• Karole from Kimberling

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


Donating to Charities, Gifts, Selling

Today's Post: Part 2: Gifts (and using Retro '56 Butterick Pattern #5865)

May 2017 -- Store Inventory Status -- Three outfits sewn -- ninety-seven to go.

Just a "heads-up": Most of my outfits have stories that go with them -- especially the ones from the 1940s through the 1960s -- stories that motivate me to sew. I don't mind the sewing part, but I have to admit that for me sewing is a means to an end. I say that because five of my six siblings are truly hands-on creative -- they enjoy the journey of making things with their hands. I enjoy getting there. It's the stories behind the outfits that motivate me to sew in order to "get there."

As of May 2017, I had made made three of the one hundred outfits I had originally cut out and packaged into Ziploc bags -- a Scarlett O'Hara Barbecue outfit, and two "Prom" outfits -- all from Butterick's Retro '56 pattern #5865. Recognizing that the more I used a pattern, the faster the sewing would go, I had cut several different styles of outfits using it. Two of those left in Ziploc bags didn't start with a story, but as you will see, ended with one.

My idea of 1950s High Fashion: The gown is from the Butterick Retro '56 pattern; the belt and hat -- my additions; the lined jacket from one of the free American Girl patterns available for Addy.

A petticoat of black dotted-Swiss with a deep red lace ruffle, and and black satin panties were underneath.

The hat is lined -- it is trimmed in a black velvet and satin cord piping. The bow is black velvet, lined with the striped taffeta. Black net "ribbons" trail down the back.

The jacket sleeves are trimmed in red satin gimp purchased on the internet. The taffeta was purchased from an online fabric shop when it was on sale. The black velvet was a scrap I had. The black lace at the neckline was purchased on eBay from a vendor in China.

You can't see the shoes, but they are black and white striped taffeta with a red flower -- which I had also found on eBay from a vendor in China. (I mentioned that while I was cutting out outfits, I was "researching" on Etsy and eBay -- so when I saw the shoes, I knew they would go with things I had already cut out, so I bought them (bid on them.)

Silk Elegance

The dress, of course, made from Butterick pattern 5865. The fabric is a mid-weight 100% silk - the black dots are woven into the fabric. I modified the neckline and trimmed it with black lace. (Full dislosure: the silk was very difficult to work with!)

The black fabric flowers at the waist (on a black grosgrain ribbon, and sewn to an alligator clip in her hair) were purchased on eBay from a vendor in China.

The black fuzzy jacket was made by Etsy vendor: AudreysDollClothes. Audrey was the first seller from whom I purchased 18" doll clothes. I have incorporated several of her items into my doll outfits -- so far, several of her fuzzy unlined jackets and her bathing suits. The shrug isn't knitted, it's a knit fabric.

The necklace is a small bracelet -- braided black pleather with a rhinestone studded magnetic clasp purchased from a vendor in China.

I made a black net petticoat with green lace trim, and black panties to go underneath. The shoes were black faux leather flats purchased on eBay from a vendor in China.

When I opened my Etsy shop with only a few outfits in late May, I was so disappointed that these dresses didn't sell. (Are you done laughing yet?)

Last December, my Etsy shop had about fifteen items for sale. I had been emailing with a high school classmate whose bungalow had just been rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy. The picture she sent of the house included her grandchildren -- two of them girls about 8 and 10.

"Do your granddaughters have American Girl dolls?" I asked.

After receiving her affirmative reply, I uploaded pictures of my doll clothes to Shutterfly and sent them to her, so her granddaughters could each choose an outfit, which I then mailed to her.

She had mentioned that she was surprised that her youngest granddaughter chose the red taffeta outfit for "Kaya". I didn't quite understand what she was saying. My girls were past the doll stage when the American Girl dolls first made their appearance, so I had no idea how personally girls relate to them. Kaya is the name of American Girl's Native American doll, and since the pictures I sent included two Native American dresses with moccasins, my friend probably expected her granddaughter to choose one of those.

Her other granddaughter chose the green silk, which was the only dress I was concerned about shipping, since the fabric wrinkled easily. (Note to myself: When choosing fabrics for doll clothes, -- if you are going to ship them, think about how the fabric will hold up in shipment.)

Two weeks later, two hand printed Thank You cards arrived. Nothing is more poignant for me than seeing a child's hand printed note. (I really received three notes -- I had sent their younger brother a "chef's" apron that I sewed up to go with the doll dresses.)

The granddaughter who received the silk dress wrote: "The dress is so beautiful, I am never going to take it off Leah." Yes, psychic income is a real thing, and a great motivator.

The difference between donating my small world fashions and giving them as gifts is, of course, that giving to someone I know is more personal. It often means that I get to see or hear about reactions to the outfits that provide insight as to what it was about them that appealed to the recipients -- mostly young girls. And what appeals to young girls about the outfits is sometimes different from what I thought their appeal would be. In marketing terms, it's valuable insight about my target audience.

My last two posts have addressed two of the three ways I have found of finding homes for my small world fashions -- donating and giving. Next post -- selling.

PS: The week after Christmas, my friend sent this email with the following photo and message:


Hope to see you next week ......

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