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

Friday, June 19, 2015

Historical Clothes Reviews: Addy's Limited Edition Dress and Sewing Set

Crafting done right with the right girl for crafting.
It's been a rough couple of weeks and a great couple of weeks. I had a good time visiting family and I had a great time at A-Kon--it's like family reunion for me my trips to Texas. I took Addy and Kira with me to Texas and managed to get to go to two AG stores in the process--AG Houston with family and AG Dallas on the way back from the airport.  And I got back home safe and with neat things, including the Last Hearts 4 Hearts I wanted and a new little darling BJD that, if you follow my Instagram, you've seen shots of.1 (I shall pick back up Casual Fridays and post more about her then.) But on the flip side, I've been super duper exhausted. Not physically so much as mentally. Not only is there the draining news over and over of assaults on black people and the utter mental strain of being a black woman in America looking at all this hate and cruelty and racism, there's been the tropical storm coming too close to family for comfort, and general malaise and anxiety. I have been suffering from what can be called a severe case of "Fuck This Shit, I'm Out."

Time to retreat back into doll blogging and restabilize myself.

To show you I'm keeping up with the AG News: There's been a small release for Grace--well small for dolls, largeish for stuff overall--and I'll cover that when the summer release comes out so that I'm not blogging about just three things and people clothes. There's also the Pintrest sneak peeks for the new BeForever and Truly Me stuff 2--and Addy stays winning and blowing away the competition. Goddamn, is blue her color. I can't help myself when it comes to Addy--I want practically everything she has AG offers, and if that means she owns two beds and two nightgowns then damn it she's going to own two beds and two nightgowns.3 My girl will stay spoiled rotten and there's shit all anyone can say to me about it.

I tend not to delay on getting my happy brown hands on Addy stuff, even if it means I don't pay the sale price when prices drop a few months later on one of the frequent AG sales that they seem to be doing nowadays. So when Addy's Dress and Sewing Set was released as part of the Spring BeForever release, I went straight to the store as soon as I could and snapped it right up. Not only was it Addy, it was sewing, and that's one of the most perfect combinations for me, like combining ducks, ballet, fairy tales, and magical girls.4 For $48 dollars--or $38 if you got it on sale--the set comes with a plaid dress, white ribbon trimmed pinafore, stockings, inner laced boots, scissors, tape measure, and pincushion, and the story with the set is that Addy is helping her mother and Mrs. Ford out in the dress shop in her cute new duds. And y'all were whining that outfits weren't going to be tied to the stories anymore. Wah wah wah. I may have payed Early Adoption Taxes5 but it's Addy, so I take my lumps. That and when the set was on sale, it was hella backordered. As it is Kit's Chicken Keeping Set only came off back order long enough for me to get my mitts on it before it decided not to show back up again until August. The set is part of AG's new deal with Historicals where they release Limited Edition outfits that are only here til December 31st in their current incarnation, so this one has an end date before you're looking at eBay for a complete set. So don't delay or you'll find yourself shortchanged on the pretty. There's also a matching girl's set--historic cosplay in modern styles, and that would be the Periwinkle Plaid Top and Classic Crops--it'll go away as well, when this set does.

Once again I find myself blogging about Addy on Juneteenth. It's only fitting, I guess. To the review--where I've decided stuff comes before clothes cause that is how I took my pictures.

Snippy snip. Well, make believe.
Scissors: Addy's set comes with a pair of silver plastic sewing scissors that are about 2 and 3/8 inches long (6 cm for all you metrics). Scissors at the time would have been made of steel, but for the purposes of AG, these are made of molded plastic. Sorry, buckies, if you want real sewing scissors for Addy you will need to buy a neat pair of embroidery snips.

If you've ever sewn, embroidered, knit, crocheted, scrapbooked, opened packages, mommy crafted, cut hair, cut someone else's hair, had the older kind of paper dolls, sat down with kindergarteners, macramed, bound books, done art, or sat in school for any length of time, you've handled a pair of scissors. Scissors are one of the backbones of crafting and creating, and a good pair of sewing scissors can mean the difference between crap and craft. Mrs. Ford likely gave Addy a set to use for her own, when she was in the shop--and good scissors weren't cheap, back then, so in the shop they stayed.

Now, I would normally dump this in a Crafting Creatively--and I likely will later6--but since Addy has a pair and this set is about sewing, it won't hurt to give the details here. When you start to sew, and you get a pair of sewing scissors, they are only to be used for sewing. Don't use them to cut open boxes, don't use them to cut patterns apart, don't use them to do construction paper puppets, don't use them when your child needs to do cut and paste homework, don't use them to cut wires on a bomb, don't use then for anything else but sewing. Dedicated fabric scissors are to be used for thread and cloth only. If you have to only use gold bladed scissors to tell yourself this, do it. If you have to write "FABRIC ONLY" on them in thick black Sharpie so your life partners won't use them to clip open a bag of Doritos, do it. If you have to lock them up in a box between crafts so the kids don't use them to cut out Doc McStuffins pictures from their coloring book, do it.

I cannot be more fierce in this assessment. A good pair of sewing scissors, well kept, will cut through even the toughest fabrics like butter and slide smooth as lubricated puppies down a slide. Invest in your scissors and treat them like gold and do not use them for mundane tasks, or you will end up with dulled edges and ragged cuts and more work than you need or want. The one time as a kid I picked up my mother's $60 Gingher dressmaker sheers and asked to use them to cut cardboard for a book I was making, she reacted with the kind of horror reserved for pissing on the floor over the age of three, as if I was going to go shove them in the mud and then run them over a set of rocks. Then she explained why, and I ain't do it again. If you are sewing you keep one pair of scissors for fabric and thread only and you don't buck the system. Ruth Walker and Mrs. Ford would have taught her that from the moment she picked them up, and these scissors would have only been used for that and Addy wouldn't have questioned it for a moment.


Fancy Handles.
Addy's scissors have semi-fancy handles. At the tops of the drop-shaped handles are little decorative loops, a stopper is molded between the handles so the scissors can close properly, and along the shaft on each side are shaped moldings, a punched out cross, and indents that--when the scissors are closed--make another cross shape.

Scissors history! Scissors have always been heavy associated with domestic craft work, and so associated in parts with women and the home sphere. Women often wore scissors on a chain or chatelaine at their waists, and when skirts became less full, they wore them on necklace chains. (Those can still be bought today.) Little girls handled scissors from young ages, what with being expected to become domestic craftswomen. During the nineteenth century--Addy's time--scissors could even be like little works of art. They were hand-forged, had been separated into various forms for tasks such as embroidery and pinking edges for about three decades, and often given elaborately decorated handles with dips and loops in the designs. Some were even shaped like birds with the "beak" where the scissor blades came together. So while Addy's scissors don't cut, they do look real in their molding.

The scissors open and close like authentic scissors, with the pivot screw visible at the back. On the front are two arrows, which simulate where a manufacturer's name would go.

The blades are completely dull and unshaped, without even a hint of a blade. These things won't cut anything. Probably to prevent litigation. Thanks, parents giving AG stuff to your damn toddlers, you're why we can't have nice things.

Because of the way the blades open and the location of the pivot pin, these are right handed scissors. Left handed anything was pretty rare before about the mid to late 20th century what with all of us lefties being little devil babies who needed to be corrected.8

A- because while they don't cut, they look cute and authentic enough.

Birb. Sewing birb? Sewing birb.
Pincushion: Another tool of sewing that every good seamstress has is a pincushion.  Addy's is shaped like a bird sitting on a stool, with a handle for gripping.

When I first saw the set, I thought that this was a sewing bird. Sewing birds are pretty damn cool. The clamp was put on the edge of a table, and the bird's beak opened for fabric to be gripped and held tight, allowing a hand seamstress to sew and keep cloth taut while doing so. Sewing birds were often gifts to young women who were of marrying age, as it was encouragement for them to work on their trousseau or later wedding dresses, and prepare them for the many years of hand sewing they would be up to. After sewing machines became super popular and widespread they fell out of favor, but you can probably find one if you seek it. I learned about sewing birds from the Mary Francis Sewing Book9 and thought they were neat as hell. Don't ask me why birds were associated with sewing. Maybe a domestic thing? Either way, a sewing bird would have been awesome, but instead I got a pincushion. It's likely they were going to use a sewing bird, but then assumed that children wouldn't understand what one was. In fact, that is now my new truth. This is a misformed sewing bird. Because when hand sewing, you really didn't pick up pincushions and take up a whole hand for that.

The pin-bird is made of plastic and pretty hefty, so you may need to rubber band it in your Addy's hand. Here, she held on well enough for me to take the shot. 

All by itself.
The bird sits on a six-sectioned flower shaped tuft, and below that is a spool shaped handle. Back when spools were almost always made of wood, you ended up with a lot of them as a seamstress. You had to do something with all those spare wooden spools, so why not stick a pincushion on it? Ta da!

Bird off center.  My bad.
The bird is flocked purple to resemble cloth and won't come off its stool. It has little black dots for eyes.

The wings are made to stand out with blue and green stripes and swirls intermixed down both sides, and the tail sticks out like the general songbird shape.

These pins are not made for pinning.
Underneath the bird's left side are two simulated silver plastic molded sewing pins.  They are permanently attached to the "cushion" under the bird. Again, thanks, idiot parents, for giving AG stuff to children under eight like you shouldn't do if they're too immature for handling nice things, and thus making things litigious. A sewing bird often was made with a pincushion under it, so that the seamstress had pins easily accessible.  See, more reasons this was intended to be a sewing bird.

The so-called cushion.
Since the whole piece is made of plastic, the cushion is also flocked to seem like cloth. The edge is molded to appear like zigzag trim--or, as it would have been called back then, braided trim. There's six puffy sections to the shape, so it's like the bird is sitting on a flower.

The bottom handle--where the clamp would be on a sewing bird--is unflocked, so the molding seams are visible. B. I am not a fan of the glued in pins--those could have been skipped--or the fact that this is not a sewing bird like it should have been. They should have given us a sewing bird.

Tape measures--hella important.
Tape Measure: To round out the accessories, we have a tape measure. You're going to need a tape measure when sewing. No getting around it. Tape measures come in spans from 60 inches to 120 inches or more (and nowadays include metrics on the back for y'all that get to use them all over) and will be your best friend. A yardstick and a ruler both are useful, but if you are taking measurements, you are going to need something flexible. Wrapping yarn around limbs and measuring it from there is not useful. Buy a damn tape measure. Addy's is a short length, designed to simulate the real thing, and like spools, scissors, and pins, tape measures are associated heavy with sewing.

All laid out.
The tape measure is about six and a half inches in length and made of yellow printed satin ribbon. Not as long in scale as a working tape measure would be--I've rarely had one that was less than 45" nowadays and mostly work with 60" ones--but for the purposes of doll cute, we're only doing seven inches. A to scale one would be about 20 inches long, so if you want to make one there you go.

Markings! Accurate ones!
The tape is marked every 1/8th an inch with numbers at the full number mark. And the markings are accurate as well. I like the actual length matching human scale; scaling it down to 1/3 scale (where every real 1/3 if an inch would equal an inch in doll scale) would be confusing.

Clamp ends.
The ends are each clamped with plastic bronze end caps.

Blank flank back.
The back is unmarked. A. Not only essential for sewing tools, but accurate for measureing up to six inches. Do like.

Pinafore, pinaback.
Pinafore: Now we get to the meat of the outfit itself, starting with a basic white cotton pinafore. I discussed the history and purpose of a pinafore when talking about Sam's Play Dress and Pinafore so no repeats on that. But I will explain that the difference between an apron and a pinafore is that aprons are often plain and untrimmed, waist high only--most aprons have very small bibs unless used in hard work like welding and smithing--and designed to be temporary worn to keep regular clothes underneath clean while cleaning, cooking, or serving; staining and damage was acceptable, since the item wasn't intended to be seen walking down the street or in casual settings. A pinafore was over girls' dress, intended just for girls--a grown woman didn't wear pinafores and certainly did not call them as such--and intended to be an acceptable part of a girl's day to day wardrobe or passable as street wear. Addy would not have wanted to wear an apron out in public, but she would have been fine wearing a pinafore. 

So what use would a pinafore had during sewing? Not only would it catch threads that dropped and likely have pockets for storing items for quick grabbing, but seamstresses often just stuck straight pins in their clothes while sewing for easy access. Rather than pinning her nice dress, she could just stick pins in the pinafore and, if she needed to be quickly street presentable, she could take the pinafore off without having to check her clothes for too many pins and threads.

Also Addy looks the bomb diggity in pinafores. 

Strap it.
The straps are wide over the shoulder and narrower at the waist. The 1860s fashion style was exaggerated, wide shoulders and narrow waists, and this would have helped that look.

Trim everything!
The edges are trimmed with glossy grosgrain ribbon that I, as an artist, am going to call plum. The plum ribbon is all over and I will point it out for you because I'm just that nice. The ribbon is sewn on with matching thread, while the pinafore itself is done with white thread.

Strap me.
The straps go all the way over and to the back.

Between the two shoulder straps on the front are two white straps with plum ribbon in the center of each strap. This made the bib, as was the style of the time.

Waist not, want not.
The waistband is a thick white band with centered plum ribbon.

Trim to the back, cause we like it like that.
The waist ribbon goes all the way to the back, where it stops at the waist ties.

Pockets for pocketing.
The front drape of the pinafore has two pockets, and if you see this outfit on display Addy will probably have her scissors, sewing bird, or tape measure inside them. I know I used them for that, as well as small spools and pencils and scraps of paper on which to write scathing things about Harriet.
ETA: And having read MCooper's review,  the pockets on the back are reinforced at the top. I will have to snap a picture later.

Hem and trim.
The bottom hem has a simple edge, and is also trimmed in plum ribbon. Trim all over.

The apron part stops here.
The apron drape of the pinafore stops at the sides, rather than going all the way to the back and around.

At the back are the two straps, to tie into a neat bow. No trim on them, it would just get crumpled with trying. Tie your bows straight, people. A. Addy looks too cute, cute damn.10 

Dress, blue, plaid, for Addy. Hit all my buttons, why dontcha.
Dress: The boatneck summer style dress is made of blue and plum plaid cotton with no trims. I'd like to think, like Addy's holiday dress, some rich woman didn't want the summer dress made for her child or didn't like it once it was on her and it was gifted to Addy. Mrs. Ford seems to like Addy more than a touch and give her and Ruth a lot of things, once she saw they were good, honest workers. The more cute dresses for Addy, the better, so there. The dress looks super cute without the pinafore, like a good dress should.

Check yo'self.
The check pattern is plum, blue, aqua green, and light mint green in alternating lines that repeat throughout. The checks are big, but if you've ever seen authentic American Civil War era clothes? They wore that shit huge. Don't assume all prints that are large are not in scale.11

The boatneck neckline is trimmed with bias cut matching fabric. Addy can still get away with bare collars at her age.

Gathered bodice.
The bodice is loosely gathered, with proper orientation.

Sleeves aligned.
The short basic sleeves are cut so that the plaid matches closely on both sides and lines up with both sides of the bodice. So don't think you shouldn't when you work in plaid. Do the damn thing right. The sleeves are basic hemmed.

Wide waist.
The waistband is wide and not gathered in any way.

The skirt is gathered to the waistband. It's also cut as a single rectangle so that there are no side seams, thus minimizing the error of matching up sides. Saves time and mistakes, but I like side seams on some projects to give me a clue how my gathering is going.

The skirt is hemmed on the edge. A tip, when you do decide to fuck with plaids? Cut along the plaid lines if at all possible for hems, and press to make sure it looks its best. Devil's in the details.

Back closed.
And, like most things, velcros up the back. A+. I just adore this dress in so many ways.

Stockings: Addy was obligated, even if her skirts stopped mid calf, to wear stockings to cover her bare legs--it wasn't until about the 1920s that stockings on girls fell out of favor. You kept your legs covered, thank you. So the set comes with plain white knee high stockings, much like her new meet outfit.  There's nothing special about them, but there's nothing wrong with them being there, so B.

These look awfully familiar, Addy dear.
Shoes: We finish this lovely set with a pair of black paten tipped white canvas inner laced boots. These are updated and changed versions of Addy's Lace Up Boots, which of course you know I own. And I would have liked to compare them. But I was taking lots of review pictures back to back and wanted to play through. So when I review her summer dress, I'll do the comparison then. All right? All right.

These have been tweaked for Mattel style which means things have been changed and cut. And if you hate them and don't have the originals, you can just haul your ass to eBay and get the originals and stick them with the dress and be happy that way. I prefer the older ones but these are good enough if you don't want to hunt down older ones.

Toe tapping.
The tips of the shoes are black patent leather. Unlike the original release, this is the only spot of black on the shoes; there are no black heels. Mark against these.

Fine, history, make me make an exception.
On the inside edge are black laces, criss cross shaped and tied in a bow. They don't untie and aren't the closures, so there's no reason to fuck with them. The holes for them are just punched in, with no eyelets or grommets.

In prior reviews, I tend to snap that people with no sense will snap shoes inside, and this is stupid and dumb and no one should ever do it because fasteners on shoes go outside. And this is still true, especially with modern clothes. But this set of shoes--and the ones like them before--are the exception to the rule. For a span, the hotness was to have your boots lace inside. I assume to have smooth looking outsides. I dunno. Probably for the same reason people wore and wear Uggs, Crocs, and Heelies. Fashion has done some weird ass shit. So in this case, laces go inside your ankle. This is the only exception I've seen so don't go doing it with your dolly mules.

Back closed.
Since the side ties are just for show now, the boots--like almost all AG boots now--close up the back with velcro. Thus, no black heels. Again, mark against.

Clear velcro.
The closure velcro is clear and the back seam comes together fairly smooth. I will give it that, at least.

 Inside, the attached laces are visible, showing how they're tacked in so that they won't untie. Like non nursing breasts, they're for form and not function.

Sole solutions.
The soles are plain black, with the AG stamp and a little non obtrusive heel.

C. I normally don't bitch and mewl about how AG cuts corners on Mattel verses PC, but in this case--like the inner lacing--I'll make an exception.


Some extra data before closing, cause I'm a fan.

Remember how I said scissors could often be molded to look like birds? I happen to own a small set of bird-shaped embroidery scissors that are part of my Addy's collection. The pivot is the bird's eye. and the beak makes up the blades. They don't cut well, but they're for show, much like the molded ones. I have tons of working embroidery scissors.

 They even fit semi in the pocket.

Actual inside laced boots. I swiped this off Pintrest12 because then you don't have to sign up if you don't have one since they make you do that now. These were made for ladies's feet and are blue where Addy's are white. So yes, they were actually a thing. Fashion, it's weird.

Y'all know how utterly adamant I am about Addy stuff being for Addy alone. You've been here a touch. Well, like the lace in boots this is the only exception. My momma has Cecile, and my mom is a seamstress, and so I got her Addy's sewing outfit for her Cecile. This is the only exception I have or ever will make. The outfit is rumpled, but that's because I changed her clothes and snapped the pics before leaving to go to con and didn't have time to clean them up.


Overall Feel: This outfit is too perfect for me and Addy and the collection. It's like AG wondered what outfit would get me to throw money at them and they succeeded. It's sewing! It's blue themed! It's Addy! It's Addy sewing! It's cute as shit. I don't care for the shoes--that could have been fixed with black heels since AG doesn't do tying shoes nowadays--and about the sewing "pincushion" that should have been a sewing bird. The scissors are not for anything but show, as well. But those are the only major negatives. 

Cost Value:  $48 is steep, but that's how AG prices have been rising, so I'll take it. I would have probably been a touch happier to get it on sale like I did with the other LE sets I have, but more to save the ten dollars than the lack of cost value because I wanted the set and I got it ASAP. Early acceptance fees, I take my hits. When it retires--and it could do like other sets before it and just lose the accessories--then get it with at least the dress and pinafore, since the socks are nothing special, and the shoes if you don't have a set like them already. If it's just those two items and you're on eBay, pay about $30-40. If it's with the accessories, then take it up to maybe $50. Or, you know, get it while the getting's good and save yourself some time and stress while you can.

Authenticity: The style and cut of the dress are accurate, especially with a simple if trimmed pinafore. Girls wore stuff like this during the Civil War, including loud large plaids and cheeky cute pinafores. The boots missing their black heels are probably the second biggest knock, second to the sewing bird I didn't get in proper form. But it is accurate to the era and to Addy's character, so good job AG.

Appropriateness to Character: First of all, stop complaining that Addy never wore anything like this in the books. That's not how things are designed for the girls anymore. So suck it up and deal. That being said, the outfit is hella fitting. She was often noted as helping out in the dress shop, and while she wouldn't have worn a whole specific set for one job designing a set for it for collections is fitting. The set is designed for Addy, and so it's for her and her alone--and my mom's Cecile, because my mom has been sewing her whole life and she's the reason I can. That is my exception, and I made it for my mother, and other dolls don't get that exception in my sphere. Whatcha gonna do? Cry? Make sure to bottle your tears.

Final Grade: A-. The accessories and the shoes could be improved, but that's why I'm an adult who can add all the tweaks I need.


1 And minus one leaf knife I carry for soothing needs which I then had to buy a new one of, because my stupid ass left it in my carry on. Le Sigh. At least it was easily replaced.
2 And Bitty stuff but lol Bitty stuff.
3 Three beds, actually. Story to come.
4 Yes, I most certainly do mean Princess Tutu. (Warning: TV Tropes Link, you may get hella lost.)
5 I did with my 3DS too. Well, not so high because I was working for Nintendo at the time, but not as low as it later dropped to.
6 "Tools of the Crafty Trade."
7 This and the previous caption brought to you by Sesame Street.  And a monster beating up a box.
8  Fun fact. I don't use leftie scissors. I can, but I don't.
9 There's a 100 anniversary edition, with the patterns now made for AGs. Looks like I'm going to end up getting copy #3 so I don't have to scale up my own.
10 Call the constable and the fire man.
11 But don't assume you can mess up scale from get go. You learn the rules before you break them. 
12 And they swiped it from eBay, so.


  1. Great review! I love this outfit.

  2. Today I learned what flocked means —I was somewhat confused reading your bird review until I put it all together. Thanks, Neth!

    The dress is super cute and Addy is super cute and this is all _super wonderfully cute_.

  3. That bird pincushion is adorable, and you took some great close-ups of it here. It probably sounds silly, but I think that little bird may be my favourite AG accessory of the past year (or more)!

  4. I once asked to my mom's Ginghers for non-fabric purposes too--and only once! Not only will using them for random cutting ruin them, fabric scissors are SHARP. I have my own pair now, and if I'm not cutting fabric right that moment, they're in their case.

  5. Best AG LE release this year, hands down!

  6. Omigosh! I did not know about the 100th anniversary edition of the Mary Frances Sewing Book (with resized patterns). That is going is going in my Amazon shopping cart ASAP!

    About that pinafore, my brother recently posted a vintage photo of a little girl who was wearing a pinafore very similar to Addy's.

    As always, I enjoyed your detailed review. I wish I could buy just the sewing accessories. I think my Addy is probably too plump to fit the dress.

  7. the dress is gorgeous. I dont care for the shoes but they can be easily replaced. Overall I really love the outfit especially the little birdie. Im not sure if the sewing bird would have had positive reaction with the kids. The cushion is soft and just adorable.

  8. Hi this is Andrea also known as TheGenuineBeauty on AG Collectors. I went to check the forum today and it said i was banned. I think this is a mistake because this popped up.

    You are banned.
    Delona, we've told you, repeatedly, to go away. Please stay away this time, we're tired of your shenanigans.

    I am not Delona, i don't even know what i did wrong if i did get banned. I didin't know how to contact you so i decided to try here. I'm worried, I don't know if its a mistake or if i am actually banned. Just please reply ASAP either here or by sending me an email at ixoxosmallville@gmail.com


    1. E-mail me at nethilia at gmail dot com, and we'll work this out. We've had a nasty regular troll since the start of the forums and I think you were caught by her IP address.

  9. I looooove this dress. My daughter begged for Addy this year and she got her. She also loves this set and she got it. It's even more adorable in person. I agree about the sewing bird.


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