How to Knit Mandie’s Dress




This Barbie doll’s knitted dress was inspired by the cover drawing on Mandie and the Schoolhouse’s Secret, by Lois Gladys Leppard. (All the covers of the “Mandie Books” feature interestingly complicated Edwardian-style children’s clothes.) This dress features a big collar, knitted separately, full skirt, long sleeves, and snug waist. It slips on and off…but this doll’s arms and hands are a little more flexible than some Barbie dolls’, so choose your model carefully.

(Now, obviously, you could sew a more authentic replica of Mandie’s outfit in very fine woven cotton, with embroidery floss for the ribbon trimmings…but the idea with this whole series of dolls has consistently been to use up scraps of widely available craft-type yarns, rather than to achieve the perfect period look.)

To knit this outfit as shown, you’ll need:

  • About 1 ounce of Red Heart Super Saver yarn in purple
  • About 2 ounces of Simply Soft yarn in rose (Gena Greene used a similar wool yarn that may not be so widely available, but Simply Soft would work)
  • US#8 knitting needles, or the size that give you a gauge of about 4 stitches to the inch

Although this is a small, cheap project that should be accessible to children who know how to knit, it uses some fairly sophisticated knitting skills. If you are a beginning knitter, ask the nice ladies (and gents) at your local yarn shop for help with this project.

  1. Begin with the skirt by casting on 48 stitches in purple. Leave a tail for sewing.
  2. Immediately break purple, leaving another tail for sewing. Attach rose and work 4 rows garter stitch.
  3. Still in rose, work 20 rows stock stitch, ending with a purl row.
  4. Next row, *K 2, k2tog* across the row. Purl back on 36 stitches.
  5. Next row, *K 1, k2tog* across the row. Purl back on 24 stitches.
  6. Next row, *K2tog* across the row.
  7. Next row, *P 1, p2tog* across the row.
  8. Change to purple and work 4 rows garter stitch on these 8 stitches.
  9. Change to rose and increase in every stitch across the row. (This is a slightly bloused “shirtwaist” dress, as worn by little girls, not the painfully tight waist as worn by fashion victims in the generation before Mandie’s.)
  10. Next row, *P 1, increase in next stitch* across the row.
  11. Work 2 rows stock stitch on these 24 stitches.
  12. Next row, divide and shape the front by K 12, turn. P 12, turn. K 5, slip 2, K 5, turn. P 5, slip 2, P 5, turn. K 4, slip 4, K 4, turn. P 4, slip 4, P 4, turn. Put these stitches on a holder, and leave a tail for grafting.
  13. Rejoin rose yarn to the remaining 12 stitches and work 6 rows stock stitch for the back.
  14. Graft 4 stitches on each side and bind off the 4 center stitches of front and back.
  15. Now for the sleeves: With rose, cast on 12 stitches.
  16. With purple, *K 1, k2tog* across the row, then K back across 8 stitches.
  17. With rose, work 2 rows stock stitch.
  18. With purple, work 2 rows garter stitch.
  19. With rose, *inc in 1st stitch, k across the row, inc in last stitch.* Turn. *Inc in 1st stitch, p across the row, inc in last stitch.*
  20. Work 10 rows stock stitch on these 12 stitches. Bind off. (You can either bind off directly into the armhole, or bind off and sew the sleeve into the armhole; if grafting a bound-off edge onto another knitted piece is a new skill you want to practice, this is a good place to practice, since the collar covers the shoulders.)
  21. Make the other sleeve.
  22. For the collar: With purple, cast on 12 stitches. You can mark them with stitch markers or loops of thread if that helps you think of them as four sections of, at this point, 3 stitches each. Work 2 rows garter stitch.
  23. Change to rose and *inc in 1st stitch of each section, k to last stitch, inc in last stitch of section* 4 times across the row. You now have 20 stitches.
  24. Turn and *inc in 1st stitch of section, p to last stitch, inc in last stitch of section* 4 times across row. You now have 28 stitches.
  25. Work the next 2 rows as the previous 2 rows, thus ending with 44 stitches.
  26. Break off rose. With purple, increase in each stitch across row to 88 stitches.
  27. Knit another row (garter stitch) as in row 23.
  28. Bind off these 96 stitches loosely, still working increases in first and last stitch of each section–thus actually binding off 104 stitches.
  29. Join the side of the diamond shape you have formed, attach the neck edge to the neck edge of the dress, and tack the collar down to the dress at front and back waist (and wherever else it may want to stick up).
  30. Carefully ease the dress over the doll’s head, then ease her arms into the sleeves and, finally, stretch and ease the waist down to the doll’s waistline.

Gena Greene sells these dolls for $5, including the book the doll is dressed to match, locally; online, this set would cost $20 + $5 for shipping.

(Blogjob friends, this article was suggested when I signed up for a new advertising program. If you’re seeing ads that look relevant to this article, rather than relevant to something else you read about last week, then Prosper Ads is working. I signed up for free and saw an ad for Red Heart yarn there, and, how felicitous, happened to have a doll dressed in the stuff right on hand. If you want Prosper Ads too, feel free to use this link: .)

Book Review: Mandie and the Invisible Troublemaker

Title: Mandie and the Invisible Troublemaker

Author: Lois Gladys Leppard

Date: 1994

Publisher: Bethany House

ISBN: 1-55661-410-8

Length: 173 pages

Quote: “I have a great idea, Uncle John. Why don’t you just buy my school.”

Although the Mandie Books were published by a Christian publisher, and although Mandie is being brought up a Christian who recites a Bible verse for courage and prays for President McKinley, Volume 24 is not exactly what parents think of as a Sunday School book. Mandie goes to a small, pathetic “private school” run by two old women, sisters; the sister responsible for their finances is stressed and irritable, and refuses to listen to Mandie’s truthful explanations of how the messes into which Mandie stumbles came to happen. Mandie happens to overhear the sisters talking and realize that although they can’t afford to expel Mandie, the sisters think it best to make Mandie think they’re going to expel her. She calls their bluff, threatens to leave the school, and decides it’s all right for her to break school rules on purpose since she’s being blamed for someone else’s misdeeds anyway.

At the same time, Mandie is doing what is, for a thirteen-year-old, a noble thing. Most of the girls at her school don’t interest her, although she claims to think of them as friends. Three of them she particularly dislikes. She’s sure that one of her three school enemies is taking papers to her room and tucking open jars of molasses into her bag, just to cause trouble for her. She enlists her school friend Celia to help her find out for sure before she accuses one of them. The mystery isn’t made very easy to guess, and Mandie’s self-control pays off when she finally sees the invisible troublemaker.

Still, her disrespect for the teacher is rebuked but not really repented of—and her heroic refusal to make accusations that might be mistaken is not rewarded by others, either. This is another Mandie Book that definitely reads more like a memory shared by someone who really was in school in 1901 than like a typical moralizing Sunday School story.

Though Lois Gladys Leppard no longer needs a dollar, and I still have to charge the minimum of $5 per book + $5 per package, almost any Fair Trade book would fit comfortably into the package along with this pocket-sized book. Or you could complete your collection with twelve different Mandie Books, which would (probably) cost $65. Payments may be sent to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the page.

Book Review Cat courtesy of Morguefile:

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