PROJECT: A dress for Isabelle, using the Pleasant Company pattern for Samantha’s Party Dress
TIME: 2 days
MATERIALS: coral pink Casa satin, pink lace, pink ribbon, cameo button, notions
Before I get into this project, allow me to share a little backstory.
I got my first American Girl doll at the age of 30. And I was freaking ecstatic.
When I was the target age for American Girl dolls, they really weren’t affordable for my family. I used to flip through the catalogs and daydream about being able to order anything and everything on the pages – especially the girl-sized outfits.
A few years later, I got my Magic Attic Club Megan doll. I absolutely loved her. I’d save up gift and allowance money to buy her clothes and accessories, and I was even able to buy a few American Girl things that (although they were much bigger) seemed to fit her okay.
Flash forward a few more years.
My mom had only one doll growing up. When her doll’s plastic body started to disintegrate with age, she began a quest to find a replacement. I’m not sure how long this quest had gone on, but I think it lasted at least ten years. Just before she finally found a donor body, she looked at American Girl dolls (which ended up being too small). To make an already long story short, she took one look at Saige, the American Girl of the Year at the time, and decided she was too cute to resist.
My husband and I decided to surprise her with Saige for Christmas. But, as I probably should’ve guessed given my genetics, I was pretty taken with Saige, too. I kept thinking, “Wow, American Girl dolls are even nicer in person!” Still, I was nearly 30 – I could resist an American Girl doll at this point. I had already resisted when Samantha, the American Girl doll I liked best growing up, was retired. I resisted the urge to buy Kanani (which, I’m kinda kicking myself about now). And as cute as Saige was, my mom was already getting her.
I was doing pretty well resisting… until Isabelle was released.
She loved to dance. Her mom had taught her how to sew. She liked to design costumes. She liked cats. Her whole freaking collection was coral pink and purple and white and gold.
A few weeks later, I had my very first American Girl doll. And no sh*ts were given that day. (Or any day since then).
While I was waiting for Izzy to arrive, I discovered that American Girl dolls used to come with historical clothing patterns. I found the scans online, thanks to American Girl Playthings, and decided that if I couldn’t have Samantha, I could at least have her clothes for Izzy to wear.
I didn’t realize there was a difference between American Girl dolls. The earlier “Pleasant Company” (PC) dolls are more plump, so these patterns are slightly larger than the newer “Mattel” dolls. That said, this dress still fit well. I kept trying the dress on as I went along, to make sure everything was turning out correctly. The hardest part of the pattern for me was sewing the sleeves. I had to redo one of them completely (I forget why, but there was no real way to salvage it).
This color was PERFECT! It’s nearly a perfect match to Isabelle’s meet shirt – just a shade or so darker. The coral pink and baby pinks I was able to find went together very well. The Casa satin is nice and thick, without too much shine, but it does fray like crazy. I made sure to use my pinking shears anywhere I could, which seemed to help. I couldn’t find wide enough lace, so I modified the top a little (I also opted not to add some of the sleeve lace it called for). The cameo button was a lucky find, and I think it really finishes off the top well.
Although I hit a few snags along the way, I’m really happy with how this dress turned out. The fact that I had made a complete piece in roughly two days made me feel so accomplished. It’s also what spurred me on to try my hand at more clothes, and to not be so afraid to mess up (or in this case, to not be afraid to toss a sleeve that isn’t salvageable).
Someday, I might try making these dresses for all of my dolls (in different colors, with different details), but for now, they’ll all have to share this one.