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Feb 17, 2011

New Acquisitions: Insomnia Edition

Friends, unlike you, I can't talk about men's shirtmaking endlessly without the occasional break; I'm simply not a shirt-obsessive.  With all the focus on our Sew-Along, I neglect to mention all the other exciting things going on.  Since I'm wide awake at 3 am, I'd like to share a few of them.

First of all, look what arrived in the mail yesterday -- or should I say who. 

Reader's, I picked up this 12-inch vintage vinyl Viking on eBay and can I just say this was one of the best $20 I ever spent in my entire life?  I don't know why I never bought a Ken before.  I have a few vintage Barbies somewhere and a Skooter (Barbie's sister Skipper's friend) I picked up in a thrift store out West.  Somehow Ken never interested me though we're roughly the same age and I don't mean seventeen.

Until Sassy Lassy.  Readers, surely you are familar with Sassy, of Sassy Lassie's Vintage Life. Now I am considered by many to be a bit of a kookie collector, but Sassy...well, Sassy puts me to shame.

Last January Sassy ran a series on her blog about her doll collection.  A few highlights:




Whoops, wrong photo -- that's Mr. Sassy and quite a doll himself if you ask me.  This is Sassy's Ken doll.

Sassy wrote a loving tribute to Ken that moved me to tears -- and to eBay.   After much inner debate, I decided against the original flock hair model in favor of painted hair (just like Sassy's, I mean, Sassy's Ken) and, Troy Donahue fan that I am, I opted for the butternut blonde.

Friends, I am in love with every painted hair on his injection-molded vinyl head.  And look at that suit.  It's even lined.

And the shirt...

Sure he could use a sloping shoulder adjustment, but who couldn't?

I am fortunate to own this book, which I've had for 17 years.  It's full of color pics of all of Ken's Male Pattern Boldness-worthy outfits, with detailed descriptions of each.

Readers, if you are looking to find a home for your priceless Ken doll wardrobe, please think of me.  Remember: decluttering is next to Godliness!  More Ken pics here.

Let's move on.

Good news from the penitentiary -- Cathy is nearing the end of her sentence and should be out by mid-March.  It seems she's lost a little weight and could use a frosting but I think she'll be back in fighting form pretty fast.  In honor of the occasion I picked up 3 yards of this cotton sateen on Tuesday -- should I have bought 6?

I'm envisioning something like this.  What do you think?

I've already bought this, to give it the poofiness it deserves if I go in that direction.

The alternative is this type of thing, which has a bit more of the Doris Day-in-Jean Louis look to it:

I'm not sure which way to go.  Thoughts?

I also bought some cotton shirting.   This sort of had an anime vibe and seemed so utterly inappropriate for a man's shirt that I had to have it.  It's what I'll be making my final version of Negroni out of, though it probably belongs in a baby's bassinet.

Finally, friends, I picked up a dozen of these transparent sewing machine needle plate decals.

Neither my Singer 66 treadle nor more Pfaff 30 has any measurements on the needle plate and they don't sell the measured plate, though you can line things up with various screws for accuracy. But really, this seems so much easier.  I suppose I could have measured the various distances myself and used colored tape, but I'm lazy.

Friends, this little insomniac needs to return to the land of Nod. 

In closing, two questions:

1) Should I collect Ken's entire vintage wardrobe?  I fear another vintage luggage debacle.  Please don't suggest I sew for him. 

2) Cathy's comeback dress: wiggle or bouffant -- or something else entirely?

Thanks, guys!


  1. I love tour new aquisition. I've always ben in love with ken. It has a lot to do with his hair cut.
    I can't wait to see Cathy's back. Hopefully with Mickael's gorgeous food she'll soon be at her best soon.
    I suggest the puffy dress for her.
    Have a nice day.

  2. Not sure about ken, unless you sew for him. Those sloping shoulders really need fitting. I definitely think a rip roaring bouffant party dress for Cathy - surely she'll be partying post-release?

  3. Bouffant dress for Cathy please.

  4. I still have my 70s Mod Hair Ken, sadly the stick-on mustache and beard are long gone! He's rather more athletically built than early Kens... All the earlier clothes are fabulous though and had already gone down in quality by the 70s, both in the fabrics used and the techniques...

    That rose fabric is gorgeous but you'll need more than 3yds if you're to make the bouffant dress, surely. And yes, bouffant for Cathy, definitely! Give her something to swish around in after so many months in the clink...

  5. Collecting Ken's wardrobe sounds like a slippery slope. What if you don't have enough time for us, your dear readers, because you're too busy looking high and low for a racket to complete his tennis outfit?

    In re: Cathy -- frankly, I think she deserves both dresses. Just imagine what the past months have been like for her!

  6. Love this post. I have several Barbies and one Ken, Midge. I have had them since my mother bought them for me years, years, years ago. I did not realize there was a painted hair Ken, mine has that stubble hair.

    I like the wiggle dress for the rose fabric. I think I have some rose fabric similar to yours that has been in my stash for a couple of years.

  7. I think you can safely collect as much Ken wardrobe as you like - it's so tiny! I can't believe that jacket is lined. No sloppy velcro back closures in those days.
    I'm liking the shirt fabric. In fact I'm mostly liking the really unlikely fabric choices in the sewalong. Muslins can be inspiring!
    And yes, I agree that Cathy would feel more free in the swishy dress, but 3 yards probably wouldn't be enough. If you went for a view C perhaps you could try floral skirt with a matching solid colour in the bodice, and the floral coming back in at the neckline? Although, a bit girly for a more mature lady maybe?

  8. a) I don't like dolls, but I do collect their clothes. Get as much as you can.

    b) WIggle with bolero! The bolero should be a complimentary solid (linen or heavy silk), lined in the left over floral dress fabric!

  9. Mature? What are you trying to say, Jane? ;)

  10. I love the bouffant dress - exactly what Cathy needs to frolic in after her months in the clink. You did to buy more of that wonderful fabric. Of course, if you can't find more and have to switch fabrics, you could just send it to me...

  11. If Cathy has lost some weight, she might feel like showing off in a rose covered wiggle with a black or navy patent leather belt and accessories ?

    I'm so glad she'll be back. I've been worried about the poor vulnerable little bird caged and incarcerated.

  12. I have to agree with Jane - I think the bouffant dress in the rose fabric may be a little too precious on a woman who is past the first innocent flush of youth (after all, she's been in prison. I'm pretty sure that would suck the wide eyed wonder out of anybody!)

  13. Love Five and Diamond's idea of the wiggle dress with coordinating lined bolero! Both patterns are super, but I'm leaning towards the wiggle dress myself. After all, it's not like Cathy has huge hips to hide, lol.

    Barbie and I are the same age ;-) I remember shopping for Barbie clothes at JC Penney with my mom about 1967 ... Mom muttering that Barbie dressed better than she did, and that $3 for an outfit was pretty outrageous.

  14. I'm all about the vintage Barbies! I have a couple repro ones and a vintage Francie that I rescued from a junk shop as a teenager. She sadly had a run-in with a dog or hungry toddler before I gave her a safe home: one of her hands has been tragically chewed off. (Though nothing a pair of spic and span white gloves won't hide! ;) I still need to get the box of dolls I have in storage at my parent's house... I'm afraid they might take over my little abode though! lol.

    ♥ Casey

  15. Cathy NEEDS both dresses! Think of what she's been through! Maybe you will also need Ken's friend Alan? He had red-brown hair. My Ken and Alan dolls were always in Hawaiian shirts and trunks, because I found it more fun to dress up the Barbies

  16. Did you see the Charles LeDray exhibit at the Whitney? If not, you should check it out if it's still on. It is fantastic. This sounds like spam, but I don't think major museums have started spamming people on blogs yet. I really think you might be interested.

  17. Absolutely, you should sew Ken's clothes, when you love some(one)thing that much, it should be a joy and pleasure!

    I adore that rose cotton sateen fabric you chose and if I may, would like to vote for pattern #1, Simplicity 1547 or is that a 1?

  18. As soon as I saw the fabric and the pattern I thought the bouffant dress. I think Cathy can pull it off even if she is a bit mature.

    I was known as the doll hater in my family with one exception: I liked my Barbies. There's no denying she had a great wardrobe! I have my cousin's Barbies that were handed down to me. My flock haired Ken has strangely gone partially bald --I think something ate his hair! My other Ken is like the one Sassy has except some brat my mother babysat tried to scratch one of his eyes off. That's his war wound. Go ahead a find some clothes! Sounds like fun. I have his bermuda shorts, printed shirt, two suits (the one you have and a black one), and a clown suit with mask (although the mask is cracked). Unfotunately they smell musty and need a good cleaning.

    Other than Barbie the only other doll I thought was neat was Gene. She was supposed to be a movie star from the 40's and 50's with a wardrobe to match.

  19. I like the Simplicity!

    However! Where did you get the needle plate decals? We have several machines that don't really have good needle plate markings and I'd LOVE to have some of those.

  20. I wish I could come up with something sassy to say here, but I am laughing too hard!

  21. Don't collect more. If you need more stuff for Ken, sew it yourself from scraps. Then you'll be able to not need more vintage luggage for this. And Barbie can wear an F cup and Ken has sloping shoulders? There's something that escapes me here.

    As to Cathy's dress, if you want really authentic Doris Day you have to do as one of my ex-roomates: men's pajamas. Not just striped pants, the matching top with chest pocket and piping and everything. That said, I prefer the shift option, but that's just me, if you want pouf and you have enough fabric go ahead.

  22. Oh please with the bouffant! It's so much more becoming on a "slim figured" girl like Cathy. Besides, I've been wanting to sew a poofy petticoat for myself, and if you do it first, I'll be that much more emboldened.

  23. I'm with Nikki: I need to know where those decals came from! I just did a quick google and I all I got was this post!

  24. I just have to weigh in here since I collect Vintage Barbie and Friends...

    Send them to me!!!
    No, in all seriousness, it's actually pretty easy sewing Ken's clothes, there's a vintage pattern out there specifically designed for the vintage Ken that gives you wonderful clothes with really simple/clear instructions. I think it's by simplicity?

  25. I love that border print bouffant pattern! Please please please find a fantastic border print fabric for Cathy. You'll need way more than 3 yards anyway, so you might as well find something that makes the most of the pattern. I love the challenge of sewing with border prints, stripes, ombres and directional prints!

  26. oh god, yes, please collect ken's clothes! but nothing post-70s; you might as well go to walmart and buy new ken's clothes if you're going to go that route.

    vintage barbies made me so jealous. i was playing with barbies in the late 80s/early 90s, so all my stuff had glitter and day-glo and velcro closures :( no tiny buttons on tiny lined suit jackets for me!

    i think that fabric screams for a bouffant dress.

  27. You can buy those needle plate stickers here:

    I think you have to buy 10 (I ended up with 12 since they're 3 to a sheet) minimum but it still comes to just $5 w/ shipping.

  28. Check the Sew Classic blog, she sells the measurement decals as well as all types of sewing machine parts

  29. I love Sassy Lassie and I love you too Peter...
    Patti Sinclair (Sassy's Little Lassie sister) ox

  30. I still have my Barbie (circa 1962) and Skipper (circa 1965 or so), and have been working up the gumption to sell them on ebay...

    So it is a slippery slope indeed. Oh, what the hell, sew ol' Ken some clothes.

  31. Fly to your computer and see if eBay is selling vintage Butterick pattern #2519. Patterns for Ken: (or 12" boy doll) Leisure shirt and shorts, tuxedo w/ cummerbund and your basic Mad Men suit...

  32. Hi Peter, I think you should sew for him , when I was the merchandiser for Vogue Pattern's Crafts I put a whole line of vintage Barbie and Ken patterns that were styles I pulled from the old catalogues in the archives and were scaled down to doll size. Ken had a cabana set, Hawiian shirt, bermudas, sport jacket, pants, shirt, tie, bow tie and tuxedo. you can find them on Ebay.

  33. This is off topic a bit, but I found this book on the internet archive site and it seems like something you would like to know about:)

  34. You MUST sew for Ken! Wouldn't that be fun? You could even do matchy-matchy Mini Me outfits! I'm getting a little excited just typing that sentance...

    SO glad to hear that Cathy's almost out of the hooskow. That girl's been away too long. That amazing floral fabric is just screaming for a big, poofy dress! Go big or go home!

  35. I can't believe you got a Ken! I had a flocked hair one myself back in the day. Unfortunately, he suffered from baldness.

    Now I feel so much better about buying myself a Gene for Christmas! Buying the clothes is addictive, but that's part of the deal.

    I think the sateen would make a smashing wiggle dress. You don't have enough for the full skirt, unfortunately. Besides, Cathy's a sophisticated (almost) ex-con, and the wiggle is certainly that.

  36. Nancy, I do think a woman with a record is past the pouf stage, don't you? Then again, Cathy's an innocent at heart.

  37. Wiggle dress! I think you might squeak it out of those three yards of divine floral even?? Love the Ken! Sassy's and my Ken (aka "Comfy") are twins. Mine is still wearing PJ's silver lame' bell bottoms though and the fur collared jacket.

  38. Oh, curses. I can't make up my mind!

  39. I could have bought those patterns as a teen, did buy some similar. That sort of poofiness was definitely the virginal, fake or otherwise, look. Now, the straight skirt would have been very sophisticated. Adult women didn't wear crinolines except with ball gowns.

  40. Make BOTH dresses. Equally stunning.

    My older sister had a full family of Barbie dolls back in the day, and she would periodically deign to allow me to play with her Ken (I believe he was identical to yours). She had a Barbie with molded hair and several wigs, which I was always pilfering for Ken... I began to lose interest in all of them after we took a trip to Grandma's house in the rear middle-facing seats of our wood-panelled station wagon, and Suzi got carsick all over her Barbies. Never quite as appealing after that, somehow...

    Suzi did have all sorts of clothes for them, my favorite being a gold & white striped swimsuit with matching turban: smashing!

  41. With that fabric, my vote is for the wiggle dress. It's chic, sophisticated and just the thing for Cathy's svelte silhouette.

    I have had little exposure to Barbie and her ilk for many years; when I was a very young little couturier, I used to make dresses for my sister's Barbie. She was more interested in sundresses and pantsuits, where (in my 11-year-old way) I was always aiming for Charles James. Ah, well...

  42. collecting Ken's wardrobe sounds like fun, though expensive. I've been acquiring Superman action figures, myself. Evie asked for, "Superman toys" and I'm nothing if not her patsy. I'm still acquiring materials, but fairly soon, I'll be making something completely different--a Supergirl costume complete with pint-sized cape so that my sweetie can "fly".

  43. Cathy needs both those dresses, both I say; and a day out dancing too!

    Hmm. I think you should hold a contest for Ken outfits, have everyone send one in and have him model them all. Then we can all vote for the best beach outfit, evening wear etc. All participants to get a signed Cathy & Ken photo.

  44. Cathy also gets a strawberry daqueri with the bouffant dress and a whiskey sour with the wiggle dress.

  45. Sofie www.sewdarntired.blogspot.comFebruary 18, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    I love the Ken! The little suit is delightful! One of the reasons I loved the movie The Fantastic Mr Fox was because of the hand made creatures and outfits ... I could feel for the artists!
    Now regarding that fabric .. you should have bought six because then I could have had 3... It is beautiful and I think either dress would look great in it. I'd like to see Cathy in something bouffy however.

  46. Birdmommy and Susan, thank you! I have not had a good day, but when I read your comments I laughed out loud and felt so happy! The idea of a clown suit for Ken is priceless and somehow perfect.
    I think Cathy would look utterly divine in a rose print wiggle dress. I'm sure she has the gorgeous walk to really work it. If she gets the wiggle dress, maybe we could have a video as well as the photo shoot? Maybe taking the chihuahuas for a walk? Somehow, they seem like ideal rose print wiggle dress accessories.

  47. Do they even have sewing patterns for Ken? Now I'm curious. I think Cathy would be more suited to a wiggle style but I LOVE bouffant dresses so that gets my vote!

  48. Bouffant dress! Ken- sounds like an obsession coming on.

  49. If you do choose the bouffant dress how about an Alice Lon petticoat instead? She was a regular on the Lawrence Welk show & TV Guide did an article on how her mother made all those fantastic petticoats she wore. A very nice poof can be made with 10 yards of netting & the finished edges have a wonderful leg framing effect.

    Though a wiggle dress with a lovely belt & hat would be charming too...

  50. You know all the "I'm a strong independent woman" goes out the window when it comes to ms. barbie. I just loved her. LOVED. I had thousands of dresses and shoes and at some point my mom packed them into a ziplock bag and sold them for $5. We both cried. But Babs was so much more to me because before I sewed, knitted and crafted for myself, I made stuff for her. She was my first model. I miss her and Ken, even though he only owned a bathing suit- it's how I like my men dressed.....sniff.....


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