The Vintage Barbie Project Part 3


After a 3 day sewing marathon, I finished the 1959 Barbie wardrobe for Olivia in time for Christmas, with the exception of the sweater girl ensemble. I actually knitted a tiny cardigan in orange crewel yarn but even that little yarn turned out to be too chunky for the look so I said forget about it, I'll do that one in January!

I've shared the project on Instagram at #vavoomvintagebarbies so you can see a few behind the scenes things there also.You can see my previous Barbie outfits at:

The Vintage Barbie Project Part 1
The Vintage Barbie Project Part 2

Now for the rest!

 This is the commuter set, which comes with a plaid shirt and a white satin blouse. My suit pattern was off so I had to make this one twice! I haven't made her hat box yet but the hat is made with the plastic ring from a milk jug with felt and flowers hot glued to it.

Some fabrics were hard to find like this navy stripe. I really tried to use stuff already in my stash so I could keep this project within a reasonable budget too. Instead of buying fabric, I used an iron on transfer on a white pillow case to print a stripe pattern (made in Picmonkey) on fabric.

 This apple print sheath dress fabric would have also been impossible to find so I painted my own, using a pencil eraser as a stamp. The Easter Parade ensemble included the sheath, a black coat, black purse and bow headband hat.

 They called this set the Peachy Fleecy but he original didn't look very peach at all so I made some changes of my own. I used peach vintage wool from an old moth-eaten coat and added Lucite rhinestone buttons. Her mustard purse and brown felt hat are very much like the original

 The Plantation Belle dress was one of the first that I sewed, I just didn't know how I'd make her hat or tiny pink straw purse. The dress is made in sheer pink swiss dot fabric from the 50s with store bought trim. The hat is a soda bottle lid embellished with vintage sheer fabric from a mis-matched glove. For her purse, I cut pieces out in cardstock and hot glued them to burlap fabric, then trimmed the burlap down and hot glued them together to make the purse shape. The top had an extra flap of burlap that works as a hinge. I braided strands of burlap for the handle and closure. Then, painted in pink acrylic and decorated with sequins and pearls. Of course, she has pink sparkly heels to match her entirely pink dress.

This is the Barbie Q outfit with a cotton pink dress and crisp white apron and chef's hat. I bought a few miniature cooking utensils months ago and can't find where they ended up! 
 One of my favorites, this one is called "Roman Holiday". This is the cruise stripes dress with a matching coat, white belt and red hat. The best part of this outfit is a tiny brass makeup compact, which is the most sought after and expensive Barbie collectible. We made one with a small round locket, poured pink paint inside for the makeup and put a little foil sticker in for the mirror.
 One of the last outfits that I made is the winter holiday outfit. This is a knit stripe hoodie, footed leggings, white coat and plaid bag. The original coat and bag were in a plastic fabric but since I didn't have any of that (and sewing plastic in tiny sized items would be ridiculous) I used cotton for the coat and wool for the purse. The leggings and hoodie are tee shirt fabric. I want this outfit for myself, it looks so cozy!

How to sew a sweetheart neckline from a mandarin collar


I thrifted this Target dress last year sometime and I haven't worn it much because I'm not loving that Mandarin collar. I decided to give it a little re-style into a super flattering and perfectly vintage sweetheart neckline. It was so quick, I did this in about 10 minutes. Here's how....

Before and After

Start by unbuttoning the collar, or cut the collar down to where you want it to end. Fold the collar inwards and pin into a V-neck. Take the dress off and turn inside out

Sew the collar down and trim the excess.

Next, I folded the sides of the V like an accordion and pinned in place, in even spots on both sides

stitch down

That's all there is to it! I left the back of the collar as it is, so its high at the back of the neck like a 1940s sweetheart neckline would be. I'm so happy with this dress. I may replace the buttons at some point or add some little ribbon bows at either corner of the sweetheart shape.

How to Make a Novelty 1950s Atomic Clock Brooch


retro 1950s novelty atomic clock brooch tutorial via Va Voom Vintage

I've been so inspired by dollhouse miniatures lately, I want to make everything in tiny form. I found this amazing little mid century dollhouse clock and immediately wanted to make a brooch. It looks like they used a little circle of styrofoam, which would be great for a dollhouse but not so much for a brooch so I made mine a little differently, with clock hands that you can move.

retro 1950s novelty atomic clock brooch tutorial via Va Voom Vintage

You will need:
card stock
craft paint
a brass office brad
assorted sewing pins with different colored ball tips
a cereal box or something similar from the recycling bin
glue sticks

Using a small circle something (I used a shot glass) trace a circle onto your cardstock and the cereal box and cut them out.

Paint each in whatever color you want the clock to be. I used a robins egg blue. Allow to dry completely

Next, cut two triangle shapes with big enough ends for the brad to go through but small enough that they will fit within the circle. Paint them black (or whatever color you like) and allow to dry

On the chipboard from the cereal box, hot glue the sewing pins evenly spaced all around the circle

Poke a hole through the center of the chipboard, using a toothpick or something to widen the hole enough for the brad to fit through. Do the same on the ends of the clock hands

Poke the brad through the clock hands and into the clock face, opening the brad in the back so the hands spin

Glue the cardstock to the back of the brooch so it covers up those pokey bits and paint the brad black, if you like.

glue a brooch back to the back and it's ready to wear!

If you enjoyed this project, check out my ebook, Pins for Pin-Ups: DIY Brooches for Retro Girls for more novelty brooch tutorials using things that you already have around the house!

Pins for Pin-Ups: DIY Brooches for Retro Girls craft tutorial e-book

My 1950s Christmas Tree


Last year, my grandma gave me this amazing vintage aluminum tree. It's so bright and colorful in my dark living room, I wish I could leave it up all year!

Vivien of Holloway raglan blouse plus size review

In addition to the tree, she loaded my car full of vintage glass ornaments that she found at local auctions and some from my great grandma's tree. Although it looks so touchable and pretty, my kids are amazingly well behaved when it comes to the tree and they leave it alone except for putting it up and taking it down. Olivia's favorite part is putting the tiny colorful light reflectors on the ends of the branches.

1950s Christmas tree plus size vintage holiday fashion

Our Christmas traditions begin this weekend and since we have a huge family, they don't stop till after the New Year! I am really looking forward to Christmas morning at home, though. It's my favorite celebration, just me, my husband and the kids opening presents, playing with new toys and eating loads of candy. I make breakfast and Pj puts toys together.

1950s aluminum christmas tree and vintage plus size holiday fashion via va voom vintage

Since we have so many places to go, I've put together a few festive outfits to choose from but this is one of my favorites! The blouse is the new 1950s raglan blouse from Vivien of Holloway. It's cotton with the prettiest 50s collar and cuffed 3/4 sleeves. I can't have enough button-up blouses but I really love how its long enough to tuck into skirts or wear loose and belted with capris. There's little tucks around the waist for a little nip in the middle. The skirt is vintage 50s that I rescued from a warehouse here in St Louis. It's sewn in about a million panels and is so full and lovely. Also in cotton, it's so comfortable, I wear it all year!

1950s aluminum christmas tree and vintage plus size holiday fashion via va voom vintage

Have you planned your holiday outfits yet? Come back tomorrow for a tutorial for a retro clock novelty brooch to count down to the New Year!

1950s aluminum christmas tree and vintage plus size holiday fashion via va voom vintage

Skirt-50s vintage
brooch- from my Great Grandma, MarMar
carved fish shoes- bought on my honeymoon in St. Augustine, Florida

Vintage on a Budget: New Year's Eve Style


Most of us have to tighten our purse strings around the holidays but with all of the wonderful sales and cocktail parties coming up, it's hard to not splurge on something pretty to wear. Here's some of my favorite budget pieces,  $50 or less that you can wear for the New Year and beyond!

1. Pin up surplice dress in sea shore green from Le Bomb Shop  2. Bettie Page heels in black and grey   3. Doll Face Makeup Bag    4.   Domestic Goddess Dress in Cherry Red

1. London Calling satin skirt from Oblong Box Shop   2. Olive Swing Skirt  3. Heartbreaker Dress in red   4. Peek-a-Boo Cobalt Sweater

1. Cross your Heart pin up top in black   2. Flamingo brooch by Sparklite    3. Peggy Sue Skirt in mint from Doll Me Up       4. Tootsie cropper cardigan in Lilac

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How to make miniature dollhouse vintage pyrex


how to make miniature vintage dollhouse Pyrex- you won't believe what is used to make these, it's not polymer clay!

 how to make miniature vintage dollhouse Pyrex

Lately, I've been rocking out on dollhouse furniture and accessories for a Christmas present for my kids. We found this junky dollhouse at a thrift store but it had good bones so it got a paint job, new handmade furniture and all of the little details that a vintage dollhouse needs.

1960s retro modern dollhouse living room DIY furniture

Pj and I made all of the furniture and accessories from scratch, using scraps and junk that we already had at home. As much as I desperately wanted to buy all of the adorable miniature things at the craft store and on etsy, they just weren't in the budget.

The entire dollhouse has only cost $12 so far. That's the wonderful thing about a handmade Christmas is that you can do it on a shoestring budget. I have never made miniatures before but it's not hard and it's really fun, especially with an outside the box thinker like Pj around and a bunch of power tools at your disposal.

Check out my Vintage Dollhouse Pinterest board for tutorials for some of these things and more vintage miniature inspiration.

The sofa is cardboard, upholstered in some fabric scraps with copper rivets from Pj's leather working stuff as legs. The coffee table is heat-bent acrylic that Pj made and I printed out some mini vintage magazines.

 The little glass tumbler is a pen that I sawed into little pieces and the chair is made from a coat hanger and a conditioner bottle. I sewed a rug from some scrap fabric.

1960s retro modern dollhouse living room DIY furniture

The shelf is made of craft wood, along with the dining table. Pj picked up some free formica samples from the hardware store and we glued those to to the top. The chrome trim is silver Christmas ribbon. Pj bent some copper wire to make the chair legs and a coat hanger for the hairpin table legs.

I used some scraps of vintage vinyl from a 50s dinette chair that I need to reupholster. The table vase is a plastic bead with some strips of a faux flower that I cut up and hot glued in place. We still aren't sure how we want to attach the table legs so for now, they're taped in place. I think Pj is talking about using some epoxy. We'll see!

retro modern dollhouse miniature dinette table and chairs with diy vintage pyrex

Yesterday, I made some tiny pyrex for the kitchen and I had a ton of requests for a tutorial so here it is! These are so easy to make and so fun, you could easily do a whole collection of your dream Pyrex pieces to set in your kitchen windowsill or a dollhouse of your own. Here's how:

For the dish, root around in your medicine cabinet and search for empty blister packs from over the counter pills and cough drops. For the long casserole dishes, I used blister packs from gum.

Cut out the pack, leaving some excess around the edges for the handles. Try to peel off all of the foil backing so its clear.

how to make miniature pyrex
how to make miniature pyrex

If your blister pack has been crushed from popping the pills or gum out, stick the end of a paint brush or something in there to push it back into its original shape. Use small scissors to trim around the outside edge and cut out the handles.

 My first set of dishes were hand painted but that's a lot of work and doesn't look exactly like Pyrex so I made a free printable with some vintage Pyrex designs for you which you can download in PDF from Dropbox here.  These designs are sized to fit little gum or cough drop blister packs but they'll need to be trimmed to fit a tiny pill pack.

how to make miniature vintage pyrex free printable va-voom vintage

Print and cut out the designs that you want to use. Paint a little mod podge or glue to the inside of the dish and a very quick swipe of modpodge or glue onto the front of the paper design itself. Apply the design so it shows through to the outside.

If you lay the dish on its side, design facing down, you can use the end of your paint brush to roll across the design and smash out any air bubbles. Be careful to not put to much glue on it or the ink will bleed. If the ink does bleed, rinse it off in the sink and try again.

I probably should have let mine dry for much longer between glue and paint, which is why the patterns aren't as clear as they could be. But, I'm a very impatient crafter, if you can believe that.

Before painting the inside of the dish, seal the paper with mod podge or clear nail polish, otherwise the wetness of the paint will make the ink bleed out entirely and will ruin the design (like my first ones did!) Dry thoroughly.

Paint the inside of the dish and handles to match the background of the Pyrex design. Allow to dry completely, about 30 minutes. I used acrylic craft paint but you could also use nail polish for a high shine or glittery look.

If needed, apply a second coat and allow to dry. At this stage, they look pretty rough

Next, pour a few drops of white paint into the dish and roll it all around to coat the inside nicely. Paint the handles white as well. Allow to dry. Seal the inside with clear nail polish

If you want to make lids to match, look through the recycling bin for thin clear plastic from packages and cut a piece to fit the top of the dish, including the shape of the handles.

DIY retro pyrex miniature dollhouse dishes tutorial

IMPORTANT NOTE: Blister packs are made to protect medication from moisture or damage. If you remove the medication, they may become damaged or mixed in with other medication or worse- lost and eaten by pets or children.

Only use blister packs that have already been emptied or from things like cough drops or gum that you can pop out and put in a sealed container for use later. Make sure to label containers with cough drops or gum in them so you (and others in your house) know what they are!

I hope that you enjoyed this little craft project! If you make some of your own Pyrex dishes, I'd love to see them. Leave a link below or tag me on social media @vavoomvintage

 If you liked this post, also check out How to Make Vintage Pyrex Brooches

how to make vintage pyrex brooches from Va Voom Vintage blog

how to make miniature pyrex

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