Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simplicity 8281, a 1970s Barbie wardrobe with pics and tips for sewing Barbie doll clothes

Barbie Doll Clothing sewing using Simplicity 8281, c. 1977 and Simplicity 7073, c. 2002

Traditions. Holidays are ripe with them and in my family that means handmade clothes for Barbie dolls. 

A little background. I began sewing those tiny little outfits in my teens and had a successful little business by the time I was 14.  My younger sisters were recipients of my handmade creations. When my daughter came along I had one more little girl to give my handmade doll clothing to.  Soon there were nieces, who also received gifts of handmade doll clothing. The part-time business continued to thrive and the gift tradition continued.

And then everyone grew up.  And the Barbie dolls were packed away.  Until this year.

I now have a three-year-old great niece (I know, right? I'm much too young for that!) and discovered this past week that she likes playing with Barbie dolls!  

So you know what that means!  I get to sew doll clothing again!  Yay me!

I spent a few hours this morning sewing a few simple outfits using Simplicity 8281 from 1977, a well loved pattern.

TIP: I used quilting cottons, which have great prints, press easily and are durable for little hands. 

TIP: Snaps are nice, but I choose to use narrow Velcro strips sewn securely in place to make it easy for little fingers to put the garments on and off of the doll.

TIP: Your not limited to tiny prints when sewing for 11-1/2" fashion dolls.  Just choose a design with minimal seams to show off the print, but don't choose a print that overpowers your doll.

TIP:  Not all dolls are created equal.  If possible, try the bodice on the doll before finishing seams so you can make necessary adjustments. In this example, I cut about 3/8" from the top edge.

TIP:  Stay stitch and clip curves.  It seems like an unnecessary step, but it will be easier for you to manipulate those little seams to match if you do this. 

TIP: Press, press, press!  Yep, even on tiny garments you'll get better results if you press seams open and turn tiny hems to the wrong side twice.

TIP: When using a fabric that ravels, use prepackaged bias tape as a hem tape.  Stitch with right sides together using a 1/4" seam allowance, turn to the wrong side and top stitch in place. You could hem by hand too if you prefer that look.

TIP: Use Seams Great as a facing for necklines, armholes and waistbands.  It's lightweight and bias. It's easier to finish the tiny curves instead of turning under, pressing and stitching.  Be sure to clip curves and use a press cloth on the Seams Great as it will melt under a hot iron. Edge stitch on the right side to finish.

And there you have it - a few more tips for successfully sewing your own tiny doll clothing.

Check these posts for more tips:  Part 1 and Part 2

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  1. You are a saint. My grandmother made clothes for my Barbie and yes, she too was a saint :)

  2. Oh my, such gorgeous tiny little things! How fun to resurrect doing something you loved doing!

  3. Rhonda is right. Such tiny pieces. And so pretty!



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