Thursday, December 25, 2014

Waiting for Grace: An Isabelle Christmas

After a lot of thought--twelve long months of thought--Isabelle's Studio finally came home with us. I picked up the huge box from AGPSF last week when it was about to sell out both online and in the stores and kept it wrapped up until Christmas.

The studio armoire is quite impressive in full display. There is plenty of interior storage and the sewing table can be stored upright when not in use or the armoire is closed.

The studio comes with three plastic purple hangers, though there is probably room for up to six outfits without squishing if they are not poofy--though considering the amount of tulle in Isabelle's wardrobe that could be an issue. Six leotards or tshirts, yes. But only three tulle skirts.

The drawers are generous sized and can hold the hangers without problem or other clothing and accessories.

The dress form is so much fun. I want about five more to be able to display favorite dresses now.

The sewing machine is very smartly designed. The body of the machine is a sturdy plastic which has a glitter infused appearance (this was difficult to capture with the camera) and the spindle, sewing foot and plate are made of metal. The best part is that the pieces move--the spindle is spring loaded and retracts, the stitch selector knob twists and makes a clicking noise, and best off all, the sewing machine (two triple-A batteries not included) can be switched on! The light comes on and the sewing foots rises and falls as if it is sewing fabric--there is even a mechanical whirring sound as it works! A+, AG!

The studio comes also with a sewing basket for storing notions and supplies. The basket is made of plastic, but I appreciate the simulated wicker weave--it reminds me of my grandmother's sewing basket which I inherited from her and simply love.

The scissors scissor! Yay, AG. No, they do not actually cut material, but I love how they functionally operate like real scissors. The spools are plastic with textured surface to approximate the look of thread (so cute--why only three? I want more!) and as a bonus, they fit perfectly on the spindle of the sewing machine.

The measuring tape is just ribbon with printing and the pincushion is excessively hard and lumpy with a huge manufacturing tag (I let it drape off to the side for the picture). These two accessories I am less fond of but they will suffice.

Sketchbook with sketches already inside is very cute--I did not want to bend or crease the spine, so just this photo for now. It is perched on top of the included hatbox.

The hatbox works perfectly as a way to store the three lengths of fabric that come with Isabelle's Studio.

At first I was surprised at how synthetic the materials were, but after draping them for awhile, I realized that these fabrics will resist excessive wrinkling and thus will look nicer for a longer time, especially if subjected to heavy play.

I would also like to introduce Isabelle's Kitten, named Tutu. Tutu does not come with the studio, but she came home with me the same day. I had all but given up on Tutu, primarily because I thought she was the grumpiest looking cat ever made by AG. But the store was quiet and I had some leisure time and spent about 15 minutes simply opening up about a dozen boxes of kittens to examine their faces before I found a quite agreeable and charming Tutu. 

I am very appreciative that the sales associates allowed me to do this undisturbed. I can imagine at some times at some stores or with some associates (and with some customers) that the practice of opening and examining contents is discouraged. My tips for doing this is to open just one box at a time, to be extremely delicate with both the box lid and the tissue paper, and to carefully tuck the item/items neatly back in the box. 

I would love to have a Personal Shopper from AG to assist me with these kinds of mini quests, but there never seems to be one free when I am at AGPSF and so for now the mysteries of the AG PS elude me!

One of the secrets to cheering up Tutu's appearance is to make sure the fur is out of her eyes (so she doesn't look like she just woke up from a nap).

Tutu is lounging on the included lavender stool or ottoman. The AG website describes this as an "upholstered stool," but that is far too elevated language for this piece of plastic and gauze. I have to say that the stool is my biggest disappointment and the biggest miss by AG in the studio. 

First, the stool underneath is hard plastic that is hollow inside--which makes me immediately think "more storage space!!!" But after lifting the gauzy covering (which is hardly anything close to anything resembling upholstery) it is just one solid unending piece of plastic. It would have been so simple to have the plastic underneath have a lid! Additionally, while I would grant that the fabric covering does have a rather nice quilted top detail, it is not padded enough to really give this piece any warmth. 

Were I have a tad more time on my hands, the stool is the one piece I would remake myself with a lid that could be removed and I would use more padding on the quilted top.

The detail on Tutu's collar is cute, though hard to see under all that plushy fur. I do recommend Tutu as she is very different from most the other cats and pets offered by AG. I have come to enjoy her reclining pose, especially when draping her paws over the edge of furniture.

Astrid (my Isabelle II) poses with her Christmas surprise. She is wearing her new Metallic Dress and has placed her pancake tutu from her Mix & Match collection on the doll form. We also tried out some new carpeting and wallpaper for her bedroom and while we love the wallpaper, we are not certain it photographs very well in terms of its big and bold pattern next to the smaller details of many doll items. Annika can hardly wait to meet Grace and looks forward to learning about all of her hobbies and interests.

In closing, my reasoning for finally bringing Isabelle's Studio home was primarily that I don't think we will see this particular style of an armoire for some years--white, french country, with pale soft colors on the interior. AG has made armoires in the past, including Felicity's Clothes Press (dark wood, colonial style), the 2002 Star Armoire (pale blue, modern styling) and the 2003 Flower Armoire (pale buttercup yellow, modern styling). However, this studio armoire for Isabelle fits all my design preferences and while there is some chance that AG will produce something similar for the MyAG line soon, it is more likely that this piece will remain rather unique. A+

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