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PPP Stuff: Homemade Birthday Gifts- A Special Party Dress For An American Girl Doll


New Friends, Birthday Parties & Homemade Gifts

This past weekend my daughter had a birthday party to attend. It was for one of her little classmates. we love, love to go to birthday parties and my daughter especially loves to pick out something special for the birthday boy or girl. She really likes to give thoughtful presents… I love that about her.

Anyhow, this new classmate is a new friend. I think we have known her for about 3-weeks now. Being that the gal is still in the “getting to know you” phase with this new friend and since most of the time the only time kiddos have to visit is on the playground (which the gal has been very limited with her socialization during this time due to the whole broken arm thing), we knew very little about this new friend before the party.

So, I had to try to play “detective mommy” and see if we could come up with something, anything that we might know about this little gal… other than “she’s really nice mommy”!!

This is what I was able to come-up with from my inquisition…

  • She seems like a “girly girl” in that she has a pink and green backpack.
  • A “sporty gal” because she likes soccer.
  • She likes American Girl, she has an American Girl doll that she brought to school for show and tell. The doll’s name is Sally and looks like the classmate.
  • She might be crafty…her party is at a paint your own pottery place, so I guess it’s safe to assume she likes arts & crafts.

I picked the gal up on Friday after school to go shopping for the party. We had had an extremely busy week, so we made a “girls date” for Friday afternoon and decided we would go shopping. We did know that we wanted to do something “American Girl” themed though since the doll seemed like an important the gal loves American Girl too and since the classmate brought the doll in as a part of show and tell geared towards sharing “all about me.”

We picked-up a cute little American Girl craft kit and then the gal decided that she wanted me to make a dress for the friend’s doll. We had tossed the idea around, but decided against it simply because we did not know the family and did not know if they would appreciate a handmade gift (we always do, but some don’t). Well, apparently the gal had changed her mind or did not agree with my fear of giving someone new a homemade gift and really thought that a special dress was pretty much the only gift that could be given!!

So, guess where we headed at almost 5 o’clock? If you guessed the fabric store, you would be right! Hobby Lobby. Before heading home we dropped by Walmart to pick out a pair of little shoes to match the fabric.

The dress was to totally be the gal’s design. She picked-out fabric, a button for an embelishement and she told me exactly how she wanted it to look… so, it was really hard to tell her “no, we don’t have enough time.” I knew I really needed to come-up with something because this meant something to her. I got started making a doll outfit after she went to bed Friday night… so, well after 8 o’clock on the night before a party. You have to know, I am only a novice seamstress. I have not real skill… I enjoy it, but it takes me a while to do simple stuff. The party was the next day at 1 o’clock.

Here’s Is What I Came Up With…


I used a fantastic free printable pattern from Simple Simon & Co. that I have used once before to make a doll dress. I added elastic and a band around the waist with a small yo-yo flower and cupcake button and a little overall length and a ruffle to the pattern.

The gal had stated that her friend’s AG doll had longer hair with curl, so I made a little hairbow clip that would be easy to use and a matching little purse. The purse is lined in the yellow print… and the first time I have ever made a doll purse and I think it turned out so cute. I didn’t have a pattern, just sort of winged it.

I added a little tag that said the dress + accessories were “one of a kind” and for the b-day gal’s special day and that the dress was designed by my gal. I have to say that I am beyond proud of how the whole thing turned out.

I did stop and pick-up a small Target gift card to add on… just in case they happened to not be “homemade gift people,” but the birthday gal actually did open presents at the party (a rarity it seems these days) and she seemed tickled with it.  My gal was over the moon about the excitement about it and has already put in an order for her McKenna & Bitty dolls an exact replica.

Lesson Learned

One of the most amazing things about being a parent is simply the life lessons that I learn from my child.  I think out of all of this that I learned that I should always go with my child’s gut instinct to give a homemade gift…. whether or not I am afraid that the person might now appreciate a homemade gift. I think it not helps to convey to her the importance of being thoughtful in gift giving, but that it also demonstrates that not everything worth giving has to come from a store. I know this things, but with how expensive and tech savvy our world is these days, sometimes a gentle “reminder” is needed.