I reached my 1000th view and 100th post with my last entry (hurray!). While that’s great, longevity and popularity bring with it some unwelcome additions — advertisements. I have noticed an increasing number of adverts intruding between paragraphs since January. I didn’t mind so much the banners at the sides and at the ends, but I hate adverts in the middle of my posts. I had been intending to switch to a paid account around now anyway (I’ve been here for three and a half years and July is the start of the Financial Year in Australia) but was dissuaded in April when WordPress replaced their multi-level options with one WordPressPro, at a price that was a little too much for me. I was obviously not alone in my dismay because they have now switched back to the four levels of paid plans — and I have to say that it’s nice to see a company that listens to their bloggers instead of imposing rules demanded by the suits. I’ve opted for the Personal level which should stop you seeing ads in my posts. I don’t need a huge file allowance (I haven’t even reached half a gigabyte yet) and I don’t take videos of my work so I don’t need anything more at present. I may upgrade further in the future if I try to do videos, as it would be nice to have them embedded here rather than having to deal with YouTube, but that’s a long way off.
The blog title and subtitle are also changing. While I’m still going to be posting as “Dendaria” for the time being (because I’m old and still reluctant to do anything under my real name) the title doesn’t give any relevant information and the original subtitle “Quilts, cats and a little bit of mayhem” doesn’t represent the range of posts I’ve made over the last two years (patchwork / appliqué / quilting / embroidery / doll clothes / human clothes / machines). With the expanding range of posts I decided that it’s time for a change of title. I’ve opted for “The Eclectic Needle” as I think it’s a much better indication of what I write about, and the subtitle is now “Needlecrafts embellished by cat fur” which, as every cat owner knows, is a true description of any yarn or fabric work we do.
I’m leaving the banner image the same for now but it will change once I’ve assembled my second Penrose tile top (Flame Rose), which will be much later in the year. The theme (Lovecraft) is also the same as I am primarily a text blogger who grew up with LiveJournal (in the pre-Russian days) so that format is the most comfortable for me.
Although I have the chance to take out a domain name as well, I’ve opted not to do that. I’m a simple blogger, not a business, so being just one of many xx.home.blog sites doesn’t worry me in the slightest. If I ever decide to switch to a personal domain I will definitely let everyone know (and I’ll set up re-direction links, of course).
I’ve always loved Amidala’s / Padmé’s outfits from the Star Wars prequel trilogy and I want to make some of them in doll scale. In order to do that I need at least one doll that can be customised with Amidala’s face paint. Unfortunately, after a close examination of all my dolls I realised that none of them was suitable. Both Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley have fairly long mid-faces and most of my dolls, intended to represent children, have average or short midfaces. After some consideration I decided that the best option for Amidala/Padmé is the original mould for Our Generation dolls, so I headed to their website to see if I could find one with brown eyes, long dark hair and no parting.
Problem: I found that the new mould is not an addition but a replacement, as you can see by comparing the Valencia I bought in 2019 with the one available now:
Since the old mould is being phased out and there are no current dolls with the mould, hair and eye combination I want, I browsed ebay for secondhand dolls and was lucky enough to find two suitable dolls on New Year’s Day. They were both very cheap (and local) but they have been well loved and will need some TLC before I can even think about customising them.
This is a HairPlay doll with extremely matted hair in two plaits that I knew was going to take hours to fix. When bought new she would have had three small plaits at the top of her head that can be shortened or lengthened by a button on the back, but the plaits have been undone (which is fine as it’s exactly what I was going to do anyway). Her skin is a medium tone, a little darker than I would have liked, but again it doesn’t matter because the face is going to be painted and I can either leave the hands as they are or paint them too. I would like to remove the HairPlay button but I’m not sure if I can do that without disassembling the doll — it doesn’t stick out as far as Pearl’s button does, though, and most of Amidala’s clothing is fairly loose around the waist so it might not be necessary.
While waiting for doll #3 to arrive (see below) I decided to tackle her hair. It took me around 7½ – 8 hours over five days using 150 mls of VDLC (my improvised braid spray – 1% fabric conditioner in water). One strand had been cut at about 10 cm from the root but it’s not around the hairline so I decided to pull it out. Underneath the matting the hair was in fairly good condition with just a bit of dryness at the ends. The last quarter of the hair was very sticky, and I’m not sure if it was due to more underlying dirt or the VDLC being a bit stronger (my container of fabric conditioner is pretty old and it was lumpy).
The hair is now confined in plaits again but I want to work out how to wash it safely (without getting any water in the hole at the top of her head) before I try styling it or painting her face.
The second doll had something very sticky on her face but most of it came off with Dissolvit (a citrus-based cleaner). The hair is much lighter and redder than I had anticipated but it’s in very good condition so I don’t want to dye it or replace it. I may use her in outfits that cover the hair, such as the gold travelling dress or the wedding dress.
Because the second doll wasn’t really suitable for Padmé I decided to get a third doll:
She’s in very good condition although the hair needs a comb-through (I’ll wait a week on that – my wrists need to recover from Amidala). There are no marks on the face or body.
Our Generation gives names to each different combination of skintone, eye colour and hair colour/style, but there is no central database I can use to determine my dolls’ identities, and scrolling through both the Australian and American websites didn’t reveal any dolls with these specific combinations. I decided that I might as well name them after the characters they will be portraying, so the first doll with the very long hair will be Amidala, the second doll with the reddish hair will be Sabé (since Keira Knightley’s hair is a bit lighter than Natalie Portman’s) and the third doll will be Padmé.
Our Generation introduced a new mould for their dolls last year and I really like it so I wanted to get one. I scrolled through the Australian website and decided that Sage had the best combination of hair, eyes and skintone. Unfortunately everyone else did too and she was sold out. It was months and months before I got the notification that she was back in stock and I almost gave up, but she’s here now and I love how she looks in person. Her hair is amazingly soft and has a gentle wave.
The clothes are fairly nice for mass-produced doll clothes, especially since they are meant to be for gardening, not partying. The dress is synthetic but it’s softer than umbrella nylon, and the cardigan is machine knitted fabric with an interesting textured stitch. The cardigan is lined on the sleeves only, which seems a little counter-intuitive, but it might be to prevent the hands from catching on the hem. I have a little difficulty with the concept of ribbons on gumboots but they do look pretty, and the boots were very easy to get off.
I’m nopt sure what sort of costume I’ll be making for her. She reminds me of Sora of the Genii from Stargate: Atlantis (played by Erin Chambers) so I think I might try making a Genii uniform for her. (She won’t be getting a haircut, though.)
I found Tenney on ebay about six weeks ago — there were several of her available but this one seemed to have the best compromise between cost and condition, since I didn’t want to buy her new and I definitely didn’t want any of the accessories. Her hair is very dry but apart from that she’s in very good condition. She came in most of her original outfit (she’s missing the denim vest but since I’m not much interested in AG clothes that doesn’t bother me).
Her body tag reads 2014 but she was released in 2017. I’ve noted the same thing with a couple of Melodys I’ve seen listed, and I suspect that AG made a massive order for bodies in 2014 and took a few years to run down the stock. I know that they retired several dolls in 2014-15 so overstock is the most likely explanation.
The forefinger in the right hand is, I think, bent enough for her to be able to hold a wand or staff, so witches and warriors are in her future.
That brings me to a staggering 78 American Girl dolls. If I do get Makena and Maritza next year that will be 80. I know I should be starting to sell some but I keep finding new ideas for the ones I previously didn’t care for very much. For example, I don’t feel a strong connection to McKenna or Kailey … but if I want to customise a doll for 17th century and/or Edwardian outfits (which I do), then they are the best options I have to modify the hairstyle because no one produces any appropriate wigs. I suspect that I may eventually start making my own wigs but that’s a long way off.
Even though I can’t sew much yet I can still browse ebay, and I have two new (to me) dolls to share with you.
The first is a #08 American Girl doll, with red hair and green eyes. She’s the only one of this type I’ve seen in two years of browsing so I was very pleased to get her for a reasonable price. She has the short “Made in China” label and her neck stamp is PLEASANT COMPANY in an arch, so she probably dates from 2000-2006. She’s clean and her hair is in good condition.
The second is an early edition Felicity with red lashes. These are pretty rare so I was astonished to see not one but two listed in the same week a couple of months back. I missed out on the first one but I got the second.
I’m not sure I’d call her lashes red, exactly — they are more of a brown — but they are definitely not black and they are much softer than the later Chinese lashes.
She has a “Made in Germany” label and for a thirty year old doll she is remarkably clean and tidy. Her hair is a little dry but in very good condition for her age. I didn’t take a picture of her neck but she has the arched PLEASANT COMPANY stamp, too.
In comparing the two dolls, the moulds appear to be identical, but the vinyl is different — the original version from Germany is softer, lighter in complexion and more matte, while the vinyl used in China is harder, a little darker in value and much more shiny. The wig materials are different, too — Felicity’s hair is slightly lighter in colour and is finer and softer than #08’s. You can see the difference in the lashes as well.
As for cosplay, #08 will be young Anne Shirley and Felicity will be adult Anne Shirley (I plan on using Samantha and #25 for Diana Barry). Of course there will be other historical gowns as well.
I still have plans to do a formal comparison of moulds, paint and vinyl sometime in the new year — I have bought a Vernier calliper to help with the measurements, and I’ll do standardised photos to compare colours. Unfortunately the weather has been grey and very rainy the last month or so and we are in for La Niña which means more rain and a cool summer, so it’s anyone’s guess when I’ll be able to do an outdoor shoot (the best photography weather is light and even cloud cover but that’s as rare as hens’ teeth here).
I missed the announcement of the three new “World by Us” dolls in September but I do like them — well, I’m a bit lukewarm about Evette but I love Makena and Maritza. The Makena mould makes me think of Michelle Obama. Given that her hair is styled so elaborately, I might treat myself to a direct purchase from the AG website rather than waiting for her to appear as a used doll — I suspect that the hair would be almost impossible to restore once tangled. And since there is no economic sense in buying one doll at a time (the shipping charge for one is more than 50% doll price) I might as well buy Maritza too.
I’m also considering #86 — I was hoping to win an auction for an #86 a few days ago but was overbid in the last few seconds, which was kind of disappointing but also a bit of a relief as this is not the month to go wild on the credit card. I won’t be trying to buy anything else until the new year so I’ll have time to save up. Fair warning though, I do have two more dolls already bought that are in transit so, fate and the postal service willing, there will be another new doll post before Christmas.
I am now the very proud and happy owner of a white body Samantha doll!
I wouldn’t normally have looked for one, but I had recently been disappointed by what was described as a 1986 white body Molly and turned out to be a 2011 brown body Molly (I think the seller was very young and didn’t know the difference between them — she accepted the return without question, so no hard feelings). It made me wonder if there were other white body dolls being auctioned or sold so I did a search and found several offerings, including this one. The exchange rate is good at the moment and I just received a much larger tax refund than I had expected so I assuaged my disappointment with the earlier purchase by buying this one (at twice the price). I confess that apart from this photo session to show her off and compare her to my other Samanthas she’s probably going to be kept in her box and maybe petted from time to time.
She is absolutely amazing. In bookshop terms she’d be described as Fine, Near Mint — I don’t think you could find one in better condition at 35 years after her release. I feel as if she deserves some sort of honorific title for having survived so well for so long, which I would totally give her if she were British, but of course she’s American so she’ll stay plain Miss Parkington.
Preliminary note: the dressed photo is very yellow, as in my previous post. While my battery was indeed dying at the time, I noted the same yellow tint on this evening’s photos and was somewhat perplexed until I noted that the mode button had somehow rotated to the Personal setting — being completely uninterested in learning about photography I keep it on Intelligent Auto unless it’s absolutely necessary to change (video or an extreme close-up, for example). Given that I had undressed the doll I didn’t want to get her all dressed up again just for one photo, so I’m using the yellow one for that.
The box itself is in pretty good condition — the corners are bumped and there are a few scratches, but it’s great for its age. The paper band around the box was included and so was the “Meet Samantha” book inside, but no other accessories. I can always get her a hat if I want one but I’m not sure that I do.
The frock is in perfect condition. The belt is stitched to the dress so not removable. It has a label stating “Made in West Germany 1986” which I initially thought meant it was a first release doll, but later I learned that it refers to the copyright date on the garment, not the manufacturing date, so the doll could have been made at any time between 1986 and 1991 when they switched to brown bodies. Unfortunately the fabric is completely synthetic — not quite “umbrella nylon” but not far off it, which is a huge disappointment.
Under the dress she is wearing drawers/pantalettes, which feel like cotton. The elastic has perished (hardly surprising) and there is some fraying around the seams but otherwise they are very good. The black knit tights are fairly thick and the elastic has perished there too. The shoes are black plastic “Mary Jane” type with one strap across the instep.
If I actually liked the dress I’d remake it in better fabrics but as it happens I am not at all fond of the pouffed-chest that the Edwardians found so attractive, so I think I’ll try and find something better from around 1890 or 1915 to make for her.
The vinyl is slightly tacky or greasy in feel – I’m not sure if the vinyl itself is starting to break down (unlikely) or if there is some residue from handling, cleaning or sealing. I’m going to try a gentle vodka wipedown and then proceed on to other cleaning agents if that doesn’t work.
As you can see, the body cloth is pristine. Stitching is good. Stuffing is not quite as firm as some other dolls (which may have been restuffed by the seller) but not too squishy. The ties are flat, not round. There is no tag — I think tags were introduced around the same time as they switched to brown bodies.
The arms and legs have no scratches or stains (not that I expected any). The vinyl is definitely a little softer than in later dolls.
The arm joints are a bit loose but the leg joints are reasonably tight and she can stand unsupported.
Her eyes are brown with radial spikes and are still glossy (I wasn’t able to get a very good shot of them with the flash, but I’ll try in daylight when I do the comparison post). The eyelashes are longer, more curled and slightly softer than in the later Chinese-made dolls. The eyebrows are much lighter than I’d expected, almost a gold. She has hardly any lip colour — I always thought that the colour had worn off the other 1990s dolls I acquired, but it was obviously very subtle to start with. The teeth are visible but not a bright white so they don’t stand out as they do in later models.
I’d heard that Samantha’s hair was originally much lighter but it still came as quite a surprise to see just how much lighter it is — I’d call it mid-brown or light chestnut at the most, and I suspect it’s as light as or even possibly lighter than Molly’s. It’s also quite long and wavy and still shiny, though a little dry at the ends. Her hair ribbon is from the same fabric as the frock.
The wig has a thick fabric band at the back with a few short hairs to cover it (not as much as later wigs). It seems to cover more of the neck than later wigs do. The neck is stamped “PLEASANT COMPANY” in what I’d term a medium font, and the arch of the lettering is gentle. I wasn’t able to identify an artist’s mark but it might be covered by the wig.
So, that’s my white-body Samantha.
I’ll do a formal mould comparison later on — I have a 1990s and a 2014 model Samantha I can compare directly with this one, and while I don’t have a Samantha from the early/mid 2000s I do have a Kailey from 2002, an Emily from 2006 (possibly the last use of the old PC mould) and a Saige from 2013 (the last named doll released prior to the Be Forever re-mould).
These are all my Classic mould American Girl dolls, in alphabetical / numerical order.
1. All dolls were purchased used from eBay unless otherwise indicated.
2. VDFC = very dilute fabric conditioner (1% in tap water) = my improvised braid spray.
3. Photo conditions vary so don’t compare skin tones.
I already had many of the nineteenth century dolls when I saw this listing and I wasn’t really looking for her but she was a good price and I wanted to complete the set. She came with her meet outfit (including shoes) but no accessories, and her hair was a little bit dry. She’s had the VDFC treatment and I’m looking forward to dressing her in period costume.
A nice doll, hair in good condition. She came in the Spooky Fun Halloween costume without the skirt, but I can make one very easily if I want to sell the outfit. The shorter hair is a little limiting but I’m sure I can work with it.
I actually thought she was a Felicity because the listing only had one photo which was very yellow and didn’t show the hair length, and she was described simply as “American Girl Doll”. Still, she’s in good condition. Probably for sale later on.
Felicity 2 PC
I wanted a Pleasant Company Felicity to compare her with the Mattel version, and this one came with the original rose garden gown. Her neck says “Pleasant Company” and she has a short “Made in China” tag, so probably from the mid-90s. She’s a little chunkier than the Mattel version — the chest is the same size, but the waist is larger and the hips narrower (29 and 30 cm respectively). The seller was honest about her condition — very loose joints and frizzy hair — but I figured I could remedy that myself. Unfortunately her wig really is very poor — there’s not much hair left and the mesh is very baggy and is torn in a couple of places. On the other hand, I get to practise re-stringing limbs and I can replace the wig with one of a better quality. Like most PC dolls she could also do with a face-paint touch-up.
I bought this doll because she came with the “Tis the Season” outfit that I figured I could sell to offset some of the cost. She’s in great condition but there’s no emotional connection, and now that I have so many other AG dolls I may well sell her too.
Mis-identified as Julie in the listing, which probably contributed to the lack of interest from other buyers This was another overnight “leave it to fate” auction, and I was surprised that I won with the minimum bid. She is in very good condition, with glossy hair and no markings. The plaits are both irritating and useless so I’ll take them out and straighten the hair and then I’ll make an attempt at putting her hair up in 18th century style or possibly a 1960s bouffant updo.
She has a brown body and her tag says “Made in Germany” so she’s from the early 1990s — definitely the oldest AG doll I have. Almost all her face paint has gone and her hair has been trimmed, but it still reaches to her chest. The fringe is very thick and wide, consistent with the era, but it looks rather odd now. Hair is dry but in good condition considering her age. I’d like to try various northern European outfits on her, including Swedish or Norwegian national dress.
I got her because she was pretty cheap (there are many, many Kits on eBay), but I’m fairly lukewarm about her. The short hair is difficult to style properly and she is limited to 20th century outfits. On the other hand, this is the hairstyle I had for much of my own childhood so there is a bit of nostalgia when I look at her. I don’t think ball dresses are in her future but she may get some child-appropriate outfits. Or maybe 1920s … it’s not quite a 20s bob but I might be able to work with it. I wonder if anyone makes doll-size cloche hats?
I don’t like the official AG photo of her and she wasn’t on my mental list of dolls to get, but then I found an eBay sale where she looked great. I was even more pleased with her once I got to see her in person. She has the misprinted “American Gril” tag. Her wig is in excellent condition and with a little effort I can get all her curls to point inwards. She’s going to be great for mid-20th century clothing (Dior New Look and Chanel suits in particular).
The very last historical doll I needed (prior to Courtney’s release). She was bought with Elizabeth 2 in an overnight auction — I put my bid in and went to bed, trusting to fate, and was pleasantly surprised the next morning to find I had won. I don’t know why I was the only bidder, since she’s in good condition, but I’m not complaining! She is so very much a 1950s doll that I’m sure I’ll make a couple of frou-frou dresses for her.
Like Blaire, technically this isn’t my doll. I bought her directly from AG for my cousin Jo to use as a model for crochet clothing, but when we all move in together she will return to her sisters. Suzy sent me this photo and it’s the only one I have.
Her head is marked Pleasant Company and she has no body tag, so probably another 1990s doll. I actually bought her because she came with several pairs of earrings that I could use in other dolls (as well as her satchel, which I may sell). Her hair was extremely dry when I got her — I found a pure water spray did nothing, but VDFC made it manageable (she was the first doll I used VDFC on). The fringe limits her to 20th century styles and, most likely, child-appropriate outfits. She doesn’t have her glasses but I’ll try to get a pair for her.
This was a doll I wanted because of her unique hair colour — very dark brown with burgundy/purple tints. She’s not a common listing but I was lucky enough to find one by accident, in very good condition, at a reasonable price with low postage. I might have got her for USD 15 less but the auction expired at 5 am (my time) and there were 5 listed watchers, so I paid the “Buy It Now” price. The hair is glossy and curly and a truly beautiful colour, so I’m very happy to have her in my collection.
Another doll I wasn’t looking for, but she was local (from Victoria) and relatively cheap. Her hair is in good condition and she came in her meet outfit. Since she has much the same colouring as Felicity I can see myself doing them up as twins. Even though I don’t care for freckles I think I’ll leave them be on Saige so that she doesn’t get mixed up with Felicity.
Samantha 1 PC
You can’t have an AG collection without Samantha, so I bought this one. She is very chubby (second largest overall) and has no body tag, so she’s probably from the 1990s. Her hair was dry and a little frizzy but responded to VDFC treatment, and she came in an interesting home-made dress that is way too large for her but with a little alteration will fit my 22″ doll Julie. For an old doll she’s in pretty good condition but I may re-do her face paint, which has almost completely worn away.
Samantha 2 BF
Of all the dolls that have both PC and Mattel versions, I think Samantha has the most significant face change. The 2014 version is so much more delicate in comparison with the original PC mould that they could almost be considered different dolls (I’ll do a separate post on mould comparisons later on). This one came in the Be Forever meet dress but with different shoes. Hair was in very good condition and only needed a light comb through.
The photograph on this listing was so dark I honestly thought I was buying a Samantha and was quite surprised when I unwrapped her. Medium skin, red hair and brown eyes make for a very unusual look — I didn’t know that red hair and brown eyes could co-exist but I’ve since learned that it is found in Eastern Europe (I thought Scottish actress Karen Gillan might have brown eyes too, but they are officially described as hazel). I’m not sure how to dress her yet but I’m sure that inspiration will strike.
She could be a Gwen, but is much more likely to be #12 (no body tag). She’s in very good condition for an older doll. I may do an eye swap as I need a pair of brown eyes for Kanani 2 and this doll would be fine with hazel.
I really wasn’t supposed to get this doll. It was right at the end of my early 2020 eBay marathon — I’d bought Melody, I’d bought Nellie, and I was just waiting on a Cecile auction as my final eBay purchase (for then) when I ran my AG search one more time and found this listing. I was quite surprised to see it — I’d been monitoring eBay fairly constantly for almost six months and she was the first #15 I’d seen (and I haven’t seen one since). I ended up staying up until 5 am to win the auction at the last minute, which I don’t normally do, but in between putting my bid in and actually preparing to switch off the laptop there were two more bids so I knew I wasn’t going to win it if I wasn’t awake. She has textured hair which is very dry and brittle, like Addy’s, and wasn’t much helped by VDFC so she’s heading for a deep conditioning treatment and then probably Polynesian or South American outfits.
A local purchase from a woman in Queensland. Although a little expensive for a used doll ($125 + postage) she is in beautiful condition and is destined for Anne Shirley cosplay (and yes, I know Anne has green eyes but I’ve never seen an #08 for sale) or possibly Anna from Frozen.
Her hair was wild when I got her but the usual VDFC treatment has tamed it. I like the caramel/strawberry blonde colour of the hair, but short hair is very limiting, so again probably 20th century styles only, or outfits that include a head covering.
This one was the second doll I purchased (after Marie-Grace 1) and at the time I honestly thought it would be my only AG reference doll (Oh, how naïve I was!). She was very cheap and was sold “for parts or repair” but is in relatively good shape for all that. The nail polish on her fingers came off easily, and so did most of the other marks. She has some black marking around her eye sockets that is proving difficult to treat without getting solvent on the eyes so I may have to take them out and use acetone on the sockets. Given her typical northern European colouring, I want to dress her in a dirndl along with #25 for “Snow White and Rose Red” cosplay, or maybe Alice.
Another Queensland purchase, and the only one I actually regret — she and all the clothes she came with are incredibly musty (I think she must have been stored in an uninsulated garage for a few years). I discarded all the body stuffing immediately, but three weeks on the balcony (before the bushfires) and several months in baking soda didn’t do much to combat the smell in the body and limbs. The head was surrounded by lavender bags, also with limited success. The clothes were treated with alternating Vanish (Oxyclean) and vinegar, which completely ruined the metal parts. Oh well. I’m now contemplating using her for experiments in solvents and pigments, and also using her feet as lasts for making shoes.
This is a fairly nondescript doll — classic mould, blue eyes, mid-brown hair. She’s in good condition but I’m having trouble getting any emotional attachment to her so she’s another that may get sold later on. [Edit: She’s also the most columnar doll, her measurements being 27-28-28 (10 5/8 – 11 – 11) so 1920s dresses will suit her admirably. She stays.]
This was the next doll I bought after #22A because I love her colouring – with her dark hair and eyes she is the perfect foil as Rose Red for #22’s Snow White. She would also do well for Diana Barry, paired with #17 as Anne Shirley. She was in very good condition for the price and didn’t need much in the way of cleaning up.
Although very similar to #22, this one has much darker blue eyes and longer blonde hair. She came in a sparkly blue dress (not an AG dress) that really brought out the colour. I can see her as Alice, or maybe Elsa from Frozen. I think she’d look great in a royal blue sarafan and kokoshnik (if I can work out how to make a kokoshnik that will stay on a doll’s head).
A rare find: a Truly Me doll correctly identified in the eBay listing. This was the first medium skin tone doll I bought in the Classic mould. I’d prefer her with darker hair, but she doesn’t look at all bad.
I didn’t seek another #29 but she came as one of a pair with Marie-Grace 4 and was very cheap. She was also wearing the 2014 Happy Holidays dress which I’ll sell later on.
Unfortunately this doll’s previous owner took scissors to her fringe, but I hope that I can get around that by giving her tight curls and allocating her to the late 19th century (or possibly the 1940s). If not, she can be either medieval with a wimple and coif, or a 1970s girl with a bandanna … or I could just get another wig for her.
I’m not entirely sure of this doll’s identity as her wig has been replaced (or at least re-glued), but she has dark green spiral/pinwheel eyes so #41 is the most likely. If I can squish her waist a little I think she’ll make a good Scarlett O’Hara.
The second doll I bought new, this time through eBay, because it was very cheap (for a new doll) and I like the combination of Classic mould, medium skin and dark brown eyes and hair. I suspect she’s ex-benefit but I haven’t taken her out of the box to check yet. I’m tempted to try her out with Hawaiian/Polynesian outfits, or maybe northern Indian or South American.
Another local find (NSW) and mis-identified as #43 in the listing (seriously? They are totally different) but I think that worked to my advantage. Her hair looked good in the photographs, with all her ringlets intact, but when I got her I found that the hair was matted at the roots and it took a fair bit of patience and a lot of VDFC to detangle it (but hey, that’s what TV is for, right?). Like #26 she has a serious gap in her wig at the front which is extremely disappointing — I don’t care what hairstyle is allocated to the doll, it’s very poor practice not to have a complete ring of hair around the edge. She also has what I suspect is baking soda residue in the ears and mouth, so there will be a skin cleanup.
Although she is a medium-skin tone doll, the blue eyes made me think of Elizabeth Taylor, who was very tanned most of her life, as was the fashion in the 1950s-70s. I’ve actually purchased a pair of dark blue / indigo eyes for her to enhance the resemblance. While Taylor portrayed many historical roles, the costume designers in the 50s and 60s weren’t nearly as thorough as they are today and her film costumes are a very bad mix of period and contemporary elements (take Cleopatra, for example, where her dresses have typical 1960s “point and shoot” brassiere supports). I may well give her some historical outfits but I’ll try to be a little more period-appropriate within the limits of doll anatomy.
Dolls I would still like to get:
#69 – the dark hair with a centre parting would make her a good period-dress companion to Caroline and Felicity. (I may resort to re-wigging #23 or #38 but I’d rather have a #69.)
Courtney – if I ever buy her it will only be for completing the set of historical characters, as I don’t really find her attractive or interesting — I lived through the 80s and have no desire to repeat the experience even vicariously. I do like the mini-Molly though, she’s very cute.
I’m going to try and justify the money I spent by doing a series of comparison posts among the 70 AG dolls in my possession: moulds (including old and new Classic); skin tones; wigs; and body tags.
I wasn’t going to get an American Girl doll when I initially planned this venture as the cheapest I could find new was $225 (nearer $300 with shipping and import duties) and the ones I really liked were around $500, but then I started browsing eBay and found a thriving second-hand market. American Girl is is pretty much the standard reference for 18″ dolls now, so I did need one. One. The other 70 … not so much. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was the first step into a kind of insanity. I guess I should count myself lucky that I prefer to buy used rather than new, not just for the price but because it satisfies my hunting instinct more and also gives me the opportunity to care for dolls who might otherwise be thrown away.
I’m an archivist and completist at heart — I like having complete sets of books or discs and it turns out that AG dolls are no exception. There are 46 named dolls (49 if you count the re-releases separately) and 88 numbered dolls, making a total of 134 dolls. No, I don’t have all of them and I’m unlikely ever to get them all, but I do have at least one of each mould (except for the males), and I’m trying to have one in each skin tone too.
I should also note that since I’m in Australia I don’t have the option of sending dolls to the AG doll hospital for replacement limbs. This means that I have to be very selective in what I choose to bid on — I can’t replace chewed fingers or badly marked vinyl or torn bodies. I can get wigs and eyes, but they are expensive (around $40-60 per pair for eyes and $50-80 per wig, with shipping) so not something I can do for every doll. Still, even within those limitations I can have a lot of fun with restoration.
Today’s post will discuss my purchases in moulds other than the Classic.
1. Unless otherwise stated, all the dolls were purchased used from eBay.
2. VDFC = very dilute fabric conditioner, my improvised braid spray (approximately 1% solution in tap water — our water here is very good, with a low mineral content).
3. Although (almost) all the photos were taken in the same location, they were taken over the span of a year in numerous sessions and the lighting varied quite a bit (even though I tried to standardise it as much as possible), so some duplicated dolls appear to have different skin tones but it’s just an artifact. I’ll do another post later on when I compare dolls directly with each other.
My Addy is a Pleasant Company doll, presumably from the 1990s (she has a brown body but no body tag). She’s very chubby — the largest of all my AG dolls, in fact. Her skin was a bit grubby but cleaned up easily, but the hair was extremely dry — so dry, in fact, that even gently combing the ends was causing bits to break off. Water spray didn’t help at all, but a VDFC treatment made a huge difference. I repeated it a week later and the condition of the hair was significantly better, with no breakages. The wig cap itself is not great (the mesh has stretched) but all in all she’s in very good condition for a 30-year old doll.
I was idly browsing several months after my previous doll purchase (always a mistake) and saw this poor girl being offered for 35 USD. Her face was covered in glitter and glue, her wig was in poor condition, her hands and feet had nail polish, and her left arm and body were badly stained. However, there were no apparent gouges, all her fingers and toes were intact and there were no tears in the body so I wanted to see if I could restore her. I put in my bid and went to bed, and found out the next morning that I had won the auction. In person the vinyl isn’t as bad as I thought but the cloth body is pretty bad so I’ll have to try and bleach it and/or dye it (and, to be honest, if that’s a success I’m tempted to re-dye all the very dark models because the torsos are disconcertingly light in comparison with the vinyl). Her wig is sown in rows across the top from front to back rather than the concentric circles on most wigs, so I think she might be a #58 (I haven’t seen any of that model up close so I can’t compare them). Regardless of her identity, I’m looking forward to making her beautiful again.
I was a bit reluctant to get this one, as I wasn’t sold on the combination of the Addy mould and medium skin, but she’s actually quite pretty. Her wig is odd — it doesn’t look as if it’s been replaced, but there are spots at the front where the fabric around the wig edge is very visible. If the hair itself were in poor condition I’d be tempted to replace the wig, but it’s shiny and not too dry, so instead I applied permanent ink pens to the fabric areas to make them less visible, and if I pull the front section of hair down a little it doesn’t show at all. It’s very disappointing to see bald patches at the hairline in a quality doll brand though. [NB As I bought more dolls I discovered that this is a common defect. Not good at all.]
This doll was on the expensive side but there aren’t many of her on eBay and she came in her original box (American Girl Today) with several complete outfits. She has a slightly more golden tone than Ivy, and the short midface is very cute.
This was an amazing find on eBay late one night — USD 70 for the doll, which is a bit more than I like to pay, but she’s not a common doll and she also came with the Chinese New Year outfit, which can sell for more than that on its own. Added to that, the postage quoted was the lowest I’ve ever seen. I hit that “Buy It Now” button so fast I surprised myself. By sheer coincidence, she arrived on Chinese New Year day (7 February 2020). She has the extended eye sockets and her wig appears to be original (if slightly trimmed). Her body tag has been cut off but there is no different in skin tone between head and limbs so I’m pretty sure she’s all Ivy.
I’m not at all fond of the medium skin / hazel eyes combination but I’m sure I’ll be able to work with it. She’s lost a couple of inches of her hair but it’s still below her hips and she’s otherwise in good condition. If I find I really can’t live with the eyes I’ll replace them.
I bought this doll from Norway, of all places. She’s had a rough life — there was a small hole in the front of the body, which I darned, and her hair has been cut short. The wig issue is actually a bonus for me, though, because I don’t feel at all bad about modifying her. She’s going to get brown eyes and a dark brown wig to make her look more Polynesian — I’ve seen a couple of stunning custom Kananis with that combination.
She is an ex-benefit sale doll (X on the bottom) but is in good condition, and I wanted a light-skinned Jess mould doll. It’s impossible to tell the difference between Jess and #30 if you don’t have the original box unless the #30 was from a batch made in or after 2011 when the long tags were implemented. Mine only has a short tag so was a pre-2011 make.
Having already bought #30 I wasn’t intending to get another Jess mould doll, but this one was in like-new condition and came with a lot of AG outfits that I figured would offset the cost when I sell them. She’s from 2017 and has permapanties but honestly they don’t bother me much and they won’t show under clothing.
Strictly speaking, I don’t have this doll — I bought her new for my cousin Suzy to use as a model for knitted clothes, but since we’re all going to live together in a few years I guess she counts as part of the line-up. Her long hair makes her very adaptable to period costumes so I can see her as an older Anne Shirley or Merida or a young Queen Bess. I apologise for the quality of the photo — I didn’t want to open the box before sending it up to Suzy, and it had to be at an angle to avoid flash reflection.
My first Josefina mould doll. I bought this doll as one of a pair with Felicity 1. They both came in hospital boxes but I’m not sure what was replaced — the head is definitely not new (although her hair is in beautiful condition). She had her meet dress but no other clothing or accessories. She is one of the prettiest of the Josefina mould dolls, and I’m keen to make up some 18th / 19th century outfits for her.
I was actually bidding on Maryellen 1 and saw that this doll was from the same seller. She was in good condition but no one had bid on her at all. Since the auction ended early in the morning (my time) I put in a bid and then went to bed. I was surprised to wake up and see that I had won both auctions. She’s in excellent condition apart from a couple of tiny marks on the body. At this stage I’m not sure if I’ll keep her or sell her, but I’m certainly going to dress her.
This doll was a great find — not only did she come in her box with three sets of clothes that look brand new, but her wig has been replaced with a Beautifully Custom wig that reaches to her ankles (the weight of it also makes her extremely difficult to pose). I’d prefer it if the wig were darker, to be honest, so I may change it later on.
This doll came in an early AG hospital gown and she is definitely in need of some TLC. Her earrings are corroded so they’ll need a bit of Brasso to clean up. Her skin is very grubby and when I started cleaning her it seemed like the whole top layer was sloughing. I suspect that someone used a cleaning agent or spray seal that has reacted with the vinyl. Given that cleaning her up properly means taking off all her face paint (and probably removing her eyes too) she’s at the back of the queue for now.
I was a teenager in the 1970s so I well remember the terrible, terrible fashion choices people made — hot pants, flairs, crochet dresses and giant floppy hats. On the other hand I loved the Gunne Sax style dresses and actually made a couple for myself (all lace and flowers and ribbon) so adapting those patterns for a doll will be great fun. Julie’s long straight hair is perfect for this era but can easily fit into any other. To be honest, I’m a little ambivalent about the brown eyes with flaxen hair because most people with flaxen hair have blue or grey eyes. After much searching I have found a pair of grey eyes that aren’t too light so I may try them out in her. Note to anyone buying eyes from etsy or eBay: eyes that look great in isolation can look really weird when inserted into a doll’s face. Always check to see if there are photos of the eyes in situ rather than in a box or on a flat surface.
I’m not sure why AG has such a preference for matching medium skin tones with hazel eyes but at least it doesn’t look as bad in Lea as it does in Kanani (and #79). This doll wasn’t identified in the listing and the photos weren’t great, but I was reasonably sure she was a Lea and she was very cheap in comparison with the named Lea listings. Hair was a bit wild but has been tamed with VDFC.
Sold as “brunette, brown eyes”. Lovely colouring and a very pretty face (and her eyes are brown, yay!). I’d like to make matching or coordinating outfits for her and Lea as they are almost mirror twins.
For some reason I don’t feel much of a connection to this doll — I’m not sure why. She’s in reasonable condition and her hair isn’t too dry. I may sell her or I may customise her. On the other hand, the fact that her hair is pulled back at the forehead means I could probably do an eighteenth century or Edwardian hairstyle quite easily. We’ll see how she manages in period clothes and then make a decision.
This was a “Buy It Now” purchase where I could have saved maybe $20 by bidding on an auction, but the two auctions that looked promising ended early in the morning (my time) and had a couple of bids already. Nellie was my third-last eBay purchase of early 2020 and I just wanted to be done with getting all the historical characters so that my completist urge was satisfied and I could log out of eBay permanently (or at least until my credit card recovered). Her hair is fairly short, so limited in style, but I can definitely dress her in Edwardian children’s style and later 20th century adult styles. I may take a solvent swab to her freckles (I have freckles myself and I’ve never liked them) but that’s not a decision to be made in a hurry.
A surprise find on eBay, not identified in the listing (“AG doll, curly hair”). The lighting in the photos was a little odd, and it took me a while to work out that she is a Rebecca. Her hair is still curly but was rather dry, so VDFC to the rescue again.
Bought new directly from American Girl (along with a Maryellen for my cousin Jo) — she cost around AUD 260 with shipping and import duty. This is the only dark-skinned Josefina mould doll — she looks Indian or Sri Lankan to me so I’d love to make her a sari or shalwar kameez in bright silks. I know that you can buy used / damaged saris for fairly low prices on eBay and etsy, so I can either recycle them or use paints and pencils to make border patterns on plain silk. Sorry about the photo — I don’t actually have this doll in my possession yet and the photo was sent to me by Suzy.
Bought new via Amazon. I love the new mould — she seems to include the best aspects of the Josefina, Marie-Grace and Classic moulds. Although she’s a “modern” doll I’m sure that I can find a period dress or two for her, and I’m tempted to try sourcing or making an ear trumpet to replace the hearing aid. As a new doll she has perfect skin and hair, of course, so no maintenance required.
This one was a bit dirty but otherwise in reasonable condition. Her hair has been trimmed but still reaches to her hips and wasn’t too dry. After treating it I bound it up in two Leia-style buns to try and entice some curl back into it.
This one has had a drastic hair cut and is going to get a wig replacement. As well as Native American costumes, I’d like to try making her some of the very colourful outfits prevalent in South America.
Ah, Marie-Grace. I’m not sure why, but this is by far my favourite doll. I love her little heart-shaped face, her delicate features and her unusually coloured eyes. Even the fact that her hair is plain brown instead of blonde or dark brown endears her more to me. The only thing I don’t like is her meet dress — it looks all right in photographs but it feels like it’s made out of umbrella nylon. I guess it could be for ease of cleaning, but when so many other AG dolls get cotton or satin dresses it seems like a slap in the face.
The very first American Girl doll I bought, from eBay back in September 2019. She was USD 85, but the exchange rate, shipping and import duties brought it up to AUD 202. Her hair is still in the original style, with ribbons, and she had her meet outfit and accessories (no boxes) so the price was good for what I got. I was originally going to pull her waist in with darts so that she can wear the very tight-waisted Victorian styles, but I think I’ll do that with MG2 instead.
She cost less than MG1 but a little more than I usually spend on used dolls, but although she’s lost her plaits and pin curls she’s in good condition. She arrived in the Grecian Princess outfit (sans sandals) which I would like a lot better if it was in cotton or linen and not cheap nylon. Given that her hair has lost its original style I think this will be the doll that gets the waist modification.
I bought this one from an Australian seller. She has been customised as Daenerys Targaryen with Caroline’s eyes and wig, and her face has been painted. The photograph shows that the blusher and lip colour are from different sides of the red spectrum (it’s less obvious in real life) so she needs a bit of revision. I’ll also re-do the eyebrows as they are too dark — I know Daenerys has dark eyebrows but I don’t like them with the flaxen hair.
I wasn’t going to buy another used MG doll, but she was listed with a #29 as “Pair of AG dolls” and was very cheap. She had no original clothes with her, but her hair is in great condition with ribbons, and she’s very clean.
I finally caved and bought a new doll with box and accessories. Expensive, but so, so worth it. This one is going to be kept in the box and not played with, just looked at fondly and maybe petted a little.
A surprise local listing (Sydney), with several of Marie-Grace’s outfits and accessories. She cost a bit much, but at least most of the money went on the doll and not on shipping. For a “near-new” doll her joints are surprisingly loose, so I may end up re-stringing her. Otherwise she’s in great condition and will be cherished along with MG5.
Given that I feel enormously protective towards Marie-Grace dolls I may buy more if they appear to be in need of a good home … but not for a while.
This was the first AG doll I bought new, through Amazon marketplace. With the exchange rate, postage and import duties it came to almost $250. I love her face, though I wish she had brown eyes rather than the hazel that AG puts in almost every mixed-race doll. I haven’t taken her out of the box yet but I want to make a holoku for her, and maybe some Thai or Malay costumes. I have no idea if she has the “defective” eyes that buyers complained about — they don’t look any different to me — but I’ll probably swap them out for brown eventually.
Bought new through eBay from someone in Sydney. Cecile was second-last doll I needed in order to have all the historical dolls (prior to Courtney). I didn’t particularly want a new one but used Ceciles are as rare as hen’s teeth, and knowing my impulse-buying tendencies I wanted to get her so that I could cut myself off from eBay. And oh, look, she has hazel eyes, who would have guessed. /s (Seriously, someone needs to remind AG that 80% of the world’s population has brown eyes; we blue/green/grey-eyed people are the mutants.)
This one is definitely a Gabriela and came with her meet outfit. Her hair is in excellent condition and her skin is clean.
This doll was part of the final completist push early in 2020. I was actually contemplating getting her from the AG website, but I found an ex-benefit sale new doll for only USD 75, and even with the postage and import duties it was less than I would have had to pay AG. I’d like to make a couple of 1960s outfits for her, like the Mondrian dress and a a couple of those dance dresses with miles of tulle underneath.
My very last AG purchase (for the time being, at least). She’s the only doll ever marketed as Indian, which is both surprising and disappointing considering that people from the subcontinent have migrated to every country and there are sizable populations in both the US and Canada (and Australia, of course). I’ve been after one for ages, but she had a short run (2009 only) and there aren’t many available, even used. The new ones are listed at USD 500 or upwards which is too much even for me. I tried to buy a used one from eBay a few months ago but received an entirely different item (I believe the mix-up occurred at the International Shipping Centre in Kentucky but as eBay refunded me I’m leaving that up to the seller to resolve). Then in December 2020 I was idly browsing and came across a lovely excellent condition used doll for only USD 190, which is much less than I paid for the first attempt, though still the most money I’ve paid for any AG doll. I was even happier to see that the exchange rate is better, too, so all in all it cost me AUD 70 less than the first attempt. I’m really looking forward to dressing her and #80 as sisters in colourful silk saris and shalwar kameez.
Addy mould but with long smooth hair in a centre parting. This is a long shot, as she was only available 2009-12, but I’ll keep an eye out. She’d make a wonderful companion for Sonali and #80 in a sari, shalwar kameez or lehenga.
Josefina mould, medium skin and magenta hair — what’s not to like? She’s so new I’d probably have to buy her from the AG website or from a reseller, both of which would be expensive, so definitely not in the near future. But one day, maybe …
Tomorrow I’ll talk about all my Classic mould dolls.
As several of my friends know, I’m planning to move to Tasmania in a few years (when I get my lump sum) and I’ll be living with two of my cousins who are about my age. One of the things we’ve discussed has been an occasional craft market stall. I sew (by hand and machine), Suzy knits and weaves, and Jo crochets and sews, so among us we have a good spread of skills. I’d like to make some dolls’ clothing to sell, but I can’t use the two dolls I’ve had since childhood as fitting models because one (Sandra) is too small and the other (Julie) is too big, and I’ll need to make clothes that fit today’s dolls. To that end, I started buying 18″ dolls to use as reference / fitting models. Originally I was only going to get a couple of cheap reference dolls but then insanity happened and I now have 90 (yes, ninety) — I wrote about this here. I originally meant to do these doll posts in late 2019, but I kept buying more dolls and so kept postponing the entries. I think I’ve pretty much stopped now, so it’s time to do the introductions (although I’ve already posted a couple of the dolls in dresses I’ve made over the last few months).
1. For overseas readers, Target Australia and Kmart Australia are NOT the same as the similarly named stores in North America. The Australian stores are both owned by Wesfarmers, which is Australia’s biggest company by revenue (they also own Bunnings and OfficeWorks).
2. VDFC = Very Dilute Fabric Conditioner (approximately a 1% solution) = my improvised braid spray.
A. Locally available dolls
(arranged in order of retail price, not including shipping)
1. “Positively Perfect” doll (Chloe) – available from Target Australia ($10 — a very low price, so I think she might have been on sale) or Wal-Mart in the US. For a ten-dollar doll she’s actually not bad — her hair is two different colours and came attached to a plastic strip to minimise tangling. The hair was extremely difficult to comb initially but I tried it with VDFC and that made it much better. Her eyes are painted. Her head seem disproportionately large, even for a doll, but I can disguise that by dressing her in bulky outfits.
2. “My Sweet Friend” doll (unnamed) – available from Target Australia ($22). She came in a ballerina outfit so I named her Galina, after Galina Ulanova, the Russian prima ballerina assoluta. Nordic and/or Russian outfits would suit her best.
3. “Design A Friend” doll (Lola) – available from Big W in Australia ($29 – 44) or Argos in the UK. Much thinner than the other cloth-torso dolls and her torso is a bit misaligned, giving her an apparent leg length discrepancy. In spite of that she does stand. Tons of hair … maybe a little too much as I had to put it into a couple of plaits to keep it under control (seriously, she has more hair on her tiny head than I’ve ever had on mine). Her head is also the largest, proportionately. She has painted eyes. She already has a small waist, and her torso is so squishy I think I can squeeze her into a Victorian silhouette without too much effort (obviously I wouldn’t be able to sell any clothes I fit to her after that, but that wouldn’t matter too much as long as the dresses look good).
4a. “Our Generation” doll (Valencia) — available from David Jones, Kmart and online in Australia ($35 – 60). I noted that DJ has some dolls that are not on the Australian OG website and vice versa. As with most OG dolls she appears to be quite startled, but I may be able to fix that by wiping and re-drawing the eyebrows. She has a lovely skintone.
4b. “Our Generation” Pearl — she’s a Hair Play doll that was available exclusively from David Jones in Australia for a time (she’s not even on the Australian OG website). I chose her for her hair colour and length as I wanted to try dressing it in eighteenth century styles. Unfortunately, when I ordered her I forgot something — she has a button on her back to alter the length of the three plaits. It’s a big button and it means I can’t put a corset on her. As it is, I’m going to have to file down the edges of the button to avoid a 90 degree bump. At least I can make sacque dresses for her (even if massive hair wasn’t quite contemporaneous) and some of the late Regency styles had a bit of a bustle along with the high waist so they’ll be good candidates, too. It’s almost impossible to get her to stand unsupported with the hair up, because of the weight distribution, so I’m going to have to get a stand for her.
5. “Soy Tu” doll by Paola Reina (Emily) – available from speciality toyshops ($129). I was reluctant to get this one originally but decided she was cute enough to warrant the price, especially in comparison with the Götz dolls on the next shelf. I was not expecting the intense vanilla smell, though, and it took two vodka rubdowns and a few nights on the balcony (prior to the bushfires) before the smell dissipated to a tolerable level. When I measured her I found that she is smaller and thinner than the other dolls (height 42 cm, waist 20 cm) so she can’t be used as a reference doll. Still, she’ll make a good sister for Sandra, my smaller childhood doll.
6. “Florrie” doll (No 5) formerly available online or through the Florrie store in Melbourne ($150). The best packaging of all by far, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing — I’d rather the money went into the doll than the boxes. I’m still working out a name for her — she looks like an Emily to me but that’s a name already used by several doll companies (and also by Sarah Crewe in A Little Princess). My grandmother was called Florence Emily so I’ll probably stick to calling her Florrie (or maybe Flossie), which isn’t really fair to her but at least it avoids confusion. Unfortunately the Florrie business closed permanently around March 2020 so these dolls are no longer available.
7a. “Australian Girl” doll (Matilda), available online or from a few specialist shops here. ($160) I was a bit surprised to see how dull her skintone is in comparison with the others. She has lovely subtle touches of rose on her face, neck, knees and feet, but overall she appears rather grey. Then I actually checked against my own skintone (I’m of Scottish heritage so very pale for an Australian) and found that in fact it’s quite close to real skin colour while all the other dolls are too pinky-orange. She is also larger than the others — 50 cm (20″) but I can probably work around that. I tried brushing her hair but immediately realised why brushes and curls are not a good combination. It took several hours to restore the finger curls. (In my defence, I have extremely fine straight hair and it’s been 40 years since I had a perm. One forgets.) Unfortunately she has some staining on her arms and legs from the doll carrier she arrived in — I undressed her for photos and measurements but didn’t re-dress her before putting her back in the carrier. I’ll have to see if metho or acetone can remove the stains.
7b. “Australian Girl” doll Bronte – she was fairly cheap on ebay (around $50 I think) because her hair had been hacked off but I was able to get my hairdresser to trim it so that it looks a little more chic. She’s destined for the Aussie Heros charity auction next year after I make an army uniform for her.
Around the same time as I bought Matilda I made the decision to buy a couple of dolls that technically aren’t sold in Australia but are fairly popular in doll blog/vlog land and can be obtained online easily (if not cheaply). I also wanted a greater ethnic variety. Then I found others that I liked and that triggered my archivist/completist gene and I ended up with … many. The following are in order of purchase, more or less. (If I’d known what was going to happen I might have run away screaming.)
9a. “Journey Girl” doll (Kyla) — I bought her new through Amazon for $106 ($50 for the doll, the rest was shipping and import duties). She has a sweet face that reminds me a little of the Duchess of Sussex and a vinyl upper body that will suit lower necklines. She’s a little thinner than most of the 18″ dolls so a tightly fitted dress won’t be transferrable. Saris, on the other hand, would be great.
9b. “Journey Girl” doll (Kelsey). I had already bought Kyla but she was local (Victoria) and very cheap ($52), and she has lovely colouring.
10. “Kindred Hearts” doll (Paige) I bought new through Amazon ($93 including shipping, the doll was about $50) — this is a less popular brand, but she has Asian features and as we have a lot of people from that region here I wanted some representation (and the excuse to make a qipao/cheongsam). Further research leads me to believe that hanfu, hanbok, kimono, áo dài and other regional outfits will be made as well.
11. “Madame Alexander” doll – another ebay purchase ($86). I’m not sure of the line but after consulting Dollation I think the most likely is the original “My Life As”, though “Favorite Friends/Play” is another possibility — unfortunately none of her four labels has a date on it. She has very striking colouring and appears a little “older” than the other dolls. Her neck is permanently tilted which I wasn’t aware of before she arrived but apart from that I like her. Her hair, however, was very wild and extremely dry when I got her and didn’t repond much to VDFC, so after washing it I ended up using the hair straightener on her. Interestingly, her hair is much more heat-resistant than American Girl hair, and it took 3-4 slow runs on each strand to get it smooth. Her colouring cries out for the exaggerated fashion of the 1950s / early 1960s, or possibly the “power dressing” outfits of the 1980s.
12. “Carpatina” doll (Rowena) bought used through ebay, the cost ended up around $140. I wasn’t aware of this brand until I bought a couple of doll patterns from Pixie Faire and saw them (Carpatina does good patterns, by the way, and also doll-scale fabric). Although she is technically an 18″ doll she is much thinner than all the others. She has a vaguely medieval look about her face and she was dressed in a typical robe of that era, so I suspect she may be named for the Saxon noblewoman in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe. Kirtles and surcotes and houppelands are in her future, and since her hair is very long and very red I’ll give the costumes from Brave a try. The hair was very dry and tangled at the ends, and unfortunately the glue holding her wig on has dried up completely so the whole wig came off as I was combing it out. I’ll have to clean up the head and research the best wig-fixing glue for vinyl dolls.
13. “Adora Amazing Girl” doll (Jada) bought new via Amazon ($150). She is described as African American but I think she could be South Indian or Australian Aboriginal just as easily. Beautiful cheekbones and gorgeous deep colouring. She’s really crying out for rich golds and grassy greens.
14a. Citytoys “My Life As” doll (Sleepover host, no name) bought new through Amazon (USD30). I love her smile. Although technically a cheap doll she’s not bad, and her hair is lovely. I think she’d suit 1970s fashions — all flowing lines and glowing golden tones.
14b. Citytoys “My Life As” (Schoolgirl, no name). This was listed as “Citytoys” on ebay and unfortunately I wasn’t aware that Citytoys make the current MLA dolls until I unwrapped her and saw how much she resembled the Sleepover doll. Her hair actually frightens me — it’s very woolly and the ends are dry, but a tentative stab at combing it out was abandoned after only one strand. I’m honestly not sure if her hair can be combed out. A liberal spray of 1% fabric conditioner solution had negligible effect on the dryness so the only treatment option for her is a Downy Dunk unless I want to remove the curls completely (which I don’t). If anyone has any experience in dealing with this sort of doll hair I would be most grateful for advice.
15. “Worldwide Selection” doll (Blonde, no name) bought new through Amazon (USD 70). Facially she resembles Our Generation but her expression is harder and less startled (in spite of the white showing at the bottom of her eyes). In fact, I’m contemplating taking off the blond wig and getting a boy wig for her, as I have no male dolls. If not, the fringe will limit her to 20th century or child styles.
16. “Springfield” doll (Maria) bought new through Amazon (USD 26). Her face isn’t quite as pleasing as some of the other dolls, but she isn’t hideous either. I’m still not sure which era will suit her best.
17. “Sophia’s” doll (Brooklyn) bought new through Amazon (USD 42). She has a full vinyl body which is unusual these days. She’s very pretty, though, and bright colours will bring out that lovely blush. She looks very thin in comparison with the soft-body dolls, but her torso measurements are very close to Florrie and Journey Girls.
18. “Faithful Friends” (Beth). This was a surprise finding on ebay ($132). The Heidi Ott dolls are mostly 1:12 miniatures but at one stage they brought out a line of 18″ dolls and Beth was one of them. Although she resembles the Worldwide Selection doll (blonde fringe and plaits) I decided to get her anyway. Unfortunately her body is very unusual in its shape and size, so anything I make for her wouldn’t fit or look good on any other doll. I’ve re-dressed her and put her back in her box, and I may sell her next year. I could always make her into a boy (she’s 47cm tall and very wide in the shoulders) but it seems a shame to do that to a doll that’s been preserved in a like-new condition for so many years.
19. Last and, in one sense only, least – Nahji from the Heart for Hearts doll range. This is a complete indulgence as she is very small (14″ / 35 cm) and can’t be used as a model, but she was so pretty I couldn’t help myself. One of her earrings was broken but that’s no big deal. She is destined for saris and shalwaar kameez in as many bright colours as I can find.
There are three more doll brands I’ve considered but won’t buy — one available locally and two online:
Götz Precious Day doll — I saw these in person when I bought the Paola Reina doll but decided to pass. I’m not keen on the face mould and they looked very small — even slimmer than the Soy Tu though they are advertised as 18″/45 cm. They are $120 upward in stores.
Sew Nice — they do great doll clothing, but I don’t like the face on their dolls. Price is $80 each or $120 for two, plus shipping which is not listed on the website (but they are in Bendigo, Victoria so it wouldn’t be much for me).
Dollmaker — Although I like the concept (being able to choose face mould, skin tone, wig style and hair and eye colour independently) I’m not keen on any of the moulds, so that’s a no for now … although, now I’ve had another look at them I think Punkin or Carly would make a decent boy doll, so maybe I’ll reconsider in the future. Starting price is USD 110, plus shipping.
Although all these dolls are sold as 18″ dolls, there is quite a bit of variation in their body shape as you can see in the photos. Australian Girl and Our Generation are fairly chunky, whereas Journey Girl and Design A Friend are slender, and Carpatina is positively skinny. I’ll do a separate post with a formal comparison to illustrate the variations among them.
If you’ve noticed one very significant brand omission, that’s because this post is already too long. Tomorrow and the next day I’ll talk about my American Girl dolls.
most other quilters, I didn’t learn at my grandmother’s knee. I
rarely saw my grandparents, and my mother was a primarily a knitter –
she made some of my clothes when I was little but she was never a fan
of patchwork. I started sewing by doing embroidery and making
clothes for my dolls. I did try one patchwork project when I was
about eleven, but it was the spiderweb design and I was using a
variety of 70s fabrics from chiffon to double knit, so it wasn’t
successful and I only did a couple of blocks. I continued with
embroidery, though, and became reasonably proficient. I was also a
reasonable home dressmaker, making clothes for myself and my mother.
In the late 1980s I was looking for more craft projects to do. I remember seeing a magazine or calendar with Judy Mathieson’s Nautical Stars on the cover, and was completely blown away by it (it remains one of my favourite quilts ever). At almost the same time a colleague brought her massive Broken Star quilt to work and I loved how soft it felt. When I was next at the newsagent I happened upon a magazine with an easy rail fence pattern. I made the top (which was a disaster, but that’s another story) and was hooked.
second top was a combination of duck and ducklings (in brown) and
shoo fly (in green). When I showed it to my mother she was very
surprised that it was so nice and regular — it was then I realised
that, as a child of the 30s in the UK, her only exposure to patchwork
would have been crazy quilts from her grandmother’s time or Red Cross
quilts during the second world war (most of which were very
haphazard). I did try to interest her in quilting, especially since
her arthritis was preventing her from knitting by then, but she never
caught the bug.
was very much an occasional hobby while I was working but since I
retired I’ve been doing much more, especially for Aussie Hero Quilts.
I’m also trying to get more done for myself, though I’m not sure
why, since I have only one bed and no family to pass them on to.
After accumulating more than a
kilometre of fabric (at a conservative estimate) I’m now on a quest
to use up as much as possible before it all becomes someone else’s