With a new year, comes a new American Girl ‘Girl of the Year’. This years limited edition doll is Grace Thomas. Tying in well with my newest AG giveaway, Grace is a baker and a young entrepreneur. Her story begins when she takes a family vacation to Paris, which is why there are a handful of France themed accessories to go along with her! Here’s a few photos, taken from American Girls website.
Grace has a really cute face! I like the blue eyes and brown hair combination a lot. She also has one of those feature I love on dolls– freckles!
There are a number of new outfits themed around Grace. My favorite is her City Outfit. I think her travel coat is super cute, too. These two pieces are things I would consider ordering for my own American Girl dolls, if Mattel didn’t make these girls smaller in size over the years. (Current AG outfits fit too tightly on my Pleasant Company dolls.)
I’m a sucker for doll sized cooking supplies and venues, so it should come as no surprise how much I like Grace’s play sets and accessories. There is a major problem with most of Grace’s accessories, though. They’re very expensive. The French Bakery, for example, is $500.00! Yes, it comes with over 60 accessories, but it better come with a doll, too, to warrant that price! That’s way too much for an American Girl play set.
This Bistro Set is also over priced, I think, and costs $85.00.
Even this Baking Set costs $68.00.
To see the entire collection, visit the American Girl website. What do you think of Grace? Share your thoughts below!
Early December, Megan, an Etsy shop owner, contacted me. Her shop, Trendy lil’ Stitchery, sells colorful, spunky American Girl clothing. I thought it would be fun to spotlight her here on Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter! Just like the Collector Spotlight posts, I asked Megan to answer a few questions about her shop and the hobby.
Q: Tell us about yourself:
A: I recently graduated from James Madison University with a BFA in Graphic Design. All of my passions lie in the arts. I have been a dancer since I was 5 and I currently teach ballet and tap. I also love to draw, which is how I got into Graphic Design. And finally, my love for sewing, which is how Trendy lil’ Stitchery began!
Q: What made you decide to open Trendy lil’ Stitchery?
A: I started Trendy lil’ Stitchery for many different reasons. I had some American Girl Dolls when I was younger and loved everything about them. My grandma made clothes for them and eventually I tried making some as well – it’s funny looking at them now… I thought they were so good at the time…. I have also enjoyed sewing for a long time and eventually started making doll clothes (on a much higher level/quality than my previous go around!) a few years ago for a close friend’s four daughters. I rediscovered the love and joy I found in making them. And from there Trendy lil’ Stitchery was born!
Q: How do your outfits stand apart from the rest?
A: When it comes to doll clothes, I think of the two extremes. On one hand you have the outdated, frilly, handmade clothes that are probably reasonably priced. On the other hand, you have the super adorable but horribly expensive American Girl Doll clothes and accessories. I wanted to combine the best of both worlds and provide parents with the option to buy good quality, fashionable doll clothes without breaking the bank.
Q: Where did you learn your craft?
A: I learned to sew from my grandma. She started by teaching me how to sew buttons onto fabric when I was 4 years old. I could have sewn buttons for days; I thought it was so neat. As I got older she taught me how to use a sewing machine – that’s around the time I began attempting to make my own doll clothes. Now, every time I visit my grandparents, my grandma and I always work on a sewing project, whether it’s doll clothes, fabric children’s books, etc.
Q: How would you describe your Etsy shop?
A: I like to think that my Etsy shop has some style! With my art background, I design all of the graphic elements for my shop. I also take my own pictures in my backyard (it still makes me laugh when I think about what my neighbors must think when they see me setting up a photo shoot for my dolls!) I like to find inspiration in today’s clothing; dolls have to keep up with the latest trends too, of course!
Q: Is there a certain reason you chose to design for 18-inch dolls?
A: The main reason I design for 18-inch dolls is because I grew up with American Girl Dolls and they seem to be a pretty popular sized doll. I specifically design for American Girl Dolls. Since I own three, they have become my models!
Q: What American Girl dolls do you own?
A: I have Samantha, Kit, and a “My American Girl” doll that I named Lindsey. Samantha was my first doll and I got her because she looked like me with her brown eyes and brown hair. Next I got Kit (based on talking to girls who come up to my booths at craft shows, she seems to be a popular one!) I loved her short blonde hair and freckles – at that age I would have done anything to have freckles of my own. Finally, I got Lindsey. I picked her out for her curly and unique colored hair and green eyes. Those dolls were my life when I was younger, and I guess in a way, they have become my life again!
Q: Do you collect dolls?
A: I still have my three American Girl Dolls from when I was younger, but I do not actively collect them anymore. However, I do collect Wizard of Oz dolls (or Wizard of Oz anything really). I fell in love with the movie when I was younger and I have been collecting ever since!
Q: Do you take commissions?
A: I do! I just recently completed my first custom order, a horseback riding outfit. I am more than happy to shoot some emails back and forth with a customer to figure out exactly what it is they want. Custom orders begin at $35; the price is subject to change depending on the outfit wanted.
Q: Where can people find you on the Internet?
A: I sell my items on etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/trendylilstitchery. I am also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/trendylilstitchery) and instagram (trendylilstitchery). And finally, you can reach me by email (how I handle custom orders) at trendylilstitchery(at)yahoo(dot)com.
The Contest!!!! Now that you’ve learned a bit about Trendy lil’ Stitchery, here’s your chance to win an exclusive outfit! The winner will receive this adorable apron and oven mitt set! I love the colors and patterns in this set and I’m sure you will, too! On top of that, it’s reversible, so it’s kind of like two outfits in one!
Here it is, modeled by Kit! (Doll not included in giveaway.)
US only for this giveaway. (Sorry, international readers!) Entering is easy! Follow Trendy lil’ Stitchery on facebook, Instagram or Etsy, then fill out the google form below! Follow Trendy lil’ Stitchery on all three sites and earn a total of three entries! Earn one last entry if you tell me your favorite design currently on Megan’s etsy page! There’s a spot on the google form for your answer. You have until January 25th, 2015 to enter. Good luck!!!!
I’d like to give Megan a huge thank you for answering my questions and offering this giveaway! What do you think of Trendy Lil’ Stitchery? Do you have a favorite piece? Share your thoughts below!
This past weekend was the Chicago Doll and Toy Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds. My mom and I have gone twice a year for the past few years. It’s an amazing day of shopping for doll and toy collectors. For a look into the show and atmosphere, check out my Dolly Field Trip post from last year.
This years show had a different feel than past years. The usual dolls we see weren’t there– Patti Playpals, Little Miss No Name’s, even Madame Alexanders. Nothing really screamed ‘buy me’ or ‘you need me in your collection’. Not to say we didn’t leave with a bag full of items, but the items we picked up weren’t the usual sort we traditionally do. We didn’t pick up any big ticket items, but we did manage to snag some cheaper, smaller items from this October show.
To hear fun banter about the show and our items, make sure to check out the video reveal, featuring my mom.
My first purchase was a very affordable Ideal Giggles. I’ve rerooted a handful of giggles for my mom’s collection, but this is my first Giggles. I picked her up with the intention of giving her a new head of hair. At $15.00, she was a steal.
At a booth featuring American Girl and other 18″ fashion doll clothing, I purchased two reasonably priced American Girl outfits. I didn’t actually get these for my American Girls, however! I bought them for my A Girl for All Time. I know there are some amazing patterns out there for the A Girl for All Time dolls, but as I can’t sew, I have to go other routes for outfits. Amelia is wearing Julie’s Calico Dress, minus the leggings. Not all American Girl outfits will fit A Girl for All Time, but certain ones, ones that were meant to be baggy looking and that have just the right shoulder, look pretty good! This Calico Dress sure looks amazing on her!
The second outfit didn’t fit my Amelia, so it ended up on my Girl of Today. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even fit my Girl of Today very well. The bodice is super tight and the neckline doesn’t look right, either. It seems the Pleasant Company Girl of Today dolls must be a little larger than the current Just Like Me and My American Girl dolls. Still, with this white sweater from the American Girl Store, the outfit looks just fine. (And I am very happy to know that not all American Girl outfits will fit my dolls well.)
By far, the best deal of the day came at the same booth I picked up the American Girl outfits. The seller had Quints merchandise mint in box! Any kid who grew up in the 90’s had, or at least knew of, the Quints line. It consisted of five babies and their corresponding play sets. I had a bunch as a kid and, knowing my cousins enjoy playing with them, was super excited to see them represented at the show this year. I picked up two mint playsets and a handful of Quints that were in played with condition for the grand total of $6.00! She had two Cousin playsets at $2.00 each, but I passed on those. In hindsight, I should have picked them up, too!
With all my recent coverage of Japanese dolls, I picked up this cute Japanese doll. It’s dated 1938 on its tag, but I’m not sure if that is accurate or not. I still have to research him a little bit. This little asian boy ningyo-like doll isn’t in the best shape, but he’s adorable and that’s all that matters!
I also picked up a few puzzles, including one with two Popples playing in a gumball machine. I love quirky puzzles like this. They make great wall art!
Because no shopping trip is complete without a Skipper item, I picked up this adorable Skooter in titan hair and this fun mod outfit for her.
My mom left with some fun items, as well! She found a Soul doll from Hasbro’s 1970’s doll line World of Love. She also found a replacement body for her Peace doll, from that same line. My mom found a Buffy and Baby Go Bye Bye doll in nice condition, as well.
While neither of us left with what we imagined we would, this October Chicago Doll and Toy Show was still pretty awesome. Have you found anything fun at your local doll show? Share your thoughts below!
One of the first doll lines I saved up my allowances for as a kid (4th grade through 8th) was American Girl. Back in the day, American Girl had a neat freebie they offered future customers. They would send a ‘saving guide’, so to speak, that would help you keep track of how much money you had saved. Actually, it was really quite cool and totally useful, especially when your allowance evened out to $4 a month! (I can’t find evidence of this kit online and my mother doesn’t remember it, but I swear, I’m not making it up!)
There were many dolls I had my eye on, but the first doll I decided to purchase was Molly, the WWII doll. Who didn’t love Molly? She had some great outfits and the mixture of bangs, braids and glasses was adorable.
After Molly, I started saving again and eventually purchased Samantha, who’s stories were slightly earlier than Molly’s, taking place in 1904. Samantha was a favorite of mine from the get go. Her long hair gave a little more leeway for styling (A purest from a young age, I have never removed Molly’s braids!) and her outfits and accessories were just fantastic, so very different than Molly’s (also very neat) accessories.
The cycle continued until I had added two more dolls to my collection, Felicity was the third. Felicity stood out amongst the other dolls in the catalog because of her lovely red hair. To this day, I’m still very happy to have picked her up pre-Mattel. Last, but not least, I bought a Girl of Today made to look like me. All of these were ordered before Mattel purchased Pleasant Company and averaged about a doll a year.
American Girl Dolls, believe it or not, were launched in 1986, making them young’ins in the doll industry. Pleasant Company was founded by Pleasant Rowland. Pleasant had noticed a gap between the ages represented in popular doll lines, noticeably the lack of a doll meant to look between 8-11. Marrying the idea that the dolls would give girls (and boys) a more personal glimpse into the past, American Girl dolls were born.
The first three dolls released were Samantha, Kirsten and Molly. Interestingly, I learned from the American Girl Wiki that these dolls were developed by Gotz. (I’ve never been a huge fan of Gotz, so this was very surprising news!) I’m kicking myself for having never purchased a Kirsten doll while pre-Mattel. Each of these three dolls lived in very different times. Kirsten represented pioneer times. Samantha represented the Edwardian Era. And Molly, my original American Girl, represented the World War II era. Each doll was accompanied by a chapter book that would give readers a glimpse into the world these dolls lived in.
In 1991, Felicity was released. She lived during the Revolutionary War. Felicity was the first doll to model a fleshtone body, unlike her predecessors who had white muslin bodies. Addy, a Civil War era girl and the first black American Girl doll, was released in 1993.
In 1995, the Girl of Today line was introduced and allowed girls to create their own American Girl doll by choosing from various hair colors, eyes colors, and skin tones. They came in a really awesome outfit that included a fun vest and awesome hat that was a pretty perfect representation of the mid-90’s girl! Josefina joined the American Girl gang in 1997, representing the history of New Mexico prior to it becoming part of the United States.
In 1998, there was a big change with American Girl. Pleasant Company sold American Girl to Mattel for a whopping 700 million dollars. She stayed on as an adviser for a few years after this sale. I, personally, wish this deal had never gone through, as I believe the quality went a bit down after being purchased by Mattel. They didn’t change much in the very beginning, but I feel like some of the magic was lost after Mattel picked these dolls up.
The first doll to be released after the Mattel sale was Kit, a girl living through the Great Depression, in 2000. Of all the Mattel releases, Kit is the only doll I really love. Her freckles and bob hairstyle make her look adorable! 2000 is also the same year that Pleasant Rowlands steps down from her advisory position with the brand and gives Mattel full control of the line.
In 2002, Kaya was released. Her stories focused on early Native American history. In 2004, Mattel begins releasing friend dolls for past releases, starting with Nellie, Samantha’s friend. The next historical doll wouldn’t be released until 2007. That doll was Julie, a girl growing up in the 70’s. In 2009, Rebecca was released, representing early twentieth-century America during the second wave of European immigration. Marie Grace, a girl growing up in 1850’s New Orleans, joined the group in 2011. The most recent historical girl to hit the stage was Caroline, who’s books focus on growing up during the war of 1812. Caroline is my least favorite doll. I don’t like the look of her at all. 2009 brought along a new historical doll, Rebecca, from the twentieth-century America during the second wave of European immigration.
American Girl has steadily been changing the direction of the doll line by retiring certain beloved characters (including most of the original Pleasant Company girls– Felicity, Kirsten and Molly and others) and creating new illustrations and outfits for those that have stayed on in the line. The Girl of Today line eventually was rebranded as Just Like You and now is currently dubbed My American Girl. And in 2014, the Historical Dolls were to be rebranded, as well.
My Thoughts on BeForever:
A few months ago, Mattel really changed the game by re-branding the Historical Girls as ‘BeForever‘. I’m not against change. Change is important in keeping doll lines vibrant. However, I can’t say I’m exactly on board with everything Mattel is doing with American Girl, especially with the Historical Girls.
Officially, the BeForever line consists of Kaya, Caroline, Josefina, Addy, Rebecca, Kit, Julie and the once retired Samantha. BeForever girls have a whole new line of clothing, accessories, furniture and new storybooks.
Some of the dolls have been tweaked a little, as well. One minor example is Kit’s hair, which has been cut a little shorter than her original doll. There’s something about Samantha that looks different to me, too, but I just can’t put my finger on what it might be. Who knows, it could be my imagination.
The one thing I love about this line is the inclusion of Samantha. I am a huge fan of Samantha and her stories and am very happy they took her out of the vault. It gives me hope that one day, some of the other retired dolls will come out and play once again.
That being said, Samantha’s outfits disappoint me a bit. I really only like two of them, the others just don’t feel like Samantha. It could very well be that I grew so used to the older outfits that these just don’t seem to fit the character in my head. Still, though, it’s disappointing.
Kit, however, has some adorable outfits in this BeForever line. She would win my ‘best dressed’ for sure! Her Meet Kit outfit is adorable, as are her Christmas outfit and Floral Print dress!
As far as accessories go, Julie’s Egg Chair? I love it! The lack of jointing in American Girl dolls might make her look a little strange sitting in it but for more jointed 18″ dolls? One nice feature about this, though, is it doubles as an MP3 player speaker, which makes it way more than just a doll prop.
I’ll be totally, 100% honest here, I don’t care very much for the rest of the BeForever girls. They don’t excite me. I’m sure there are people that love them, but alas, I don’t. Much of it has to do with the lack of excitement I felt towards the Mattel releases post Kit. Kit is adorable and I’d love to have her, but the rest just never made me go ‘oh, I need that in my collection!’.
If anything, this rebranding made me recognize what I suspected already– I have fallen out of love with American Girl. I still love my American Girls (Molly, Samantha, Felicity and my Girl of Today) and the items that came out around their era, but the new items? They’re just not pulling at my heartstrings as much as they used to. That’s not to say that I’m completely giving up on the line, because there will always be a part of me that looks forward to opening up an American Girl catalog or visiting an American Girl Store, but for now, I’m not feeling the awe that once surrounded the American Girl line.
Do you have fond memories of American Girl? What are your thoughts on this new BeForever line? Share your thoughts below.
American Girl announced recently that not one, but four dolls are soon moving into the American Girl vaults. Kit’s friend Ruthie (1934), who I always thought was one of the prettiest companion dolls, as well as Marie-Grace and Cecile (1863) and Julie’s friend Ivy (1974) are all set to be discontinued “soon”. According to the announcement post on Facebook, supplies are “extremely limited”.
“Soon, we’ll say farewell to Marie-Grace, Cécile, Ruthie, and Ivy: http://bit.ly/1nkMb9w Complete your collection while supplies last—quantities are extremely limited. This fall, the rest of the historical characters become BeForever, a fresh approach to these American Girl favorites that we’ll reveal in the coming months!“
To be 100% honest, the only doll of the four that I will miss is Ruthie. What will Kit do without her friend? What is a bit surprising to me is that Marie-Grace and Cecile, who debuted in 2011, are part of the four dolls going away. They are relatively new additions to the Historical collection.
Speaking of the term ‘historical’, it looks like the historical dolls are being re-branded to ‘BeForever‘. Books and leaked packaging are already being seen with this branding. Regarding the book series and the new names and volumes featuring this re-branding, American Custom Dollhouse did some research and got some straight answers from Customer Service on what was ‘new’ and ‘classic’ in the re-branding of the book line.
American Girl even posted this video on their YouTube channel.
I have a feeling this is just the beginning of Mattel’s re-branding of American Girl. Myself, I need time to really process the changes. I know, it seems silly, but I literally grew up with this doll line and have become attached to certain aspects of it. What do you think of the recent changes and announcements coming from American Girl? Share your thoughts below.