The Great Flapper or How Christie got a new outfit - Part 1, The dress

A while ago I showed you my first Barbie doll project with a bead loomed outfit and promised you more.
Here I am now to tell you the story of Christie.
Think big this time.
In 1976 the only 18 inch Barbie doll was released. She had the new superstar face and wore a white and silver dress. In 1978 she came out in a bridal version and in 1979 she had super hair which could grow and be curled.
1977 was the year for Supersize Christie. Christie was an African American doll. She had long brown hair with copper streaks and wore a dusty pink and silver dress.

My Christie's story started at a fleamarket. I don't remember if she wore anything at all at the time or what I paid for her, but it can't have been much.
She was not in mint condition. Her hair was matted and had two little braids in front, her earrings and ring were missing, she had definitely been played with.
If she had something on which I threw away or if she had been naked from the start, fact is that she spent years in a drawer. I don't know if I had hoped to stumble upon an outfit or if I actually planned making something for her, but every time I went through that drawer, I felt her reproachful gaze upon me.
When my Flapper project worked out, the chance to make it up to her was there.
With the experience I had gained from "Little Flapper", I would make her into something special. As usual I was a little naive. There IS a difference between 11.5 and 18 inch, and not just in the number of the beads you need.

First I had to take Christie's measurements and design a pattern. Again I measured several times to be absolutely sure there would be no unpleasant surprises, then I started the pattern, first the outline, then the "fabric". I had looked at pictures on the net to get inspired and after several drafts in different colors I decided to use greens and gold.
This time I would have to make two pieces and join them later. The first piece went just fine. I liked the colors, a bright green (although I wanted to use a mint first that was out of stock, however) in combination with dark silver lined teal and gold lined crystal. I loomed it, I took it off, I re-wove, no problem.

Then came the second piece. I finished it and took it off the loom. There are different opinions about what exactly happened next, but the fact is that Ponder and I managed together to pull a warp thread out which of course resulted in a whole column of beads falling out. You have to imagine the feeling after working on this for a few hours, looming and measuring. I can't even describe it. My first impulse was to chuck the whole thing. There was no chance to get those beads back in and the thought of sewing it up anyway and hoping for the best was in my head for merely a few seconds. It wouldn't have worked. The only answer was to *sob* rip it up and sort the beads all over again.
By now I was a nervous wreck. It took me a while until I came back to the loom for the second try. This time I had done about half. Seriously, it was my own fault. I really should know better than to leave the room and let Ponder watch the loom if he is in a mischievous mood. I came back to warp threads ripped off the loom, and I'm not ashamed to say that I freaked out. This project was dead as a dodo. Enough. Sorry, Christie, it was not to be. I tried. At that moment I was so tired of this pattern. I couldn't do it all over again.
Some people say I'm stubborn. Often that's a weakness, but sometimes it's a good thing. After I calmed down, I came back even more determined. Again I ripped and sorted.

Third time's the charm. I finished the piece and started sewing up the sides.
This is the very first picture I took to show my best beady friends how big this doll was, in the background one of my fiercest critics.

After deciding on the exact length I sewed up the straps with accent rows of golden beads and added three rows of the same beads to the back to make sure the dress kept sitting right.
Up to that point about 15,200 beads had gone into this dress. You might have noticed that I didn't use Delicas this time, but seed beads, or there would have been even more.
For the luxurious fringe I used the golden beads and bright green dagger beads.

So this was what Christie looked like now. It was time to think about accessories and what to do about her hair, but that's the story for the next post.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Please forgive the bad pictures. Whenever I'm in the middle of a project, I tend to take pictures at the weirdest times and often in the dark which accounts for the colors not always looking the same, too. I'll make up for it with the last picture, promise!

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel.


  1. Ponder is like the little brother who always messes with your dolls. I'm glad you persevered, because the finished project is outstanding!

    1. Thank you! I'm sure he just wants to help .... *eyeroll*
      Wire and thread does get him overexcited sometimes.

  2. I am so glad you didn't give up. The end result is so worth all the frustration (says the one who didn't have to deal with a naughty cat). The progress you've made is fabulous and I can't wait to see the next steps.

    Bad boy, Ponder!

    1. Thank you, Dawn!
      The next posts are scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, and the next project is finished as well, so there will be more as soon as I can get better pictures of that one.

      Ponder is here and wants me to make clear that I was involved the first time, and unfortunately he's right about that ;-)