Monday, March 4, 2013

Hot Togs Hound

Replica of Barbie's Tan Afghan Dog from #1063 Hot Togs (1972)
A couple weeks ago I received a commission from a fellow eBay member to try to recreate a very hard-to-find vintage Barbie Put Ons 'N Pets dog, the Afghan hound from the Hot Togs outfit. I love this sort of assignment that involves research and design, so I got right into it. At first I worried about whether I'd be able to make one, because I immediately pictured Beauty, the Barbie Afghan hound I can remember lusting after during my own childhood. That one was plastic and jointed with applied fur. 1979 was the year those came out, and yet I can remember like it was yesterday standing in the Lazarus toy section at the Lima mall just wishing for that dog! I don't think I ever got it though. Oh well! Fortunately, this client wanted the 1972 version, which was all cloth and much easier to create for me.

"Togs", my version of the vintage Barbie pet dog.
The Barbie designers don't appear to have actually looked at any real Afghan hounds when designing this toy! Its body is made of some kind of boucle or shearling or something, so it has short hair. Luckily for me, I had an old collar from a coat with the right size and color faux shearling on one side. That was my oldest son's Mickey Mouse bomber jacket. It was adorable! Of course, when my son outgrew it (it was only a 2T or 3T size) he'd taken off the buttoned-on the collar and lost it, so I passed the coat on to my cousin's boy without the collar. Years later the orphan collar surfaced and I saved it because it was faux leather on one side and faux shearling on the other. I thought maybe one day I'd need those fabrics and I was right! So the inner hoarder is vindicated!

The dog is string-jointed to allow for poseability.

Locating the collar was a challenge, but I found it. I meant to re-draw my dachshund pattern again for this, but I can't find it! I've looked and looked and it's not surfacing. I also couldn't find my gray felt. I knew I had some, but I looked for a week and had to give up. Jerry and I stopped at Hobby Lobby in Rocky Mount on the way back from a furniture warehouse sale and I picked up some light gray felt (the only gray they had) there, and dyed it the darker charcoal I needed. Well, the minute (practically) it was dry I was complaining to Jerry about how there must still be a box or two we'd missed unpacking because I had a big list of things I couldn't find. He went into the attic and walked out with a box we'd put away in the wrong place, and naturally the charcoal felt was in there! So now I have extra! No dog pattern, though. So, the little Nosys I have listed now may be a retired style if I have to draw a new pattern!

Around this time (last Monday or so) I started feeling sick. Like an idiot, I went home to visit and didn't take my cod liver oil with me. Cod liver oil really helps the immune system. I take a 2500 mg  Swanson's double potency capsule every day and since I started that I very rarely get sick. The kids take Twin Lab emulsified Norwegian cold liver oil in the orange flavor (which they say tastes like drinking a smoothie) every day. So, my niece was sick and I caught it and it really knocked me off my feet for over a week. I have done almost nothing but sleep for days. On Saturday I didn't get up until after 10! Today is the first day I've been well enough to really get around and I'm still a little achy. Now Jerry has it, so I am making some chicken bone broth as I write. A good bone broth that's cooked for at least 6 hours really can't be beat for nutrients and flavor. I made some back before Christmas but we've used it all now. Every few months I make a bunch of broth and freeze it in 2-4 cup containers. I hope this will get me all the way well so I can step up the exercise. I skipped several walks and haven't run at all for over a week and I've been eating way too much so I can really feel my clothes getting tighter!

Afghan hound with Betsy McCall.

I knew I had to finish this dog, so on Monday I dragged myself out of bed and sewed it up. I have only seen the original dog in a couple of online photos. This toy and outfit are so rare I've seen the complete set with a period doll sell for close to $900. It looked like the dog's legs might be jointed, but I couldn't be sure, because it was always in the same position in photos. I only found a couple photos, because unfortunately when you search the web using Barbie, Hot Togs, and Hound you get to some pretty questionable web sites! Here's a reputable site with a photo of the original dog: I decided to string joint the legs. I sewed each leg, fashioned in the round from two pieces, through the center of the dog and through the other side and back and then attached them at the top of the leg with sturdy stitches. This allows the legs to move and pose a bit: not as much as a button joint would, but enough to let the dog sit, "walk", or bend over in play position. The hair on top of the dog's head is mohair, which I stitched down the center in a part and then hand-stitched to the head. I used the faux leather side of the coat collar to make the dog's snap-on collar with attached leash. The leash reportedly had "pinky-orange" stitching that matched the outfit, so I used salmon pink and cherry red thread mixed to stitch the accents.

The client loved the dog in the photos (I hope it's still a hit when it arrives in person!) and I had a really good time making it. It's a true one-of-a-kind piece, since I used every bit of fabric in the collar! I may try to find some more suitable fabrics to make a couple more of these. It is a great fit for display with many vintage 8-11 inch dolls, as you can see from my photos of the dog with everyone from tiny Betsy McCall to Little Miss Revlon to one of my daughter's modern-day Barbies. I think it would probably be a good seller!

This has been a great week, sales-wise, in the eBay store, so I put some profit into new projects to fix and sell. Today I'm working on a Madame Alexander Cissy, the later "no neck" straight arm version with the classic face, who has a big crack in one leg, and a 15 inch Revlon who needed some new fingers. Those still have a way to go in terms of painting and body work and I haven't even started on clothing yet, so expect to see them in a couple weeks. I do still have many completed vintage dolls for sale in my store at

The hound with Little Miss Revlon.

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