Recently we had Halloween and I thought for a long time about doing an outfit for our little Francie doll or not. You know I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween and it’s not really celebrated here.
We rather celebrate St. Martin and do our own lanterns here in Europe and go to a lantern procession when we are little and come from the German speaking areas of Europe but hey, I try to satisfy all my viewers here. That’s where the idea with the outfit for Francie came from.
As you all know I love sewing for little 15 year Francie doll, cousin of Barbie. She’s so cute and mine has only a few clothes I made for her. That’s why I do my own outfits, sew and improve my designing skills in pattern making.
In this case my idea was clear. A simple skirt and a easy but stylish top. Nothing complicated since a lot of you don’t have the biggest experience in sewing. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. That’s why you only get a twp piece outfit here. You only need one calculation and one drawing to do it. I think doing it easier is almost impossible. I imagined something like a witch skirt when doing it. I have a similar dress that I wore to the ball after graduation of High School. I love to be creative and that’s how the idea came into my mind. Don’t worry it’s still very easy.
You only need to measure once round her waist and then use the formula for the circumstance to get our radius. That’s the same thing you would do when designing a circle skirt but this skirt here had rectangles, almost a kind of square but with the waist part that we need cut out. That’s very easy, isn’t it?
After sewing all four parts together you already have the skirt. The amount of time you need to sew this is very limited. You can do it within one hour.
You could also use it for Christmas when you do it in another color like red or green to make it very festive. You know I’m very flexible with my designs. Why not using them for another occasion?
This was a topic I really wanted to work on for a long while but pattern making patterns is always time consuming. I already did a pattern for a pair of pants in the begin of the year but it was not perfect and I did not find the time to improve my skills immediately. In another way I never lost the interest in how to make a pair of shorts for a fashion doll. I saw a video where you could learn how to make a pair of short for your doll from a skirt pattern.
It sounded very easy since I already had a skirt pattern for my Francie and I simply continued to work on the fashion, simply did what I saw. Then I made a sample and tried to improve my own patterns here. That was literally everything I did.
With this pattern I tried to find my own mistakes from the beginning of the year. I knew my pattern was not perfect but I did not know where to start my improvements.
My pattern fitted my Francie very well and so I decided to work on this pattern for my Supersize Barbie as well. The pattern on her also worked very well. So now at least I have created a basic for my future work of how to make a pair of shorts for your fashion doll.
I think I got the basics now and I can make the length longer or shorter for the dolls I have here. I think that’s one of the most satisfying things you can see when you want to improve your abilities as a tailor.
If you want to learn how to do this very easy pattern transformation for your doll I can recommend you to watch the video below. It contains a step by step instruction how to do this yourself.
In the last weeks you have not heard from me every week. I was busy on other channel, not just doing videos but I continued to repair stuff for you. Last year I found a Francie ” First Formal” from the 60s. It’s great to have this outfit but it has also a negative side to own old fashions. Within the years light fabric gets stains and this was also the case here on my First Formal. I got some advice from senior collectors to be careful when cleaning it because the pink bow. You know Mattel did not pre-wash all the fabrics. From what I have seen and learnt along my repair journey they did it not with every fabric. So be very careful when you want to clean things. You may be lucky but often the fabrics start to bleed until you think they are completely discolored. In fact they are not but you just pre-washed them. Congrats.
When you are in this situation you may think ” Great, I find a solution” or ” what the hell is happening here” or ” I wish I had never done this”. In the first part of the cleaning I literally thought “what the hell is happening” here. My idea to separate body and skirt was a total failure after my first attempts to clean the dress with soap, water and baking soda failed because of the delicacy of the fabric. After my first attempts it was clear to me that I did not get the success I wanted and I did not want to ruin the dress. Original Francie fashions are expensive in Europe. I decided to take the risk, remove the bow since it was the bleeding factor and I knew it before I started. I trashed all my plans in one moment and started to use Boost, a cleaner for old fabrics I bouth last year. It’s really good in getting stains out. I wasn’t sure if the upper blue top part would bleed but soon realized that it did not start to bleed. To my own surprise the luke warm water changed into a pee like color after not even two hours.
I let the Francie dress in there for at least 24 hours to remove all the stains and dirt from the last 5 decades. I used two bowls to get all the dirt out. After the stain removal the dress became completely white again. I thought it would have been designed as a cream tone. I did not expect it but it’s great. It’s great that all stains are gone now.
Finally 1000 subscribers subscribed to Busy B from Germany and I thought for a while how to celebrate the event with fashions for Francie doll. At first I had no idea how to celebrate it. Suddenly an idea came into my mind. I’m not always showing you all the things I do behind the scenes in my workshop. I take this occasion as a chance to show you some of my ideas for dressing Francie,
You know I like Francie and I do my own designs now that I have learned what I already wanted to know 25 years ago. In my videos you have only seen a small amount of clothes I made instructions for. Behind the scenes I did a lot more, some things could be seen in my other videos but a big part was not. Not all of my designs are ready yet but I have some ideas how to do this and that even if my time to sew is very limited.
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead what you want to design next. Sometimes I need a year or more to complete my drafts. That’s at least for the more complicated designs true. Easy projects don’t need such a big amount of time. Nevertheless my designs inspired me to do a video with all fashions created until now. Fashions for Francie doll – here’s what she has now in her wardrobe.
For those of you trained in sewing for Barbie and the family it might be only a small amount but for me it’s a big progress. I have learned a lot since I found my own mistakes in making own designs.
You know it’s all about the correct measurements. I know I’m not perfect and I know that a lot of my designs is still in white but I hope you appreciate the idea to show you my designs as much as I do here.
I don’t want to create very complicated clothes here. We can do it later. Let’s start simple and let’s stay simple. When you have some basics you can put them together and create a new piece of clothing and play around with your own designs here.
I hope you like my ideas here and that you like the fashions for Francie doll that she has now in her wardrobe. You know I came across the idea for making all the fashions for Francie doll because her original fashions are so expensive. It’s easier to make own patterns than to buy what she has now. Why not use the problem for what you ever wanted to do in your life? Become a fashion designer! Read more about it here http://barbie.final-memory.org/how-to-make-a-pair-of-pants-for-barbie/
I dedicate this article to the topic how to change a fashion doll arm. I have only Barbie family members so this is only valid for Vintage Barbie, Francie, Midge, Ken and Skipper. The joints were changed later so that this is not possible in the same way for later dolls.
What I can tell you about this topic is that it is not hard, like always when I talk about Barbie. It is simple when you know how to do it, what to use in the process and what to avoid.
One thing all of the above mentioned dolls have in common is the arm joint. It’s the same one for all dolls. That makes it easy to show it only once and you can use it for all dolls.
I refer to Barbie only here because I only have Barbie dolls. I don’t collect any other fashion dolls.
For reasons of easiness let’s start with what will expect you. Have a look at one of these arms. As you can see the construction itself is very simple. The arm and the joint are made from one piece. I think it was easy to design, easy to make a mass production of these arms and the were cost effective. More pieces per doll would be more expensive. The less pieces per doll you have to assembly the cheaper the production/ assembly costs.
I think it was not intended that doll docs would ever write about the topic in the future but this construction is also easy to repair. You can replace the arm with another arm. Of course you need one from the same doll type like Barbie – Barbie, Skipper – Skipper and so on. It would not work for different doll types simple because of the different size.
The lengths and joint sizes for the dolls are simply different. You would see it immediately when you replace a Francie arm with a Skipper arm. The lengths are simply different. I came across this topic because I recently bought Francie arms and in reality they are Skipper arms. The difference is very small but you would see it.
I was recently asked about the new dolls in my collection by some viewers and that’s what this article is all about, new dolls in my collection.
As you probably know I don’t collect just for the reason of having a huge collection of dolls that are in bad condition. I’m specialized in Barbie dolls but I don’t collect every doll I find. I can’t do it because of lacking space. I try to buy only what I think is worth to be collected. Some of you may have another opinion. We don’t have any Goodwill here and we had no flea markets since the begin of Corona. Used toys are rather thrown away than being sold in a store. For used clothes it’s no problem but used toys are not common to be sold in any nationwide store chain. In big cities you sometimes have antique store but it is not the rule that you find anything there.
Sometimes you can find dolls on ebay but in most cases they are overpriced. Shopping is not the fun anymore it was when I started to buy there some 20 years ago. A lot has changed since then. The Francie you already saw in the last weeks here on my channel as a big restoration projects was indeed an ebay find. It was really a coincident to find one.
It’s a very popular video on my channel. It’s worth to be seen. Anyway you can learn a lot in restoring a Francie doll. Francie is the cousin of Barbie and at the moment I really like to do videos with her. You can see this doll in the next weeks on my channel again since she’s not completely finished now. She still has a cut in her arm and she will get a replacement arm. This video will follow in the next weeks. So stay tuned in.
She was not the only doll I found. I also found 3 more dolls. In March I saw three male dolls for sale and purchased them. You know I’m a big fan of Ken but I only have a very few early pieces. That’s how these dolls came into my collection. I found #1 Ken, the very first one from 1961 and one edition from 1964/1965 I think. Both have straight legs, no knee joints. My Francie is also a straight leg doll. These dolls have the advantage that you don’t have any problems with green knees.
Free Moving Curtis from the early 1970s is the only doll with knee joints and a sphere for being super sporty where humans have their stomache. I had no Curtis before and that was my chance to buy my very first Curtis. They are offered very seldom in Germany.
The #1 Ken got my attention because his flocked hair is still perfect. I don’t know if any girl ever played with him. He’s still looking perfect.
The last Ken I found is the following one. He had also a perfect painted hair. No missing paint is also hard to find. That’s why he also hopped in my shopping bag. All my other Kens from the early years are not perfect. The offer was too good to reject it.
In the last weeks I came across the idea to create something new for my little Francie. I love to be a creative artist and I really enjoy designing own clothes for my famous fashion dolls. I could do it all day long but I hardly have the time to do it but I really love to do it and use the time for creativity. That’s how the idea a “Solo in the Spotlight” for Francie came into existence.
I created a top for Francie last year when I did a kind of circle skirt-dress for her and I used it for this idea too because it fits quite well. Then last autumn I played around with designs for skirts. I tried to make a pencil skirt for her. That was not very hard. You can see how I did this here https://youtu.be/IilLSlJTXFE and here https://youtu.be/Allj1knKfLg
It’s basically the same pattern. Then I added a the pencil skirt, made it longer and added the circle to the bottom of the skirt. The idea for this circle came from the Barbie Fashion Designer program Mattel published in the 1990s for PCs. I know the fashions don’t really fit when you put them in fabric. You have to re-design them for fabric but it’s ok. You can work with them when you know how to modify them. Now they are almost a picture of their time. I mean the 90s are almost gone for 2 decades but I’m really happy to have lived on earth back then and I’m glad I have these old PCs programs running on my old PC. I also have an old printer for printing them.
The idea behind the dress was simply to test if my idea would work out in the way I wanted it too. I did some tests and I worked out in the way I wanted it to. I know I always use white or another simple color for my tests but for me it’s okay. In the next weeks I plan to do more of these simple pieces of clothes. You know when you have some basics you can play with them and can put them together in a very creative ways. That’s my idea at the moment. I just want to play around a little bit with the pieces I have at the moment and put them together in new creative ways so that you can get new pieces with low effort.
It was not important here to make a realistic piece of clothing from the 1960s. Some other collectors complained about that it would have been unrealistic but I think we are not in the 1960s anymore. It does not matter here. The idea behind this whole project is still if it is possible to create a “Solo in the Spotlight” for Francie, not the question if it is a realistic dress or not.
I have not made much videos about Francie in the last two months. The reason was that I had problems to find a tlc Francie for this project. I came across a body without a head and then suddenly there was a perfect Francie offered, perfect for this project. The seller said she was tlc but even tlc is not for free. I bought her.
Some days later she arrived in her parcel. I must say I expected her in a shape worser than you can imagine but this was not the case. In fact I see her potential. Yes, this doll is almost in her 60s but does it stop me to repair her? The answer is no. I sometimes really enjoy these bigger projects where you can use a lot of creativity to restore them.
As I already mentioned in my last repaint video I don’t recommend you to start without the correct material ( link http://barbie.final-memory.org/what-you-need-for-a-good-barbie-repaint/ ). Buy everything you need for the project in advance or simply have it at home when you plan your project. It’s good when you have a time schedule in advance. For making this video I needed at least 2 weeks. It’s not the pure time you need but you need to consider that things like hairs have to dry at least for 24 hours when you want them to be dry for your next step.
I also have a little endoscopic camera for my projects so you can think of buying one before you start ( if you want to work with one). Then arrange to have the hair at home. I know this may sound weird but I prefer to have a big box with hair at home before I do anything. This gives me a creative feeling. I need some positive vibes before I start. In my case this vibe is created when I can have a look into my hair storage or my acrylic paint storarge or my brush glas. I have all my brushes in one glas. I think it’s a handy dandy way to start. Have everything at home before you start.
Before I actually started with my video I made a plan how to start what to show, what to do at first, what to do next and so on. I wanted to have some logical steps in a plan before I started to film. So I could make sure that nothing was forgotten.
I my case I started with the head but as you can imagine I wanted to have a look into her head before I started to reroot her. This was a kind of safety insurance not to expect anything unexpected. I checked the pattern of hair in her head way before I started to reroot. When you see there is a destroyed pattern in the head you have to repair it before you can replace missing streaks. Then continue with the hair. After having inserted the new steaks you have to flatten the new streaks.
For this you need at least a day for the drying. Good. After that you can cut the hair. I recommend combing the hair before you cut it. Use a good pair of suitable scissors. I have a professional pair of scissors for cutting hair but it’s for right handers, not lefties. That’s why I use my pair of embroidery scissors here. Works.
After cutting you can curl if you want to. I did this in my case to have the hair out of the way for the repaint. So I used the hot and cold bath method for the curlers and started one day later with the repaint. Before doing the repaint I put my brushes and colors on my desk and prepared my wet palette. After finishing the repaint I waited 24 hours before I used my sealer. After another day I took her curlers out, finished the styling and prepared everything for the final scenes.
You see it’s a lot of work. Being well prepared is never a mistake.
I know I should have written more about this project in the last months but time was short. That’s at least why I’m writing now. I started in the begin of 2020 with this project and did not finish it until now. But be assured now the project is finished. I finally found a solution for the design of this dress and it fits Francie perfectly. I only have to adjust some little pieces to make the cut perfect.
Nevertheless that’s what I plan to do in 2022. We still all need goals for 2022, don’t we?
Here’s a link to the video of the final version that I did recently.
Why lasted this project so long
Well, I admit I had problems to find the perfect top measurements for Francie for a long time. I did several drafts for Francie but I missunderstood what I was doing there. I’m really sorry for the delay but I found a solution in the last months. There’s a little channel on youtube showing you the basics for designing clothes for Barbie dolls and I used the knowledge and transferred the knowledge for Francie. That’s how I found my mistakes and re-drafted my designs. Furthermore was I lucky enough to find more pictures of the original dress to study the design. I thought I had understand the design and then saw another mistake. I oversaw that the design had a cummerbund which is not really visible in the original dress. It’s hidden under a ribbon. That’s one of the thing causing problems. Another one was adjusting the design. I had a perfect top by the end of the summer but I misunderstood the cummerbund. That made me re-draft the whole top. I needed several nights to find the correct idea. Then attaching the cummerbund caused unseen problems but I finally also found a solution for this problem. The easiest part of the whole project was the skirt with my ruffler.
Things I have learned from this project
No matter how long this project lasted I learned several things from my mistakes. The biggest learning effect had my design itself on me. I learned a complete new method how to make the body measurements for a doll. It’s really easy and really simple to use. I can only recommend this method. It made me understand what I was doing. After understanding this method I made really progress with my designs. I made several designs for tops, skirts, a jacket which are still in prototype stadium but the next year will bring us new projects and we can finish what we started in 2020 and in 2021.