Knitting for Barbie in the 1960s

My friend Dave Worth was recently at SFO, San Francisco International Airport. They always have interesting exhibits there. The current one is on 1950’s consumerism. This picture he posted on FB caught my eye. (Barbie was introduced in 1959.)

The Knitting for Barbie canister featured a 2 piece skating outfit for Barbie. It says: Step by step instructions, especially designed for young beginners. I hope it was easier than this one!

This is the top half of the skater’s outfit that my Aunt Vivian knit for my Barbie.

Also in the picture? A gum wrapper chain; check it out in the upper left corner. But that Barbie outfit sent me down memory lane, so I’m revisiting my 2009/2015 posts on knitting and Barbie. A blast from the past!

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I’ve had this booklet/magazine that’s been on my knitting shelf for what seems like forever.

This one is a 1965 reprint of a magazine originally published in 1952. It used to belong to my Aunt Vivian, who gave it to me when I was in high school. I remember knitting these slippers!

My Thrumbelina Thrummed Slippers have a very similar super simple shaping.

thrumbelina thrummed slippers

Check out this dress:

Aunt Vivian used to make clothes for our Barbie dolls. Does this look familiar?

The sash is long gone. I found this dress, along with some other treasures, at Mom’s house. The other items are from more doll clothing booklets, and I have those, too. Check out what a fashionably dressed Barbie was wearing in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Stylish sheath dresses:

Mohair winter coat, scarf, hat:

A sequined shell:

And this half of a skater outfit. I love the mohair edging on this. I remember the fabulous flared skirt. I always wanted one just like it for me. I remember sewing dresses with full circle skirts with my Aunt Rose when I was 10; I loved twirling in them. In college I made a dress with a full circle skirt with a drawstring waist and drawstring neckline…out of a bedsheet! No pattern needed.

Check out this elegant skirt.

Especially the waist shaping. No drawstring waist here!

Aunt Vivian loved to knit and crochet. She made lots of clothes for our dolls, and vests for us. In her later years she knit many, many hats for the homeless. Aunt Rose taught me to knit when I spent the summer with her when I was 14. How lucky was I? Two aunts with crafty skills, one on each side of the family.

Who taught you to knit?

15 responses to “Knitting for Barbie in the 1960s

  1. Your Barbie was STYLIN’. My Barbie? She wore off the rack. LOL

  2. I just love the pink mohair coat, hat and scarf set! How lucky you were to have aunt(s) knit you these fabulous doll clothes.

  3. My grandmother who was blind taught me how to knit. I still have her knitting patterns from the 40’s and 50’s which were translated into braille! (and her tape measure with staples in it–to indicate each inch increment. VERY high tech…!!

    • That’s a brilliant idea on the tape measure!

      I know a lot of knitting is done by feel; I usually read while I’m knitting. Just a little flick of attention back and forth!

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  4. What a fun post. I’m not a great knitter at all (barely got past headbands), but I own that same McCall’s booklet and these Barbie fashions bring back many memories. I’ve still got my Midge, Ken, Ricky, and Skipper dolls and my sister had one of the first Barbie dolls. Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re so welcome!

      I rescued these Barbie clothes from Mom’s house in 2009, but I don’t recall seeing my actual Barbie doll at that time. Hmmm. I remember my first Barbie; we traded her in for one with bendable knees and a twist ‘n’ turn waist. I don’t know why we would have kept her, but that was a long time ago and lost in the fog of memory.

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  5. My mom taught me to knit, and she also made me a tonne of clothes for my barbies!

  6. Oh this brought back SO many memories! My first knitting adventures were for my Barbies, not nearly as elegant as that grey skirt…Both of my grandmothers were accomplished needleworkers, and my Mom knit all of our sweaters in the sixties. Thank you for the journey down memory lane!

    • You’re so welcome! It’s interesting how these little memories stick with us so well. I need to check with my sister to see about the rest of Barbie’s wardrobe. I think there’s a little pink skirt to go with that sequined shell, and a blue suit. And the red skating skirt. And probably more!

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  7. LOL – this is taking me back to some very wonky knits I made for my dolls as a kid in the early 70’s.

  8. Very cool. My aunt, who had sheep and spun wool, taught me how to know when I was in college. I also learned how to spin. I have dreamt for many years now of dipping my toe into design but have always been a little afraid to try.

    These Barbie knits would be a great challenge to any beginner. It kind if blows my mind a bit to even think about learning using…? 0000 needles? And lace weight or smaller yarn. Super crazy!!

    • I googled “knit 2 piece barbie skating outfit” and came up with this link. It’s a 1962 pattern for a sweater and skinny pants. For beginners! The instructions are extensive and quite bossy, but they should work. The cast on for the sweater back is only 14 stitches. Even so, I can’t imagine this being a first project, right down to ribbing with a description of moving the yarn back and forth between the needles for knits and purls. Whoa!

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