Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sew Magic: Pretty and ugly at the same time

Mattel introduced Sew Magic in 1973.

Follow the instructions to make
your own clothes for Barbie!

I wonder what would happen if I sent in the order form now?!

Pattern pieces could be reused to make other items.

The solid pink and blue brushed cotton squares
The fabric with the circular daisy pattern

The original owner of the Sew Magic kit that I recently purchased didn't follow the kit's instructions.  And so, this month, neither did I.

Sew Magic, and its sister set Knit Magic, was Mattel's attempt at craft projects for little girls in the mid-1970s.  The sewing machine, rather than using thread, used a glue called Miracle Stitch.  I don't know what Miracle Stitch actually was--it might have been a form of rubber resin.

Frankly, I like the pink top better with the short skirt anyway!

My sister had a Sew Magic.  The clothes were cute enough, but the brown glue was sticky and soaked through the fabric, leaving caramel-colored stains on the clothes that could not be washed out.  Over time the Miracle Stitch cartridges dried up.  We eventually sold the sewing machine and its supplies at a garage sale.  The clothes hung around for a while longer, but because they were so cheap looking compared to my mother's sewn creations that they, too, were eventually tossed.
I took apart the rose print skirt and resewed it.
Note the brown stains from the Miracle Stitch.

I found a Sew Magic set in the box, with most of its accessories, not including the cartridges, at an antique mall.  It was only $20, even though it came with the box, clothing and even some of the tiny pieces.  Many collectors, even though they consider the 1960s Sew Free and Color Magic clothing as official Barbie products, do not feel the same way about Mattel's Sew Magic outfits.  That may be why the resale prices for these kits are so low.

One unusual detail about #8670 Sew Magic Fashion Set is that the date on the box is the year it was sold.  Ninety-nine percent of Mattel products are sold the year AFTER the item is copyrighted or patented.  In the back of the instruction booklet is a form to send away for other kits, and they seemed kind of costly at $4 each.  The box also came with a rather complicated warranty card, and I was briefly tempted to send both of these Mattel to see what kind of answer I might get!  Then there are two plastic waistband guides with a 1972 date on them.

So what is included with the Barbie Sew Magic Fashion Set?  Four fabric pieces of a fuzzy cotton that seems almost like a very lightweight felt--two have different flower prints, then there are pink and yellow solid squares.  A headless, armless, legless mannequin; two strips of satin ribbon and two belt buckles, among other items.  If you ever find a light plastic belt buckle by itself in a bunch of used Barbie items, it is likely one of these buckles.

The instructions say for you to use the rose print fabric for the long skirt and the dark pink fabric for a sleeveless top and simple purse.  The original owner of the kit I bought STARTED to do this.  She finished the skirt with the Miracle Stitch, but only cut out the blouse and purse.  The instructions then said to use the orange and pink flowered fabric for a cap-sleeve blouse and the yellow for the skirt.  However, she used the yellow fabric to cut out another purse and the flowered fabric for the mini skirt, but left both unfinished.
I "unstuck" the long skirt and attempted to wash the glue out of it, but without any luck.  I then hand-sewed the long and short skirts, the top and the two purses.  Just like other mid-70s Barbie items, I did not hem the armholes of the top and purses!

I redressed my 1973 Quick Curl Barbie in the shirt and short skirt and added one of the satin belts.  As you can see, the outfit is actually very becoming!
You will see mentioned in reference books and websites that the basic Sew Magic kit came with two blouses, two skirts, a purse, a mini dress and a set of baby dolls.  That's only partially true.  The basic kit came with the fabric for the skirts, tops and purse, but you could have easily used the cloth for other creations.  You had to use your own fabric to make them to sew the dress and nightie.

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