of year.

To make them, I drew an 18 inch circle on paper, then folded it in half.  I cut the circle along the fold, took one half, and added a seam allowance to it.  I used a one-quarter inch allowance, because I think it makes a nicer edge, and I didn’t want to trim the seam after I’d sewn it.

Then I cut my pattern out of cardstock, and used it as a template to mark the shape on my fabric.  In this case, since I wanted something festive, durable, and quick-drying, I used two tablecloths with a damask-like texture for my fabric.  Tracing the template made the cutting go very quickly, and was quite accurate, as well.

I sewed them up, right side to right side, all around, leaving a small opening to turn. Then I edge-stitched all around, closing the opening in the process.

Most of the folds are simple to figure out, but the tree fold is little tricky.  Start with the half-circle, laid out flat, and then fold about a third of it underneath, on the right side.

Then imagine two lines from the point of the napkin to the outer edge, equally spaced.  Make a fold along the imaginary line that is closest to the left upper edge of the napkin, bringing the fold to the top of the napkin.

Do the same with the next imaginary line, also bringing that fold to the top, straight, edge of the napkin.

That’s it!

I thought that “half” napkins would be too small to be practical, but discovered just the opposite.  These are nice and big, and stay on laps much better than similarly-sized square napkins.

Wouldn’t these be charming as smaller cocktail or tapas napkins?  There’s no reason they couldn’t be all one color, either, or any of hundreds of other variations, in prints or solids of all types.  Anyone could work the evergreen theme by using this red and green, or green and brown, if yours isn’t a Chrismas household.  A couple of shades of blue,  or blue and silver, would be nice for Chanukkah, too.

Here’s a close-up look at the folds.  I’m sure there are many more variations; this is just what I did immediately.

A fan fold, red side:

The same fold, green side up:

Side pleat:

Bishop’s mitre:

And the tree, right side up:

I actually purchased a single-sheet pattern at the fabric store; it was a little silly, since these aren’t difficult to make, but I like to support entrepreneurial pattern makers.

However, when I got home, I discovered that, though the page was nicely produced, the instructions weren’t very helpful.  Instead of using half-circles, the author’s layout used full circles, which wastes a lot of fabric, and I found her directions for folding to be incomprehensible.  Sigh.  At least she got an “A” for effort, and whatever profit she made on the single sale, even if I can’t recommend her pattern here.

Categories: Home Tags:

Zoë

December 16th, 2011 6 comments

Peter, of blogging fame, is apparently not content with collecting a small army of sewing machines, or an actual army of Ken dolls (all of whom look as if they’re ready for some sort of leisure-suited Armageddon).   Nooo, now he’s gone and acquired a Patti Playpal doll.  From a Manhattan thrift store.  For the grand total of 15 dollars. (She’s even wearing her original pinafore!)

Does Peter have supernatural help in finding these things?  Or a secret army of spies, ever-alert, walking the sidewalks and scouting the shops? Because the most exciting thing I ever found in a Manhattan thrift shop was a Sherlock-Holmes-style cape with moth holes and several buttons missing.

But I digress.  Peter, meet Zoë.  Admittedly, I didn’t score her from a consignment shop on an exotic island, but she’s just as useful for freaking out the spouse:

I did, however, make her myself.  Or, rather, I designed and made her inner armature myself, modified her body, and assembled her limbs and head.  (Without the armature, she’d have been relegated to life in an assistive device).  Her skeleton is made of flexible plumbing tubing, which makes her less stable than Patti, but more posable.

Mr. Noile finds her creepy (and this from a guy who used to feed baby dolls to a giant preying mantis puppet!  Talk about creep factor!).  He was pleased to learn that Michael felt similarly about Patti.  And no, I don’t sew for Zoë, but I do have a whole box of 1940s and 1950s children’s patterns in the attic, and, next to Patti, Zoë’s apparel looks awfully modern, doesn’t it?  Maybe I should do something about that.  There may not be enough eccentricity in the world already.

What?  You say that I haven’t posted on this sewing blog since August, and then I write about a life-size doll?  Yeah, what of it?

Categories: Misc Tags: