My First Project

torn cover dolls pattern bookAfter my grandma taught me how to knit I eventually wanted to start a project – my initial project ended up being my first UFO (it was a garter stitch scarf with a hat attached in dark green) and in the end Mum found this old pattern for dolls clothes. You can see the full pattern image on Ravelry.

I knitted the coat and an adapted version of the hat for my doll in red wool and it was my first completed project. When trying to remember how old I was,  I suspect I was about eight. Anyway someone asked about the pattern in a Facebook group recently and after hunting it out of stash, I decided it would be fun to knit for a doll I bought Lucy just before Elliott was born.

Reducing seams in a vintage pattern

As I looked at the pattern I recalled sewing up all those small pieces, so I chose to adapt the pattern to reduce the seams. And it was a fairly small step to thinking that a blog post about that process could be useful for other knitters working with older patterns. So this is how I do it for a bottom up pattern. notes on a grid

  1. I like to use a graphed notebook to sketch out how I am going to do a pattern change – the squares help if I want to chart any written lace instructions in a pattern and give some structure to the schematic. I am going to post a tidier version as an image but often it’s just some roughly scrawled numbers.
  2. I read through the pattern – typically if it is a set in sleeve like this coat its easiest to start bottom up so I start at the bottom of the page and make notes of how the pattern works. In this case I was doing the smallest size and for each front and the back there was a common section for the skirt.
  3. The first step is simple arithmetic – I add up the stitches for the left front, the back and the right front. Then I read through the instructions and ignore the k1 instruction at the end of the row where the back and sides would join, but noted the 3 knit stitches that are the garter border on each side.
  4. After the pattern for the coat skirt the next significant action in the pattern is the decreases for the bodice. This is also about the point where the decision has to be made about when you will split out the back and sides for the sleeves. I was pretty sure from the pattern that was after the decrease row – in other patterns the clue is usually a cast off for the beginning of the set in sleeve shaping.
  5. In this case I placed markers as I did the waist decreases and once I finished the waist detail – I split the body at the sides and knitted up the back, then each side as per the original pattern. If it was bigger I would have saved the shoulder stitches on each piece and cast them off together but sometimes fiddly small things it can be faster to sew.
  6. I knitted the sleeves flat two at a time – if I was doing a baby cardigan this way I would have used DPNs and knit them top down but from a time perspective it was faster to sew up the two sleeves and set them in than pick up such a small number of stitches on 4mm DPNs and knit down (where I would still have ends to stitch in)

And that is pretty much it. As I knit this it occurred to me that this could be a great holiday or long weekend project for a new knitter – particularly one who has dolls or soft animals that need a coat in this chilly weather. As the pattern is well over 50 years old and has been out of print for sometime here are the details in metric measurements with reduced seams.

Dolls Coat Pattern

doll wearing coatMaterials

You will need 4mm needles and between 50 and 70 gms of a standard 100m to 50gm double knitting yarn. I used a cheap machine washable wool but a decent acrylic would work as well. For a beginning knitter a solid medium colour is best, as it is easier to see their stitches.


The original was approximately 22 stitches x 28 rows across 10 cms (but I didn’t really check mine)


This was designed for a 10, 12, 14 or 16 inch doll which is 25, 30, 35 or 40 cm in today’s terms. If you are doing this for a soft body doll or toy, I’d go up a size as the old plastic dolls had a narrower chest.


Cast on 64 [88, 104, 112] stitches (I used a knit on cast on)Coat body

*Rows 1-4  knit
Row 5 Knit
Row 6 Knit 1, purl to last stitch, Knit 1
Row 7-8 Knit
Row 9-12 repeat rows 5-8 *

Row 13 Knit
Row 14 Knit 3 purl to end Knit 3
(it might help to place a marker after the first 3 knit stitches and before the last 3 as they are the band)

Repeat Row 13 & 14 until work measures 9 [10.5, 12, 13.5] cm from the beginning ending with a purl row.

Next row Knit 3, k2tog 6 [9,11,12] times, Knit 1 place marker, k2tog 16 [22,26,28] times, place marker Knit 1, k2tog 6 [9,11,12] times, Knit 3

coat body after markers

Next row Knit

Next row: K2tog, yarn over (button hole) knit to end

Split for sleeves

Next row  Knit until second marker, turn and purl to first marker

Working only on the back (centre) stitches continue in stocking stitch for 6 [8,8,9] rows

Knit 7 [9,9,11] rows. Cast off back stitches.

Join yarn to the left side. Knit to end.

Next row Knit 3, purl to end. Working on this side’s stitches continue in stocking stitch for 6 [8,8,9] rows remembering to knit the 3 last stitches on the purl row.

Knit 8 [10,10,12] rows.
Cast off 5 [6,7,8] stitches (this should be on the edge closest to the back) Knit to end.

Knit 8 [10,10, 12] rows – put stitches on a holder.

Join yarn to remaining stitches at the first marker. Purl to last 3 stitches, Knit 3. Continue in stocking stitch for 6 [8,8,9] rows remembering to knit the first 3 stitches on the purl row. You should finish with a purl row

Next row K2tog, yarn over, knit to end of row

Knit 7 [9,9,11] rows.

Cast off 5 [6,7,8] stitches (this should be on the edge closest to the back) Knit to end.

Knit 7 [9,9, 11] rows – put remaining 5 [7,8,8] stitches on a holder.

Sleeves (x2)

Cast on 18 [20, 22, 24] stitches making sure you have enough of a tail to stitch the sleeve seam (about 20 cm)

*Rows 1-4  knit
Row 5 Knit
Row 6 Knit 1, purl to last stitch, Knit 1
Row 7-8 Knit
Row 9-12 repeat rows 5-8 *
Row 13 Knit
Row 14 Purl

Repeat Row 13 & 14 until work measures 5.5 [7, 7, 7.5] cm from the beginning ending with a purl row. Cast off.

Making Up

Joining shouldersJoin shoulder seams. Join sleeve seams and set in sleeves. Use the weaving in end  from where you rejoined at the side seam to stitch any gap in the body side seam under the sleeve (should only be a couple of stitches.

Lay the collar edges against the back neck and with the wrong side of the body facing you run a needle into the stitches you have on hold. This is easier than the way the pattern suggests you do it which I managed to twist. Knit 8 [12, 12, 12] rows and cast off.

Darn in any ends and sew buttons on.

I have saved this as a Ravelry project with a link back to here – if you use the pattern – maybe tag it #reluctantknitter so I can see how it went. I am also going to re-knit it in a bigger size just to double check my instructions – please let me know if you find a miscount or something isn’t clear.

Finished red knitted dolls coat

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