Sewing Project: Fellowship Cloak

PROJECT: A cloak similar to the ones worn by the fellowship of the ring in the Lord of the Rings movies

TIME: 1 day

MATERIALS: gray-green fabric, ornate closure, notions

Kanani in LOTR Cloak

OK, who swapped the “one ring” with a whistle…

My husband is the biggest Tolkien fan I know. He’s read Lord of the RingsThe HobbitThe Silmarillion, watched the movies with me several times (extended version only, yo), and played the heck out of Lord of the Rings Risk. I already liked Lord of the Rings a lot before I met him, but I think his absolute love of the series helped make me into a bigger fan.

So, like any self-respecting Lord of the Rings fan who also loves American Girl dolls and the challenge of learning how to sew fun things for them, I decided it was high time I tried making a fellowship cloak for my dolls!

I chose a grayish green fabric that has a suede-like texture on one side and a darker satin on the other. The real cloaks worn in the movies are actually made of a gray wool, but they always appear a little greenish to me. The closure I chose is actually the same one I used for my human-sized fellowship cloak (My mom made one as a present for my husband a few years ago and I decided I wanted one, too. Mine still needs a leaf brooch though).

My husband's cloak

My husband’s cloak

  My cloak
  My cloak

I used this great tutorial by MyFroggyStuff to learn how to make a cloak. Mine turned out a little big, but that’s just because I made hems smaller than I originally measured for.

Cloak in progress

Gathering is a pain…

One of the hardest parts of this project was making the gathered fabric spread evenly as I lined up the hood edge to the cape edge. My mom helped me with this part when I made my cape and it seemed to take her a minute! It took me a few tries to get everything lined up correctly, but I’m really happy with how I did! Much, much better than when I gathered the skirt on Samantha’s Party Dress

Cape back

The back

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this cloak turned out. It was my first time sewing something without a paper pattern, too! I might eventually try to make the top a bit smaller, but Kanani’s hair can fill in some of the extra space for now.


Mini Tabasco Sauce Bottles


Single Serving Tabasco Pepper Sauce Bottles |  found at a hotel


Sugar and SPICE!

Miniature fake food is great, but miniature REAL food is the best!

I was helping my husband during a convention awhile back, and we were so exhausted after working from 7 AM to 10 PM that all we could do was head back to our hotel, order soup from room service and crash. When the soup came, so did these cute little bottles of Tabasco sauce! And of course, the first thing I thought of was bringing them back to add to my collection.

All this Tabasco and nothing to use it on!

These’s only one problem… I don’t really have any food that would work with Tabasco sauce. I mean, I know you can make Tabasco ice cream, but I’m sure that’s more for a true Tabasco lover (like my husband). My dolls usually end up having similar tastes to mine ha ha. ;) I’ll have to get some scrambled eggs, burritos, or tacos somewhere down the line. Then these bottles will be perfect!


These cones totally aren’t taped to their hands or anything…

And in the meantime, ice cream forever!


More of The Gibson Girl

New header and more pictures of Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor – which will be primarily used as Disneyland’s Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for me.


Looks good enough to eat!

I’m already seeing some interesting things happen as I try to photograph it. The picture above was taken just as the sun was starting to rise (for some reason, I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep), so especially with the Main Street backdrop in the mirror’s reflection looking darker, it gives it the appearance that the store has just been readied for the first customers of the day. Ice cream is a perfectly acceptable breakfast in my book… ;)


From 1812 to 1904

For some reason, Caroline’s never clicked with me as a 1812 girl (or even as a modern girl, really), but I absolutely LOVE her as a 1904 girl. I think her ringlets really give her that Edwardian charm. And I especially love her in Samantha’s Middy Dress. I think she wears it best out of everyone in my collection.



In my lifetime, The Gibson Girl has gone through… I think two renovations at Disneyland (I don’t think I’ve actually been back there since they re-opened it), but the one that always stands out in my mind is its previous appearance, complete with giant glass elephant. I might make my backdrops try to reflect that version. Too bad I don’t have room for a mini glass elephant statue…


Bon appetit!

This set could also act like a Farrell’s. I’d never been to one until a couple of months ago. That place is so much FUN! Really, really, REALLY loud… but a lot of fun. Never go there with a headache.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling out of me for now. If I’ve convinced you to get Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor set as well – first, I apologize, and second, make sure you use the $10 off $100 coupon code 180323 (good until October 15th!).


The (Mini) Gibson Girl


I did the thing.

Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor | American Girl


Tyson’s Ice Cream Parlor… a.k.a. The (Mini) Gibson Girl

I’ve only ever had room for one large AG set, and for me, it doesn’t get more perfect than this ice cream parlor. As you might’ve guessed from my previous post, I’m treating mine more like a miniature version of Disneyland’s Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor than Samantha’s Tyson’s – which means at some point I should probably make a proper cast member uniform for whoever’s manning the store… But, for now, Caroline and her middy dress work pretty well.


Parlor Pieces (minus the cash register and one green scoop of ice cream)

Oh man, I can’t even begin to express how much I love this thing. The parlor is mostly made of wood, so you get that wonderful “new furniture smell” right as you open it (or rather, unearth it from the largest shipping box I think I’ve ever seen). Each of the pieces are so detailed and beautifully made. I love that the scoop and spoons are actually made of metal and that the dishes are ceramic instead of plastic. The cash register (not pictured) has “working” keys and a crank to open the drawer – but it takes up more counter space than I’m willing to give it.


What can I get for you?

I like how much thought they put into each of these pieces, too. The glasses can be separated from their metal bottoms, the candy topping is one molded piece (so you’re not chasing 500 tiny balls around the floor), and the light automatically turns off after a few minutes, so you don’t accidentally forget to turn it off (…which I would probably do).


Coming right up!

I really can’t think of anything I don’t love about this set. …Well, maybe the price tag – but I know I certainly couldn’t make one this amazing for less. And it’s just the right size for my small place. Caroline’s parlor would’ve been waaaaaay too big. And lacking in ice cream. Which is important.

Now I just need to work on more accurate backdrops (so it looks like the mirror is looking out onto Main Street from inside a building…).


The Return of 1904

We made it! The wait is over and BeForever is here!


Three words: ICE. CREAM. PARLOR.


“Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life!?” – Ariel, the OG hoarder of neat things

The first time I saw this set, my inner ten year old absolutely lost her shit. Like, I’ve been impressed by some of the other big ticket AG items, like Caroline’s parlor, but this way surpasses everything else for me. I think I love it so much because it reminds me a LOT of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland.


The Gibson Girl in Disneyland Paris might be the closest to Samantha’s – lots of gold, white, pink, and marble!

…I’ve noticed that anything I really, really love can usually be traced back to something related to Disney. Oh well.

I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of AG collectors are smitten with the ice cream parlor. I do think it might’ve been nicer had they offered a separate set of ice cream treats (different from the parlor’s) so that if you couldn’t afford the parlor (price or space-wise), you could at least still have the option to partake in the desserts.


The Bad

I don’t know whether to call this “bad” or “sad”… A lot of people have noticed some not-so-long lost Marie-Grace and Cecile collection items being re-purposed into different time periods. MG’s parasol is now part of Samantha’s collection, and MG and C’s banquet table…


has been turned into…

Caroline’s impromptu table and treats because nevermind the war, let’s par-tay.

Admittedly, I haven’t read Caroline’s stories yet, but from what I know of them, it seems like a lot of crazy stuff is going down (like, say, the WAR of 1812), so is it really the time for feasting? Like, “Yes, Papa is in danger, but these tarts are perilously close to getting stale!” Maybe not so much. I’m not sure if the table covering was made to be more historically accurate or not, but it doesn’t look like as much thought was put into its design compared to the original. Then again, neither do the mismatched dishes, so… yeah… Anyway! Still not as much of a problem as -


The Ugly

I’m sorry… I’ve looked at it and looked at it, and I can’t find anything I really like about this coat – even if it does remind me of something Disney-related…


“I don’t care how you kill the little beasts, just do it and do it now!”

I can’t unsee the Cruella. I knew they’d never re-release her old cape, but man, was it pretty! Maybe it would’ve been too much plaid in combination with Samantha’s new Christmas dress, but a deeper red or a rich green or navy? I’m also curious how many moms saw this coat and thought “That’ll be dirty in 5 minutes…”

New Samantha

I think Samantha’s really cute – they’ve done a really great job reintroducing her, while making her stand out from her previous versions… but now that she is out and the internets are filled with pictures and videos of her, I’ve made a rather surprising discovery. I think I may have liked her for her clothes haha… Her new meet dress has grown on me, but I really did like her original meet outfit. Like with Ruthie, I think she’s really cute, but I feel like I’d rather wait for another doll that I’d want more instead of adding her to my collection. So, for now, Caroline’s my 1904 stand in. I don’t know what it is, but I really like her in that time period!


Something about Caroline and nautical stuff… ;)

It’ll be interesting to see what’s released next in the world of BeForever. And in the meantime, I’m hoping for more leaks… hehehe…


Pretty in Pink

Today’s post is going to be very pink. Consider yourself warned haha…

I didn’t expect this ballet dress to become such a favorite, but it really has! It looks great on Isabelle (big surprise considering it’s from her collection). Next, I’ll have to see how it looks on Kanani…


Izzy in Pink

If you’re looking at this and thinking, “Okay, okay, it is really pretty. Maybe I’ll get it, too,” now is the time! We’re in the final countdown to the mysterious BeForever launch, and is preparing by offering free shipping on any purchase of $50 or more (ends 8/18). They’ve marked down a bunch of sale items as well.

Speaking of the advent of BeForever, rumors are going around that there will be unannounced discontinuations of historical collection items.

Lilly Maiden has an extensive list at her blog:  If you’re considering any of these, your safest bet is to purchase them before 8/28.

The more I learn about BeForever, the more I’m not entirely sure I like the changes I see. To me, it boils down to American Girl trying to appeal to the target audience by making “historical lite” dolls. Their outfits are supposedly historically accurate, but they no longer look like pieces that are very representative of that time. Instead, it feels like they’ve tried to find the rare outfits that look similar to pieces we still see today.

Take Samantha’s new look…

“New” Samantha

This looks like something I wore as a kid in the ’80′s or ’90′s… And that’s the point. If it’s an outfit that doesn’t look too different from those of today, American Girl believes kids will be more apt to choose a historical girl. I can see doing this for the outfits they arrive in, but I hope all  of their collections won’t be this way. I’ve always loved the fact that the historical collections have tiny recreations of real items from the past. And after missing out on Samantha’s items the first time around, I’ve been hoping they’d bring back a lot of the items I drooled over as a kid (even if they didn’t look exactly the same).

I guess we’ll know soon enough! Just over a week left!


Okie dokie, Tokidoki

Oh, Tokidoki… you’re just too darn adorable! I love you so! First, you introduced me to the lovely sugar-energy-loving alien, Donutella…

DonutellaThe Sweet Donutella

…and then, you gave her a unicorn(o) friend…

DolceLgThe Aptly-Named Dolce

…and then you created not just ONE herd of unicornos, but THREE series (and counting) of them! AND I CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE THEM ALL!

Here are a few of my favorites from the ever-growing collection of unicornos that keep following me home…

Unicorno1L-R: Sunny Day, Bellina, Stellina (Not Pictured: Peperino)

Unicorno2L-R: Sakura, Dolce, Lolopessa

I think the above three are my absolute favorites. Dolce was one of the first I ever pulled, Sakura was a lucky pull from the bookstore at work, and Lolopessa was a super-lucky pull from this year’s Comic Con. I did have a Mooka at one point (my sister fell in love with her haha), and I had two Ritmos – neither of which I really liked. I’d still like to add Kaili, Timber, Pixie, and Scooter to my collection… Thank goodness they don’t take up much room… ;)


Mini Ruthie and Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress

Mini Ruthie, Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress | American Girl

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it! A lot has happened since my last post – the best of which is that I started a new job that allows me to use my art, media, writing and community skills in an academic setting. I love it!

…And speaking of things I love, I’m really happy with the latest additions to my American Girl collection.

KananiRuthieMini Ruthie!

I can’t tell you how many times I debated whether or not to get Ruthie – especially when it was announced that she’d be heading to the archives soon. She was one of the dolls I considered when I visited AGPLA, but even in person, I wasn’t entirely sold on her – and it’s hard to justify AG prices for something you’re not absolutely in love with (for me, anyway). Luckily, not long ago, the Ruthie mini doll went on sale for $10 (down from the usual $24), so I made sure to grab one before they sold out!

I think she’s one of the cutest mini dolls AG has made. (And unfortunately, I’d say the Marie-Grace mini doll is one of the worst… That face! They could’ve done so much better…) It’s too bad they couldn’t have made Ruthie’s dress with a slightly smaller print… It looks a bit awkward on her. I am glad they secured her headband to her hair – it’s nice not having to worry about it slipping off when she falls over as I try to photograph her haha…

KananiReadCoffee and a good book – a perfect combination!

I really love the mini books that come with the dolls, too. Why can’t AG sell them on their own!? I’d make a tiny library in a heartbeat! It’ll be interesting to see if the new BeForever versions even come with books.

MGpinkballet2Radiant in Rose

My other recent purchase – Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress. I know when AG announced this dress, a lot of people groaned. I get that it’s pink and sparkles and ballet, and as formulaic as it gets, but it’s SO PRETTY in person! It really looks amazing on Marie-Grace (which makes sense given that her meet dress is a similar deep pink). It kind of reminds me of Aurora’s pink dress (which is also probably why I love it so much).

MGpinkballet2Dress, Bracelet, and Ballet Slippers (Not Pictured: Hair Ornament)

The sequin fabric is nice – it doesn’t snag anything else, and the skirt has four layers, which gives it just the right amount of volume. The bracelet’s a little cheesy, and the slippers could’ve been made to fit a little higher (they almost look too small), but they’re nice, simple touches. I didn’t use the hair ornament (mostly because I couldn’t find a way to make it look good with MG’s ponytail), but it’s nicely made.

There are a few other things I’d like to get, but I’m holding out to see what BeForever brings. I’m really curious about what outfits they’ll release for Samantha’s return. I’m not really impressed with her new meet dress or the “Cruella De Vil” winter coat, but who knows what else they’ve got in store for her. I’m not a huge fan of the 1970′s, but some of Julie’s new outfits look pretty cute, too. Not long to wait now! Just a few more weeks!JenniferSig

Gold and Grace

If you’re a fan of the American Girl dolls, you’ve probably heard by now that Marie-Grace is one of the dolls being discontinue- er… “archived” this year (along with Cecile, Ruthie, and Ivy – who is the only Asian American historical doll at the moment). Not only is it a shame for AG to retire these dolls when they’ve only been out for a few years (MG and Cecile were introduced only three years ago!), but there’s also the potential that MG might remain the only doll to ever use this beautiful face mold.

I admit, Marie-Grace can be a bit tricky to photograph. From the wrong angle, her chin appears much sharper than it really is and some pieces of clothing can make her shoulders look too broad or her face too long. Even her original hairstyle seems to accentuate her heart-shaped face in ways that can sometimes be off-putting. Heck, when I first saw her in official pictures, I thought she looked derpy! In fact, I remember my mom and I talking about how she was one doll we would have no trouble resisting… It’s amazing just how many people were uninterested after seeing her stock photos, but then fell in love with her in-person (my mom and I included).

With the right hairstyle (sans massive pin curls) and clothes, she’s such a gorgeous doll!

MGBalletGraceful MG

She looks especially fantastic in neutral and metallic tones. To be honest, I think I like Isabelle’s leotard and tutu better on MG than on Isabelle! With her sleek high ponytail and gold accessories, here MG reminds me a little of the ballerinas from the finale number in White Christmas. (I love those costumes so much!) The gold really seems to bring out her blue eyes, too. Her poodle necklace is actually from Magic Attic Club, from Heather’s ’50′s outfit, but it seems to go well with anything MG wears, so it’s kind of become her necklace.

I’m looking forward to the new items being released this summer and the advent of “BeForever” (the re-branding of American Girl’s historical line), but it’s still kind of sad to see MG being discontinued. She’s quickly become a favorite among collectors, and she’s probably my favorite among my AG dolls – I really do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her or her face mold.JenniferSig

Kanani – Girl of the Year 2011

Kanani Akina, Girl of the Year 2011 | American Girl

Kanani could’ve very easily been my first American Girl doll… if I hadn’t been saving up for something much, much more important at the time – my wedding! But… three years later…


She’s MINE!

I finally bit the bullet and bought Kanani. She’s even prettier in person!

Kanani is my first “Jess mold” doll (first created for Japanese/Scottish-Irish 2006 Girl of the Year Jess McConnell). Although the mold is known for issues with uneven eyes, my Kanani’s eyes are perfect!


Kanani, fresh from her box

Her “meet” outfit is really sweet! Her sky blue dress goes well with her hair and skin tone, and it also has some hidden sequins scattered throughout. Her beaded necklace and hair flower are a nice touch, too. Her sandals aren’t too amazing… in fact, they’re pretty loose. I can see why she came with clear bands attaching them to her feet.


Marie-Grace Gardner and Kanani Akina

Kanani’s wig is VERY long and silky – maybe a little longer than Marie-Grace’s – but definitely thinner (which probably helps keep her from falling over). I kept her hair down for awhile, but finally decided to put it into braids, which she still looks very cute in. Her skin tone is slightly darker and redder compared to MG’s more yellow tones, and her hair is slightly lighter than MG’s, but has more red to it. Kanani’s hazel eyes also seem like a unique shade. They’re darker and less green than Isabelle’s.


Aloha, Kanani – the book introducing Kanani

Her introductory story, Aloha, Kanani, is surprisingly good! After reading Isabelle’s, I honestly didn’t have high expectations for Kanani’s. (And yes, I realize I’m not the target audience, but c’mon, really? “Wah, I’m attending an exclusive performing arts academy, but I worry I’m not good enough!” Exactly how many kids can relate? I know with my watch-PBS-and-try-to-imitate-the-ballerinas method of “learning” ballet as a kid, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to. Anyway!)

Aside from the GORGEOUS pictures by Sarah Davis, there are so many elements of Kanani’s book that I love. The theme of “family” is especially relatable for me. The Hawaiian culture is similar to Maltese in that family is number one – and not everyone has to be blood-related to be family. I love the conversations between Kanani and her “aunts” (they remind me a lot of my own aunts), and that she easily falls into the role of host when visitors arrive (that’s usually my role, too). I also really like that her parents aren’t just magically wealthy – you can tell that it’s taken a lot of hard work to keep and build their family business. In short, I liked the first book so much, I got the second one.

I’m really happy I was able to add Kanani to my collection. She’s a fantastic doll based on a relatable, fun character. I hope American Girl will continue to make more characters like Kanani – she’s definitely one of my favorites. ♥