Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Waiting for Grace: Isabelle's Last Dance

The Isabelle doll, GOTY 2014, is now back ordered on AG's website until January 9th! 

Families hoping to have Isabelle home by the holidays will now need to venture to a local America Girl Place store to find an Isabelle before the new year. In fact, many of Isabelle's items are now marked "SOLD OUT" online.

As of December 16th, the following are no longer sold online

Isabelle's Metallic Dress
Isabelle's Sparkle Outfit
Isabelle's Funky Leggings
Isabelle's Scrunch Pants
Isabelle's Wrap Sweater
Isabelle's Dance Barre
Isabelle's Studio

And the following are back ordered online

Isabelle (until January 9th)
Isabelle's Pajamas (until December 30th)
Isabelle's Purple Leotard (until December 30th)

I ventured to AGPSF this morning to see how Isabelle and her collection was doing and to hopefully purchase from the brick-and-mortar store a few last items from her collection. The store was doing brisk business and about every 6th customer in line was purchasing an Isabelle doll. 

While online the availability of Isabelle and her collection is quickly dwindling, for the moment AGPSF is still well stocked!

This above panoramic view of the back corner display of Isabelle items gives at least an idea of how there is (for the moment) plenty of Isabelle's World remaining. (Note there is an entire front section of the store near the windows also dedicated to Isabelle displays and items.) Looking more closely from left to right...

Isabelle's Pajamas are in stock.

In the corner are plenty of Isabelle's Coral Sweater, Purple Leotard, and Funky Leggings.

This darling display with Isabelle's Studio also houses Isabelle the doll available in the shelves 3-deep and underneath plenty of Isabelle's Metallic Dress and boxes of her pet cat, Tutu.

And stacked in piles above are Isabelle's Wrap Sweater, Rosette Leotard, Legwarmers, and Sparkly Skort.

Missing from the shelves at AGPSF is Isabelle's Sparkle Dress--it appears to be sold out both online and in this store. And for those who were on the fence about Isabelle's Studio, as of this writing, it was sold out online and last report there were only two left in the store. 

I predict that Isabelle's World will sell out by January 1st and that there will only be some odds and ends from her Mix & Match collection remaining. But even these will likely be very low stock. 

To round out my visit I ventured upstairs to catch a report on the MyAG stock. The Happy Holiday Dress (the blue sequined dress) was nowhere to be found and alas, the Sparkly Black Flats which have been paired with the recent PWP are still out of stock.

I feel obsessed about these shoes--they seem perfect for mixing and matching and I need at least two pairs.

I am crossing my fingers that they are truly "temporarily" out of stock. Stay tuned!

So my report is if you still want anything from Isabelle's World that the decision to purchase and/or to visit a store needs to happen asap. I have a feeling the shelves may look bare by this coming weekend!

All this last minute fretting over the last few items I still had on my wish list from Isabelle's World just reminds me how much I particularly enjoyed adding Isabelle Palmer (x2) to my collection.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Waiting for Grace: Storage Solutions for Isabelle

As the year closes and we wait for the new GOTY 2015 girl we are taking stock of how best to keep and store the current GOTY 2014 Isabelle's massive Mix & Match wardrobe and smaller accessories. 

Annika, one of my two Isabelle poppet twins, has graciously volunteered to give a tour of her miniature tower of drawers which is capable of holding all of her Mix & Match clothing and a few extras.  

The tower is comprised of three Sterilite Small Multi-Purpose Drawers stacked on top of each other (each unit has three drawers for a total of nine drawers pictured). The stackable drawer units are very inexpensive and portable. Additionally, because the units have drawers rather than a lid construction, access to the contents inside is extremely easy and makes for very fun play.

Did I mention inexpensive? Our local store has them in stock for $4.99 each, but I have also picked them up when on sale for a mere $2.99 each.

Isabelle's Mix & Match items and additional outfits fit wonderfully inside the drawers. For example, in the first unit the drawers contain (top to bottom)

* Isabelle's Performance Set (black unitard, tutu, and accessories)
* Isabelle's Legwarmers Set (2 sets)
* Scrunch Pants, Funky Leggings, Practice Top

The next unit contains

*Isabelle's Accessories and her Meet shoes 
*Shoes, tights and belt from her Metallic Dress
*Sparkly Skort and her pink-tipped Hair Exentions

The final unit pictured contains

*Isabelle's Tutu (fits like a dream!)
*Purple Leotard and Rosette Leotard (plenty of room for the sequined Dance Skirt!)
*Coral Sweater and Wrap Sweater

So just three units can hold all of her Mix & Match items plus some of the accessories! 

I will probably add one more unit to hold some her remaining outfits, such as her Pajama Set and her Black Jacket. Please note that there have been several reports of the dye from Isabelle's Black Jacket rubbing off on the doll's vinyl, so for storage purposes, hang separately or place in its own drawer!

But the Sterilite units only address one side of the storage issue--what can be done with all of the tiny American Girl boxes that remain? Thankfully, I found that most of the boxes can be folded down and they fit perfectly in Isabelle's original doll box. 

All the tiny Mix & Match boxes fit perfectly! I love the sense of order and the little boxes will be readily available if ever wanted or needed.

But wait, there's more! Should we need more storage, Isabelle's Dance Case is surprisingly empty and could easily store an outfit or several accessories.

Annika keeps her ballet shoes in her dance case as well as her water bottle from her Dance Barre and there is still oodles of room remaining.

We haven't decided what else to store in here, but sometimes it is nice to have a little bit of breathing room. I have not done a full review of this case, but in brief, I absolutely love the case but it was quite pricy for what it contained.

Annika thanks you for your kind attention and hopes this tour through her storage solutions has been helpful!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Waiting for Grace: Samantha's Holiday Set Unboxing

Posey, who is my BeForever Samantha poppet, was inspired by the pictures of Kini Zamora's red-and-black plaid dress and begged to be able to get out her new Christmas dress by unboxing Samantha's Holiday Set. So today's official Waiting for Grace activity will be more holiday preparations!

Samantha's Holiday Set is a large box because her holiday dress has been bundled by AG with her revised tea set. The box contains essentially three layers--the outfit on top, the tray and tea cloth in the middle, and the tea set on the bottom.

The cautionary note was appreciated! I plan to keep the entire box and styrofoam and stiff cardboard layers to be able to store the tea set components safely after use.

Ooh! Pretty! The tartan plaid is wonderful and the black lace detailing at the hem of the skirt divine. Posey noted that she would need to press out this dress before wearing it.

And look at the white lace bow! Posey can't wait to try it on!

On the upside of the design, the bow is attached to a scrunchie for ease of attachment, but this is also less than historically accurate. AG went for ease of play and practicality over historical accuracy here--a decision that I am sure does not please all customers. I am mixed on this. I have minimal hair styling ability so I appreciate the ease, but I love the long ribbons that came with earlier Samantha outfits that need to be tied on by hand.

Velvet books with bows and a pair of black tights. Posey was not thrilled with the velvet boots--they seemed very wrinkly. Maybe they will look better on.

Oh no, the velvet boots come with tiny heels. Posey is not certain she will be able to pose and stand securely in these boots if previous experiences with these sorts of heels is any indication. 

The next layer down in the box reveals the white tea cloth and silver-tone tea tray.

The tray is very nice and shiny, though the underside of the tray is already showing scratches (not pictured) just moments out of the box. Posey will keep you posted if more start developing.

And finally the tea set is on the bottom. I would have never bought the tea set had it not been bundled with the holiday dress. Let's face it, AG knew the holiday (Christmas) dress for Samantha would be a hit and could drive up profit margins by bundling. Well played, AG. 

The tea set itself comes with a teapot and separate lid, a teacup, saucer, and a set of three petits fours which do not separate. As a little tea set goes, it is cute, cut I don't have much use for a single place setting. Maybe it will show up in some photo shoots because it needs to earn its way!

Posey is thrilled with her new holiday dress and will return before the holidays are over and give a twirl in front of the camera. She has been so busy with the unboxing that she (and I) almost forgot that we were waiting for Grace!

AGPSF Flash: Project Runway Dresses!

Quick before they are gone, my local American Girl Place San Francisco has the winning look from this year's Project Runway and American Girl BeForever mashup episode displayed in their store. Many thanks to my sister who took time to take these photos in the middle of her holiday shopping at AGPSF!

The winning look, designed by Kini Zamora, was inspired by the dress from BeForever Samantha's Holiday Set.

Other looks from the Project Runway episode are also on tour. But be quick, because these dresses are due up at the American Girl Place store in Seattle by December 17th!

Below is the outfit inspired by BeForever Rebecca.

The black and red dress below was inspired by BeForever Josefina.

And the black jacket with the orange and pink dress inspired by BeForever Addy.

The cropped pants outfit was inspired by BeForever Kit.

And finally, the dress and with the fringed jacket was inspired by BeForever Kaya.

I am a big fan of Project Runway, so I was very excited about the episode. But if I am being very honest, many of the "inspired by" outfits created by the contestants missed the mark for me. Many of the color combinations were dreadful and the outfits themselves dowdy or downright strange (not all the completed outfits went on tour). 

The bright spot was Kini's winning look inspired by BeForever Samantha. Even so, I feel American Girl missed out on not putting the winning look for girls into production both for the 18" dolls and girls. I know I would have been in line for such a creation!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Waiting for Grace: Meet Sari

Happy Saint Lucia's Day (December 13th). My poppet Olivia is holding Sari, the doll from Kirsten Larson's collection. 

In Kirsten's Surprise, Kirsten is finally reunited with her beloved rag doll Sari on Saint Lucia's Day. Sari had been packed in a giant trunk for the family's trip overseas from Sweden to their new home in America, but the trunk was not immediately brought to their temporary home at Uncle Olav's farm.

The Sari doll body is made entirely of cloth and soft batting and is very light and squishy. Her face is made with a few simple stitches of colored thread and her hair with braided yellow yarn.

While the dress hems are sewn, Sari's shawl and bottom edge of her apron are left unhemmed and the loose edges made to look like fringe. Her shawl appears to have been glued into place (I do not want to pry it up to look underneath for any stitches). For these reasons this rag doll is best as a prop or display rather than heavy play.

While Sari's cloth body is a light off-white color, her feet are made in a contrasting red fabric, giving her the appearance of wearing red stocking or red boots depending on your imagination. This feature alone delights me to no end for its simplicity as well as for its range of open interpretation in play.

The Sari doll is an easy to overlook accessory from Kirsten's world, especially considering the original price in the Pleasant Company catalogs was $16 for this tiny cloth doll. However, that price looked like a bargain after questing for a Sari doll in pristine condition this summer. Since the face is hinted at with so few stitches of the embroidery needle I was particularly interested in finding a Sati with a symmetrical face and eyes. 

I love this little piece of Kirsten's world because of how the story of Sari captures the love of a girl and her doll. It was never a matter of how expensive or fancy the doll was--Kirsten played with real dedication even with her substitute straw doll--but about the story telling and bond created through playing together.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Waiting for Grace: A Saint Lucia Surprise

December 13th is Saint Lucia's Day and what better way to prepare for the Scandinavian festival of lights than having my youngest poppet, Olivia, dress up in the Saint Lucia Gown and accessories?

The Saint Lucia Gown, Wreath and Tray are from Kirsten Larson's collection and are truly great fun. Olivia, a MyAG 56, is often found playing in my special armoire full of Kirsten outfits and accessories. 

This is our first Christmastime with the Saint Lucia Gown and accessories as I bought them this summer on the secondary market. While I always adored Kirsten Larson (introduced by Pleasant Company in 1986 and retired by American Girl in 2010), other than a few of her outfits, I had never purchased a Kirsten doll or actively collected from her line while she was in production. Recently I decided to collect her items and have found most of them, though I have not bought a Kirsten doll and may wait for a BeForever Kirsten (though no word on if this will ever happen!). 

Very newly acquired in this quest is Kirsten's Scenes and Settings, so I was able to put Olivia into a photoshoot with a real backdrop! I especially love how the snow filled window panes and the cross stitch tapestry set the mood for a wintery evening.

The gown itself is made of a lightweight linen with a scalloped trim at the neck, sleeves and bottom hem. The red-and-white stripped stockings go up to her knees, even a bit past the knees if you pull up a bit on the stockings--I am uncertain why they are a bit oversized.

The red sash is permanently attached to the back of the gown. This is useful because it means the sash can not get lost and it also helps keep the sash in place once tied in front. The red sash is made of similar woven cotton as many of Kirsten's hair ribbons, just thicker and wider. The waist of the linen gown itself is elasticized.

The wreath is one of the more fun accessories from Kirsten's collection. The leaves of the wreath are made of fabric and the clusters of red berries are made of plastic.

The wreath comes with six white candles. This wreath is the older Pleasant Company style wreath and the candles are painted wood rather than plastic as found in later wreaths. The entire wreath is gently wrapped by a red ribbon and topped with four red bows.

The Saint Lucia Tray features a checkered cloth, a sprig of greenery, a heart shaped candle holder and candle, and best of all, two Saint Lucia buns.

Olivia was so pleased to get dressed up in a traditional Saint Lucia's outfit and pose with all of its accessories in a photoshoot. Both Olivia and I adore the clothing and accessories from Kirsten Larson's line and we look forward to posting more photoshoot looks from the past!

It almost goes without saying, but this entire set earns an A for being totally adorable and awesome. A wonderful distraction from all the holiday waiting, wishing, and wondering!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waiting for Grace: A New Beauty!

We have a stunning new beauty to behold. Waiting for Grace, our GOTY 2015 is proving to be well worth the wait. I am most smitten by her combination of dark long hair and her blue eyes.

She is not a classic mold as I had predicted, but appears to be a light skinned Josefina mold. She has side swept bangs and feathered eyebrows. I also detect a hint of freckles.

I had intended for today's blog to make my prediction about what special extra accessory the doll would come with and I had decided it would be something for her hair. My guess was going to be either a single barrette or perhaps a fancy tie back to put her hair in a low pony tail. (My second guess was going to be a long and lightweight scarf.) Looking at the upper corner of her box, it looks like Grace's special in-box accessory may be two silver hair combs! This would be better than my guesses.

So far, Grace looks to be a real beauty and I must admit I am already making a space for her in my heart!