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.

How to remove stains from Francie dress

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.

Francie’s First Formal with stains

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.

Francie’s First Formal before the boost procedure

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.

Francie’s First Formal in boost
Francie’s First Formal after 12 hours in boost

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/

How to change a fashion doll arm

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.

Vintage Barbie arm with joint

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 hope it is clearer to you now how to change a fashion doll arm and you know what to look for and what to avoid. If you want to read more about my Francie project have a look in this article http://barbie.final-memory.org/francie-and-how-to-restore-her

A “Solo in the Spotlight” for Francie?

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.

In the last year I created a lot of easy clothes for Francie, the cousin of Barbie. In January I had the idea to make something like a “Solo in the Spotlight” for Francie. It’s a night club gown. I don’t have this dress yet so I give you a link that you know what I’m talking about. https://www.fashion-doll-guide.com/Vintage-Barbie-Solo-In-The-Spotlight.html

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.

A “Solo in the Spotlight” for Francie

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.

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.