Tag Archives: how to make barbie clothes

How To Make Your Barbie a Correctly Scaled Knitted Sweater

6 May

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* Apologies to those of you who saw the started draft that I published by accident. I have no idea how that happened! Sorry, I`m a bit rubbish*

I`m not usually a fan of handknitted clothes on Barbie-size dolls. Even if a very skilled knitter uses the thinnest needles and the finest yarn, the stitches never look to scale and in the worst cases, the outfits look bulky and wrong, like the doll has been wrapped up in a blanket. I think knitted items tend to look better on Sindy dolls, maybe because they are more substantial of figure. However, generally I think its a difficult thing to pull off.

I did some experimenting with a pair of magic gloves and I have figured out how to make a to-scale knitted sweater for a Barbie-size doll. I`ve seen some other blogs where people have made really good doll clothes out of fine-knit socks so I know the idea isn`t completely new, but I hope one of two of you find it useful.

You will need:

*Some “Magic Gloves” (the ones that shrink when you take them off). These are cheap and widely available – I got two pairs for a pound. I suppose you could use a used pair, but make sure they are in good condition as wear shows up more on a smaller scale. Strictly speaking, one glove should make one sweater, but I messed my first go up and had to do over so I used both.
* A doll of the type you are sewing for (Beware of using an expensive doll, as sometimes they can get scratched by needles or pins). I am using Deedee from Barbie and the Rockers, as my gloves are super-neon and she belongs to the most neony of neon-clothed line of Barbies ever. I did immediately come to regret my decision as she has an old-style body. Because they are wider of ribcage, I think they look worse in any sort of bulky fabric than bellybutton dolls, but I solidered on anyway and I don`t think it turned out too bad.
* A decent pair of sewing scissors
* Thread that matches the colour of your gloves, and a needle.
* A couple of pins
* Two or three snap fasteners, or poppers. I`ve been using a lot of velcro instead recently but I didn’t have it available, so I used poppers instead – but I think velcro would work better as a back fastening with this outfit.
* You might want to have a thimble available (see point 6).

1. Cut the thumb off your glove, and the fingers close to where they join the palm (don’t worry, magic glove material doesn’t seem to fray as quickly or as badly as you might expect). Then cut vertically under the thumb hole, to separate the gloves so you can open them out. will probably be a fold there if the gloves are new, which is handy to use for guidance.

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2. Wrap the open glove round your barbie. Position the side fold that you didn’t cut directly down the middle of the doll (right between her boobs). If there isn’t a side fold because the gloves have been used, fold it in half, match up the edges and use some kind of marker, like a pin, to show you where the middle fold should be. At this point, you might want to check that the fabric meets comfortably with an overlap of at least 3 cms at the back – mine did, but I suppose gloves come in different sizes so its probably worth checking.

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3. Make sure that the glove is wrapped round her at a good tension, so the front of the sweater is not too tight or too loose. Then, find the middle of the doll’s arm. Cut the material at this point, and make the cut as deep as the bottom of the doll`s armpit. Repeat on the other side. Do not make the cut follow the line of the doll`s body, by the way – cut vertically down the line of stitches.

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4. Now, with the wrong side (the side you don`t want the world to see when the garment is finished) of the fabric facing outwards you can stick your barbie’s arms through the slots on both sides so that the two open sides are at the back. Stitch together over the top of the shoulders, following the line of the shoulders.

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5. Trim back the edges to follow the line of stitches and put it back onto the doll the right way on to check you are happy with it. You should be able to see the sweater taking shape now.

6. Turn your attention to the severed fingers of the gloves. Two of them are going to make the sleeves to the sweater. Cut the tops off two of the fingers and put one of them on your finger with the tip of your nail sticking through the hole at the end. This is the bit where I always get confused about which side needs to match to which (I had to give it several goes again, sigh). The finger of the glove should go onto your finger right side out, and you should then poke your finger through the right side of your sweater at the “armhole”, so that you can sew from the wrong side. I suppose you might want to use a thimble if you are really scared of sticking yourself with the needle while you sew them together, but I’m made of stern stuff so I didn`t bother.

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7. You can hem the end of the sleeve over in the same sort of way.

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8. Now, take a third severed finger from the glove. This is going to be your neckline. Cut the top off the finger then slit the finger vertically – make sure you follow the line of the stitches again. Sew this to the neck of your sweater with the right side facing outwards. Its tricky to estimate, but try and get it so that the ends are equal and even on both sides, when the sweater is on the doll. It doesn`t look that way on the picture, but this is because the part of the neckline with no roll-neck attached is the part that overlaps to fasten at the back of the sweater. Anyway, I started off by sewing a small section directly to the middle and leaving the ends loose. Later, I put the sweater on the doll and pinned the loose ends on either side so that from the front, it looked like a roll-neck. That way, I could see how it looked before I committed myself to anything.

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9. At this point, I decided I didn`t want to leave the cuff of the glove at the bottom of the sweater, as I thought it just looked too bulky. You might like it like that, or it might look better on a different bodied doll. Remember, if you remove the cuff you will need to hem the bottom of the sweater up, so by leaving it on you could save yourself 10 minutes or so. Its up to you.

10. Hem up all remaining open edges including the two sides of the opening at the back, then add your poppers. Remember the male and female parts should be on opposite sides – one on the right side and one on the wrong side (another mistake I have made more times than I care to remember).

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11. Now is the time to finish sewing the roll-neck to the neckline of the sweater, if you haven`t already. Then, tuck the bottom edge of your roll-neck back towards the neckline and start sewing.

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12. Your sweater should be finished! If you decide to give it a go, I would love to know how it turns out …. 🙂

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