Thursday, April 17, 2014

A few tips on restoring doll clothing

Many, many articles have been written about restoring Barbie dolls:  rerooting or restyling hair, removing and repainting her face, etc.  But almost nothing has been written about restoring her clothing.  Ironically, that is what I started doing almost immediately 30 years ago when I began collecting, probably because I know how to hand sew.  I’ve never attempted to restore a doll, and have no desire to, but I try to fix her outfits when I can, and it seems that other collectors seldom do this.
This is what I do:
1.  If the clothing is woven cotton, nylon, tricot, rayon, silk, polyester or polyester knit, you can hand wash it in cold water with some Woolite©.  Rinse the clothes in cold water.  The water may get a little brown. (Yuck!  Don’t try to think about what the “brown” could be!)  You can try lightly rubbing/scrubbing set-in stains such as ink, but the stains may never come out completely.
2.  Then let the pieces dry flat.  Line drying is tempting, but you run the risk of the getting the ridges of the clothespins imprinting on the fabric.  The fabric will be wrinkled after it has dried and you can iron it.  A washed outfit may not look 100 percent better, but the colors will be brighter and any mustiness will be gone.
3.  I’ve given up bothering to wash satin, velvet, cotton yarn knit such as that used in sweaters, and wool, both yarn and woven fabric.  There’s a tremendous risk of the dyes running and of the fabric shrinking.  I’ve learned to live with their imperfections.
4.  Now you are going to need sharp eyesight, or at least a very bright light.  Sewing in direct sunlight is very helpful.  Another suggestion is if you have one of those full spectrum lamps that people with Seasonal Affective Disorder use during the winter.  The bright light will allow you to see tiny details.
5.  Turn the outfit inside out to resew any loose seams or hems with a skinny needle.  (Before you do this, go to the store and buy a small repair kit with many small spools of various color threads.)  Necklines and underarms seem to be the worst victims.
6.  If the fabric itself is torn, you can resew it, but you can never “fix” it or “patch” it.  See #3.  In the Barbie universe, as in our own, stockings get runs, socks get holes and moths munch on wool.  You may want to keep the item, just to prove you have it, but some things can’t be repaired.
7.  Next come snaps.  Usually it is the knob part of the snap that is either missing or attached to the other piece.  Why?  It’s because you pull on what I call the “male” half to remove it from the “female” half, the piece with the hole.  Your problem is easy to solve if you have both halves stuck together.  Just unsnap them and resew the piece to its rightful fabric edge.  If you have a matching loose male half in your sewing kit, just sew that on.  Otherwise, cut the threads to unattach the remaining half (you may want to save it for another time), and stitch a new set onto the outfit.
8.  There are two types of buttons on Barbie clothes, functional and decorative.  You can get tiny replacement buttons at craft stores or you can cannibalize another outfit and steal its buttons. Some of the 1960s and 1970s outfits instead use a small button on one side with a tiny loop closure on the other.  Surprisingly, the button is often intact, but the little loop made of thick thread is gone.  What I do is create my own loop by sewing three itty-bitty circles of regular thread (just don’t pull the thread taut against the fabric) and then on the fourth go-round wrap your thread around the arcs.  A sure sign that a clothing item is NOT Mattel is if you actually can close it by placing the button through a buttonhole!
9.  A third type of closure from the 1960s is the hook and eye.  For some reason, Mattel used only the hook part on outfits, instead using the aforementioned loop rather than the eye.  Again, the hook may be loose, but is seldom missing, and is easily reattached.  You just need to create a loop like I explained in the previous paragraph.
10.  Then there are ribbons and ties, quite common for the 1970s. You may need to tighten a ribbon against the fabric by re-tacking it with your needle and thread.  The other problem is knot removal, which can be time-consuming.  Use a pin to start tugging on the knot to loosen it.  This is another situation in which you may need a really bright light to help you see.
11.  How do you replace elastic or a drawstring thread inside a seam?  If you’ve got the original, attach an end to a tiny safety pin, or you may need to get a replacement strip and attach it to the safety pin.  Find the end of the seam where there’s an opening and insert the pin.  Start pulling/pushing the pin through the seam until you get to the other end.  Remove the safety pin and knot the strip so it won’t slide through the seam again, or sew the strip to the end of the seam.
12.  I’m afraid I can’t give you any advice about zippers, other than to resew one to the fabric if it’s come loose.  I don’t have any experience replacing zippers.
13.  Last but not least, cut any loose hanging threads.  These include threads from frayed hems or seams.
14.  After making your repairs, you may want to touch up the clothing with an iron again.
Is the outfit perfect again?  It may or may not be, depending on the condition that you started with.  Is the item wearable?  Yes.  Will it stay on the doll?  Yes.  Is your doll happy that she has another item of clothing to wear?  YES!

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014, new epier listing

You knew I would eventually get around to listing some of the Lone Ranger licensed merchandise I've acquired!  All of this stuff is hard to find!

Paper Magic 35 Lone Ranger Valentines

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I had to look at the feet!

At the Queen City Beautiful Doll Club show today, a couple brought in a number one Barbie.  In 30 years of collecting, this is only the SECOND time I have ever seen one.  It was very exciting!  It was like meeting a celebrity!

The owners, who had bought the doll for $1,000 at an estate sale, let me take some photos of the doll.  That may seem like a lot of money but in the Barbie universe that is CHEAP!  I told the owner he could buy a new car with the doll.
Here is the doll, still in her box.  The owners replaced her shoes and booklet, but the stand still needs to be replaced.  I didn't realize as I was photographing her that it looks like the girl has horns growing out of her temples!

Here are the soles of her feet with the tubes in them.

I've read that the original manufacturing run was of 350,000, so no one has any idea how many number ones still exist.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

next doll show

The Queen City Beautiful Doll Club has its spring show on Sunday, April 6, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. US Eastern time.  It will be at the Sharonville Holiday Inn, 3855 Hauck Road, off of Interstate 275 north of Cincinnati.  Admission is $4 for adults, with children 12 and under free.  For information, email askmargie@... or askmargie@...
I'm not setting up a table.  I will be working at the door taking admissions from noon-2 p.m. that day.
Here is a copy of the flier.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Skipper's 50th birthday

Skipper turned the big 5-0 more than a month ago, but it is only now that I have been able to photograph and write about her various birthday party outfits.  I've divided her dresses by decade and have included some accessories if I own them.
Some of the ensembles aren't immediately apparent as being for birthday parties; it's only by their name or extras that you can figure that out.  This is not a complete list; it's just of the ones I own.  Unless otherwise noted, the dolls and outfits are from the same year.

1960s, left to right
Twist N Turn blonde in #1974 Eeny, Meeny, Midi (came with a wrapped gift), 1969
bend leg blonde in pack Party Pink, 1965
Twist N Turn brunette in #1955 Posy Party (the hose will not fit over her legs), 1968
straight leg blonde in #1914 Platter Party, 1965
Twist N Turn blonde in #1970 Ice Cream N Cake (came with a sundae), 1969
bend leg redhead in #1924 Tea Party, 1965
straight leg brunette in #1919 Happy Birthday, 1965
The dolls on the left have two of the My Merry Skipper invitations.
Posy Party and Ice Cream N Cake were two of my to-die-for outfits as a little girl.  As an adult collector, they were some of the first things I bought.

1970s, left to right
SunSet Malibu in #9512 We're Having a Party and You're Invited, 1976 (originally came with an invitation that said this, but I don't have one)
blonde Twist N Turn  in #1513 Young Ideas (came with a wrapped gift), 1970
Pose N Play in #3297 Party Pair (I don't have the shoes or stockings), 1972
SuperTeen in #9746 Lacey Charmer and Party Timer
1978 SunSet Malibu in #9707 Garden Party from 1977

1980s, left to right
Teen Time in #2608 Party in Pink (the leggings will not fit over her legs), 1989
Super Dance in #5816 Party Perfect, 1983
Party Teen Fun in her original outfit, 1988

1990s, left to right
Beauty Pageant in Party N Play #9028, 1991
Baby Sitter in Party N Play #9043, 1991
Sun Jewel in pack Pretty for Parties, 1994
Cool Tops in Trendy Teen #714-6, 1990
Porcelain Happy Birthday in her original outfit, 1994
Tropical Splash in #12618 Tea Set for Two (a contemporary rendition of Posy Party), 1995

Last but not least, I am showing you a 1964 blonde straight leg Skipper in her original swimsuit, standing next to the 1984 Sun Gold Malibu Skipper.  The Malibu doll is wearing #4876 Pool Party from 1984, which is Skipper's unofficial 20th birthday outfit.

The birthday cards are--ahem--mine.

March 15, 2013, new etsy item

TV Guide, Oct. 11, 1986