Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A reversible dress.... Because even toddlers like a bit of choice ;-)

I've always approached knitted and crochet garments with an 'all or nothing' approach but having a whole box of single balls of unlabelled yarn and not being brave enough to give Fair Isle a go, I decided to sew a dress and add a crochet yoke.  It was a process of trial and error at first, getting a strip with the correct degree of curvature, but I got there in the end.  And, because crochet worked in rows doesn't really have a right or wrong side, I gave the yoke a lip because I thought a reversible dress would be a great idea (because girls love choice, and you never know when turning it 'inside-out' might have to be an option!).

After I finished crocheting the yoke, I carried the yoke around for ages hoping I might happen upon a sewing shop at some point.  I gave up in the end and went to The Cotton Patch.  I figured that a shop specialising in quilting would have a huge collection of complementing prints.  They have a beautiful array of fabrics and I could have browsed forever but I opted for a couple of Amy Butler fabrics because they both contained olive accents.
I've never been one to follow sewing patterns; I just grab my tape measure, wrap it around my subject and hope for the best.  If you've got a 2-3 year old, you can just follow my pattern directly.  If not, hopefully my 'pattern' will help you.

If I do say so myself, it has turned out really nicely and I am quite excited about making a few more in different colour combinations....  In fact, I'm tempted to make myself a matching top =)

I have worked hard creating my original patterns and am happy for them to be used for free.  Please do not sell the patterns.  If you do sell the end products please state clearly that they were made using my design, and that the pattern came from www.craftymamasanchez.blogspot.com.  Thanks, and enjoy!

What you will need:
The amount yarn, fabric and buttons will vary depending on the size of child and hence garment.  I made mine to fit a child of height 86cm/34" and chest circumference 50cm/20" and found that 50g of yarn, and 0.5m x 1m of each fabric was ample.
  • 50-100g yarn that knits to a 5mm needle
  • 5mm crochet hook 
  • complementing fabrics
  • sewing machine
  • threads in coordinating colours
  • buttons and/or poppers.  Buy twice the number of buttons that you have button holes (don't forget the 'one on the yoke'!!)
  • tape measure
  • scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • hand sewing needle
  • yarn needle
Taking measurements
Below is a simple sketch of the measurements I took and how I translated them to the sizing of the garment.  Because of the style of the dress, the only important measurements are the chest circumference and length.  Although I prefer metric, my sewing machine guides are all imperial so I have decided to not fight it and just take all my measurements in inches. Finding that my daughter has a chest circumference of 20", I halved it for the flat measurement of the front of the dress then added 2" to allow for room.  As the size at the hem is not too important, I simply doubled the flat chest measurement to give 24".

Crochet yoke:
I worked the yoke in trebles (US doubles) because they are of a sufficient height that there is no need to work buttonholes.  On the last row, I worked trebles across using the front loops only then flipped the piece and worked trebles to the end using the unworked loops that are, after flipping the work, front loops. It feels rather awkward working the first few stitches after the flipping the work because you will be working from the bottom of the loop up (you'll see what I mean when you get there).  This gave me a lip at the bottom in which I could sew in the fabric in order to hide loose ends.

A lot of people work a turning chain of 3 when working trebles, then work their first treble of the next row into the second treble of the previous row, and their last treble into the 3rd chain of the turning chain from the previous row.  I find this method messy and only use a turning chain of 2 and work into the top of every stitch.

Take your 3/4 of your chest circumference measurement and work a chain that is a multiple of 4, plus 5.  For example working to a chest measurement of 20", I worked a chain of 73 which was approximately 15" long.  After working the first row, your work should have stretched a bit.

Row 1:  Treble in the 3rd chain from hook, treble to end.  Chain 2 and turn

Row 2:  Work 4 trebles. Then work 2 trebles in the next stitch then 1 treble in the next 3 stitches until 4 stitches remain.  Work 2 trebles in the next stitch then 1 treble in each stitch to end.  Chain 2 and turn.  (I ended up with 89 stitches)

Rows 3 & 4: Work straight with a turning chain of 2

Row 5:  Work 4 trebles. Then work 2 trebles in the next stitch then 1 treble in the next 4 stitches until 5 stitches remain. Work 2 trebles in the next stitch then 1 treble in each stitch to end. Chain 2 and turn.  (I ended up with 105 stitches)

Row 6:  Treble to end working in front loops only.  Turn work and treble to end working in back loops only.

These six rows make a yoke roughly 2.5" thick.  If you are making a dress for a larger girl, you may wish to add a few extra rows for a thicker yoke.  The yoke will have an open lip at the longer side of its curve.  I allowed 6" of the stitches from the middle of the yoke for the front neck and 3" from either side for the back neck pieces (29 stitches and 14 stitches respectively).  I then sewed along the remaining stitches with tail yarn to seal the lips across the arm holes.

Cutting the fabric

The cutting of fabric for this project does not need to be precise because it is a very floaty roomy dress.  If the length of your fabric is greater than 3x the measurement you have allowed for the chest, you will be able to cut your fabric as below.   I cut my pieces from a 20" wide piece of fabric so that the front piece was 12" wide at the neck and 24" wide at the hem.

Lay your two fabrics, one on top of the other.   Add your neck and hem measurements together and divide by two.  I calculated (12" + 24")/ 2 = 18".  Fold your fabrics, making sure they are still together, allowing at least this measurement.  The fold is the middle fold of the front.

Mark 12" from the fold on one end of the fabric, and 6" from the fold on the other.  

I don't have a ruler long enough, so just stretched my tape measure from one pin to the other as a guide, and cut a diagonal line.  I cut a perpendicular line to trim.

After trimming any excess fabric from where the shop cut them slightly differently, I layed all the pieces in a stack and trimmed a curve from the diagonal.

With minimal cutting, I had cut all the pieces I needed for my project =)

Referring back to my chart, I allowed 4.25" on the diagonal from the neck for the arm holes.

Grouping the fabrics, I placed them right-side to right-side and sewed along the diagonal, leaving the 4.25" armhole allowance.  I then sewed the two pieces together along the perpendicular edges, then along the curved hem.

After turning the work right-side out, I sewed the most fiddly part of the arm holes.  I didn't do any special shaping - the armholes split into a 'V' when the dress is put on.

I don't have a gathering foot for my sewing machine, so simply sewed a straight line across each of the three pieces of the the neck using the longest stitch setting.  Using the lip openings on the yoke as a guide, I pulled on the top thread to gather the fabric and ruffled and adjusted it until the piece fit into the corresponding lip.  I then 'set' the gathering by sewing over it with a zigzag stitch.

I hand stitched the gathered neck pieces into their corresponding yoke 'lips' remembering to be very neat because both sides will be seen!! I bought my buttons for this project before I had the idea of making it reversible and only bought 5.  Had I thought it out, I'd have bought 10 and sewn a button on each side of the fabric so as to have button holes on both sides of the dress.  To impatient to wait until I could buy more buttons, I used some poppers I found.  I then sewed a button on each side of the top corner of the yoke.

Being a typical girl that likes pink, I thought my daughter would hate the fabrics I picked out, but she loves her dress calling the side with blue flowers her 'Tinker Bell' side and the other her 'Princess Fiona' [from Shrek] side.  Now I just need to make sure she eats really messily when she's wearing it in public so I get an excuse to show of both sides....

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1 comment:

  1. So lovely! Your patterns are wonderful. I found you on pinterest while looking for a Koshi doll pattern. Then I saw your lion! Just perfect, the best crochet lion I have seen. Next this genius dress! I saw a pattern in a magazine that had a crochet tube top with straps and cotton for the skirt. Your design is so much better and fresher for summer. Thank you very much for sharing your patterns. Bravo!