Saturday, January 14, 2017

DIY Barbie, Ken, Kelly/Chelsea Clothes

Baby it's Cold Outside!

We live in snowy, freezing Chicagoland. I know Barbie, Ken and the sisters must all live in California because most of the factory made clothing is made from very little material-it must be HOT wherever they come from.

So short of paying huge vintage prices for the few pieces of winter wear available on the internet---Mattel issues winter clothing---seldom if at all, I decided to make some winter clothes to fill in the doll wardrobes for the reality play the Grand likes to play.

I learned how to sew in the 1950s making clothes for my Barbie 11 1/2", Ginny 8" and Sweet Sue 18"
dolls. So, now that I'm retired I thought I would give it a try.

The Grand announced not too long ago, when we were attempting to dress the dolls for going outside in Fall, that these three----couldn't leave the dollhouse because they had no panties. So first on the list was some underwear for those naked girls.

TIP: I use beading elastic cord for small elastic for the panties and bra top. It comes in lots of colors and widths and can be bought cheaply in the craft departments or Dollar Stores.

TIP: The flourescent elastic came from a multipack of hair accessories from the Dollar Store. Fancy elastics are expensive when you can find them in a fabric store.

Today's sewing patterns are very expensive. I had started with the middle one-McCalls 6258 which is still available, that has workout clothes and the requisite ballgown---we all go to balls, everyday-right?

I looked online for underwear patterns and finally bought a CD with multiple 1950-70's vintage patterns that had been re-printed on the CD. Scaled to size---vintage Barbie patterns fit the vintage dolls, the newer dolls have slight changes which are easy enough to adapt to. I paid under $14.00 for over 25 patterns for Barbie, Ken, Kelly and accessories.

Sources for CD and PDF download vintage patterns can be found in many shops on ETSY.

Upside, many of the 50's-70's fashions have a bit more coverage than today's basic Barbie wardrobe. Eyeball the McCalls 2580 pattern above and the bikini, View H---which I used for undies and the top. Far more coverage than todays's Barbie clothes which is perfect for a 4 year old. Last Easter I made nightgowns from the nightgown pattern...very simple and easily adjusted with today's fabrics and colors such as the leopard print I used on the green nightie.
Skipper/Kelly  is a 9" little sister of Barbie. She has very few clothes available anywhere. Digging in my remnants, I found some very fine pinwale corduroy in cranberry which goes so well with pink. I made a felt circle skirt---easy-peasy--this could be done by hand as only one seam and sewing the waistband on and a bit of velcro.
Here is McCalls 7761 Vintage pattern--one of the 4 Kelly/Skipper patterns I got in my CD selection. I completely lined the coat, and made a loop and button closure. 

TIP: Kelly's clothes should all be made with an open back with velcro---her arms are very rigid. 

TIP: Velcro---use the smaller weight you can find---trim the hard plastic edges off the velcro hook and eye sides. cut the 3/4" wide velcro in half --it will be more flexible and soft to work with. 
Kelly's tee-shirt is made from fine interlock knit used for sleepwear, white tee-shirt and panties are trimmed with lace. 

Jeans are made with stretch denim (softer than regular denim) from a remnant from other projects. The purses are made from felt, these can be hand or machine sewn. Great project for little fingers too.
Also made a pair of cranberry slacks which goes with the other pieces.

Add caption

Vintage purse from vintage McCalls 6901

This Kelly doll is quite cute and she is a few years old, and bought at a thrift store. Her hair is crazy and we keep it in a rubber band. 

Now big Sis wants to play in the snow too. She also need a few coats.
The vintage pattern on the right is Butterick 3317

Butterick 3317 which has ski wear and car coats for Barbie and Ken. 

This is the car coat pattern which is a little longer with a hood. The snazzy metallic suede was 12.99 a yard, bought on a sale for 6.50 a yard, and I bought 1/4 yard = 9" by 60", I think it came to like $1.80. It is self lined with a tricot finish and doesn't unravel, ideal for doll clothes.
 I'm going to try pants and skirt, maybe a nice shell top also. 
I have some fur jackets cut out that aren't completed yet.

Cranberry car coat with hood, comes from the current McCall's 6258
The Siberian fur vest---is really adapted from the short hoodie McCall 6258 and completely lined with a pink silky polyester. No closures are needed, the fabric is stiff enough to stay on Barbie and looks great over her faux turtleneck top, thin interlock knit, which is velcro-ed up the back. 

TIP: Vintage Barbie patterns have deep darts, for the larger bust-almost 1" difference from today's Barbie,  simply make the darts less and adjust the length of the piece to match back pieces. You may have to take the back in a bit to get a snug fit. I make most the Barbie clothes looser and useable for all and less frustrating for the Grand.

This is a late 1990's an articulated Barbie---and this is just her style. She has the larger waist and smaller bust, but thin legs of the original. Today's Barbie is not quite as curvaceous and has a more athletic build.
Pretty cool, wouldn't you say?

Cost on this was a fur piece from a craft store for 1.99 or 1.84 not sure. Lining I already have. And there is enough to make hats, and a vest for Kelly yet.

I bought a unused cotton knit ski hat at a thrift store for 50 cents on sale.
Tips working with thick knits---overcast all the edges to stabilize the fabric. (Lots of work). This knit has all the threads looped across the back---which gets tangled in the dolls' fingers. Next time I may line something like this, or choose a knit without threads loose on the backside
TIP: Always make Ken's clothes with velcro completely down the back---He is so rigid, short of ripping his head and arms off for dressing, he is well...wooden. I have been looking for a 'cheap' articulated Ken---but so far no luck under OODLES of dollars.

Because the Ken patterns are far and few between, I searched the internet for free doll patterns for Ken. This original design which is what I adapted for the sweaters came from
She makes lots of unusual patterns for all types of doll's and they are free and easy to download. I adapted a similar pattern for Barbie
I skipped the collar on this sweater for Ken, because 
I forgot to allow extra overlap for the back for velcro. I threaded beading elastic through the knit at the neck.

Barbie got the collar, but I had to add beading elastic, to tighten it up. The loose weave stretched under the pressure of the sewing machine foot. Barbie got a hat out of the smudge that was left over. Two sweaters and a hat for 50 cents and some thread and elastic.

So now our dolls' can go play in the snow---or at least pretend to. We try to play reality based activities. Dress up parties are birthday parties, not Balls or Formals. And the Kens rarely get dressed up---lol, much like real life. (Although he does have tuxedos and several jackets).

Ken needed something that wasn't a suit coat or trench coat---he's an athletic guy---with more muscles than the original Ken. So you need to watch your measurements on vintage patterns. Upside, vintage patterns are cut baggy compared to today's standards.
The striped sleeve sweatshirt and hoodie were made from an old hoodie, I had basically wrecked with paint and house stain. I used snaps for the closures. Barbie size zippers are available, but are over two dollars each for 3" and a jacket zipper is over $5.00.

 I used a bit of elastic in the bottom and sleeves.
The fabric has been washed so many times-most of the fleece is gone on the inside, making this pretty good weight for the dolls.

This is my stash of Barbie Dolls patterns and projects. I keep them in document sleeves with the picture on the from. Cutout patterns and fabric are in sleeves with directions and all the small pieces. 
Most all pattern pieces have the maker/number on them---or I put them on. 
This bit of organization is very helpful. 

I can't recommend enough investing in pdf vintage patterns usually for under $3.00 
each or a CD with many patterns on it. 
 I have purchased regular tissue vintage patterns and most have had many pieces missing. 
This has been a very thrifty project, and now that I'm organized, it will be easier to make more clothes for the whole crowd of Barbies, Kens, and Kelly we have living here and at the Grands.

Now, I think our dolls need to have a snowball fight...what? no mittens yet?

Thanks always for visiting. 
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own or sourced.  I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

I will be sharing at these fine Parties!



  1. Happy Grands. What a good way to get the old vintage patterns, who knew that they were put on a CD.

    1. Hi Joy...the only downside on the patterns is having to print them up --but you get a nice clear print on paper that lasts and can be reused. The vintage tissue patterns in such small pieces get chewed up really fast. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi

  2. Wow. What super outfits. You have done a brilliant job in fashioning these clothes. I can't imagine stitching those tiny panties and bra!! Your grands are going to be ecstatic at all this high fashion!!

    1. thanks so much Kim, sorry to be 4 years too late! Sandi

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  4. Sandi, you are quite a seamstress! Your grandkids are very lucky. In the late 50's, my mother made me some of my barbie outfits. It's amazing they have a CD out now.
    Hugs, Jody ♥

    1. With todays knits, they are easy. I have terrible arthritis in my fingers, so doing some things is tricky. But choosing from so many patterns, I can pick which will be the easiest to sew. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi

  5. I do love those vintage patterns and your creations are really quite something. Lucky little girls. I still have a couple of Barbie outfits from the late 50s but I wish I had the whole shebang back!

    1. Ah Jeanie. I still have my 1959-60 Barbie I received on my 12th birthday. She's a no.2 and probably worth at least 3k. I'm going to simply hang onto her, unless there is a catastrophe around here. But we were so strapped for funds, all her clothes were handmade as the Barbie clothes kits cost as much as clothes for me to wear to school. Anyway, my fondest memories are of 5 little girls sitting under the neighbors carport playing dolls. And we all sewed for them. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi

  6. You are definitely a talented seamstress to make this fabulous doll outfits! Your post brought back sweet memories of play with Barbie dolls and loving the dress-up! It was so much fun to see the old patterns! Thoroughly enjoyed this sweet post!

    1. Thanks so much Pam. I think that is one universal thing, we all have in common from the 50-60's. Because everyone had a Barbie. Now they are tossed into the thrift store bins...for a $1. Which I don't understand. That's how we have so many here. I can't pass up a fully jointed Barbie...under $2.00. LOL. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi

  7. I learned to sew the very same way! But I had so much more patience when I was twelve. Hahah! Your granddaughter is so lucky! But I can plainly see that she is not the only one having fun.

    1. UM, that was what my hubby said, as we added a second DREAM HOUSE to the extra bedroom. It only cost 7.99---+ the IKEA cabinet we had to get to put it on---LOL. PS, my son bought the second dollhouse for the "Grand" (Ma!), lol. Thanks for stopping by, Sandi

  8. Oh my gosh you're an awesome grandma! Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story, have a great week.

    1. Thanks so much, we are having lots of fun. The stories she makes up with the dolls are way worth it, Sandi

  9. Oh my Sandi, this is taking me back. I remember sewing them for our oldest girl. I think they are a bit difficult. Especially the smaller items. You did a great job! Also, when I was in jr. high, two high school girls down the road would make and sell the most fabulous Barbie clothes. We would save up and walk down to their house and buy them. I gifted mine to a niece when I was in high school, but my older sis has all of hers. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Wow, missed your comment, thanks Jann...miss you! Sandi


Thank you for any and all comments. I will be happy to answer any questions or comments in replies or email! HUGS!