While I was at my parents’ house for the holidays I pulled out my old American Girl doll (Kirsten) and her trunk full of clothes and accessories, just to reminisce a little and see if my daughter would be interested in playing with them. I didn’t have a ton of the Pleasant Company outfits– too expensive at the time– and there weren’t nearly as many off-brand options as there are today, so I generally sewed my own.
Just for fun, here are shots of some of the outfits I hand-sewed between the ages of 10-13:
Spanish outfit: This one was based on a project I had to do for Spanish class in middle school– we were allowed to talk about an aspect of Spanish/Latino culture, and my friend and I picked clothing as an excuse to make outfits for our dolls. Note the hand-sewn eyelets for the bodice lacing and the complete lack of any lining or structure. On the other hand, the apron pocket and shirt cuffs are nicely trimmed in handmade piping. Not bad for a 7th grader.
White tiered dress: I cannibalized a shirt I’d gotten from Goodwill for this one. The original top had a wide double ruffle around the neckline (very late 80’s), which I used to make the tiered skirt. Extra pieces of ruffle were used for the flutter sleeves. The dress was designed to use different colored ribbon sashes, and had snaps at the collar so you could attach interchangeable bows to match.
Pleated “Victorian” dress: For some reason I was obsessed with the idea of pintucks, and decided to make my own pintucked-front dress. I learned that topstitching doesn’t look nearly as good when you do it by hand, at least in such a small scale. I had no idea what I’d do with the collar, and never finished the dress.
Mint green brocaded dress: I never finished this one either– it has no back fastenings at all– but I think it was probably one of the last ones I sewed. Not bad, rather generic, but a pretty color combination. I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of using enough fabric in the skirt to get the right fullness when gathered, but at least I got the sleeve shape right for once. I also made a matching sewing basket, complete with teeny tiny spools of thread and hanks of embroidery floss!
So, as you can see, this whole “project” thing isn’t new, by any means– I’ve literally been doing it for decades! For the record, the dress Kirsten is wearing in the top picture is one my mother sewed for her– clearly I came by my talents honestly. 😉