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Monday, May 19, 2014

Clothes Review: Colonial Williamsburg Doll Dresses and Hats

Felicity and Elizabeth: gay as springtime.
So I'm heading to my yearly Texas Vacation, which means that the reviews I meant to get done all May will have to be put off again. Granted, I'm taking my Samantha all-in-one book, Addy, and Charlotte--but the more detailed stuff will have to wait a bit. Such is life. I get swept up in life stuff and look up at my calendar and son of a bitch, half of May is gone.1 But I'm not a news blog, so it's not like I have to report on the new stuff immediately. Speaking of the new stuff, yes I know the following:
  • BeForever is Coming AKA the revamp of the Historical line. I'm actually excited for it, even if it means buying a whole new set of Addy books again. And a not!Addy to get that beautiful blue dress. The illustrations aren't so bad, and there's nothing cuter than Addy and her baby sister on the cover of that volume 2, fight me.
  • Samantha is coming out of the AG vault, done known for a while. She gonna be paaaaaaaank.
  • Cecile and Marie-Grace are looking at retirement, as are Ivy and Ruthie, so I need to get Ivy's Chinese Dress and then figure out what to do with it. Ruthie I never wanted anything for or to have, so eh, and I have all the Cecile stuff I want. 
  • Wonderbread's Movie is on the way down the pipeline. I will watch it but I'll be dragged if I'm buying it. That's what NBC broadcasts are for.
Are we all caught up? Good. Now I can do this review and pic blurbing.

One of the neat things about my collection is that I've never felt obligated to just get clothes for any of my gang members from AG direct. Not only do I craft outfits myself, I look at other craft places and outlets for buying: etsy, eBay, Toys R Us, Target,2 and the like. I never understood people who only wanted AG stuff for their AG girls; AG makes nice things, but they don't have to be the only people getting your cash money. Branch out, for the love of gods.

One of the sources worth considering is Colonial Williamsburg.3 Williamsburg, Virginia basically has a living museum where visitors can see what the place was like in the era around the time of the American Revolution. I've never had a chance to go--some day, damn it--but I have been interested in it since I was a teenager. They have an online shop, which is how I've gotten everything I've gotten from them. The stuff to buy ranges from books to bedsheets, jewelry to mobcaps. A lot of what they have is for adults and/or the house, but there's also cloth dolls, plush, and patterns. Plus I have an e-mail subscription to their mailing list, so I get discount coupons. A few weeks ago I ordered a set of outfits for Felicity and Elizabeth: two doll dresses in purple and pink and matching straw hats. They also come in children's sizes that match and there are adult sized dresses, but not with matching prints. Alas, there goes my cosplay idea.

It's a touch hard to find them on the site; the best bet is to just search "doll" or go through the Made in America section. (ETA 3/11/17: My links now point to the sets I got.) The items were made in Colonial Williamsburg from reproduction fabric: the dresses cost $35 each, and the hats $16, so you're looking at $51 per set. I had a 20% off coupon plus free shipping, making each set about $41, so relatively good to an AG set--and considering that Felicity and Elizabeth's stuff is all in the Vault and has to be purchased off the secondary market, it's a good cost. This is half review and half fluff pictures, since I took the girls outdoors.

Who says redheads don't look good in pink?
Felicity will be doing the bulk of the closeups. I gave her the pink set because she looks awesome in pink. Plus, it is the more boyish color for the era.4 Felicity might be a wild girl but I make her put on her hats. 

Dress: The dress is simply constructed; a slightly high-waisted pink print dress with a ribbon sash. If you have Felicity's Summer Dress set, it's a lot like that.5 

Low enough to show some shift.
The bodice has a square low neckline and is fully lined. You will notice her shift is peeking out. This was frequently done in the colonial era; a shift was pretty much the base of your outfit, and seeing some a woman's shift wasn't a big deal. Plus I think it looks cute to add a "ruffle" at the front.

Short sleeves.
The sleeves are about elbow length, with a plain unadorned hem. You can also see a close up of the print; small dots and evergreen style branches all over.

Tie closures are a first.
The back doesn't close with either velcro or snaps/hooks; instead there's two flat woven cord ties at the neckline and the waist. So you have to tie the back shut. Since Felicity has her shift, pocket, and stays on it didn't close smooth along the back. I find this closure very intriguing; however, another tie halfway down would have helped.

Waist not, sash not.
The waist has the skirt neatly gathered to it.  The skirt is all one piece with no side seams, so no side slits and thus no side pocket access. About the only downfall. Guess Elizabeth will just have to hike Felicity's skirt fully up to get to her pocket.

Sash.
The sash is a wide ribbon--one and a half inches or so--that ties in the back. It isn't attached, so if I want to swap the ribbon or spice it up, I'm free to.

Back sash. A little cocksided.
The sash is tied in a bow at the back. It came out slightly askew when I took the picture.

Hemmed.
The hem--also simple--comes down to Felicity's ankles thereabout.

Tagged.
 Inside the bodice is a sewn on tag stating that the dress was crafted in Colonial Williamsburg. Nice little touch.

Elizabeth in purple and blue.
Elizabeth's dress-- purple--is more of a dark violet nearing indigo, and has a dark blue sash. None of the construction is different, just the colors. I also have her shift peeking out of the top. She too has a mob cap on under her hat. More on the hats in a bit.

Sashy sash.
The same style of sash, as well; a wide ribbon tied around the waist.

Print.
The print is the same as Felicity's--dots and evergreens. I really want to know what this would look like in green. Bet it would be gorgeous.

A-. Minus for lack of pockets, but the dresses are beautifully, professionally crafted.


You really can't bribe Felicity into keeping her hat on.
Straw Hat: The hats are braided and shaped straw, with wide brims and shallow crowns. Over the crown is a tacked down dark pink ribbon (for Felicity) that is used to tie the hat on. A lady generally wore a straw hat in the summer to shield her from the sun. Again, much like the one that came with Felicity's Summer dress. It wasn't proper to get freckles or tans as it made you look common. Felicity, however, gives no fucks and so she has her hat tied around her shoulders and hanging over her back.

Hat on the ground.
To either side of the tie-on ribbon are two bows and rosettes of the same color. Simple but cute.

Tag your hats.
Inside the crown is the "Crafted by Colonial Williamsburg" tag.

Elizabeth is a lady and keeps her hat on.
Elizabeth has her hat on, because she semi knows how to behave herself. It's the same style as Felicity's, but with blue ribbons where Felicity's are pink.

Tied on proper.
She even has it tied on properly. A note, for folks putting Felicity and Elizabeth in straw hats? You do not tie it under the chin. You tie it under her back of her head, near the back--and can even mount it under the ponytail. This way, you can cock it forward a little or be cute. Either way, the hat bow of a wide hat didn't tie under the chin, as it was not the style of the day. Felicity has her tied across her shoulders  because she's a wild child.

The hats get an A. Nothing I don't like about them.

*~*~*

Before we go into the end of the review, some flirty pictures of my gay tribades: 


Felicity: Let's flump into the grass, Elizabeth darling.
Elizabeth: T'would be most improper. 
Felicity: Yes, that's the best part! 


Flump. (hello thar stray camera strap.)


Holding hands in the grass.If my background on my comp wasn't my dad and me, I'd debate changing it to this. 


Gazing at each other lovingly.

*~*~*

Overall Feel: The dresses are adorable in their simple construction. The tie back closures are really neat, and not something I've seen before in doll clothes. They take some finagling, but are easy enough if you can tie a bow. The prints are simple and the hats compliment the dresses neatly. I love Felicity in pink and reds and Elizabeth in blues and purples. I do wish the dresses had pocket slits, though. (Authenticity is the reason I modify my colonial patterns to have slits if they don't already.) There's a third dress available at present, but I held off on it; now knowing I like the dresses I may get it next time I have a sale coupon. 
 
Cost Value: A little higher than the average cost of an AG outfit at $51 for a dress and hat set; if you just want one component you can buy it alone. For me it was worth it, as they're put together in and sold from Colonial Williamsburg direct and I sort of have a thing for that place. I got my sets for $28 per dress and $12.80 per hat, which was a bit of a bargain and relatively the same as an AG set. 20% off ain't bad.

Authenticity: Very authentic to the Colonial period in style and fit. Depending on the size of your doll the dress might fit tightly; Elizabeth is a little stuffed into hers, but she also is wearing a lot of undergarments. The site doesn't outright say that the dresses are for AG dolls, but they fit them perfectly so it's clear they're intended for them.
 
Appropriateness to Character:  N/A technically, as they're not in the books anywhere and are from another company. But the stuff is from Williamsburg, and they're from Williamsburg, and should I ever get a chance to go there I will take them along because fuck the haters, that's why.
 
Final Grade: A. Cute and direct from the source.

Now I shall finish my packing. 

--Neth

1  I hate it when that happens.
2 OG stuff is hit and miss for me--I don't like the dolls, but the clothes are good here and there. Especially when they had a line that basically barfed out 80s clothes. Kimmy and Tyanna have a huge wardrobe from Target. The main thing I hate are the chunky plastic shoes. Fuck chunky plastic doll shoes.
3 They didn't fuck around with this internet thing--they got the best damn URL, history.org. The only better one is my local zoo, Woodland Park Zoo: http://zoo.org/
4 Pink = light red, the color of blood, thus manly. Blue was the more delicate feminine color, hence it being a color associated with the Virgin Mary. It wasn't really more than a suggestion though--you pretty much dressed children in whatever fit and was fashionable. About WWII they solidified into pink for girls and blue for boys.
5 I do. Reviews when I'm back from Texas, probably.

10 comments:

  1. Love the dresses and the hats are great too !!!!!

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  2. Thanks for the detailed review. I love Colonial Williamsburg and will happily pay the asking price of a dress plus hat. And one of my pet peeves are folks that don't tie hats correctly. Another round of 'thank yous' for showing the proper way.

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  3. I go to William and Mary so this is making me homesick for school! I just started collecting, so I haven't gotten any of the CW stuff. I actually didn't know about the hat tying-- I had to go fix the summer outfit hat on my very embarrassed Felicity just now. She was trying to be proper for once! I guess (especially for tourists) it's easier to just do the tying-under-the-chin thing, since I've seen that around. (And also backwards hats. Don't get me started on backwards hats.)
    When I'm back in the fall I'll have to check out the dresses and see if there's maybe a student discount. Hopefully you'll be able to go sometime soon-- if it's during the school year maybe we could meet up and I can admire your beautiful accurate Elizabeth.

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  4. seriously? Marie grace and ruthie are to be retired? how do you know? can you post a link? as for samantha coming back Im disappointed. It shoud have been felicity and elizabeth instead. besides samantha shares the same historical period with rebecca unless Im much mistaken... they re close in any case and have similiar outfits.

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    Replies
    1. It's since been confirmed on the Facebook page: here.

      If they do ever bring back Felicity, it won't be with Elizabeth, since Best Friends are ending. Samantha's in the same state location of New York, but she is ten years prior to Rebecca. The outfits are quite different.

      Delete
    2. two dolls about new york and not a single one about chicago (polish?), boston (an irish girl?), atlanta (another black doll?). Im disappointed. just checked online and saw the new book covers to this strange be forever line. addy got a total makeover by the sound of it but at least she s not retired. why they retired cecile and Marie grace is beyond my understanding. i dont believe in bad sales excuse because addy/kaya are not seeling well either but they are still here. how will they make up for the loss of cecile? are they going to create another black doll? she was special because she was a rich girl of colour and from new orleans. Im also disppointed with the lack of irish dolls nellie being retired long time ago.
      and of course girl of the year isabelle is a total joke. I think the reason they made her is because of the dance moms show which I hate but its poular. a girl with pink extensions for crying out loud! i wonder when they will release piercings and tatoos for the dolls as well.
      the only good news in all of this is that there will apparently be some historical dresses for the girls. its about time they brought them back.

      Delete
    3. look at this:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHYSX863wpQ
      the new addy is LIGHT SKIN and that means they`ve changed her completely. on the pictures of the books she looks like she could be mexican. seriously. and the new outfits.... lame... especially Julie`s new outfit... Im not that kind of person who hates progress and novelty. but they could have expanded marie grace and cecile`s collection, added new items for kit, retired julie and ivy alltogether and replaced them with some geniunely good historical dolls. instead the yjust mixed up old stuff a bit and added some boring new outfits. oh well.

      Delete
    4. On Addy's coloring, that's likely the lighting. There are new official AG videos where Addy seems to be much darker. One really needs to see her in person.

      Delete
  5. I had no idea that Colonial Williamsburg sells doll dresses! I really love that place and hope you get an opportunity to go; it is a great experience.
    A few questions, though: what dolls did you use for the custom Elizabeth? Would the tie-in-back style be what was accurate for Cécile and Marie-Grace as well or would it just be a colonial thing?
    Thanks!

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  6. These dresses are so pretty!:-)

    ReplyDelete

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