Knit dress for stuffed animal or doll

The reason I made this dress for Claire was that I had bought some yarn from Daiso. The skein was wrapped in plastic so I didn’t feel it until after I got home. That’s when I realized buying it was a mistake. I use acrylic yarn because it’s cheaper than wool or cotton, and it’s soft enough for me. Unfortunately, this acrylic yarn felt rather rough. I realized it would be uncomfortable to wear against skin, making it unsuitable for humans. On the other hand, a stuffed animal wouldn’t be bothered by it.

I don’t recommend this yarn for anything other than children’s crafts, such as for hanging things with. If you’re looking for low cost yarn to knit or crochet items to be worn, you’re better off buying it at a craft store because when there are discounts, you could get better quality yarn for a better deal than $1.50 for 45 grams.

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Claire in her dress.

Like my other knit projects, I did not use a pattern for this dress. I did not want to follow a pattern because there was little chance of finding a pattern that would fit this bear. Instead, I browsed free patterns for doll dresses, trying to figure out the general approach to knitting a dress. I didn’t have much luck, since they all showed different approaches and none had a ruffled skirt. There was one that was knit from bottom up, with the front and back sides done separately and then sewn together. That gave me some ideas. If you’re looking for a general approach to knitting a dress like this, I’ve included mine below.

I actually started this project back in April but set it aside because until recently, I thought of knitting as a cold weather craft. In July I acquired a bunch of yarn from my mom, and was motivated to learn how to crochet because she had some unfinished pieces. Just like how I learned to knit, I learned to crochet from watching videos. (The people who make the videos are much better at instructing than my mom, who expects me to pick it up simply by watching her silently crochet at full speed.)

After learning to crochet a simple flower and rose, I wanted to crochet another project using the white yarn. The only problem was that it was held up by this project, so even though it was the middle of July, I picked up my needles again and started to knit.

Since it had been three months since I last knitted, I had forgotten where I was, but thankfully I had taken good notes at the time so I was able to pick up where I had left off. I had the rest already planned, so I was able to follow the pattern without having to figure it out all over again. I was concerned that I had forgotten how to knit, but to my surprise, I still remembered. I was a bit slow when it came to a slip, slip, knit, but still knew how to do it.

I was hesitant to have a white bear wear a white top, so I hoped to add a red trim around the neckline even though I wasn’t sure how to when I first started this project. I also thought of making red cap sleeves, but that appeared too challenging, so I was content with keeping the dress sleeveless. Since I had just learned to crochet, I decided to crochet a border around the neckline. I wasn’t sure if I had enough red yarn to also add a trim around the armholes, so I thought I would have to leave them plain.

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Without the trim around the armscyes.

After adding a border to one armscye, I knew for certain that I didn’t have enough yarn to do both. Then I got the idea to only add the trim to the front, since that’s the side you’re more likely to see.

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The backside

When I first started this project, I wasn’t sure how far up to sew both sides of the back together. I hadn’t thought of casting on some more stitches to make a buttonhole band, although later I learned that I can pick up stitches to make one. I figured it would be okay to sew hooks to the back because the wearer is a stuffed animal, so it’s okay if it doesn’t close all the way. Having it secure enough is also fine, since it’s not likely that she’ll be moving around vigorously. Now, if this were for a toy that a child plays with regularly, having a proper closure would be important.

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I used hooks to fasten the back. They don’t keep it closed as well as I’d like.  I might try to add a button closure in the future.

How to make it: the general idea

Since dolls and stuffed animals come in different sizes, I’m not sure how useful this particular pattern will be. Instead, I’ll give you the general idea, and you can adapt it for your own doll or stuffed animal.

  • This dress was made from the bottom up, then sewn together in the back.
  • First, I figured out how many stitches go around the bear’s waist. (The widest part.)
  • In order to make ruffles, you need to start with twice as many stitches as you want, then decrease them in pairs. I multiplied the number of stitches by 2, and then added two more for sewing the ends together. I knitted until I reached a satisfactory length for the skirt, then decreased the stitches, and then knitted a few more rows before switching to the white yarn.
  • I kept knitting with the white yarn, until I reached the bottom of the armholes (armpit area?). That’s when I divided the top into the right backside, front, and left backside.
  • Decrease as appropriate to make the armholes. I did the front and right backside, leaving the left backside alone for now. (After completing the right backside, I did the opposite of that on the left backside.) You’ll want to keep it wide enough for the straps.
  • Then I made the neckline according to this video, except I decreased in each row, on both sides starting from where I had cast off, to make the neckline curve.
  • After completing both sides of the neckline, I sewed the front and back straps together at the top.
  • Then I sewed the back of the skirt together, and sewed hooks to the back. If you want, you can sew on buttons and pick up stitches to knit a buttonhole band.
  • Lastly, I added a crochet border to the neckline and armholes.

I hoped that was helpful if you were looking for the general idea of how to knit a dress. If you have any questions about the project, please leave a comment and I will try to answer it.

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