Barbie, Sewing

Princess Dress for Barbie – Part 1: Planning

So I was working on a different post that I’ve been meaning to finish and publish, but lately I’ve been absorbed in a totally different project. I’ve spent a lot of time on the preliminaries and it’s gone very slowly, but I’m finally to the point where I have everything I need to get started. This post is going to be about the planning part, but first I’m going to give a bit of context.

My sister has been wanting another Barbie with the 1999 body like my Barbie. I’ve done a lot of searching, but since the 1999 body is no longer the new type, it’s been very hard to find something I like. I had to do some searching on Ebay, but most of the dolls in princess dresses were unopened with no way to find out what type of body they had. There were also a lot that I was able to find out had the 1966 twisty waist body. I was able to find some nice Barbies that were newly unboxed and undressed. I decided that I’d have to get one of those dolls and make a fancy princess dress for her myself.


After buying the doll, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at pictures for inspiration, searching for Barbie dress patterns, and endlessly cutting and measuring and pinning and tweaking pattern pieces trying to make something from scratch. The latter was an endeavor both futile and infinitely frustrating, which took me back to my days of creating ill-fitting pattern blocks for myself before I discovered made-to-measure patterns. I suppose the difference was that I wasted less cloth and slightly less time doing something as small as Barbie clothes.

Anyway, after one particularly long and fruitless day of searching, I was feeling quite discouraged. I had spent hours with no results. Suddenly, I happened across this tutorial for drafting Barbie clothes, and it has basic bodice blocks for the two older Barbie body types. I can’t tell you how elated I was to finally find exactly what I had been looking for. I’ve discovered that this blog is an amazing resource for pattern-making, fitting, and accessorizing. I mean, there are ruffles and tucks! But I digress.

The perfect pattern… almost

Now having basic bodice blocks for Barbie, I was getting somewhere. After trying them out, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the way it fit. No discredit to the designer, of course. I usually have very specific things in mind and I am seldom completely satisfied right away. And it is just a basic block, after all. So it was back to cutting and marking, but this time it didn’t seem such a daunting task. I made the waist more fitted, shrank the armscyes, and switched out the bust darts for princess seams. The changes were small, and I was happy to see the third iteration fit perfectly. Finally my work paid off. I had a good starting point, which was what I had been missing before. Now my basic pattern is ready! Here is the final test on my Barbie.


With my fitted bodice pattern ready, I put my mind to drawing out my design. I came up with this, and I think it will look very nice and fancy. I knew I wanted a color scheme of pink, white, and possibly some red. So I pulled out all the material I own that would be suitable for a princess dress. I decided to make the dress out of pink satin, with the visible underskirt possibly being white satin or perhaps pink chiffon. I haven’t quite decided on that part. The ruffles I’ve drawn on the collar, sleeves, and overskirt will be pink lace, provided I can get more. I’m thinking of putting a red ribbon rose at the front of the collar, and I’d like to have a few more accents in red somewhere on the dress. I drew the V shape for the neckline, and the sleeves will be the ones from the same resource, shortened to the elbow and slightly narrower to fit the armscye.

Now I think I’m all done with the planning, and I’m ready to start sewing. In the next post I will write about that part of this project as I begin. I have high hopes for this dress!

1 Comment

  1. […] after finishing the planning stage of this project, I was ready to start sewing. First, the bodice. This took a bit longer than I had […]

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