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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Crafting Creatively: Things I've Made: Nanea’s Purple Chevron Dress

Because not everything for the Hawaii Girl has to be super tropical.
Hey, this post didn't take four months! Moving up in the world, Neth. Good job, keep it up.

In This Year of Our Trash Fire 2018, AGC has once again had a successful Secret Snarker gift swap. This makes Year Four and again, no one was shorted or sent unpleasant items. All the packages--even the ones to Sweden and Australia--got to their giftees. That's several years in a row, gang, it's now tradition. Don't disappoint me in the future. I'm counting on you in a way I never count on white men.

This year I got to gift tsunamisue, who is not only one of the best people in the fandom but has a Nanea in Hawaii, because she is cool and good. I just have Nanea in the PNW. And like normal, I will veer hard towards making historical two-of-a-kind outfits.

AG, I love you and hate you and put up with your shit. Nanea has, from you, no casual dresses with casual shoes. She kind of has something a little day-to-day in her school dress. But that has espadrilles and a floral print, and otherwise she either has no shoes or has sandals. Always sandals. Always. Hawaii does have a lot of the beachy feel, and the Hawaii residents enjoy their culture. But people also have and had outfits not surrounded by flowers, pineapples, exotics, and the constant screams of "LOOK HAWAII" on them.

If you won't do it, I'll do it myself.
Nanea’s Purple Chevron Dress

Nanea’s spending a day in town with her best friends Lily and Donna in a fine chevron-striped dress Mama picked out for her. The scalloped front bodice is accented with six smart decorative buttons down the front, and a neat peter pan white collar; there’s also short puffy sleeves and a sash in the back. She puts on her white ankle socks and black Mary Janes shoes, and Mary Lou offers to tie a matching grosgrain ribbon in her hair. What a way to feel a touch more mature!
The usual make two sets, keep the worst set applies. Also if you notice that the shoes are different in the header pic than the rest of the pics, that's because I started this post and then found out I had somehow not gotten a solo picture of the outfit several months later. One quick set up outdoors and a face plant later,1 I had one. The shoes in this and one other shot are some generic basics from Joann Fabrics; in the rest I swiped Ellie's black Mary Janes.  The socks on my girl I'm pretty sure are from a Molly set. I think. I try to keep my socks sorted best I can. but do you know how many plain white ankle socks there are in the AG world? For tsunamisue I added in her own set of basic black shoes and white ankle socks, along with some mini stationery and a Tamagochi because she likes those. I think she liked it.

Cut for the usual craft details.

Left for me, right for tsunamisue.
This year I broke the mold and didn't use a Keepers Dolly Duds pattern in any form. Instead I used one by Dollie Dressmaker distributed through Simplicity: #1244 for 1940s styles based on actual 1940s patterns for girls. Which ones I'm not sure. The Vintage Wiki doesn't want to give up the goodies and I can only dig so long before I say eff it. If you know, hook me up.

I've had the pattern for a while, but since Molly and I don't get along2 I wasn't sure who to put the clothes on once I started making them. And then Along Came Nanea. Now I can make all the 40s clothes my little heart desires.

I knew from jump that I'd go for view A or B with the center white panel on the bodice, and was leaning towards stripes--if I could find stripes that were not out of scale and not hideous. Finding stripes is so effing hard nowadays. I also knew I was not going to embroider for B because I don't have a machine that embroiders and I didn't want the plain design of A, so I would get something to add on the front. I wasn't sure what color to go with until I was in the fabric store and the multicolored purple chevrons jumped out at me. Purple is a color and a fruit. The design of the stripes--namely that they're pretty bold for a doll dress in scale--meant paying more attention than normal to make sure things lined up nicely, especially on the bodice. But what is sewing if not challenging yourself? I then got plain white for the panel and collar, a spool of ribbon for hair bows, and a pack of purple buttons that weren't too big to sew on the front. I used a mix of A and B's pieces; initially I cut out B's pockets, but then skipped them. Sorry, Nanea, you'll have to carry a purse, I needed a nap.

Dress for the ages.
Dress: The dress and all its fabric is standard quilting cotton. Quilting cotton can be stiff at times. That's why you wash it. Always wash your fabrics before you start hacking them apart. If you don't I'm not responsible for your reds running your whites pink. As I cut the pieces out I decided which way each piece would be at. As you can see, the chevrons could point up or down, and for the most part I went down and in. This meant no pointing pieces upside down to fit on the cloth, and laying things out on a bigger spread. Learn to do your own layouts, or your plaids, stripes, and one-way-designs will never look their best.

Most important to me was was making sure the front bodice was aligned. Bodices are the focus point of a dress, and this one was no different. The main thing was to make sure the stripes aligned right, so that they nearly mirrored on the sides. I actually fucked it up on one set and had to align and cut out a new set. That is why you buy more than the pattern calls for. For the side you don't see I didn't care so much, but the actual front had to be exact.

The front bodice is put together very complicated. First you attach the curved underlining to the center, then the undersides to the underlining, then the fronts to all of that. There's four pattern pieces for all that. It took a while. I took my time.

The collar was easy enough in white as a peter pan collar. View A called for a bias collar strip to attach the collar. To shit with that. I just did the underlining from B. Bias collars work but they drive me up the wall.

Button, button, who's got the button?
Six purple buttons hand sewed on the front. Two are more under the collar than visible, but they're still there because I demand balance. I aimed for each button to be at the highest point of the curve of the bodice scallops. They're a little under a half inch in diameter.

Where does General Douglas MacArthur keep his armies?3
The sleeves are short and puffed. There's a war on, wear sweaters.4 I pointed the sleeve chevrons down, but the cuffs across like the bodice. And that is how you use stripes to make visual contrast, take notes for the quiz.

The waistband points down, and does not go all the way around. It's just at the front.

The skirt is plain, no pockets, and no side seams so it was one piece gathered. We're fighting fascism5 kids, we don't have the resources for lace trim. Just turn a basic hem and go about your day.

Side sash.
The dress has that staple of so many girls dresses to time immemorial, sashes that tie to the back. I could have attached the sash ties to the waistband, but I didn't because I missed that. My bad.We all make mistakes. 

A bow.
The sashes were cut so that the chevrons ran down the length instead of chopping across and breaking up. It just looks better. They also have pointed ends which are nifty and crisp.

The back bodice is, unlike the front, two basic pieces and some short lining. No darts. And unlike the front, it just goes down. No fancy matching needed here.

The pattern actually calls for velcro closing, huzzah! It does asks it not to overlap so the backs actually meet which took more time than usual, but I got it in. The main thing is it doesn't use buttonholes. Fuck buttonholes.

Hair Ribbon: Measure about 20 inches of cut ends in 1/2" wide purple grosgrain ribbon. Diagonal cut the ends. Tie into bow in hair. Go forth and live your best dolly life.


Best part of making it: Lining up the stripes on all of it. Like plaids, I love to use the lay of the fabric to make an outfit look its best and add some visual contrast. I didn't cut the skirts upside down or the waistband, and all the turns I made laying things out made everything come together smoothly. I had one half a bodice front mishap which I then redid before putting everything together.

Worst part of making it: Wow, that bodice took some time. Sew clip turn press. Sew clip turn press. Turn turn turn.  Sew on buttons by hand. Complain that hand sewing is the slowest part of sewing. Do it anyways. Gas Break Honk. Honk Honk Punch. Also I was not doing a bias liner on the collar I did that with Kit and it was complicated and I will only do it as necessary. Lined bodice. Save my brain. Bonus: I took one look at gathering pockets and decided that pockets were just going to be canceled today.

Historical Accuracy: Well it's based on actual vintage patterns from the 1940s so it's very accurate for the time. It might be later 40s but honestly I'll let it slide for being, say probably 1943 instead of 1941.

Does it look good on the doll?: Hell yeah. There are very few people or dolls that look bad in shades of purple.

Would I use the pattern again? Certainly! This is the first ever Dollies Dressmaker pattern I used and it came together pretty well even with my snafus and need to tweak everything because exact following what is that. Maybe not this bodice since I've already done it once, but I've got at least two more views in the set to do and Nanea could use a blouse and jumper. Separates are a staple of the 1940s. 

Final Thoughts: Even a simple dress can look nice with a well handled print; even a slightly more complicated dress can be made even nicer with the right fabric layout. Nanea has her first Miss Neth's Original, and I want to make her more. And now she has something that doesn't have to holler "pineapples and luau and hula and that's the only prints."

And that's how you make sure Nanea doesn't have just super sleeveless everything.

1 For Nanea. In the process of getting a quick photo outside since Seattle actually has decent light right now after 5 p.m., she fell face first on the sidewalk. I don't freak out over scratches, and one nail buff later she's good as guava bread.
2 I was asked earlier what I didn't like about Molly. Basically, she came off as way too bratty in the books. The main thing that got under my skin was how she over and over goes off and does her own thing without thinking things through like she should--Molly Learns a Lesson especially irritated me because she was more focused on her own glory in getting scrap because Alison came up with something, than helping others and only when she didn't do as well did she go spying and then go help. Alison didn't really act as a rival to her, she was more just someone that Molly decided was a jerk because Molly said so. Her books, of all things, made me not care for her. She came off as a brat to me, and I know it's realistic, but it felt very--I want to say self centered. Molly's story didn't make me sympathize with what she went through, because most of what she went through was wanting everything to stay the same and not eat turnips. Also why was Brad called a brat, he never did a bratty thing in the books, Molly threw Ricky's underwear out a window to embarrass him in front of his crush. The movie makes me like Molly a little better (she's much more considerate, a lot more sympathetic and empathetic, and less "what about me") but not enough to add her to the gang. Unless she'll be, like, a pattern display. Let's see what they do on her rerelease. 
3 Up his sleevies! Wokka-wokka!
4 She might get a knit sweater later.
5 There are people in this world mad that Captain America storyline shows him fightings on the side of antifa. These people are stupid. Call them stupid. Anti-fa are against fascism. And we aren't doing false equivalents. 


  1. "Purple is a color and a fruit."
    Sorry, what?

    This dress is goooooooorgeous! I love the purple and I love love love love the contrast in the chevron directions. What an awesome job!

    1. Homer: "Doughnut?"
      Lisa: "No thanks. Do you have any fruit?"
      Homer: "This has purple stuff inside. Purple is a fruit."

      The chevrons were my favorite part!

  2. Love the fabric (the scale of the print is great) and I have great admiration for your skills in handling the stripes and also the fiddly bodice. It's a lovely dress.

  3. Perfect dress for her. Color and style terrific. I think separated a great next step. Would love to see. Agree that she needs regular clothes.

  4. Super cute! Don't know if you know this, but if you don't yet, here's a ribbon tip. When cutting a ribbon, to prevent fraying, burn the edges. Get a lighter or matches, and gently wave it near the edges for a a second or two, and make sure you don't light yourself on fire. It made a world of difference for me when I make bow barrettes. Also, you don't have to use messy nail polish or whatever to prevent fraying. It also makes the tiny pyro side of me happy (!).

    1. Yep! I either burn the ends if it's polyester or Fray check.

  5. I agree with you on Molly there. I re-read her books and compared to everyone else, she was kind of blah and her story looked like First World Problems compared to the other American Girls (Felicity's family is politically split, Josefina lost her Mom and is very timid, Kirsten is acculturating to a new country and trying to keep the family traditions, Cecile and Marie-Grace have to contend with a plague, Caroline's father was taken away from her during a war, Addy's family was separated by slavery and war, Samantha partly deals with the loss of her parents, Rebecca has to deal with family and with being seen as her own person, Kit has to deal with the Depression affecting her family, etc.)

  6. I hate to comment since I haven't read Molly's books, but her father was away at war and she probably worried every day that he might not come home. I was 9 when my dad was sent to Vietnam and while I'm sure I was kind of bratty with first-world problems, I was awfully fearful he would be killed over there. You still had to go on with everyday life but there certainly is stress involved with having a parent in a combat zone. If Molly's dad has been overseas since the US entered the war, by 1944 that is a long time.

  7. Beautiful dress, and yes Nanea needed something that didn't scream tropical, great job. Also want to say Antifa saved my life in Charlottesville. If someone isn't an antifacist, they should be. Love your blog. XO


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