You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Doll Clothes’ category.

Microsoft Paint avoids brush with death.

Tutorials—some free—on how to make doll clothes for any size or shape of your doll.

Why the death of malls is about more than shopping.

How to get your Instagram marketing off the ground.

After a century of dispute, the German alphabet just got a new character.

In her first act as a Disney Legend, Whoopi Goldberg tells Disney to stop hiding its history.

Artist Leticia Santos finds geometric inspiration in D.C.’s row houses.

Black Southern Baptist minister renounces church over its Trump support in a scathing open letter.

An open letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “small church” pastor.

Download 200+ Belle Époque art posters from 1880-1918 for free.

A new low: “Photo community” asks for (and gets) free commercial license to photos.

Growing paper clothes in rural Japan.

The extraordinary reason exceptional people avoid mediocre friends. (They rewire your brain.)

Colorizing an early 1900s photo of New York brings it to life.

12 tips to being a better photo blogger.

A history of why the U.S. is the only rich country without universal health care.

The best worst reactions to the news that the next Doctor Who will be a woman.

Honda debuts a one-of-a-kind “Minnie Van.”

This untouched 70s home is the grooviest thing you’ll see all year.

An attempt at a world record for the most Frida Kahlo lookalikes in one place.

Google executive explains how fake news can be detected.

How a two-time Iraq combat veteran uses photography to help him deal with PTSD.

Are 3D printers overrated?

Major advertisers withdraw support from Google and YouTube over the posting of extremist videos.

Animation presents the beta release of Animation Wave, which empowers marketing professionals to create videos and ads in minutes for distribution on social media.

Things I managed to do with the $250 computer from hell.

Asia’s hottest art fair includes taking selfies with a lifelike replica of Mao Zedong’s corpse.

Starbucks CEO says that not every decision in business is an economic one because leadership and moral courage is not a passive act.

How to find your niche and build a photography career.

3D printing could usher in a revolution but small, local businesses are unlikely to benefit from it.

Here’s what it takes to make it as a financially successful podcaster.

No one can explain why YouTube bans some LGBT content.

The life-changing magic of tidying up your computer.

A billionaire collector of Rembrandt’s works said he started his collection with the intention to take art out of hidden, private collections and put it back into the public domain by creating a lending library. He’s doing this in an effort to build bridges between different groups and countries.

A woman who spends her time doing Lionel Ritchie-themed street embroidery.

The famous 1967 New York exhibit that transformed photography.

Adobe and Microsoft are working together on artificial intelligence.

14 hipster hobby ideas.

7 cool YouTube hacks you can use.

Hungry? Call your neighborhood delivery robot.

Ever since DreamWorks Animation was purchased by Universal, several films have been cancelled. So what’s actually happening?

Google unveiled a new set of features for its popular Maps app that lets users share their locations with friends and contacts in real time so they can quickly let friends know if they are running late to a meeting or stuck in traffic.

Washable heartbeat sensors can now be embroidered onto clothing.

A Pittsburgh non-profit is making tiny hijab headscarves for Barbie dolls in an effort to increase inclusivity and fight Islamophobia.

Adobe and Microsoft are sharing sales and marketing data.

Microsoft and Toyota sign patent deal for potential connected cars.

Robot company claims to create, not kill, jobs.

The most common grammar mistakes on Microsoft Word.

A step-by-step guide to making Instagram-worthy gold leaf Easter eggs.

Inmates crochet mats made from plastic bags then donate them to the homeless.

Little boy who misses his Royal Air Force father gets a huggable hero doll that looks exactly like his father.

Adobe interns don’t make coffee, they make apps. They also get paid as well.

Netflix snatches up the worldwide distribution rights to a Japanese anime version of Godzilla.

This new robot skin is more sensitive than a human hand.

Robots could help children give evidence in child abuse cases.

Today is International Women’s Day. In honor of that occasion, I’ll begin this post with an old photo of my Volks Dollfie Dream doll. I chose this photo because the doll has a mature woman’s body and she’s wearing an outfit that has red in it, which I’ll explain further under the picture. (In case you’re wondering, I did the doll’s faceup and I made the outfit as well.)

Skulls & Roses

Today a major international strike—called “A Day Without Women”—is being held all around the world. The women in each nation are striking for different reasons that are local to their area but a strike is going on today nonetheless.

Here’s the short answer for why women in my country are striking today: President Trump. There are other reasons for this strike as well, which Bustle has helpfully posted online as a resource for strikers when they are asked why they are on strike today.

The local schools in my area are off today because so many teachers and employees have taken personal leave. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t ventured outside yet but I will soon so I’ll see how many people are really observing this.

As for me, I don’t live with anyone at the moment so it’s irrelevant whether I sit out on doing the housework today or not. I already have a red shirt in my closet so I was able to wear that in solidarity. I also haven’t found a new day job yet so I’m home regardless of whether there’s a strike or not.

The one thing I can do is not spend any money today, which is another thing that the organizers have called for. I made an effort to go to the Verizon store to pay my latest cell phone bill yesterday so I wouldn’t have to spend money today. The word is that if it turns out that we have to buy something we really need today, we should frequent local small businesses that are owned either by women or minorities and avoid the corporate chain stores entirely. The convenience store near my home is a family-run store that’s owned by a Chinese immigrant family so I could go there if it turns out I need something in a pinch.

Today one of the local women-owned businesses is sponsoring a Craft-In at her shop where people can bring either their latest craft project or, for a fee, buy some craft supplies and do some crafting. I’m going to check that out later.

If I had a day job, I would have a difficult time with going on strike because I would not have been employed too long and it’s generally harder for recent hires to get time off than longtime employees. For other people who are in the same boat, Bustle.com has some helpful tips on other ways people can observe this day if they are unable to take time off from work.

It’s that time of the year where people are crowding the shopping malls in an effort to buy gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Instead of fighting surly drivers for a parking space, how about staying home and buying some unique things from me? Here is what I’m highlighting for sale this holiday season.

Do you like adult coloring books? Looking for something different from the usual ones that are currently on the market? For some NSFW fun, try my adult coloring book, Burlesque Beauties, which definitely puts the “adult” in adult coloring book.

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Purchase Burlesque Beauties right here.

When I originally created my first (and, so far, only) item for my new RedBubble shop, President Trump, I honestly thought that it would be something that was going to be hot for a limited time until Election Day then it would be obsolete. Thanks to the outcome of those elections, it looks like my President Trump line will be hip and relevant for at least the next four years (unless he somehow gets impeached or killed).

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You can buy this design on a variety of products ranging from leggings to bedcovers to cases and skins for your favorite electronic device. Check it all out right here.

I also currently have the following items available for auction on eBay through December 29 or until someone makes the highest bid (whichever comes first). There are no hidden reserve prices or anything like that and I have set relatively low minimum bids on these products.

Doll Couch Made From Recycled Dance Dance Revolution Pad

DC Mini Maker Faire, June 8, 2014

This is the same couch that I displayed at the 2014 Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and the 2014 DC Mini-Maker Faire. While this couch came from a pattern that was made for American Girl dolls, I found that it can also fit Mini Super Dollies and Ellowyne Wilde dolls as well. Bid on this couch right here.

Barbie Doll Customized as an Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Action Figure

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I recently made a series of DIY videos on how to customize a Barbie doll (especially the Made to Move Barbie) into Marvel Comics’ off-beat superhero known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I decided to sell the doll that was featured in that video series. I figured that anyone who is looking for a Squirrel Girl doll/action figure to give to someone else (especially a child) but doesn’t have the time to customize a doll would want to buy her. I’m basically taking advantage of the fact that, as of this writing, there are no officially licensed dolls or action figures based on this character by making my own customized version available for sale. You can bid on my customized creation right here.

Knitted Fur Coat Made Especially For Barbie, Blythe, Pullip, and Other 1/6 Scale Dolls

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I wrote about the making of this one a few days ago. I decided to put it up for sale. Keep in mind that this piece is hand-knitted (by me) using fur yarn so it’s definitely not some cheaply made Third World sweatshop crap. I sewed hooks in the front so you can close it and keep it closed. It’s perfect for people who are itching to dress their doll in something appropriate for this time of the year. Bid on this doll coat right here.

Knitted Outfit for American Girl Dolls and Other 18-Inch Dolls

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Like the smaller knitted coat, I also wrote about this outfit in this blog recently. I decided to sell this one as well. This is a one of a kind outfit that was hand-knitted by me. I sewed snaps in the back instead of using velcro, which is convenient because you won’t have to deal with the hassle of getting your doll’s hair stuck every time you change into this outfit. (Even though most of the official American Girl outfits cost around $30, they still use velcro just like the manufacturers of cheaper doll outfits. If I was going to spend that much for doll clothes, I would expect something nicer than velcro.) Bid on this outfit right here.

In addition to my handcrafted stuff, I will also have a couple of other items available on eBay. I didn’t make either one but I decided to list them here along with everything else.

Talking Donald Trump Action Figure

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This is the same action figure which I gave as a gag gift for my then-husband sometime during the first or second season of The Apprentice, long before Donald Trump’s foray into politics. I used this one in the video for my “Trump” poem back in 2011. Now that he’s the president-elect, I’m going to see how much of a collector’s item this doll really is. (If some hardcore Donald Trump fan wants to offer me a huge amount of money for it, I’m willing to accept the offer.) So if you’re shopping for gift to give to someone who voted for Trump and is a true believer, here’s your chance to surprise that person with an action figure that not only has realistic articulated joints but can also say phrases using The Donald’s own voice. I made a video demonstrating the action figure’s talking and posing capabilities.

Bid on the Talking Donald Trump Action Figure right here.

Card Set Featuring Reproductions of Vintage Betty Page Pinup Photos

The cards in this set are about the size of baseball trading cards. They all feature vintage photographs of 1950’s pinup model Betty Page, who inexplicably underwent a popular revival in the 1980’s (while many of her other 1950’s female pinup contemporaries still remain in obscurity to this day) and she still remains a cult figure today with plenty of male admirers. I purchased this card set from a catalogue as a Christmas gift for my then-husband because I figured he would like it since he used to purchase the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue each year. It turned out that I was wrong. He told me that Betty Page didn’t really excite him all that much compared to Cindy Crawford or Paulina Porizkova. I think he only went through that card pack once or twice then left it alone. Of course he left it behind when he walked out on me five years ago this month. I tried donating it to the yard sale that was run by my support group for people who are separated or divorced by the organizers told me that I would be better off selling it on eBay because it might be a collector’s item. So I’m selling it for very low minimum bid mainly because I just want to get rid of it. You can view a few sample pictures from this set and make your bids right here.

That’s it for the auctions. I’ve set each one up so it’ll be relisted two more times if I don’t get any bids the first week. But the entire auction will end on December 29 regardless of whether I sell anything or not so don’t delay and bid today!

This year I got into knitting because it’s one activity that tends to calm me down, especially whenever I go through extreme stress (such as finding money to pay the bills or dealing with my mother’s latest health issues). One day I would really love to knit (and maybe even sew) my own clothes. I decided to start small with making doll clothes just so I can train myself for the day when I will finally try knitting a human-sized sweater or some other type of clothing. I came across this book written by Nicky Epstein called Knits for Dolls, which focuses on knitting clothes for American Girl and other 18-inch dolls.

I found one pattern that was intriguing called “Alice’s Tea Party.” It’s obviously based on the Tea Party scene in Alice in Wonderland but this doll looks like she’s dressed like a 1920’s flapper who’s ready to go to a party featuring a live jazz band.

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I changed the colors from the original pattern. I ended up using pink and black, which made the out seem much bolder.

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Most modern 18-inch doll clothes tend to use velcro, including even the expensive American Girl doll clothes. I decided to use snaps instead because I know what it’s like to get a doll’s hair tangled in velcro and it’s such a pain.

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Here are the various American Girl dolls modeling the same outfit, which gives you an idea of how the outfit would look against various hair and skin colors.

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I even made a short promo video for this outfit.

In 2008 I underwent a hip replacement. Shortly before surgery I ordered a book from Amazon.com that was written by Nicky Epstein called Knits for Barbie Doll. When the book arrived I saw this pattern for a Funky “Fur” Coat that required using novelty fur yarn. I was especially intrigued by the photograph.

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I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts where I purchased some blue fur yarn. Then I underwent the surgery. During the long months of recovery I spent a lot of time knitting that coat since it was the one thing that didn’t require standing up or walking or any other kind of leg movement. I finished knitting the coat then I put it aside for a few years while I moved on to other things.

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I would come across it every now and then. The coat was mostly done. All I needed to do was to sew on some hooks so the coat would close but I didn’t get around to buying the hooks. Finally this past week I decided that, once and for all, I would finish that coat. I purchased the hooks and sewed them on the coat.

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I took a few dolls outside to shoot pictures while each doll took a turn modeling this coat, starting with Barbie (which is fitting since the pattern was made with her in mind).

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Here’s my 1/6 scale Asian ball-jointed doll, a Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, wearing the same coat.

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The original coat pattern also had a separate pattern to knit a matching hat. I didn’t make a hat because I wanted this coat to be worn by as many different kinds of dolls as possible and many of them have different sized heads. One such case is this Pullip doll, whose oversized hear could never have worn a Barbie-sized hat even though her body can fit into some Barbie outfits.

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Last, but not least, here’s my Blythe doll modeling the same coat.

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I’m so glad that I finally finished that coat eight years after I started working on it. I even made a short promo video about it.

Previous in This Series

The First Video
The Second Video

This is the third part of a four-part series on how to customize a Barbie doll (especially the Made to Move Barbies) into the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Marvel Comics’ off-beat superhero who has gained a sizable following. The first video dealt with finding the right Barbie doll to customize into Squirrel Girl while the second dealt with changing her hairstyle in order to resemble Squirrel Girl’s very short light red/strawberry blonde hair. This video gets into the real heart of this tutorial as it focuses on how to make the clothes. Here is a drawing of Squirrel Girl in her superhero costume.

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I basically did a lot of searching for patterns and fabrics that would be appropriate for replicating that costume.  You can watch the video here. (I will put direct links to websites where you can get the patterns under the video.)

Free leotard pattern

Free tights pattern

McCall’s Pattern 8552 (This pattern isn’t free but you can shop around both online and in brick and mortar stores to find the best bargain.)

By the time this video ended, I finished about 80% of the work needed to convert Barbie into Squirrel Girl.

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I still had more work to do but I was starting to make real progress with this doll while I was making the video.

That’s it for now. The next and final video will go into making her boots, making her headband, adding her tail, and even adding her squirrel companion, Tippy-Toe, so watch this blog.

Next in This Series

The Fourth Video

Ramadan

Early that morning I went to the Loudon Lyme 5K/10K/1K Fun Run in Ashburn, Virginia. The event ended by 11 a.m. and I was facing an hour-long commute back to my home in Maryland. I remembered that Tyson’s Corner Mall is located at the halfway point between Ashburn and my home so I decided to stop there for a few hours, look around, then drive the rest of the way home.

So I drove along the toll roads while enduring wind gusts (which prompted me to drive slower than usual because I didn’t want a wind gust to push my car into the lane next to me and risk having an accident) until I reached the mall. The first thing I did was to check out the American Girl Place. The new 2016 Girl of the Year, Lea Clark, was released back in January. I saw the 6-inch mini doll version on sale at the Target that’s located near my home about a month ago or so but I didn’t see the 18-inch version in person for the first time until I arrived to the mall that day. I had meant to check out that doll in person sooner but I was diverted by other things currently going on in my life. Better late than never, I suppose. (At least I’m not keeping a doll news blog like Living a Doll’s Life so I don’t feel compelled to come up with late breaking American Girl doll news as soon as I hear about it.)

Lea Clark isn’t quite as striking as last year’s Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas, but that’s because Grace had two-toned dark brown hair with light skin and very pretty blue eyes. But Lea is still pretty cute with her caramel brown hair, tan skin, and green eyes. Her default meet outfit is very colorful and bright.

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The next few photos show the outfits that one can purchase separately for Lea. I really liked the outfits, especially the white dress with the pretty green floral embroidery but, with prices starting at $30, there was no way I was even going to consider buying one for one of the other 18-inch dolls who currently live with me.

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They have Lea on display at that bistro’s bakery counter along with Lea-themed sweets that one can buy.

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Last year the 6-inch mini doll version of Grace Thomas wasn’t sold through American Girl at all. Instead one had to go to other stores like Target or Barnes & Noble in order to purchase the Girl of the Year’s miniature doppelgänger. Since I saw the 6-inch version of Lea Clark at Target before I went to the American Girl Place, I assumed that it would be the same situation. Except that American Girl Place is now selling the 6-inch version for a few dollars more than getting that same doll at Target. The only difference is that the Target version comes with a miniature abridged version of Lea’s book while the American Girl Place version comes with this very fancy doll stand. Also the American Girl Place version comes with a different outfit from the ones that are sold at other stores. As for me, I’d rather go to Target for the mini doll while going to Michael’s or A.C. Moore for a cheap doll stand and saving a few dollars.

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There are also a few animals that one can buy for Lea. I only saw the sea turtle and a Margay cat when I was there. Each animal, which is about the size of a Beanie Baby, costs $18 each. One dollar from each sale will go to support the World Wildlife Federation, although it would be easier for me to donate directly to the WWF while getting a receipt that I can claim as a tax write-off.

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There are a series of three tie-in books about Lea’s life.

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There are some accessories currently available for Lea. The good news is that none of them are as expensive as Grace’s French Bakery from last year. The bad news is that they are still expensive as hell. The most expensive Lea item is Lea’s Rainforest House, which costs $395. (So it’s $105 cheaper than Grace’s French Bakery.)

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The next expensive item is Lea’s Fruit Stand, which costs $150.

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Then there’s Lea’s Kayak, which is a relative steal at $85.

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The cheapest Lea accessory is the $34 Lea’s Beach Picnic Set.

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For human children there are clothes and jewelry that are all based on Lea’s clothes and accessories.

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There’s also a place where one can take selfies with Lea.

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As for the modern dolls, there was nothing that really appealed to me enough to even bother with taking a picture. I’ve already taken plenty of the historical BeForever dolls on previous trips so I’m just going to focus on the few new things that arrived in this line, starting with Kaya wearing her new $42 Pow Wow Dress of Today while standing next to her $48 foal, Sparks Flying.

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This year happens to be American Girl’s 30th anniversary so, to celebrate in a profitable way, American Girl has released these special edition mini doll versions of the BeForever dolls. Usually the mini dolls are dressed in the same default meet outfit as their 18-inch counterparts. For this anniversary, nearly all of them are dressed in special party dresses, which are sold separately for their 18-inch counterparts. (The only exception is Kaya, who’s still in her original meet outfit, which is strange because I’ve seen other outfits available for sale in the 18-inch Kaya line.)

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Recently American Girl has announced a new doll that will be joining the BeForever lineup. Her name is Melody Ellison and she’s supposed to represent the 1960’s. The doll won’t be released until later this year but one can buy and read her books in the meantime. I have to admit that her hairstyle reminds me of when I used to watch reruns of That Girl when I was growing up and Marlo Thomas wore a similar hairstyle.

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After spending some time at American Girl Place, I moved on to the Disney Store. Lately it seems like half the store has been given over to Marvel and Star Wars, which is appropriate since Disney owns both now.

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They had this gorgeous Elsa doll that has articulated joints. (I definitely saw elbow joints.) She looks like she’s about the size of a Mini Super Dollfie. She costs $50 and I would’ve bought her if I didn’t have to be so tight about money these days. So I had to settle for a picture instead. Sigh!

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I made a brief stop at the Lego Store where I took some more pictures.

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For a change of pace I went to Spencer’s Gifts where I saw plenty of items related to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections.

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I also saw Hillary Clinton items as well. I have to say this, compared to the items for the male candidates (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump), the ones for Hillary Clinton play off the fact that she’s a woman by using all kinds of sexual metaphors that just aren’t there for the men. It’s downright sexist and disgusting. Check out this t-shirt.

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And even that one is tasteful compared to this next photo, which shows a Hillary Clinton inflatable sex doll. Seriously! What’s worse is that this doll is called “Horny Hillary.” Yuck!

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I think those Hillary items are tasteless and disgusting. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary in Maryland recently and I think those Hillary sex items are gross. I can only imagine the reactions of Hillary Clinton’s most ardent supporters when they see stuff like that.

I took a look at the plaza where I would’ve entered the mall had I travelled by Metro instead of by car (like I did that day). Normally there would be things like a giant chessboard and beanbag toss corn holes that would be out for anyone to use. But, like I wrote earlier, it was a very windy day when I was there so I could imagine why the plaza was relatively bare.

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I saw a kiosk that was selling Emoji pillows.

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I saw this covered area that was advertising various Amazon.com products. I don’t know what’s going on there but the barriers were covering something.

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I took a few miscellaneous photos.

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I took one last photo as I was crossing the cross bridge to the parking garage where my car was parked.

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Santa Claus

Ever since my husband left me just three days after Christmas in 2011, I’ve been celebrating my birthdays by going out to all-you-can-eat Asian buffet places. While they were okay, I was ready for something a little bit different. I got a combination birthday/Christmas check from my mother so I could indulge myself a little bit. I originally planned on going to the Christmas Village that’s temporarily located in Baltimore where I would indulge in German food and do some shopping. But then I looked at operating hours and I found that the Christmas Village is closed on certain Tuesdays—including December 15.

Okay so that plan fell by the wayside. Then I decided on Plan B. I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall instead.

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Here are the first few images of the plaza area where Metro riders arrive at the mall.

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Käthe Wohlfahrt had a heated tent set up outside.

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The next shot is one of the two giant wooden soldiers that guard the entrance to the tent. There was a photography ban inside the tent but you can just go on the website to see the variety of German-made Christmas decorations that are currently for sale.

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Once again the mall has erected an ice skating rink on the plaza. It was empty mainly because I came on a Tuesday night.

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I saw that Jon Wye now has a kiosk in the mall. I can remember when Jon Wye was a regular fixture in many of the local indie craft shows (such as Crafty Bastards). One year I purchased this t-shirt for my then-husband, which he really loved. (My husband loved to cook, although in the later years of our marriage I did more of the cooking because he would come home from work totally exhausted.)

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I ended up eating my birthday dinner at Wasabi. It’s cool they deliver food on a conveyor belt plus the food is excellent.

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After dinner I walked around the mall some more. I saw these cute Christmas villages made from Legos at the Lego Store.

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A few months ago I wrote a rant on Why Kim Kardashian and Her Family Need to Just Go Away. I was exasperated over the fact that the entire family seem to have a knack at calling media attention to themselves even though most of them have no discernible talent. Even though I go through great lengths to avoid having anything remotely to do with Kim Kardashian and family, even I can’t avoid them completely. One example is this poster in a store window touting a fashion collection that’s promoted by two of Kim Kardashian’s younger half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

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Nintendo set up this temporary display in the middle of the mall. People had the opportunity to actually try some of the latest Nintendo games that are currently on sale for both their 3DS and Wii U systems.

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I saw these cute dolls made by the German company Götz in a Pottery Barn Kids store. Here’s a fun fact: Götz was the manufacturer of many of the early American Girl dolls, which ended when Mattel purchased American Girl and, in a cost-cutting measure, shifted all production to China. These days Götz makes its own 18-inch dolls that are sold in Pottery Barn Kids stores.

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I also saw this Star Wars display in the Pottery Barn Kids store right across from where the Götz dolls were displayed.

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In the middle of the mall was something called Those Animals, which were motorized stuffed animals that one could ride through the mall. Each animal is billed to carry a person up to 500 pounds. I thought about renting one briefly to try it out but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure if I would be considered too old to ride one. I later saw a group of teens riding those animals so maybe it would be okay for adults to ride as well. Maybe I’ll consider it again if Those Animals are still around the next time I go to Tyson’s Corner Mall.

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I went to the American Girl Place. I focused mainly on the Christmas related stuff this time around because I’ve already taken so many pictures of that store in the past. There was this store exclusive dress that was displayed on different dolls.

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There were also other types of holiday outfits for dolls available as well.

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They also brought back the horse carriage that I photographed extensively last year at the same store.

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Earlier this year I wrote extensively and posted a bunch of photos on Samantha Parkington’s gazebo. It was adorned with Christmas decorations when I saw that gazebo this time.

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Their Bistro area was all decked out in holiday ornaments. The doll on the counter is Kit Kittredge, who’s the BeForever historical doll representing America during the Great Depression.

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There were a variety of winter holiday decorations strewn throughout the store.

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I took one more token photo of the 2015 Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas, because by the time I make a return visit to the American Girl Place, she’ll be long replaced by the 2016 Girl of the Year.

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I took a few more photos of various store windows and displays throughout the mall.

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I saw the ultimately geeky Christmas ornament: Darth Vader wearing a Santa hat and one of those ugly Christmas sweaters featuring all kinds of Star Wars-related motifs. I didn’t buy it at the time because I didn’t have enough money on me (after eating at Wasabi). When I attempted to go to a Hallmark store located closer to me, I found that all of the Darth Vader ornaments had been sold out except for the display model.

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I finished with a visit to the Nestle Toll House Cafe. Instead of getting a birthday cake for myself, I opted to purchase a cookies and cream brownie. Boy, was it good!

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I purchased only one thing during my trip to the mall. I found this $9.99 miniature gumball machine that had the images of Anna and Elsa on it from the Disney movie Frozen.

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There is a coin slot but one can get the gumball just by twisting the handle. However, if you opt to pay with a coin, there is a lid at the bottom where you can retrieve your coins. (In other words, it functions as a bank as well as a candy dispenser.)

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As I went back out on the plaza in the direction of the Metro station (so I could return home), I saw an employee spraying the surface of the ice skating rink with water.

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I also saw some people sit on the outdoor couches by the tables with lit flames, such as this family in the next photo.

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Last Wednesday I posted a couple of photos I took while I was in Bethesda. I was there for business reasons and I had to arrive there at the crack of dawn. I was a bit frazzled when everything was over by 11 a.m. for the day. (I can’t really go into details here about the reason why I was frazzled or how I got so frazzled in the first place.) Once everything was over I realized that the area of Bethesda I was at was near the borders with both Washington, DC and Northern Virginia. I remembered that, for a while, I had been wanting to make a return trip to the American Girl Place in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia in order to check out that new historical 1950’s BeForever doll, Maryellen, in person. I was within close driving distance of that mall plus it was a Tuesday afternoon, which meant that the kids would be in school so I could just look at dolls in peace without encountering hordes of running, screaming kids (like on the weekends).

So I drove to the mall (which was about a 15-20 minute commute from where I was). When I arrived the first thing I did was to eat lunch at Wasabi. (That’s the sushi place where everything is delivered on a conveyor belt. The food is very excellent so the delivery gimmick is icing on the cake.) Then I did a leisurely walking around the mall. I went to the outside area of the mall where I would’ve entered had I opted to use the Metro instead of the car to get there. I saw that there were a few nice touches that weren’t there the last time I was there back in April. There was the table tennis table where I saw a couple of guys play a furious game of ping pong.

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They also had giant checkerboards where one can play giant sized versions of either checkers or chess.

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One of those large chess pieces is almost as big as my foot.

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I was browsing some of the stores inside the mall. It seemed like this trip became a nostalgia trip for me because of what I saw that evoked past memories for me. I found this stuffed Gizmo from the 1980’s movie Gremlins. I can remember when I saw that movie when it was first released in the theaters a long time ago. I was surprised to see a new toy based on that movie.

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Here’s an overhead shot of an olive oil and vinegar bar where one can purchase olive oil and vinegar in a variety of different flavors. They also tend to be more expensive than the olive oil and vinegar that one finds in a regular supermarket. I’ve seen these types of stores in various upscale shopping areas around the Washington, DC area so I wasn’t really that surprised to see one at Tyson’s Corner. To be honest, I’m happy with buying vinegar and olive oil from the supermarket instead of one of these specialty stores.

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Everywhere I walked around the mall, I saw all kinds of Star Wars stuff on sale ranging from kids toys to sexy bustiers for adults. It’s like the stores are gearing for that new Star Wars movie that’s coming out by the end of this year. (It’s going to be the first Star Wars movie since Disney bought the rights to it from George Lucas a few years ago.) The next few photos show just a few of the many Star Wars stuff I saw on sale at that mall.

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I eventually made it to the American Girl Place. Sure enough, the signs all over the store remind shoppers that, yes, there is a historical 1950’s BeForever doll named Maryellen and, yes, she now exists in real life.

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And here she is, Maryellen Larkin, in her default 1950’s style outfit.

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And here is the smaller mini doll version of Maryellen, which costs $25 (versus $115 for the 18-inch version).

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Even though I previously wrote about my trepidations regarding American Girl coming out with a 1950’s doll (mainly because I was inundated with all kinds of 1950’s nostalgia when I was growing up in the 1970’s), I have to admit that I like her strawberry blonde hair and her default outfit is cute as well. The color scheme reminds me of Spoonflower.com’s Coral, Mint, Black, and White contest that I entered in earlier this year. Overall I think she’s pretty cute and she definitely looks striking in person.

Maryellen represents the 1950’s era that both my mother and my late father grew up in. In fact, before I made this recent trek to the American Girl Place, I received the latest American Girl catalogue in the mail that features Maryellen prominently. I’m currently saving it for the next time I visit my mother in person because I think she’d get a kick out of seeing all of the 1950’s clothes and other items from her era rendered in doll form. I’m not sure if she would want the doll herself but I think she’d still get a kick out of seeing the catalogue nonetheless.

There are also other 1950’s outfits available for Maryellen and they are all adorable (even if the cheapest outfit I found costs $32).

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There are also outfits for young girls that are modern takes on Maryellen’s wardrobe (so as to avoid the historical costume look that’s more appropriate for Halloween or cosplaying at a geek convention). The next photo is based on Maryellen’s default outfit and I think it’s a very cute and chic update on Maryellen’s 1950’s aesthetic.

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This black outfit with the pink poodle appliqué (based on Maryellen’s poodle skirt ensemble that’s sold separately) is less successful in my mind. It looks more like a costume than something that a modern girl would wear to school or to a friend’s house on the weekend. In fact, it reminds me more of the kinderwhore look that the 1990’s riot grrls used to wear onstage, such as Babes in Toyland and Courtney Love (back when she was the lead singer of Hole before her personal problems overwhelmed her performing career).

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In recent years it seems like American Girl has gotten into launching big ticket items for certain dolls that cost a lot of money. There was Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor and Gazebo. There was the current 2015 Girl of the Year Grace’s French Bakery, which costs a whopping $500. Now there’s Maryellen’s Seaside Diner.

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The store had one of the Seaside Diners out in the middle of the floor where one can look at it in detail. The diner is slightly smaller than Grace’s French Bakery (although it would still take up a tremendous amount of space in a small home) and, at a retail price of $275, it’s cheaper than that bakery as well. (Although frugal parents would have a very hard time justifying paying $275 for a child’s doll no matter how cute and realistic looking it is.) I have to admit that American Girl did a pretty credible job with designing a realistic circa-1950’s diner with the impeccable attention to detail (such as the formica countertop). I’ve heard that Maryellen’s story takes place in Florida (I haven’t read any of her books as of this writing), which would make sense given the name of the diner. In addition, I went to a couple of cafes and restaurants when I last went to Melbourne (located in Florida’s Space Coast region) back in 2011 and Maryellen’s diner looked way similar to my memories of eating in those real-life places. (Many of them even played 1950’s oldies music. It was probably because many of the retirees now living in Florida came of age in the 1950’s and these businesses were catering to them by playing the music from their youth.)

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Even though the jukebox was shown with the Seaside Diner, it’s really sold separately. It costs $90 and it can not only play a selection of six tunes that evoke the 1950’s but one can also use it as an external speaker for a computer laptop, tablet, iPod, or any other kind of modern electronic mobile device. I grew up with these types of jukeboxes in the 1970’s (many of the local cheap restaurants, cafes, and diners had them) and I still encounter them from time to time (although there aren’t as many of them as when I was growing up). I have to admit that the American Girl jukebox looks pretty realistic.

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There’s even an apron for Maryellen to wear whenever she decides to work behind the counter. (Although, in reality, she would not have been legally allowed to even get a job at her age since the child labor laws were passed decades earlier.)

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There was also a living room set for Maryellen with furniture that is supposed to evoke the 1950’s era that she grew up in.

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Her sofa is actually a sofa bed which opens into a place where Maryellen and one other 18-inch doll can sleep. It’s pretty cute even if it costs $150.

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Then there’s Maryellen’s $85 television console. American Girl did a pretty decent job with that one because I still saw similar setups like this in various people’s homes way into the 1970’s. (I grew up in a more working class area where people held on to their stuff a while longer than people with more disposable incomes. The attitude among most of the adults in my neighborhood was that it didn’t matter if something came from the 1950’s as long as it was still working.)

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Seeing that tiny set of encyclopedias also brought back memories for me even though I wasn’t around in the 1950’s. Basically many families in the 1950’s and 1960’s thought that buying a set of encyclopedias for their children would help them succeed in school. My parents felt that way also because they bought a set soon after I was born. The only problem was that by the time I reached middle school, much of the information in them was out of date so that set became pretty useless for doing research with. For my schoolwork I ended up using the encyclopedias in the school library and the local public library because they were more current and up-to-date. My parents ultimately got rid of the encyclopedias while I was still in high school since I rarely touched them.

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While this next shot shows a still screen featuring Maryellen in black and white (since color television wasn’t available to the masses back in the 1950’s), there is an area in the back of the console where one can place an iPad. The idea is to download an app that’s related to this console online and the person can use that app to create TV shows with. Then the person would slide the app behind the console and the screen would look like the TV is playing that TV show that was created with an app. This option is only available for iPads. (Have an iPod, an iPhone, or a Droid tablet or smartphone? Too bad for you!)

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Then there’s the $58 living room set, which features this funky table and lamp. Even though I grew up in the 1970’s, I visited a lot of homes that still had tables and lamps similar to this set. (Like I wrote earlier, I grew up in a mostly working class area where people were slower to upgrade to the latest and greatest furniture and other types of home decor.)

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This set includes a miniature TV Guide, which brings back a lot of memories for me. My mother used to bring home the latest issue of TV Guide along with the weekly groceries. There were a few articles in the front and back (focusing mainly on the stars of the shows currently on the air) but the middle section was a bunch of TV listings that were organized by day and time so one would know when a particular favorite program was going to air on what day and at what time. In addition, there would be short descriptions of what a certain show is about and what actors or actresses would be involved. That helped a person decide on whether to watch a certain show or pass on it. That miniature TV Guide is an accurate replica of what I would’ve read from the 1970’s until about 10 or 15 years ago when that publication underwent a serious format change. TV Guide started having problems with keeping up with TV listings because of an increase in the number of cable channels while keeping to its small publication size. So it decided to increase the size of its publication, which wasn’t so bad. But, along with that larger publication format, it decided to add more feature articles about current TV stars and devote fewer pages to TV listings, which resulted in a confusing grid listing all the shows for the week that was printed on one or two pages and the rest were feature articles. TV Guide went downhill for me after that. Until I quite my newspaper subscription last year, I used its TV listings instead of buying TV Guide. These days I rely on the Internet for TV listings. Yet I still see TV Guide still on sale at the supermarket checkout line so someone must like that format enough to buy it.

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That ad for Uncle Walt also brought back memories because one of the local TV stations in Baltimore had a similar weekday kid-friendly host who would introduce the cartoons and other kid-friendly programming. Except the name of the host in my area was known as Captain Chesapeake.

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When I first learned about Maryellen representing the 1950’s, I read the synopsis of the books and I immediately thought of Leave It To Beaver if Beaver had been a girl. But I later learned that Maryellen’s life isn’t some perfect utopia. From what I’ve read online (I haven’t read the books yet), she supposedly had polio when she was much younger, which resulted in one of her legs being weaker than the other. I never had to deal with polio, measles, or certain other childhood illnesses because I was vaccinated on a regular basis as a child. In recent years there have been these anti-vaxxers who are currently going around the country urging people not to vaccinate their children because vaccines cause autism. Even though there have been numerous scientific studies refuting that claim, people are still not vaccinating their kids so there have been a return of diseases in recent years that were previously rare, such as whooping cough.

That living room set also includes a tiny newspaper that includes headlines that would make the anti-vaxxers have a screaming fit if they ever saw them.

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I have to commend American Girl for standing up to the anti-vaxxers in a very subtle way like this. Especially since, about a year or two ago, I read an article somewhere that made me cringe. Basically there were some parents who, instead of vaccinating their children, decided to group together and have “pox parties” where they would expose their children to someone who currently had chicken pox so they would get the chicken pox at an early age. Yes, I admit that it’s true that children who get the chicken pox at an earlier age tend to have fewer health consequences than getting it as a teen or adult. Yes, it’s true that once you have the chicken pox, you have a lifetime immunity from ever getting again. But, as someone who survived chicken pox in the second grade, I would urge parents to get their kids vaccinated instead. The only reason why I wasn’t vaccinated against chicken pox was because that vaccine wasn’t around when I was young. If such a vaccine had been invented, the pediatrician would’ve given it to me with my parents’ blessing. I still have memories of the chicken pox covering my entire body. I remembered that it went into every single fold of my body plus there was the constant insane itching everywhere. I remember smearing calming lotion everywhere several times a day and I still itched. I would wake up in the middle of the night scratching myself. It was a week of pure hell. Parents, take it from a chicken pox survivor: For the love of God, get that damned chicken pox vaccine and skip the pox parties!!!

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Well, anyway, back to my visit to the American Girl Place. There’s also Maryellen’s Classroom Set along with a very cute school outfit, which are both sold separately.

There is a cursive writing poster that’s way similar to what I saw in school. I’ll admit that I never enjoyed cursive writing and I used to get bad marks for my handwriting. I was forced to write in cursive as late as high school. It wasn’t just English classes who required cursive writing. Even classes like social studies required papers to be turned in written in cursive. When I got to college and I found that the professors there weren’t quite as fanatical about cursive writing, I switched to print instead. These days I only do cursive writing when I have to sign something. I have one of my Facebook friends who lately has made it her mission to advocate that schools emphasize cursive writing more. (Apparently cursive writing isn’t taught quite as intensively since computers have made their way into the curriculums.) She talks about how wonderful it is to learn cursive. Personally I disagree with her because I struggled with it in school. I think just enough cursive writing should be taught so the kid will learn how to sign his or her name when he/she reaches adulthood.

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This Classroom Set includes flashcards, which I definitely remember (even though I wasn’t born in the 1950’s). While the teachers sometimes used them in school, I tended to use them at home in the evenings and weekends to practice things like certain words or multiplication tables. I’m currently involved with my church’s program to teach English to recent immigrants and we use a curriculum that includes flashcards.

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The Classroom Set also includes a map of the United States, which is fascinating to look at because this particular map shows Alaska and Hawaii as U.S. territories. That’s because Maryellen’s story starts in 1954 and Alaska and Hawaii wouldn’t become states for another five years. My parents were both taught in school that the U.S. had 48 states. By the time I started school, I was taught that the U.S. currently has 50 states. So it’s a bit of a generation gap. (LOL!)

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The Bottom Line: I think Maryellen is cute and some of her accessories remind me of my own childhood because they were still around in the 1970’s. Plus there were my own memories of watching 1950’s nostalgia TV shows like Happy Days and that variety series featuring the band Sha Na Na. Maryellen represents the era that my parents grew up in. But I’m still not going to rush out and buy her because she costs $115 and her accessories are pricey as well. I also have to keep in mind the limited space in my home so I’m not going to buy a larger doll unless I fall head over heels in love with it. Julie still speaks more to me than Maryellen does because she represents my own era of the 1970’s. If my mother falls head over heels in love with the doll after I show her the catalogue, I may buy it for her as a surprise Christmas present. (Or I may just buy the cheaper mini doll version for her instead.) Otherwise, I’ll pass on ever buying that doll.

So the store’s main emphasis was on Maryellen because she’s new. The current Girl of the Year, Grace, had mostly been shunted off to the side—including her $500 bakery. She only has a few more months to go before her reign as Girl of the Year ends and she is permanently retired along with that $500 bakery.

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There are a few new items that were released as part of Grace’s line. There were travel accessories for kids and even a travel-themed stationery set, which all have the Eiffel Tower motif. I thought they were cute.

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There’s also Grace’s Charm Bracelet and Jewelry Keeper for humans, the latter of which looks like the Eiffel Tower. The bracelet is cute but I wouldn’t pay the $60 retail price for it since I can find similar charm bracelets at Target or Claire’s for way less. (Especially since that bracelet—like everything else that American Girl sells—is made in China very cheaply and the prices are just overinflated because it has that coveted American Girl name attached to it.)

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I came close to buying a special rubber spatula for humans that’s part of Grace’s line (and released as a joint project of American Girl and Williams-Sonoma) because part of the proceeds from the sales were going to the anti-poverty group No Kid Hungry. But then I saw the $12 price tag per spatula and I balked because I can buy two or three rubber spatulas at Target for the price of one. I ended up just taking pictures of the spatula instead.

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I focused the bulk of my attention on Maryellen on this trip because she is new. There were furniture and other accessories released as part of the other BeForever doll lines but the only one I took photos of was this vanity set for Julie. I used to see similar funky colorful furniture in other people’s homes when I was growing up.

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This vanity set comes with this funky owl clock. While I never had an owl clock as a child, I had a round funky yellow clock that was a wind-up and it was made in West Germany. (Yes, that was back when the Cold War still raged on and Germany was divided into two countries.)

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I generally tend to ignore the modern girl line (which originally started as My American Girl, then the name was changed to Just Like You, and it has now been just relaunched again under a new name: Truly Me) because each doll costs $115 and the modern accessories and clothes are expensive as well. My attitude is that if I was going to buy a modern 18-inch doll with clothes and accessories, I would rather buy them from Target, Walmart, or Michaels Arts & Crafts for a fraction of what American Girl charges. (Besides all of these companies manufacture these dolls in China.) But I have to admit that the Halloween costumes are pretty cute even if they cost about as much as a Halloween costume for a real child.

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There is a modern living room set that’s similar to what’s in the 1950’s Maryellen line except this set evokes the latest technology that would’ve been unheard of in Maryellen’s era.

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This modern doll and her dog are all settled in on the pink couch as they are about to watch a 3D movie. (Note the 3D glasses.)

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The entertainment console set includes a pretend flatscreen TV set, a pretend DVD player, a few pretend DVDs, and a pretend remote control. The closeup shows the kind of movies that a doll can watch on this entertainment console set.

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Even though the popcorn machine was displayed with the entertainment console, that one is really sold separately. It is cute looking and the popcorn looks realistic. But that popcorn machine looks pretty big for an average home and it looks like it would be more appropriate for a pretend movie theater than a pretend living room.

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I eventually left the mall around 2:30 p.m. because I wasn’t in the mood to endure the Capital Beltway’s notoriously horrendous evening rush hour traffic. I purchased a couple of items from the American Girl Place.  One was call Doll Photo Shoot and it included two books (one on still photography and the other on making videos). It also included two large backdrops that are folded up neatly (so they can be stored easily) that one can use in photography. Those backdrops are worth the purchase alone because I can always use them in future photography projects (and they don’t have to involve dolls either).

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I also got this book, which is a mystery featuring the former Civil War-era slave Addy as she solves a strange riddle that evokes her slave past. I’ve since read it and I found it much better than any of the Julie mysteries (which I reviewed as part of a series of reviews I did regarding the 1970’s Julie character last summer). Unlike most of the Julie mysteries, where I figured out what the real deal was just two or three chapters into the book, I was kept in suspense all the way until the very end. And the ending evoked the less-than-savory aspects of America’s slave past and lingering racism that still remains unresolved to this very day.

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