• Karole from Kimberling

Sewing for 18" Dolls - How Hard Can It Be?

SEWING FOR KAYA (American Girl's Native American Doll)

When I decided to sew 18" doll clothes, I had very little knowledge about the history of American Girl dolls. In 2010, my granddaughter had gotten a doll named Samantha for Christmas -- I thought it was silly for everyone to buy a doll named Samantha -- if I paid over $100 dollars for a doll, shouldn't it have my name on it?

The next year I took a trip to New York City and while there decided to visit the American Girl Place on 5th Avenue & 49th Street (last year it moved to Rockefeller Plaza) because I thought, the NYC store was probably the biggest store (I was born in NYC and am unapologetically biased), and my granddaughter would be impressed if I sent pictures of the store.

Well, she wasn't the only one who would be impressed. Instead of the five or six dolls I expected to see, there were four floors of dolls, doll clothes and accessories. There was even a beauty parlor for dolls, and a doll hospital on the top floor. I sent lots of pictures to my granddaughter!

Over a year ago, when I decided to sew clothes for 18" dolls, I came across McCall's doll pattern (#6670) with costumes from several countries. One of the patterns included was an American Indian dress and moccasins. I already had several fabrics, and some leather scraps in my growing stash that were suitable for making a Native American fringed dress and shoes, so I bought the pattern and immediately cut out three Native American costumes. (In my Ziploc bags are two kimono outfits ready to be sewn, but I have yet to cut out the Egyptian or South American Peru costumes provided with the pattern.)

Given the journey I have just described, I still had no knowledge that Kaya was American Girl's native American doll -- I only found that out this past December. If you look closely at my model, you will notice she is Josefina, not Kaya.

Princess Autumn

As you will see below, the pattern included much more decorative embellishment than I added to the outfits I made. I did have real turquoise and coral beads put aside for the task, and had cut out more of the decorative pattern pieces, but my sewing machine rebels when sewing leather and like fabrics, and I have learned never to fight with my Singer.

The moccasins are the only doll shoes I have made thus far. I did not make the hat included in the pattern, but instead fashioned a headband.

The white fabric is a very soft bonded poly-suede; the green is leather I re-purposed from a vest found in a thrift store. I had purchased the leaf buttons at Walmart years before because I thought they were pretty.

The Wedding/Ceremonial Version

The dress and moccasins are made solely of the bonded poly-suede fabric.

The turquoise decoration is an embroidery stitch that is programmed into my Singer machine.

I fashioned the headband from turquoise and white 2mm satin rattail cord that I had on hand for making jewelry pouches/bags. I also used the satin cord to make buttonhole loops which fasten to two turquoise heart shaped buttons (purchased on eBay from China) at the back. The buttons were also used for fastening the top of the moccasins.

The necklace is a bracelet I purchased on eBay for about a dollar from a vendor in China. I had cut the Native American costumes out many months before sewing them, so when I came across the bracelets on eBay, I immediately purchased them. I'd like to say I only purchased three of them for the outfits I had cut out, but, how could I pass up such a good deal?

(I purchased the dream catcher in the background on a trip to Arkansas over ten years ago -- it hangs outside the door to my guest bedroom -- and was recruited for the pictures.)

The Pattern - McCall's Crafts M6670

As you can see, this pattern provides several beautiful outfits including the shoes and headgear/hats.

The printed price for this pattern is $19.95 -- so wait for a McCall's pattern sale at JoAnn's or look for it on eBay or Etsy -- but please do not commit the sin of paying regular price!

Now that I am looking at the pattern again, I really should make the Egyptian and Peruvian costumes too.

I did mention that I made three Native American costumes. Here is the third -- which I really made first.

Both fabrics used for this dress were fabric backed poly-suede. I rescued the darker brown from a winter coat I had burned a hole in (No -- not from smoking!) Both it and the fawn brown fabric had been in my closet for several years, and I was glad to liberate them.

Although it isn't easy to see in the picture, I used a decorative stitch above the fringe on the sleeves and skirt as reinforcement for the fringe. I did this on all three dresses.

Two of the bracelets I had purchased on eBay came in handy for this outfit. One bracelet is sewn to fabric on the headband (after removing the clasps and chain.) Four turquoise rattail cord ties (two on each side) fasten the headband at the back of the doll's head.

The other bracelet served as a beautiful necklace.

As you can see from the picture, Kaya isn't the only American Girl who looks good in Native American clothes! (I believe this Pleasant Company AG doll is Samantha)

Hope to see you next week . . .

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