|Doll dresses from vintage fabrics. In its own way.|
|From the writer and crafter of Hankie Couture.|
Consider this review a craft book review between the upcoming clothes and BeForever/Wonderbread reviews,3 secret craft displays, and ongoing complaints about the American Girl fandom of the past and present. Also, I'm going to be wholly upfront about this: I was sent this book for free to review on behalf of Running Press. That statement on the side isn't just for show: if I get things as gifts or for free to review, I'm going to say so. Because this is a book, and books are meant to be bought, I only snapped a few preview pictures. One does not want to discourage book buying by snapping all the details.
|Gotta admit, that's some damn fine fabric. Mighty fine fabric.|
The majority of the book is taken up by a gallery of outfits Ms. Greenburg made to display the versatility of her designs with her patterns and the repurposed4 fabrics. Next to each outfit displayed is a number indicating which pattern was used to make as specific item such as a skirt, dress, or top. Not everything is numbered, though. (I'll get to the patterns in a bit.) There's at least 100 different sets of clothes; I didn't count, but every page shows at least one outfit along with the original cloth used before it was made into the new outfit. Nearly every page also has a quote about the personality of Hankie Couture girls and their "lifestyle". A little twee for my tastes, but it's not cloying. Ms. Greenburg shows a lot of creativity in her repurposing of older cloth items into doll clothes. Some are too frilly or fluffy for my taste in AG clothes--I'm not a ruffles and doily kind of girl--but I've snapped a few of my favorites.
The dolls displaying the outfits are not a standard playline 18" doll and are a doll designed by Ms. Greenburg named Truthful Tara. The dolls can be purchased directly off her website for $45, come fully dressed, and are stated to be a limited edition; it's likely once they'll sold out they may not be made again. They're the size and design of an AG body (vinyl head and limbs, cloth body, corded neck connection) with painted eyes and nails, and I can't tell from images alone but it appears to be rooted hair. The dolls come in three styles: blonde with blue eyes, brunette with blue eyes, and brunette with brown eyes. I would probably like the dolls more if at least one of them were a doll of color; as it is, they don't appeal to my tastes. Ms. Greenburg cut and styled the doll's hair herself, for each design, and added things such as hair bows and bands.
|Swan style long dress with faux vest.|
|A little froof, but nice.|
|For all your pinafore needs.|
|Circle cloth into a circle skirt.|
|Pleat front peach--very 60s.|
|The Generidress cut does not have to come out generic.|
|Getcha sew on.|
The patterns and instructions include a design for a skirt in three lengths, a sleeveless dress with a contrast band border (probably the closest to the Generidress), a circular skirt that can be attached to other bodices, a blouse or top, a romper (basically, pants), a dress with pointed or round collars, the pin-tuck dress, two styles of hats, a purse, and soft soled shoes. Also included are sleeves of different styles. The instructions are pretty clear and, while there are not step-by-step images, they do walk you through the basics of putting together the item, including how to lay designs out on crochet doilies and handkerchiefs.
Overall, I do like this book, even with parts that fluster me, and feel like I can get a lot of craft ideas from thumbing through the gallery. I've used old clothes in doll clothes before (though my tastes run towards neon leggings, geek couture, repurposing my busted jeans, and off shoulder sweats). The gallery doesn't have my 100% aesthetics, but different strokes for different strokes. The gallery ranges from the froofy to the simple; if your dolls dress more modern overall or don't do dresses, you might not find much in here. Thumb through the book before you decide what to do--or you know, look at this review.
The weakest part of the book I would have to say would be the dolls modeling the outfits. I like either inset set eyes like the Magic Attic girls or My Twinn or sleep eyes like AG; painted eyes don't have the depth of those. Also, as a woman of color, I don't generally support doll designs that don't show people like me. If even one doll had been tan or brown I'd feel able to at least halfway endorse a non-mainstream doll line. As it is, most people who will be picking up this book already have AG sized dolls and will not likely be getting these dolls to add to their doll collections and will instead make sets for their own dolls. Ambitious, but not my cup of coffee.
Dolls aside, the included patterns I'm sure will work great with my crafting once I get past copying the parts I need to be able to use the patterns fully. At $23--possibly less on the Amazon--you're getting a book of images and several different dress patterns, which is a touch high but not a bad cost considering that most patterns don't show you color images of the ways to put the designs together. In comparison to the first book, I wish Doll Couture had the details of the crafting and design of the dresses that Hankie Couture had, as that was my favorite part of the prior book. But I've gotten a lot of design ideas, and might start peeking around antique stores for cloth to make vintage lovelies for Edith and Dorothy.
Now. where do I find that swan fabric or peach one? Those two were gorgeous.
1 AJ already talked about her side of it. I will in a few days.
2 Have you ever seen the musical Into the Woods? Several of my personal philosophies come from there.
3 Her clothing, not her. She can stay the fuck out.
4 Use the word "upcycle" and I'll knock the taste out your mouth, hipster.
5 Just, you know, don't expect me to buy your first attempts. We all start somewhere but we don't all get paid for it.