Sunday, February 7, 2010

A special old dress

Another thing I've been doing to improve my crochet skill is by making clothes for my small collection of toys. It may seem silly, but so far it has helped me get better, and they are there for the children to play with when they visit, if they wish. My goal is make one item of clothing for them all, but each item has the purpose to develop my skill in a certain way.
an old doll dress my grandmother made
I have saved from my childhood barbie doll collection this very special dress. I don't recall how it came into my possesion, I have a vague memory of it being given to me by another girl, maybe in a swapsie arrangement. I don't think my mum made this, but I could be wrong (edit- I've sinced learnt my grandmother Pam made this dress!). I've managed to keep it with me all these years, as it is particularly nice. A couple of Saturdays ago when David and I were at the shops, we decided I should get a new barbie doll! She was to be a model for my crochet practice, of course. I didn't realise I was still such a fan, as I had lost the last of my collection in a moving mishap after I left my first husband, but I've quickly become quite attached to my new doll, which is quite funny.

My goal was to look at the dress and see if I could copy it. I wrote down a pattern from counting the stitches on the dress and reproducing it row by row. Up until recently, when I started work on my crochet skill in earnest, I could only copy very easy things by looking at it, and I couldn't read patterns. Now I can read easy patterns. This dress has been the most challenging thing I've copied without a pattern. I'm quite pleased I managed to produce something resembling the original, although its not the same of course. I finished this exercise a week or two ago, only posted now. I made a few more things for the doll while I was at  it, practicing working with fine yarn by making the red slippers. My second attempt at making a snood was better, they're good to keep the hair in place so it lasts longer. I wrote out the patterns for practice, posted below.
my first attempt at reproducing the dress

These are the notes I made while making the dress. If you use this pattern, please link to my site.

Dress - top
starting from waist up
ch 21
1. begin 2nd ch from hook, 20 dc to end, ch 1 turn
2. (4 dc, 2dc in 1) to end, ch 1 turn
3. 22 dc total, ch 1 turn
4. (3 dc, 2dc in 1) to end, 27 dc total, ch 1 turn
5. 27 dc total, ch 1 turn
6. 6 dc,  ch 3 sk 3, 9 dc, ch 3 sk 3, 6 dc, ch 1 turn
7. dc in each st, 4 dc in armholes, 29 dc total, ch 1 turn
to finish off, work chain stitch to edge one side to form button holes
add 2 or 3 buttons

skirt - short (puffy)
starting from the waist down
1. ch 2, 2 dc in every ch sp, slip stitch into opposite side, joining the back of the dress (or for finer wool, do this a few rows lower)
2. 2 ch, 1 dc in every st all around, sl st
3. 2 ch, 1 dc in every st OR for shell pattern, 2 ch, sk 1 st (3 dc in 1, sk 1, dc, sk 1) to end, sl st
4 - 6. as row 3

skirt - long
as for short
7. 2 ch, (2 dc, 3 dc in 1, 2 dc) to end, sl st OR for shell pattern 2 ch, sk 1 st (5 dc in 1, sk 1, dc, sk 1) to end, sl st
8 - 12. as for row 7
13. to finish off, chain stitch along the edge

Mary Jane Slippers (here in red)
using the thinest thread and tinyist hook (2ply with 1.25mm hook)
1. ch 4, 5 trb into 1st chain, sl st into 1st ch sp, this is the toe.
2. ch 4, 5 trb, do not join, ch 3, turn
3.  5 trb leaving last ch of ea st on the hook, with 6 chains on hook, loop through all once to form the heel.
4. ch 12, sl st into 1st ch to form ankle strap.
take care not to cut the ends too short and weave in ends carefully to secure.

If they turn out too bulky, you can trun the slippers into socks
1. hold the ankle strap to the slipper and sl st 3 down the side (trb in the ch sp in the 1st round of the slipper toe, ch st to the ankle strap) repeat 3 times, 3 ch st strap to slipper, sc into 1st chain of ankle strap in the heel, sl st into 1st ch st of this round
2. 10 dc, sl st in 1st ch (ankle length socks)
3. for longer socks, add rows of trbs increasing with an extra stitch or 2 at the back

Snood (here in white)
1. Make a chain that fits snuggly around the doll's head, over the ears and on the hair line, slip stitch to join.
SC in each stitch around, slip stitch.
* Count the stitches in the round and divide by 9. That is the number of stitches you will skip for the first ch spaces. *
2. ch 9 (sk *, trb, ch 6) 8 times, slip stitch in 3rd of ch 6.
3. ch 9 (trb into top of trbl, ch 6) 8 times, slip stitch in 3rd of ch 6.
row 4 5 6 as for 3
7. ch 3, (trb into top of trbl) 8 times, slip stitch.

If you use my patterns, be sure to give me credit for writing the pattern by posting a link to my blog. If you make these things, please post a comment, as I'd love to know! :)


  1. What size hook/yarn weight did you use for the dress? I really want to make one!

  2. this was a very early attempt at working out a pattern so the gauge is not accurate, I'm sorry. The blue dress was made with 8 ply acrylic and something like a 3mm hook, but later dresses I've made were made with a 2mm hook and 4ply baby yarn. Apologies again if you follow my old notes here and the gauge doesn't work out, I recommend you check the dress fits the doll often while you make it, goodluck and let me know how you go <3


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