Knitting for your doll

8 Jul 2008


I make up my own patterns for the doll knitwear and really I make the garment just to fit that doll.
I usually choose a yarn that I really like, either for colour, texture, whatever.
Because the garment is small it's a bit like making a tension square in that I can see and feel how the yarn behaves on a small item.
Often I only have one ball of a particular yarn, sometimes just a few grams of it and that can be incorporated in the bands or for trims or a stripe.

I imagine the shape I'm trying to achieve and just go for it.
I like the exercise of trying to limit the amount of seaming both because I dislike sewing up the garment once I've finished knitting and also because I need to keep bulky seams to a minimum.

 doll for switzerland

The jumpers and dresses for the dolls always have to have a large neck opening to make it easier for children to dress their doll and I try to minimise difficult closures.
I don't ever use popper closers on knitted items and I try not to use press studs
I find children just yank on these types of closures and that isn't good for the knitwear.
So I tend to use buttons, ribbons and knitted or crocheted cords to hold things together.

Jenny and Susie


I don't shape armholes because I actually like to pick up stitches for the sleeves across the shoulder of the garment and then knit down to the wrist.
I also try when I can to knit the dress, jumper or cardigan body all in one piece, starting at the hemline and knitting up and over the shoulder.
Obviously this cuts down on shoulder seams and when I have knitted the sleeves in place I then only have to do the side and underarm seams.


dragonfly order 4

I know many of you have asked me for patterns for my doll knitwear and I can understand this request but as I knit for an individual doll It would be too difficult for me to write a pattern that I could be certain would fit a certain size doll.
No two of my dolls are ever exactly the same size and every doll maker uses a slightly different pattern to make their doll.


Peter 2

What I suggest to begin with is that you stick to constructing a jumper(sweater) using rectangular shapes and as you gain experience you will be able to customise the item to your doll.

Begin by making a rectangle for the back of the jumper, this may be trial and error and will depend on the yarn and needles you choose.
I often use a needle slightly smaller than would normally be used for that thickness of wool as this gives a more compact stitch.
Do a narrow ribbed band and using the same sized needles go on to make the rectangle ( or square) as long as you want the sweater to be.
Make the front just the same but if you want you can take off a few stitches for the neck line two or three rows before it reaches the same length as the back piece.
Make similar pieces for the sleeves, often they are almost the same size as the back piece.

Yeshi's doll and his rainbow jumoer


Stitch it together leaving one shoulder open .
You can sew a button on here or thread a piece of wool or ribbon through to make a snug fit.
That then is a basic jumper that will keep any doll warm.
With your next attempt you can start to refine the process.
You now know how many stitches you need and how many rows so you can introduce more pattern or colour.
You can decide to have it fasten by buttoning up the back or front and so you will divide your knitting to accomplish that.
You may want a more polished finish and put a neck band on either by picking up stitches or perhaps a crocheted band.
You might decide to make a cardigan and so work the front as two separate pieces and fasten it with a little crocheted cord.
You may decide to make a dress and so make the body of the jumper longer and twice as wide and then when you get to the bodice length you want, knit two together across the row to bring it in to the size you know is right for your doll's body.



Depending on your knitting skills and desire once you have mastered a jumper (sweater) and cardigan for your doll you can go on and make a whole wardrobe of winter woollies and summer cotton outfits.
Let yourself experiment, you only need a ball or two of wool, needles and bits of time here and there and you can design clothes especially for your doll.
Study pictures and patterns meant for children and adults and see how they achieve the shape they want and then try to incorporate it into your own design.



I know it seems easier to just be given a written pattern and off you go but just try this.
It is very freeing, kind of like being a child again and making clothes for your favourite dolls.
Who knows you may go on to design something for a real live person to wear.
Stranger things have happened.

There is so much more I could write but I'll wait to see what questions you have and we will go from there.

Just remember, start off with very basic shapes to get some numbers and a feel for how the garment works.
Enjoy yourself.

12 Responses to “Knitting for your doll”

  1. Hello Jenny Wren, The method you describe is exactly the one my mother used when knitting full size clothes. She hated seams and never did any if she could do otherwise. Thanks for the reminder. Your dolls have such beautiful personalities. You are a clever lady! Cherrie

  2. Thank you so much for this information. I had just pulled out all my vintage doll knitting patterns, but they really were so dull compared to your knits. I am looking forward to trying these tips!

  3. Oh Jenny!

    What a lovely retrospective of your work. Thankyou for those gorgeous photos.

    Your skill with knitting and 'off the needle' design is only exceeded by your talent with hair. Each little one has such an individual personality and their hairstyles are so natural.

    Beautiful, beautiful work.

  4. Hey, that first photo was of Princess Jenny, the little 'un will be pleased!

  5. Thank you for this. I love making dolls, but doll clothes....they do me in. I will try to knit something!

  6. That's great encouragement to start trying again with the knitting, Jenny. Thanks! I guess it's not so much the technique of knitting for me, but more that I can't seem to keep the right shape. But I'm working up the courage to try. :-)
    Great pictures, by the way!

    Christine from the NL

  7. Thank you for all the detailed photos of those wee dresses and sweaters! Each is a great success and how beautifully suited to its bearer. I can't pick a favorite, but I think I admire the sweaters the most.

  8. Dear sweet Jenny,

    We can feel the dolly love in your knitting. Lovely colours, lovely designs, perfectly matched with each doll to create their individual personality.

    Surely you have revived a lost art of producing dolly's knitted clothes. It is sheer joy to see your creations and I imagine many would benefit from a workshop only you could provide.

    Loving the delightful explanations of your methods.. as to choosing buttons over snaps etc., simply wonderful. Jayne xo

  9. Those are wonderful tips. You are an inspiration for creativity.

  10. Hi Jenny,
    Just wanted to say, that wherever possible I knit small sweaters in the round up to the armholes & the same with cardi's & jackets, then carrry on as normal for the tops. It cuts out the side seams. I knit for premie babies & the less seams for them the better.

    Kim. Hereford uk

  11. Such beautiful work, thank you for sharing with us.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.