Monday, June 2, 2014

A Rapidly Growing Group within the Collection

As I already mentioned, I've been on a bit of an auction kick lately. I had three that I was watching very closely. I am pleased (and slightly embarrassed) to inform you all that I got all three! I will be sharing each item with you in due time, but that's not what this post is about.

Because shockingly..., I bought something else. I'll give you a moment to pick your jaws up from the floor. 

Now that we've all composed ourselves, let me set the scene. It was a Tuesday. I had already bid on one of the auctions I was watching on over on E-bay and had taken a break from obsessively refreshing the auction's page. I did a quick search for Vintage Barbie under the Buy-it-Now listings. One of the newest auctions that popped up was for a vintage Barbie from Taiwan. Usually these dolls aren't of any interest to me, Mattel used Taiwan for a good chunk of the 80's, so a lot of 80's dolls are marked as that. And so far (with a few rare exceptions), I have avoided the draw of the 80's dolls. I mean, I just recently started adding the 70's era dolls to the collection. Even if the doll was most likely not going to be of interest to me, I still let the picture load, and it's a good thing I did.
The seller didn't have Barbie, they had Francie. Quick Curl Francie to be exact. A doll that I had done a few searches for before to see how much a wrecked hair version went for. Apparently, she's somewhat
uncommon and would sell for more than I wanted to pay. But this one was much more reasonably priced, 26 dollars including shipping. I quickly decided that I should get her or risk loosing her. So I clicked the add to cart option and paid for her. She arrived that following Friday and I eagerly ripped open the envelope she came in to get a better look at her. The ad had several pictures, but there's only so much a picture can tell you about something.
Like how dirty something it, Francie wasn't my filthiest new acquisition, but she was far from clean. However, new dolls always get a bath and a little soap and water cleaned her up nicely. Other than the dirt Francie was in mostly good shape. Her hair was really, really, really nice. Quick Curl dolls usually end up getting really terrible tangles from the very nature of their quick curl hair and the tiny wires. Also they're from the 70's where Mattel was using such cheap hair fiber it frizzed when you just looked at it. Her hair needed a little work, but some cleaning and minor detangling and she was all set. Well, all set from the neck up. You see, Francie had an issue common

with lots of the 70's era dolls, melting. I had assumed she would have this problem when the seller said that her leg will come off but can be put back on easily. Usually this means the plastic of the knob has become soft enough that the hard plastic leg "O" that it attaches to will just shear it off. I was proven correct when she arrived, melting at both legs and at the neck. The neck is a new one for me. I knew it could happen because I've seen some Sweet Sixteen dolls that are MIB that have a big ring of melted plastic at their necks from melting, which is a shame. Luckily the repair is the same as the legs. Francie immediately went under the knife and got all three spots of melting removed and repaired. I'm pleased to admit that she's back in one piece. It was real touch and go for a while since it took me THREE tries to get her second leg back on. What a pain.
But it's over and done with, and hopefully I won't have to do that again for her. With Francie's bath and repairs, she's actually a really great doll. She's free from chews, breaks, and wear. I guess her original owner didn't really care for her since all of her issues are from time not play. I've been slowly adding the Quick Curl dolls to the collection so it's nice adding another one, especially Francie since I've always loved her face. As of writing this I have Quick Curl Deluxe Barbie, Kelley, and Francie. I'm just missing Barbie, Cara, Skipper, Miss America, and Deluxe Quick Curl P.J.. I think that's everyone.
Francie also came in her original dress (no shoes however). The dress is in okay shape. It is really dingy and all the unhemmed pieces understandably have some fraying going on. But it's not a huge deal because....

Francie is already dressed! Again, I will give you a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor.

Yes, it's true. I dressed a doll. After last's year terrible dry spell, I managed to make something from start to finish that I liked and didn't end up quitting midway on. So not only is this post a introduction post, it's also a dressed doll post! Francie's outfit came about pretty organically. I did a quick Google search for 70's fashion, found a couple things I liked and used those as a launching off point. The outfit started off as a simple circle skirt with a long sleeve turtleneck with a vest. Which was okay. From there the drawing evolved. The skirt got more ornate, the vest turned into a scarf, and the shirt got short sleeves. I liked this incarnation so much I actually started sewing it. I started with the skirt since I liked that the most and if I ended up hating it that meant the outfit was not going to work. For the pattern I used the simple rounded pattern I use when I make underskirts. For the fabric I was using an over sized (to them) orange and white houndstooth I bought at Hobby Lobby a couple months ago. The skirt is very similar in construction to the underskirts, with a few key differences. Obviously, there's no lace trimming on this skirt. Instead for decoration it has two pleats in the front with 4 gold beads to give it some shine (these beads were placed to be reminiscent of Navy pants). I
think that there's a 70's era Barbie skirt with a very similar construction, can't remember the name right now though. I completely finished the skirt before I started working on the rest of it. I did use fabric scraps and already made clothing pieces to make a mock up on the outfit to see if I liked it before deciding to put the rest of the outfit in production. I do like the skirt, in hindsight, I would probably have changed a few things, basically just use smaller seam allowances. Although at first I didn't like how short the skirt was, but it's won me over. I think I would just have used smaller seam allowances in the back so it could hang lower off the waist. I guess I didn't take into consideration how much material would be taken up by the pleats at the waist.
With the skirt done, I moved onto the scarf. The scarf while incredibly different from the vest it started out as was still going to be made out of the same material as the skirt. I made a couple different versions of the scarf and wasn't happy with any of them. They were so bulky and I never got the ends to look right. After a couple failed attempts I made a simple tube, flipped it right side out, and decided to finish the edges by hand. It would leave me with square shaped scarf ends which I wasn't thrilled about but at least it looked better than the rest that I had come up with. I was playing around with this unfinished scarf when I turned it around so it became a collar to the shirt, and I really liked it. It really added something to the outfit, and since I wasn't liking how the scarf was ending up it was an easy change to make. So now it's gone from vest, to scarf, to collar.
I didn't finish the scarf just yet, instead I turned to working on the shirt. The part of the outfit I was least looking forward to. I haven't sewn a shirt with sleeves with so long! And while I was using the
turtleneck pattern that they're all one piece, it's still rather daunting. Also, I didn't have a turtleneck pattern for Francie sized dolls. I did have one back when I was hand making them, but those never matched up in the back and I wanted something better fitting. I ended up using the turtleneck pattern I drafted for Charlotte. Her's closes fully in the back and she and Francie have somewhat similar body shapes (compared to other dolls). I did have to tweak the pattern to fit Francie, mainly the side seams (but not the arms, just the torso and hips). Although, I didn't need to take the hips in so much, since it goes over the skirt, compared to Charlotte's body suit that is designed to go under skirts, Francie needed more ease at the hips than usual. I ended up having to stop the back darts at the waist to give her more ease at the hips. Overall the skirt went together easily. I cut the sleeves too long, but just like the skirt, they eventually won me over. There's a slight tightness where they overlap the skirt, but I think it looks fine.
 After that we were reaching the finish line! I had decided to make Francie a matching purse, one made out of the same fabric as the skirt and collar. It was originally going to be an open basket style purse with long ribbon handles, but then it evolved to a closing clutch purse with the same ribbon handles. Ultimately I ended up not doing either of them. I did another Google search for 70's purses, found one I liked and used that for a launching point. The one I found was basically a bag with a gathered top. I cut the fabric out without bothering with a pattern. It sewed up pretty easily, it is a rather simple shape, but I did have to redo the elastic in it. The super thin elastic I was using ended up slipping out of the stitched down side. So I redid it and it's now knotted on the inside. If I was redoing this, there would be a couple minor things I would change, mainly the inside seam. There's a couple things that could use some fine tuning, but it works for me. This new purse also got the ribbon handles I was planning since the start. So overall it's pretty much the same purse, just with a different silhouette.
After that I needed to make the collar. I cheated a little bit, it's actually a separate piece and not attached to the shirt. I don't like taking shortcuts like that, but I could easily see the collar attachment to the shirt being the death of this outfit so I learned to live with it. I ended up making several collars before I decided on the right height. I had a hard time finding the right balance of showing enough of the pattern without covering up Francie's neck to much. At least with how I did it, I could easily make a new one and replace it in the outfit without damaging the shirt itself. It's a simple tube of fabric with the ends hemmed with a snap at the back, pretty simple construction.
With that done, we were reaching the end of our redressing. All that's left were the little details. Up first were shoes. I don't have a great number of Francie sized shoes in the first place, and all the best ones are already on dolls, and I don't have many orange shoes either. I poured out my shoe bag, both the flats and the heeled shoes and pulled out the ones I liked the best. I found a couple I thought were okay, but nothing I loved. I actually even went to the collection and stole shoes from other dolls that could have worked. Three dolls ended up loaning their shoes to Francie and again, they were okay but nothing I loved. I had settled upon one of the stolen pairs of shoes for the official photographs when I got in the some shoes from a trade I had done. Among them were a pair of orange pilgrim shoes! They're clone shoes and need a little work, but they are by far the best ones I have found. She's been wearing them ever since they arrived and they work wonderfully for the outfit. It was fate for them to arrive when they did!
For the hair, like most of the rest of the outfit, I ended up changing my original plans. I usually do a simple vintage Midge like curl on my Quick Curl dolls. It's simple, easy, and shows off their gimmick without too much damage to the hair. But with Francie, I kind of like her hair straighter, maybe with a tiny bit of a flip at the end, like how regular Francie dolls wear their hair. I did feel like she needed something in her hair, it felt so plain without it. I thought about using a barrette, I have a cute cherry one from that Speed Racer set, but I couldn't find it. I sold the doll, but I'm pretty sure I kept all of the outfit. But since it wouldn't turn up I had to go a different route. Instead I just used a red ribbon in her hair as a mock barrette. It's held in the back with a pin. I wish I had a more legitimate way to keep it in, but it's not like she can wear it like that. I'm not comfortable leaving a red ribbon pressed against her head like that. So she gets it for pictures so the pin in the back will just have to do.
Francie says thanks for stopping by!

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