Sunday, May 27, 2012

Design Lessons from Play Wonder Part Two

Just FYI -- we'll be traveling for awhile in the coming weeks -- so we probably won't have any new blog posts during that time. But it will only be a brief hiatus. 

Also, we'll start a new photo contest (a small one) when we return with a $20 AG gift card as a prize. :-)

In the last "Design Lessons from Play Wonder" post we showed you all the items laid out from the three outfits. Today Arista and Kenna are showing you some of those pieces mixed and matched together. It was fun to mix florals and stripes for Kenna's outfit, and Arista's floral tank top and denim capris combo is perfect for late spring/early summer. And also, we liked experimenting with how belts looked with the outfits. Yay for belts!

So......The capris just barely fit Arista as we previously stated, but they work okay for photo shoots. The sizing is mostly alright -- just the waistline is too tight. We guess Play Wonder dolls don't really have rumps. Also, the ruffles skirt is very tight on Kenna, but we managed to get it on her. 

The white fishnets are not quite pulled up all the way and they are bunched a bit around her ankle area. So Play Wonder leggings will work well on AGs, but not the tights that start at the feeties. Hopefully that makes sense. The tights are not long enough and wide enough to make it past her calves.

But in general, our girls look pretty good.

Once we return from our voyage we'll have more looks from these three Play Wonder outfits, the continuation of Needa and Nichelle's story, and a lot more fun stuff!! 

Stay tuned friends!!

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Maple Insists: How to be a DW Fashion Model


So this is going to be Maple's soapbox post/one of her "Maple Insists" posts.....
just so ya know....

What's happening peoples?

Maple here. Today I will talk about how to be a Doll Fashion Model here at The DW. It isn't easy. There are rules and regulations -- And I will turn these into advice, tips, and direct orders for what you should be doing when taking doll fashion photos.

Some of you are already doing just fine. So maybe this doesn't apply to you. But for those of you who want to make your photos look better, either for personal or commercial use (i.e. you are trying to sell stuff online) -- hopefully my commands will be useful.

And don't automatically think "Oh my gosh! She's talking about me!!!"

These are generic observations not meant to point specific people out.
Most of them are lessons we have learned by taking thousands
and thousands of doll photos.

Again, I am Maple the Fashion Dictator.

And this is my plan for World Domination!.... I mean, my plan to help you....


1) Make sure your doll is an American Girl Doll if you are trying to 
market clothing and items for AGs.

Not to be brand snobby. We have a point about this, and we've said it here before. But we'll say it again.

If you want AG-ists (young or old) to buy your product, put it on an AG doll. It is the only way we'll know if the item fits AGs well, lays right, and is what we are looking for.

I cannot stress this point enough. Here at The DW we only buy clothing shown on AGs. The times we bought something that wasn't shown on an AG - the items didn't fit. Lesson learned.

If you are saying "But AGs are too expensive!" -- Suck it up and buy one. Yep, that's me being blunt. If you are trying to run a successful small business you need to do your marketing right - that means: in the best way possible. Chances are no one else is going to market or advertise your products for you.

Show your items on AGs. Get one from Ebay and fix her up if you don't want to spend $105. Either way, it will be worth your money and effort.


2) "Hair, meet Brush. Brush, this is Hair. You two were meant for each other."

Brush or comb your doll's hair. 

Yes, even I have little fly-aways in the above shot. And Nichelle has a hard time taming her hair (see below). So we understand the issues inherent with doll hairdo's -- they take time, energy, effort and sometimes skilz.

But if you list an item and the doll wearing it has 
a) bedhead 
b) never seen a brush in her life 
c) has a ton of fly-aways and/or 
d) her hair is askew or in her face 
--- then we aren't buying your product. 

"Why?!?!?" -- I hear you ask.

If a person doesn't care enough about their doll's hair when marketing their items, then they probably don't care that much about their product in the first place. By including a doll with bedhead that tells me that the product itself may not have been made with care and precision.

It doesn't take 3 hours to brush your doll's hair and pull it back in a simple ponytail to get it out of your way. Or even to style it beautifully -- which will help sell your product.

If her hair is a "hot mess" that can't be fixed with a brush: try a Downy Dunk, a Downy spritz, or even re-wig the girl.

The better your doll looks in the shots, the better your product looks.

If your doll looks gorgeous in your photos, then people will think their doll will also look gorgeous in your items.

It is simple psychology. Why do human models look nice in fashion photos? So other humans will see them and say "I want to look like that!" in their minds and then they skip off and buy whatever is being advertised. Clothing. Hair care. Skin care. Shoes. All of these human ads present the best look possible - you should too.

Give your products the presentation they deserve.


3) Fix Your Outfit, Girl

The statement I said 5 seconds ago: Give your products the presentation they deserve is the reoccurring theme/main motto of this post. Just so you understand that I'll state it clearly, twice. And probably more later on.

Your doll's clothing should be presentable. Now we haven't always followed all of our own rules about this, but we do our best. 

What does presentable mean?

a) Clothing should lay properly on the doll, as straight as possible and symmetrical - How do you look when you walk out of the house? Yeah, your doll should look like that, too.

b) Iron the items -- No wrinkles please, unless it is a naturally crinkled fabric, of course.

c) No random fuzzies, no stray threads, no Irish pennants (unless fraying is your modern style choice). Use a lint roller if you need to.

d) No nudity - Again, do you walk out of your house wearing only the new shoes you wanted to show your neighbor? Fully dress your doll even if you are selling just a shirt or just accessories. Then say " X, Y, Z, and the doll are not included with the listing."

While bare human skin actually does "sell" products fairly successfully - the same does not apply to AG dolls. :-/


4) Speaking of skin....

Your doll's skin or vinyl is in your shots. You may not have noticed it. But it is there. And we, the viewers, are looking at it whether you want us to or not.

You may think "Well, they will just pay attention to the _____ I am selling." Nope. Your thumb? Yeah, we see that. Your pile of stuff sitting on your kitchen table behind the doll. Yep, spotted that. The marks on your doll's nose. First thing I saw.

If your doll has marker spots, dark marks, shiny spots, or scribbles on her vinyl chances are your potential buyers are looking at those things instead of what you are marketing.

For shiny spots try a damp Magic Eraser or a baking soda scrub. But don't get your doll's eyes wet.

For dark spots made with markers or even dyes from threads for example -- Use Benzoyl Peroxide - Acne/Zit Cream. Apply a good amount of the cream on the spot and let the treated area sit in a sunny spot or under a lamp for awhile. The cream is activated by light.

After a good amount of time, perhaps a day - remove the cream and check your spot's progress. Keep applying fresh cream until the spot is gone.


These last three tips are quick. So don't leave yet. ;-)

5) Arm Position

Chances are that while you were dressing and arranging your doll in her scene, 
her arms ended up in this position....

Don't photograph her like that though. That doesn't look very natural.

Do we all walk around the mall looking like Frankenstein? Nope.

Try to pose your doll in a natural way that flatters her outfit.

Not the "Gimme a hug" pose, a slight adaptation of Frankenstein.

And also not the "I am walking on a tightrope" pose.
It's looks kind of natural, but it really isn't.
Unless you are indeed on a tightrope.
Or perhaps daintily stepping across a stream.

Avoid those.


6) Shoes - Put them on your doll

The previous pictures of CeCe also help call attention to this issue.

Just as your doll shouldn't be nekkid while she is advertising your "shoes for sale" for example -- the same applies to when she is wearing an "outfit for sale."

You don't want her to look like orphan Oliver walking the streets and begging for food. 
Put some shoes on that girl!
Feel free to say that the shoes are not included with the listing.

Times that it is okay for a doll to appear without shoes: when she showing off beach attire, a bath time towel set, washing a family pet, or pretending to be Shoeless Joe Jackson.


7) Control your Background

You remember how we mentioned that we can see your cluttered kitchen table behind your doll in the "skin care" section of this post?

Yeah. When you click that picture-taking button, everything behind your doll doesn't magically disappear -- even though that would be awesomely convenient sometimes.

Try to keep your backgrounds uncluttered, simple, and non-distracting. You want the viewer's focus to be on the doll and her outfit. Avoid bold colors, patterns, and textures behind her. Fun, funky backgrounds are fine for photo stories. But when you are trying to clearly present an outfit or accessory -- they just don't work.

Make yourself a white-box if needed, a mini photography studio, or even better find a nice place to pose your dolls outside. A professional-grade background will make your items look more professional themselves.

For example, who doesn't want this green coat now? 
Doesn't it look awesome?
And also, who doesn't want a MyAG #55 now?
I also look awesome.

Remember: Give your products the presentation they deserve.


That's all I have to throw at you today.

Hope this was productive for those of you who got this far in the post. ;-)

Also, today's "Maple Insists" post is related to an older one we did on taking doll photos and editing them.

You can find that post here:

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Design Lessons from Play Wonder Part One

One of our posts about the Target Play Wonder doll line is actually quite popular. 

Who would have guessed? 

So we decided to go out and get three of their newest outfits and do a little investigative reporting for y'alls.

What does that mean?

Well, we'll talk about fit, quality, and design. And we'll pay special attention to neat things we think seamstresses should try out for their handmade doll clothing, as well as things that we think they should avoid doing.

So it will be a series of tips, advice, do's and don'ts all connected to these three Play Wonder doll outfits from Target.  We hope it will be useful!

(We are also marking this under "Trends to Sew," fyi.)

For Part One we'll just show you the outfits laid out, so we can discuss the different pieces briefly, and we'll show you the Play Wonder tags for the outfits. They show you each item that comes with the outfit and two possible ways to "style" it on your doll.

First Outfit:

Things that impress us about the first outfit:

1) Applique tunic top (with heart)
2) Shredded graphic crop top
3) Reversible skirt with bow
4) Striped headband that can also be a belt
5) Twistable layered scarf that can be also be used as headband
6) "Canvas" cargo Nehru-esque jacket with little pockets and tabbed cuffs

Things that don't impress us 100%:

1) Leggings/cropped tights are just "okay" as far as quality
2) Pink shirt is made of very thin fabric - we know that is the point of modern shirts but this one just looks kinda cheap
3) Skirt doesn't fit around the AGs waist (bummer)
4) Jacket features velcro circles instead of snaps or buttons (you'll see shots of this soon) - and the velcro catches on everything
5) Jacket is not lined
6) Jacket doesn't really fit AGs very well
7) Scarf is rather puffy and never lays flat


Second Outfit:

Things that impress us about the second outfit:

1) Sharkbite hem on tank top
2) Tiny striped fabrics used for tank, scarves, and shirt
3) Floral cuffs on the jean capris
4) Capris are lined with nylon so they slide onto the dolls easier and 
it protects their vinyl from the dark fabrics
5) Fabric cuff bracelet with lace bow
6) Hooded vest that is lined

Things that don't impress us 100%:

1) Top doesn't really have a well-finished neckline
2) Vest has printed gold "buttons" on the pocket tabs
3) Vest's lining is a better-quality fabric than the "outside"
4) Capris barely fit the AGs


Third Outfit:

Things that impress us about the third outfit:

1) Tiny striped fabric of the short-sleeve top
2) Cropped jean jacket with floral embellishment
3) Inclusion of 3 belts/ headbands
4) Style of the clutch (size and shape)
5) Tiered floral ruffle skirt
6) Reversible bodice top - ingeniously simple design and looks great on the dolls
7) White fishnet tights

Things that don't impress us 100%:

1) Neckline of short-sleeve top is finished, but in a clunky, non-trendy way - we don't like neckline ribbing unless it is a baseball-style shirt
2) Jean jacket feels quite cheap and isn't lined
3) Some of the belts are rather flashy
4) The clutch fabrics don't really "go" with the rest of the outfit - black and white leopard print? really?
5) Ruffle skirt is built on a very tight, thin cotton that does not give at all.
Could barely get it on the AGs.
6) White fishnets were very tight and we weren't able to pull them all the way up to the AGs waistline. 

Obviously the Play Wonder dolls are simply slimmer in the legs and waist than the AGs.


Part Two will feature Arista and Kenna modeling some of the pieces 
mix and matched together.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have. :-)

Stay tuned for more bloggy goodness!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

(On Time) May Trends to Sew

Yes! To YesStyle!

And Yes! To actually doing a Trends to Sew on time.

If you have been following us for awhile, you probably caught on that we are quietly obsessed with all things Asian Wave: TV shows, music, fashion, technology, toys, etc. etc.

If you know who this is pictured below, then you're probably "suffering" from the same addiction.

While we watch the dozens and dozens of Asian TV shows online (don't tell Penny) -- we often see outfits and go: "That is sooooo cute! Where do we get that???"

If you are human and the shape of a skinny twig you can shop at YesStyle - an online retail magnate for all things Asian and fashiony.

We say skinny twig because most YesStyle clothing comes in one size only.
Yes, we said that - One Size Only.

Okay, maybe they'll fit girls that aren't just skinny twigs.... perhaps "slim-bodied" would be the best way to put that. Are Asians really all that uniform in their sizing???
We guess so... or how else could YesStyle make money, right?
Or maybe everyone just tailors their clothes in Asia....

Well, all of that human sizing aside, these are still super-cute clothes, with such a diversity of styles available it is mind-boggling. 

YesStyle pulls together multiple designers and companies to make a megaboutique.
And we love it.

Today Maple will pinpoint 10 Fashion Ideas from the massive inventory of YesStyle. A difficult task, no denying that -- but we'll also put more YesStyle Trends to Sew on the same-named Pinterest Board.

Without further ado...


Idea #1 Bored of the same ol' tees?
Here is a cool example with a ribbon and bow woven into the neckline. Maybe it is possible to make a doll tee, make the woven collar separately and then sew the two together? ♥

Idea #2 Jersey-fabric letterman hoodie.
Nope, you don't need wool nor vinyl nor leather to make a letterman jacket.
Take a doll hoodie pattern, choose contrasting fabrics, and then use snaps or buttons instead of a zipper for closure. ♥

Idea #3 Striped cardigan, applique tee, skirt, leggings.
We've talked about striped cardigans and tee shirts before and how you should make them. They are very in. And for this example we like how they paired it with their signature "bunny with a bow tie" applique shirt,  and a dark skirt with leggings. A simple but very cute look. ♥

Tee also comes in light coral. Pic below so you can see the applique betters.

Idea #4 Long sleeve shirt with lace trim. This = cool.
Take your standard long-sleeve tee shirt and add awesome. Not sure how they did this -- but I am sure someone with sewing skilz could figure out how to add in the lace panels. ♥

They also show it with a double-layered crochet and lace vest.

And with the jean jacket over everything.

Idea #5 Gorgeous crinkled chiffon summer dress
Not really sure words can do this justice... ♥

Idea #6 Tank dress over skinny jeans/jeggings/leggings
Love the criss-crossing of the stripes by "quilting" the fabric together on the tank. ♥

Idea #7 Horned hoodies
If you are new to the world of Asian fashion, you probably aren't very familiar with the idea of couple sets, couple tees, or couple outfits.

See that couple below?

They would go out into public like that, dressed in "matching" clothing to make sure everyone and their sister knows they are together. It is a sweet and warm sentiment, but I'm not sure anyone in the U.S. could ever get their boyfriend or husband to wear matching outfits with them to the mall or for a walk in the park. No matter how much we beg.

In the U.S. we are programmed to wear "trends" to "stand out," but we pretty much just end up blending in. Which is how most people like to roll. But if you actually do want to stand out in the crowd - this would be the way to go.

Couple set explanation aside, these are super-cute and we'd like to have one in doll-size. Cowl neck doesn't need to be there. But the horns are a must! ♥

Idea #8 Flowy peasant top with crocheted accents
See-through, but perfect for layering over a tank to achieve a day-dreamy look. ♥

Also ♥ their fringed suede boots and booties

Idea #9 Embellished skinny jeans
Not sure it is possible to put accent zippers in doll skinny jeans. If anyone tries this - feel free to tell us how it goes/send us pics. Zippers aside, I do like the slanted horizontal seams that cut in along the thighs and think they might be possible to do on doll skinnies. ♥

Idea #10 Cascade neckline tee layered over tank top
The pic is fuzzy, but hopefully you get the idea. We especially like how the under-layer is striped and longer than the top tee. Really shows you how beautiful layering can be. ♥

Thank you for visiting us today!

We'll be posting more YesStyle items on our "Trends to Sew' Pinterest board soon!

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