How to make a pair of shorts for a fashion doll

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.

A prototype pair of shorts for Francie

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.

Francie doll, Francie Fairchild, Mod Francie, Barbie's cousin
Francie with different patterns in different lengths

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.

A pair of pants made by Busy B from Germany

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.

Measuring Francie for the pattern

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.

Fashions for Francie doll – here’s what she has 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,

Francie in a-line skirt, own design

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.

Francie in self designed pants and JE dress top

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.

Francie in self designed top and skirt

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/

Francie and her Let’s Dance dress

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.

Time for doing some prototype tops

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 Japanese Exclusive 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

Prototype of the Francie dress

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.

Oh my god, it’s already April?

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?

Barbie Francie doll, the cousin of Barbie Francie Fairchild

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.

Short update for pattern making friends

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.

An incredible fabric haul success story

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.

My find at the fabric store

Why my new sewing machine Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 is the secret ingredient

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.

Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0

Barbie Cool Trends Fashion Designer 1996/1997

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.

Barbie Design Set for children

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.