How to Knit for Barbie and Ken

Published July 11, 2016 by estherknit

Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel Inc. and launched in March 1959. She has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over fifty years.  She is a 29 cm (11½ in.) fashionista doll. This is 1/8th scale. (As I understand it, she has about a 5 inch chest; multiply 5 by 8 and you get a 40 inch chest) If you knitted in 1/12th scale this would fit a doll in a dolls house. Some people even knit 1/24th scare. So, knitting for Barbie is a form of miniature knitting.

Barbie Doll in Pink Dress

My Barbie doll’s measurements are:

Barbie Doll Size

Ken Carson is the fictional boyfriend of Barbie.  Ken and Barbie met on the set of a TV commercial in 1961.  Mattel has never specified the precise nature of their relationship.

Barbie and Ken

My Ken doll’s measurements are:

Ken Doll Size

Techniques

Knitting for Barbie requires a few specialist skills.

  • using small needles; 1 – 3 mm knitting needles
  • using fine yarn – 1 – 4 ply yarn
  • very fine sewing up and finishing off
  • finding tiny buttons and embellishments
  • photography

Finding Inspiration

There are lots of patterns, books and websites to inspire you to knit for Barbie.

Finding the right yarn

Barbie clothes are best knitted with fine yarns, such as 4 ply fingering, sock yarn, or cotton thread.  You will only use a very small quantity of yarn for your Barbie clothes and so you can use some expensive yarns.  Try using lurex, angora, cashmere, or other luxury yarns.

Tension or Gauge

When you knit for your Barbie doll, keep a record of the tension or gauge for each project. This will help you with future projects.

Barbie and Ken Tension Table for Blog

Taking pictures of Barbie

It is quite challenging to take pictures of Barbie. You need:

  • a good camera – otherwise Barbie will be rather fuzzy
  • a steady hand; try putting your camera onto a tripod or stand
  • good lighting
  • to understand perspective
  • a good eye for detail
  • a stand for Barbie.

Fair Isle Stitch Patterns

It is possible to knit outfits in Fair Isle for Barbie. However, the patterns need to be scaled down. Try making up your own patterns.

Barbie Chart

Hints and Tips

  • Make sure you are working with a good strong light. You are knitting a very small garment and you will need to see well.
  • Try not to knit with black as it will be even more difficult to see what you are doing.
  • There are many types of needles; wooden, metal, plastic – and simple metal wires for miniature knitting. If you can’t get on with one type you may find it worthwhile changing needle type rather than giving up completely.
  • Leave enough yarn at the beginning and end of each piece to sew up the seams.
  • Cast on slowly keeping your tension as even as possible. A good technique to use when casting on is to insert the needle into position for the next cast on stitch before pulling the thread ready to make the stitch.
  • Cast off steadily making sure that you do not work too tightly, especially
    around cuffs and necks.
  • Slip the first stitch and knit the last stitch of every row even if the
    pattern says otherwise. This will help you line up the seams when sewing up.
  • Keep your tension even.
  • When sewing up, use the yarn that you left at the beginning and end of each
    piece to over-sew all the seams. If you used the trick of slipping the
    first stitch and knitting the last, you will have a series of knots that
    can be used to line up the separate pieces.
  • If buttons are needed, use the thread left at the end of the button band to
    sew them into place, running the thread along the band to reach the
    position of the next button.
  • When you have sew up the garment, pin out to shape, cover with a damp cloth
    and allow to dry. Then add embellishments.
  • Always take good notes. You may be asked to knit it again!
  • You could even start a story board or a scrap book with lots of ideas so that you will always have some inspiration.

Embellishments

You may need buttons or ribbon for your Barbie outfits. These are available but I doubt you will find them in the High Street Shops. Find a website which deals in miniature knitting and I am sure they will have what you want.

A Simple Pattern for Barbie

Before launching in the knitting a whole outfit for Barbie, it would be good to try something very simple. This way you can get used to knitting with very small needles and thin yarn. Here is a pattern for a garter stitch headband.

Headband 3

Measurements: To fit Barbie doll
Head circumference: 10.5 cm (4¼ inches)
Width of headband: 2 cm (3/4 inch)
Materials: Wendy Bambino 4 ply
Shade: 1455 Peach, 20 g
A pair of 2 mm (US 0) knitting needles
Tension / Gauge: 30 sts and 54 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches)
measured over garter stitch using 2 mm needles

To knit Headband:

Using 2 mm (US 0) needles, cast on 6 sts.
Work in garter stitch, every row knit, until headband measures 10.5 cm  or 4¼ inches. Cast off loosely.

Headband 1
To make up / Finishing:  Sew headband seam. Weave in ends.

This headband can be folded to create a hair scrunchie.

Scrunchie 2

Make it a bit longer and you have a scarf.  Make it wider and you have a blanket or towel. There are lots of possibilities. There will be no stopping you now.

Headband 5

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