In the sixties, Barbie wasn’t just navigating sandy beaches in her high heels, snapping candid shots of superstars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton canoodling in the surf. Barbie was a career girl, she owned a dream home, she acquired a new baby sister Skipper, quickly followed by even younger twin siblings Tutti and Todd, proved herself to be fluent in both English and Spanish (hmm... could that be a clue to the unexpected arrival of Skipper et al?), and ultimately blasted off into outer space in her sexy, form-fitting, silver space suit.
60’s Barbie was the woman who could do it all. She could be a single mom... er, I mean “big sister”, keep Ken dangling on the hook for a decade while sneaking off to Tijuana with Miguel, and explore the cosmos without so much as breaking a single, perfectly manicured nail.
Why just take a look at the steely determination on her face in comparison to the wide-eyed cream puff Barbie of today.
60’s Barbie could SO kick Modern Barbie’s wee, plastic derriere.
For the complete pattern (and more snark!):
shift of sea-foam blue – so pretty and easy! Sleeves are knit into front and back pieces of stockinette dress, trimmed with white bands of purl ridges. Tiny buttons close back at neck opening.
Easy? Could there actually be such thing as an easy McCall’s Pattern? I still remember the last one they said was “easy”! Still, they do claim that these Barbie outfits are “first time projects easy enough for new knitters” and there are “how to knit” lessons on the same page. Let’s see!DOLL’S SHIFT
SIZE: Fits 11 1/2’’ fashion doll.
AKA Barbie.MATERIALS: Orlon yarn, 3 ply, 1/4 oz. main color (MC), few yards contrasting color (CC). Knitting needles No. 3. Stitch holder. Two small buttons. Yarn needle.
I’m worried already. Size 3 (3.25 mm) needles are awfully small for an “easy” pattern. And what’s the stitch holder for?GAUGE: 7 sts = 1’’; 10 rows = 1’’
SHIFT: FRONT: Beg at lower edge, with CC, cast on 22 sts. K 1 row, p 1 row, K 1 row. Change to MC; beg with a k row, work in stockinette st (k 1 row, p 1 row) for 30 rows or 3 1/4’’ from start, end p row (wrong side).
Shape Sides: Inc 1 st in first st (k in front and back of st), k across to last st, inc 1 st in last st – 24 sts. P 1 row, k 1 row, p 1 row. Repeat inc row – 26 sts. P 1 row, k 1 row, p 1 row.
As soon as you start tossing in increases, you’re no longer looking at an “easy” pattern for a virgin. . . I mean, first time knitter. It’s at least an “easy to moderate” project.Shape Sleeves: Continue in stockinette st, cast on 3 sts at beg of next 4 rows – 38 sts. Work 10 rows even. Bind off.
“Easy” is a garter stitch scarf pattern. Cast on 65 stitches and then just keep knitting until your fingers fall off.
BACK: Work as for front until 3 1/4’’ from start, end p row.
Shape Sides and Back Opening: Row 1: Inc 1 st in first st, k next 11 sts. Place remaining 10 sts on a stitch holder. Turn.
Row 2: K 2, p to end.
Row 3: Knit.
Row 4: Repeat row 2.
Row 5: Inc 1 st in first st, k across – 14 sts.
Row 6: Repeat row 2.
Row 7: K 10, k 2 tog, yo (buttonhole), k 2.
Row 8: Repeat row 2.
Shape Sleeve: Row 9: Cast on 3 sts, k across.
Row 10: Repeat row 2.
Row 11: Repeat row 9 – 20 sts. Work even on 20 sts, keeping 2 sts at center back in garter st, for 8 rows. On next row, make buttonhole as on row 7. Work 1 more row. Bind off.
Okay, that clinches it. Multiple increases, buttonholes, stitches hanging around on stitch holders, and the blithe assumption that a first time knitter can somehow intuit without being told that “garter stitch” means knit every row. This is a medium pattern!2nd Half of Back: Row 1: Slip 10 sts from holder to needle. Join yarn at center opening, k across, increase 1 st in last st.
Row 2: P across, cast on 2 sts for underlap.
Hey, now there’s a word I’ve never seen before! Underlap sounds like the part of the body that used to be Santa’s lap, but has long since disappeared under his exponentially expanding belly. “Ho, ho, ho! Missing children? Hang on, let me check my underlap!”Row 3: Knit.
Row 4: P across to the last 2 sts, k 2.
Row 5: K, inc 1 st in last st – 14 sts.
Row 6: Repeat row 4.
Row 7: Knit.
Row 8: Repeat row 4.
Row 9: Knit.
Shape Sleeve: Row 10 Cast on 3 sts, p across to last 2 sts, k 2.
Row 11: Knit.
Row 12: Repeat row 10 – 20 sts. Work even on 20 sts, for 8 rows. Bind off.
To be fair, this is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to an “easy” knit pattern in McCalls. Even with the steam-pressing. That’s right. Steam-pressing a Barbie doll dress! Deal with it.FINISHING: Steam-press pieces. Sew front and back tog along top edges for 13 sts from each side, leaving 12 sts on front and 7 sts on each half of back for neck. From right side, with CC, pick up and k 26 sts around neck edge. Beg with a k row, work in stockinette st for 3 rows. Bind off. Work cuffs in same way, picking up 14 sts around each sleeve edge. Sew side seams. Tack underlap in place. Sew on buttons.
two-piece dress, in white-banded yellow, has straight lines, plus shaping at skirt waist and underarms. The stockinette stitch is reversed for trim, rolled collar.
Nice of them to let us know that this dress is yellow. From the picture I would have guessed that Pewter Gray was the hot shade in the summer of 69.DOLL’S TWO-PIECE DRESS
SIZE: Fits 11 1/2’’ fashion doll.
At the Handmade by Mother chain of Canadian pharmacies, you get a free, generic Barbie with every order of our cheap, generic drugs.MATERIALS: Orlon, 3 ply, 1/4 oz. main color (MC), few yards contrasting color (CC). Knitting needles No, 3. Stitch holder. Two small buttons. Snap fastener. Yarn needle.
GAUGE: 7 sts = 1’’; 10 rows = 1’’.
SKIRT: Beg at lower edge, with CC, cast on 40 sts. K 1 row, p 1 row, k 1 row. Change to MC; beg with a k row, work in stockinette st (k 1 row, p 1 row) until piece is 2’’ from start, end p row. Cast on 5 sts at beg of next row, continue in stockinette st on 45 sts for 1’’, end p row.
Next row: K 5, (k 2 tog) 19 times, k 2 – 26 sts. P 1 row, k 1 row. Bind off.
FINISHING: Steam-press piece. Sew back seam to 5 cast-on sts. Tack underlap of 5 sts in place to wrong side. Sew snap fastener to waist edge.
BLOUSE: FRONT: Beg a lower edge, with CC, cast on 22 sts. K 1 row, p 1 row, k 1 row. Change to MC, k 1 row, p 1 row, k 1 row. Change to CC, k 1 row, p 1 row, k 1 row. Change to MC, k 1 row, p 1 row.
Shape Sides and Sleeves: Shape sides and sleeves same as on front of Doll’s Shift.
Aren’t you glad I included that pattern first? Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t!BACK: Work as for blouse front up to shape sides.
Shape Sides and Back Opening: Work same as for shape sides and back opening on back of Doll’s Shift.
There could have been panic in the streets, a run on the stock market, crises of international proportions. . . Well, okay, we’ve already got all of that, but half-finished Barbie dresses would have made everything far worse, trust me.FINISHING: Steam-press pieces. Sew front and back tog along top edges for 13 sts from each side, leaving 12 sts on front and 7 sts on each half of back for neck. From right side, with CC, pick up and k 32 sts around neck edge. Begin with a p row, work in stockinette st fro 4 rows. Bind off. For cuffs, pick up 14 sts around each sleeve edge. Beg with a k row, work in stockinette st for 3 rows. Bind off. Sew side seams. Tuck underlap in place. Sew on buttons.
I feel for all those poor souls who looked at the “How to Knit” instructions and thought, “Hey, I can do that!” Hopefully, they weren’t scarred for life. By the pattern or the steam press.
I wonder where they are today?
Click here for the printable pattern.