Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Size DOES Matter

When it comes to Doll clothes anyway! Sew Chic Doll Boutique

Shortly after I started researching doll clothes I noticed that many people advertised that their clothing fit both the American Girl 18" doll AND the Bitty Baby/Bitty Twins 15" dolls. My first instinct told me that this was wrong. Why would Pleasant Company and then Mattel develop two completely separate lines of dolls if their items were interchangeable?

I only had 18" dolls and had no way to prove or disprove the claims but I was reluctant to claim that my items would fit any other doll, regardless of what others had said. Luck was on my side and I didn't have to wait long to find the truth. I was in the second hand store and I found a used Bitty Baby for $15. This is a significant discount from the original sale price, and even the going rate on ebay which hovers around $25 I believe.

I took my new baby home and tried on it some of the 18" doll clothing. I found that, while some of the items did fit, the majority did NOT. Some of the problems were obvious such as the pants weren't the right length and the difference in neck circumference is about an inch which makes 18" doll shirts tight around Bitty Baby's neck. Most of the differences in fit are more subtle. Below is a list of select measurements taken from the dolls. The measurements are approximate, and meant to illustrate where the size differences are most emphasized.

Attribute.....................18" doll.....Bitty Baby/Bitty Twin.....Difference
Height.............................18".....................15".........................3 "
Head Circumference.........12"....................12.5 ".........................0.5"
Neck Circumference......6"......................6.5".........................0.5"
Waist Circumference.......11".....................12".........................1"
Total Body Length..........8.5".....................7".........................1.5"
(neck to crotch)
Arm Length.........................7".....................7".........................0"
Bicep Circumference........4.25"...................4.5"......................0.25"
Leg Length (waist to floor)......10"...................9".........................1"
Thigh Circumference...........6"...................6.5".........................0.5"
Body Depth........................3"..................2.5".........................0.5"

These are not the only differences. Bitty Baby and Bitty Twin, aside from the new head mold and added hair, do have 1 huge difference. It is in how the backside of the doll is sewn. Bitty Twin is sewed up in a way that makes the doll sit on its own. Bitty Baby is sew in a way that allows it to lay down. I am not sure how this affects the way certain clothing items fit the dolls but intend to find out. I will report more on this later. Hopefully I can upload some pictures tomorrow to more clearly illustrate what I am referring to.

The 18" dolls also have "more junk in the trunk" as one woman put it to me.

In general, I would be wary of anyone who claims their items fit both dolls, while it is entirely likely that they do, you may not get the fit that is shown on the other doll. I would always ask for pictures of how an item fits the specific doll you want it to, before purchasing any item claiming to fit both dolls.

Sew Chic Doll Boutique Custom Doll Clothing and Accessories

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Researching Gymboree Lines

Sew Chic Doll Boutique

I began looking into Gymboree and American Girl dolls to see if there was a market for such items and I found that there was! In fact there were a very few who had tapped in to this seemingly unknown market. It appeared that even the potential buyers of such items themselves were unaware of the possibilities.

I made some clothes as an experiment before Christmas, and sold them on ebay. They sold quite well, in fact they may have sold too well, because now it seems that every doll clothing maker on ebay has figured out that this market exists. Fortunately the communities, of Gymboree lovers and of American Girl doll lovers, are large enough, and there is enough overlap, that it seems there is enough customer base to go around. Also I think the competition is going to be good for all parties involved. Competition will help keep the sellers on their toes, and help ensure that buyers are getting a quality product. There actually have been some quite nice customs showing up on ebay and etsy, which makes me excited to see where my line takes me!

As I began looking into the older Gymboree lines, to possibly make made to match customs, and I realized that there are endless possibilities with this line. Sometimes Gymboree introduces a new line as often as twice a month! The most recent girl line that I really looked in to is called Garden Friends, all Gymboree lines are named, and in this 1 line there are 100 items! This could get overwhelming.

I decided to take it slow, 1 custom at a time. While I would love to recreate each and every piece Gymboree makes in a smaller perfectly recreated doll version there is simply no way that would be possible.

My first custom re-create is a bathing suit called "Pretty By the Pool" and should be available in my etsy store next week. It will only be available in limited quantites. The prototype is pictured in this post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My First American Girl

Sew Chic Doll Boutique

Long before she, or any of us really, knew that American Girl dolls existed my mom found the American Girl books. My older sister read the Babysitter's Club series, and my younger sister read the Babysitter's Little Sister books but I found neither appealing. My mom looked for a series for me to read and found the Boxcar Children, which I read through in rapid time. She was in the bookstore yet again looking for another series for me when she found a small section in the young readers that had adorable little girls drawn on the front. She first picked up the Kirsten books, but eventually brought home the entire series.

It wasn't long after bringing those first books home that my mother found a postcard attached to the last page illustrating 3 beautiful 18" dolls. She returned the postcard, to what was then called The Pleasant Company, and not long after we received our first catalog in the mail.

It in was early 1990 that we first were introduced to the American Girl line. There were only 3 dolls available: Kirsten, Samantha and Molly. We begged and begged for these dolls but they were quite expensive. Finally for christmas my mom gave in. She told us that it would be our only Christmas present and that we would only be getting the doll, the accessories (hat, purse, handkerchief, coin and necklace) were sold separately. My older sister and I quickly and greatfully agreed, but my younger sister was skeptical, she though of watching our baby brother open a whole pile of gifts while she had only one, I think it got to her. She has always liked surprises better anyway, so she opted not to get the doll.

On Christmas Santa Clause came through with not only the doll but the accessories too! To this day Molly was still the best Christmas present I ever got! My younger sister soon realized her mistake in not choosing the doll, and quickly recitfied the situation by asking for it as a birthday present. By the time her next birthday had rolled around Felicity had been released by the company and it seemed her waiting had paid off. Once she knew that the doll had been ordered she sat on the front door step for 3 days waiting for the UPS man to arrive.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


I am creating this blog to chronicle my endeavor into entrepreneurship. I have created a line of American Girl Doll Clothing and Accessories that are both designer inspired and Made to Match Gymboree, and will chronicle the progress, pitfalls and successes, of this line right here.

I also periodically list items on ebay under the username SewChic_DollBoutique

My intent is to let my followers get to know me through my line. I will update this blog periodically, both to share my favorite American Girl and Gymboree memories with you, and also to update and inform you about upcoming changes to my line.

I may periodically post discount codes here as well, so check back often!

For this first post I would like to share my inspiration for the formation of my new doll clothing line.

Last summer I went to a yard sale, I'm a real sucker for a good deal, and I saw a Gymboree shirt for only 25 cents! I snagged it up without giving it a once-over, afraid someone else would notice what I was holding in my hand, and casually perused the rest of the clothes. Well, as usual, finding high end clothing for 25 cents doesn't happen every day, so I was not surprised when it was the only shirt there worth more than the quarter marked on it. I should have taken this as a sign.

When I got the shirt home I finally looked it over, and found large stains all over the sleeves. I was a little bummed, but since it was only a quarter I chucked it aside, and didn't think about it for quite some time.

I am a stay at home mom, to 1 beautiful boy, and was looking for a way to earn a little income while staying at home. When I was a child my own mother made hair bows and sold them at flea markets, etc. I am a Gymboree mom, I consider dressing my son well the one consolation to not having a girl, so I looked into making Gymboree bows. If you aren't aware, there is a large market for these bows, but I think that the girls already doing this have the market pretty well covered.

My mother taught me to sew when I was six, the first thing I made was a pair of underwear for my doll. I had a miniature plastic sewing machine, a gift from an aunt who has given me at least 3 sewing machines in my life, we really consider sewing a family affair. I made doll sized quilts and stuffed pillows for the crib, etc.

I was listening to NPR one day and a woman (I don't remember her name) said that if you buy something and never use it your cost per use is infinite. My mother-in-law had previously suggested that I offer my sewing services publicly but I never took her seriously. But then, I bought that shirt, that darn shirt, only 25 cents, huge stains. If I didn't do something with this I may have just thrown that quarter away! Now if there is anything I hate as much as I love a deal, its waste. What to do?

A few years ago at Christmas I made a bunch of American Girl Doll clothing for my little sister, and I had those patterns sitting just so happened that one day I was looking at that shirt, upset with myself about not looking it over again, I threw it into the closet, right on top of my sewing basket! And there the idea was born. I cut that old shirt up and made a smaller doll sized version. As I sewed the shirt up, more and more stains became apparent to me, so that original shirt was given to my cousin for play.

I have done many alterations to those original Simplicity patterns that I was sewing with, and now I make all of my own patterns for a custom fit that you can't get anywhere else!

Check out my Made to Match Gymboree, original customs, OOAK upcycles, Jewelry and much more! All made for American Girl 18" or Bitty Baby 15" dolls.