Swatching is one of those things, like sweeping behind the couch, that we know we should do, but don't. However, if you want to create a design in knit or crochet, it really helps to know such things as: how many stitches around the waistline of my doll? the neckline? around the arms?
So, swatching to the rescue! I wanted to create some knit designs with finer yarn and needles. I chose a yarn: Knit Picks Palette, an affordable wool fingering weight yarn, and three different needle sizes: 2.0mm, 2.50mm, and 3.0mm. Above are the three swatches I worked, 20 sts wide by 24 rows long. With 2.0mm needles my working gauge was 10 sts= 1 inch in stockinette. With 2.50mm needles, the gauge was 9 sts = 1 inch in stockinette, and with the 3.0mm needles, 8 sts= 1 inch in stockinette. This was knitting comfortably for me, as I would knit for clothing. If I were making a doll, I would knit much tighter.
Having determined gauge for this yarn and these three needles, designing an outfit becomes much easier. I know my doll has a waistline/chest measurement of 4 3/4 inches, so this would be 48 sts with 2.00mm needles and fingering weight yarn; 43 sts with 2.5mm needles, and 38 sts with 3.0mm needles. Dolls don't need the 'ease' that we build into human clothing, so these values will be close to what will work when you design an outfit.
This lace was worked from side to side. To turn it into a tunic, I bound off at the end of five pattern repeats, but did not cut the yarn. Turning the lace so I worked back across the rows, I placed a pin every one inch across. This would be the top of the tunic. I picked up nine stitches between each pin, giving me 45 sts across the top, which is very close to my 43 sts around Kismet's waist.
Since this lace is worked on a background of garter stitches, I knit across the top nine stitches, bound off five stitches, knitted 17 stitches, bound of five stiches, then knitted the last nine stitches. This creates the places where the armholes are (the bound off stitches). The next row is knit, casting on 12 sts when you come to the bound off stitches. So, the armholes are 17 sts around, or about two inches in circumference. A couple more rows of knitting, with some decreases to fit the neckline, and the lace is now a tunic!
I added a ruffle to the bottom, along with a picot bindoff which is also in the Stanfield book. And here is the finished product!
Details: from the Stanfield book, I used lace #123 Garter Stitch Diamonds for the tunic panel, and #8 Picot Bindoff for the bottom ruffle edge.
Kismet is very happy with her tunic :-)
I posted those instructions to show that any bit of knitted lace can be made into doll clothing. Here are some specific instructions for knitted tops made from lace from the Stanfield book, for both 8.5 inch and 7 inch Simply Amis.