Barbie Barbie Barbie

With a new Barbie movie coming out this year, I thought it would be fun to revisit my Barbie blog posts, originally posted in 2009, 2015, and 2019. Here’s a mash-up:

In 2019, my pilot friend Dave Worth saw an exhibit at SFO, San Francisco International Airport. They always have interesting exhibits there. The current one was 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 was wondering just what kind of skating outfit was in that Knitting for Barbie canister, so I googled “knit 2 piece barbie skating outfit” and found this pattern page on Ravelry. It’s a 1962 pattern for a sweater and skinny pants. There’s a picture of the printed pattern, and more googling found a copy of the pattern posted on an old blogspot blog.

The instructions are extensive and quite bossy, with a header that says DO ONE STEP AT A TIME — DO NOT READ AHEAD and a footer that says DO NOT PUT YOUR WORK DOWN BEFORE YOU FINISH THE ROW YOU’RE WORKING ON. The pattern is aimed at beginners, with instructions for ribbing that include moving the yarn back and forth between the needles for knits and purls. I wonder how many of these outfits were knit, and how many were abandoned?

Maybe it wasn’t that hard. At least it was small; the cast on for the back is only 14 stitches.

This is the top half of the skater’s outfit that my Aunt Vivian knit for my Barbie. It’s a completely different outfit from the one in the canister. More on this from my 2009 blog post below. (I’ve been blogging for a while!)


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 belonged 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, worn with negative ease on very curvy Barbie.

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! Based on the ribbing at the waistline, I’m guessing this was knit from the waist down, so those would be increases for the shaping. Sleuthing!

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?

20 responses to “Barbie Barbie Barbie

  1. OMG, this is so much fun. I learned to knit from my mom in the mid sixties. I was about 8 or 9, and I used to knit rectangles and make them into Barbie skirts. I also would hand sew some primitive garments. Our neighbor made me a nice Barbie ensemble from a fine gauge angora blend.

  2. I was having trouble posting, so I ended up with two posts!
    Anyway, those vintage Barbie clothes booklets are gold. I have one and I more recently knitted a coat. I need to search for some more.

    • I know I have that extra doll clothes booklet here somewhere. But I probably last saw it in 2009 or 2015 when I wrote the previous posts!

      I removed your duplicate comment, because it had your addy and phone number on it, but was otherwise the same.

      Happy new year!


  3. Love the Barbie stories! How lucky you were to have the two crafty aunties! My mom taught me to knit, I wish I remembered the exact time and place, but I don’t. Still, she gave me something of her that will last a lifetime.

  4. My sister and I learned to knit from a neighbor. I don’t know if it’s my faulty memory or it’s what she taught us, but my long tail cast on is always twisted (still), and for years so was all of my knitting. I have a sweater I knit when I was in college that is half twisted (knit stitches as if through the back loop) and then half not. The more I think about it, I wonder if my neighbor’s methods would have resulted in properly mounted stitches if I had remembered all the steps as she taught me. I probably missed something subtle (which way to enter the stitch or wrap the yarn) that meant my knitting wasn’t quite right. It was certainly functional, so it was years before I noticed.

  5. Oh. My. Gosh!!! I love this post so much! My Aunt was always making clothes for my Barbie too. I’m pretty sure I still have them packed away, and my special first Barbie too. Wow, the memories! I learned to crochet in my early 20’s but didn’t learn to knit until my late 40’s-early 50’s when my daughter was in college. One of her dorm mates taught her and she came home on break and taught me; then we took a class together. I have been knitting non-stop since then. Thank you for this post! It brought back so many memories and now I want to go knit some doll clothes for my grand-nieces!

  6. Oh, my.

    This brings back my childhood days of knitting on a 16 post Knitting Nancy, making sheaths for my Barbie doll. After I learned to knit, she also got stoles. She was SO stylish!

    I think it would be loads of fun to knit more complex items for her now.

    My grandmother Lila and my next-door-neighbor babysitter Nancy both taught me to knit. Both were very patient. I have tiny fingers, even now, and it was tough for me to hold both the yarn and the needles. I still don’t tension the yarn in any recognizable fashion, having come up with my own.

    When Lila passed away, I was given all her knitting gear, which I still cherish.

    Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane. Your aunts were very talented and must have been thrilled that you became such a proficient knitter.

  7. I have to add, I saw the trailer for the Barbie movie, and I have a feeling it’s going to be terrible cartoony junk.

  8. My Mom taught me to knit. She used to knit clothing for our Barbies, and my Grandma would sew clothing for our Barbies and our baby dolls.
    My sister got a skating outfit for her Barbie. It had a short, round skirt and a matching closely-fit bodysuit. It was knit in a blue fingering yarn with white angora trim.
    It’s amazing the details that we remember all these years later. When we were in our teens, my Mom gave all our Barbies and their clothing to the girls that lived next door. At the time, we were devastated. In the long run, my sister and I both had boys…and I hate to think what would have happened to Barbie.

    • My sons loved their action figures, which are really Barbies without the excellent wardrobe! And my sister’s daughter was never into Barbies. So the clothes are unused, and only appreciated online!


  9. One of my parents friends would sew Barbie clothes for me. I still have them. Unfortunately, the newer Barbies have different shapes that these clothes might not fit on them.

    Love the memories!

  10. I think I’m going to need to knit those slippers! My Grandmother taught me to sew and embroider. She used to sew clothes for my Barbies. A friend taught me knit, but I had to relearn with a class a few years later.

  11. OMG so fun! I’m fairly sure my grandma had that same booklet (the one with the orange outfit) because my Barbie definitely had that same dress. I learned to knit mostly from my maternal grandmother, with various aunts or my Mom teaching me additional skills here and there.

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