Have you ever purchased doll clothes sewing patterns on eBay? I have. In fact, the pattern pictured above, McCall’s Crafts pattern 4400, 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Yes, the pattern you see in the image above is outdated, but there are some timeless patterns in this set, as well as out-of-style fashions.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 the McCall’s Crafts pattern 4400 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So not only is this a used pattern with outdated styles, but it is also missing some of the pieces!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 Simplicity 6006 Holly Hobbie 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:
…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:
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:
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:
What’s the difference? Take a look at this close-up image of how the dress fits modern Barbie in the bust, in particular:
Let’s compare that with how it fits a vintage Barbie:
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:
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.
And now’s the time for me to mention my doll clothes pattern alteration class on the Creative Spark online learning platform… If you’re new to pattern alterations, I do have a class that teaches you how to alter the doll clothes patterns you already own, so they can fit a different doll.
In another of my online courses, you can learn how to “Design Your Own Doll Pants Patterns from Scratch,” including elastic-waist pants, jeans with a fly front, overalls, and leggings. My doll pants class only costs $19.99, and the Creative Spark courses only charge you a one-time fee. It’s not a subscription.
So please click on the links I’ve provided here to learn more about my online classes.