Fashion Doll Restore6:  Barbie in 1970's Fashion Styles

By:  Roselyn Gadia-Smitley


Photo1:  Barbie Dolls (late 1970s).  Left: Barbie with the "Superstar" face mold, right:  Barbie with "Steffie" face mold. Barbie dolls were purchased from a thrift store and cleaned up.  Barbie on the right has very short cut hair, so a turban headpiece was created out of netting to cover her hair.  Turbans were popular during the 1970s. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.

      As my fashion design class (university level) was about to meet, I noticed three of my students with bundles of fabric in their arms and shoulders.  Without a word, they piled all these bolts on top of the fabric-cutting tables.  One of the students declared that she had received these fabrics from an elderly man whose wife had passed away and wanted her to have these treasures.  She said that she felt that she should share her good fortune to everyone.  She was giving away these fabrics for free.  After class was over, the students hurried to cut their yardage from the bolts.  It was like Christmas as this was March 2012.  The joy of sharing and receiving was quite apparent.

      I noticed a paisley print cotton fabric from the 1970s and asked to have a yard reserved.  The generous student urged me to take the bolt of five yards.  This vintage fabric would be perfect for one of my 1970s nude Barbie dolls, although I did not need the entire lot.  However, my generous student insisted.  She didn't have to twist my arm.  After I cut what I needed a few days later, I gave the remaining four yards to a student who was working on a design line with similar colorway.  The end of the bolt noted:  Hobby Lobby (logo of the chain craft store), "Clearance $0.96" in yellow sticker, $4.79, Company: Peter Pan, Pattern:  Little Quilt Magic, made in Indonesia, printed in the USA, 100% cotton, machine wash, tumble dry.  The finish made the fabric smelled of the ointment, "Bengay"!  (The smell disappeared after the fabric was soaked and rinsed.) The paisley print of dark green, orange, yellow, and red on turquoise background is truly a representation of the "psychodyllic" type of print in the 1970s.  In my early teen years, we would have described this fabric as "Far Out"!

      This Saturday (and maybe, many more subsequent Saturdays as well) was playtime for me with my new fabric.  I felt like a child again (which is a wonderful way to stress-down after a very busy week).  I cut one yard and soaked it in tepid warm water overnight for maximum shrinkage. After drip drying the fabric,  I pressed the yardage and made it ready for cutting.  I decided to make a collection of Barbie 1970s fashion styles with this fabric. 

      Recalling the fashion styles that my friends and I wore in the 1970s in the U.S., I noted:  bell-bottom pants (corduroy and denim), shirts (embellished t-shirts or tailored button-up shirts),  jumpsuits, hot pants (in double knit polyester and natural fibers), knitted ponchos, fake fur coats, gathered flower print skirts with solid color vests, peasant style dresses and skirts, peasant style ruffled blouses, "Great Gatsby" style formal dresses in chiffon, wrap-around dresses, knitted body-suits which zippered at the back and snapped on at the crotch (quite uncomfortable, but stylish), safari suits, terry cloth bikinis, and corduroy blazers.  From these collections, I decided on creating a Barbie clothing collection (2 ensembles)  which I will call "Seaglass in Paisley" based on 1970s fashion styles:


Photo2:  Barbie Dolls  (late 1970s).  Barbie dolls in a maxi-length tiered peasant dress and bell-bottom jumpsuit of the 1970s fashion styles.

1.    Seaglass in Paisley 1:  Bell-bottom Jumpsuit.  This jumpsuit is fitted at the bodice with darts, halter sleeve lines, and closes with snaps at the back.  The bell shape,  at the bottom of the pants, starts slightly above the knee and is cut on the bias for a maximum bell shape.   A self-made bow decorates the front of the bodice, just below the neckline.

2.    Seaglass in Paisley 2:  Peasant Maxi-length Dress.  This tiered dress gathers,  from the natural waistline to the hem,  in three sections.  Free-flowing with ease,  which mirrors the spirit of the "flower children" in the 1970s, this style was a favorite among the younger generation of the time.  This maxi dress closes at the back with snaps.

      Designing doll clothing, with inspiration from the past, is a wonderful past time.  Sewing to de-stress costs very little money for creative minds.  Inspiration for this collection begun with a donated vintage 1970s fabric.  The result is a clothing collection for my 1970s Barbie dolls.  It is indeed fun to collect Barbie.

      Happy Collecting!



For additional information, click at these links:

History Of The Doll

Collecting Barbie Dolls On A Budget

Collecting Fashion Dolls To Restore: (Homepage)

Muse Body Barbie