Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Finished: Barbie's top down "Barbara Walker" dress

<-------- There she is. The dress is retro, figure-fitting, and my personal "tip of the hat" to doll knitting history. I'm feeling lucky to have found the pattern at all, 20 years after the magazine was printed~!

(Allow me to make a small disclaimer -- I haven't added the snaps yet; the dress was pinned to photograph quickly).

I previously posted about Barbara Walker's encouragement to take personal license with her pattern by design or by whim. However, I really wanted to use what I thought were the most pertinent, basic, and necessary elements of the pattern, and in doing so, I HAD TO MAKE CHOICES...which I guess translates into changes. Oh, contrary me. So here they are:

1. I eliminated the 2 tone suggestion (accent yarn at neck, sleeve cuffs and waist), opting for pink.

2. I kept short sleeves, as patterned, without designing longer and\or fuller sleeves as further on suggested.

3. I utilized the fabric stitch waist, rather than opting for a looser, less defined fit. (Interesting choice, that fabric stitch--very very tight for a seriously cinched waist). Thus, it looks like lots of dashes = = = = = = across the waist.

4. I slim-fit the skirt, rather than the patterned A-line, by not increasing stitches "evenly spaced" every few rows after the initial increase--I prefer a slim fit for Barbie (when given an option).

5. I eliminated a small bit of short row shaping at the bust above the darts--it looked ridiculous to me, and is made redundant by the bust line dart shaping.

6. Since the neckline and sleeve hems are garter stitch, it made sense to "garter" the hemline.

In sum, to me, the pattern is, at once, both intricate and basic. The darting is perfectly placed; the fit is fabulous. Back plackets (garter stitch) create a substantial strip for snaps, and the raglan sleeve "seams" paired with the back decreases form a "diamond" across the back which is lovely, but didn't photograph well.

Ms. Walker dealt with the side margins by slipping the last stitch in each purl row, yarn forward, which when knitted in the next row creates a neat, almost decorative, finished edge <---a tip I'd forgotten, but will be sure to use again.

While my representation is basic and plain, the raglan shaping and darting--and the short rows if kept--challenge your skills. I like it and view it as a good representation of an old-timey day dress...sorta Barbie meets Donna Reed.

Virtually every knitter, eventually, has the Barbara Walker books recommended as a "must read" - and for good reason. Her books may be found at your local library, and any or all of them are a great addition to your own knitting book shelf. NOTE: They may be too much to absorb when you are a new knitter, but as you progress in the craft, and understand and embrace various techniques, you'll want to revisit "the Treasuries." So, thanks, Ms. Walker.


  1. Hi Donna, Wow, it sure came out nice. It fits so perfectly and it's so, Barbie pink! Glad you chose all pink for her and not 2-tone. She just needs a clutch, heels and pearls and she's good to go. Yes, someday when I learn to knit for real, I'll check out Walker's books. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gosh this pattern takes me back. I used to subscribe to McCalls needlework and crafts for a few years in the 70's and every now and again there was Barbie or Sindy patterns. Some crocheted and some intricately knitted top down in fine wool and needles.
    I also designed crocheted wedding dresses for my young niece's Barbie or Sindy dolls and my sister in law still has them stored away some 30 yrs later as she can't bear to part with them.