Saturday, July 31, 2010







If Coco Chanel's "little black dress" is a staple in every chic woman's wardrobe then the "pinafore" is certainly a staple in every young doll's wardrobe. Hundreds of dolls have worn one version or another and while it is known primarily as a pinafore it is also called a "jumper" in the USA. However, across the pond a jumper is what we Yanks call a sweater. So, we will call this THE PINAFORE CHALLENGE.

Above we see just a small sample of how various dolls have worn the A-line version of the classic pinafore. The challenge will be based on this simple design. How each designer decides to interpret it will be entirely their choice. While the basic pattern must be used it can be varied in fabric and trim. Shirts or blouses as well as tights and hats may be added. Pockets and a whole variety of buttons and snaps -- even buckles -- can be used.
Designers may choose to add traditional side closures as a part of their design but it is not necessary.

In doing research for this challenge I was amazed by the number of variations created over the years. And by the number of famous storybook characters who wore one form or another of the pinafore. And doll companies have dressed dolls in an endless variety of pinafores and jumpers.

Tomorrow I will highlight some of these designs and discuss ways to alter and finish your basic pinafore pattern.

The pattern can be used to make the pinafore out of felt so that young designers can try their hand at creating a solution all their own. This basic pattern is easy to sew and I will be offering sewing tips in the days ahead.

Anyone may enter the challenge. To receive your free pattern just send an e-mail to and put the word "PINAFORE" in the SUBJECT line. The challenge will end on September 15, 2010. Entries received after that date will not be included in the judging. Designers must send at least two or more photos of their design. Please photograph your dolls against a plain background.

And there will be prizes.


Friday, July 30, 2010


ABOVE: Sewn version
BELOW: Simply cut from felt

The first Sasha design challenge involved this simple wrap dress that could either be sewn in fabric or simply cut out of felt or a similar type of fabric that requires no seaming. The challenge was to use the basic pattern and create an outfit from any fabric. Designers could add accessories and various other fashion items like shirts, hats, and tights. The results were all wonderful and I'm not sure who had the most fun -- the designers or the members of the Sasha groups who had to pick a favorite from among the delightful designs.

I thought it might be fun to have another challenge. Tomorrow I will post the challenge and explain how to receive the pattern to participate.

So, are YOU ready for a design challenge?


We have all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe that is true. And I believe that you can make a silk purse out of a pig's ear -- but only if the pig was silk to begin with. Ah, inner beauty.

My Nana Laura used to take me to FAO Schwarz every Saturday to interview, and adopt, dolls and Teddy Bears. She was a familiar face there and the salesgirls loved her (they worked on commission) because she spent a great deal of money. But, she was demanding as well -- often sending the girls off to "fetch" more dolls and bears from the stock room.
Then she would line up a dozen or more seemingly identical dolls and peer intently into their faces. Back in the late 1940s the Madame Alexander dolls had hand-painted faces so there were, in fact, variations. And Steiff bears had hand-embroidered noses and mouths. The process took several hours but eventually one or two "spoke" to Nana Laura and came home with us -- but only after we had lunch at the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel.
I inherited her dolls and bears and her style of interviewing them. I spent many happy hours in the stock room of "dollsandreams" opening Sasha tubes and lining up a dozen blondes or brunettes before finding one or more that spoke to me.
Sadly, those days are gone forever. Now I am forced to stare intently at small images on my computer screen trying to see a doll's inner beauty and trying to hear her speak to me. It doesn't work as well as the in person interview but over the years I have developed a sharp eye.
This is the auction picture of my beautiful new brunette. And she certainly proves my point that you can make a silk purse from a pig's ear -- but only if the pig is made of silk.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Don't you dare pinch my cheek."

Last night we were watching "The Princess Bride" -- one of my favorite films. In the opening scene the little boy complains to his Mother that his Grandfather always pinches his cheek. I could almost hear my new brunette Sasha laughing and when I looked over at her she seemed to be saying, "Don't you dare pinch my cheek."

This doll has a very different look, as did her sister from my first family. I have often wondered why they both looked so different from all my other Sasha dolls. I always thought it was the deep, thick fringe that created it. But, last night I realized that her cheeks are fuller than any of my other dolls -- even my other wide-face kids. I noticed that a couple of my later Gotz kids, Alberto and Maria, also seem to have this fuller cheek look.

There have been lots of discussions and speculations about the variations in the Trendon doll heads. Some are wider than others and others are smaller. Variations not only occur from year to year but often within the same production year. The differences are subtle but certainly contribute to the uniqueness of each doll.

I noticed this when I was first adopting Sasha dolls back in the early 70s. I would open dozens of tubes and compare the dolls because there were these variations that gave each doll a distinct expression.

That is why it has taken me almost ten years to find this brunette twin to my lost first family brunette.

Take a look at your dolls and see if any of them have this wider face with the fuller cheeks. It is most evident when you look at the 3/4 and semi-profile positions and you look at the cheek outline against her hair.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Yesterday after my new brunette arrived, and I photographed her, I gave her a spa treatment. I realize this was potentially dangerous since early brunettes have very fragile hair. Basically everything worked out with just a few strands coming out in the comb. But she has lost some factory curl. I can eventually reset her hair if I want to get it back to the original look, but for now I'm leaving it alone.
I also laundered her outfit and was delighted that the knickers didn't lose their elasticity. She with probably need to have her stringing tightened or replaced because it isn't as tight as it was originally so she only holds a limited number of poses.
The thing about Sasha dolls that is so fascinating to me is how different and unique each one is. While this brunette is a near identical twin to my first family brunette she clearly has a personality all her own. All their subtle differences add up to create a special attitude and personality.
What I love about these two brunettes is their determined, almost pugnacious, no-nonsense expression. Back in the 70s my first brunette always delighted me with that look that seemed to say "... back off or deal with the consequences."
So now I have her twin and that attitude seems to be a family trait because she only poses as it suits her to.

Monday, July 26, 2010


ABOVE - My first family brunette
BELOW - My new brunette twin

Happiness is finding the twin of my long lost first family favorite brunette Sasha. I have been searching for several years and today she arrived. I didn't really expect her to be THE ONE because her photos in the auction were not really that good. But I took a gamble and this time I won.

Many would-be contenders have come and gone. A couple, with strong personalities of their own, have remained. But none, until today, actually looked like my first brunette. Back in the early 70s I had a large family of Sasha dolls -- well over a hundred. When we moved to California I picked twelve dolls to go with us and the others were adopted out. Sadly, those twelve, including my favorite brunette, were lost or stolen.

In recent years I was able to find twins (or close cousins) of my other first family dolls. But, never even a distant cousin of the brunette Sasha. I became like one of those obsessed knights looking for the Holy Grail. I missed one a year ago on Shelly's site that was as close as I have ever seen. But still just close -- not a twin.

For days I have been pacing the floor, chewing my nails, and driving the Postman insane looking for the package to arrive. Every day I tracked the package online and finally, on Friday, it arrived in Philadelphia. I thought it might get here on Saturday but it didn't. Today, as I was making my afternoon coffee and snack, the Postman knocked on my door and announced that the box had arrived. I frantically tore it open, nearly broke my fingers trying to pry off the lid of the tube and then finally she emerged -- disheveled and disoriented. As I brushed her hair and got a good look at her face I realized she was, in fact, a twin to my lost girl.
And I just sat there looking at her with tears streaming down my cheeks.

Yes, Sasha, grown men do cry -- if they are really, really happy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I have never adopted a waif before. Of course I have adopted several pre-loved Sasha dolls but they were not really waifs -- they were orphans. Then I saw this true waif on eBay and I decided to rescue her. She was like one of those puppies you see in the pet shop window and decide on impilse you just have to have a dog. No reason -- just pure emotion. OK, I admit that I had ulterior motives. If her adoption fee was low enough and it turned out that her fringe was, in fact, cut off as it appeared to be -- I could afford to have her rerooted to resemble an earlier fringe blonde. And she had a very compelling expression.
When she arrived - nude and alone in an old cardboard box - I knew she would need lots of TLC. I gave her a quick bath, dressed her in a new Tommy Hilfiger terry robe, and took her "before" photo.
After a good night's sleep I gave her hair and body a full spa treatment. While she has a few tiny marks that OXY 10 can handle, the rest of the "flaws" were really just surface dirt. Her fringe had been combed back for a long time and it took two shampoos to get her hair squeaky clean and conditioned. To my surprise and delight her fringe had not been cut but was actually quite long,
So now she almost does resemble an earlier fringe Sasha. She was born in the early 70s (tan cord) and made it clear to me that she is a bit of a Tomboy and prefers clothes that reflect the love generation years. So I dressed her in this Carpatina outfit. If I was inclined to name my dolls (I'm not) I would probably call her "Woodstock" because I'm sure she'd love it.

So, my first waif adventure has a happy ending and I have another blonde Sasha who makes me smile.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I really thought this Best Friends Club SIMPLY SWEET boxed outfit would be a winner and it is charming to look at on Sasha but it needs lots of alterations to improve the fit which is very tight. I like the style of both the blouse and especially the shorts. The shoulder bag is nothing exceptional but I really like the little yellow slippers. Again, for just $9.00 I can't really be too disappointed and there are great ideas in the clothing design.

Friday, July 23, 2010


My Sasha as a Princess has caused a bit of a stir among collectors. I have had requests to show her matching slippers that are included with the Carpatina gown.
So, being a lady, Sasha graciously responds by raising her hemline just enough to reveal them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ever since Sasha discovered the CARPATINA website she has been in love with this Special Edition "Rococo" gown available only to club members. Of course becoming a member is free.
Carpatina makes beautiful outfits and the period costumes and patterns usually fit Sasha without any alterations. This gown is a perfect fit including the matching fabric slippers. The fabric is actually embroidered and quite elegant looking. The gown comes with a net petticoat to add fullness to the skirt.
Sasha doesn't often dress up this much unless she is going to a costume ball. But she does like to imagine being a Princess from another period of history. The Carpatina fashions allow her to realize her dreams.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Here is another Best Friends Club boxed set outfit called BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL. Looking at the photos online I wasn't sure how Sasha would look in such a brightly colored ensemble. To my delight, these colors look wonderful against her dark tan complexion. This outfit is a good fit and while it is not a high quality item it is certainly $9.00 worth of fun for Sasha.
This ensemble would certainly be easy to duplicate in a number of colors and fabric patterns. The little suede purse is charming and so are the molded sandals.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Here is Sasha modeling another Tommy Hilfiger boxed fashion set. The bikini bottom was a really tight fit that was a struggle to get on but fits perfectly. Usually the pants in this line need to be altered but the bikini and the red shorts do not need any alterations. The basic set includes the two-piece bikini, white T-shirt, red shorts, and large duffle carry-all. (plus shoes that fit Baby Sasha)
Sasha has added several Tommy accessories from other sets. A Tommy head band, a Tommy towel and cooler, a Tommy wrist watch, and a Tommy MP3 player. Sasha borrowed the matching red clogs from the My Friend Mandy line.

By the way, her MP3 player is now playing the 1960 song "She wore an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini..." and Sasha loves it.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Sasha loves this colorful BEST FRIENDS CLUB ensemble that is perfect for the beach or poolside during these dog days of summer. The boxed set includes two different tops, bikini bottom, towel and see through shoulder bag. Everything fits Sasha perfectly because it is made of stretch material. Slight adjustment to the ribbon shoulder straps which are too long. Snip, Snip and two tiny stitches does the trick in a few minutes. The plastic shoulder bag allows you to see the towel inside.
Another terrific fashion borrowed from the Best Friends Club doll wardrobe. About nine dollars if you shop around.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Sasha is wearing another one (actually two) of the Best Friends Club fashions. These two outfits are from one of the boxed doll sets that comes with an extra outfit. These dolls often retail for over $35.00 but I found this complete MIB set online for just $11.00 using the search engine
Frankly, I bought the set just to get the eye glasses. They are molded in one piece and were just a wee bit too wide to fit Sasha so I used a hair dryer to gently soften and reshape the sides. It took about a minute to do.
The T-shirt logo reads "Bookworms" which I found amusing. I thought about a sports team with that name and wondered what their game might be. Then I remembered a line from a recent movie where one character says to another, "I was captain of the paraphrase team."
These outfits often need a bit of "letting out" to fit perfectly, but not much and really easy to do. I'll be discussing clothing alterations next month on the blog.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Here is Gregor wearing one of the Tommy Hilfiger fashions that does not follow his traditional red, white, and blue color scheme. There are tiny details in those colors but the overall colors are distinctly orange and white.
This sport ensemble fits quite well but the shorts had to be altered to fit. Not all borrowed fashions fit perfectly and there are often garments that need to be either taken in or let out.
This outfit is not as versatile as the rest of the Hilfiger fashions because it is a bit of an oddity being in a unique color scheme. But it is a delightful sport outfit that seems to suit Gregor perfectly.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Sasha wears a bright red T-shirt with a snowflakes and Tommy signature print. Gregor wears a cable knit sweater with a signature Tommy star made from sequins.

Gregor wears a Tommy T-shirt with an overall graphic print accented with tiny sparkles. Sasha wears a T-shirt with a delightful graphic spelling out "TOMMY" in decorative letters. Sleeves have signature design and colors.

Gregor wears a pale blue dress shirt with real working buttonholes. The shirt has a Tommy signature patch over the heart. Sasha wears a bright red T-shirt with a graphic Tommy design.

While many of today's doll companies struggle to capture the young girl market with so-called trendy outfits, they usually miss the mark completely. That is often equally true in the human fashion world as well.
Of all the American designers working today, TOMMY HILFIGER seems to be the one with his finger on the young pulse of America's youth.
And that is equally true of the doll fashions he created several years ago for the Madame Alexander & FAO Schwarz exclusive line of dolls and fashions. All of the outfits could easily be mixed and matched and almost all featured versatile separates like these T-shirts, sweaters, and shirts. They all feature his signature red, white, and blue color scheme in a variety of themes and graphics.
Over the years I have collected these fashions because they fit Sasha perfectly and are beautifully made of quality materials and feature wonderful details -- especially in their accessories. But I was not always lucky enough to find complete sets MIB so I often bought large collections of "pieces" from eBay sellers. Many of these included dolls as well as an array of outfits, shoes, and accessories. Some of the boxes had pictures of the other sets that were available but not all. So I am constantly surprised to find new items I didn't know existed.
For whatever reason, these fashions always look just right for Sasha. Perhaps it is the blue gingham lining in several of the jackets and skirts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This EURO GIRL outfit has a lot flair and delightful details like the beaded ties on the pants. The knee-length pants have side pockets and are made of a rough-weave country fabric. The bright red blouse has a braided trim around the neck. Many of the EURO GIRL outfits are a bit oversize for Sasha and require some easy-to-do alterations. The back of this blouse was altered to fit Sasha better. The sandals are a good fit for Sasha.
Next month I will show how to alter a couple of these outfits to fit Sasha better. Borrowing fashions often requires a bit of "taking in" or "letting out" so that they will fit Sasha better.

It is all part of the fun.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Another trendy BEST FRIENDS CLUB fashion for Sasha to borrow. This outfit is called "BOHO CHIC" and fits Sasha perfectly. The white sweater coat is quite stylish and the little lace trimmed camisole top is the perfect accent for the floral ruffle tiered mini-skirt. Two tone sneakers and a matching shoulder bag complete the look.
This line is not as color coordinated as the Tommy Hilfiger line but the various separate pieces will certainly add versatility to any wardrobe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Here is Gregor modeling a Tommy Hilfiger outfit. This set was a real find. Usually the Tommy trousers do not fit Gregor or Sasha but this pair is made of stretch fabric and so Gregor can wear them. Check out the cute star detail on the hip. Typically, the Hilfiger fashions feature red, white, and blue details and this outfit is no exception. This set did not include the Tommy scooter or the shoulder bag. However, the shoes fit Baby Sasha perfectly so every item in the set, including the bikini underpants, can be worn by a member of the Sasha family. Baby Sasha even has a Tommy Teddy to hug.
My kids love all the Tommy clothes and accessories because they are trendy and beautifully made.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Here is Sasha wearing a delightful floral print dress borrowed from the MY FRIEND MANDY line. This is the second basic dress that Mandy wore in the boxed doll set. The first set had Mandy dressed in a pink, white dotted, dress. That first boxed doll also had a pink floral nightgown included.
All of the Mandy and Friends outfits fit Sasha perfectly and many of the boxed outfits included patterns for outfits that Sasha can also wear. And Mandy's boyfriend had a few outfits that Gregor can wear.