But a lot of this will be What Not To Do. Because we all have to start somewhere, but not everything we start with needs to be displayed online or sold, and we can always improve on our crafting technique. Trust me on this. I'm still learning new things.
Today's column will be on that plague that runs not just through AG, but through way too many doll crafting communities--what I like to call the GeneriDress.
|Meet the GeneriDress.|
So what is the GeneriDress? From Neth's Dictionary of Doll Terms and Details:
GeneriDress [guh-NAIR-ree-dress] (n): A plain standard crafted dress style--frequently sleeveless and with no trims--that is done in a single variant print and commonly mass produced, often for the purpose of selling. Portmanteau of "generic" and "dress."Now for more details.
The GeneriDress is a carbon copy dress style--done either by amateurs learning to sew or crafters looking for a quick buck--that is plain, boring, and well, generic. It is often done in quilting cottons, using a basic doll pattern of a bodice--with the neckline up to the neck--with no sleeves and a knee to calf length skirt. If the crafter is feeling creative, they'll do some inset sleeves (generally of the poofy variety that are elasticed on one side) put a ribbon around the waist, or add lace to the skirt hem.
Genericdress is almost always done of the same fabric for the whole dress. Gingham is pretty popular, but a lot of people use prints of whatever the new hotness might be--Mickey Mouse, Spongebob, ponies, baseball, etc--or some fanciful loud quilting style print. Around the holidays GeneriDress often gets prints that are themed--hearts for Valentines, pumpkins for Halloween, shamrocks for St. Patty's, eggs and pastels for spring, trees and bows and peppermints for Giftmas1. They're frequently seen on Etsy or eBay with a search for "American Girl Dress" and the prices vary from five dollars--or under--to people who are sure their dress is the next Little Black One and charge thirty to forty bucks. Even American Girl themselves have done an outfit that looks a lot like the GeneriDress: The Pet Show Outfit.
|GeneriDress, Authentic AG Style.|
The thing with the GeneriDress is that it, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. It is a very good start for sewing. The bodice only needs three pieces---six with lining--and a skirt which can be done as a rectangle, hemmed on one side, and gathered to the bodice. It's a great way to learn to sew doll clothes and get the idea for how they go together and fit on a doll, and to draft starting patterns from. It can make everything from slips to formal dresses. Plus if you're going for a 1960s look, it's quite authentic to the casual girl's dresses of the time--and with adjustments, can carry from about the 1930s to today as a dress style. Girl's dress profiles--dirndl skirt and waist bodice or the basic basque--haven't changed much in years.
|No, really. Edith's Meet Dress is based on the GeneriDress silhouette.|
So, how do you avoid the call of the GeneriDress? There's some easy ways to do it.
- First one is one of the easiest--make the bodice one color and the skirt another, like I did with Edith's meet outfit. It'll break up the monotony. Do a print skirt with a plain bodice, or a plain skirt with a print bodice.
- Use different fabrics. The GeneriDress generally finds itself made of quilters cottons that come in an overall print. Try some satins, silks, velvets, or edge prints. Anything but always quilters cotton print and/or fat quarters.
- Don't use loud or popular prints to cover up the generic profile. The dress shouldn't be carried by the print alone. Especially don't do this for holiday. The best way I find to avoid that is to look at a print, and really think if a real child would wear that print in a dress--and in that size on them--outside of a costume. No one is wearing loud ass glitter candy canes on their holiday dress. I hope.
- Vary your bodice or skirt. Try inset panels--a four or six panel skirt can do wonders--or an inset panel bodice, or even a double skirt. Try to change the skirt--a circle skirt or a pleated one. If you know things like smocking, do them! And embroidery can do wonders.
- Lower that neckline! Learn to draft something as simple as a V-neck or a lower curve to really cut back on the generality.
- Collars are easy to put in. Even a basic Peter Pan style helps.
- Sleeves are your best friend. Just don't do the poofy one every time. Straight sleeves, long sleeves, three-quarters sleeves, split sleeves, cap sleeves, lace sleeves--go for it.
- Vary the bodice length. Raise it to empire. Drop waist to the hips. And make sure the skirt matches--if you raise, lengthen and if you drop shorten.
- Trims. Buttons at the front, lace on the hem--nice lace--or a ruffle at the edge--can do wonders for the dress's profile. Even just a different colored hem add on, or lace at the arm holes.
- Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate. Don't slap any old trims on a dress to try and make things pop. Really think before you add that lace or ribbon. Too much and you're just digging the fail further.
1 I'm Pagan. I don't celebrate Christmas, and I choose to call it Giftmas because for me the day is about getting gifts from and for those who care for me. My winter religious holiday is Yule.