Tips for Buying Used Doll Clothes Patterns on eBay @ ChellyWood.com #AmSewing #DollClothes

The image shows the Chelly Wood doll holding up a McCall's Crafts sewing pattern which displays the finished projects of a Barbie sized wedding dress, various pants and shirts, a cape, and evening gowns. The article that goes with this image offers advice for buying sewing patterns for making doll clothes, using the eBay auction platform. Please visit ChellyWood.com for additional sewing ideas plus free printable sewing patterns and tutorial videos for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

 

Have you ever purchased doll clothes sewing patterns on eBay? I have. In fact, the pattern pictured above was one I purchased about a year ago.

Yes, the pattern you see in the image above is outdated, but there are some timeless patterns in this set, as well as out-of-style fashions. The wedding dress pattern can be used for a Disney princess character dress, and with the right modern fabrics, the evening gowns wouldn’t be considered unfashionable. Plus, you can’t go wrong with skirts, shorts, and basic pants patterns.

So what is this pattern worth?

When buying used patterns on eBay you need to think about several things.

First, what is the cost of shipping? Add this to the cost of the pattern itself before you place a bid.

There are people who make a killing, selling stuff on eBay, by simply over-charging for shipping. So really watch out for these eBay stores.

It’s not outrageous to ask as much as $8.30 for shipping and handling for a pattern. In fact, an $8.30 Priority Mail flat rate package here in the US is exactly the right size for shipping a pattern or even several patterns.

Priority Mail will get the pattern to you quickly, and it will include tracking information (just in case it gets lost in the mail).

A lot of eBay stores use Priority Mail flat rate packaging because it ensures that the package will arrive in a timely fashion, and as such, that particular eBay store will get a higher rating for customer satisfaction. So don’t hesitate to pay the fees for Priority Mail packaging, as this often means the person or eBay store you’re dealing with has some experience on the eBay site.

If you look at the pattern again, you’ll see that its original price was $5.95 US:

So let’s do the math.

$5.95 + $8.30 = $14.25

Does that sound reasonable? Hmmm…

Look again at what has been written at the top of the pattern. It says, “Missing pieces 1, 3, 12, and 13. Hooded top front and hood. Dress D front and back.”

So not only is this a used pattern with outdated styles, but it is also missing some of the pieces!

Now I actually did purchase this pattern online, but I had a long conversation with the seller on Facebook first. We discussed which pattern pieces were missing. Before I made my purchase, she sent me photos of the images with circles around the articles of clothing I could actually make with the patterns that were available in the envelope.

Are you wondering what I paid for it? Of course you are!

And I have some surprising news for you. It’s nearly impossible to sell incomplete patterns without leading someone down the road of unfairness. So instead, the seller–who was up-front about everything and very fair in my dealings with her–offered me a collection of a dozen different partial patterns for $12 plus shipping and handling.

That’s a dollar (US) per pattern, but these were all incomplete patterns.

Most people don’t want partial patterns, but I only use my commercially-made patterns for inspiration. I just like to see how other people piece their patterns together and write their instructions — I rarely sew other people’s patterns. So I’m kind of an unusual purchaser.

But if I was buying a pattern to actually sew all the garments offered on the package, then I would take the time to do the following:

  • message the seller with a direct question asking, “Is this an uncut pattern?”
  • look through all the photos of the pattern carefully to see if anything is written on it or circled
  • compare prices with other sellers who are selling the same pattern
  • compare shipping prices with other sellers who are selling the same pattern

Now, what if the seller admits that it’s not an uncut pattern, and it may have some pieces missing. Then you need to ask yourself, how much do I want this pattern?

Is it your favorite Holly Hobby pattern that you made as a kid? If so, you may be willing to pay full price for it as-is for sentimental reasons.

Or, if you’ve been looking for the pattern for years, and it finally came up for auction, you may want to risk purchasing it, knowing it has been cut and may have pattern pieces missing.

In both of these situations, you can always purchase another partial of the same pattern later on, when you find it, combining the two patterns to make it a complete pattern.

But if it’s November and you’re buying a used pattern to sew some doll clothes for your child / grandchild for Christmas, then I would skip over any patterns that can’t be guaranteed to have all their pieces.

Also keep in mind that even if all the pieces are there, patterns that have already been cut may be damaged. The original owner may have cut off notch marks, cut a pattern for alteration purposes, or ripped the pattern pieces accidentally while working with it.

The day I typed this blog post, I located this exact same pattern on eBay by typing the words:

McCall’s Crafts pattern 4400 Barbie

…and discovered that it was being sold for prices as low as $7.99 and as high as $14.99, so prices may vary significantly. But are all of these uncut? One of the eBay stores marketed the pattern as “UNCUT” with a price of $9.99 with $1.99 for the shipping fee, so if I were buying this pattern to use it for sewing the whole wardrobe, that would seem like a fair price.

But knowing what I know about shipping fees, if I choose this $9.99 pattern, I know it’s not being sent via Priority Mail. So therefore, I run the risk of a.) having the pattern get lost in the mail or b.) having the pattern show up a long time after I ordered it.

So if I want to make sure my pattern arrives in a timely fashion, I might want to choose a higher price with a higher shipping rate.

A wise sewist once said, “You get what you pay for.”

Today’s blog post is a re-post from last summer, but I’m often asked questions about buying patterns online via my Contact Form. So I thought it wouldn’t hurt to re-post this advice.

Also, since that time, I’ve actually used the pattern to create a Barbie dress for my niece, Emily. I created the dress shown in View H, using purple seashell fabric, and I think it turned out pretty good. Have a look:

This image shows the front view of a Mattel modern Barbie doll wearing a handmade doll dress. This doll dress was sewn using McCalls Craft Pattern 4400. The fabric of the strapless dress is 100% cotton with a purple seashell print. The dress has a velvet ribbon around the bottom of it, with tulle trim at the edge of the dress. The photo was taken by Chelly Wood, whose website, ChellyWood.com offers free printable sewing patterns for dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

However this pattern was designed in the 1980’s, back when Barbie had a curvier figure. And in all honesty, my vintage Super Star Barbie looked a lot better in the dress than my modern Barbie, as you can see here:

In this photograph, a vintage Super Star Barbie wears a strapless gown made of purple cotton fabric. The fabric is decorated with tiny white and purple seashells. The dress length (including the tulle ruffle at the bottom) is almost to the doll's ankles, with a slightly shorter ruffle in front than in the back. The ruffle is made of tulle. Above the ruffle is a white velvet strip of ribbon. Super Star Barbie looks curvy and voluptuous in this handmade dress. The watermark on the photo reminds you to visit Chelly Wood dot com for free patterns and tutorials.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Barbies today have a different body type than Barbies of the past. So when buying a pattern online, be aware of this discrepancy.

In the following image, which is a side view of my modern Barbie, you can see that it fits her more like a flour sack than an hourglass:

In this side view of Mattel's modern Barbie, we see that the dress, which fit snugly on a vintage SuperStar Barbie is somewhat looser in the waist and bust for this doll.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

What’s the difference? Take a look at this close-up image of how the dress fits modern Barbie in the bust, in particular:

A pink arrow points to the bust dart, which dips almost to the stomach area of Mattel's modern Barbie. A yellow arrow points at the high point in modern Barbie's bust line. We can see that the fit is much looser and a little odd on this doll. It just doesn't quite fit the same way it fit on Mattel's Super Star Barbie doll. There's no "curvy figure" to fill out the dart areas.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Let’s compare that with how it fits a vintage Barbie:

In this image, we see the torso of Super Star Barbie from the late 1970's to early 1980's. She wears a fitted strapless dress made of purple seashell-print cotton fabric. Her bust fits in the dress tightly, leaving an hourglass figure shape to the dress on the whole. The image is watermarked with the website ChellyWood.com, which offers free printable sewing patterns for dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Yeah… There’s definitely a difference, isn’t there?

Of course my niece’s Barbies are all modern, so what did I do to make sure the dress would stay up? I chose a larger size of Dritz snaps than what the pattern called for:

This image shows the doll's dress open at the back, exposing the somewhat too-large snaps that are used to close the doll's dress.
Please visit ChellyWood.com for free printable sewing patterns for making doll clothes to fit dolls of many shapes and all different sizes.

Granted, this gives the back closure a bit of a lump at the back, but the front view looks nice. And above all, the garment will stay on while Emily plays with it.

So my final piece of advice, when buying used patterns on eBay, is this: if you’re buying patterns dated prior to 2016, when Barbie got a new body– including the modern Barbie (shown here), the Curvy body variation, and the Petite body variation –be prepared to alter your patterns to fit the newer Barbie body types.

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