I think just about everyone who has ever picked up a creative art has gotten to a point where they need to do something or want to make something and just CANNOT find a pattern for it. So what do you do when you can’t find that perfect pattern?
Almost always, there are two patterns in the world you can stitch together if you are clever enough to find them and can read them well enough to know where to start, stop, and adjust. I’m not going to tell you this is easy (I’m going to tell you it’s hard actually), but I AM going to tell you that it will save you time in the long game and be worth the effort when you’re done. And BONUS, once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll be old hat and it won’t be hard anymore!
So…where do we start?
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide if you’re knitting or crocheting. Then you can start with allfreeknitting.com or if you prefer allfreecrochet.com or anywhere you can find some free patterns to practice with (grabbing your favorite pattern book off the shelf works too!). I have a sweater pattern that I LOVE, but I want to make it into a dress. Being a bit on the heavy side myself (never mind the pregnant part! Just a few more weeks!!), I prefer an A-line (think poodle skirt) or Empire waist (think ancient Greece) on my dresses. So I’ll be looking for a skirt or dress that I can attach to my sweater.
The sweater I want to use is a pattern called Alexandra Ballerina top out of a book called Fitted Knits 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter by Stefanie Japel that you can buy on Amazon if you’re interested. She shows it in a gorgeous pink variegated yarn from Lion Brand (color 271).
Since I know what the top will be, I will just have to find a skirt that I like to go with it. All free knitting didn’t have anything for me, so I did a Google search to find something that would work for me. I found four that I think might work:
(if you would like to view these patterns, there are the links: 1. Spring Belle 2. Skirt 1507-08 3. Twirly Girl Skirt 4. Hip in Hemp) Unfortunately the finished product will NOT be ready in time for this post, so we’ll have to go with design pictures today.
Before we can REALLY get started with the design drawings though we’ll have to take some measurements. Either the measurements of yourself or the person you are making the garment for. If you’re making any kind of garment you’ll need to know exactly where to stop for EACH section you’re working on and exactly how big to make the garment. If I just follow the pattern for that Twirly Girl Skirt, there is NO WAY I will EVER fit into it! If you need help with how to measure, there are some great online resources that can help you through tailor measurements for men and women. Whoever you’re measuring, you’ll need a flexible tape measure which are readily available at most stores (even the grocery store, check the laundry aisle).
I know that I will not make the sweater full length, because I want to stop at the waist (since all the skirts I found and liked were A-line this time). Now, one of the things I LOVE about Stefanie’s books is that she includes pictures of the garment with the bust and waist measured as well as the full height of the garment you’re working with. As a designer trying to combine two patterns, this shows me where to stop! That takes some of the hard work out of it for me. So here’s my start:
I don’t have any sleeves on the design picture because I will not be altering the sleeves at all. So what you’re looking at above is just the bodice of the dress.
Now I’m going to look at a few factors. Do I want the dress to be one color or multiple colors? Do I want the Cable to continue down the skirt? To I need a defining waist pattern or texture? Am I working in the round?
SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!
Don’t worry though, a lot of them are going to be personal preference. You get to decide most of those. The first REALLY important one is “Am I working in the round?” That is the question that determines whether you bind off the sweater and sew the skirt on or whether you just keep going and move right into the skirt pattern. The sweater pattern I am using IS worked in the round, so now I have to see what my skirt options are.
Having looked at all four patterns, I can immediately rule out Skirt 1507-08 for this project because it is worked from the bottom up. It’s not impossible to flip that pattern around, but it’s more work than I want to do for a skirt that is only “ok” on my scale of “bleh” to “this is gonna be awesome.” Upon looking at more pictures of the Hip in Hemp skirt, it’s a little straighter than I want for this dress, so I’m going to rule that one out too. The Spring Belle skirt is cute, but also quite plain, so I think that I’ll be trying to work with the Twirly Girl skirt. So now we have it, this top with that skirt and we can finally pull them together:
How in the world are we going to take a pattern that is designed for up to a 42 inch bust and match it with a skirt that is designed for up to a 24 inch waist? Becoming Barbie is not the answer.
Remember all those measurements I had you take? We’ll need them next week, so DON’T LOSE THEM.