Jun 18, 2007

FO: Peanut Dresses!

Cross-posted at A Little Loopy.

Well, my friends, my first design project, the Peanut Dresses, are dunzo!

Two firsts

My goal for this project first was to stick with a simple design, small enough in scale so that I could get my feet wet with this whole designing-for-the-first-time thing, without psyching myself out. And although it was quite frustrating at times, I learned so much in the process, and am really happy with the end result. And best of all, they fit!

Peanut dress fitting (over a bathing suit). Hope to get more FO pics with both Peanuts soon.

These are simple dresses that are made to fit a 12-18 month year old, with room to grow. I purposely chose this a-line, empire waisted shape with spaghetti strap ties at the top, so that as the girls got bigger, the dresses could become tops, by adjusting the straps. It's knit in the round from the bottom up, with side decreases spaced evenly throughout the skirt and armholes. I changed the stitch pattern at the top, where the color change happens, and at the hem, to add a little bit of visual interest and also to tie everything together.

A few simple, but important lessons learned about designing:

1. Writing out a pattern takes work - and more knitty math than I am comfortable with at present - but I'm sure this will become easier with time (...right?). Me calculating the number of stitches and decreases...let's just say it wasn't pretty, though I'm sure it was funny to watch. Thankfully, Dis can do math, and I have her phone number. The way I went about writing out the pattern- I'm not sure how *real* designers do it, but I started out with a vague sense of the size and measurements and I wanted, what I wanted to do, and where, in terms of the decreases, and the general design in mind, but I actually wrote out the pattern as I went along. Yay for pencils and a good eraser!

2. Revisions are just part of the process. Sometimes you have to just try something out and if it doesn't work, you have to rip it out and start over. I lost count of how many times PD1 was tampered with. I learned to embrace the two steps forward, one step back, and repeat method.

One major modification to my initial design: I had planned to embroider flowers all around the bottom. However, after testing out various stitching methods on my swatch, I found that none looked all that great, plus it ended up being too bulky, and I didn't want the dresses to end up looking messy. In the end, I decided to keep it simple: one flower motif instead of many. I made a trip to F&S Fabrics and found cute daisies. I sewed them on, and simply added a stitched stem. Not what I had in mind from the beginning, but I'm pleased with the solution I was able to come up with.

Another slight change in plan involved the strap construction, if you will. I had initially thought crochet chains would do it, but once the dresses were made, I realized crochet chains wouldn't be sturdy enough. Many people suggested i-cords. While I liked the idea of i-cords, I determined that standard 3-stitch i-cords would be too bulky once tied into bows, especially on a baby-sized shoulders. So, I went with 2-stitch i-cords. Still very sturdy, but less bulky. I really like how they turned out.

top detail

3. Patience is key. Designing and knitting a garment of one's own is challenging, because you will encounter bumps (if not giant potholes) in the road, but it's ultimately very rewarding. Knowing that I set out to design something, plotted the whole thing out, knit them up, and they fit- I can't help but be proud of this accomplishment. I definitely see more designing in my future!

hem detail

Many thanks to my pals and designing mentors, Julia and Marnie, for creating the Create Along, which allowed me to fulfill my desire to try my hand at designing for the first time. And for their encouragement, along with that of fellow CALers, bloggy friends, and of course my Loopy Girls, which helped to push me along.

Post-script: This is really turning into THE first birthday dress of the season. As if two dresses weren't enough; I'm now knitting up a third for B's niece, who will also turn one in a few weeks. It's the same, but different. I'll post a picture soon. :)


Hattie said...

They came out soooo cute! I love those. So summery and pretty. Great job!

phoenix said...

I've been looking foward to seeing how these turned out, and they are even more adorable than expected. Congratulations.

Liz K. said...

They are really beautiful! Your attention to detail truly paid off, especially in the arm area. Are you planning on making the pattern public?

Sorka said...

oooh too cute!!! They are awsome again making me wish I had a little girl to knit for! sigh..

Joanna said...

I love how those turned out! And I think the single flower is perfect. Great job!!

Dawn said...

What a great job! The bodice, the hemline, shaping, all the details, just perfect. And definitely for twins but not identical. They couldn't have turned out any better!

Ruinwen said...

Those dresses came out darling! I love all the little things you added. The I-cord really turned out great! What a great design! :)

June said...

Ah, adorable! Great job!

Emily said...

Awesome job, especially considering that it's your first original design!

SwetPMnkyGrl said...

Dress knitters rule! Sweet!

Iris G said...

These are so adorable, perfect summer colors and sweet details! Congrats!

filambulle said...

They are simply lovely. Great job!

Angela said...

They turned out great; the single flower detail is perfect, especially the way it's set at the top of the green bottom section.