McCalls 7550

McCalls 7550

McCalls 7550 is a mini-wardrobe of vintage styles for 11.5″ fashion dolls like Barbie. It’s a current pattern, and I’ve linked it to the Simply Delightful website for Vogue, Butterick and McCalls patterns. You can buy it in hard copy or as a digital download, either there or from a local fabric store. I have a hard copy.

I liked the vintage look of these garments for Barbie and made the sundress shown in blue and white on the pattern envelope. It’s a halter back dress with a full circle skirt and is Dress E.

Here are the pattern line drawings:

McCalls 7550

I made this first in a green quilting cotton but wasn’t as happy with the result as would have been ideal. Piecing that bodice is fiddly and it’s a challenge to get those seams to lie flat on the front. My corners didn’t turn as nice crisp points even though I trimmed the seam allowances. And the bodice is tight on my vintage Barbie. I think there are three reasons for this: first, the doll photographed is a newer and less curvy model; and secondly, the fabric is probably thicker than would be best, and thirdly, I didn’t follow the directions closely for the back.

Here’s Babs showing off that version:

McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke

The front looks good, but see at right how the back gaps open. (And yes, I sewed on little contrasting buttons.)

McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke
McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke

Even on this version, I did make some changes. First, I sewed lace on the hem on the tulle underskirt. Secondly, the bodice is lined, but after piecing it, you’re instructed to sew around the raw edges of the center back and waistline – when you join the skirt, there will be a raw edge inside the garment. I couldn’t see the point of having a lining if that was the case, so I tucked the raw edges in between the bodice and the facing. I had done the same for the center back, but then didn’t have enough fabric for a good overlap for the snaps – that contributed to it being tight. Finally, I added a ribbon around the waist, sewing it into the center back seam on each side, then tying it at the front and tacking it down there so the bow can’t come undone.

I made the dress a second time, and read the directions for the back more closely this time. This version is better. This is another quilting cotton but it’s not as thick as the green print.

McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke
McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke

I forgot to tuck the ribbon ends into the center back seam (duh) so had to sew them by hand. This time, I only used one layer of tulle instead of two, but I put lace on the edge again. This one also got a ribbon rose and (again) contrasting buttons. 🙂 I made the same changes with putting raw edges inside the bodice and facing, but only used a 1/8″ seam allowance at the center back instead of 1/4″. This fit vintage Barbie much better and the opening below lies more smoothly. I think it should be finished more, though, so there’s a version three.

McCalls 7550 purses sewn by Deborah Cooke

I also tried both purses from this pattern in a shiny fake leather. I love the clutch – which is upside down in the picture! – and it was both quick and easy. The other purse is a bit floppy, plus I thought the strap was short and thick. The flap curls on that one, too, so maybe the fake leather needs to be doubled over or interfaced. Maybe the bag needs to be lined. Modifications are required!

For version three of the sundress, I applied fusible knit interfacing to the center back seam allowance for the skirt. This will ensure the edges can’t fray after the garment is done.

And here’s version three with the new purse!

McCalls 7550 view E sewn by Deborah Cooke

My model is a Silkstone Barbie, new to me. She’s Lingerie #2 from 2000 and I bought her NIB on eBay. Her hair needs to be redone since the elastics have disintegrated over time and her lingerie is a bit yellowed. I’ll give it a handwash to see if that will clean it up. I hadn’t seen a Silkstone Barbie before and there are cool things about her – a little more detail in the sculpt and the material makes her heavier. Her knees don’t bend, though.

I was so busy trying to get her to hold her new purse that I didn’t realize she was doing a drunk-lean on the steps.

This quilting cotton is probably the thickest of them all and that made the flamingo dress a bit challenging. I’m tempted to try one in Liberty Tana Lawn just to see how much easier it would be in a thinner cotton, but I need a break from this dress.

Fiddly fiddly sewing for Barbie! I like the challenge, though, and I’ll show you some market bags that I created in 1/6 scale next.

Knit Purses for Barbie

Sometimes you need a quick project and some instant crafty gratification. Here’s a recent favorite of mine – some knitted purses for Barbie.

The patterns are from a website of free knitting patterns for Barbie called Sticka till Barbie. It’s in Sweden and is amazing. (The pictures are teeny, but it’s worth a good look.) There really are more than a thousand patterns for Barbie and about 300 for Bratz dolls—including 8 years of ABBA costumes. (Click ABBA on the menu bar to see, then they’re sorted by year.) There are project pictures on Ravelry and since they’re larger, it’s easier to see details there – here’s the designer page on Ravelry.

purses for Barbie knit by Deborah Cooke

On the right is A-7 – a circular drawstring bag. I knit mine iwith some red MadTosh and black Malabrigo Sock, adding a bit of detail above the colour change. I put a little cardboard square in the bottom. The drawstring is a manufactured cord instead of a knitted one.

On the left is A-5 on the same page – a striped tote bag. This one’s knit sideways – you do the stripes first, join the strip into a ring, then pick up stitches for the handles. Someone on Ravelry suggested a provisional cast-on and 3-needle bind off, which seemed like a good idea to me. I grafted the loop together, though.

These are quick knits and a bit addictive, plus a great way to use up scraps of sock yarn. I know I’ll be knitting more!

If you knit for dolls, this site is a great resource.

The Faceless Bunny

Debbie Bliss: Noro Collection

I needed a quick project in April and made this bunny, then forgot to show it to you. The pattern is by Debbie Bliss – it’s included in the book Debbie Bliss: Noro Collection (that’s a Ravelry link). There’s also a bear, and both are knit in Noro Kureyon. (I bought this book to knit the sweater on the cover but have never done it. Hmm.)

You can also download the bunny pattern free (right now) at the Knitting Fever website, right here.

I knit mine in some discontinued yarn from my stash: it’s Louet Bonnie (that’s another Ravelry link), a bulky weight yarn with a wool base then a silk thread that is gradient-dyed. Here he is:

Stuffed bunny designed by Debbie Bliss and knit by Deborah Cooke in Louet Bonnie

Of course, you could knit the bunny in any weight yarn, just adjusting your needle size to make a nice tightly-knit fabric to keep the stuffing inside. I knit mine on 3.25 mm needles which is what the pattern specifies.

I had the idea that I’d knit a bunny friend and seam the second with the garter stitch side out, but that hasn’t happened and it might not. Like most toys, it’s a bit fiddly with lots of pieces to stuff and sew together, but the result is cuter than I expected.

Flirty Ruffles Shawl

This was the first lace shawl I ever knit. I saw it displayed at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Fair and bought everything to knit it on the spot. The pattern is the Flirty Ruffles Shawl by Dorothy Siemens, and I knit mine in Misti Alpaca Lace.

Flirty Ruffles Shawl knit in Misti Alpaca by Deborah Cooke

I don’t remember it being a particularly difficult knit. The pattern is completely charted.

Flirty Ruffles Shawl knit in Misti Alpaca by Deborah Cooke

The stitch pattern in the middle of the shawl is Print o’ the Wave, which is one of my favourites.

Flirty Ruffles Shawl knit in Misti Alpaca by Deborah Cooke

My Ravelry project page says I knit it in 2007. I miss those shoes! 🙂

Gallery Pages

I’ve been meaning to add some gallery pages for a while and am finally getting around to it. They’re all under the new Knitting tab so far.

If there’s a blog post about the project, I’ve linked the image to it – if not, it says “no post”. That will remind me to get it done (maybe) and/or import it from my old blog. (I never did finish moving all the content over because there was so much of it.) I can’t believe I never posted about my finished Earth Stripe wrap – the pictures are all uploaded here, but I never wrote the post. I’ll get that done soon. It is so pretty.

And one day maybe I’ll become a better photographer…Ha!

I also created a tab there for my patterns, in case you’re on the hunt for them. Most are on Ravelry, but a couple are just here on the blog. They’re all free.

Juicy Gloss Cardigan Done

Juicy Gloss is a top-down cardigan designed by Asja Janeczek, which I cast on in Koigu KPPPM in April 2018. (Here’s my project page on Ravelry.) Yup. Three years ago. I’ve blogged about this one a few times – Juicy Gloss in Koigu, and Juicy Gloss in Progress – but (as is so often the case) I stalled out when it was time to knit the sleeves.

Here’s what it looked like the last time I showed it to you:

Juicy Gloss by Asja Janeczek knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke
Juicy Gloss by Asja Janeczek knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke
Juicy Gloss by Asja Janeczek knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

It’s a long cardigan, longer with my modifications to the front, and the colour variegation is very pretty. Here’s a detail shot of the Koigu – it still doesn’t do the color justice:

Juicy Gloss by Asja Janeczek knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

This cardigan was marooned on Sleeve Island for a while. I think that happens because there’s always counting to do with sleeve decreases and I tend to knit while watching television – it’s easy to lose track and even easier to just pick up another project with a few thousand miles of stockinette to knit. In this case, I also realized after I knit the first sleeve to the elbow that it was too wide. Projects that need to be frogged and reknit often end up in time-out for me.

I frogged back to the armhole and decreased an additional 8 stitches from the sleeve at the underarm. The pattern specifies to knit two inches before beginning the sleeve decreases but on this version, I started the decreases right away. I was working four rows, then decreasing on either side of the marker (at the middle underarm) in the next row. I did that twelve times. If I’d wanted the elbow length sleeves like the pattern, I could have continued to the specified length and done the cuff, but I wanted long sleeves.

I continued, working 5 rows between the decrease rows. I did that fourteen times. The sleeve needed to be 34cm long, so I knit 62 rows to get the length then worked the I-cord cuff as specified.

Here’s one finished sleeve (although the ends still need to be sewn in):

Juicy Gloss Cardigan knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

I could have continued the decreases and made the cuff fitted, but I know I’ll push up the sleeves.

When I blocked the sweater, the Koigu stretched like mad. It seems that the yarn loses its “boing” when wet. It’s freaked me out before, but I just had to let it dry as planned. When it was just a little damp, I put the sweater in the dryer on the Touch Up cycle. That’s 15 minutes on low heat on my machine, and I checked it every five minutes. It came out perfectly after ten minutes, then I left it overnight to be sure it was completely dry.

I still have to sew in the ends, but here’s the finished cardigan!

Juicy Gloss Cardigan knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

It looks a little lighter at the top right because there was a bit of sunshine there.

Here’s my Ravelry project page with the modifications.

What do you think? I’m really pleased with this one.


Things have been quiet here on the blog for a bit, and I apologize for that. I was slammed at work in April and didn’t have much time for crafting, then had a few fails. 😦 That’s always disheartening. I may circle back to them and see what can be salvaged, then share the results with you. In the meantime, here’s one that is having a happier adventure the second time around.

Papillon is a beautiful and clever shawl pattern using short rows and designed by Marin Melchior. (That’s a Ravelry link.) It’s knit in fingering weight with two colours, one solid and one not.

Remember this Koigu KPPPM that I first used in the body of my teal Navelli?

Navelli by Caitlin Hunter knit in Koigu KPPPM and Shibui Knits Sock by Deborah Cooke

I frogged it back because of the pooling. This yarn has longer sections of each colour (at least for Koigu) so I thought it might work for Papillon.

Papillon shawl knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

It didn’t really work in this pattern either. :-/

I was determined to use my stash yarn, though, and dug in again. This time, I chose some Noro Silk Garden Sock, which has longer colour changes, and for contrast, a very black alpaca yarn from a local farm. There’s a tiny shimmer of blue spun in with the black alpaca yarn, too. Here’s the beginning:

Papillon shawl knit in Noro Silk Garden Sock by Deborah Cooke

I’m much happier with this version! This is knitting up much more thickly even on the same needles, but since I’m not sure how much black there is (that label’s long gone) I’m sticking to the 3.5mm needles and hoping I have enough black to finish.

Finally, a success!

I have some sweaters breaking free of Sleeve Island and will share one with you next time.

Cardigans for Barbie

This project is actually the one I cast on before the shrugs but finished later. Why? Because it’s fiddly.

Knits for Barbie by Nicky Epstein

Here’s the book the last time Jen tempted me to knit for dolls. 🙂 It’s called Knits for Barbie and is by Nicky Epstein. It’s out of print, so that’s a Ravelry link. There are a lot of cute patterns here, and they’re styled nicely for inspiration.

The specified yarns are often tapestry yarns, but many people on Ravelry use sock yarn. What’s distinct about these patterns to me is that they’re made exactly like sweaters for people from traditional patterns. No top-down seamless stuff here. I’ve never been so glad to finish a project as these two sweaters – and the process definitely made me appreciate the seamless shrug pattern I shared with you last week.

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light by Deborah Cooke

But let’s talk about the cardigans. I decided to make the Timely Twin Set, (another Ravelry link there) which is a cardigan and sleeveless shell. For my first attempt, I used some leftover Madeline Tosh Twist Light in Lepidoptra. This is kind of kettle-dyed and so it didn’t make stripes even on a small garment. I knit the back, the two fronts, the two sleeves, sewed it all together, then picked up the button bands on each front, and finally knit the collar. Just like a big sweater, but teeny teeny tiny!

One thing I learned quickly is that no matter how small the stitches, Barbie fingers are smaller. It’s much easier to try these sweaters on Barbie if she has a pair of mittens on. (Barbie “gloves” are actually mittens as the fingers aren’t separated.) If you don’t have any, you could wrap a piece of cloth or the corner of a sandwich bag over her hand to put on the sweater. My vintage doll has a gap between her pinkie and the other fingers, as well as between fingers and thumb, and it was that pinkie that gave the trouble.

This cardigan pattern has no buttonholes, just buttons on the left, so the sweater is always worn open. I used teeny tiny snaps (five of them) and sewed the buttons on the right front instead. These are 3mm clear snaps that I ordered online. They’re very tiny, which I like, but they’re hard to fasten. I wouldn’t recommend them for little fingers. I might (gah) take them off and sew on plain old metal snaps.

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light by Deborah Cooke

Here’s the finished cardigan from the side:

Barbie is wearing a pair of pants I made for her of cotton twill. They’re a bit too long for her, but we both like the color.

The cardigan is pretty bulky for Barbie – I think it looks better in the pictures than IRL – so I didn’t knit the shell to go with it. Instead, I tried an experiment and knit the cardigan again, this time in Elann Silken Kydd (which is like Rowan Kidsilk Haze).

This time, I eliminated the side seams and knit the body to the underarms, then divided it. I still knit the sleeves separately and did the button bands etc. I did the five snaps and buttons again, and here’s the result:

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in Elann Silken Kydd by Deborah Cooke

It’s still pretty fluffy, even though this one came out smaller in the thinner yarn. (Same needles.) It reminds me of a mohair sweater I have myself – it’s exactly the sweater I want when the power goes out, but not so much otherwise. It’s really fluffy and warm, but not flattering at all. It’s knit of that thick mohair that used to be prevalent. I want Barbie to be glamourous not practical!

Here are the two sweaters beside each other, so you can see the difference just by changing the yarn:

Timely Twinset by Nicky Epstein knit in MadTosh Twist Light and in Elann Silken Kydd by Deborah Cooke

So, I’ll try a variation, a top-down cardigan with a lot fewer seams. Stay tuned for that!

A Shrug for Barbie

I was tempted into knitting for dolls by my friend, Jen, and this is dangerous territory. It’s really addictive to knit teeny tiny projects – the assumption is that projects will be finishing quickly, but I’m discovering that my need to get it “just right” means these little sweaters take a while. (We’ll talk about sewing for dolls later. I’m further down that rabbit hole.)

Jen has a Blythe doll and I knit this little shrug for her.

Shrug for Blythe knit by Deborah Cooke in Kidsilk Haze

This is extremely teeny and I wish I’d put something in the photograph for scale before sending it off. It’s maybe 2″ wide. The pattern is a free pattern on Ravelry called Shrug for Blythe, and it’s a great pattern. I found the instructions very clear and the results adorable – with no seaming! I knit it in some leftover Elann Silken Kydd, which is discontinued (that’s a Ravelry link) and a lot like Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

Bacall, a shrug pattern from Rowan designed by Sarah Hatton

I tried this sweater on Barbie, because I don’t collect Blythe dolls, and it was too small. The length was good and the back width, but the fronts were small. Barbie definitely has more of a bust than Blythe! I played around with the stitch counts and made a few more changes, too – I wanted a shrug king of like Bacall, a Rowan pattern for actual people. (The Rowan site has been redesigned and I’m not sure this pattern is even there anymore, so that’s a Ravelry link. It was originally published in Rowan 44, and was a free download for a while.)

This shrug was designed by Sarah Hatton – I think the sample garment is too broad in the shoulders for the model shown here (or maybe too wide in the neck), but I love the roll collar.

I knit the long-sleeved version of it in Kidsilk Aura for myself, and it’s a wonderful squishy soft warm sweater. (Yes, I actually used the specified yarn. It happens sometimes.)

Here’s my finished sweater and here’s my Ravelry project page.

Bacall by Sarah Hatton knit by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Aura

And here’s my modified shrug in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, adjusted to fit Barbie:

Shrug knit for Barbie by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

It has cap sleeves and a garter stitch collar. There’s also a loop and button closure at the front. The collar can be rolled as above, or lifted so it makes an opera collar. See?

Shrug knit for Barbie by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Kidsilk Haze

My model, btw, is the 35th Anniversary Reproduction Barbie from 1993, the brunette version. I bought her on eBay NIB, and removed her from the box. (Yes, I am an un-boxer.) The plastic tie in her hair had disintegrated so I had to redo her hair, and the adhesive from her strapless bathing suit had also dried into a sticky mess, but I got her cleaned up. (I think she looks happier after 28 years in a box.) She’s a bit cheeky, wearing this shrug with nothing underneath, but she needs some tops and dresses. The Kidsilk Haze is really soft…

I still have a couple of tweaks to make to the pattern and will knit another one to be sure I have it right. (See how this goes?) Then she’ll need the perfect dress to wear with it…


I can never resist a new project, even when I have a lot of projects to finish up. There’s something very satisfying about casting on.

In November, Andrea Mowry published a new pattern called Stripes! which I liked a lot. (That’s a Ravelry link.) It’s a top-down pullover with lots of options to vary the results. It looked like a quick and easy project – plus I had the perfect yarn in my stash (or so I thought).

I bought some Sugar Bush Motley at Spinrite last year because I really liked how it looked in the skein. (That link goes to the Motley project page on the Sugar Bush site.) I was expecting it to create an all-over speckly pattern. Once it was caked up, though, it was clear that this yarn was dyed to make repeating stripes. (This colourway is called Peppered Teal.)

Sugarbush Motley in Peppered Teal

I set it aside then, but pulled it out again for this sweater. I’d have stripes without changing colours every 8 rows. Of course, the stripes would vary in width, depending on the number of stitches on my needles, but I thought it would be okay.

Here’s the sweater so far:

Andrea Mowry's Stripes top-down pullover knit in SugarBush Motley by Deborah Cooke

This yarn is a merino-alpaca blend, so it will be warm. I decided that I wanted a turtleneck on this sweater, so I did a provisional cast-on, then knit down the sweater yoke as instructed. When I had a few inches done on the yoke, I picked up the neck stitches and knit up in ribbing to create the turtleneck. I also inverted the colour sequence – starting from the other end of the skein – because I knew the collar would be folded down and I wanted it to match up with the body. I had a hard time assessing the depth to knit – I thought it was long enough because I tried it on before the yoke was done. Once I divided for the underarms, though, the neck pulled down a bit and I had to rejoin the yarn and knit a few more inches on the neck.

I like the yarn, even though it’s a single-ply, loosely spun and a bit splitty. I like it because of the result. The knitted fabric is soft and light, with a really nice drape. I think this will be a sweater I wear a lot.

I can hear you asking why I’ve only managed this much since November. As is so often the way with “quick” projects, I made a mistake. I had knit this sweater well past this point, almost to the waist ribbing, when I took it off the needles to check the size. I find it hard to assess the size of a top-down pullover, even when I try it on, until I knit past the bust. It was huge, way too huge – because (ugh) my gauge was off. I figured out that I needed 50 less stitches in the body and would still have a loose fit, so I ripped all the way back to the neck. I could have changed to smaller needles, but I liked the drape of the fabric I was getting, so I followed the instructions for the next smaller size. That made a difference of 30 stitches in the body. Then I added 20 less stitches at the underarm, 10 less on each side, and carried on. I’m quite happy with the fit now.

And I figured out a new trick. Instead of transferring all the stitches to a length of wool to try on the sweater, then putting them back on the needle, I knit half the body on one 80cm circular, and the other half on a second 80cm circular. That means I can put the sweater flat to measure it, and also that I can (carefully!) try it on, without transferring the stitches. 🙂

Onward with this one. Looks like it will be a sweater to wear next winter…