I know I haven’t posted anything doll related in the last weeks because I had not much to tell but yesterday I finally came across some time for my latest sewing project. I did show how to do the prototyping for a JapaneseExclusive top in the last weeks but I only showed how to do the pattern itself, not how to sew the top because I wanted to cover this in another video together with the tiny Peter Pan collar and the skirt.
You can see the first part of the pattern making here
but like mentioned above it’s only the first part of a journey how to come to the full dress. I must say the first try was good so far. I still have to do small improvements here and there under the arms because the arm holes are hard to do in a perfect way when you just did your first draft.
So anyway, I would like to show you the first result here
I plan to do more prototypes in the next weeks especially one with the Peter Pan collar. So stay tunes in. The project will be continued as soon as I have two hours time for my sewing machine.
I know I haven’t been posting here for the last 7 weeks. I had some time problems with my time-schedule. Doing more sewing videos needed more time to edit and cut and I underestimated this fact somehow.
It’s not that I’m not willing to learn how to do it better but this was somehow different from what I planned. You know you have sometimes great ideas and when it comes to put things into reality then there are some “minor” problems.
That’s not what you want. That’s not what I want but I had to deal with it. For one of my videos I had too much light, another one had a bad tone.
The tone problem could be solved by doing it again. The light problem could be fixed with a little help of DaVinci Resolve but I’m far from perfect. Knowing something about grouping is also very helpful. I only knew I had known it earlier. I know it’s already April and I haven’t posted any for almost two months. Please forgive me but after work I drafted for days and days to get the pattern right. It was not cooperative at the beginning.
I think there are lots possibilities for Francie because there are a lot less fashions for her than for Barbie. So if the demand is high enough the chances are good that you can get more videos about Francie. What do you think? Would you like some more Francie videos?
Christmas is over now but is this the best reason to say we have to wait until next year to sew a Xmas skirt for Francie? My answer is no and I can explain you why. In December 2020 I saw the fabric you can see below in the little video. I saw it and I thought it would make a perfect dress, skirt or top for Barbie doll or a family member like Francie.Francie is the cousin of Barbie doll, sold from the mid 1960s until the mid 1970s. Do I have to mention that she is still a very popular member of the Barbie family? When you’re into Vintage & Mod Barbie collecting then I guess I don’t have to.
Maybe it’s useful to explain it to the other side of my readers here. Although Francie doll is a very early member of the Barbie doll family she is still very popular among the children from back then, now being grandmas. Designed to be a bit younger than Barbie and more adolescent than Skipper doll Francie was designed to be approx. 15 years old with a little bit more breast than Skipper but less than Barbie has.
Seen from a marketing point of view and keeping in mind that the wild 60s in London, GB were such an influence that it was hard to ignore in general. Maybe this idea was the starting point why Francie doll was released in 1966. This was also a big opportunity to hop on the train because the fashion of Barbie was rather 50s like, classical, conservative, not hip. That’s the point where Francie could help. With her sling body she could wear hip mini-dresses, short skirts and tight things that Barbie was a little bit too old for.
When I made my first contact with Barbie Francie was out of production for a long time, almost 25 years but I immediately liked her when I got into collecting in the mid 1990s ( and yeah, she was affordable back then) but she was not my main focus point. I rather wanted to collect Barbie. The interest in collecting Francie was there from the first minute. After collecting for 10 years I found a Francie on a flea market with almost no clothing but her bathing suit. For a long time she had to wear it. In the last years she got another outfit but hey, believe it or not but I think the original clothes are hard to find and even expensive. Why not designing your own clothes for Francie? With this idea in mind this video is the logical conclusion of it. So here we are doing our own clothes for Francie when the original ones are too expensive.
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.
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.
When I was ten I saw the Fashion Designer for Barbie doll. I loved to see the fashion for Barbie in the stores when I was younger than 10. I had my problems to choose one of the fashions I had in my hands. I always wanted to have all of them. This was seldom possible. Fashions were expensive in Germany. I liked the idea to design own clothes for Barbie but I was never able to do it in my childhood. In search of new sewing patterns the Cool Trends Fashion Designer came into my mind several weeks ago. Two or three weeks ago I won an auction. I got it for an incredible price. In the envelope was more than I expected. Even the textile paper was there and it has never been opened.
The reason I bought it was the chance to get new patterns. The fashion patterns themselves are saved as .bfd – files. I have been looking around to find a program for convert or open the stuff. The format seems to be so obscure that you find nothing about it online. I have an old PC where I could install the software without problems. The only solution I found for getting the sewing patterns was to print them directly. I have the chance to use several printers. One of them did print the pattern. So I was able to try the patterns. They are printed in the right size but you get no measures and no description about the number of pieces of paper that you need for one specific outfit nor where to put the second or third part it. I think I have to guess in the next weeks and just try my best.
Maybe some of you wanted to create own Vintage Barbie dresses (Vintage era from 1959 – 1966) but have no idea how to. Well, I had a similar problem last year and I solved my problem. The solution is easy. You can find the right patterns online. You just have to know where. I found an incredible fabric last autumn for which I had 1000 ideas what to do with it. I decided to do a copy of the “Let’s dance” dress from 1960. Here’s how I did it.
Behind the scenes I try to figure out how Vintage Barbie clothes (Vintage era from 1959 – 1966) were made. I’m especially interested the patterns for the fabric. How can I turn a piece of fabric into a piece of clothing. I want to design own clothes in the Vintage style later but at first I have to understand how the patterns are made and the result I get when I follow sewing instructions.
It’s not as easy as you might imagine. I have to deal with many different problems. Especially the body forms of early Barbie dolls seem to be one of my main problems. At first I thought they were all the same size but they aren’t. Although they seem to be the same size they aren’t and that’s a big problem when you don’t know it. Then you can’t adjust the pattern to the body. For example that’s my result when I tried to sew a blouse.
As you can see here the blouse seems to be to tight for the Midge/Bubblecut body I used here. Obviously the breasts are larger than it seems. I haven’t really measured until now but fellow collectors told me that the first Ponytail Barbie bodies are smaller/ the measures are different. That’s very interesting and a good thing to know. By the way it’s no problem that the blouse is to tight. I thought that I might get problems like these. I made it just for reasons of learning.
Last year I wanted to buy a Let’s dance Vintage Barbie dress but most of the sellers refused to ship to Europe. So what kind of idea came into my mind? If I can’t buy one, why not do my own copy? I found a seller who recreated the pattern and bought it.
Two weeks ago I was able to start my work and within a few days I had my own version. It’s very similar in comparison to the real Let’s dance Vintage dress. Here are some pics of my version…
Finally I found the real Let’s Dance. Another collector from Europe had one left over.