The Shrug Pattern is Ready!

Fall in the Rockies

Sweater weather has arrived, here in the mountain valley where my small friends and I live.  The days are still hot, but the evenings bring a chill that harkens the ripening of our last garden tomatoes and signifies that cider season is just around the corner.


American Girl Doll 61 Free Sewing Pattern


Around these parts, autumn means boots, college football (Go Utes!), pumpkin-spice-everything, and did I mention.. boots?!  But oh how we hate to put away our sleeveless tops and bright summer dresses!


American Girl Free Shrug Sewing Pattern PDF


Autumn Shrug

If your 18 inch doll needs something to wrap around her shoulders this fall, I have a sewing pattern just for you!  It’s very easy pattern with only 6 pieces, super fast to put together especially if you upcycle a sweater, and best of all.. it’s free!

You can make the Autumn Shrug from a thrifted or outgrown sweater or with any medium-weight knit fabric.  And don’t you dare say you’re afraid of sewing with knits.  You can totally do this, knits are very forgiving, and if you use a sweater, your shrug will look  like you spent hours knitting it with tiny dolly needles, even though it took you no time to sew!  You could even sew this by hand if you don’t have a machine or like to have a lap project while hanging out at soccer practice or while catching up on the new fall tv shows.

Free 18 Inch Doll Sweater sewing pattern PDF

To get the pattern, sign up for the Many Small Friends newsletter.  After you sign up, check your inbox.  you will get an email from me asking you to confirm your subscription.  This is to protect you from spam and me from robots. ;)  After you click “Confirm”, you will be redirected to a page thanking you for subscribing that will have the pattern download link.  If you have any problems during this process, let me know in the comments section below!

If you’re already a subscriber, check your inbox.  Your download link should be there waiting for you!


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**9/26 Update - Whew! I’m so excited that you guys like this pattern!!

  • Bad News:  OOPSIE… I forgot a step in the pattern!!
  1.   Good News:  It’s a pretty obvious step, so you probably figured it out anyway.  I forgot to tell you to sew up the side seams after sewing on the cap sleeves.  The picture was there, but the written instructions were not.  DOH!
  2.   More Good News:  If you are reading this and haven’t downloaded the pattern yet, I’ve already fixed the error and your copy will (hopefully) have all the necessary steps.  If your copy is lacking and you’d like an updated version, comment below and I will email you the revised instructions.


Please remember to save the pattern file to your hard drive and then print from PDF software (I use Acrobat which is available for free).  If you print directly from your browser, the pattern pieces will probably print at the wrong size.  You can be sure that the scale is correct by measuring the 1 inch box printed on the pattern page.

One more tip:  You can save printer ink by only printing the pattern pieces page and referencing the instructions on your computer or tablet.  To do this with Acrobat, open the pattern file, then click File, choose Print from the drop down menu, click the radio button next to Pages, and enter the number 6 in the box next to Pages.  Then click Print, and only the pattern page will be printed. Neat, huh?



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Pictures and Review of My American Girl #61



American Girl Doll #61


Ada has moved into our doll family with ease.  She fits right in here.


My American Girl Doll MYAG 61


Saige is (mostly) happy to have another red-head among the small friends.  Although she drops the fact that she was Girl of the Year 2013 into conversation a little more frequently then one would expect.


Ada & Saige


Did you notice that American Girl quietly raised the price of the My American Girl dolls to $115 , an increase of $5, during the Beforever launch?  I wasn’t surprised that the historical dolls increased to $115, given the overhaul of the line, but the MYAG dolls generally increase in price (if they are going to) at the beginning of the new year, so it was a little surprising to see a mid-year increase.    The last price increase for the dolls occurred on January 1, 2013, when the price went from $105 to $110.


Speaking of AG prices, today is the last day for free shipping at with a minimum $50 purchase. Enter code CELEBRATE at checkout.


The Maplelea free (or reduced by $9 for US customers) shipping code is also still valid through September 24.  Enter code FALL at checkout. AND,  I noticed over the weekend that the beautiful Saila doll has been restocked on Amazon!


I did a video review of My American Girl  #61 and compared her to Saige and doll #55 (Avery).  Avery and Ada have very similar wigs, with the obvious difference being the color.  There are more pictures of Ada and comparisons with Saige at the end of the video.



If you like this video, please subscribe to the Many Small Friends channel on YouTube.  I’m having a great time learning how to shoot and edit video and am fortunate to have 24/7 in-house tech support from two teenage boys.

Ada, Free Shipping, and Pattern Preview

American Girl Doll 61 Free Pattern


Introducing… Ada! 

Ada is the newest My American Girl Doll (MYAG), #61.  She is our long-awaited, carrot top, “true” red head.

I’m in the process of filming a video review for you, which will include a comparison with Saige, American Girl of the Year 2012, and lots and lots of pictures!  Hopefully I will have that ready for you within the week.  You can check out my current library of doll review videos and doll sewing tutorials on the Many Small Friends YouTube channel.



There are FREE SHIPPING offers available this week for both and  Both require a minimum $50 purchase.  This is pretty rare, especially for American Girl, where free shipping  typically requires a $100 minimum purchase.  There are still some nice items in the SALE section (including that Chalet.. which is killing me), so this is a great time to start your holiday shopping.

If you live in the United States, the Maplela code will reduce shipping by $9, but you will still be required to pay the balance of the international shipping charge.  US customers also have access to a (currently) limited portion of the Maplelea collection at  As of this writing, shipping is free to the US if you have an Amazon Prime membership or your order is greater then $35.

To redeem the American Girl offer, visit, add at least $50 in merchandise to your cart, and enter code INSPIRING at checkout.  This offer is valid through September 22, 2014 – 11:59 PM CST.

To redeem the Maplelea offer, visit, add at least $50 in merchandise to your cart, and enter code FALL at checkout.  This offer is valid through midnight (not sure on timezone), September 24, 2014.




American Girl Doll 61 Free Sewing Pattern

Did you notice Ada’s sweater?  There is a nip in the air and Fall has arrived at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  While it’s not quite time to break out our ski jackets, we definitely need a extra layer in the evenings.  If you’d like to sew Ada’s sweater for your American Girl doll (fits Maplelea and other 18 inch dolls, too), be sure to sign up for the Many Small Friends newsletter, as this pattern will be free for subscribers!

American Girl Beforever Review – Addy’s New Outfits


Addy’s Crinoline & Chemise, Meet Outfit, and School Outfit


Review American Girl Doll Addy's Beforever Meet Outfit


Not to be outshone by Kit’s fantastic jade frock or Samantha’s hot pink bike (+ complimentary riding gear), Addy asked that I review some of her new outfits from the recently released BeForever collection, the refreshed historical line of dolls and accessories from American Girl.  I was happy to oblige, as Addy is one of my favorite dolls and I was tickled pink (or maybe blue?) with American Girl’s newest offerings for her.


As with most of the historical characters (Kaya being the noted exception), Addy got a brand new “meet” outfit.  Her meet dress, pantalettes, stockings, and boots are available with the purchase of an Addy doll or separately as “Addy’s Outfit” on the American Girl website.   Her dress is a brilliant royal-blue cotton print, adorned with black trim and ribbons.  The color is simply gorgeous on her!   I still love her original pink meet dress, but the vibrant blue really suits her.


As much as I love the dress, Addy’s new boots are the show stopper.


American Girl Doll Addy's Beforever Meet Boots Review


Seriously, how cute are these?  They are made of  dark charcoal grey canvas and have decorative black buttons up the side.  And the wee little heels slay me.


Along with the meet outfit, I also ordered Addy’s “new” Crinoline and Chemise.  Turns out this set is straight-up recycled from the now defunct Marie-Grace and Cecile New Orleans collection. They are the same two pieces, confirmed by the tags marked “copyright 2011″, repackaged for Addy.  This is fine by me as they look as good on her as they did on MG and C,  and I’m sure Addy would be on board with the spirit of “waste not, want not” as well.


"Addy's" Crinoline & Chemise



American Girl adds a disclaimer in the September 2014 catalog that the Crinoline and Chemise “can only be worn with Addy’s doll-set dress.. and Addy’s School Outfit”.  Doll-set dress is apparently the official terminology for meet outfit (who knew?) and of course the School Outfit was designed with the repurposed Marie-Grace and Cecile’s Crinoline and Chemise in mind.  This leads me to believe some of Addy’s previous dresses will be too short or not full enough to accommodate the crinoline.


Finally, I couldn’t possibly pass up Addy’s School Outfit, which is, in my  humble opinion, the best of the BeForever release.  This outfit is simply stunning, reminiscent of Pleasant Company days in both quality of materials and complexity and execution of design.  Kudos to American Girl for going back to their roots and creating heirloom quality doll clothes for one of their most beloved historical characters.



American Girl Doll Addy Beforever School Outfit



I filmed a more thorough video review of Addy’s new outfits including current pricing and what’s included with each outfit.  There are also a few more photos at the end.




I would love to hear your impressions of the new BeForever line.  Do you think it’s an improvement or are you disappointed?

American Girl Beforever Review – Kit’s Outfit



American Girl Caroline wears Kit's Beforever Meet Outfit


It was love at first sight.  When American Girl began teasing us mercilessly revealing little glimpses of the new Beforever line, I knew Kit’s new meet outfit was destined to be mine.  I don’t officially collect for Kit (yet?) but I own and love several of her accessory sets including the Produce and Preserves Set, the Washday Set, and the recently released limited edition Candy Making Set.


So it wasn’t too hard to talk myself into adding the new Beforever version of her meet outfit to my latest American Girl order.  I mean, what’s an 18 inch girl to do?  Hand crank her laundry, can peaches, and mold chocolate bunnies in a tank top and capris?  That would be silly.


A vibrant  jade sleeveless dress, adorned with whimsical flower buttons,  rick-rack trimmed peter pan collar, paired with scarlet strappy shoes, and topped off with a ribbon-wrapped, felt cloche hat is infinitely more practical for the the serious vinyl homemaker.


AG Doll Caroline wears Kit Kittredge Beforever Outfit


Caroline selflessly volunteered to be the subject of my photo shoot and video review.  She may or may not have a beauty queen complex.  With her ivory “skin” and brilliant seafoam eyes, she has a similar coloring to Kit Kittredge, so I imagined the outfit would be lovely on her.


Everything was going swimmingly, until she spotted the bike.


Caroline models Kit's Beforever Meet


After that,  there was simply no coaxing her away from the sparkling hot pink object of her affection.   She insisted on taking a ride, right then and there.  And hours later, long after sunset in the cool autumn night air, she’s still out there tooling up and down the sidewalk, navigating by street light.  She hasn’t even come in for a sweater!


One thing is for sure, we’re not telling Avery, who is utterly convinced the bike belongs to her.


Fortunately, Caroline was willing to change into some play clothes before taking off on the bike, and Meggie stepped in to finish the photo shoot.


American Girl Kit's Beforever Meet Outfit Review




I’m not sure Meggie will ever take this dress off. It is absolutely stunning on her!


Anyway, if you’d like to hear me prattle on about Kit’s Caroline’s Meggie’s new dress, Caroline and I filmed a ten minute video review.  There are a few more detail pictures and portraits from our photo shoot at the end.




I hope you’ve enjoyed this American Girl review. If you’d like to be kept up to date about the many adventures of my small friends, please consider signing up for the newsletter.

And, I’m working on a new (free!) Fall sewing pattern that will be available exclusively to newsletter subscribers, so don’t miss out!

Sign me up…




Trendy Doll Backpack Sew-Along – Part 4

American Girl Free Backpack Pattern 18 Doll


[Sew-Along Links: Gather Your Supplies :: Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4 ]


It’s time to put the closures on and finish up your backpack!  Keep in mind, these last steps will vary a bit, depending on the closures you selected.  The following instructions read like a “choose your own adventure” book. ;)  The easiest and most straightforward closure method is velcro.


17.  Sew on the closures, either velcro, buckles, or sliders.


  • VELCRO :: If you are using velcro, put the backpack on your doll, decide where you want the top and bottom Closure Straps to meet, and mark the spot you’ll sew on the velcro.  You can go lower or higher then I did, or change where the straps overlap.  It’s up to you!


Velcro Closure for 18 Inch Doll Backpack


  • After you’ve sewn on your velcro, you may wish to trim the length of your Closure Straps.  I trimmed both the top and the bottom straps on the Foxy pack.  I also hand sewed decorative buttons on the top Closure Straps.  If you’ve chosen velcro as your closure, congratulations, you’re backpack is done!


Trendy Doll Backpack Pattern Velcro


  • BUCKLES OR SLIDERS :: If you are using a slider or buckle, loop your bottom Closure Strap through the slider or buckle and tuck the end of the strap underneath, flush with spot where you sewed the strap to the Outside Pocket (I used scrap fabric for these pictures).


Attaching the Buckle Free Doll Backpack Pattern

  • Sew across the overlapped Closure Strap, closing the loop and securing the buckle or slider.   I used scrap fabric for this photo, but you will have your backpack tucked to the left side while you sew.




  • Repeat the above steps to attach your second buckle or slider.


  •  Put the backpack on your doll and thread your top Closure Straps through the buckles or sliders.  You may wish to trim the length of your top Closure straps.  If so, mark and trim.


  • If you have used anything other then leather for your Closure Straps, finish the raw ends of the top Closure Straps by either tucking the ends under 1/4″ and sewing across - or - sewing a “V” shape and trimming.  If you chose sliders for your closures, congratulations, your backpack is done!



Finish 18 doll Backpack Straps


  • If you are using buckles to close your pack, now is the time to punch notches in the top Closure Straps.  I used tiny eyelets (intended for scrapbooking) to reinforce the notches.  Before you cut or punch out notches, be sure to try the pack on your doll and mark the placement for the notches.  On my pack, the top notch is the only one that looks nice when buckled.  The extra notches are simply decorative.


Finish 18 inch doll Backpack Eyelets


  • [Optional] To make the loop that the top Closure Strap tucks into when the pack is buckled close, cut a small strip of leather (or other non-fraying fabric) and loop it around the bottom Closure Strap.  Overlap the ends of the strip and hand sew closed to form the loop.


Congratulations, your trendy doll backpack is done! Put your finished backpack on your lucky, spoiled doll and admire your work. I hope you have enjoyed this sew-along and I would LOVE to see pictures of your pack!


If you’d like to be notified of future free patterns and tutorials, along with updates about what my small friends are up to, please sign up for the newsletter:


Yes, I like dolly stuff too…



[Sew-Along Links: Gather Your Supplies :: Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4 ]

American Girl Review – Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle

AMERICAN GIRL REVIEW – Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle

What good is a Bicycle Oufit without the Bicycle to match?


American Girl Samantha's Bicycle Review



I’m in love with this bicycle!  As I mentioned in the Samantha’s Bicycle Outfit review, I don’t collect for Samantha, but as soon as I saw this bike, I knew my small friends needed it.  I’m trying not very hard to limit the number of large items in our collection, as space is limited, but every girl needs a bike, right?  I think the design is versatile enough for a modern or historical doll collection.



Avery's New Bike



The detailing is beautiful, the materials are top notch.  The frame is metal, as is the chain guard, the axles, and the pedal assemblies.  The basket is plastic, but it’s not molded, it’s actually woven  like a wicker basket, just not with wicker.  I prefer the plastic, as all of my real wicker baskets tend to start breaking apart over time.  The flowers are removable, as is the basket itself.  The chain is also a flexible plastic, and is a decorative element that does not move when the pedals are pushed.



Avery's New Bike



The tires feel like firm vinyl, the seat is flexible vinyl with “leather” texture, and the handle caps are plastic with a faux “wood grain”.



Samantha's Beforever American Girl Bicycle


I put together a 9 minute unboxing and review video, if you prefer to study the bike in three dimensions.




I think the scale on the Bicycle is just right and it fits our American Girls marvelously.  I imagine it would work well for any 18 inch doll.


My only complaint is that the stand (located between the wheels) doesn’t fold back for more realistic bicycle play.  You can roll the bike forward, but only either the front wheel or the back wheel makes contact with the ground and spins.  Fortunately the stand has small wheels, so you’re not scraping the bike across the floor.  The stand does work very effectively to stabilize the bicycle, even with a heavy doll seated upon it.


Overall, I am very pleased to add Samantha’s Bicycle to our collection.  It’s an heirloom quality piece.  I imagine it will be atop the Christmas wish list for many young (and old.. ha ha) girls this holiday season.


Review of American Girl Bicycle Samantha's Beforever Bike


Do your dolls have a bicycle?  What do you think of American Girl’s Beforever version?

American Girl Review – Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle Outfit


Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle Outfit


If you’re an American Girl enthusiast, no doubt you’ve been anticipating last week’s long awaited relaunch of AG’s Historical line of dolls, clothing, and accessories.  Well, Beforever is finally here, and the first of my purchases has arrived!


I’m not sure who was more excited, me or my small friends.


American Girl Beforever Unbox Review


The biggest Beforever news was the release of Samantha Parkington from her short imprisonment vacation in the American Girl Archives.  While I’m not interested in collecting for Samantha, I’m not above cherry picking her stuff for my modern dolls.   The day of the release, I ordered Sam’s Bicycle and Bicycle Outfit along with Kit’s new meet outfit and accessories.


I made a short video review of Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle Outfit.   The minute the outfit was removed from the box, it was quickly whisked away by Avery, who is convinced that she is the rightful owner of these pretty threads, which were obviously specially designed to showcase her perfect complexion, dark ringlets, and rosebud lips.


Samantha who?


I have to agree, the outfit does suit her.


Beforever American Girl Samantha's Bicycle Outfit Review



Here’s the video along with a few more photos at the end.  And check out our review of Samantha’s Beforever Bicycle here!




What do you think of Beforever?  Do you like American Girl’s update to the historical collection?

Trendy Doll Backpack Sew-Along – Part Three

Back to School 2014


[Sew-Along Links: Gather Your Supplies :: Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4 ]


Continued from Part 2 of the Sew-Along


You’re making great progress!  Let’s finish sewing all the pieces together.


11.  Pin the free ends of the Shoulder Straps to the back Body Piece at an angle, one inch from the bottom of the Body Piece. Baste across the shoulder straps to secure.  Set aside.


How to Sew Trendy 18 Inch Doll Backpack


12.  Add trim to the top of the front Body piece,  as you did in step 6 for the top of the Outside Pocket and Top Flap.


13.  Next, Align the Outside Pocket piece with the bottom of the front Body piece.  Sew around the sides and bottom of the pocket to secure it to the Body piece.  Try to sew as near the edge as possible, preferably 1/8″ seam allowance.  This will ensure that this stitching will be hidden when you attach the front of the pack to the back and bottom of the pack.




14.  You should now have two finished “halves” of your pack, a back half (with the Top Flap) and the front half (with the Outside Pocket).  Make another sandwich by laying the right sides of both halves together.  Be sure that the Shoulder Straps, Closure Straps, and Top Flap are neatly tucked in the middle and away from the sides where you will be sewing.  If you’re not careful, random bits will catch in the side seams.  Ask me how I know. ;)


  • Sew along the sides, with 1/4″ seam allowance, reinforcing with extra back stitching at the top of the pack and over the spots where the Shoulder Straps are basted on.   Trim off any excess Shoulder Strap bits that may be overhanging so that your sandwich is a nice, neat, rectangle.  You are now looking at the  inside of your pack.  You can finish the side seams, which will be exposed in the pack interior, with a serger or zigzag stitch, if you’d like.  I left mine raw, because I’m wild like that.


  • Don’t sew across the bottom.  Unless you want to.  If you sew across the bottom, you won’t have to put the base on the pack, which would be easier, but you’ll have a kinda flat backpack.  The Base piece gives the the pack a little more dimension.  If you decide you can live without dimension, go ahead and sew across the bottom and skip the next steps for attaching the Base.




15.  Finally, it’s time to sew on the Base!  Open up the bottom of your backpack and pin the Base of the pack to the bottom of the pack, right sides together.  If you have trouble making it fit, you can cut little notches along the edge of the Base to make the fabric easier to manipulate.  I like to use pinking shears to quickly notch fabric.


Sew on the Base with 1/4″ seam allowance.  Take your time and go slowly.  You may find it easier to sew one half of the Base, from the length of one side seam to the other, lift your needle, flip the pack, and then sew on the second half.  You can also hand baste the Base onto the pack before attaching more securely with a machine stitch.   You may also wish to sew this seam twice, to reinforce the bottom of the pack.


How to Sew for 18 Inch Dolls

Trim away away excess seam allowance to neaten up the inside of your pack, taking care not to snip into the seam.  This seam will also be exposed on the inside of your pack, so you can finish with a serger or zig zag stitch, if you wish.


16.  Turn your backpack right side out and admire your work!   The last step is to add your closures, which will be the final installment of our sew-along.  Stay tuned!


[Sew-Along Links: Gather Your Supplies :: Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4 ]


Maplelea Doll Saila – Meet the Newest Small Friend!

MAPLELEA DOLL – Saila’s Review and Unboxing Video


Maplelea Saila


Maplelea’s beautiful Saila doll has joined our 18 inch Small Friend family!  I was thrilled when I heard that is now carrying Maplelea dolls, doll clothes, and accessories. Maplelea is a Canadian doll company, and although they will gladly ship to US customers from their website, international shipping is (understandably) quite expensive.   I’ve had my eye on Saila for well over a year, and when I found out I could order her through Amazon (with my 2 day Prime shipping, What WHAT?), I knew she’d be my next doll purchase.


Like American Girl, some of the Maplelea dolls have specific names and stories while others are non-specific “Friend” dolls, leaving naming and back story to the doll’s new owner.  Saila represents a modern girl with Inuit heritage.  I love the uniqueness of this doll!  It’s easy to find a dancer, or a girl who loves horses, but a girl who is bilingual and speaks Inuktitut and English, wears a Pang hat, and prefers to travel by snowmobile?   Sold.


I missed the first batch of Saila dolls, which sold out quickly after the initial announcement about Amazon availability, but I managed to get her on the next restock.  As of this writing, she is sold out again, but the last restock took just a few days and I imagine she will be available again soon.   UPDATE:   Saila is in stock again at Amazon!



Maplelea Doll Saila


Maplelea and American Girl dolls can share most clothing, but Maplelea doll feet are larger then American Girl feet so most AG shoes are too small.  I’m very impressed with the outfit Saila arrived in and I’m excited to add more Maplelea clothing to my dolls’ wardrobe.  The dolls, clothing, and accessory prices are comparable or a little less expensive then American Girl and some of the Maplelea accessories seem like a downright steal.  I’m very curious about the Popup Tent, for example, which is currently retailing for $20.00 on Amazon!


My next Maplelea purchase will definitely be the High Country Hiking Outfit.  I’m especially enamored with the Rocky Mountain Wildflowers tee, since we live right at the foot of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  We must have that tee.  And I’d really, really, really love it if Maplelea would add Saila’s Amazing Amauti to the Amazon line-up. Although I have no doubt it’s worth every penny of it’s $56 price tag (it is made in Nunavut according to traditional design. Swoon), I just can’t swallow international shipping on top of that.


Only a portion of the Maplelea catalog is currently available on Amazon, and there aren’t many reviews posted yet.  I will be curious to see the US customer response to these Canadian girls over time.


Saila is an absolutely beautiful doll and I’m delighted to add her to my collection.  I made a short unboxing video (although I cheated and removed the plastic ties beforehand to save time).  There are more pictures of this gorgeous girl at the end of the video.


*Edit:  It was kindly pointed out to me by a YouTube commenter that I mispronounce Maplelea in the video.  Ooops!  The correct pronunciation is “Maple-Lee”.  And now you know that I am the only person in the world that didn’t know that.  Ha ha!




Do you collect Maplelea dolls?  I’d love to hear which doll or accessory is your favorite and what (if anything) is on your Maplelea wish list.



18" Canadian Doll Maplelea Saila




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