So Many Daisies!

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My crochet adventure has landed me smack dab in the middle of a field of daisies! Well, sort of. While perusing Pinterest, I came across the most adorable pattern for a granny square with a daisy in the center.

Seriously, how cute is this?

The image took me to Tillie Tulip, where I found a free step-by-step guide (with visuals!) on how to make the daisy center. It took some practice to master a treble crochet stitch, but it was well worth it to get those petals to puff.

An additional link on the daisy page, will take you to another page that lays out steps to add rounds in order to turn the daisy into a granny square. It’s a simple process that requires basic crochet knowledge (chain, double crochet). The only trick is figuring out how to space the shells.

Once I got the pattern down, it was all about color choice. While I love the colors in the sample blanket image, pastels really don’t fit my house. So, I decided to model my daisies after the Black-Eyed Susan and the plain white daisy.

That gave me the color scheme of brown, yellow, and white. I went with ever popular Red Heart yarn in Coffee, Gold and Soft White.

It sounds awful, doesn’t it? However, the overall effect creates a very autumn-like and cozy feel. Perfect for a granny square afghan!

Even though I used only three colors, I was able to create 9 different squares simply by switching the order of color in each round. This created a more interesting effect in the color distribution throughout the blanket.

To join the squares, I used a simple single crochet chain stitch, but through the back loop of the joined stitches on each square edge. This made the chain lie flat and it was easier to join corners.

For the border, I stitched five single crochet rounds. The first two were done in coffee to match the border with of the joined squares and then I did single rounds of Gold and Soft White, with a final round of Coffee to create a balance between the interior and exterior borders.

This afghan turned out better than I expected, especially since I’m a new crocheter. Who knew I’d have this much fun with a little yarn and a hook?

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c.b.w. 2017

Vintage TLC: Detangled

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Buying vintage Barbie dolls is especially fun when I get the chance to fix up what would otherwise be a disaster of a doll. Recently, I got my hands on a Ponytail #6/7 with a number of problems. If something can go wrong with a doll, it’s happening to this poor girl! Matted hair, a split neck and hairline, hot pink dye stains, dirt, worn face makeup, etc. I’ve got my work cut out for me!

pontyail-6-face-neck-splitIt’s hard to know where to start with a doll in need of so much TLC! So, I decided to just start at the top and work my way down. Fixing the hair on this doll will at least make her displayable, (with the right outfit that covers her problem areas).

On the up side, this doll’s bangs are perfect. The curls are soft and styled correctly. The rest of her hair, however, is a total matted mess. To make things worse, someone along the way put baby powder in her hair which created a paste-like substance on her scalp. A kind word of advice: Don’t put baby powder in vintage hair to dry out the oily buildup that sometimes occurs. It doesn’t work!

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The first goal is combing out this rat’s nest! Detangling comes down to just a few steps:

  1. Remove all rubber bands. Sometimes the rubber dries out and is stuck in the hair. Try to remove as many of the pieces as possible.
  2. Divide the hair into small sections and work one section at a time.
  3. Use a small plastic comb or Barbie brush to gently work through the tangles. Start at the bottom of the hair, not at the roots! Work your way up to the scalp.
  4. Don’t pull too hard. It might take longer to slowly pick through tangles, but it’s better than pulling out a clump of hair. Re-rooting is a much more difficult repair!

Once I got the tangles out, it was time for a shampoo. The baby powder “paste” had broken apart during the de-tangling process, but the residue was still clumping near the scalp and it left the hair looking very dull.

Vintage Barbie hair can be fragile and has been known to react to shampoos, conditioners, and soaps in various unpleasant ways (most notably hair color can change). For this doll, I used 7th Generation Free and Clear dish soap. A little bit goes a long way and its a gentle cleanser.

Then, let the hair air dry. DO NOT use a hairdryer. Barbie hair is essentially made of plastic, acrylic, or saran. It’ll frizz or melt under heat.

I ran a comb through her hair once more and ended up with what looked like a giant ball of frizz. No worries, though. I expected it. As a ponytail doll, she originally had set curls. They don’t just go away, so when they are combed out, they poof out.

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It’s not a good look! However, it is easy to fix. All she needs is a simple reset. Using a fine-toothed plastic comb, I smoothed out the hair from root to tip the best I could. Then, I put her ponytail back into place. I’m not going to lie – this part took forever! Through multiple trial and error attempts, I finally got the height and placement of the ponytail just right. I secured it in place using small, clear plastic rubber bands I found in the hair care aisle at Target.

With the ponytail in place, it was all about resetting the curls. I used a spray bottle to soak the ends with water and then I wrapped five separate curls around small pipe cleaners. I folded up the pipe cleaner ends and let the set air dry for a few days.

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The end result was far better than I expected. The frizz factor is non-existent and there’s even a bit of shine back in her hair. Once again, a little TLC goes a long way!

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Work continues on this doll as I research techniques for repairing splits, removing dye stains, and touching up face paint (I’m still deciding if I want to do this).

For now, she’s looking good with the rest of my vintage girls!

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c.b.w. 2017

Knitting A Scrap Yarn and Flannel Blanket

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Over the summer, I started two scrap yarn knitting projects as a means to clear out my growing stash of leftover yarn, (see Knitting With Scrap Yarn). The first blanket turned out great and my little dog is snuggling up in it every night.

The start of the school year pushed my second project, the Maxi Cosi Blanket, to the sidelines for a spell, but I’ve finally finished it. In many ways, I think it turned out better than the first. The smaller size gave me a great opportunity to experiment with a new finishing technique for knitted blankets.

After blocking the blanket came out at 25″ x 27″. This turned out to be a perfect size for a little corner of the bed where my cat likes to sleep. She’s already claimed it as her own!

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The yarn came from four different partial skeins leftover from two hats, a scarf, a cowl, and a pair of socks. I let the amount of yarn dictate stripe size, however I was careful with the oatmeal color so I could carry it all the way through end to end, (I only came up 3 rows short, which I supplemented with a cream-colored yarn scrap I thankfully had stashed!).

For finishing, I decided to add a flannel backing. I saw the technique on Pinterest and knew I had to try it. Luckily, my local craft store was having a sale on flannel fabric and it just so happened to have the perfect print. It was meant to be!

flannel-backing

To attach the flannel and keep it from “tenting,” I employed an old quilting technique (thanks for reminding me, mom!) of using yarn ties. Once again, I went to my leftover yarn stash and found a great partial skein of variegated woodsy colors.

The grid  of the knitted pattern made it easy to space yarn ties about 2″ apart. First, I tacked the flannel to the blanket using safety pins to mark where the ties would go. I worked from the center out to the edges. Second, I loaded a yarn needle with a double-strand segment of yarn. I came up through the bottom (the flannel side) and back down through the top (the knitted side), making as small a stitch as possible in the garter stitch sections of the blanket. This hid the yarn tie on the front and added the tie detail to the flannel backing. Lastly, I tied each section and clipped the ends.

To secure the edges, I sewed a basic blanket stitch using DMC pearl cotton embroidery thread. This thread is thick and sturdy, which makes it perfect for stitching together folded flannel and worsted weight knitted yarn.

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The result is a smooth edge that is decorative and not bulky. The edges are fully secure and the stitch adds to the rustic quality of the pattern and flannel print.

Not bad for scrap yarn, eh? See what’s hiding in your leftover yarn stash – it’s amazing what you can make with even the smallest scraps of yarn!

Happy Knitting!

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c.b.w. 2016

Vintage TLC: Sometimes You Get Lucky

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It’s rare, but every once in a while there’s a motivated seller on eBay  that has exactly what you’re looking for at the right price. In my case, I found two motivated sellers that had the two halves to a complete outfit.

A classic vintage Barbie fashion known as Red Flare includes a red velvet, white satin-lined coat. I’ve been drooling over it for a while, but never thought I could afford one in good enough shape (velvet and satin are hard to restore!)

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While perusing vintage Barbie fashion on eBay, I came across a listing for Red Flare. Not only was the coat in near perfect condition, but the set was complete with the hat, purse, gloves, and even the shoes!

Aside from the completeness of the ensemble, the price caught my eye – only $17.99. I pounced. While it’s more than I usually spend on vintage Barbie clothes, it was too good a deal to pass up. Everything is in absolute perfect condition and required zero restoration. Sometimes luck is on your side as a vintage collector!

Still, Red Flare is simply a well-accessorized coat. Barbie needs a dress to go with that coat!  The fashion, Silken Flame is often paired with Red Flare as it is a white satin and red velvet cocktail dress.

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A few days of searching lead to an amazing deal. It turns out a seller decided to have a clearance sale and they marked the dress down to $6.76. It was a little wrinkled and missing a snap, but no stains, (that’s huge for satin), and no red fading into the white satin (also huge as that’s not really fixable). No accessories were included, but that didn’t matter to me because I already had shoes and a purse!

The satin skirt has obviously been smashed in storage for a long time – the most notable fold across the entire skirt proved to be stubborn.

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Regardless, the satin was stain free which meant all I really needed to do was give it a good ironing. I used a combination of steam ironing and spraying the wrinkled areas with water. The combination of heat, steam, and a soaked surface  pressed those wrinkles right out!

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My Barbie is looking pretty good for a night on the town in her new coat and cocktail dress!

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Who says vintage collecting has to be difficult or labor intensive? Sometimes the stars align and your doll ends up in a stunning ensemble thanks to a little patience and a lot of luck!

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c.b.w. 2016

Vintage TLC: Suburban Shopper

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8d857822cbed851a0f1189ae12cc5911One of the more popular and sought after vintage Barbie Fashions is Suburban Shopper (#969, 1959-1964). The dress alone in good condition can run about $25 and up. Add in the accessories (phone, hat, shopping basket, necklace and shoes) and the price jumps to $50 or even $100. For a budget conscious collector such as myself, these prices are far beyond what I will spend!

So off I went in search of a TLC Suburban Shopper. It was clear from the start, that I’d have to let go of the accessories – they are hard to find and often expensive.

Instead, I focused on finding a TLC dress. Seeing as this is a popular fashion that was in production for five years, finding it isn’t too difficult. However, it can be pricey because there is a strong demand for this particular fashion. I ended up finding one in pretty rough shape for the bargain price of $5. Let the TLC games, begin!

The front of the dress was covered in brown age stains and a couple of unidentified dark spots on the white stripes (of course!).

Suburban Shopper Front_Before

To make matters worse, the stitches of a bad previous repair job can be seen along the bodice dart seams and the skirt/bodice seam.

Suburban Shopper Bodice_Before

The back of the dress is just as bad as the front. Dark stains (likely rust) hover around the zipper.

Suburban Shopper Back_Before

It only gets worse on the inside of the dress. One of the straps has fallen victim to a bad repair job. A wad of stitches going every which way actually shortens the strap to an ill-fitting length.

Suburban Shopper Strap_Before

The bodice/skirt seam was also “repaired” with another wad of stitching. The stitching is so bulky, the waist doesn’t fit on the doll – one side shifts up at an angle.

Suburban Shopper Skirt Seam_Before

It’s as bad as it looks! However, some needle and thread, along with a good washing turned this disaster of a dress into something really special.

The Brown Age Stains

Luckily, the brown stains covering most of the dress came out with just a basic treatment. I soaked it in a mixture of water, baking soda, and peroxide for two hours. Then, I laid it out to dry in direct sunlight. I repeated this process three times and the stains completely disappeared. All that was left behind were the darker spots.

The Dark Spots

It’s usually not recommend to use bleach on vintage fabrics, but the dark spots were pretty stubborn. Seeing as they were on the white stripes, (and I’d only be out $5 if this didn’t work!), I decided to chance a bleach treatment. I dabbed each spot with a Q-tip lightly loaded with diluted bleach.

I repeated the process until the spots started to lighten, all the while careful not to bleed the bleach onto the blue stripes. After the last dabbing, I gave it a good rinse and dried the dress in direct sunlight.  By some miracle, the spots were completely gone!

Bodice Dart “Repair”

To fix the previous poor repair, I carefully removed the stitches with a seam ripper. I found a small hole in the bodice dart and also realized one bodice dart was shorter than the other. Both problems were solved with a simple straight stitch along the dart seam, plus a few extra stitches to even out the length difference.

Strap “Repair”

Ripping out the previous repair stitches was quite the chore. Removing a “pile” of stitches poses the risk of accidentally tearing the fabric – especially on more fragile vintage fabric. I took my time and removed one layer of stitches at a time.

Once the stitches were gone, I could actually see the original sew line of factory stitches! That made my job a lot easier. I simply lined up the the sew line to the bodice seam allowance and stitched the strap back into place.

There were some strange stitches running down the zipper flap, but I decided to leave them in as they aren’t effecting the look of the dress or the fit. They’ll just be part of this dress’s story!

Bodice/Skirt Seam “Repair”

Oh, this was a mess. The wad of stitching took more than an hour to pick out. I had to be even more careful about not tearing the fabric because of the added bonus of gathers. Gathered fabric often has a separate line of stitches aside from the seam. If this was the case, I wanted to be sure to preserve as much of the original stitches as possible.

Underneath the wad, I found a mostly intact original seam. There was just a small hole that required only a few stitches to fix. I am baffled as to why it was previously repaired with a mountain of thread!

The end result was far more than I expected for my $5 purchase. It’s amazing what a few basic sewing skills and good washing can do!

Here’s the front of the dress after repairs and a visit with a steam iron. The stains are gone and all seams are fully restored.

Suburban Shopper Front_After

The bodice looks a lot better with properly repaired darts.

Suburban Shopper Bodice_After

The back of the dress also looks pretty good!

Suburban Shopper Back_After

My repair on the strap is hard to see, just as a repair should be! No more wadded stitching and the strap is now at its correct length.

Suburban Shopper Strap_After

My repair on the waist seam blends right into the original seam. Without that wad of stitches, the waist once again fits the doll.

Suburban Shopper Skirt Seam_After

Perhaps one day I’ll piece together the accessories for my Suburban Shopper fashion, but until then I’ll just enjoy how pretty my Bubblecut Barbie looks in her restored dress.

Suburban Shopper Dress

More Vintage TLC projects are in the works. I recently got my hands on an Enchanted Evening gown (#983, 1960-63) and Movie Date (#933, 1962-63). Stay tuned for more vintage fun!

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c.b.w. 2016