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 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.
Many among my viewers are big Francie fans and some of them have No Bangs Francies but not all of them do. That’s sad somehow but for the ones that don’t have any No Bangs Francie I have found a solution.
I have no No Bangs Francie and the prices exploded over the last years. I did not buy any of them but two years ago I got a Francie head, a former brunette and I immediately had the idea to make her a No Bangs Francie but I found no good body for her. I had problems until September of 2021 and then suddenly found one which was shipped to me from overseas.
After vacaction and other time consuming projects I began to work on this project a month ago. I rerooted the whole head over the incredible amount of nine working days and continued with my styling process.
Can you really duplicate a No Bangs Francie style? I would say that it’s possible but you have to have a lot of patience and a lot of imagination because I had no instruction how to finish this project. All I did was just to play around with my new steamer and cut the hair later. You want to see the result?
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.