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My Gotz Hannah and her Dog doll from 2010

Silver & Sparkle

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A Trio of Nellie Rose Frocks

Santa didn’t bring me any new dolls, but I’ve some gorgeous frocks to show off – the girls are delighted! Nothing says a special occasion like a fancy sparkly frock and Nellie Rose has come up trumps again with these creations.

Ariane in a Sparkly Purple Frock

This is the first of the two lilac dresses, I liked them so much I couldn’t pick between them. This is lilac satin in the bodice and skirt, with a layer of sparkly net over the skirt area, and more net beneath to give the dress body, I love the embroidery detail on the bodice, and the matching hair clip is flamboyant enough to work more as a fascinator than a hair clip. Nellie Rose always has an eye for detail and this dress is made with her usual skill and eye for design – all her outfits are one offs but there’s always something worth looking at on her website. The blue satin slippers here are from My Doll Best Friend.

Grace in a Sparkly Yellow Frock

As soon as I saw this yellow creation I knew it was just made for Grace, she’s positively glowing in this colour and it works so well against her skin tone. Again, this is a satin bodice and skirt with layered netting underneath and a layer of net with added sparkles over the skirt, set off with the big white net bow with diamante centre at the waist – it came with a matching hair bow but the clip wasn’t strong enough to stay securely in Grace’s mass of hair. She’s wearing beige tights by 123 Mulberry Street and a pair of gold sandals, and just looks adorable.

Helene in a Lilac Sparkly Frock

If there are purple outfits around you can be sure Helene is first in the queue to wear them. This one is a different shade to Ariane’s dress, though similar in design, but the layer of net over the satin skirt has many more sparkles which look like scattered stars. I like the way the brocade detail at the neck lifts the plain colour, and the satin flower detail at the waist is also nifty. The dress came with a hair clip matching the flowers but Helene’s hair is too fine for such things. The purple shoes are from the Design a Friend range. Yay Nellie Rose for three fabulous frocks.

Katy in A Silver Frock

Nellie Rose isn’t the only one capable of producing sparkly frocks – and I added this silver creation to my wishlist almost as soon as it was listed over at My Doll Best Friend. It has a satin bodice with ruched detailing, and a satin skirt with an overlay of silver lacey stuff picked out with silvery spirals, and netting beneath for body. The waist band has sparkling sequins for extra effect. The dress is sleeveless and comes with a black knitted bolero which really enhances the whole design, Katy looks most elegant here. I’ve teamed the outfit with silver shoes which aren’t showing too well in the photo, but are also from My Doll Best Friend.

Silver shoes close up

They’re just plain slippers but they really shine and are a perfect match for the frock.

Detail of Katy's silver frock

Here’s a closer look at the silver spirals on the skirt, I think this is one of my favourite outfits thus far for any of the dolls.

Katy & Ariane in Sparkly Frocks

Belles of the ball! Katy’s dress is equally stunning without the bolero, and the two colours complement each other nicely – lets hear it for satin and sparkles!

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Doll Fashion from 123 Mulberry Street

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I first came across 123 Mulberry Street via the patterns on sale over at Pixie Faire, which I featured in a post a few months ago. What I’d not realised is that Sandra Brown, owner and designer also sells handmade doll outfits direct from Canada via her Etsy store of the same name. She’s on facebook too (certainly pays to advertise these things) and I fell in love with one of the outfits showcased there so headed over to see what was new.

And of course, succumbed to temptation, as postage to the UK is comparable to what I pay for doll clothes from UK shops, so how could I resist? The girls couldn’t wait to try on the new outfits.

Katy modelling a 123 Mulberry Street outfit

Here’s Katy modelling a stylish long purple knitted tunic (the knitwear is a sweater fabric rather than hand knitted, making those trendy fashions possible) with gorgeous detailing in shades of purple and a rich orange on the bottom of the tunic and on the sleeves. The outfit comes with lilac leggings, made of thick denier material which slide on beautifully and fit nice and snugly to her legs, and also a fab necklace. The boots are Kidz n Cats, from Ariane’s original outfit.

Necklace detail of 123 Mulberry Street design

Its great to see an outfit with accessories and I was impressed with how effective this simple piece is – its 3 charm beads on a length of ribbon to tie round the neck and really sets of the plain neckline of the tunic, and is a clever way of making a necklace, might borrow this idea for jewellery for myself.

.Button detail on 123 Mulberry Street outfit

The tunic fastens with velcro in back but there’s attention to detail here too, tiny pearl buttons up the length of the fastening, so pretty.

Gtace in an elegant dress from 123 Mulberry Street

I also fell in love with this elegant beige party dress with lace detailing and matching beige leggings. The leggings again are of a very soft fabric and go very well with the subtle print of the dress itself. The neckline has two tiny buttons to break up the plain design, and the fabric drapes beautifully. I matched this one with gold sandals from the Design a Friend range but any smart shoes would look good. The lace detailing is what makes the dress special, managing to be stylish but not fussy.

Lace detail on 123 Mulberry Street dress

I think Sandra has a real flair for design at this size, I really was spoilt for choice amongst her various outfits and the quality was excellent; she has a real eye for lines and colours and the clothes are very different from other ranges, so she’s happily on my favourite designer list now, though its hard not to go wild and pick up everything available – the outfits are one-offs, in the main, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. Many of the outfits have inventive necklace designs to complete the look also.

I don’t sew, but the design flair also applies to the 123 Mulberry Street sewing patterns available via Pixie Faire, so there’s something to suit everyone here basically.

As for Katy and Grace, they want to wear these clothes forever and ever.

Katy & Grace in 123 Mulberry Street fashions

Halloween!

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It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

Halloween!

In masks and gowns
We haunt the street
And knock on doors
For trick or treat.

Tonight we are
The king and queen,
For oh tonight
It’s Halloween!

– Jack Prelutsky

Halloween and the gang were keen to don costumes for some spooky fun – little witches and a pirate, even Rapunzel! Somewhere out of shot is a small Alex running around and tripping over Harry’s Hogwarts robes and Jamie pouting because he didn’t get to wear the pirate hat..

Harry as Pirate Captain

Harry buckling his swashes rather handsomely as a dread pirate complete with hat – not sure what the owl is doing there but its suitably spooky, ooooh! With romantic flouncy shirt and buckled boots he’s a real dandy.

Alice as a Halloween Witch

Oh, that’s a scary skull to accompany Witch Alice and her wee pumpkin! No hat, the purple hair is much more fun, everyone should have purple shiny hair at some point in time.. and purple skirts, and purple and gold shiny stars on the bodice, oh yes.

Helene as a Halloween Witch

Its that owl again, keeping Helene company – she’s too cute as a witch, with shiny cobwebs decorating her dress, hard to see the jewelled spider choker that completes the ensemble. And a pointy hat, can’t really be a witch without a pointy hat (unless you have shiny purple hair to show off, Alice wants to point out…)

Katy as Halloween Rapunzel

Spooky or classy? Katy loves her Rapunzel dress, and couldn’t pick between owl and skull so posed with both. The gold braiding detail shimmers delightfully by candlelight, she could be the belle of any ball, any time of year.

Two Little Witches

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble – two little witches and mischief’s doubled! The skull’s not really that scary, quite friendly really (he watches over me while I sleep to keep the bad things away..)

Katy & Harry as Rapunzel and Pirate Captain

Such a handsome couple stepping out ready to show off their costumes – do pirates dance the waltz? All the running around in the rigging should make them pretty nimble.

None of the dolls are going trick or treating but there are plenty of sweets lined up, and maybe they’ll get to duck for apples at a halloween party on October 31st.. it’ll be spooktacular fun!

Katy as Rapunzel in b&w

Helene’s witch costume and Harry’s pirate made by Nellie Rose. Boots with buckles by Gotz

Katy’s Rapunzel dress from mydollboutique along with the pumpkin

Alice’s sparkly leotard and black and purple tutus from My Doll Best Friend; hair accessory from Tesco

LED flickering candles – much safer than real flames around dolls and fabric – via Amazon

Stuffed owl & skull part of my own home decor (the skull’s been with me 20 years now…)

Fashion from The Dolls House

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The Dolls House Fashions - Group Shot

As I’ve mentioned previously, as well as the range of dolls, one of the best parts about The Dolls House company is the cool range of outfits available, which fit other 18″ dolls rather nicely. I treated myself to a parcel of new clothes from there the other week and couldn’t resist getting the gang dressed up and showing off their new togs.

From left to right above we see Bree, Katy, Helene, Grace, Maru and Alice, though there was some swapping of clothes later on, quite  a free for all amongst the girls in fact.

So without further ado, lets introduce the various outfits – imagine the girls have done their “little turn on the catwalk” and are just posing to show off the fashions to their best advantage..

Bree in a red silk kimono

i love this red silk kimono, the way the light shimmers off the fabric with its golden thread and other colours shot through is so effective, it comes with matching little red slippes but that was a bit too much red for me so Breee is barefoot..

Portait of Bree in a kimono

Despite the really long hair on Bree, it goes into an updo beautifully too.

Katy in a flowey top with shorts

Barefeet seems the order of the day – this lace and flowers shorts set is just so cute, and fits Katy (Gotz Hannah) extremely well.

Grace & Katy in green and denim

Grace has already shown off this lovely green dress but she didn’t want to be left out – so summery, the both of them, last chance to wear light fabrics before autumn sets in and its time to pull out the woollies.

Maru in a grey dress with leggings

This tunic is actually a dress, but Maru is so tall it was a bit too short on her, works great as a long top over leggings, though, I think this is one of my favourites, and its good to have clothes that can be versatile, with a bit of thought.

Closer look at Maru's grey top

Its the attention to detail on the outfits that really makes them, the layering on the grey ruffle dress is simple and effective and the rose details at the neck lift it and accentuate the red contrast without being over the top.

Alice in Lilac

Now this delicate lilac dress should be familar, I posted about it previously with Helene modelling, looks great on any doll, no question! And yet again a barefoot theme.

Grace whispering with Katy

“Psst!” whispers Grace, “You should change into the pretty blue dress.. go on.. ”

::Katy scampers off::

Helene modelling pyjamas with a little friend

Helene didn’t want to put her AG mini doll Julie down to show off the outfit properly – such cute white cotton pyjamas with the blue bows and gathered detail. The top is a bit big on a Kidz n Cats so I ended up putting a clip at the back to help it fit better.

Bree & Hellene

Ah, now we can see the outfit properly, plus Bree changed into the flowery top and shorts set Katy was wearing, and looks just as cute.

Closer look at Bree's flowered top

These will work really well as separates but the way the flower embroidery is repeated from the top onto the shorts is a nice touch, very fresh and cheery little outfit all told, white cotton and denim complement each other well, and the flowered sash and the pink ribbon neckline demonstrate yet again how small details can be so effective.

Katy in a satin blue party dress

Aha, that’s how Bree ended up in the shorts set, Katy changed into this gorgeous full length blue satin party dress, I love the lace and ribbon detail on this, she’s truly the belle of the ball.

Katy and Alice in their posh frocks

Actually, both Katy and Alice are the belles of the ball, beautiful colours and fabric choice on these gowns.

As should be obvious by now, all outfits are by The Dolls House, as are Bree’s white shoes with the pink bow detail.

Grace’s gold sandals are from the Argos Design a Friend range.

Lindy – Design a Friend

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Portrait of Lindy

Not all 18″ play dolls need to be expensive: despite my preference for the Gotz and Kidz n Cats level of doll, I’ll never turn down a pretty face. Back in 2011 Argos spotted a market niche and came up with the Design a Friend range, made by long-established toy manufacturer Chad Valley. The clever marketing idea (which still applies today) offered you a doll, outfit and accessory pack of your choice for a discount on the individual price, and dolls with blonde, brunette and red hair, along with the Alesha doll with her darker skin and cascading dark curls.  Each doll has its own name and a different outfit, though based on a simple tunic and leggings idea, with shoes. The range also includes new fashions introduced each season, and new accessories such as a bed, a carrying case, even a make-up set.

So, meet Lindy – here she is newly unboxed in her original outfit of long cerise tunic, black leggings and pink shoes. Also shown are the various boxes for her extra outfit which was a blue striped jumper, leggings and beige knee high boots and the accessory pack of underwear:

Lindy Unboxed

Its a great example of how to emulate the expensive dolls like American Girl but on a budget, and despite only costing £20 for a doll they are very well made. The dolls come in a cardboard box, in candy-stripe pink with the Design a Friend logo on the outside and the doll wrapped in a single sheet of tissue paper within. The box is quite thin card but sturdy enough to be re-used for keeping the clothes in, for example. I also like the way the outfits are packed, in their own pink candy-stripe boxes and wrapped in tissue paper, like high end fashion choices –  such a clever and attractive way of doing things rather than a blister pack or some other toy-like packaging.

Design a Friend clothes box

Each doll comes with a charm bracelet for the new owner to wear, and each outfit includes a charm to add to said bracelet, thus encouraging collection.

The dolls themselves are the ubiquitous soft body with vinyl limbs type – jointed at hips and shoulders, the head also moves from side to side though does not tilt, and the plastic eyes are fixed, not sleep-eyes. The body is shaded the same as the skin tone of the limbs. The stuffed body is not as firm as other cloth-body dolls, probably to give the doll some shape – in the image below you can see she has a clearly defined waist, rather than being a solid up and down shape as is more usual. It has the added effect of making the doll quite cuddly, but means she doesn’t stand up too well on her own.

Deisgn a Friend doll unclothed

She’s s little out of proportion, with very slender limbs compared to the head size, and quite skinny legs, though this is less obvious depending on the outfit. Some of the pants/tights therefore are a bit tight on other 18″ dolls, though in the main she can share clothes with them all. The doll is suprisingly well made for this price point and should stand up to a decent amount of play from a child, the outfits too are generally of good quality, attractive designs, well cut and securely sewn.

There are several Ebay sellers creating clothes specifically for the Design a Friend range (which will also fit Gotz, Kidz n Cats etc) which makes them a good choice for a child – new outfits won’t break the bank!

Lindy Posing

Here Lindy is wearing a dress from one of the Ebay designers, along with tights and shoes from Frilly Lily.  I love the hair on this doll, its full and luxuriant and just flows down so well, and looks good loose or pulled back by a head band (that’s actually a pearl necklace doing double duty). Its perhaps the hair that makes this specific doll look so good, the other Design a Friend dolls generally have straight hair, great for styling but not as eye-catching to my mind.

The Design a Friend outfits work well on the more expensive dolls – as shown in the photos below.

Lindy & Jessie in Design a Friend Outfits (with dog!)

Lindy’s blue spot dress, cardy and sparkly shoes set was in the original range of outfits from Design a Friend, while Jessie wears the jumper/leggings outfit I got along with Lindy. Flat cap by Nellie Rose.

Katy in a Design a Friend pink gown & wrap

I think Katy looks quite glamorous in this long pink satin dress with white wrap and silver sandals. There’s usually a ball gown type design in the Chad Valley range, in varying colours each year.

Helene modelling a Design a Friend red cocktail dress

This red cocktail dress with sparkly sandals and matching satin hairband didn’t look quite right on Lindy but suits Helene a treat. Her escort in back is Alex in a Nellie Rose suede jacket and his original outfit jeans and boots.

Lindy and the Girls

For me, she straddles the  line nicely between “doll” and “little person” and doesn’t seem too out of place with the other girls, especially when dressed nicely. That’s Katy (Gotz), Helene (Kidz n Cats) and Jessie (Zwergnase Junior) with Lindy above, all of them costing 3 or 4 times as much.

(Katy & Helene wear Nellie Rose, Jessie a dress from My Doll Best Friend and Lindy’s brown frock is from the Serendipity collection)
(The instrument is not a guitar but a tenor ukulele..)

Bree and Lindy

Lindy posing with Bree from The Dolls House.

I think the Design a Friend dolls and clothes are a triumph of budget design, and as they are still going strong after several years it seems other people agree with me. This year, Chad Valley introduced a boy doll, Josh, to the range, and also two little sister dolls – and both Josh and the youngsters already have avid Ebay designers sewing away to provide a wardrobe of clothes, there being as yet no offical outfits for same.

I’d not swap Lindy for Katy or Maru but she fits in nicely with the gang, and holds her own against them, despite the price difference. And I love this snap I took of Lindy with Alice (Gotz Happy Kidz) and Katy.

Trio

 

Images of pink boxes © original owners (found at random via google)

The Girls, Tall to Small..

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GIven that the standard size of the play dolls I love is technically 18″, there are of course variations, which isn’t always clear when showing the dolls by themselves, and a simple height reference given in a review post doesn’t give away much. The girls obliged me by lining up in order tall to short to demonstrate the different heights of:

Karito Kids (21″), Maru & Friends (20″), Zwergnase Junior (19″), Gotz Hannah (18″) and Kidz n Cats (18″).

Girl dolls, tall to small

They are, of course, Fei Li, Maru, Jessie, Katy and Helene.

And as they’re wearing their posh frocks, it was a good chance for a wee fashion show also!

Fei Li (21")

Fei Li wearing a Gali Girls asian-style dress, and satin slippers from My Doll Best Friend.

Maru (20")

Maru wearing a white broderie dress from My Doll Best Friend, boots by Maru & Friends

Jessie (19")

Jessie wearing a white frock with purple dots available from My Doll Best Friend, shoes and tights from other sources

Katy (18")

Katy wearing another fabulous Nellie Rose creation, a traditional Austrian dress, shoes by Gotz

Helene (18")

Helene in the luscious lilac party dress from The Dolls House, shoes from My Doll Best Friend

Let’s hear it for the girls!

Girl dolls in height order

Bree – from The Dolls House

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Portrait of Bree

This little lady is Bree, as glimpsed in the mystery girl post. She’s from The Dolls House, source of the gorgeous lilac dress featured previously, and home to the nifty wig store. The brand was launched in September 2012 by Sky, a mother of three who had always dreamed of her own range of dolls and clothing. The dolls themselves are based on photographs of one of her daughters when younger, and all three daughters were involved in designing the varied wardrobe of outfits currently on offer to reflect the fashions they enjoy wearing themselves. The original line-up of seven dolls has expanded to ten in total, with a range of skin and hair colours. I especially admire the fact that each doll can be “customised” by choosing the eye colour, currently blue, green, brown or hazel – Sky tells me she is the only UK doll supplier to offer this option currently, and was most helpful when I wanted Bree to have brown eyes. Her offical name is Amber, matching her hair colour nicely.

Bree's box

I usually comment on packaging and I  must say I’m impressed by the quality here. The doll arrived in a large brown cardboard box with the company name printed in red on the side, and within was the dark pink box you see above, with a card sleeve for added protection. The pink box itself is made of very heavy duty cardboard, of the kind you find used in gift boxes and some jewellery boxes: its clearly designed to be kept and re-used, being so sturdy.

Opening The Dolls House box

Opening the box, the doll is wrapped in a layer of printed tissue paper. Also included is a “birth certificate” to fill out with the chosen name and details, printed on quality card stock, which is a nice touch.

The Dolls House birth certificate

Bree revealed

And here she is – with her eyes shut, clearly travelling is tiring.. The doll isn’t fixed in place but fits snugly enough into the box for ties to be unnecessary.

Bree's hairnet

As mentioned when unboxing Maru and Fei Li, I’m pleased to report her hair was kept tidy for transport in a hairnet, so there were no tangles to deal with. This is such a simple but effective measure, its good to see it being adopted by more doll brands.

All the dolls are 18″ tall, and are cloth-bodied with jointed vinyl arms, legs and head. The body is quite firmly stuffed, so she has no problems standing up, and poses quite well, though obviously is more limited than the dolls with more joints.

Bree's original outfit

Each doll is named after a precious stone and comes in a “meet” outfit consisting of long pink tunic with patch pockets and The Dolls House embroidered on the front, violet leggings and the cutest pink shoes with ribbon detail. This is similar to the way the basic American Girl dolls arrive, and overall body size and shape is similar also. Here she is unclothed for comparison purposes:

Bree unclothed

You may have noticed that Bree is wearing glasses in some of these images – I was umm-ing and ah-ing over the dolls on offer from The Dolls House, as I don’t normally like soft bodied dolls, but it was a pic on the accessories page showing the Amber doll wearing the black rimmed glasses that swung it for me, and I think they really make her look cute.

Bree in original outfit plus glasses

The dolls have sleep eyes, that is, the kind that close when the doll is laid flat. I think this appeals to a younger child but its a nice feature to have and the eyes and sleep feature are well-made and open and close easily. The eyes are glass/plastic with actual lashes.

Sleep eyes - Bree

Sleep eyes with glasses - Bree

The hair on these dolls is one of their main features, long, thick and wavy. The rich auburn shade of Bree’s hair is especially appealing – I have a weakness for redheads – and as well as the fringe framing her face I like the way the hair is partly pulled back into a ponytail with the rest cascading in long curls down her back. The hair is not as silky as that on some brands, but is good quality and brushes and styles well. Rather than rooted, each doll’s hair is actually a wig, but it fits very well and also allows for a different wig to be bought and applied (as per my previous post on the matter), though I wouldn’t change Bree’s hair for the world.

Bree's hair

I had a wee windfall so as well as the doll I treated myself to a whole load of the fabulous outfits The Dolls House offers – even if you don’t buy one of the dolls I really do recommend the clothing, such attractive designs and well-made also. Here she is modelling a green dress with white shoes with a purple bow:

Bree in a green dress

The clothes are cut quite snugly for the doll’s figure, and this one was a bit tricky to put on; the green sash detail is a separate length of ribbon and really brings the design together. As could be seen in the post about the lilac dress from this company which my Kidz n Cats doll Helene adored wearing, the outfits fit other 18″ dolls very well. Here’s Grace, my Gotz Hannah, wearing the same green dress as above.

Grace in a green dress

No doubt upcoming posts will feature further The Dolls House outfits but I couldn’t resist some photos of Bree in her long blue satin ballgown, with lace detail, puff sleeves and a blue ribbon sash which again lifts the design without being too fussy. Her long hair works especially well with this outfit, quite the little princess to be sure!

Bree posing in her blue gown

Overall I am impressed with the quality and design of these dolls. They’re well-made, have cute faces, a wide range of hair/skin options so a child can find one that matches if desired, and the eye-colour option is a nice touch. With the increase in 18″ dolls available in the UK, as well as the growing availability of the American Girl dolls on this side of the Pond, The Dolls House range definitely hold their own and come highly recommended, especially with the range of outfits on offer. And despite being lower in price than my German-made dolls, Bree fits in well with the other girls.

L-R: Grace (Gotz Hannah), Bree, Katy (Gotz Hannah), Kidz n Cats Ariane

L-R: Grace (Gotz Hannah), Bree, Katy (Gotz Hannah), Kidz n Cats Ariane

On the website, Sky says:

“Ever since I was a young girl, I was always passionate about dolls. I can remember pending endless hours dressing them, playing with them, brushing their hair and even having meaningful conversations with them!”
I think the dolls she created will do an admirable job of passing that love and the hours of enjoyment to a new generation.
Bree in b&w