Saturday, April 16, 2011

JUST SEW . . .

It was Wednesday afternoon and I had a hankering to sew – just sew. No tough reasoning, No difficult alterations. No fitting problems. Something I could start and finish in an afternoon. And that’s where doll clothes come in. I only had an hour or two at my disposal, and I could have spent that much time just deciding what to make. I would have to keep it simple, I told myself. Otherwise I would just have another unfinished object in a drawer or a storage bin. 

Then I remembered the little crocheted tops for American Girl dolls waiting for finishing touches. I had decided the tops would coordinate well with white cotton “pull-on” pants. I could make the pants and finish the tops and then I would have a feeling of accomplishment, I reasoned. And that’s what I did. In the pictures, my doll – “Shirley Anne, American Farm Girl” – models the outfits which will be donated to a silent auction in the fall.

I know the subject of dolls is not of general interest, but in searching the net for info on dolls, I have discovered that a lot of adult women – not all of them grandmothers -- find fulfillment in dressing dolls. Am I one of them? Yes – and I can be obsessive about that – an obsession the internet feeds. I’ll bet I spent a week downloading patterns for little garments, and when I had exhausted the available options, I wanted to keep right on downloading. As I said, it’s obsessive. 

There’s one thing about it – if you’re sewing for an American Girl doll, you almost have to have a doll at your disposal in order to fit the clothes. All 18-inch dolls are not created equal, and neither are the patterns. Patterns for 18-inch dolls carry a disclaimer unless specifically designed for the American Girl. Did I say I could avoid fitting problems if I sewed for dolls? That’s not really the case.

And now I’ve discovered another 18-inch doll – Madame Alexander’s Favorite Friends, evidently designed to be an affordable copy of the American Girl. I heard you could get them at Walmart, and so I took a tour through the doll aisle at my Walmart to see – just to see – if I could find them there. Oh yes, they had a nice selection at $29.00 each. I managed to walk away without putting one in my cart, but would it be so bad . . .  ? KW


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Well, Kathy, she's cute. I have an antique doll - my dad's mother's - that I had restored and now I need to make clothes. Just have not gotten to it yet. You inspire me!

Chris said...

Such a cute outfit!! It's adorable and I have no doubts that it will be snapped up at the auction.

As you know, I have a few dolls (smile) including American Girl's Samantha. I have several dolls called "Magic Attic" dolls, which are 18", but much slimmer than AG. It's true that we are sometimes forced to "fit" our dolls.

I used to be on several yahoo groups for dolls and I finally had to sign off--they were causing me to spend waaay to much money on doll stuff, and that was when I had no time because I was teaching. All the women were doll lovers--they sewed and collected for themselves. It was fun, though!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Dr. Molly. My mother dressed at least four antique dolls from family sources. Just one remained when she became too ill to sew -- my dad's cousin's doll. Mother had a vision for the doll's dress -- had even altered a pattern to fit and purchased the fabric. She lamented not finishing it, and I told her I would make it but I haven't done it yet.

Kathy said...

Chris, I saw your comment as I posted mine. I did a search on doll collecting and was amazed to find it's so popular. Of course, what I find inspirational is sewing for a doll and participation in the current fads. The other day at Jo-Ann's, I overheard another grandmother excitedly telling a friend that her two grand-daughters now have American Girl dolls. She has been waiting for this day, she said, so that she could sew for the dolls. And look at this, she added -- the pattern price is $17.95 but today at Jo-Ann's she could purchase these patterns for $1.00 each! She walked away with a far-away look in her eyes. I could relate.

Leah said...

What beautiful tops. I can see how sewing for dolls can bring gratification sooner than "people size" clothes. The best part...the doll won't complain.

The sewing gene that you have, Kathy, reminds me of a dear aunt. She lived through the depression when sewing clothes (and probably mending over and over) was necessary. Her daughter, a few years younger than me, kept asking her mom to sew her clothes long after she was grown. I'm talking coats and everything. She knew that her mom could fit her clothes perfectly. My aunt was happy to sew for my cousin because sewing was a part of her life. Now why my cousin didn't learn to sew her own clothes is a mystery. Maybe she knew that her mother's work was superior.

Kathy said...

I don't have the "sewing gene" in the sense that my mother did. Some people -- like your aunt and my mother -- could take the fitting issues in stride and make a pattern work. I just want to sew.

I remember once when a neighbor couldn't find a ready-made formal to fit her plumpness and asked Mother to make one for her. Mother did it and said never again. The alterations were difficult and she felt pressured to please the neighbor. It also took her from the sewing she loved to do.