Barbie clothes

I loved Barbie as a kid, and I currently have a niece who also loves her. Although I am generally really bad at making small, fiddly things (exhibit A), I found some tutorials online that made it look fairly easy. Despite the warning voice in my head, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, starting with a very basic skirt. I went through my stash of fabric scraps and chose ones with small prints that might appeal to a little girl, then followed these instructions for my skirt. It came out a bit boxier than I wanted, so I tried shaping it a bit. Unfortunately, the result was a bit too small for Barbie.

Don't take it personally, Barbie. You look great.

Don’t take it personally, Barbie. We’ve all been there.

Defeated, I gave up for the day and decided Barbie couture was not for me. The next day, however, I returned to my sewing machine with renewed purpose and made two skirts that actually fit. They were seriously basic–just tubes of fabric with elastic–but good enough for me.


Although the instructions suggest serging the raw edges, I really didn’t feel like breaking out the serger for Barbie clothes. Instead I hemmed all the edges and used tiny French seams where appropriate.


Feeling more confident, I attempted this shirt. I did decided to use the serger on this, which made things much easier. This was fairly complicated and didn’t come out quite as well as the inspiration image, but it is passable.


At this point, I thought I should probably give up and be happy with three decent pieces in a row. But I really, really wanted to try this cute dress. Oh, and I wanted to make it in satin. You know, so Barbie would have something to wear to prom. I really did not have high hopes for this project, but I forged ahead, fearing that I was flying too close to the sun.

The result?


I am so pleased with how this turned out. It looks a bit better in person–the flash makes it look like it is bunching at the hem and for some reason the bodice looks a little lumpy. It actually fits really well. I generally followed the directions closely, though I lengthened the skirt by an inch to make it seem a bit more formal and skipped the topstitching where the skirt meets the bodice. I also sewed up most of the skirt in the back, leaving enough of an opening for Barbie to get into the dress.


The little matching bag is just a folded rectangle of fabric with a tiny ribbon loop for carrying. And with this, I am retiring from Barbie couture for the time being so as to preserve my sanity and give my seam ripper a rest.


Tiny books

We are settling into our new home, but we are definitely lacking some furnishings. In preparation for the move, most of our furniture and a good portion of our other stuff went to Goodwill, consignment, friends, family, and neighbors. Not only did we not want to move things 1000 miles across the country, but a lot of things that looked great in our 1910 bungalow did not fit the style or constricted floor plan of our new 1950s ranch. In a quest to find stuff for our house at affordable prices, we have started going to estate sales. This has become a problem. Not only have we not found anything I envisioned (I had dreams of finding a midcentury coffee table, a starburst mirror, or a record player console), but we have accumulated completely unnecessary (but awesome!) stuff, such as a concrete bust of Apollo and this, our most recent purchase:


Yes, a dollhouse. I don’t remember how much we paid for this thing–I do know it was 25% off and, no joke, the women running the estate sale applauded when we bought it. i am a sucker for anything miniature, and I just had to have it.

The dollhouse came with some furnishings, but I thought it would be lots of fun to make my own. I quickly found that there are lots of people out there who take dollhouse miniatures very seriously. After bookmarking a ton of sites, I decided to try my hand at these miniature books. They didn’t look so difficult, and I had all the materials at hand.

I began with the rather ambitious goal of making about a dozen little books for my dollhouse bookshelf, but, to make a long story short, I’ve discovered that I suck at miniature things. The first book wasn’t too bad–I used heavy paper for the cover and cut the pages out of an old booklet, so they were already glued together. However, you can see that my X-Acto blade wasn’t quite sharp enough so the page edges are a bit jagged.


When I tried a beautiful cloth-bound book like the one in the tutorial, though, things didn’t go as smoothly. My fabric, coated with glue, stuck to everything, so I resorted to covering it with waxed paper and bending it into shape with a ruler.


It still looked like it might come out okay, but when it dried and I peeled it from the paper, the corners were frayed and the binding was far from crisp. Yuck. Also, since I didn’t have any white glue, I used wood glue, which didn’t dry clear.


My fingers looked a bit worse for wear at the end of the project, too.


I gave up after just two books. So much for my little dollhouse library–books are pretty passé anyway, no?



Failed hats

I had an awesome plan for handmade gifts for my dad and brother. I was going to make some winter hats. They would be made of knit (old sweaters) and lined with fleece, and best of all, they would be reversible. They would be soft, super warm, and awesome. For the first hat, I got one of Jared’s hats and traced it to make a pattern, then cut the pattern from both materials–an old beige cardigan and some super-soft royal blue fleece. Each went together nicely and looked like a hat. So far so good.

Then, I sewed them together. I thought a zigzag stitch in royal blue would look nice. However, this was absolutely the wrong choice. I’m not sure what happened, exactly–I think I may have pulled the material too much when sewing–but the zigzag stitch flattened both materials and sort of stretched them out, giving the whole thing a scalloped edge that sort of looked like an old bonnet or ruffly sleeping cap. It was…pretty bad. See for yourself.


It gets even worse when reversed.



Fortunately, although I started this project the day before the family gift exchange, I did so early enough in the day that I had plenty of time to go shopping for real gifts.  The moral of the story: I’m not sure, exactly, but I suspect it involves an actual pattern.

I still think the basic idea is salvageable, but it will be a while before I attempt it again.