Downtown Girls

I’ve been smuggling dolls. Ok, less menacing than that sounds. I work in downtown Boston, and since work has been consuming my life this… year… I decided to make my days in the office a bit more productive. By sneaking a doll to work with me in my backpack, and then taking a lunchtime stroll to photograph them in some of the amazing downtown locations.

On Caroline’s birthday, I took her downtown to take her photos by the big ships, only to find the big ships were out to sea. Still, we found a small ship.


You’ll also notice the lighting was a disaster. It was pretty cold. I was afraid she’d go for a swim. But it was actually a nice little break during my workday. So I decided to take Melody another time… only to find the light was also terrible for her. Plus it was bitterly cold and windy. And her new dress got wrinkled in my backpack. 😦


But in between those two disappointing times, I took Felicity and we went to visit my favorite graveyard, Copps Hill Burying Ground in the North End. It’s on a high hill overlooking the ocean and is one of the oldest (maybe even the oldest? I don’t remember) cemetery in Boston.

The results were pretty beautiful.


Right??? Probably the prettiest photos I’ve taken all year. So now I frequently take dolls into the city, just in case I can take a break from work, though it’ll be more challenging as it gets colder and colder. Also sometimes I’m just too busy. Addy went to work with me five times and I still never got a break to take her photo.

Sorry, Addy!



Rosie’s Bluebell Gown

I’m not wild about the execution of the story in Outlander, but I gotta say, that wardrobe. I’ve watched the show just for that, and read every interview and blogpost I can by the costumers. Just amazing. And one of my absolute favorites is Claire’s plaid and floral gown.


That one. hubba hubba. So I’ve long wanted to make Rosie a similar gown but have hunted for just the right plaid and floral combo for a while. And you know what? I love the result so much I will probably make another combination like this with a red plaid and a pretty black and gold floral print I have. Anyway, let’s talk pictures.

I used Thimbles & Acorns Sacque Back Gown and Caraco Jacket pattern because it’s one of my favorite patterns of all time. Claire’s is a fitted gown, not sacque back and it actually looks to me like the stomacher is sewn in. When I do my next iteration of plaid-floral combo maybe I’ll go closer to that, but I also wanted to use the sacque back pattern so I could make two gowns to go with the petticoat because I just loved the bluebell fabric I found SO much.


ROSIE YOUR HAIR. I love and hate the #61 wig. So beautiful but not far off from Rebecca’s in the difficult curl management department. It very much fits Rosie’s character though. She’s a lady but… a bit wild. Sometimes it’s fun to think of how she compares to other dolls I have. She’s quite more composed and ladylike than Tinu, and sort of hoity-toity like Evelyn or Mishka, but more defiant and active and playful.


Sort of tough to see in a photo because of so much plaid, but the sleeves are cut on the diagonal for pattern variety. Both this gown and the Caraco jacket have the cuffs as well.


When that wig behaves though, it really does look lovely. Above you can see the fichu band doing its thing. Rosie’s father is Scottish and her mother is French. Her French grandmother isn’t pleased about those freckles but her mother thinks they’re charming and very Scotish.


The matching fabrics make a bit difficult to really see the details of the jacket. It’s got the sacque back as well. You can see the cuffs better in the photo below though! IMG_2442

Quite pleased with this, even though it took foreverrrr with so much hand-sewing to finish it. I’m remembering why I don’t make these gowns everyday, ha. But it came out just like I’d hoped and I will definitely be making more plaid-floral combos!

Rosie’s Roller Print Jacket

My original intention with this fabric was a jacket for Rosie, and Felicity’s frock was just a happy accident. In looking at the fabric, I didn’t really feel inspired for Rosie, but in the spirit of sewing through these TWO 20 GALLON TUBS+ of fabric, I decided to plow ahead, returning to a pattern by Evoking History/Past Crafts.


It’s such a quick sew once you’ve made a couple of these things. I made it in an evening in between putting my fussy baby to bed. Now that I knew how the end result would be constructed, I did a much better job on the seams for the skirt and the basque back –though once again, the point is lost due to the bum roll. I ought to research how women wore the pointed bodice with a bum roll…


Anyway, I threw it together quickly, knowing I wouldn’t have a skirt for it yet, since I used up all the navy fabric when I made Felicity’s apron. But lo and behold, when I went to pull out her chemise, I discovered that one of the gowns I already made has a light green skirt that actually matches this jacket perfectly. While the navy is pretty for Felicity’s apron, pairing the light green skirt with this differentiates their looks a bit more, and also give Rosie’s dress such a nice spring feel to it.


I also had been lamenting Rosie’s appearance lately, and for a hot second thought she might be going back to the rewigging table. But after futzing with it a bit, I actually got the curls just so and I think she looks lovely. I need to track down some straw brimmed hats so I can give her one that matches more of her wardrobe –love Felicity’s blue ones, but I think Rosie needs green.


Moral of the story: sometimes fabric is much prettier sewn than on the bolt.


Felicity’s Yellow Roller Dress

I bought a yard or so of this fabric from PastCrafts when they were having a sale and it’s been sitting in my fabric box for a while. It works for 18th century up through Caroline. My original plan was to make a dress for Rosie out of it, and I still am making her a jacket to go with a navy blue petticoat… as soon as I get some more navy fabric.

But first I had the sudden inspiration to make a dress for Felicity out of it. The American Girl dolls that are older primary characters don’t get a ton of sewing from me since they have such robust wardrobes already –Samantha, Kit, Josefina, Addy, and Felicity. Molly and Kirsten get a bit of sewing since though they have large wardrobes, most of their stuff is so expensive on the secondary market that I don’t have a lot of it.

Adding to this is the fact that Rosie has been stealing some of Felicity’s clothes. It’s wildly unfair, but some of Felicity’s outfits just seem to me overly fancy for a merchant’s daughter who spends so much of her time running around getting into trouble. I used to be SO particular that only the “official” owner of an outfit could have it, but that seems to be going out the window lately and I’m doing more trades and sharing. So instead of putting Felicity in gowns that don’t feel right to me for her, she’ll just get some sewing from me to make up for it. I think she’s pretty happy with the arrangement.

SO, to start adding to her collection, she got a frock with this roller fabric. It just felt like it ought to be a full-length dress to me, and it gave me an excuse to make the simpler version of KeepersDollyDuds Colonial Daydress.


It’s such a simple pattern! Even the double-frilled sleeves don’t really add a complication. The ruched bodice version is so much more labor intensive with all the ruching and the fichu bands. But this one came together quickly and I love the fit on even my chunky PM Felicity. I ommitted the darts on the back bodice and am glad I did; even so the buttons are a smidge tight, but just enough that the bodice is fitted. I got the neck ruffle a little uneven but that’s really my only complaint.


I spent some time researching whether she could have had a dark blue apron and I’m satisfied that she could. The majority of aprons I see in paintings and movies are some variation of white, but I wonder if that’s just picturesque bias. My research insists that aprons were often made with basically whatever was lying around for play or work dresses, and with nicer fabric for nicer dresses. I could see this navy apron being made with the leftover fabric from making dresses –enough fabric left for an apron but not for another complete frock.


It was also crazy easy t make this bib apron with it’s beautiful mitered corners, completely enclosed seams, and pretty diamond bodice. I definitely will make more! And I still have enough of this fabric even after Felicity’s dress and Rosie’s jacket to make a sundress for one of the modern girls.


Happy Birthday, Rosie!

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


(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.)


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.


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.


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?

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.


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.


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. 🙂


Anyway, Happy Birthday, Rosie!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

thanksgiving 1

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.


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! 🙂


Rosie’s Green Quilted Gown

It just has been so long since I made a dress for Rosie that the poor girl was starting to feel completely neglected. 😉 Ok, so it’s been like three weeks. But it’s been a lot of fun to sew for her lately… sort of until now? I’m exaggerating a bit, but this project was almost abandoned! I’m glad I didn’t, because despite the hardships, I’m decently happy with how it turned out. It was quite a path to get there though, a path during which I learned I am really a lazy seamstress.  Maybe that should be the name of my blog!

This is the very last of the patterns I bought from etsy seller PastCrafts; this one is the Fitted back gown quilted petticoat in white and blue (which is not how I would have described these; more like blue and green).


The bodice construction is super familiar and quick by now. As always, I loved pleating rather than gathering the sleeves. This time though, a surprise! When I sewed the velcro on, it just isn’t tight enough to actually hold the dress closed. It’s worked on the other gowns, but this velcro feels like it has a less tight grip. So I ripped it off and decided just to use the more accurate but not child-friendly straight pins.


Then came… the petticoat. I had never quilted anything before. To be honest, I guess I thought the petticoat fabric already came looking like that. When it arrived, I asked my mom how exactly I was supposed to transfer the pattern, and she got me carbon paper and a quilting tool for Christmas so I could get started. However, the tool is a little rotary tool, which works fine for long straight seams, or even long curved seams, but not the intricate pattern of this design. Plus, the carbon paper with the tool only makes really faint marks, so I wound up using a pen and drawing over the lines to try and get clearer ones. It helped a little but still not great, so then I traced the faint lines with a block of carbon.

The lines were clear now, until I’d be sewing, at which point it was difficult to see them under the presser foot. And making all those little tight curves is really difficult with a machine as well. It meant the design wound up being largely free-handed. It required the utmost patience, which really drove how how impatient I am. After finishing the first panel, the second lay clogging up my sewing table for over a week before I could bring myself to tackle it.


I will say, I got faster and a bit better as I went. Now that the dress is finished, I will actually take back too all the times I said “I will never ever do this again!” because it turned out ok. I’ll just always know to expect it to be a big and slightly frustrating project.

Then, to cap the dress off, the hem is handbound. Which wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming. I love the result but without a movie on to distract me, it again reminded me that I am a very impatient seamstress.


In a nice turn of events though, snow was still on the ground in time for me to sneak outside while my son was napping and take pictures of Rosie wearing an appropriate gown in the appropriate weather! Of course she’s not wearing a cloak or a shift or even a fichu here, but I never know how long the baby will stay asleep so I had to act quickly.


Then my dog Watson somehow managed to throw a snowball at her (how??) and when I yelled went over to inspect the damage. The dogs love the snow! So did Rosie, until she fell back into it and I decided it was time to shake the snow off, go inside, and let her dry off.

I still have more dresses to make for Miss Rosamund, but I think I may do some sewing for the other girls for a bit.