American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crafting Creatively - Things I've Made: Elizabeth's Holiday Dress and Historical Accessories Reviews: Elizabeth's Doll

Felicity Merriman and her darling Elizabeth Cole.
I have several self-made historicals, since American Girl can't or won't do a lot of things right, and this has been true since the very first three.1 There's Edith and Dorothy from 1964 Memphis, Charlotte from 1842 Texas back when it was its own nation briefly, and Kimmy and Tyanna from the later 1980s Seattle, and Addy's best friend Sarah. And there is Elizabeth Cole.

Back story time! When Felicity's books were first written back in 1991 and best friend characters for Historicals were not a thing, Elizabeth was described as tiny, brunette, and with brown eyes. This stayed the way until about 2005, when Felicity: An American Girl Adventure was released. The actress playing Elizabeth, however, was blond and blue eyed. And through the magic of Photoshop this:

Elizabeth 1: Brown and brown.
became this:

Elizabeth 2: Behold, she's fucking blond!
Along with this, all the books were changed to match in the text along with some really haphazard Photoshop over the illustrations.2 AG's official statement was to put more contrast between the girls so they didn't look the same, but redheaded isn't brunette so what-fucking-ever I don't know. The blond version--when I was in fandom--got called Barbie!Elizabeth or Mattel!Elizabeth, because Mattel also owns Barbie and if we can't compare everything to that blond tramp of a doll that we're supposed to hate for her nipped in waist and humongous tatas then we're bad doll collectors or something. (I might have issues with people shitting on skinny fashion dolls.)

I don't care for blond-version Elizabeth for multiple reasons, but that is because there are very few books I don't like over movies.3 So a buddy of mine made a brunette Elizabeth by rewigging and eye swapping a blond!Elizabeth, and I later had her join the gang in 2008 during the holidays as a beautiful surprise to her dear Felicity who had desperately missed her girlfriend. I don't know if the woman who made Elizabeth for me does customs anymore--she has kids and had some board shit go down that led to her getting kicked off AGPT and has eased back from doll collecting some--but she made me Elizabeth and Sarah and for that I'm awesomely grateful.

By necessity, Elizabeth Cole needed her holiday outfit. But not the AG one. I never got it, even when retirement was impending. First, let's show what AG offered us, as an interpretation of the dress from the movie:

Uh, no.
Pathetic, isn't it? [/Ursula] There's no side slits. There's wonky full fabric slippers. There's no separate petticoat. And there's no stockings. Gods, and you expected me to put my pretty Brunette Elizabeth in that? Nope. Fuck that shit. The only AG Approved Elizabeth Outfit I have is the riding outfit and nightclothes. So of course I had to make my own. Armed with Felicity's sewing patterns and a physical example of what I wanted to do for the outfit--Elizabeth's Doll, Charlotte--I took my ass to Joann's, bought some satin, and made something nice.

Pretty dresses are so much prettier.
Maroon and gold, lace and satin, and much more accurate for me. It's a gold dress, maroon stomacher and petticoat, and ribbon choker and hair ribbon. I'll go into the details of wear as I review, but not as intensely as Felicity's since they're based the same way.

Bonus: a mini-review of  Elizabeth's Doll.

Hairbow. Because flippant.
Elizabeth is wearing a maroon hairbow that I just tie around her loose hanging hair and center the bow on top. As I said in Felicity's review, the smaller the headgear, the more flippant or even fancy the dress style. So it's a little more flippant to have hairbow and not a pinner cap, and shows that Elizabeth was a little richer than Felicity.Also, younger girls could often get away with headbands where women could not.

Pin curls.
My Elizabeth does have her pin curls. I teased out a set and curled them myself, and never let them get lost in her hair. Same with Felicity. Adorable pin curls.

Since Elizabeth has AG-sized pierced ears, I put in her pearl drops for the holiday, along with pearl studs.

Gold Choker.
Around her throat is a simple gold metallic ribbon tied in the back. No clasps, I just tie and tuck.

I made her dress in the piece-part way Felicity's comes, so she has a stomacher. I may make her another gold stomacher, later, with lace and ribbons. This one is a maroon satin.

At the top is a single tacked red satin rose accent.

Pins? Pins.
And now we get to the "Neth is lazy sometimes when crafting her dolly things" part of the outfit. I had initially meant to sew snaps to the outfit, like Felicity's has. But I didn't the year I made it. What I did so that I could get some sleep before having to go to work was use straight sewing pins and pin her stomacher to her dress gown. Technically, this is more historically accurate, and I pin it in such a way that I don't get stuck and neither does she. I try to flush them down as much as possible.

The sleeves are double lace that I layered myself from single layer lace.

Simple gown.
There's no ruffles or trim on the front of the dress. This is partially laziness, but I think that it partially helps keep things simple with contrast on the dress colors. I may later get some gold ribbon and trim it down the front. You will also notice that I did the knife pleats. 

Pocket slits. And lesbian sex jokes.
I even put the slit on the side so that there is pocket access. If Elizabeth is going to be accessing Felicity's pocket, Felicity needs to be able to reciprocate. Mutual pocket fingering. And yes, Elizabeth has a shift, pocket and stays and bum roll under all this. A review for later.

Knife pleats and bum butt.
The back has the neat knife pleats coming away from the center, and they drape nicely over her bum roll. As AJ would say, she got that bustle fluffa. Well, bustles are technically a late 1860s to 1900s thing but I know what she mean.

The back is nice and smooth. I did not v-point the back because I was lazy. I am lazy often when sewing for myself and my collection.

The hem is unadorned. And under this Elizabeth is wearing plain colonial shoes--I ordered Felicity's replacement shoes from her meet set for Elizabeth, but I did not get the socks at the time. Later to the eBays if I can find them for a sensible cost. She's wearing sheered off stockings, and they have a run and that's why you can't see them until I get her better socks and proper garters.

Petty coats.
Underneath is a petticoat. Unlike Felicity's matching set, Elizabeth's is a high contrast maroon.

Knife pleats.
Also with the knife pleats. And since I've still yet to put in the fasteners like I should, she's got the sides pinned at the waist. I can get so lazy about snaps, and I am not velcroing the skirt because the waistband the way I did it is very narrow. I don't have a serger yet, so the insides are only pink-edged. Someday, Neth.

Elizabeth looks her best.
And where did I get this inspiration for Elizabeth's outfit? Why, from her own doll. If Felicity was going to match hers, so was Elizabeth.

Meet Charlotte.4
Elizabeth's Fashion Doll: Elizabeth's fashion doll--canonically named Charlotte, after Queen Charlotte of England5--was released in 2005 for the low, low cost of $18. She was retired like Elizabeth in 2010 when she got put in the vault with Felicity, where they have spent the last four years sexing it up. On eBay she goes for more than Felicity's in the $30-50 range, which is probably due to the low run in comparison. If you want your Elizabeth to have her doll, you're gonna pay a pretty bit.6  Glad I got her early. She's pretty similar to Felicity's doll in shape, so we won't go into too much details. My picture is tinted probably because I had my finger partially over the flash.

Like Felicity's, Charlotte has a pale paint overlay over the wood face, hands, and legs. The face has a small triangular nose, and painted on blue eyes and pink lips with high eyebrows.

Curly hair.
Instead of painted on hair, she has glued on curls of a dusty blond color. White curly hair was fashionable and very feminine/innocent for centuries; it was only in about the 70s that it was considered fashionable to have stick straight hair. I kind of wish that Felicity's doll had hair.

Hair bow.
In her hair is a red hairbow folded and tacked in place, which is where I got the idea for Elizabeth's.

Stomacher and gown.
Her gown and stomacher are one piece, with a pink rose at the top of the stomacher. Her sleeves are lace trimmed, and down the front of the skirt of the gown.

Runched up!
The over skirt in the back is slightly gathered up, which is a lot more historically accurate than a smooth backed gown.

The petticoat is a smooth separate piece--again, no major hemming or decor.

Underneath she has the same peg joints as Felicity's doll, but the shoes are red instead of pink.

Overall, I think she's a very unique doll; while the same base was used overall the clothing, shoes, and hair make her different and unique from Felicity's doll. I now even wish Jane had hair, so as to match Charlotte's having hair. The wooden doll is authentic, the authenticity to the story is there, and the outfit that she's wearing is even a little more authentic than Felicity's. If you do get her, you're looking at high costs on the secondary market, alas. I give her an A. Elizabeth loves her doll.

And Elizabeth loves her unique holiday outfit as well, and she very much loves her Felicity. Kissy kissy~

Yes, they not only hold hands, they kiss.

1 Kirsten, you really should not have bangs. They were not a thing back then for most people.
2 They did the same thing with Felicity and the Traveling Gown. Shop all the things. Still, it's possible to get the books with brunette Elizabeth if you get the second or first edition books. (I have a box set of the second eds, myself.) 
3 Notable one: I much prefer the ending on Tipping the Velvet in the movie version.
4 Who is not the same as the other Charlotte. I just like the name Charlotte, okay? I blame the book about the spider and the pig.
5I am of the philosophy that said queen was part black. Another reason I love the name.
6 That's a money joke too.


  1. I agree with you, she definitely looks best with brown hair and eyes. I think her and Felicity looks different enough. I rarely connect with characters that have long, straight and blonde hair. I feel like they all look the same, so i find them quite boring. But I love brown hair and I wish I had brown eyes myselvf.
    The dress you made Elizabeth, looks absolutely beautiful on her - red really suits her.

    I read the photo story you linked to, and I really like it.
    I thought Edith was really cute/sweet, and i really liked the dress Kaya was wearing.
    I found it interresting that when they talked about Felicity crush, no one asked if Elizabeth was okay with it. I got the feeling that it was because, Felicity and Elizabeth know exactly where they got eahother.

  2. I enjoy your blog so much! You did a great job on the dress--satin is so hard to work with but you've really kept it nice. And Elizabeth looks so...Elizabeth. Perfect.
    I can't help but fixate on your comment about people shitting on skinny dolls--will we see a rant about it? I was doing some doll research and read a particularly irritating article about how skinny dolls are the worst thing ever so I can't help but wonder what your thoughts are.

    1. Satin can be hell to work with if you don't try to sew it right.

      There will probably be a rant when I get into the complaints about Mattel vs. PC. I have many opinions about people who act like skinny dolls are the worst thing ever.

  3. Brilliant stuff- love your Elizabeth!

  4. Whoa, the swapped Elizabeth is so cool! And I love that she and her doll can be twins. Also those little stump legs. >< I think dolls with dolls are very cute.

  5. Sad to see that they chose to make the dresses all one piece and without pocket slits. Felicity's holiday gown was my earliest exposure to costume history. If AG offered an Elizabeth & holiday gown like yours, I'd buy them in a heartbeat. I hope you'll do a crafting creatively featuring your Addy's Shadows on Society Hill dress, it's one of my favorite interpretations.

  6. OMG! Your Elizabeth is PERFECT. AG should have done one to look like yours. Ever since Mattel took over, AG has been becoming far too blonde.

  7. I love your blog here. I discovered it last week and went back to the beginning and binged! Your Elizabeth is lovely, but I must admit that I now giggle when I look at my doll and think about the girls getting into each other's pockets. Felicity is my first, and right now only, AG doll and sits next to my computer...I got her at the beginning of January and I'm 40. Keep up the great work with your reviews, snarks and all.

  8. I love this Elizabeth!!!! I want my own version. Fantastic job with the holiday dress. How clever of you to base it on the mini doll's dress. Your shipping of elizabeth and felicity pleases me greatly for it has always been my personal head cannon that felicity was bisexual.( sorry can't deny that Ben chemistry). Keep up the good work and stay sassy.

  9. Oh my word, this is a FABULOUS idea! I utterly loath Elizabeth's clothing (besides her riding habit) and making a dress from her fashion peg doll is genius! I'm totally doing this. Also I was wondering, do you happen to know of a book resource for 1770's kids fashion? I'm planning on sewing Elizabeth's entire wardrobe (well besides the habit) and want it to be accurate... not like the AG retardation. Specifically I want ideas that are for the rich kids of that time since Elizabeth was a bit more wealthy than Felicity and I don't want to just copy her stuff. Thanks for any ideas! Love your snarky blog...

    1. Please don't use "retarted" as an insult.It's Ableist. That being said, thank you for the complements.

      The thing with children's fashions is that, generally, children just wore smaller versions of what their parents wore. So if you can find a good book on colonial fashions, they will work for Elizabeth. Also, the styles would be the same but to have richer clothes means richer fabrics, so if you make more of her things out of satin fabrics and add more trims, they'll be richer. This includes stripes, which would need matching, and quilted satins.

  10. You are an amazing seamstress! Really beautiful work on Elizabeth’s outfit!

    Would it be historically accurate to make her petticoat and stomacher in contrasting colors? Say white for the stomacher and maroon for the petticoat? Or white for the petticoat and mauve for the stomacher?


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