Copyright     FAQ     Advertisers
Petite Purls
Bitty Britches
» photos: Sara Parker Photography » model: Trey

Bitty Britches

By Kate Oates

John-johns have nothing on handknit overalls! This adorable pair popped into my head one day, and I knew they had to make their way out. I’m lamenting my older son growing up and out of wanting to wear these types of garments, so the younger has probably worn them even more. I wanted this one to be classic and sweet with some interesting elements to make the knitting both interesting and not overwhelming.


Preemie[Newborn, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2T]
Size Shown: 12 months

Finished Measurements

Waist: 15[171/2, 191/4, 201/4, 21, 22] inches


Knit Picks Andean Silk [55% Super Fine Alpaca, 23% Silk, 22% Merino Wool; 96 yards/88 meters per 1.8 ounce/50 gram ball];

Crimini; 2[3, 4, 4, 4, 5] balls

Recommended needle sizes

US #7/4.5 mm 16 inch circular needle


Cable Needle
Yarn needle
Stitch markers
1 inch elastic if desired, 16[18, 20, 21, 22, 23] inches long


19 sts and 24 rows = 4 inches in St st

Pattern Notes

Waistline is worked in the round, and then each leg is worked separately from the waist down. Stitches for the front cable panel are picked up and knit, bottom up, as are the straps. Instructions include lots of technique so you can even use this as a learning piece. I’ve included an option to place some elastic in the waist as well (option not shown in photos).

Skills Required

Reading your work, i-cord, picking up stitches, cabling, seaming; other skills with instruction- short row shaping, i-cord bind-off

Special Abbreviations

W&T: Wrap and turn for short row shaping. When next st is to be knit: After working last st, with yarn in back sl next st purlwise onto right needle. Move yarn to front then sl st back onto left needle. Turn and work back as directed. When next st is to be purled: Follow directions above except begin with yarn in front and move it to back for wrap. After completing short row work, pick up the wrap with left needle and either k2tog or p2tog to hide wrap.
X2 (Crossover): Knit into second st on left needle, do not slide off needle. Knit into first st on left needle, slide both sts off needle.
C4B: Slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold to back, k2, k2 from cable needle.
C4F: Slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold to front, k2, k2 from cable needle.
T4B: Slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold to back, k2, p2 from cable needle.
T4F: Slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold to front, p2, k2 from cable needle.



Using circular needles, cast on 72[84, 92, 96, 100, 104] sts using the long tail cast on method. Place marker and join in a round, being careful not to twist stitches. Round marker is at center back. Knit in the round for 11/2 inches.

For elastic waistband ONLY: Continue for another 1[1, 11/2, 11/2, 11/2, 11/2] inches. Turn work so that the purl side is facing, this becomes RS. Join working sts to cast on edge as follows: * with left needle, pick up the first st from the cast on edge and purl tog with next working st; repeat from * until 4 sts rem in round, p4.

Bitty Britches

Right Leg

Shaping for Backside
Rows 1 (RS) and 2: K3, W&T, p3.
Rows 3 and 4: K6, W&T, p6.
Rows 5 and 6: K9, W&T, p9.
Rows 7 and 8: K12, W&T, p12.
Preemie size, skip to Set-up Row and do not work last 4 rows of shaping.
Rows 9 and 10: K15, W&T, p15.
Newborn size, skip to Set-up Row and do not work last 2 rows of shaping.
Rows 11 and 12: K18, W&T, p18.

Set-up Row: K15[18, 20, 21, 22, 23], p2, k2, p2, k15[18, 20, 21, 22, 23], sl next 36[42, 46, 48, 50, 52] sts to scrap yarn and place on hold for Left Leg. Turn.
Next Row: Work sts as they appear, knitting the knit sts and purling the purls.
Crossover Row: K15[18, 20, 21, 22, 23], p2, X2, p2, knit to end of row.

Work Crossover Row every other RS row until beginning work for cuff. When piece measures 4[5, 6, 7, 81/2, 10] inches (on short side) from cast on edge or folded top of waistband, ending on a WS row, begin shaping for crotch.

Increase 1 st at beginning and end of next 2 rows: 40[46, 50, 52, 54, 56] sts.
Cast on 2 sts at the beginning of next 2 rows: 44[50, 54, 56, 58, 60] sts.
Work 2 more rows as established, ending on WS row.

Decrease Row: K1, ssk, work in patt to the last 3 sts, k2tog, k1: 42[48, 52, 54, 56, 58] sts.

Work Decrease Row each RS row a total of 4 times: 36[42, 46, 48, 50, 52] sts.
Work even as established until piece measures 9[111/2, 13, 141/2, 16, 18] inches from cast on edge or top of folded waistband.


Work back and forth in Rev St st for 1[1, 11/2, 11/2, 11/2, 11/2] inches to match waistband. Bind off loosely, purlwise.

Bitty Britches

Left Leg

Place sts for left leg on needles ready to work WS at center back.

Shaping for Backside
Rows 1 (RS) and 2: P3, W&T, k3.
Rows 3 and 4: P6, W&T, k6.
Rows 5 and 6: P9, W&T, k9.
Rows 7 and 8: P12, W&T, k12.
Preemie size, skip to Set-up Row and do not work last 4 rows of shaping.
Rows 9 and 10: P15, W&T, k15.
Newborn size, skip to Set-up Row and do not work last 2 rows of shaping.
Rows 11 and 12: P18, W&T, k18.

Set-up Row: P15[18, 20, 21, 22, 23], k2, p2, k2, purl to end of row.

Work Crossover Row on next row, and finish Left Leg as for Right Leg.

Bitty Britches

Cable Panel

Count and mark (either with scrap yarn or safety pin) to 15[16, 16, 17, 17, 18] sts to the left and right of center front either on cast on edge, or folded top of waistband. With RS facing, pick up and: *K2, p1[2, 2, 3, 3, 4],** k2, p8, k4, p8, k2, *p1[2, 2, 3, 3, 4], k2.**

Turn, work each st as it appears. * to ** represents border work continued below.

Cable Pattern
Note: Work border noted above on each row of Cable Pat. On WS, sts should be worked as they appear.

Row 1: K2, p8, c4B, p8, k2.
Row 2 and all WS rows: Work in patt.
Row 3: [T4F, p4, T4B] twice.
Row 5: P2, T4F, T4B, p4, T4F, T4B, p2.
Row 7: P4, C4B, p8, C4F, p4.
Row 9: P2, T4B, T4F, p4, T4B, T4F, p2.
Row 11: T4B, p4, T4F, T4B, p4, T4F. Bitty Britches

Repeat these 12 rows once more and AT THE SAME TIME work buttonholes on Row 9 of pattern on border sts as follows:
K2, p0[0, 0, 1, 1, 2] yo, p2tog, work in Cable Pat, ssp, yo, p0[0, 0, 1, 1, 2] k2.

*Preemie size only: note that decreases overlap one p st on each side of the Cable Pat.

After final WS row (Row 12 in Cable Pat), bind off in i-cord as follows:
Cast on 3 sts at beginning of row.
*K2, K2togtbl.
Sl the 3 sts now on the right needle one at a time back to the left needle. Repeat from *, making sure to give the yarn a good tug after sl sts.


Straps should be place approximately 1[1, 11/2, 2, 2, 21/2] inches from crossover panel, on the backside of the waistband on cast on edge or folded top. Pick up and knit 3[3, 5, 5, 5, 5] sts, then work in i-cord until strap measures 7[9, 11, 13, 151/2, 18] inches or desired length. If measuring on a child, remember to criss cross straps in the back, and that the cord will stretch several inches.


Seam the front and back below waistband, down to crotch. Seam each leg. Attach buttons to each strap. If using elastic, thread through hole on inside of waistband and sew two ends of elastic together, making sure not to twist it. Use yarn and yarn needle to seam closed remaining 4 sts on inside of waistband.

Back top topNext
Kate Oates

Kate Oates is the designer for Tot Toppers; she enjoys designing hats in particular, and garments for babies and children. Her projects often reflect a whimsical spirit. She has recently started a new line for those of us who are not tots, called When I Grow Up. Kate also strives to add specifically to the growing body of knits for boys as she has two of her own! When she can pull herself away from her knitting, she is finishing up a PhD in Political Science from the University of Florida. Her blog is located at and she keeps a constant eye on her ravelry group for pattern support.

Pattern & images © 2010 Kate Oates. Contact