|Addy meets the world! And runs this joint.|
If you didn't know--and how could you not?--now you know: BeForever is coming down the pipeline. This is a revamping of the Historical Characters Line that will be resulting in a lot of changes to appeal to a new generation of children and the return of the doll Everyone Loves to Kiss the Ass of, Samantha Parkington. Some changes I've seen the leaks of include new Meet Outfits, redone Central Series books1 that will be bundled into two-book volumes, and new outfits and accessories. This has also resulted in the official retirement of the Best Friends Line (with Ruthie Smithens the first doll to drop out of the race and end up out of stock). While not every Historical will be getting redone clothing--Caroline, for one, will be keeping her current look--several are getting a whole new Meet. Including my favorite girl, Addy Walker.2 So I'm likely going to go over her and several other Historical Character's meet sets in some reviews.
Before we talk about her meet outfit, let's have some history education, Today is actually a very historically significant day in Black American History: Juneteenth. Juneteenth marks the last day that slaves in the US learned that they were free. Everyone knows about the Emancipation Proclamation, which announced the end of slavery. But that was just in the Confederate States--and only in places not already under Union control. Plus it didn't apply to the border states--states with slavery that didn't secede. Hell, Delaware and Kentucky still had slavery legal until the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. The Emancipation Proclamation was less a "Lincoln freed the slaves" moment of equality and more "Lincoln wanted to cut off a major part of the South's production and fuck them up" war maneuver. But given the circumstances, black people took what they could get.
Anyways, freedom for slaves! In theory. The Confederacy--Texas included--didn't give a single fuck what those Yankee bastards had to say, and ignored the shit out of the news. And unlike nowadays, news didn't move very fast, and if you didn't tell someone news, they just didn't know. So as the Union Army worked its way south and west and took shit down, they would tell the slaves "oh by the way, you've been free since January first, 1863, get on that." Also, travel was slow as shit, not helped by the fact that there was, you know, a fucking war on. This all led up to the fact that Texas kept its slaves for practically the entire war and a few months afterwards.
It wasn't until June 18th 1865--over a month after the official end of the war on May 10th (and three days before the final shot was fired on June 22nd by the CSS Shenandoah) that a Union General, Gordon Granger, and federal troops showed up on Galveston Island. They took Texas back for the Union and enforced emancipation. On June 19th, General Granger got up on the balcony of the Ashton Villa and let the black folk of Texas know that they were free people and that this was the way shit was. Celebrations started immediately and were formally done the next year in 1866--and have, in some way, been happening ever since. This makes Juneteenth one of the oldest Black History celebrations in the US. In Texas it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980--the same year I was born--and in the 80s and 90s when my black ass was growing up in Texas the celebration was in major revival and spread across the nation. So yes, Addy would have likely participated in Juneteenth celebrations at some point.
Back to her meet outfit. Addy Walker's debut in 1993 added the first doll of color to the AG lineup and the first girl with earrings--permanent as they are. She came with her first three books illustrated by Melodye Rosales and a lot of neat shit that I absolutely coveted and now pretty much have all of--including the desk. Addy's meet outfit--until the relaunch--consists of a pink and white dress, white drawers, black stockings, black boots, and a blue hair ribbon. Her accessories--for $20 originally and bumped up to $24 as prices rose--are a straw bonnet, half-dime, kerchief, water gourd, and a cowrie shell necklace. You've got til August 28th before the revamp to get her in original form; after that, you're looking at eBay prices which range from "that's not so bad" to "you're getting ripped off, honey." But you'd probably still be able to find them for respectable costs since she's been around for over twenty years. Addy was a Giftmas Gift to me in 2005 and my first AG ever, so I paid "ohmigawd I love you in-laws you are the best" for it. Unlike several meet outfit and accessory sets, Addy's entire outfit is given major significance in her books: the outfit (and hat) is the first outfit she is given by Miss Caroline on her way running to freedom in the north, and the accessories are all mentioned in her first book.
Oh, and the background isn't my usual fully backed green for the most part; it's the wall of my mom's place on top of one of her display tables, and the images are a little yellow in places because of the lighting at the time. I meant to make this post while in Texas, but so much came up that it didn't get posted. And with my scanner in WA State, I couldn't give you all the beautiful data I like to give with my historical reviews so it all works out.
On with the show!
|Cinnamon pink dresses are the bestest.|
|Bodice and buttons.|
|Drop them sleeves.|
|Pleated. Also that's my mom's tv in the background, whatever.|
The skirt is not gathered to the waist. It's pleated in multiple spots all the way around, which was very much the style of the time. With skirts as hugely wide as they were in the mid 18th century, gathering would have added stupidly huge amounts of bulk and ruined the smooth look over your petticoat and crinoline hoop. So you pleated. You pleated like a motherfucker, and you made it smooth all the damn way around.
Storytime with Neth's mom! When she was pregnant with me--in the early months, when I wasn't showing much--and taking a costuming class at Milwaukee community college, she had an assignment due for sewing a Civil War style dress. Mostly by hand. In 1980. And it was due the next day to have the skirt attached to the bodice. She was the only black woman in the whole class, and she was poor and struggling in the class and none of the other white students would even give her the time of day practically because Wisconsin has some super racist motherfuckers, so she had to figure out things herself while they helped each other out and worked together. She stayed up late that night, night, crying and hand sewing pressed, tiny pleats to a very tiny waistband all the way around, and finally got herself home on the buss late to the house she was staying in, and got some sleep before she got back to class.
She walked in class the next day and her dress was at the front with the teacher. It was the only one up there, and my mom was horrified that she'd fucked it up and her head just dropped. Once she sat down, the teacher went "good, now that Mary's here, we can talk about her dress up here." Mom sunk lower.
"Because she's the only one who did it right."
Mom's head popped right up, and she just glowed as the teacher pointed out how she had pressed and tucked and knife-pleated and tightened and sewn that shit down right, pointing out all the ways it was perfect to make And then she asked Mom to help her show everyone else how to fix their mistakes which my mom did without being a twat like all the other girls had been to her.4
So yes. There's a way to put a skirt to a bodice for the Civil War look, and gathering is generally not it. Press and pleat and do it nice.
|Up the back.|
Like I'd give Addy's beautiful dress anything less than an A+.
|Draw em up and on.|
Most drawers for women in the mid 1800s were more of the style of two tubes made separately and attached to a waistband together, leaving a gap between. But it wasn't like you could just take a glance under and see all of the Garden of Delights; there was a design element leading to overlap that helped cover the crotch for the most part. Split drawers weren't for titillation in flashing men--they were practical, because in a corset and chemise and all that you couldn't reach under and scoot your clothes down to take a whizz or a dump. So when you squatted over the privy or your chamberpot, the drawers separated (or you pulled them apart to prevent too much staining) and you went about your business and then went about your business.5 Still, children's drawers often skipped that since they could still reach under skirts to scoot clothes down. If I decide to make Addy some historically closer under drawers, I will likely leave them as closed crotch just because.
Addy's drawers have a v-front panel that is gathered to the front that I did not get a close up of. It's how you can tell hers apart from others. Underwear for centuries was not a fancy thing--most people weren't looking at it.
|Stockings are separate.|
|Ribbed for her warmth and pleasure.|
|From the side.|
|Boots, capped on the toes.|
|Old laces in new shoes.|
|New laces on standard backdrop.|
|From the side.|
|Busted ass grommets.|
|Wrecked em good.|
|The side that didn't get screwed.|
B- for the old shoes because they're nicer overall, but the grommets pulling out suck. B+ for the new ones because of the laces are terrible, but the shoes have much better eyelets.
|Ribbon. Well, close enough.|
|Bonnet blue and straw.|
|Profile and ribbon.|
|The non-ribboned side.|
|Ribbon neatly tied.|
|Hat off and inside.|
|A necklace with meaning.|
|Back of the shell.|
|The sliding adjustment.|
A+. Cowrie shells mean a lot to the African Diaspora, and thus to me; I have a cowrie shell necklace in my many necklaces. I love the look of cowrie shells and I hope that when her meet set is changed this remains a part of it.7
|Follow that Drinking Gourd.|
The originals also came with corks; while mine currently does not have a cork, I can always cut one down for it. The gourd is slightly lopsided and a little hard to stand up on one side, and painted to look like a realistic yellow dried gourd--specifically, likely a calabash.
|Half a dime is not a nickle.|
Addy's half dime is based on the 1864 Seated Liberty Half Dime, which was printed from 1860 to 1873. Why not a nickle? Well, nickles weren't minted for the first time until 1866, partially due to the loss of silver and gold from the Civil War. Their creation and eventually popularity made half-dimes redundant; the last ones were minted in 1873 after being around for pushing 90 years (the first ones being minted early in American History.) So no one before Addy historically would have used nickles. They wouldn't have even had them.
The obverse--or face--has a seated Liberty figure on a shield, the words "United States of America," and the year 1864.
|Obverse- and a note that it's a copy.|
|Carry your shit in a kerchief.|
|Knot the corners.|
B+. While I like the kerchief and it means a lot, I think her having a full-on purse would have been nice. But I do like that it's not sewn-knotted together.
Tying this to the books and media, hell to the yeah.
Addy's meet dress is on the cover of every copy of Meet Addy since the beginning, along with almost all her accessories; the gourd and dime are likely in the kerchief. Her bonnet is tied the other way, though, and it won't work.
"Addy's Cowrie Necklace" was available for $20. It was beaded and had a clasp at the back.
Addy had a prototype dress with solid white buttons and a cream floral print. It shows up here and there on eBay in the $40-70 range; I much prefer what they went with.
Addy's meet dress and accessories is seen in both sets of paper dolls released for her; she didn't receive any Play Scenes and Paper Dolls. Here, her bonnet is tied directly under her chin. Still wrong. Also but not shown: Addy's kerchief is a component of her Pattern set, so she can have multiple kerchiefs if you're feeling that.
And in Addy: An American Girl Story, Addy has both the pink meet dress (and shoes and stockings) and cowrie shell necklace; other than her Tartan Plaid Dress, Addy has no other clothing changes. It's been seven years, so I'm not sure but I don't think she had the bonnet. Image is sourced to Seattle Children's Theatre.
ETA 7/4/14: Now that I think about it, she wore the bonnet in her outside street scenes.
ETA 7/4/14: Now that I think about it, she wore the bonnet in her outside street scenes.
Overall Feel: Addy's pink dress is an iconic dress for her, and the accessories only add to the outfit. I'm not sure I can say more than that without gushing all over the place--I love it, given that the second ever image of her I saw was full length centerfold in the full set. Every AG doll comes with underwear that they use with pretty much every outfit they have, so they're good. The cowrie shell necklace is likely my favorite accessory and Addy almost never takes it off here; my least favorite would be the gourd. And while the half dime isn't super exciting, the authenticity is appreciated. The whole set comes together well and looks gorgeous on her. When in the books Addy says it was prettier than anything she could have imagined in freedom, I have to agree. I'm hoping to like the new set just as much. At some point I will make a cosplay to dress up as Addy Walker and no one will be able to tell me shit.
Cost Value: From MiL and late FiL, therefore priceless. Current cost for others is the cost of an Addy doll: bundled, the set is about $129. Once BeForever changes Addy's looks, I have no idea where prices will be and they might spike a bit on the 'Bay. But I'm sure it will be wholly possible to find her clothes and accessories at a sensible cost. And only get them for Addy to wear. I'm a hardass about Addy Things for Addy only and if you don't like it, suck a fuck.
Authenticity: The color and design of the dress are very authentic, especially the dropped sleeves and pleated skirt. Calico was a nice print for trim if not extremely fancy. The bonnet is also simply constructed and Addy wears it often through the series with her outfits. While the set is not very fancy, this makes sense given that they were extra clothes that Miss Caroline had for runaway slaves. The underwear are appropriately white and trimmed well, the stockings are dark and basic, and the shoes are dark and sturdy. And seeing as slaves would run away with bundles to carry things, the kerchief is correct. The only non-authentic parts are parts that, by logic, are adjusted for a doll. Like elastic.
Appropriateness to Character: Well, duh. Addy's meet clothes and bonnet are a gift from Miss Caroline and are her first freedom clothes; the half dime, kerchief, and gourd come with her on the run away from slavery; the cowrie shell necklace is a gift from her mother and beyond that from her great grandmother Aduke. So, you know, don't put her shit on other dolls. That's a jerk ass move.
Final Grade: A for Addy! Of course. I don't hide my biases. Now, let's see how much I like the new set. I'm willing to go in without holding the old up to it.
1 Rumors say there's not going to be much in the way of inner illustrations. I can live with that, since I have the old books in so many forms. And if you want the illustration copies, you can likely find the books secondhand everywhere. Caroline would probably be the hardest since she's only been out two years, so maybe you should get them now if you want them.
2 I am likely to get BeForever!Addy, compare her to OldSkool!Addy, and then turn her into an independent character.
3 Need help? Follow these steps on Bean's site with the pattern you have. Add to the shoulder, subtract from the sleeve, even out the lines. Yes, this is advanced sewing, and I'll show it more when I do some designing posts.
4 My mom can sew like a motherfucker. And so can I.
5 Learn more about underwear here.
6 Josefina mixed it up with the rebozo, but that counted.
7 Since it's on the cover of her new books, I'd like to think yes!
8 DuckTales, Whoo-hoo!
9 And considering that Samantha used to come with an authentic Indian head penny and Molly came with a real steel head penny, I can see why they say "copy."