Happy (Belated) Birthday, Samantha!

Ok, yes, I missed Samantha’s birthday. I’m so buy lately it’s hard to keep up with the blog –I’m actually behind on posting even sewing pictures! But this is supposed to be a no-stress space so I’m not too worried about it.

Still, I couldn’t let an excuse to post some pictures of Sam pass me by. I received Sam for my 7th birthday, my very first American Girl doll! She was a faithful companion in my younger years, but then as a teenager I made a terrible mistake and got her head switched because her hair had become a rat’s nest! Well, I didn’t know any better. Now I’ve been really tempted to get a BeForever Samantha since my Sam’s head isn’t her original head anyway, and just replace the body (because her body is so stained and squishy and that feels like my childhood!) Or, who knows, have TWO Sam’s? Is that crazy?? Well, it’s not currently in the budget, so moot at this point, haha.

Anyway, I’ve blogged about Sam so much so here are just some pictures. Happy birthday, old girl.

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Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

A birthday post on time! Oh man all I’m doing a birthday post ON a birthday and it’s extra incredible because this has been a bonkers week with a super sick kid. The weather has also not been great. But last Sunday we had a few hours of decent weather before it got cold and rainy and, knowing Kirsten’s birthday was coming up, I took Kirsten and Addy out for some photos.

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Kirsten was one of the dolls that got me back into collecting as an adult. I loved pioneers and the Oregon Trail as a kid and my godmother had given me all Kirsten’s books, but I never got the doll, so when I found out they were retired, I ran to eBay to buy Kirsten and Felicity. Of course, since I didn’t do ANY research beforehand, I wound up with two Mattel dolls and just didn’t quite click with them, though sometimes I regret getting rid of my Kirsten. She didn’t look like book Kirsten to me, but she was a pretty doll.

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Did I get rid of this brown dress? I didn’t remember making it and don’t remember seeing it in her clothing box… maybe I put it in the “for kids to play with someday” box? Hm…IMG_9712

Anyway, the hunt was on for the perfect Kirsten and one day she popped up on eBay, a white body Kirsten with the sweetest little face. Unfortunately, she was dirty, had cut hair, and her fingers on one hand had been chewed off… But I bought her anyway, scraped the paint off her face, and eventually hunted down donor arms.

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The wig was a harder fine. I tried several blonde wigs but they all just looked too modern next to Kirsten’s. Finally I took a chance on some Engelpuppen wigs from Germany and the curly banged blond wig was perfect! Makes sense since that company made the original WB wigs. Maybe book Kirsten didn’t have pretty soft curls but I think she’s lovely and am happy with how she’s turned out, even with my kind of terrible face paint refresh.

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Poor Kirsten gets overlooked a lot. Her time period isn’t my favorite to sew for since there isn’t a ton of variety, and her things on the second-hand market are soooo pricy. Someday I do hope to track down pretty much her entire collection, because I just love all the wood and painting of her pieces.

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Ugh, now I’m feeling guilty. Maybe I’ll make another dress for her next. 🙂 I apreciate that she’s such a sweet girl, and I do really like her character in the books a lot too. I even like that simply by existing, Kirsten’s presence in the American Girl line-up helps reiterate that being born in the country is not what makes you an American, and that this country is made up of people born all over the place who found their way here (in both good and bad ways).

So Happy Birthday, Kirsten! I promise to make you a new dress soon.

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Happy Birthday, Kit!

Oh Kit, cutest of the cute, Happy birthday!

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My mom and I have been trying to figure out definitively when I got my Kit. We’re pretty sure I got her for Christmas in 2003 (when I was 15), although my mom thinks she had only been out about a year, which would have put it at Christmas 2001 (when I was 13). I know I’ve seen a picture of that Christmas morning with her somewhere at my moms house, but I’ll have to dig next time I’m home, and that would confirm.

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Here are some more clues: I have film photos I took of her with my other dolls. I got my first digital camera for Christmas when I was 15, but I have no digital pictures of dolls. So probably that makes it more likely it was 2001.

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I can still name everyone in this photo except that fairy doll to the left! And Sam, that outfit is scandalous!

And that would actually make sense too because I learned about this tagging inside the shoulder that the earliest Kit dolls had. Mine has one of those tags that reveals she was made August 2000. That would have been a long time for a doll to see unpurchased! So maybe we can safely say I was 13 when I got Kit, and she was my last doll for about 12 years. Yes, looking now at the picture I have of Kit from way back when, this does not look like the work of a 15 year old (to be fair, I was babysitting a young cousin this day, but Kit’s outfit looks like the work of a young me.)

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I know exactly what drew me to Kit. Her hair cut was adorable, she was the same era as my Grandma, but better than all of those, she was a writer! A journalist! A tomboy! Kit’s character is great in the books. She manages to endure some pretty rough things as a kid in a pretty realistically upset but adaptable way. She gets into shenanigans (uh, let’s not forget she spent a night in JAIL) but never really veers into selfish or bratty territory. She means well and is sorry when she goofs. She certainly pushes against what I’d allow a kid of mine to do… definitely not letting her run off to any camps unsupervised…

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Kit’s collection is massive and to be honest, I’m not crazy about a lot of her newer stuff. Lots of pastels and pink when Kit was very much not a fan of pink. Not to mention that But she’s got some of the cutest furniture and accessories, and some of her outfits are adorable! The tanking quality of AG isn’t her fault, of course.

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I’m sorry that Kit caught me on the way into my doll dryspell but it does mean she managed to stay in perfect condition except for some loose limbs I had to tighten. Those blond eyebrows get lost in photos so someday I may darken them. But she’s got her rosy blush and everything. I know little girls may not always be a fan of her short hair but it’s so cute and stylish and unique among the dolls. To this day, I still love her and am not surprised I chose Kit as my third doll.

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Happy birthday, Kit! Thanks for being a writing buddy for many years now.

Happy Birthday, Maryellen!

Eep, a surprise birthday! I must never have added Maryellen’s birthday to my calendar when I got her for Christmas, so it snuck up on me! Fortunately I realized just in the nick of time, and while my kid was napping, whew!

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Maryellen is a new girl in town, having just joined this past Christmas as a gift from my husband and mom. I’d tried so hard not to love Maryellen when she was released, but how can you resist this cutie? It doesn’t help that I absolutely adore her character in the books. Plus she bears a striking resemblance to my mom, though my mom’s a bit younger and has brown eyes instead of hazel.

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Nina, my Cuban-American 1950s girl, makes a cute pair with Maryellen. They’re being very nice and sharing clothes with each other. Maryellen is probably used to it with that big family of hers!

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I haven’t really gotten into sewing for the 1950s yet, but it will come! I’ve been hoarding patterns and have several planned. It’s been lower priority since Maryellen has so many cute official clothes, and etsy has gone 1950s crazy.

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For her birthday, Maryellen is wearing a new dress (below) I absolutely love, made by MySewYouCreations . This woman’s shop is incredible with unreal fair prices. I’ve bought two things from her so far and basically check her shop weekly to moon over the lovelies she’s posted.

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I’m sure I’ll get into many more adventures with Maryellen. I’m so glad she’s joined, and I’m even glad she held onto her name (I wanted to name her Janie), even though it’s put Gracie (was Deirdre, was Ellen) into a naming crisis.

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So Happy Birthday, Ellie! Here’s to many more with your cute little face.

Happy Birthday, Rosie!

Wow, an on-time birthday post! Wonders will never cease.

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(Sidenote: I never reviewed Felicity’s new dress but wow am I unimpressed. I guess I’m glad I used Rewards and got it all for embarrassingly cheap. The blue fabric is gorgeous but the petticoat shouldn’t be attached. Mine has loose threads hanging off everywhere. And having to buy her undergarments AND the hat & fichu separately? Just awful. But I like the brown shoes and again, the blue fabric really is gorgeous, and the hat is sweet.)

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Sadly for Rosie, she is one of my newer dolls and so there isn’t a lengthy history here exceptfor the fact that she’s a completely restored MG. Ok, maybe there’s more of a history here. I bought Rosie at least two years ago, though it took a while for me to get around to ripping her wig off and cleaning her up. She wasn’t in great shape.

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After a clean up and some freckles and a new wig though, she was ready to take on the role of Miss Rosie MacKenzie, my Scottish-French colonial girl. OK, I’m making it sound simpler than it was. Actually she was my first eye swap and it’s a miracle I didn’t break my thumbs. I also redid her freckles one million times. Now I don’t remember if I ever went over them with acrylic paint or left them as washable marker, and I’m too afraid of smearing them to check.

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She also had some wig woes. The first wig I got for her was a Monique Roxanne wig. Beautiful. But it frizzed like you wouldn’t believe! I still have it and 5 minutes ago pulled it out to see if I could use it on another doll. I just don’t know. It got so dry and frizzy just form being looked at. I’m so disappointed in the quality. So later I used a 20% off coupon to get #61 so I could steal her wig (with the intention of selling the doll and then I didn’t OOPS). #61’s wig is much better for Rosie, though sometimes I do still contemplate trying other wigs for her. I can’t stop with the wigs!

img_6004Is she a touch inspired by Outlander? Sure, which is amusing because I’m not even crazy about the series. I won’t get into my thoughts here, but boy do I have them! However the costumes in the Starz show are A+ and I’m a sucker both for Scottish (my grandparents have always been super into our Scottish heritage) and colonial garb so what’s not to like?

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Ugh, why wig, why did yo uhave to go awry? You can already see it starting to go haywire here. But those ringlets!

Rosie is my excuse to explore clothing that Felicity shouldn’t have. Ok, look, I know we aren’t sticking to hardcore reality with American Girl dolls. But some of Felicity’ clothes (I’m looking at you, new meet gown) are just really elaborate for a merchant’s daughter. I know he’s a merchant so there’s some access but they’re a large family during a war. Anyway, I digress.

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I’ve played around with writing some snippets for Rosie. Nothing has really stuck, despite the fact that she’s a pretty solid character in my head. Dainty and clever but with a streak of impropriety. A bit entitled, a bit too clever, a strange mix of prissy and tough. She knows her role in the world and she accepts it but she’ll push it when she thinks the world can be better. She’s not above using her connections for the right reasons. She doesn’t mind hard work but she really loves fancy dresses. She has a hard time accepting injustice, though the world is full of it.

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I have so many more plans for Rosie’s wardrobe. For a while I was churning out dresses pretty regularly for her! She’s got a solid stock of fall and winter frocks now but in exchange is sadly lacking in spring and summer clothing. Uh well, she’ll get there. 🙂

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Anyway, Happy Birthday, Rosie!

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Happy Birthday, Molly!

Another day (ok, I’m writing these birthday posts all on the same day), another retroactive birthday post. This time for dear Molly!

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Now, to be fully honest, I was not always a fan of Molly, despite being very much interested in WWII history. I essentially minored in Holocaust studies. I’m familiar with the time period. But Molly just didn’t quite strike me until the day I saw THE DOLL. A board member was selling her on AGPlaythings and I couldn’t stop looking. I wasn’t supposed to buy a doll at the time, so instead I made a Bargain(TM). My husband was wanting to get our SCUBA certification and I was terrified. I said that if I went through with it, I could get the doll.

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Well, one frigid October weekend in New England waters later, I had both a SCUBA certification AND this gorgeous girl, a beautiful chubby White Body Molly. I loved her, perhaps because she was so unlike book Molly (who is my least favorite book character, sorrynotsorry). It’s not that I don’t think book Molly is a believable little girl. It’s that of all time periods to show off a sort of entitled little girl, 1940s was a toughie. Yes, childhood was becoming a thing, and it made sense to show this modern girl. But there were thousands of children being killed in the Holocaust. The contrast is just too much for me. I can’t separate Molly from the events of her time period.

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Molly’s third wig. SO CURLY.

Anyway, MY Molly is shy and chubby and a total sweetheart. But her hair was immediately a problem. I can’t remember what was wrong with it –at least it was dry, and I feel like maybe it had also been cut? I still have the wig tucked away for some reason but am way too lazy to dig it out. Instead I went on a hunt for a replacement. Ruby Red Galleria’s wig was too modern looking –glossy and with some highlights. I liked the next wig she wore, a beautiful curly wig, but it was also always a little modern looking for her otherwise soft appearance. Eventually I ordered a banged brown wig from Engelpuppen, the company in Germany who made the original AG doll wigs. Perfection! The bangs are a little long which is adorable. Maybe I’ll cut them but probably I won’t.

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Molly has also had some face paint touch-ups and is part of the yearly lip refresh squad. Someday I’ll get her lips right. And someday she and Emily (and maybe 1-2 more 1940s dolls!!) will have a wonderful bedroom to store all the bits of her collection. For now, she’s a well-behaved, grateful doll who probably still thinks her brothers are a bit bratty but also recognizes how fortunate she is. (Ok, full disclosure, I probably see a little too much of my bossiness in her and it pains me.)

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Well, now this kind of makes me miss her super curly wig…

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Happy birthday, Molly!

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Happy Birthday, Felicity!

Question: Will a birthday post ever actually happen on a birthday?

A: No. I refuse to feel bad about it. I’m going to retroactively post this. It’s like I never missed it!

Especially since American Girl clumped so many doll birthdays into April-May! Crazy! To be fair, a large number of people have spring birthdays.

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Anyway, Felicity is the doll of the day. And on her head rests the blame for me getting back into American Girl collecting as an adult. One fine late-spring day, while a friend was visiting, this friend happened to mention that Felicity and Kirsten had been retired. I hadn’t thought of American Girl in years, but hearing of this triggered something inside me. I felt like I’d missed out on an important childhood goal of getting Felicity and Kirsten –I’d gone through phases in which I was obsessed with Colonial America and pioneer America. Obsessed! So off we went to eBay and, stupidly without doing any research, I purchased a Felicity and a Kirsten.

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While both dolls were pretty, Felicity was not the right one (and it turned out Kirsten wasn’t, either). I’d bought a Mattel Felicity with lazer green eyes and a thin face and I just felt nothing for her. Her eyes unsettled me. So after a year or so of debating it, I found just the right Felicity and sold the old one.

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But while I loved this new Felicity’s round face and squishy body, her make up was non-existent (see the photo up above!). She looked awful in pictures because her thin line eyebrows had faded into oblivion. So after experimenting a bit painting another doll, I tried my hand at Felicity as well. For several months her face paint drove me crazy. Her eyebrows looked too dark. But over time, they became normal, and now I’m pretty pleased. Granted, her lips are a hot mess; I am terrible at doll lips. But every few months I repaint lips, and I figure eventually I’ll be good enough to give it a rest.

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My Felicity is a rather chubby girl. And, perhaps not surprisingly, she’s another doll that doesn’t strike me as a great embodiment of the book character –she and Molly in particular. But I love these dolls, and I accept their divergence from the book characters. My Felicity is little less rash than book Felicity. Perhaps she’s slightly older and that explain it.

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Felicity’s collection has always appealed to me. She’s got some gorgeous clothes, and also some I’m not wild for. But her accessories! I have so little of her collection but in my dream house will have a whole bedroom for her, and maybe even a dining room for her, Caroline, Rosie, and Vivienne to share.

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SO thank you, squishy Felicity, for being the doll that dragged me back, even more than Kirsten did. You are squishy and lovely, even if I had to give that pretty new blue dress to Rosie because you are a bit too curvy. Own it, girl! 🙂

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