November 2014

Monthly Message from Lee & Pearl

These last few months have been hard for Lee & Pearl. After a long illness, our beloved father, Meir Menes, passed away on August 28th. We would like to thank our loyal friends for patiently waiting for us to get back to our wonderful dolls.

While together in Virginia, Lee & Pearl re-visited the Shenandoah Valley, where Meir spent many happy retirement years with our mother, Diane Dimon Menes. We especially enjoyed visiting the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. If you get a chance to tour this lovely location — which recreates Valley homesteads from the 18th and 19th centuries, and European and West African settlements from the 17th and 18th centuries — take it!

On our way back from the Valley, we stopped in Charlottesville where "Pearl" spotted a half-size souvenir football helmet in a college store window. The helmet looked like it would fit an American Girl™ doll, but for the full retail price, we weren't ready to test that theory. Right after returning to Los Angeles, though, look what "Pearl" found in a thrift shop for much, much less:

This helmet is by Riddell. We had to remove the back and side pads inside the helmet for a perfect fit. But they peel off easily — and our Molly loves it!

Also in Virginia, we were lucky to visit Mount Vernon during their annual Colonial Market & Fair, another experience we highly recommend. Along with plenty of fun activities and goodies for big people, we found lots of accessories for the well-appointed 18th century doll.

We'd like to send out special thanks to some of the wonderful craftspeople who spent their valuable time talking to us and showing us their wares:

Thomas and Patricia Hooper of ASL Pewterers from Louisiana, MO
Candy and Dave Barnes of Bent Harpoon Baskets from Shepherdstown, WV
Paul and Elissa Parish of By My Hands Enterprises from Oldtown, MD
Sycamore Springs Clothier from Elizabeth Township, OH
Daniel Hrinko Boxmaker
Dobyns and Martin, Grocers from Eldersburg, MD
Pumpkintown Primitives Sutlers and Indigo Dyers from Pickens, SC
and Bob and Sally Hughes of River Rat Pottery from Conestoga, PA

Best of all, "Lee" got an early Christmas present from her wonderful husband: an 18th century tape loom from R. McKinney, 1777 of Elizabethtown, KY.

Though Lee's loom is a reproduction of an 18th century style, box looms that strongly resemble these show up in illuminated manuscripts as far back as the mid-15th century, which gives us just the excuse we need to segue into this picture of our UPCOMING Pattern #3001: A Late Medieval Lady's Wardrobe for 18" Dolls, circa 1330-1450:

This pattern has been an intense labor of love, that is now in the final stages of preparation for release. Look for the announcement to land in your mailbox very soon!


Recently we have been thinking a lot about fabric. There are thousands of beautiful fabrics available in the world. "Pearl" saw a lot of them at this year's L.A. Textile Fair, and even ordered a few. But as we look for fabrics to create our Fabric Kits we have learned that sometimes the perfect thing isn't available: you need to design it yourself.

Fortunately in our wonderful world you can design and order the perfect fabric from services like Spoonflower. But there is another way: you can design and DYE your own wonderful fabrics at home!

In October, "Lee" attended the Sewing & Quilt Expo at the Fredericksburg, VA Expo and Conference Center, where she saw a number of fabric-altering products and techniques which might be of interest to doll sewists. She liked one of those products so much that this month we will be combining our Tweak the Pattern with a craft tutorial by demonstrating how to create your own custom fabric design for our Unisex T-shirt pattern using fabric inks and shaving cream.

Tweak the Pattern: Marble Patterned T-Shirt for 18" Dolls

We love it when people take our patterns beyond the outfit on the cover. In fact, we often do that ourselves. In each of our newsletters, we offer an idea we've had for using bits and pieces of one of our patterns to create new items and outfits. Some of these Tweak the Pattern features will involve actual new pattern pieces, while others will be suggestions for using unexpected materials or trims. If you have any ideas you'd like to see explored in future newsletters, we'd love to hear about them! Please let us know at

This month, we are going to learn how to create a Frozen-inspired "swirling snowstorm" marbled fabric for Lee & Pearl Pattern #1001: Unisex T-Shirts for 18" Dolls using an upcycled white T-shirt, Tsukineko Japanese kimono inks and ordinary shaving cream.

Tsukineko Japanese kimono inks are not expensive, and are available in dozens of beautiful colors — including metallics and glittery frosts — under the deceptively un-glamorous name of All Purpose Ink on the TSC Designs website, and even

The marbled pattern created by this technique resembles tie-dye, but it's much easier, and the scale of the pattern is small and wonderfully doll-appropriate. The Tsukineko inks, as they are intended for heirloom fabric kimonos, are softer than fabric paint or glitter glue, and once they have been heat set, they are permanent. We recommend heat setting with a DRY iron set to its highest setting before sewing the garment, then laundering and drying the finished T-shirt in the dryer before putting it on the doll.

The marbled fabric works beautifully on its own, without further embellishment — but it also looks great WITH further embellishment. Why not add some hot-fix crystals, or iron-on images?

Here's another neat trick: we made this "Nebula" pattern shirt by applying ordinary school-supply star stickers to the white fabric BEFORE we placed it on a blue/black/pink/frosty white dye layer. Click on the image to visit the Pinterest Tutorial pin for this shirt.

Pretty nifty, huh?

If you come up with a great color combination or coordinating embellishment using this technique, please let us know. We'd love to share your pictures on our Pinterest Made With Lee & Pearl Patterns board!

Click here to download the FREE T-Shirt Marbling Tweak-the-Pattern package.

Note: Our download management system may ask for your email address. If you're already on our mailing list, use the same address that you signed up with.

This tweak package does NOT include Pattern #1001: Unisex T-Shirts for 18" Dolls, which can be purchased separately in our Etsy store.


See you next month!

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