Crochet Clothes for Your Barbie Doll: Tips and Free Patterns
One of the most memorable toys girls have during their childhood years is the Barbie doll. I remember spending hours making up stories about my Barbies and always changing their clothes to suit the story I concocted for the day.
This hub is about crocheting clothes for your Barbie doll. It will also tackle the different body types available to the doll throughout the years. Links will be provided to help you get started on crocheting for your Barbie doll.
Types of Barbie Bodies Available
Ever since it was first launched in 1959, Barbie has undergone many changes with her body due to the controversies surrounding her original body statistics (with Barbie being anorexic and unable to menstruate had she been a real live person).
The following is a list of the Barbie types made available since then:
- Vintage - vital statistics estimated at (36, 18, 33), 5'9" tall, and weighing 110 lbs.
- Twist n' Turn - the waist can now be twisted and turned. Arms are either straight or bent at the elbows. Also, this is when Barbie started getting taller from the neck down to the upper chest area. From then on, the height stayed the same throughout the years.
- Fully Jointed Body - all the joints of the doll are bendable. This was found in the ballerina or sporty Barbies sold then.
The waist of the bodies above is small, hence the controversy for a body change because girls might emulate Barbie by being anorexic too. Since then, dolls made after 1997 have wider waists.
- Belly Button - has a wider waist and a belly button detail.
The next type is more like the Vintage body in that it has a smaller waist again, but is taller. These were aimed more for the adult collectors rather than girls who play Barbie.
- B2K - In 2000, Barbie had a major re-do and was changed to look more like a proportional tall, slender woman compared to its Vintage body.
- Silkstone - are also known as Fashion or Lingerie Model dolls. They are named silkstone because they are made of a very hard plastic that is made to mimic porcelain. The face and body are the most similar to the Vintage doll compared to the other body types.
- Model Muse - has a very small waist (similar to Vintage), abs, collarbone, ankles, and cleavage. These dolls were not made for playing, but for display only.
In 2015, Mattel's new highly-articulated Barbie doll was released in a series called Made-to-Move Barbie dolls.
- Made-to-Move - With 22 points of articulation, this doll has more joints than previous articulated Barbie dolls. This also means that it is slightly more difficult to hide all the joints when making clothes for this doll. From personal experience, this doll has much thicker thighs, bust, and waist. The proportions are also slightly off than Model Muse body types, so adjustments are definitely necessary when adapting patterns for this doll.
In January of 2016, Mattel has released a new line of Barbie dolls featuring four different body styles including: Curvy, Petite, Original, and Tall; as well as seven skin tones, which offers more diversity than ever.
- Curvy - meant to reflect a more realistic body image for young, impressionable minds. With a tummy that actually protrudes, this body type is the most difficult one to adjust existing patterns for, since every body measurement will be bigger than the usual.
- Petite - contrary to how it sounds, this body type is not thinner than the original, but is just a bit shorter than the original fashionista Barbie. Changes to the measurements won't be as drastic as the Curvy body type. You just need to make the torso and the bottom shorter and the clothes will fit.
- Original - one of the more accessible body types at the moment, with a lower price point than collector's editions. Patterns should fit this type more easily and would only require little adjustments.
- Tall - this body type is taller than the original body type. You will need to make the torso and the bottom longer to make the clothes fit.
Tip: If you are looking at Vintage patterns, there are two things you need to worry about when adjusting it for your more modern doll: the waist and the area from the neck down to the upper chest.
Tip: In order to deal with the different body types, it is good to just have an actual doll near you for occasional fittings. With some practice, you'll recognize which patterns and in what area of the outfit you will need to add or reduce a few stitches to in order to make it fit your Barbie doll perfectly.
Things You'll Need to Start
- There are different patterns available out there. The material ranges from crochet thread to sport yarn to worsted weight. It just depends on how you want the clothes to look like. I personally prefer the crochet thread patterns, as it can show all the details better than the thicker yarns can.
- Hooks to fit the gauge in the pattern. Again, gauge will not really help if the pattern is for a doll with a different body model than what you have. So always have the doll ready to fit what you are making. In time, you will recognize just how many stitches certain areas will need in order to fit properly (e.g. the waist, bust, etc).
- Basic knowledge of crochet stitches. Just knowing how to make the foundation chain, single crochet, and slip stitches are enough to make your own Barbie clothes.
- Basic sewing skills. Most patterns ask you to sew on snaps to fasten the clothes onto your dolls. Sewing on snaps sometimes helps in the fitting of the clothes, as you can adjust them to close at the right places to make it fit perfectly. A few months ago, all the stores I buy snaps from ran out, so I had to buy velcro instead. While it is more economical to buy velcro, it is also harder to sew, so I recommend going with the small snaps instead. But if you have a sewing machine, velcro might be more convenient for you.
Finding Crochet Patterns for Barbie
There are lots of crochet patterns available for Barbie. Since writing this hub, I have published several free patterns for the Barbie Basics doll. Some of the more popular ones are: Barbie Simple Sheath Dress and Barbie Basic Leggings.
One of my personal favorites is the blog, Crochet for Barbie. This is because she is the only one that I have seen who indicates her Barbie's body type: the belly button model. Most sites just say, for fashion doll or 11 1/2 inch doll. It is a blog which can also help you learn how to design clothes, as the writer herself is learning how to design new things regularly. Also, she uses thread to crochet the clothes.
Another site which offers free Barbie patterns is Crochet Pattern Central. This is a collection of links with free patterns for Barbie clothes. If you're interested in working with yarn to make the clothes, then this might be a better option for you. Just browse through the Barbie section and find a pattern you like.
Lately, I have been looking for patterns from vintage newsletters like Annie's Attic. The patterns here are a bit more difficult to adapt to the body type you might have, but there are a lot of nice things available out there.
There is also a book out by Nicky Epstein, Crochet for Barbie Doll. There are several older books available in the Amazon capsule to the right.
If you find yourself liking a pattern for a real live person instead of a doll, you can also adapt those to fit your Barbie. You will need to adjust the pattern and keep fitting it on your doll to make sure it fits, but it is doable. Just have fun and enjoy crocheting doll clothes.