Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reference Material, Vintage Barbie and YOU!

What books have you found to be most beneficial in your quest to learn everything about our favorite fashion icon?

Below are a few favorites of us here at .

  • The Collectors Encyclopedia of Barbie Dolls and Collectibles by Sibyl DeWein and Joan Ashabraner
  • Barbie Fashion (Volumes 1 & 2) by Sarah Sink Eames
  • Face of the American Dream: Barbie Doll 1959-1971 by Christopher Veraste
  • Encyclopedia of Barbie Doll Family & Friends Licensed Products by Alva Christensen and Laural Schwing
  • Barbie Doll & Her Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod World of Fashion by Joe Blitman
  • Francie & Her Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod World of Fashion by Joe Blitman

There are so many more options out there that offer amazing information and photos. Do you have a favorite that isn't listed above?  Please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From Throw-Away to OOAK

Brown Underdress?  Eeeek!
DISCLAIMER:  These are the steps I took to create an OOAK fashion from a highly damaged vintage fashion.  In each step there was a risk that I could ruin the fabric in one way or another.  If you decide to give this process a go, please use extreme caution.  Proceed at your own risk!  You will likely end up with something very fun for your doll to wear.  But there is always the chance that damage could occur.  

A few weeks ago I purchased a lovely #3 Ponytail on eBay.  She happened to arrive in a "Friday Night Date" fashion that was, to put it politely, hammered.  It was crusty, brown, gross, faded, snaps were falling off...  The pictures really don't even do justice to the true "Ewww" of the condition.  Because it was basically only good for either parts or maybe a pattern, I decided it was worth the risk to try my hand at making it in to a OOAK.

Ideas for color options swam in my head.  I'm a die-hard Rit Dye fan, so I checked out their website for the first time.  How did I not know that they had so many color options? This link shows you all the possible color options you could make.  Didn't realize there were that many, did ya!?  You. Are. Welcome!  :D

A friend of mine said that he'd removed the felt pieces on his own OOAK dress by putting the iron on a very low heat and ironing the dress inside-out until the glue releases.   I figured it sounded easy enough, so I gave it a go!

What the dress looked like originally.
And what do you know!  It worked!  I was able to remove nearly all the felt pieces.  The light pink and dark green parts were the most stubborn, as well as the "bird".  In the end, I had to leave a few of them attached or risk destroying them in the removal process.  Two options are in front of you when this happens. You can keep trying to remove them and risk having to cut new pieces from new felt, or you can dye the pieces while on the dress, then use fabric paint, once the dress is re-colored, to restore the color.   (I went with option #2, just so the original felt would stay on the dress.)  I had to be patient and use caution as I removed the pieces. One of them started to tear when I got too eager to pull them off. Yikes!

I never put heat on the front of the dress. Only from inside.
As I pulled them off, I stuck them to a dryer sheet. Once I had them off the dress, I placed them in a plastic baggie.

The felt pieces weren't perfectly clean (no surprise, based on the condition of the jumper and under-dress, but I decided they were decent enough for me to use again.  I didn't clean them in any way since I have no idea how felt would stand up to a washing.  In mind mind, I see disastrous results, not worth the risk!

Once the felt was as off the dress as I figured I could get it (three pink buds and the larger dark green piece wouldn't budge, darn it!), I heated some water and dissolved a small scoop of Oxi Clean in a small bowl.  I honestly didn't measure it out exactly.  I just kind of eye-ball it so that I know there is enough cleaner in there to do the job.  It will vary on the size of the dish you use.

Cute little felt pieces!!
I should mention that some people in the Barbie world feel Oxi could damage your fabric and use other approaches for cleaning.  I, personally, have used it on a number of different dresses (none with fragile fabric, though) and had great results.  Do some research on this if you aren't sure what you want to use.   The big thing is to remove the soil and grime from the dress.

I soaked the jumper and under-dress soak separately so the white dress wouldn't turn bluey-grey.
My preference for cleaning.

Important Tip:  Once the garment is done soaking, lift it out of the water and run it under the tap to rinse.  Do NOT rub/scrub the fabric.  Just let the soap rinse out.  Once it's de-soaped, lay it on a white towel and gently press on the dress to remove excess water. Then let it air dry. Be aware the Oxi WILL lightly bleach the item you are cleaning.  My little felt pieces did change color, but since I was planning to paint them, I didn't mind too much.

After considering a lot of different fun color options, I decided that the doll who was going to wear the dress (if it survived my experiments) would be cutest in a dark turquoise.  I know it wasn't the most dramatic change, at least not in pictures, but in person the color is very vibrant and a fun change from the softer blue of the original.

I ended up ordering one of the two colors I used off of the internet.  Luckily, the core colors are all easy to find in one way or another.  It's the mixing that is tricky, hence the convenience of the link I shared above.  Of course, that only works if you like RIT dye.  By all means, try another brand, but I've known folks who tried something else and then ended up buying RIT afterwards anyway.  Why not skip a step and save some money.   I prefer the liquid variety for mixing colors, just for the record, though RIT does come in a powder version as well. Depending on the type of fabric you are dealing with, there are special steps to take.  Reading the instructions is key.
Stir often!

Bring on that dark turquoise!!
Be sure to mix the dye in a container you won't be ever preparing food in.  I used a bucket I use for mopping.  It cleaned up easily afterwards.  And if there had been any staining to the plastic, it wouldn't matter since it's just a bucket!  You can always pick up a cheap pan at a local discount store or Good Will.

You can test the color mix with a paper towel if you are going for a specific shade, and remember that the less water you add, the brighter the color will be.  Once you are ready to remove the dress, rinse and pat dry using the same approach you did after washing it earlier.  Just don't use a towel you care about getting some dye on.

Let the dress dry and then the fun continues!

Not sure why the camera made the dress look brown.  ??

I painted the little pink felt pieces before any glueing happened so that I could get the color on without worrying about messing up position of everything. I did wait on the green paint since they are larger pieces and were easy to color without any disasters coming along.  As far as the felt bird was concerned, I kind of liked his new color so I left him as is.

When it came to the glue, I bought a product at the craft store that was able to go in the wash and was quick to dry.  Aleene's "Fabric Fusion".  I am sure there are tons of other options out there.  This worked well for me, though.  I used tweezers to carefully set the pieces back on their original glue marks so everything looked like it had never been removed.  It was tricky to verify which side of the felt to put the glue on, at times, but since I took the "before" pictures, I was able to make sure everything went back on the proper places. Very fun.  Waiting for everything to dry before dressing a doll was challenging.

Back on the dress they go!
Almost like new.
The last thing I did was make sure that snaps were all firmly sewn, since the washing and dying is sometimes a bit rough on thread.

And here you have it!  A way to make a dress that could easily have been a throw-away into something that will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

It's now being modeled by an adorable OOAK Fashion Queen doll that was painted for me by the talented Sandra Crowell.
Once again next to the original!

If you have alternative suggestions for cleaning products, dye brands or glue, PLEASE share them in the comments below.  I'd love to learn more about your experiences and ideas when it comes to making a vintage item new again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Clone Wars

Clone Outfits

Some collectors enjoy them, others prefer to stick with pure Mattel.  What is your stance?

I've recently begun to fall under the spell of these look-alike outfits that were so obviously inspired by our beloved Barbie.  Thus far I have only a small handful of examples in my collection, but I'm excited to learn more about them as time goes on, and I look forward to adding more pretty treasures to my display in the future.

If you enjoy clone items, what brand do you usually find yourself pulled towards?

Premier?  Babs?

Please share any resources you might have on where to learn more about clone items, too, if you have them. Those of us new to this area of collecting are eager to know how to learn more!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What Does "Mint" Mean To You?

Based on a few recent eBay experiences, I began to realize that not every seller and buyer interprets terms like "Mint" or "Excellent" in the same way.  A doll described as "Excellent" in her listing arrived with a neck split. Another "mint" doll was found to have been (unsuccessfully) treated for green ear and had her nose filed down, likely to hide a nose nip.  These aren't isolated issues, rather situations like this seem to happen on a regular basis. What exactly do these sellers mean when they use words like:

  • Mint/Minty
  • Excellent
  • Crisp
  • Very Good
  • Good 


It's very probably that no two sellers might agree exactly on what these terms mean.

The lesson to be learned (hopefully not the "hard way" for everyone) is that we must ask ALL questions when perusing an auction that catches our eye.  Neglecting to do this, even with a trusted seller, leaves a buyer vulnerable to potential disappointment.  Sometimes the best sellers overlook something that might be really important to you.

So what do these terms mean to you? Do you have any experiences you can share that will help future buyers avoid the same unfortunate situation you went through?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

--Linz Turner

Note: We encourage all those who join our discussions to keep things mature and polite.  We don't expect everyone to agree, in fact we learn more when people are willing to share their true thoughts and experiences-- even those that might not match popular opinion. Treat one another with respect and kindness, it's all we ask. After all, the Vintage Barbie Community is one of the best on the planet!

Also: On a semi-related note, be sure to check out our blog page dedicated to Lingo: Common Terms and Mnemonics that you might see used in doll descriptions and eBay auctions.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Guest Blogger: Wesley Mosteller- "Life Imitating Barbie"

Life Imitating Barbie

Hello and thank you for taking the time to view this new section of our website entitled "Life Imitating Barbie".

This is a comparative section that will delve as deep as possible into the times and inspiration that went into creating what is almost if not completely in-arguably the most famous and celebrated and sadly at times controversial doll in modern society's history. A rather "which came first the chicken or the egg" blog, if you will.

Some of you may or may not know that the original creator of Barbies original wardrobe, Charlotte Johnson, answered a simple ad for "Fashion designer wanted" that made no mention of this being for a doll's wardrobe. I have always found this truly fascinating. And make no mistake this was very well planned and thought out by Ruth Handler who is credited with the very inception of a concept doll like Barbie. Ruth simply wanted to insure that the hired designer would have an instant feel for her desire to create a "three dimensional paper doll" with a very accurate and life like wardrobe and not simply a "dolly" type wardrobe.

As Dickens himself is credited with saying "They were the best of times, they were the worst of times". So with that in mind let us travel back in time to the last 6 months of 1959 shall we?

Awwww -  spring and summertime - a time for teenagers to prepare for another school year's end. A time for picnics, a sock hop on a Saturday night. Hanging out at the local drive in enjoying a hamburger and a malted with friends. Possibly if allowed, a simple cruise up and down the strip to show off our freshly polished vehicles, chrome and all! These were the times that our precious girl was born into. But not all was so perfect - our girl was also born into a time when the threat of an atomic war was very real. A time when building with, or adding a bomb shelter was not out of the question.

It is within this time period that at the 1959 Toy Fair our girl was "discovered" like many other a starlet. She was ill received at first but by the very end of that calendar year there would be a "shot" heard round the world that would echo for generations to come.

With these thoughts in mind please enjoy some inspirational art pieces and vintage advertisements that are so similar to our lovely and cherished doll. I have included items that remind me of how our Barbie's make-up ideas may have come about and fashions also. Some are of course not identical but the inspiration is still visible.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vintage Barbie Restorations by Sandra Crowell

Vintage Barbie | is a personal website owned and operated by Sandra & David Crowell and Linz Turner.  Our goal in creating this site is to provide a source to vintage Barbie collectors, both old and new, full of accurate and detailed information. If we learn of any breaking news or interesting updates, you will find it here.
This fourteen-year-old  site was re-launched on June 1, 2014 and continues to grow on a weekly basis. The hours invested to create a well-informed and accurate site have been endless, but very worth the effort. We hope what you find here at Vintage Barbie will inspire you to return in the near future so that you can experience the fun that is yet to come.

We're so thrilled to bring you this additional forum where we'll be featuring Guest Bloggers and covering topics that will be fun, interesting and educational.  We look forward to your comments, knowledge and feedback!

Be sure to carefully read our Terms and Conditions, please.