My step-daughter in law asked me....well no asked is not quite the right word.....Let me be more accurate. I was gently hood-winked into accepting the challenge of making an 18" doll outfit that resembles Anna in the movie "Frozen" for my step-granddaughter's American Girl doll.
My first reaction was "Frozen what? Anna who?" because I'm one of a handful of Americans who has not seen the movie (and no I don't want to borrow your DVD but thank you) so I had no clue what I was getting myself into but how could Nana have refused to make "her fave"??? I was assured that I could make an outfit much nicer than her friend's mother because my sewing skills were far superior. My hauteur brought me to couture because there is no doll pattern available for such an outfit. Thank you Disney. But that's okay.....because what's the challenge of simply selecting a pattern at Joann's (preferably on one of those Five for Five Dollar Sale Days), effortlessly picking out some Anna-like fabrics, grabbing some notions and trims and then gliding (yes in my vivid Disney-like imagination, I can still glide) over to the cashier clutching a 40% off coupon in one hand and a "preferred customer card" in the other. I accept this challenge and as God is my witness, I'm going to make this the most accurate and detailed damn Anna doll outfit ever!!!!!
So during the Research and Development state of this project, I searched Bing images and learned the outfit has to meet the following requirements:
1) Blouse: Appears to be a light minty green cotton with long sleeves and a stand up Mandarin-like collar split in the front. Scoop neck would have been too easy and I guess a turtle neck too practical to be in a Disney movie entitled "Frozen". The good news is there are no buttons visible from the front but drat the luck, there appears to be embroidery down the front. Depending on which picture you look at, there are either no cuffs at the bottom of skin tight sleeves or there are rather stiff wide French cuffs. For either option, the primary consideration will be getting those sleeves over those rigid, splayed American girl fingers. Unlike Barbie, American Girl's arms do not pop off. Did I just get nostalgic and wistful over Barbie? Okay I'm over it now.
2) Skirt: Appears to be a royal blue, gored skirt with box pleats and floral embroidery at the lower hemline. The length is mid calf (naturally) so Anna can show off her high heeled black boots. Note to self: Start hunting for some kick ass black boots for 18" dolls now! In some of the pictures, the skirt appears shiny. Have you ever tried hand embroidery on shiny fabric like satin? Shoot me now!!! If I go that route, I'll probably be purchasing some of the "Let's Pretend" Special Occasion "Princess" Satin from Joann's. Maybe someday Disney will come up with a female protagonist wearing a easy to recreate muumuu? In the "Let's Pretend" satin, it would be beauteous!!!
3) Vest: Now this puts the capital C in Challenge. The vest appears to be a form fitting, eating disorder inducing little number with a "precious" sweetheart neckline. It appears to be made out of possibly black velvet. Velvet is my "fave" to work with. That's sarcasm with a capital S. It is embellished with probably gold Lamé trim (another "fave") and more embroidery.
I never actually wanted to buy an embroidery sewing machine but right now might be the time to start considering an expensive impulse purchase just to make a little girl's dream come true a little more easily. The vest also does not have two points in the front. Nooooooooooooooooo! I have numerous commercial patterns for those types of vests. Anna's vest has one low point in the front. I may experience a couple of low points myself designing the pattern, creating the pattern and making it. My doll clothes making journey has taken a wrong turn into couture!!! Move over Vera Wang!!
4) Cape: I'm thinking felt! After potentially working with velvet and "Let's Pretend" satin, I'm thinking let's pretend the cape is made of easy to sew with felt! Case closed!
I bought most of what I need (I hope) from Joann's late one night right before the store closed!
June 9th, 2014
I started the blouse. The foundation of the blouse will be from an OLD Butterick pattern #5110. You might still be able to find this pattern. I'm not sure. I'm using View F in the lower left and it will be heavily modified to make the mandarin collar and French cuffs on the sleeves. I'll take pictures as I go. The fabric is a serene, minty green-ish blue cotton! Yeah for cotton!
The pattern originally had a very full sleeve with an elastic gather at the wrist. I did a gradual curve from the armpit seam and cut out a lot of the excess fabric at the cuff. Then I hand sewed a cuff to the inside (wrong side) of the sleeve and flipped it out to cover up the seam stitches. I had my first mishap. I accidentally put a 1/4" to 1/3" tear in the center of the front bodice piece near the collar when I was fussing with the sleeves. So I couldn't do a split Mandarin collar. I had to do a straight Mandarin collar so I could take a deeper seam at the neckline. So much for authenticity! :) I stuck the metallic matching trim underneath the collar seam allowance before stitching that down and hand sewed the trim to the blouse. I found this pattern was a bit on the loose side and since it has to fit underneath the form fitting vest, I cut away a bit of the back fabric so it has a snugger fit. Will be using small snaps for closures. Tomorrow I'll work on the skirt. ''