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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Crafting Creatively - Things I've Made: Samantha/Nellie's Pink Dress and Pinafore

The perfect dress for keeping clean and neat. Maybe.
Huzzah! My photocorner has been set back up, and in such a way that I can potentially get a lot of natural sunlight to drape and not have to use the flash every time I want to take pictures of things. I took a backlog of review shots in giddiness, including a craft project I did this winter. And it has been some time since I showed off what I can do. (And why people can and often do listen to me when I say things about crafting.) Let's fix that. I'm an awesome craft guru.

This time on Crafting Creatively, let's look into the fine details and designing of what I've titled Samantha/Nellie's Pink Dress and Pinafore. I say it with the slash like that because I made two sets like I do for gifts. The gift set went to Brazil1 for Bea (thedollrookie)'s Samantha, and the set here is for Nellie. AGC did a gift swap, and when I was selected with Bea and saw her Samantha didn't have much in the way of wardrobe, I jumped at the chance to make her a Neth's Original Outfit. Me and Samantha don't get along re: Pretty Pink Princess, but designing Edwardian clothing is awesome. I love making historical outfits more than modern stuff, because I feel like I can be a lot more creative with it even in restrictions. Modern stuff is okay, don't get me wrong, but historical clothing design has become one of my passions over the many years I've existed.

ETA, 2/29/16: Retroactive description!

"Samantha"’s Pink Dress and Pinafore

Samantha can’t wait to see Gardner and Cornelia after their honeymoon! She has a brand new white dotted pinafore to wear over her best pink floral print dress. There’s even a big pink grosgrain hairbow to wear in her brown curls!
Hop under the cut for background and details.

Getting the idea for an outfit to make was probably the easiest part of this design, since I have all of Samantha's short stories and had been planning to make one of the outfits shown. Outfits were made for Samantha's Winter Party and Samantha's Special Talent, as was the style of the time in 1999 and 2003,2 but not any others. So I went with the outfit depicted at the start of Samantha's Blue Bicycle. Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia are back from their honeymoon, and Samantha is shown wearing a new white pinafore over a pink dress much like her Play Dress and Pinafore.

Samantha on a bike!  Very new-fangled.
She then proceeds to overestimate her bike ability in front of her uncle and aunt, get her hems caught in the bike chain in that era before chain guard, tumble off her bike, and almost fall into the lake. Thus ripping her dress and messing up her brand new pinafore. Oh, Samantha, why is book you better and less perfectly portrayed? Anyways. I liked that outfit, and decided someday to make a version of it. And what a great opportunity to do so.

I used a mix of two separate patterns to get the basic layout of the set; one for the pinafore, and one for the dress basic layout.3 I can't ever just do a pattern most of the time without tweaking it some. I got some dotted swiss, pink grosgrain ribbon, eyelet lace trim, and a pink floral print that, while "bright," was of a style that didn't look too off from the Edwardian aesthetic.I tweaked and measured and edited and crammed pieces together, and came up with--well, that awesome above. Bea and her mother were hella impressed.

Huge ass hairbows.
Hairbow: To top off the whole set, I cut some very wide pink ribbon with V-ends and tied it in Nellie's hair. It's just not quite as Edwardian without stupidly huge hair bows that eat your head.

Pinafore, for all your neatness needs.
Pinafore: The pinafore took up the bulk of the dotted swisswork. It's a high yoked basic drape, designed to cover the dress underneath as much as possible.

Rather than do the huge ruffle shown in the illustration--which would have made it too much like the play dress set--I left most of the yoke visible.

Shoulder ruff is staring at you.
The armholes are trimmed all the way around with very wide eyelet lace. The design makes the holes look like a face, but it was the best eyelet I could get that didn't look way off and was huge as hell. So deal with it.

Yes, all the way around. I decided to tuck it in for display for the review. It also allows two looks. I like to get more than one look out of my sets if possible.

Thanks, it has pockets.
The original pattern did not have pockets, but it is very important to have pockets to put things in like gingerbread cookies and knives you swiped off of snotty little boys and will later cram with taffy. So I cut and pressed pockets and marked where to put them on the front of the set.

The edge also has the same eyelet trim, all the way around. It was easier than cutting and drafting a ruffle, which I had thought about but ultimately skipped.

Take it from the back, I like it like that.
The back has a nice high closure, and the skirt-bodice is open all the way up like you do.

Button, button, who's got the button?
At the top are two white buttons, hand sewn on.

No one, it's velcro.
But rather than try and figure out buttonholes on my machine--fuck that shit--I sewed on while velcro. Sew smarter, not harder.

Inner lining.
Inside, the entire yoke is fully lined. I was not pressing tiny necklines. This is easier.

Hand sewing will end me.
I did make sure to properly tuck and handwhip the edges shut. I hate large project handsewing almost as much as Felicity does, but clean up handsewing is easy enough, if tedious.

Dressing up for the occasion.
Dress: The dress is where all the pink print went, every bit of it. The dress is a high yoked long sleeved day dress. The fabric is a pink daisy cotton print that, again, while pretty bold is of a small enough overall size that it doesn't look like Nellie is wearing a quilt.4 The original pattern did not have several elements added here. I measured and cut them out myself, because again I am talented and contain multitudes of craft skill. For the start of this detail the waist will be drop blouson, but that is not its only look. You'll see.

Trim your edges.
Over the seam of the yoke is thin pink grosgrain sewn on in zigzag stitch.The original called for ruffle trim around the yoke and shoulders but that was not the purpose of this dress, so ribbon trim.

The original also did not call for a collar. I measured and cut a collar of the dotted swiss, and sewed it in and over. Bonus: You can see how it works well with the pink daisy print. When I do semi-major projects, I get all the fabric at the same time so that I know they compliment each other from jump.

The cuffs are also the same dotted swiss, and also added on. There's no shot, but the wrists close with snaps. Snaps suck to sew on, but velcro sucks more to sew in a sleeve cuff, so I did snaps.

Sleeve poof.
The sleeves are appropriately poofy for the era's look.

Skirt ruffle.
The original also did not call for a bottom ruffle. So I measured out and cut one and added it to the bottom. Math, gotta use it sometimes to get things to look like I want them to.5

Waistline, Style A: Blouson.
The waistline, in first view, is gathered at the waist with a low puffy blouson style. But it doesn't have to stay that way!

The secret's in the ribbon.
I just tied the ribbon around Nellie's waist/hips and then pulled the dress up over it. Ta-da!

Bow at the back.
Allowing for a little bow at the back.

Upper ribbon.
While I'm back here, there's ribbon trim at the back too. The back closes with pink velcro. I found it and I was gonna use it.

Waistline Style B: Free. 
With the ribbon, removed, the bottom of the dress can hang completely free. It's a little rumpled, because Nellie's been wearing the dress tied up for a while. It could easily be pressed out and look fine, though.

Waistline Style C: Natural Waist.
And also tied back with a ribbon around the waist for a more natural waist position. This could have also been done with the large hair ribbon, but I decided to use the smaller.

There are people in this fandom that will insist that every dress in the Edwardian era should have a drop waist and a blouson bodice. They are dumb, and insisting on that for the era is like insisting that every 1980s outfit had to have legwarmers. Yeah, nope.

Back tie.
Just a quick shot of the back bow. It's twisted, which annoys me, but I'm not retaking the picture.

And Nellie is, of course, wearing her mary janes and tights, for the ultimate in little girl looks.


All the Nellie ruffles.
I am ridiculously proud of this dress design--I love to try making things from the books that weren't and aren't likely to be made by AG themselves. I and was utterly joyed that Bea likes it so much, and think it looks excellent on my Nellie-girl. It's probably one of my favorite clothes designs I've done in a while. And Nellie rocks the hell out of it. 

Just no getting her skirts caught in her bike chain, once I get that bike of Samantha's. (And maybe paint it blue. We'll see.)


1 Yes, all the way there. American Girl is global on AGC.
2 Most of the girls got two Short Story outfits. The ones that didn't get two were Kit, Kaya, and Felicity. Each only got one, since Felicity was kicked out of the group for round two in 2003, Kit got two stories but only one was included in the story outfits, and Kaya because AG doesn't make historical outfits for her.
3 Now if I told you which two I used, then you would be able to maybe copy me, and I don't do that. So nothing saying. They're both out of production, anyways, so there.
4 Please don't make your girls look like they're wearing a quilt.
5 But not calculus. Never calculus. That is strictly my term for hardened tooth plaque.  


  1. The lining you put on the upper part of the pinafore keeps the bright pink fabric from showing through too, so definitely a better choice than just pressing the edges. Well done on this outfit Nellie looks adorable.

  2. The dress is lovely, and I admire that you made a dress from her illustrations!

  3. I disagree that you're an awesome craft guru. You are clearly a FUCKING awesome craft guru and totally a sewing phenom so much my untalented butt wants to try and re-learn to sew and maybe not suck at it this time. So happy for you to have your photo setup back (and not just because it means more entries since I adore those but also I understand the importance of space)! Thanks for another incredibly enjoyable entry. I wish you had an Etsy store!

  4. I wish AG would make more dresses from the illustrations. Some of them have so much potential. You are an amazing sewer, I LOVE all the crafting creatively posts you do!

  5. Because of your excellent knitting project post and because you put it out there I'll put in my two cents. I sew too and know how much time, effort and work go into making even the smallest sewing projects, especially when it's for our well loved dolls. So kudos for all the extras, lining the bodice, doing the two pieces, the tabbed back, etc but gotta say the scale of the flowers is a tad too big and those buttons are not dolly sized at all. Yeah, sorry to be a downer, but with your standards and you DO have them, ya coulda done betta!

    1. I went with slightly larger buttons since they were for decor and not closure; I originally selected a smaller pink print from my personal stash, but I didn't have enough to make even one dress, never mind two. While the print is not fully to scale, it is within acceptable margins. One of the things bout knowing the rules is knowing how to push them and dance with them some--much like I used a large print with Addy's yukata.

  6. What a wonderful outfit - I really love the pinafore. :)

    1. The pinafore is probably my favorite part of the set--especially because pockets!

  7. I thought the fabric was especially unfortunate considering the post Neth just made about everyone using fabrics inappropriate for a character's respective era with too big prints. I can't even respect Neth or take her seriously when she will jump down a person's throat and use her religion to curse someone because they did not dress their dolls according to her high standards. See her recent post about Addy. She will curse you if you dress your dolls "wrong".

    1. I did use a print larger than standard, but not so grossly large that it is out of scale, and not too far from the proper aesthetic. You can break the rules once you know them, and I do know the rules. And you're damned right I will curse towards people for terrible and racist and ugly dressing, when their excuses border on "but I do what I waaaant." I have no patience for crap--and 90% of the crap around Addy is just that, crap.

      How cute for some fly by anon to make all these smart aleck remarks. But you know, if you can't respect me, door's to your left.

    2. Lol, see ya. Thanks for proving me right by not only jumping down my throat here but also by calling me names on AGC.

    3. You shan't be missed, nonny mouse.

    4. I posted the first anonymous comment about the scale of the fabric print. The second anonymous comment was not me and took things where I wouldn't have gone. Jumping into the fray as that comment did or rather fomented by bringing up loaded words like respect is to engage in the same behavior the person was criticizing. I do respect what you, Neth, are doing. I see it as a socio-cultural service. because there's too little dialogue about hidden racist attitudes that many well meaning people are blind to. There's too much fear, distrust and pain to speak about such things on all sides. People are afraid to come across as racist because so much of these attitudes are passed on before people have begun to think. I brought this example up before. I was in a store one day looking for a lalaloopsy dynamite doll. There were only two dolls on the shelf and to my disbelief a Caucasian woman turned to the store clerk and asked for a "white" doll because she found Blossom Flowerpot and Tiki Wiki too dark complected for her taste to buy for her child. I realized that even in the world of plastic, completely unrealistic toys racism can thrive. But what will that woman's daughter's outlook come to be? How can she ever unlearn or begin to see what she was fed her whole life long if no one dares to speak, or if she finds expressing confused ideas unleashes fury? What fury teaches is that it is better to remain silent where the racism disease can never be brought to light. When Neth writes something especially insightful I applaud her. When she writes of her pain I understand. When she says this is my time, my space and sends people off I also understand but I also see it as a lost opportunity to keep the platform open. Maybe it isn't fair to expect so much or to want too much for someone. But when I saw as in this post that the work wasn't as perfect as I thought it could be, close up photography and all I winced. When I detected she was perhaps easier on herself than her criticism of others I also winced because I believe trailblazers always have to be better than perfect just to retain what credibility they've won especially in this semantic territory. Maybe so much shouldn't ride on an errant stitch --maybe it's enough just to be ourselves, imperfect and human, but in the end it's the small things that point to the larger whether we speak of a pinafore or a plaything as Neth has so often deftly shown. Yes, I know I'm mixing points...but so much can be said...What you are fighting for Neth in the end is understanding. To be most effective, arguably, you may need ultimately to become more of what the Buddhists call a spiritual warrior, one day a bit less raw, a bit more forgiving. Because this is the stuff discussed in universities. This is the stuff that inspires movements and changes lives. How can someone not have respect for that?

    5. Dude... what?

      I don't even know where you're going with this, but let me get this straight.

      - You think it's wrong for Neth to send people packing who offend her? Um, no. Like you said, this is her space, her blog, her time. You claim to understand this but yet you are chastising her for keeping her space a safe space for her. She doesn't have to kowtow to anyone here, you know. No one needs to be patted on the head and Neth certainly doesn't need to "keep sweet" or leave a platform open. This is not Unlearn Your Racism 101. Neth certainly does try to educate people (she's taught me a lot), but when bigoted people just won't listen, or put their fingers in their ears and ignore what is being said, what do you expect her to do? There's a point where you have to shut it down for the sake of your own sanity.

      - Then you circled back to your original comment about "not being able to respect her ever again" due to an errant stitch or a slightly larger scale print? Are you fucking kidding me right now? You mean to tell me, you really mean to say, that an errant stitch or a slightly larger scale print are enough to make you throw out everything Neth has ever said on this blog about attitudes in the American Girl collecting fandom? I don't think I've ever heard anything so ignorant. Look through this blog. Look at the sheer number of things Neth has posted in her Crafting Creatively posts. Gorgeous dresses for Addy, Dorothy, Elizabeth, the Cousins, Kit. Plus so much more than you're not seeing in this blog. If an errant stitch or larger scale print (that still looked fine, you absolute walnut) really discounts everything she's ever done or said, then who the hell needs you?

      - Neth doesn't need to become a spiritual warrior. Neth does not need to be anyone but 100 percent, unapologetically herself. You don't like it? Door's that way. Don't ever fucking tell my best friend in the world what she "needs" to be, ever again.

    6. You misunderstood what I wrote completely. I never said that an errant stitch is enough to throw out everything Neth has ever said. I never said I could'n't respect her. You are confusing comments from two different people who don't agree with one another. I don't see how someone can have anything but respect for Nethilia.. But if you want to be combative rallying to a fight no one is waging and choose to misread what was written there's no point in trying to explain. It's a shame.You can show everyone you choose the door but then why use the Internet? Why educate? Neth can keep it among friends and people who yes her to death of course, but that would be a greater shame, because I can see I have a higher opinion of what she's doing here and the good it can do even than you who I assume know her personally. I leave my words to Nethilia who being a more attentive reader will better understand the positive spirit of what I wrote.

    7. You didn't say that? Really?

      From your second post (that is supposedly you): I posted the first anonymous comment about the scale of the fabric print. The second anonymous comment was not me and took things where I wouldn't have gone.

      Okay, so lets go back to that first post then.

      I can't even respect Neth or take her seriously when she will jump down a person's throat and use her religion to curse someone because they did not dress their dolls according to her high standards. Which you then referred to in your comment about how But when I saw as in this post that the work wasn't as perfect as I thought it could be, close up photography and all I winced. When I detected she was perhaps easier on herself than her criticism of others I also winced because I believe trailblazers always have to be better than perfect just to retain what credibility they've won especially in this semantic territory. Maybe so much shouldn't ride on an errant stitch...

      I can read just fine, toots. I read the words that you wrote. That you then came back and assured us all that you wrote. So... who's having reading comprehension trouble now?

      Did you miss where I said Neth does educate? Just how long is she to sit and spoon-feed a bigot to make them change? There's only so much a person can do, and there's certainly only so much any reasonable person can take. Is she supposed to sit here and keep trying when someone is causing her distress? Making her feel othered? Certainly not. There comes a time when anyone would have to shut something like that down for her own good, and Neth certainly has that right in her own space.

      because I can see I have a higher opinion of what she's doing here and the good it can do even than you who I assume know her personally.

      It's really cute you think that, but you're wrong. You have no idea what kind of opinion I hold of Neth, or how deep my regard of her is. Christ, lady, I just said she's my best friend. Pretty sure my opinion trumps yours everytime, nonnymouse.

      I will leave it to Neth to chase you out of here, because I'm done with you.

  8. I really like the pinafore. And I'm curious which patterns you combined when you made this outfit.

    I'm afraid I'm not very creative with garment sewing so I admire people who are. I just tend to follow the pattern. My goal this year is to learn to be more original in my doll clothes sewing.


Trolling, pointless bigotry, nonsense, and hating for the sake of hating will be removed, as will any post screaming "first" because no one cares. Cursing is fine, as I curse myself. I still expect you to act like you have home training. This is not a Free Speech Zone. I reserve the right to delete comments, kick you out of the convo, or tell you to piss off. You post, you stand by your words, and all the consequences of those words, even if that consequence is getting your ass handed back to you. Don't come in my space, spit on my floor, and expect me to call it a swimming pool. I can and will cuss your entire ass out. If I told you not to comment, and you comment, your comments will be deleted.

If you are under 13 your comments will be removed; you're too young to be on the internet unsupervised and you know it.