Tales of a Knitwit -Knitting for Fashion Dolls

The past couple of weeks I’ve been getting into some more Barbie dressmaking projects. So far I’ve made a couple of skirts and have been experimenting with knitting. One of the skirts was just a simple tube made from a piece out of an old pair of tights, the other two were hand sewn, mostly so that I could practice sewing darts and pleats. I was reasonably happy with them and now need to make some little tops to go with them.

Midge wears a tube skirt made from old tights and a hand knitted top.
Midge wears a tube skirt made from old tights and a hand knitted top.
Midge in one of the skirts I made and a jumper and scarf I knitted.
Midge in one of the skirts I made and a jumper and scarf I knitted.

Although I have often knitted garments for my larger dolls I don’t often knit for Barbie because I don’t like the bulky fabric on shapely fashion dolls. I have a lot of vintage knitting patterns but I decided to look on the internet for some patterns that used finer wool and smaller needles. I recently bought a pair of size 1.25 mm needles which are so fine that I kept stabbing my fingers while I knitted with them. I haven’t found any patterns that use them yet though so I’ve just been experimenting on my own. I did find a lot of patterns that use 2mm needles, that’s a size 14 in the old money. Unfortunately I didn’t have any, well I had one needle, who knows where the other one is. So my first task will be to get some 2mm needles to try out these patterns with.

As usual though when I get an idea to make something I don’t really like to wait. I know I’ll lose motivation if I don’t do something. I went online again and found a pattern for a tube dress knitted in the round on larger sized needles. I haven’t knitted on four needles in years so I thought that would be a good project to keep me going until I get my 2mm needles. There was a cricket match on television that I wanted to watch so I settled down with my needles and a partly used ball of cotton yarn and commenced knitting. It took a while to get used to the four needle method again but the result was a dress that I didn’t have to sew up. I did make a couple of mistakes but as it was just for practice I won’t stress over it. It was fairly quick to knit up too. By the time Australia had got the last South African cricketer out I was nearly finished.

Mary in the dress I knitted  from a cotton yarn.
Mary in the dress I knitted from a cotton yarn.

I made a few mistakes in my knitting and  it doesn’t look great but the next ones I do will be better.I think that the fabric looks a bit bulky and I would probably use finer needles in future but something like this could be knitted up for a child’s doll very quickly. I may make a few more to give the church Barbies a change of clothes for Christmas. The tops that Midge is modelling I made without any kind of pattern and it shows. Normally I won’t do anything without instructions but I think I got the fit almost right just working on her measurements.

One of the websites I found had over 1,000 patterns for Barbie and even a few for Ken. They are all free to download and most look pretty easy. If you want to take a look you can find them here. The site has pattern instructions in multiple languages too so it’s a very good resource. Make sure that you have a look at the ABBA costumes that some clever person has designed. I’m probably showing my age that I remember some of them. I’ll add links to some of the other doll sewing sites I found at the end of this post.

When you are knitting for Barbie or any kind of knitting and crochet really you need to be aware that needle sizes and names of yarns vary from country to country. I have added some useful links I found for these as well.

A lot of my thinner yarns are odd balls and part balls left over from other projects, some were inherited from older relatives and I’m not even sure what ply they are. One of the things that I’ve knitted this week is a dress which was made from the last few metres of a metallic yarn that I bought over 30 years ago to make a dress for my sister. I used to knit a lot more in those days and that was probably my most ambitious project. She wanted this metallic rib knit dress to go out dancing in after seeing the pattern in a magazine. I made it and she wore it once I think; mum washed it and hung it on the line where it stretched so badly she was never able to wear it again. I was a bit cross about that.

Now I prefer to knit for dolls because it doesn’t take as long and it’s a fun way to use up those accumulated scraps.

My models today are Midge aka USAF Aviator Barbie, Mary aka Butterfly Art Teresa and Ember aka Fashion Fever Teresa Wave F.


Ember wears the dress knitted from a thirty year old ball of yarn.
Ember wears the dress knitted from a thirty year old ball of yarn.

Today I went to Hobart and bought some 2ply cotton, a pair of 1.5mm needles and a 2mm circular needle so next week I will do some more experimenting which I’ll post about here when I’m done.



http://www.ravelry.com/projects/estherkate/how-to—knit-for-barbie-and-ken – useful tips and measurements on this site.

http://www.jessica-tromp.nl/freeamericangirldollbarbiedollcabbagedollragedyanndollplasticdollspatterns.htm – another useful site with patterns for dolls of all sizes as well as knitting and crochet patterns for humans and dogs.

http://www.knittingonthenet.com/patterns/dollsbarbieshrug.htm- Barbara Shreiters Knitting on the Net, more free patterns.

http://www.yarnfwd.com/main/needleconv.html -Needle conversion table from metric to US, UK, Canadian sizes.

http://www.crochet-knit.com/yarn_conversion.html – Yarn conversion chart US, UK, Australia, NZ.


  1. I really like that first outfit with Midge in the scarf. It looks awesome and it is impressive that you did it without a pattern. I also feel your pain with the 2mm needles. I need to buy a set so that I can knit some clothes for my dolls without it being too bulky.


  2. Thinking these would work great for Misty too..I saw a costume done for a horseman doll too what an awesome use of vintage yarn.I used to just unravel projects for rag dolls hair as it is all kinky after all that time.Thiis so much funner! Though I will start with Barbie hand towels first!


    • They would be fine for most fashion dolls and you can always go up a size in needles if you need something a bit bigger. I’ve come to find that the 2mm needles and 2 or 3 ply knitting cotton is what I like best for fashion doll knitting.


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