American Girl Grace’s Baking Set Review

American Girl Doll Grace Thomas Baking Set Review

I had to have it.  Because, you guys..  the mixer.

American Girl has apparently found open access to my bank account via my obsession with dolly-size replicas of all the stuff I love, in all the colors I love.

In honor of the 2015 Girl of the Year Paris theme:  Le Sigh.

Dear AG, if you want the rest of my money:  Pyrex.

Where was I?  Oh yes, the Girl of the Year 2015 Grace Thomas and her Baking Set.  Grace is sweet doll, but she’s not coming to live with me and the small friends, unless AG loses their everlovin’ minds again next fall and sells her for $68.

(Was that crazy, or what? That was CRAZY!  In case you missed it, AG sold Isabelle with her accessories and her cat Tutu for $68 for a few very short and frenzied hours in December.)

Even though I’m not getting Grace, I’m certainly not above pilfering her collection.  Grace’s storyline revolves around a trip to Paris and a love of baking, so American Girl has pulled out all the stops to load her down with seriously overpriced and yet irresistibly cute clothing and accessories.  Bistros, bon bons, and berets.. oh my!

I succumbed immediately (defined as: 12:01 a.m. CST on January 1) to the Baking Set.  Thanks to early leaks, I was fully prepared to succumb, with debit card in hand, as the clock struck midnight.

And then I waited patiently, as usual, for the mailman to deliver.

An lo, it came to pass, that the items were delivered, and the human people and the small vinyl people were satisfied.  Mostly.

American Girl Doll Girl of the Year GOTY 2015 Grace Thomas Baking Set Review

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

American Girl Grace's Baking Set

The set, as a whole, is undeniably adorable.  Because wee, working stand mixer!  But it’s very, very, very.. plastic.  And most of it isn’t the good, heavy weight, substantial feeling plastic.  It’s the cheap, thin, lots of visible mold markings, clinks-instead-of-clunks-when-you-tap-it plastic.  Again…  Le Sigh.

The mixer is good plastic and the spoon is made of wood, but did I mention the retail price of this set is $68?  It bears repeating at this point that in December, American Girl sold the Isabelle doll, her meet accessories, and her pet cat for the very same price: $68. Obviously that was a moment of corporate insanity, but still!  A decent plastic mixer + a wooden spoon + a lot of cheap plastic stuffs and some additional paper stuffs probably isn’t worth $68 unless you REALLY love the mixer.  Which I do, and which is why I succumbed.

I made a review video if you’d like to see the mixer in action and get a few more details about each of the individual pieces included in the Baking Set.


Overall, I’m not sorry I purchased this set.  I received some gift cards for Christmas and I used a $10 off code so I’m telling myself I really only spent $58 on a plastic-yet-adorable stand mixer, tiny wooden spoon, and accompanying cheap plastic and paper accessories.

If I had to guess, the mixer will be one of those classic, highly sought after American Girl pieces after it retires, and a complete Baking Set with easily misplaced, tiny pieces, like the measuring cups and stylus will be nearly impossible to find.  I wouldn’t want to be the poor soul trying to track the set down for a reasonable price on the secondary market in years to come.

Yet, given the recent history of Girl of the Year megasales, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this set marked down next fall or early 2016.  OR, it might just be popular enough to sell out by December and never go on sale.

What do you think?  Are you buying Girl of the Year merch at full price or waiting for sales? Is any of Grace’s collection a “Must Have” for you, or are you willing to take a chance on mark downs?

Patisserie Apron Pattern for 18 inch Dolls

Patisserie Apron free sewing pattern for American Girl Dolls

If you’re an American Girl fan, you’ve no doubt been introduced to the new “Girl of the Year” Grace Thomas and her marvelous 2015 collection.  Collectors that visited an American Girl store on the first few days of new year may have been lucky enough to get Grace’s Apron as a free giveaway.  Alas, the nearest AG store is a seven-plus hour drive from our home, so no free apron for us!

Fortunately, aprons are very easy to make.  So may I present, the MSF version of Grace’s Patisserie Apron!

Patisserie Apron Sewing Pattern and Tutorial American Girl

Want to make your own Patisserie Apron?  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Patisserie Apron Pattern for 18″ Dolls
  • 1/4 yard Woven Fabric – Twill or Denim is ideal.
  • 30 inches of (approximately) 1 inch wide Twill Tape or Bias Tape (packaged -or- make your own)
  • Snaps or Velcro
  • Sewing Machine and Coordinating Thread
  • {Optional} Home Printer to print designs on your apron
  • {Optional} Polka dot ribbon and/or other embellishments

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the pattern to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader.  If you print directly from your browser, the pattern may not print at the correct scale.

General Instructions

  • All seams have 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
  • If your fabric frays, finish seam allowances with a serger or a short narrow zig zag stich.
  • Read completely through instructions before beginning. Let me know if you have questions. I’d be happy to help!

Cutting the Pattern

1.  Using the pattern pieces as a guide, cut your fabric.  Cut three pieces of twill tape (or bias tape):  Two pieces each 11 inches long, and a third piece is the length of the apron pocket (just a little over 7  1/2 inches long).

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

2. [Optional] Add a printed design to your Patisserie Apron.    Did you know you can print a design using a regular ink jet home printer right onto fabric?  You totally can! I used my 15 year old Hewlett Packard Desk Jet for this project with one of my usual generic eBay ink cartridges.  No special equipment required.

I did this two ways.  The first time, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, so I printed my design onto a small rectangle of fabric. When it came out just how I wanted, I sewed the printed rectangle directly onto my apron like an applique.

The second time, a little more confident that the printing would come out as planned, I printed directly onto my apron fabric.

I like how both look, so you can choose!

**It would be a good idea to test your print settings on some scrap fabric before attempting to print on your apron**  I found that I got best printing results setting my printer for “Best” quality on the Plain Paper setting.

 

Printing on Fabric

To begin, choose the design you’d like to print.  If you are somewhat tech savvy, you can find a million clip art designs online to choose from.  You will need to download the design to your hard drive and resize in a graphics program to fit your apron.  I found that designs approximately 2″ high x 3″ wide work well for the apron.  I chose this design from a wonderful site called The Graphics Fairy.

I made two variations with this graphic.  If you’d like to use one for your Patisserie Apron, click on the image below and save the pdf file to your hard drive.  When you are ready to print, open your pdf viewer (I use Adobe Acrobat), open the file, and proceed with the instructions below.

PatisserieTN

Design #1

 

Patisserie2TN

Design #2

 

When your design is ready or you’ve downloaded one of the above, test print it on a regular piece of printer paper.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Next, lay your fabric, right side up, on the paper you’ve just printed on, aligning the fabric over the printed design.   My printer, being the old finicky biddy that she is, isn’t a big fan of any “edges”.  Edges = Terrible Paper Jam .  So I carefully taped down all the edges of the fabric, making it as flat as possible.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Next, run your fabric-on-paper combo through the printer again and.. voila!  You’ve printed on fabric!  [I sincerely doubt this would survive the washing machine, so consider yourself forewarned.]

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Un-tape your fabric from your printer paper and proceed.

Sewing the Patisserie Apron

3.  Fold the twill tape in half over one long edge of your apron pocket piece, encasing the raw edge.  Pin in place.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Top stitch near the edge of the tape, taking care to catch the tape on both the front and the back of the apron.

Note: The twill tape I bought had some plasticy polyester content and began to melt when I attempted to press it. So if you are using the same type of twill tape, don’t press it. ;) If you are using cotton twill tape or bias tape, pressing it will obviously not cause meltage.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

4.  Lay your apron piece right side DOWN.  Lay your pocket piece on top of the apron piece, also right side DOWN.  Sew across the bottom.Patisserie Apron Tutorial

Press open the seam and flip your pocket piece around to the right side of the apron and press in place.  Top stitch along the bottom seam.

Stitch a dividing line up the center of your pocket piece, back stitching several times at the pocket opening to strengthen the stitching.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

5.  Serge or zigzag the apron sides and neck to prevent unraveling.
Patisserie Apron Tutorial

6.  Press serged / zigzagged sides and neck to the wrong side to create an approximate 1/4″ hem.  Top stitch the hems.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

7. As you did for the pocket above, encase the arm opening with an 11 inch length of twill tape.  Allow 4 inches of tape above the top of the apron for the neck strap.  Beginning at one end, sew along the entire length of the twill tape to secure it to the apron and to close the neck and waist strap.  Repeat on the other side of the apron with the remaining 11 inch length of tape.

Sew velcro or snaps onto the ends of the neck and waist straps.

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

 

8.  {Optional}  Embellish your apron with ribbons and/or other notions.  I really like the pop of turquoise color in American Girl Grace’s apron, so I added a turquoise flower to my second Patisserie Apron.

American Girl Doll Apron Tutorial like Grace Thomas Patisserie

Patisserie Apron Tutorial

 

You’re finished!  I hope you enjoy this pattern and tutorial.  I’d LOVE to see your Patisserie Aprons.  Put a link to pictures of your creations in the comments or, better yet, post to our Facebook page.

A note to artisans who sell:  You are welcome to use the Patisserie Apron pattern to sew handmade aprons to sell in your online or “real world” boutiques.  It is important to know that most graphics that you find online are copyright protected and cannot be used on items for sale.  However, The Graphics Fairy does allow limited use of her published clip art for sale items.  You can read her terms along with a good “plain English” explanation of fair use of images in the public domain on her site.

New year, new toys, new patterns!

Happy New Year from Many Small FriendsHappy 2015, friends! I hope that all who celebrated the holidays had many joyful and memorable moments. We had a terrific Christmas filled with family, fun, and delicious food. As usual, my dolly habit was indulged by my wonderful family and I have lots of fun new stuff to show you in the coming weeks.

My daughter is enchanted by the revamped American Girl Pets Collection and asked for Coconut and “any of the pet beds” for Christmas. I made a top secret video review of both items before gifting and, fortunately for me, she didn’t peruse the MSF YouTube channel before the big day.

American Girl Coconut Puppy

AG Pets and the Princess Pet Bed

You can check out the video here, but the bottom line is that I was more impressed with Coconut then I expected and much less impressed with the Princess Pet Bed.

She loved both, and that’s really all that matters.  :)

One of my favorite new toys is a 5th generation iPod Touch!  I have enjoyed a much older version for years, but it has been sporting a cracked screen for a few months and it didn’t come equipped with a camera.  I’m also the last human on earth to not have a smart phone, so although I’ve been very intrigued by the doll communities on Instagram, I haven’t been able to join the fun with no device compatible with the Instagram app.  My new iPod now allows me to snap quick pics and upload them to Instagram or Facebook for instant sharing. Hello 21st century, it’s so nice to finally meet you!

I’m definitely a “newb” (as I’m oft labeled by my teenage sons), but I have found lots of great doll-centered Instagram accounts to follow.  My account can be found here:  @many_small_friends

(Sons, did I do that right??!!??)

I’m also posting the Instagram pictures on Facebook if you are uncool like me and still hang out on Facebook*.

*Facebook uncoolness insight also provided by aforementioned teenage sons.  Apparently parents ruined it.

Dolly Instagram

One of my favorite things about a fresh new year is all the fresh new ideas that flood my imagination. I can hardly sleep with all the patterns and projects floating around in my head.  Sadly, daylight hours have not expanded to match my renewed energy, so progress is slow.  But bear with me, I have so many fun things to share with you in 2015!

Here is a peek at some of the patterns I’m working on.

Julie and Saige American Girl Dolls

Have you sewn with loose knit sweater fabrics and stretch lace?  They are too sheer to be used alone, but I’m developing a pattern for a fully lined dress that looks fantastic with these knits and lace as an overlay.  It’s almost finished and will be available at Etsy when it’s ready.

Doll bums are difficult to fit.

I’m also expanding the jeggings pattern to fit better with less stretchy fabrics.  I’ve found a bunch of printed sateens (~3% Spandex content) that have a little too much gap in the back without some additional paneling in the rear.  You guys.. doll bums are difficult to fit!  But I’m soooo close.  It’s only taken about 2,403,649 prototypes, give or take.  Julie has been a (relatively) good sport, what with all the leg yanking required to get a million pairs on tight fitting pants on and off.  She did, however, threaten to stick chewing gum in my sewing machine if I didn’t finish up soon.

When this pattern is finished, it will be sent as a freebie to my MSF Newsletter subscribers and then listed for sale in the Etsy store.

Lots of prototypes

I hope you had a nice holiday season as well and I’m so grateful to have found such a wonderful group of fellow doll enthusiasts to share ideas and inspiration. If you have an Instagram account, I’d love to follow you!  Post your account address (?? Is that what it’s called on IG?  Sons, stop at laughing at your mother) in the comment section below. :)

Make Jeggings! Sewing Pattern for American Girl

Make Jeggings for your American Girl Doll

This pattern was developed for a modern Mattel manufactured American Girl doll.  Jeggings may also fit other brands of 18″ dolls that share the American Girl body style.  For best fit, make a test pair of jeggings first and adjust pattern as necessary for your doll before using your best fabric.

Materials

  • Jeggings Pattern Sheets
  • 1/3 yard fabric suitable for jeggings (see fabric note below)
  • Coordinating polyester thread
  • Velcro (or snap or button) for fly closure
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron for pressing hems and setting seams.

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the patterns to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader.  If you print directly from your browser, the pattern may not print at the correct scale.

A Note about Fabrics – I tested several types of fabric for my jeggings.  The best fabric I found was in the denim section at my local Joann store.  It is a very stretchy, medium weight fabric that acts more like a knit then a tradition “jeans” denim.  I also tested the pattern with a stretch sateen (97% cotton, 3% spandex) that worked well.  However, because the sateen has less stretch and behaves more like a woven then a knit, the jeggings pull down over the doll’s cloth behind when she is in a seated position.  Looks great for standing, a little less great when sitting!  Another great source of fabric for doll jeggings are outgrown or thrift store people jeggings.

General Instructions

  • All seams have 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
  • Press seams as you sew for more polished and better fitting jeggings.
  • If your fabric frays, finish seam allowances with a serger or short zig zag stich.
  • Read completely through instructions before beginning. Let me know if you have questions! I’d be happy to help!

 

Assemble the Pattern

1.  Download the free jeggings pattern, print, and cut pattern pieces.   The pieces were a little too long to fit on one page, so you’ll find the bottom portion of each leg piece printed separately. To assemble your pattern pieces, tape the bottom portion of each leg piece to the corresponding top piece, overlapping as indicated by the dotted lines on the pattern.

Cut Jeggings Pieces

2. Using your paper patterns as a guide, cut your fabric.  You should have four pieces in total.

 

Free AG Jeggings Pants Pattern and Tutorial

Sewing

3.  Right sides together, sew the crotch seams for both the front and back pant pieces.  Be sure NOT to sew the fly closed on the front!  Clip curves as indicated.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

4.  On front piece, fold and press 1/4″ of the “fly” to the wrong side. ** Note ** This is not the front waist band, this is the the fly, which is the area right above the crotch seam you sewed in the previous step.   [You will fold down and sew the waist band in step 8]  Sew across to secure.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

5. Right sides together, pin front piece and back piece together.  Sew outer side seams.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

6. Press up and pin 1/4″ hem on bottom of each pant leg.  Sew across.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

7.  Pin inseam and sew.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

8.  Press down a 1/2″ waist band.  Pin in place then top stitch around waist band, 3/8″ from outer edge.  Top stitch around waist band again near top edge.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

9. On one side of inner fly, sew a rectangle of velcro hook.  On the other side, sew a matching rectangle of velcro loop.  Alternatively, you could sew on snaps or fashion a button / buttonhole closure.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

10. Fold one side of the fly back and secure to the waist band by sewing along top edge.

AG Jeggings Pattern and Tutorial

 

 

American Girl free jeggings pattern and tutorial

You’re finished!  Put the jeggings on your doll, congratulate yourself for your many skills and talents, and do the happy dolly sewing dance!

American Girl Jeggings Pattern

American Girl Jeggings - Free Sewing Pattern and Tutorial

Make the Cozy Hat and Urban Belted Coat to complete the outfit!

The Urban Belted Coat Pattern for American Girl

American Girl Doll Sewing Pattern Belted Coat PDF

It’s done! It’s done! It’s DONE! La Dee Dee, La Dah Dah.. It’s Finally DOOOOONE!

{that is what I’m singing, as I dance around the house,  flapping my arms wildly}

My children are familiar with this crazy dancy song, as it’s the same one I perform each year when I submit our household income taxes in January late March.

So, turns out this dolly pattern publishing business is time consuming work.  And scary, too!  I discovered that my pool of pattern testers included professional technical writers, pattern designers for real live human beings, and home seamstresses with.. uh.. fifty years of experience.  50 years, People!  And not everyone identified their line of work.  I bet there was at least one rocket scientist. I have a very high quality audience. ;)

To say I was intimidated as I sent out the pattern to my illustrious band of testers is an understatement.   But I soldiered on and faced my fears of inadequacy because I believed my little dolly pattern was worthy enough to bring into the world.  And I’m so glad I did because I got tons of tremendously helpful feedback from the testers. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again, wonderful testers!

After a little tweak here, and slight clarification there, I’m confident that the Urban Belted Coat Pattern is finally ready to be unleashed upon the dolly world!

The Urban Belted Coat

Now that the Urban Belted Coat pattern is finished, I’m working on the next pattern, which will be free to download.  It’s is a fashionable dolly wardrobe essential that will pair very nicely with the coat.

I’ll give you a hint….

It’s Jeggings. :D

[I’m bad at hints.]

Hopefully I’ll have that ready for you and posted on the blog next week.

Would you like an email notification when each new blog post is published?

Thanks to the wise suggestion of MSF reader Tari, I have set up an RSS feed subscription thingy (why yes, that is a technical term) so that you can get each blog post delivered to you via email.  See, what did I tell you? High quality audience. Thanks again, Tari!

Subscribe here, if you’re interested!

[This notification is different then the MSF Newsletter, which is bonus not-published-on-the-blog content.  You should definitely subscribe to the newsletter, too!]

Now then.  I’m off to dance around a little more, sing my song of contented completion, and maybe even attempt to locate the vacuum or the bottom of my kitchen sink.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen either!

The Urban Belted Coat

Easy DIY Doll Fireplace Tutorial

How to Make a Doll Fireplace for American Girl or 18 Inch Doll

Make a Fireplace for your Dolls – $20 or Less!

Last holiday season we built a fireplace for the dolls.  My goals for the project were to keep it inexpensive, easy to store, and simple to make.  I have a propensity for stabbing myself when cutting vegetables, so I stay far, far away from power tools.  The following tutorial requires no woodworking skills, but may require adult supervision as some some cutting is required.  The fireplace is sturdy enough for gentle play, but was designed primarily to be a decorative piece.

The scale is a little small for the 18 inch girls but it wouldn’t be hard to make the fireplace larger if the scale bothers you.

All supplies came from Hobby Lobby (except for the spray paint because it’s less expensive at Walmart) and I spent just a tad under $20.   If you don’t live near a Hobby Lobby, most of these supplies are available in other craft stores or online.  I already had glue, Mod Podge, and Model Magic on hand, so those supplies are not included in total project cost.

The “body” of the fireplace is a black photo storage box.  Cut a rectangle from the bottom of the box.  Mod Podge or glue brick printed scrapbook paper to the back (which is the inside of the lid).  This is an optional step, but it looks really cute when the “fire” lights up the inside of the box at night.

Build a fireplace for your 18 inch doll American Girl

The “hearth” is a thin sheet of birch (I purchased pre-cut in this size) that I Mod Podged with scrapbook paper.  The other side has the brick paper because I couldn’t decide what I liked better. :)  You can also use cardboard for the hearth or omit it altogether.

Make a pretend fireplace for your doll
The fire is made with sticks from our backyard.  To stick them together I used Model Magic (the Crayola modeling clay that dries) and a little squirt of Alene’s tacky glue.  I’m sure you could use any type of clay, I chose Model Magic since it will dry.  I was having a hard time getting the “logs” to stick together with just glue, but the clay/glue mix worked like a charm!  I have the logs resting aluminum foil at the moment but I’d like to find or make a better grate at some point. Or maybe I’ll just spray paint it black.

Behind the logs, I have placed a flickering LED light for fire.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but very cute at night when the room is darker.

The rest of the fire place frame is made from balsa wood with another birch sheet on top. The balsa wood came in one long sheet that I cut into four parts with a hand saw to construct a rectangle.  The two sides are the same size. the top piece is a little wider then the bottom piece.  I used the size of the photo box as a guide when deciding what lengths and widths to cut the balsa wood.  The frame rests over the photo box, so it’s just slightly wider and taller. I glued the frame sides together with Alene’s tacky glue.  I glued the pre-cut birch sheet on top to act as a mantle.

DIY American Girl Doll Fireplace tutorial 18 inch dolls

Balsa frame for the fireplace. Turned around so you can see!

I bought a package of pre-cut wood trims ($6.99 – used a 40% coupon on this as it was the most expensive item) and used bits and pieces to make the molding along the edge of the mantle and to decorate the front around the opening of the fire place.  I used a hand saw to trim the pieces to size and glue to attach the trims to the balsa wood frame.

After letting the glue dry overnight, I took the fireplace frame outside and spray painted it white. I spray painted a second coat after the first dried.  I did not permanently attach the wood frame to the photo box.  You could glue the frame to the box if you wish, but it’s easier for me to store as separate pieces.

Tutorial - How to make a fireplace for your American Girl Doll or other 18 inch doll

 

My Christmas decor is not included in the $20 total, but everything but the nutcracker is also from Hobby Lobby. The Elf on the Shelf was $6.50, the Holly pieces were $2 (for both), the “snow” is just fiberfill, the lights on the mantle light up and flicker. They are actually a necklace but were with the Christmas decor at Hobby Lobby.

You can make a simpler version of this fireplace with just the photo box (more carefully cut out in the front. I did a sloppy job knowing I was going to cover it). The photo box was $2 and the scrapbook paper was $0.59 a sheet, so if you have glue or Mod Podge and few sticks in your backyard, you can make a “quickie” fireplace in under an hour for less then $3!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and please let me know if you have any questions!

American Girl Christmas Scene Fireplace Tutorial

The Cozy Mittens and Hat Pattern for Small Dolls

h4h les cheries paola reina doll pattern hats mittens free pdf tutorialOnce again, the littlest of the small friends threatened dolly mutiny if they were left out of the new pattern.

So, thanks to vinyl coercion and a very nice email from Many Small Friends newsletter reader Lisa … {waves to Lisa :D}, I resized the Cozy Mittens and Hat Pattern to fit 13″ to 15″ dolls.

I tested the pattern on my Paola Reina, Corolle Les Cheries, and Hearts for Hearts dolls.  The Hearts for Hearts dolls have a larger head then the others, but all three dolls have similarly sized hands.  So there is a single Mitten size option that works well for all three dolls and two Hat size options, the smaller size fits Paola Reina and Corolle, and the larger size fits Hearts for Hearts.

I suggest choosing a  lightweight knit fabric for the smaller sized hats and mittens.  I developed this pattern using micro fleece, which is a lightweight version of polar fleece.  My local Joann fabric store usually has this in stock.  It’s also a common pajama fabric for young children, so check thrift stores for clothing to upcycle.

Bottom line, choose a fabric that won’t be too bulky and preferably a knit that doesn’t fray so you won’t have to fuss with finishing seam allowances.

The construction steps are similar to the 18″ doll hat and mitten tutorial but I made a few tweaks to better suit the smaller sized pattern pieces and to make this as un-fiddly as possible.

Materials

  • Cozy Hat and Mittens Pattern Sheet (for 13″-15″ dolls)
  • 1/4 yard knit fabric -OR- scraps, you don’t need much.  Polyester micro fleece is an ideal fabric to make this project fast, fun, and EASY!
  • Coordinating polyester thread
  • Sewing machine -or- hand sewing needle
  • [Optional] Embellishments for the hat – ribbon, buttons, felt flowers, etc.

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the patterns to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader. If you print directly from your browser, the patterns will not print at the correct scale. Measure the 1 inch box printed on the pattern sheet to  be sure your pattern printed correctly.

Mittens

1.  Cut a rectangle of fabric, measuring 2″ x 5″ with the stretch going lengthwise.  For the wristband of the mitten, cut another rectangle of fabric measuring 1¼” x 5″, stretch also lengthwise.

Fold the wristband strip in half, wrong sides together, lengthwise.  Lay the wristband strip on top of the right side of the first rectangle you cut, aligning the raw edges.  Pin in place.small doll cozy winter mittens hat pattern

Sew the wristband strip to the fabric rectangle with a ¼” seam allowance as indicated by the black dashed line in the photo above.  Trim the seam allowance to a scant ⅛”.

2.  Fold the wristband down and then fold everything in half width-wise, right sides together.

mitten tutorial for hearts for hearts doll

3.  Pin the paper mitten template to the folded fabric, aligning the dots on the template with the seam between the fabric rectangle and the wristband.  Sew around the mitten shape, sewing as close to the template as you can, and back stitching at the beginning and end of your seam for added durability.

mitten tutorial free pattern corolle les cheris

4.  Remove the paper template and trim away the excess fabric, cutting close to your sewing line, and leaving only the inside-out mitten.  Clip a little notch in the seam allowance between the thumb and finger portion of the mitten, taking care not to cut into your stitching.  Turn right side out, and your finished!

Repeat the steps to make a second mitten.

 

Cozy Hat

1. Using the printed pattern as a guide, cut 5 panels of fabric for your hat plus one rectangle for your hat band. See pattern sheet for measurements for hand band.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

2.  Pin two of the hat panels together, right sides facing. Sew along one long side with a  ¼” seam allowance (as indicated by the white dotted line in the picture below). Trim seam allowance to a scant ⅛”.

Pin a third panel to two you just sewed together, right sides facing, and again sew along one long side.  Continue in this fashion until all five panels are sewn together.

(Note: Borrowing pictures from the 18″ doll Cozy Hat and Mitten tutorial.  Your pieces will be smaller).

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

3.  Fold your hat band in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.  Pin hat band to hat, right sides together, aligning raw edges.

Sew hat band to hat with ¼” seam allowance as indicated by dashed line in the photo below. Trim seam allowance to a scant ⅛”.

smalldollshatpdf4

4.  Fold the hat band down and then fold and pin the hat in half, right sides together.

(Note: Borrowing pic again from the 18″ tutorial.  Your hat will look like this except the hand band will already be attached.)

American Girl Doll Hat and Mitten Tutorial and free pattern

Sew the final side seam to join the hat panels and the short ends of the hat band with a ¼” seam allowance.  Trim your seam allowance, turn your hat right side out, and you’re finished!

I’d love to see your dolly hats and mittens!  Post pictures to our Facebook page or add link in the comments below.

Review of the New Hearts for Hearts Doll, Nyesha

Hearts for Hearts Doll Nyesha Review

Meet Nyesha, one of the two newest dolls from the Hearts for Hearts collection by Playmates Toys.  I have been stalking Target patiently waiting for this doll since her prototype photos began circulating after the 2014 Toy Fair in February.  You can read an excellent report about the H4H debuts at the Toy Fair, which included the unveiling of not only Nyesha but also Surjan from Nepal, by Char at Doll Diaries.

Hearts for Hearts has an unfortunate tendency of going silent on their Facebook page for long stretches of time, so collectors have been left hanging as to the general release date of the new dolls.  There were rumors that the release had been pushed back to 2015 so I’d pretty much given up hope of finding Nyesha anytime soon.

And then last Saturday happened.   My daughter attended a birthday party near a Target that I don’t usually frequent, so I decided to kill a little time in the toy aisle before picking her up.  I started in the Our Generation section, slim pickin’s.. Surprise! (not).  The Hearts for Hearts section is typically right next to OG and .. gasp.. there she was! Not only one Nyesha doll, but two.  And Surjan!  And quite a few of the other dolls as well.  I debated getting both Surjan and Nyesha, but then felt a bit guilty buying toys for myself so close to Christmas.  Heh.

I brought her home and stripped the box.  Would she be as gorgeous as her Toy Fair prototype?

Nyesha Doll Prototype H4H dolls

Well… almost.

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha

There are a couple of changes between the prototype and the actual production run dolls.  One easy to identify change is her hair.  Nyesha’s hair is not as gorgeous as the promo photos would lead you to believe, and it’s very, VERY prone to frizz.  My doll came out of the box with some frizz which only got worse as I gently worked with her.  If you purchase this doll for a child, be forewarned that the hair won’t look nice for long.

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha
That said, it’s not horrible, and this is a 25ish dollar doll, so given the manufacturing constraints at that price point, I’m not shaking any judgey fingers at Hearts for Hearts.  I just wish they wouldn’t bother teasing us with unrealistic, higher quality prototypes.

There’s also something different about the face mold that I can’t quite put my finger on.  My Nyesha doll’s face is still beautiful, but decidedly different then the Toy Fair prototype.

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha

Despite these little let downs, I’m not disappointed in my purchase.  Nyesha is a lovely addition to my collection, photographs beautifully, and I’m happy to have her. I’ll let you know how her hair holds up over time.  Her clothing is decent quality, especially for the price point, and I’m particularly impressed with her vinyl sneakers which are a step up from the usual molded plastic throw-away quality of most department store dolls.

Hearts for Hearts received criticism with their 2013 release (the Shola and Mosi dolls) for the prototype clothing being downgraded significantly for the production dolls.  It’s not that the downgrade was entirely unexpected, but they didn’t change the box art to reflect the changes, so customers found that the box contents were not accurately depicted by the photos on the box.  This time around, Nyesha’s clothing appears to be identical to the box art.  It remains to be seen whether consumers will react negatively to the slightly different face mold and lower quality hair which are one again inaccurately depicted (at least in my opinion) by the box art.

As I mentioned, I found Nyesha at Target for $25.99.  According to the Playmates Toys website, you may also find the Hearts for Hearts dolls at Toys R Us, Walmart, Meijer, Kmart, and Barnes & Noble.   If you don’t feel like driving or calling around to your local brick and mortars, you can often find these dolls online.  As of this writing, you can get both Nyesha and Surjan along with quite a few of the Hearts for Hearts Girls from Amazon at near-retail pricing.

Be advised that the prices swing wildly for these dolls online, and while Nyesha and Surjan are currently widely available, the pricing will be decent.  But as the holiday season approaches and the first wave of dolls are snapped up from the stores (both by consumers and resellers), the prices will almost inevitably sky rocket.  As with Our Generation, Hearts for Hearts has been known to have some distribution issues, and as demand exceeds supply.. well, I’m sure you know what happens!

I made a video review of Nyesha if you’d like to see her in a little more detail.  In the video, I compare her in size to my Corolle Les Cheries, Paola Reina, and our American Girl doll Meggie (aka Cecile).

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the newest small friend posing with her new vinyl sisters.  I’d love to hear your impressions of the Hearts for Hearts Girls!

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha and American Girl Doll Cecile

Cozy Hat and Mittens Patterns and Tutorial

Make a Cozy Hat and Mittens for your 18 inch Doll

Materials

  • Cozy Hat and Mittens Pattern Sheet
  • 1/4 yard knit fabric -or- recycled sweater. Polyester fleece is a great fabric choice to make this project fast, fun, and EASY!
  • Coordinating polyester thread
  • Sewing machine -or- hand sewing needle
  • [Optional] Embellishments for the hat – ribbon, buttons, felt flowers, etc.

IMPORTANT – Be sure to download and save the patterns to your hard drive and print at “Actual Size” from a PDF reader like Adobe Reader.  If you print directly from your browser, the patterns may not print at the correct scale.

 

Mittens

1.  Cut four squares of fabric, using the dashed box on the pattern sheet as a guide.  For the wrist bands of the mittens, you can cut either four squares measuring 2″ x 2″ – or- if you are using a recycled sweater and have some pre-finished edging (from the bottom of the sweater or sleeves), cut four rectangles measuring 2″ x 3/4″ using the finished edging as one of the longer 2 inch sides.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

2.  Make a fabric sandwich with two squares of fabric, right sides together. Make sure to align the fabric squares so that they stretch in the same direction and in the direction indicated on the pattern.    Cut out the mitten template from your pattern sheet and pin it to the center of your fabric sandwich.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial3.  Using the paper template as a guide, sew around the mitten shape, starting at one black dot and finishing at the other, making sure to back stitch a few times at the beginning and the end of the seam.

Again using the template as a guide, trim away the excess fabric sandwich, cutting close to your sewing line.  If you are using a knit that will fray, you can go over the seam you just sewed with a short, narrow zig zag stitch to keep the inside of the mitten neat and make it more durable. If you are using fleece fabric, you can skip the zig zag, you will not need to finish any of the edges.

Very carefully snip a “v” between the thumb and fingers, taking care not to snip into your stitching.

 

4.  Turn your mitten right side out.  If you are using new fabric, fold one of the 2″ x 2″ squares in half, wrong sides together.  Align the raw edge with one side of the bottom of the mitten and pin.  Sew in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Be sure not to catch the other bottom side of the mitten as you sew (which would close up the wrist opening!).   I found it easiest to fold the other side of the mitten back and sew from the  “inside” of the mitten.  Trim the seam allowance to a scant 1/8″.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

Repeat with a second 2″ x 2″ wristband piece, sewing to the other side of the mitten.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

 

5.  Turn your mitten inside out again, and pin.  Sew the open sides of the mitten closed (see white dotted line below) back stitching several times at the wrist openings to secure the seams.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

Turn your mitten right side out and admire your work!  Repeat steps to make the second mitten.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

 

Cozy Hat

1. Using the printed pattern as a guide, cut 5 panels of fabric or recycled sweater for your hat plus one rectangle for your hat band.  If you are using new fabric, your hat band rectangle should measure 10-1/2″ x 2″.  If you are using a recycled sweater and have enough finished edge available, cut your rectangle 10-1/2″ x 1″, using the finished edge for one of the long sides.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

 

2.  Pin two of the hat panels together, right sides facing. Sew along one long side with a 1/4″ seam allowance (as indicated by the white dotted line in the picture below). Pin a third panel to two you just sewed together, right sides facing, and again sew along one long side.  Continue in this fashion until all five panels are sewn together.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

3. Fold your hat in half, right side in, aligning the long sides of the outermost two panels.  Pin and sew the panels together, which finishes the crown of your hat.

American Girl Doll Hat and Mitten Tutorial and free pattern

Trim seam allowances to a scant 1/8″.  If you are using a knit fabric that will unravel or fray, stitch over each seam allowance with a short and narrow zig zag stitch to finish.  This step is unnecessary if you are using polyester fleece.

 

4.  Fold the fabric rectangle for your hat band in half, right sides together, aligning the short ends.  Sew short ends together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Trim seam allowance to a scant 1/8″.  If you are upcycling a sweater and have a finished edge, you can skip to step 5.   You’ll use the circle you just sewed for the hat band.

If you are using new fabric (no pre-finished edge), fold in half again lengthwise, wrong side in, right side out, creating the hat band.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

5. Align and pin the raw edge of the hat band to the raw edge of the hat crown, right sides together.  Sew the band to the crown with a 1/4″ seam allowance, stretching the hat band slightly as you sew to fit it to the crown.  Trim the seam allowance to a scant 1/8″ and finish with a short and narrow zig zag if desired.

Hat and Mitten Tutorial

You’re finished! You can embellish your hat with buttons, ribbons, or flowers if you’d like. I will be sending the MSF Newsletter subscribers an idea sheet for embellishments next week, so be sure to subscribe if you’d like to receive that email.

18 inch doll free sewing pattern for winter hat mittens

Beforever Mini Doll Review – American Girl Kit Kittredge

There’s a new Small Friend in town, and this little girl is extra small!

Beforever Kit American Girl Mini Doll Review

American Girl mini doll Kit Kittredge found her way into the MSF collection this week!   The Beforever minis are available on the American Girl website, but I have consistently found them to be a few dollars less expensive on Amazon.  I’ve also spotted the minis on the Barnes & Noble website and retail stores, Walmart.com, Costco and Sam’s Clubs, and occasionally in Target stores.  The packaging and pricing may vary, along with the size of the included book(s).  The online pricing for these dolls tends to bounce around, so keep your eyes open for a good deal.  For example, as of this writing, the Beforever Rebecca mini doll is $17.58 on Amazon while the rest of the AG minis are $21 or more.

Ch..ch..ch..Changes!

As with most of the historical collection, Beforever brought changes to the American Girl minis.  Most notably, all of the face molds were updated and the dolls’ torsos are now made of vinyl instead of cloth.  Additionally, if the full sized version of the Beforever doll got a new meet outfit, so did her mini counterpart.

 

The AG Minis

The mini abridged books that accompany the dolls were also updated, but this “update” can only be considered a “downgrade”.  In the photo below, the book “Really Truly Ruthie” came with the previous version of the mini Ruthie doll, while the Beforever Kit book, “Read All About It!” is the new mini book format.

Not only have the new Beforever mini books become considerably more miniature, but they have lost their hard cover, accompanying dust jacket, and illustrations, too.  Pfffft.

 

Beforever Mini Doll Mini Books

I like the face mold updates on all of the new minis, especially Kit’s!  Beforever mini Kit looks younger and sweeter to me.  Neither version exactly replicates the full sized doll, but in my opinion, the new Kit better captures the essence of the character.

American Girl Mini Doll Kit Comparison

 

American Girl Mini Doll – Beforever Video Review

Below is a video review of my new mini Kit.  Included are a few more pictures and comparisons to the previous mini dolls and a look inside the mini books as well.

 

Have you added any of the Beforever mini dolls to your collection?  I’d love to hear your opinions on the changes.  I’m really enjoying my new mini Kit but ultimately I do wish she had the older style squishy cloth body and the hardcover  illustrated book.

 

The AG Beforever Minis - Kit, Addy, and Ruthie