Making a Macrame Dress for my Barbie Doll

In my quest to post a striking picture on Instagram for #mermay 2022, I decided to create a mermaid-inspired look for my Barbie doll which incorporated macrame. For those unfamiliar with the hashtag, during the month of May, mermaid enthusiasts are encouraged to post photos of mermaids, utilizing their creative flair. They can promote skills such as drawing, embroidery, photography, etc.

Doll Macrame Dress - Fashion doll wearing a beach-inspired macrame dress.

I initially just wanted to create a bikini top and possibly a macrame tail but this project took on a life of its own and became a full gown. My list of supplies is as follows:

Project Supplies: Crochet thread, pearl beads, macrame board, T-pins, grid paper, and fashion doll as model.

  • Size 3 Crochet Thread
  • Pearl Beads
  • Foam Macrame Board
  • Grid Paper
  • T-Pins
  • Fashion Doll as Model

 

In my mind, I had a rough idea of the design and how to proceed. I started by experimenting with draping on the doll. The whole process was troubleshooting and figuring out positioning and knots as I progressed from the top down. First, I created the neckline with pearls to imitate a necklace. Then I cast lark's head knots between the pearls as the base of the top. At this point, I cast several vertical lark's head knots over the bust in order to get a rough idea of cup placement and measurements. 

Macrame draping on the doll form

I used this data to create a sketch of the bra cups on grid paper. 

 Using the macrame board to knot around a pattern sketch.

After playing around for a bit, I decided that I did not like the placement of the pearls, removed them, and started over again. On top of my sketch, I pinned the new neckline down to a foam macrame board with T-pins. Then, I used clove hitch knots to create the fabric and added vertical lark's head knots whenever I needed the bra cup to increase in length. 

Completed macrame bra cups

After the bra cups were completed, I draped the piece back on the doll to make sure that it fit properly. After seeing it hang on the doll, I was excited to continue with the project as a dress rather than a top. Next, I cinched the waist with one row of clove hitch knots all the way around. I let the cords covering the torso hang, then started to square knot where I wanted the skirt to begin. 

Working the macrame knots while draped on the doll.

I had to stop several times while creating the first row of skirt in order to make sure that it was straight and even. I continued with alternating square knots until it reached the desired length. The last steps were trimming the bottom, filling the exposed cord on the neckline with pearls, and tying everything off in the back. I worked on this project on-and-off for an entire day so probably about a solid 8 hours of work.

Completed Front View of Fashion Doll wearing a Macrame Dress

This dress was inspired by a mermaid getting her legs and stepping out looking fabulous! 

 Completed Back view of Fashion doll wearing a macrame dress

Please note that in my final version I used jewelry wire instead of crochet thread at the neckline and underneath the bust. I would not recommend using wire in garments because of maintenance issues. However, using this method, it was incredibly easy to stabilize the dress onto the doll while I was knotting.

 

Well what do you think? Did you learn any new tips or cringe at my technique? Leave your thoughts below!

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