Page One


Fitting Doll Clothes, Part Two

Contemporary Mattel Barbie bodies


The innocent Barbie fan will undoubtedly be surprised as I was to learn that all Barbies are not the same.  There are differences that are significant for the Barbie sewer, which leads to an accumulation of fitting dolls by the sewing machine.  Now, I'm not a Barbie expert, but here's a summary of contemporary Barbie body types. (Thanks, Kerry, for your help!  The Barbie Doll Collecting Forum is a great place to find and share Barbie lore.)


The Twist & Turn has been a standard for some time.  It is jointed at the waist to rotate, but does not bend.  The legs will bend slightly at the knee, and should click 2 or 3 times to hold the pose.  These dolls have the high-heel feet, and the legs move forward and back.

T&T dolls may come with 2 bent, 1 bent, or 2 straight arms, and there will be differences in how the hands are positioned.  The bent- arm bit is significant; they need a shorter sleeve than the straight arm dolls. (I also find the bent-arm dolls harder to dress.)  The T&T dolls are usually marked with a 1966 copyright date.



The Shani body is similar to the T&T body, but has a narrower waist.  These dolls are usually marked with a copyright date of 1991 on the back.  These dolls have a shape similar to the new Silkstone dolls. The Belly-Button body has no waist joint.  Compared to the T&T, the bust is smaller, the hips are wider, and the legs are slimmer.  The legs move forward and back and rotate at the hip.  The feet are slightly narrower and longer, and the hands are slightly larger. The Ever-Flex dolls are similar in shape to the BB dolls; the lower torso is made of a softer rubbery plastic which allows the waist to bend forward, backward, and from side to side ( within limits).



The Poser  dolls have visible joints at elbows and knees, and a narrower waist.  They are usually dated 1993, and come with either high-heel or flat feet.

There are sometimes jointed elbows or knees on BB and T&T dolls.


The Dance&Flex (or Gumby) body is made entirely of a softer rubbery plastic that can be posed at will (but may not be very durable); the body shape is similar to the BB body. A note about this soft plastic body, and the Everflex torso: the material is a bit "sticky" to dress, and collects lint.  Wipe it with a dryer anti-static sheet to reduce this tendency.


If you're sewing for vintage dolls - lucky you - but do a test garment! I think the first 3 are most similar to the Shani body . . .


See Fitting, Part 3 for some photo comparisons of other dolls, courtesy of Christine at 6th Dimension.