Monday, June 18, 2007

FO: Peanut Dresses!

Cross-posted at the Create Along.

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. :)

25 comments:

Octopus Knits said...

The dresses are lovely -- I like the single daisy on each -- and they fit!

Libby said...

These are absolutely adorable. I first came across the pic on Ravelry. Are you going to make the pattern available? If you aren't planning on it, you should reconsider; I would definitely purchase it for all of the little girls in my family.

ms. pea said...

Congrats on your first big design! They are fabulous!

tentenknits said...

they look SO cute! i love the dresses. and yes congrats on your first big design!! I'm in awe!!

Kara said...

oh my goodness! They are amazing. I am dying from the double cuteness...it is too much!

You must be so cool too look at the peanuts in their dresses. And to think that you designed and knitted them. Awesome!

jillian said...

Those are adorable! And they will be able to grow with them - so clever! Love the flower.

Mouse said...

Those are absolutely the cutest thing I've seen in a long time. Well done!

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

These are so wonderful. You must share the pattern, as they are just too cute! I am so proud of you. You did a beautiful job and finished two dresses before I could finish a single top. Impressive!

Marnie said...

Well, they came out cute beyond words. The peanuts look gorgeous in them and I think you have proven you are more than capable of designing. Yes, the math gets easier in time. I still, though, sometimes struggle with distributing increases evenly.

The Stitchin' Sheep said...

So adorable. You did a great job.

Disentangled said...

Too cute for words! Really! I can't wait to see both peanuts modeling them. Congrats!

Madge said...

Congrats on your first design success! Your dresses are...wait for it...SCRUMPTIOUS!

I, too, love the single flower. It's fitting with the clean, simple lines of the dress.

Melissa said...

The dresses are great!

Jennifer said...

Those dresses are so darn cute! What a great job you did designing them.

mle said...

How cute! I absolutely love the stitched daisy detail!
What an accomplishment.

Nasus said...

I love them - so cute! Congratulations on your first design!

knitzalot said...

Those are so cute! I'm very impressed with your first foray into designing. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Ashley said...

These are just darling! Congrats on working out all the details!

Shelley said...

Well I guess I just have to join the chorus and say YAY you!! Gorgeous job!

Faith said...

I've been watching your progress on the Create Along, and I love how they turned out! I seriously admire you for designing something from scratch. I'm really not sure that I ever want to do that -- I tend to be more of a "tweak what's already there" kind of person, or just knit straight from a pattern.

These dresses are beautiful, and I especially like the "grow with you" feature. That's some foresight there!

Wonderful job.

amanda cathleen said...

holy.freaking,CUTE! Great job girl, your dresses are adorable : )
so is that peanut! aww!

EDNA HART said...

JOB WELL DONE!! The flowers are the finishing touch that makes all the difference. REAL DESIGNERS pretty much do the same as you but faster. Experience is a great teacher as well. Next time do a schematic before you start I find it very helpful to see what the proportions are going to look like. The math is a bitch and things always goo wrong-but as you said PATIENCE AND YOU CAN'T GIVE UP--those are the key. Give yourself a few pats on the from me...

LotusKnits said...

Wow! So cute!!

Tusa said...

They are gorgeous! Well done you.

dee said...

oh, those are the cutest little peanut dresses!! you should be extremely proud of yourself. I can't wait to see them in person :)

and that green bowl, lovin' it...