Sunday, January 22, 2012

American Girl Dolls Bringing People and Genrations together

I had the great pleasure of meeting Lauren in person for a one on one interview in December at Starbucks and had the most wonderful time.
Lauren was a photo contest winner back in the summer of 2011 and she later shared her story about a trip she took with her Grandmother to the American Girl Store in LA.
When I met with her in December she was working on another wonderful project, this time for her Grandmother she was restoring a doll and creating a wardrobe and accessories for her "Kit" doll she named Marilyn after her grandmother.

Lauren showed me the most amazing photo of her grandmother in the 1930's the photo that inspired this journey.  In the photo her grandmother is wearing a jumpsuit one she replicated with an outfit she created for her grandmother's doll.

We had such a wonderful interview. We talked about our love of dolls,  historical dolls their stories and Lauren's holiday project for her grandmother. She even brought "Marilyn" with her so I could see her progress.
I was so inspired by Lauren's story that I even got in on the act, I purchased the 1930's Pattern from Liberty Jane and Eden Ava and made her Grandmother a dress with a matching bracelet to surprise her.

I have asked Lauren to share the story of her journey with us, I hope you will be as inspired by her story as I was.

It all started with a whim. An idea in passing that stemmed from a memory.


I was polling my family as to which doll to get when I would be at American Girl Place Seattle. She was to be my Christmas present to me from my Grandma and I was torn between Kanani and Kit. When I asked Grandma which one she liked best, she said that her favorite was Kit because she looked like her when she was a little girl.

Well, I decided to get Kit and put her away until Christmas, but not long after that trip, I had a thought. "What if I customized a doll to be just like my Grandma when she was a little girl?" At first I brushed it off as something that would be just way too complicated, and besides, I didn't have a Kit to start with! 

However, providence had it's way and I found a used Kit at a reasonable price on the secondary market. From there it just snowballed. Because I was living in Victoria, BC, going to school, I didn't have access to a sewing machine, so I planned and researched and researched and planned! 

I had to find out things about my Grandma, without directly asking her, so I talked to my Aunts and Mom and my Aunt Barb phoned one of my Grandma's childhood friends and my Grandma's brother. 

As soon as I got home from school. The very first thing, before I unpacked, was to grab Kit. On first inspection, it turned out that she was really dirty and needed some serious hair treatment. I washed her limbs with Magic Erasers and her hair with some regular shampoo and conditioner. In the picture, her eyes are taped with cotton balls so that they don't get wet, and as a result, rusty.

After Kit, now named for the time being "Grandma Doll", enjoyed her spa treatment, it was time to hit the sewing room! I had drawn out a few outfit sets that I wanted to create, and got down to work. The biggest challenge was the top of the "Playsuit" outfit. I was using a pattern that called for a much thinner fabric (I later found out) and I was using a very thick blue material. With sleeves being my arch nemesis, I had extra trouble with those.

Finally, after lots of frustration, some proud moments and a last minute fabric store run, I was done! I had a playsuit, holiday dress, nightgown, bobby socks and book bag. I had also met up with Karen and she gave me a beautiful dress and a teacup that ended up being the "Birthday Set".

For Christmas this year, my family had been invited down to California to celebrate with my Aunt and Uncle. That was an interesting flight, we ended up bringing 3 dolls down with us, and two in boxes!  

Once I got to my Aunt's house, I wrapped each outfit in its own box with tissue, just like American Girl would. I put Grandma doll in her meet outfit (Kit's shirt and skirt and then a sweater over top that my sister knit) and packaged her up in her box.

Then came the hardest part of all, waiting for Christmas morning! I was so excited!

Christmas morning came eventually and I presented Grandma with a HUGE box! (I'd put Grandma doll in her box in a bigger box.) She was totally bamboozled as to what it could be until she opened the bigger box and saw the trademark American Girl Box! She was delighted! She told me, as she hugged her doll that she'd thought about getting an American Girl doll for herself because she enjoys mine so much, but had dismissed the thought as silly. I was so happy she loved her! 

She opened each outfit, and had to change her doll into the holiday dress right away!

For the rest of the trip in California, I'd find Grandma doll (who is officially named Marilyn, like my Grandma) in various places around the house and in a different outfit each time. I popped into Grandma's room one evening right before bed, and there was Grandma doll, sitting on the bed in her pajamas! So cute!

I absolutely loved this Christmas, and there were two things that topped my list of awesome this year. First, watching Grandma open her doll was incredible! I was so happy that I could make her so happy! Second, I had a long chat with Grandma about life when she was a girl, which was so interesting. I love learning about my heritage and spending time with Grandma!

Certainly a good Christmas and a fun American Girl adventure!

 A big thank you to Lauren, Marilyn and Grandma  Marilyn for this story, photos and friendship!
As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at


  1. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Grandma's are SO special. I gave my Grandmother a Rebecca doll that wes her childhood look alike. She named her Polly. That warm fuzzy feeling when she opened her and was excited was the best♥ Your Grandma looks super happy.

  2. I loved this story!It's so heartwarming.

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. My older daughter (7) just started being interested in AG dolls and when I found that Molly's story was so similar to my mom's I decided I need to buy her next. But I hadn't thought about making clothes from my mom's life to go with it. I LOVE this idea. Time to go research & sew! Thanks to both of you for sharing this ad please give both Marilyns a hug.

  4. Thank you all for your comments and thank you to Lauren for sharing her story with us!

  5. That is such a wonderful story! I am sure Lauren's grandmother will treasure that doll forever.
    My own grandmother was born in the 30's so she has been a great help in putting together a 1940's kitchen display. I would have never thought of getting a doll for her. May have to think about surprising her with one for all her help on my little project.