Tag Archives: handmade barbie clothes

How to Sew A Fifties Style Bikini For Your Doll In Under an Hour

29 Jan


I hate sewing from patterns. I do it sometimes, but it makes me irritable. I make up nearly everything I sew as I go along, which is much more fun. I do this by sewing on the doll, which means know it fits so I`m not wasting my time.

I`ve been promising to write about this for quite some time. I`ve had so many projects on the go and sewing is so time consuming, sewing something specially to show how to sew something kept getting shoved to the bottom of the pile. Plus, its not rocket science or anything. I was going to show you the first thing I worked out for myself – making a bikini top – but its so easy I kind of thought, what`s the point? So I had a re-think and I decided to show you how to make a whole bikini instead – I made this one in under an hour, and that included stopping to take pictures. I love pin-up style and normal barbie bikinis are ten a penny, so I thought I would show you how to make the sort of bikini my Mother used to wear on the beach with cats eye frame glasses in the 50s (honestly, she did).

You will need:

* A doll with the body type you are sewing for. It doesn`t have to be a Barbie. Just beware – the needle can end up scratching her, so if you`re fussy about these things, use a stand-in. I am using 7 Days of Style Lea, which worked out well because of her resemblance to Betty Page.
* A good pair of sewing scissors
* A teeshirt you don`t need (no large prints and not too old and bobbly – on a small scale, wear shows up more). Make sure the material is nice and stretchy and the tighter the weave, the better. I used an old sports shirt which had obviously been worn maybe once, which I picked up for about 50p from a charity shop.
* Thread that matches your material as closely as possible.
* A needle (!) and a few pins.
* Two sets of snap fasteners, or poppers.
* I also used some tiny 4mm buttons, but if you haven`t got any you could use sequins, or little bows.

1. Cut a piece of material from the sleeve of your teeshirt (see picture one). One side should be the hem on the edge of the sleeve. This piece should be wide enough to go round your doll`s hips, leaving you somewhere between 2 and 3 cms over. It should be twice as long as the area from the top of your doll`s thigh to just below her belly button, and 2 or 3 cms over. Don`t worry if its a bit messy or uneven. If its really slanted, you might want to fold it into a triangle so you can cut off the excess on one side to make it more rectangular.


2. Snip off the factory sewn hem of the sleeve. Cut CLOSE TO but NOT OVER the stitching (see picture two). Put the sewn hem to one side, you will need it later.


3. Fold your remaining material in half (see picture two) so that the double fabric is now as long as the area from the top of your doll`s thigh to just below her belly button (it might not come up this far now the hem isn`t on any more, actually). MAKE SURE THE “RIGHT SIDE” (the side of the fabric you want the world to see when the outfit is finished) IS ON THE INSIDE OF THE FOLDED MATERIAL. You should be sewing on the wrong side now. Sew the loose ends of the fabric, opposite the fold, together. Just sew a line parallel to the edge, you don`t need to be really neat and you don`t need to bind the edges together. You should now have a tube. Turn it inside out again (so you can see the “right side” of the fabric).

4. Flatten the tube down and make sure the seam is at the top edge, nice and neat. Wrap it round your doll (it should be long enough to do this with a little bit spare, remember?). Don`t pull it so tight it would be hard to get it off the doll, but make sure it is nice and snug. If it gapes a bit at the top where her waist starts to curve inwards, don`t worry. When you feel you have got the fabric tension right, insert a pin into the bottom two thirds(see picture three). Make sure the pin is secure, as you now have to take it off the doll to sew it up (or if you`re feeling very lazy or particularly worried about the fit, you could just sew it up while its still on her).


5. Once you have sewn up the bottom two thirds, take out the pin. Now snip the unsewn hem of the top third away, up to the line of the stitches. Then, sew over the top of the seam on each side, so that there is no longer a hole into the fabric (see picture four) If you prefer (and depending on the material you have chosen, it might look neater) you can just make a horizontal cut so that you can turn the fabric in and make a hem on each side of the top third, but I prefer to do it the former way to make the fabric lie as flat as possible at the back. It should look OK, as long as your thread colour is a good match.


6. Now turn the tube inside out again and put it back on your doll. You should now have a sort of very short tight skirt, which is open at the back.

6. Turn your attention back to the machine-sewn hem of the sleeve, which you set aside at the start. Make sure that where you cut CLOSE TO but not ACROSS the edge of the stitches is nice and neat. Hold the hem short end up and tuck it up the front of the doll`s skirt, so that the top edge is level with the middle top edge of the skirt. Now, you can either pin it there, or sew it in place while still on the doll (see picture five). Make sure you only sew through ONE thickness of fabric, so the securing stitches are not visible from the outide of the knickers.


7. Now feed the machine-sewn hem through the doll`s legs to make the crotch of the knickers. Tuck it up past her bum, and just before it meets the gap where you left the top third open, pin it in place (see picture six). Make sure it fits closely between the legs, then take it off the doll, being careful not to disturb the pin.


8. Where you have put the pin, sew the machine-sewn hem to the back of the knickers. Again, make sure you only sew through one thickness of material. Snip off the excess machine-sewn hem, which will be sticking out of the top of the back. Don`t throw this excess bit away!

9. Use your last bit of the factory-sewn hem to go round the thinnest part of Barbie`s waist, just above her belly button. Check it fits, with an overlap big enough to attach a popper. I was lucky in this because I was using very stretchy material, so it just made it – depending on the fabric you are using, you might need to go back and steal a longer bit from the sleeve of your teeshirt. Remember it should be nice and snug round her waist, though.

10. Sew up the short ends (you can make a little hem, or just close the hole as before). Attach poppers – position them closer to the edge where the fabric is folded over, as the edge where the rows of stitches are (where you cut it away from the rest of the fabric) is going to be at the bottom of the waistband. Remember, the male and female parts of the popper need to go on different sides at the ends(see picture seven). Experienced sewers are probably rolling round laughing at all this by now, ao I`ll just tell you anyway – I`ve lost count of the number of times I`ve sewed the poppers on the same side then had to go back to unpick one of them. Depressing. Anyway, now fasten the waistband round Barbie`s waist. If she hasn`t got the rest of the knickers on, put them on.



11. Now, you`re going to need to sew the waistband to the rest of the knickers (see picture eight). Make sure you sew so that the top seam is just inside the waistband.


12. Your knickers are finished! You just need to make them look a bit nicer. Weave your threaded needle in and out in a line upwards, just inside her hip on each side. Pull the thread tight to wrinkle the fabric. This creates the rouched effect that was so popular around this time for hiding a little tummy (and if your doll is skinny like a Barbie, it makes her look a little more curvy). I also added some micro-buttons in rows on the waistband, but I think little bows, or just some piping round the waistband about halfway up, would also look good.

13. To make the top: cut another piece of material from your teeshirt, big enough to go round your doll`s boobs and overlap at the back by 2-3 cms again (see picture nine). It should be deep enough to cover her boobs comfortably AND as deep again, because we are going to make another tube with it.


14. Turn the material wrong side out, and start stitching again. When you have a tube, turn it inside out (for thinner tubes, I find it is handy to push it through on the point of your closed scissors). Check it goes round her OK. Hem up the short ends. Attach poppers to each side (on on the front and one on the back!)


15. With the bra on the doll, create a rouche in the middle by weaving your threaded needle in and out then pulling the thread tight again. Finished!



So, there you are – if you gave it a go, I hope you like it (let me know). At some point, I will show you how to make a fitted sheath dress quickly and easily, without a pattern.


Renovation of Skipper

9 Jan

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, recently we found a bag of old dolls in the loft, mostly dating from the early 90s (some of them date from quite a bit earlier so I assume they were hand-me-downs). A few of these dolls were instantly very promising, and I could see potential in a lot of the others. Not so Skipper.

I nearly got rid of Skipper instantly. I like the idea of having an age range in my doll collection, but most of these 90s dolls were much too sugary and sentimental for my taste. Additionally, she had been roughly beheaded. I could hear the securing mechanism rattling round in her head, and when this happens its usually “game over” for the body in question (I`m sure some clever clogs has figured out how to overcome this, but if so Ive not read about it).

However, I started to think about what it is that turns me cold about these dolls. I decided it was the sheepdog fringe. This fringe absolutely horrifies me. It didn`t ever suit anybody, although it was practically compulsory to have one in the early 90s. It certainly doesn`t suit a child doll who is meant to be – what? – surely under thirteen? So I decided to experiment on the busted Skipper, to see if getting rid of the hideous fringe would make me feel better disposed towards her. Here she is before her haircut, while I was conditioning her hair:


Getting rid of a sheepdog fringe is problematic. The hairline is strangely and rather randomly rooted on these dolls, and when the fringe is flattened (it took me two boil washes to do it, by the way) this means that some areas look a bit bald. As this Skipper was rooted to have a ponytail, I swept it back into a sort of 60s bouffant and added a ribbon headband to disguise this – I think it worked out OK. I also trimmed the fringe down with nail scissors and gave it a slight sweep to the side.

I found that yes, this did make me feel happier with her, so much so that I decided to make her a dress too. The dress took me a long time; I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from the start, and stubbornly plowed on with it even though I had to re-do the sleeves (New year`s resolution – make dresses with sleeves!) about seven times because I`m still not using patterns and I found it hard to work out. I got there in the end, although the shoulders are a bit ratty from all the unpicking. By the way, when I got to the end I noticed that actually, I had sewed the sleeves on upside down (with the seam at the top) but I couldn`t bring myself to do it again. As I don`t have any skipper-size shoes (is it me, or do HSM dolls on eBay go for much more money if they have shoes on?)I did start making her some sandals, but stalled after the first one. I do want to make more Skipper-size outfits, so maybe I`ll go back to it one day. Anyway, here she is after her revamp:





I`m going to keep her now. At the moment, her head is perched precariously on top of her body, which means she`s not very poseable, so I`m planning on rebodying her to a HSM body when I can get hold of one.

ADDITIONAL: I got my HSM doll body and found that it was significantly bigger than the old Skipper body. Her childish head looks completely wrong on it, so its back to the broken body for the moment, and back to the drawing board too …

Cali Girl Lea V Gloomy January

6 Jan

Here`s a pic of my Cali Girl Lea wearing a simple, colourful dress I got cheap from an eBay seller. I`ve also given her some (temporary) coloured streaks, which are human-size coloured hair extensions cut to fit and sewed into her own hair.


I`ve had a great week getting a few of my projects finished during some time off work. Coming up this month – I`ve got some lovely Christmas presents to share with you, some renovations (we found a bin bag in the loft stuffed with old dolls – I couldn`t believe my luck) some sewing and loads of other stuff. Much as I enjoyed running two sets of themed posts in a row, after nearly six weeks I`m looking forward to pretty much doing what I want, when I feel like it again for a while.

Ninth Day of Christmas – September

2 Jan

In September 2011, I:

* Considered My Scene Nolee:

My Scene Nolee doll

* Made some tops and used some vintage clothes:

So In Style in vintage and home-made fashion

* Found out when Cali Girl Barbie`s birthday is:

Cali Girlzine Barbie Biography

* Hand-sewed ten outfits for my Lea dolls:

Lea/ Kayla dolls in handmade white dresses

* (these were my favourites):
Two Kayla dolls in handmade shorts and teeshirts

Seventh Day of Christmas – July

31 Dec

In July 2001, I:

* Featured this Pre-Raphaelite pagan for the first time:

Secret spells kayla

* Played Cali Girl Uno:

Cali Girl Uno Card Set

* Got my first vintage sculpt doll:

Sixties Barbie reproduction

* Took this mermaid ….

Mermaid fantasy Kayla

* …. and gave her some legs:

Mermaid Fantasy Kayla re-bodied

* Took another of my favourite pictures:

barbie trixie speed racer

* Went on holiday:

Cali Boy Blaine and Cali Girl Lea go on holiday

* Made another dress:

Barbie in handmade dress

* Ripped off some 90s jeans ads:

Barbie Basics Jeans model 16 and model 5

* Had a great time restoring this Tori:

My Room Generation Girl Tori after restoration

Tori - after

Sixth Day Of Christmas – June

30 Dec

During June 2011, I:

* Discovered photo editing (duh):

* Became a bit of an egomaniac with my birthstone and zodiac sign barbies:

* Featured Kimora Lee Simmons Barbie, which got the blog a lot of hits (well, she`s gorgeous)

Kimora Lee Simmons Barbie

* Started to think more about how to structure a picture …

* … and to experiment more with effects and filters …

Barbie basics collection 2 model 14

* Had a picnic (in the rain, actually, although you can`t tell from the pictures)

So In Style Pastry dolls

* Took one of my favourite pictures:

Re-dressed Twilight Alice doll

* Was deeply irritated by Barbie Heidi`s painted-on underwear:

Heidi Klum barbie in underwear

* Found a Barbie with tan lines:

Sun Lovin Malibu PJ 1978

* Made my first handmade dress out of pink PVC:

Barbie Lea/ Kayla

* Fought Chandra`s corner (not that it made any difference):

Barbie So In Style Chandra

Christmas Eve Special Part One – Ballet Dolls

24 Dec

I should have got this post out last night, but due to the pre-Christmas madness, I didn’t get round to it. Therefore, tonight’s going to be a double-header … the sensible thing to do would have been to drop this post, as it meant sewing that I didn’t really have time for, but I did it anyway. So here’s my 1980s Prima Ballerina, and my two dancing princesses who are wearing handmade costumes …

Ballet dolls in handmade outfitsBallet dolls at ChristmasDancing Princesses Blair and EdelineDancing Princesses Blair and Edeline re-dressed