I can’t believe how fast the last week passed by. Last week I designed my first top pattern for Francie and I was really nervous how this would turn out because the pattern form I got for Francie was very similar to the pattern I did for Barbie. Had I used the right measurements? I was so nervous that I didn’t want to start sewing it. This sounds strange, I know. Again I had the same problem like with the one for Barbie. My front middle part had too much fabric to fit in a perfect way. I had this while doing my Barbie top. After my first Francie top try I already knew where to modify the pattern. I think the next try will fit much better because of the modification. This time I tried to document what I did because I realized that I forgot a lot. Additionally I took the measure from my Vintage Skipper so that I can do patterns for her or Ricky too in the future. Maybe pattern making becomes easier the more often you do it. At least I hope so.
If you ask yourself why I suddenly started to do pattern making for Francie, well this is due to the fact that I was not 100% satisfied with the pattern I used for my “Let’s dance” Francie dress project . So I decided to try another approach and doing my own top to come as close to the original as possible. You know I’m a purist. If you’re not familiar with the topic, just watch the first part of my new video series.
I’m going to insert a pic of my first try here in the next days. I’m still sitting here and write this article.
Greetings and welcome to my crazy Barbie world. You have not heard about any Barbie related stuff in the last weeks from me? Yep, that’s right. I was working on some new ideas and I do course after course to learn new things and improve my skills concerning Social Media.
That’s why you haven’t heard very much from me. Today I’m going to change this. I’ve been working on new sewing patterns for Francie, the cousin of Barbie doll. You may have heard from her?
Her size and proportions are a bit different from the measurements of Barbie and I created a sewing pattern for her. Since I’m not doing this every day it always lasts a while. While doing my draft I did a stupid mistake. It was the same one I did years before when I did my Barbie top. Nevertheless I wasn’t sure about my draft and asked someone who did many sewing patterns for Barbie and her family to have a look at my pattern. The answer was no. What should I expect? I’m long enough in the scene of collectors. You often have selfish persons.
You know it’s not for me about making money with the stuff. I simply want to do my own patterns in a correct way and become better in doing so. I’m convinced I can find someone who is willing to help me and understanding my own mistakes. You can only become better when you learn from your own mistakes.
In this week I’d like to blog about books, or better books you should have in your collection. I’m sitting in the middle in a heap of books while writing. I can tell you from my long term collecting experience that it’s a big advantage to have some books as reference. I have not only one book but almost a shelf of Barbie doll books. The topics are very different.
There are Barbie doll books for identification, books about Barbie history, books about Japanese Barbie and their clothes, Barbie books similar to catalogs, Barbie books about clothes, books about her accessoires and books in Japanese (no joke) about Barbie. Okay, I also have two German editions but do they count? They were some of the first books I found about Barbie doll as a collector. In times before amazon.com was known worldwide it was not so easy to get every book you wanted ( especially if they were written in English). Of course you could try to get them with the help of local book stores but hey, it was not as easy as you might think. I think I got my very first Barbie book in 1998 and it was a coincidence that I found it.
The possibility to talk to other collectors, who had books, was very helpful. That’s how I found out that there were books similar to catalogs. It was certainly helpful knowledge. I can recommend you lots of books but I think it’s useful to put them in categories.
Barbie books for id
In this paragraph I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite Barbie doll books. Books for identification (often similar to catalogs):
The Ultimate Barbie doll book by Marcie Melillo
The collectors encyclopedia of Barbie dolls and collectibles by Sibyl DeWein and Joan Ashabraner (first published in 1977, I have the 1992 updated version)
Skipper: Barbie doll’s little sister by Trina Cottingham and Scott Arend ( for Skipper, her early fashions, Tutti and Todd and their fashions)
Barbie doll photo album from 1959 until 2009: identifications and values by Michael Augustyniak
Barbie doll around the world 1964 – 2007: identifications and values by Michael Augustyniak ( incomplete but nice)
Collector’s Encyclopedia of Barbie doll by Michael Augustyniak ( about collector Barbie dolls)
Collector’s Encyclopedia of Barbie dolls exclusives 1972 -2004 by Michael Augustyniak
Collectibly yours Barbie doll by Margo Rana
Identifying Barbie dolls by Janine Fennick
The wonder of Barbie dolls and accessoires 1976 – 1986 by Paris and Susan Manos
The world of Barbie dolls – an illustrated value guide by Paris and Susan Manos
In the third paragraph I’d like to give you some names of my Japanese Barbie books. I can’t tell you if they are the only ones in Japan but they sounded interesting to me any my thirst to get to know new things.
(Babi to watashi ? kisegae doresu o tsukuri tsudzuketa hansei-ki) by Fumiko Miyatsuka
( Babi kara hajimatta) by Yukiko Kanno
Twist Barbie (yomiuri kara-mukkusiri-zu) by Mineo Takami
The Japanese books are not so easy to get. The book by Fumiko Miyatsuka is currently available through amazon.jp. You need a credit card to buy the book but the shipment is very fast. I think my copy arrived within a week or less. The other books were a bit harder to get. You need a Japanese address to buy the other books over the marketplace. There are special forwarders who are specialized in shipping goods abroad. I used tenso.com for my orders and the books arrived at my house within two months. I used the cheapest shipping method because I have to pay taxes for the shipping costs too. I know it makes no sense but it is this way in Germany.
Barbie and Her Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, World of Fashion by Joe Blitman
Francie and Her Mod, Mod, Mod World of Fashion by Joe Blitman
Barbie Forever ( not available in Germany yet, but I preordered my copy)
Of course I can’t tell you if these books are useful or not since I don’t have them in my collection.
That’s my whole book collection at the moment. I hope that my lists are helpful to some of you. I put photos of all my books in my instagram account.
Why I recommend buying Barbie books
Now I’ve given you the list with all the Barbie books I have in my personal bookshelf. I think it’s important to own books about Barbie dolls. You can make yourself independent from other collectors. I love to read in books and especially in Barbie books. You can learn a lot from them. That’s also one of my focus points. I like to learn things from books. You can use them as encyclopedia. One can help other collectors with knowledge. I know there are lots of collectors who start to collect and then immediately stop again. Forget this group. If you’re really interested in the topic buy books. They are helpful. They are fun. Go, buy and learn.
Some of you know that I like the Congost Barbie dolls from Spain. Last year I got a Tropical Barbie from Spain but she came naked. I had the chance to get it via a Spanish Barbie collector. She arranged it that the swimsuit landed in my collection. I really like the color. It’s very different from the US version but hard to find. What makes the swimsuit different from its US version is the pattern. It’s more yellowish than the normal version while the US version has more black in the fabric. It is as elastic as the sister but it is much rarer and harder to find. You may ask yourself why. I think it is due to a smaller quantiy that was produced in spain. I was told that it is hard to find Spanish Congost Barbie dolls in good condition because the production was done cheaply and many children customized their dolls. That means the children cut the hair. I have also seen dolls with missing hands or legs. I know it’s weird. Dolls in good condition are not so easy to find. I don’t know anything about the prices but maybe they could be the missing link why some of the Spanish Congost dolls and fashions are hard to find in good conditions.
Have you ever considered to dress like a Barbie? I have considered it. I have several dresses like the very early Barbie Vintage dresses. I don’t wear them daily but sometimes when I go out for a dance or when our group has a appearance. I’m a member in a local dance club.
I enjoy dressing myself up. Of course there also a clothing line by Unique Vintage and they have copies for humans of original Barbie doll dresses. I have none of them. I have dresses from other labels like the one below. I got this one yesterday.
You can wear a real petticoat under the dress. There’s enough space for it. I write it down here because I also have skirts and they aren’t wide enough to wear a petticoat under it. So let’s thank Vivan of Holloway for this fabulous dress. I’ll take care of it.
You maybe know the say “unexpectedly comes often” and so it was with this outfit. Last week I saw it and bought it. I had seen it in a video before and liked it. It was not a long time ago. My outfit is not complete here. It’s just a part of the whole outfit. The handbag, the jacket and the shoes are still missing but I like the hoodie and the pants. I was surprised how the hoodie was cut. The idea with the little zipper is just great. In general I think I have told you about the quality of early Barbie doll fashion. It’s very good in comparison to what is sold nowadays in toy stores.
10 days ago I learned that one of the last shops for fabrics is going to close. So what did I do? I went and visited the store maybe with a little hope to find a cheap sewing-stiching machine combination too but I think I dreamt a little to much. They have lots of stuff but no machines. At first I only wanted to see how much they had reduced the price for fabrics but it was only 20% for fabrics. I found some small end pieces which were cheaper than the rest. It’s enough to test my patterns in the next weeks. Maybe I’m going to visit the store another time before they close their doors forever.
In the last months I had problems with my old sewing machine. I needed an incredible long to find out where the problem was. It was the position of the needle holder. Found it out, fixed it. Next problem. I wanted to sew with a fine cotton fabric. Unfortunately my machine didn’t like the fabric. Maybe it was a problem caused by age but anyway she produced so many mistakes that I decided to buy a new one.
I did a long research about fabrics and old sewing machines, needles for the machine. I tried anything but the result didn’t change much. Then I started to look round for a new sewing machine. It was no easy task. There is a wide range of sewing machines. At first I thought it was really difficult but then somebody made the suggestion on youtube to make a list what you want your new sewing machine to have. The list helped me a lot. I watched several videos to learn about different features. I got to know features I never heard of like the regulation of the sewing foot pressure and many other things like the IDT ( integrated dual transport) for fragile fabrics very useful.
I also went to a local shop and they showed me some machines. So I finally came to my decision that I wanted to have the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0. I don’t plan to quilt in the future but I think some of the features are very handy for future Barbie sewing projects.
The other day I bought a Vintage Barbie outfit named Enchanted Evening and was very disappointed when it arrived here. The condition was so bad that I gave it back. I had no chance to use it for display. The only thing I could have done was using it as a pattern for sewing but that was not the intention I had. The fabric is very delicate. I don’t know exactly the fabric maybe some kind of satin and I saw no chance to repair it with my abilities. Here’s a pic of the back.
I even had problems to put the body into the dress because of it’s tightness. I didn’t want to destroy it and I thought this might happen by the next time I dress or undress the body.
So my advice before buying the dress from anyone selling online is
let them send you a pic from front and back
let them send you detail pics from the seams so that you can check before buying
try to read as much as possible about the fabric
ask someone who has the dress to tell you about the color