In Part 1, I celebrated my first ever blanket that I made for a friend. Recently, this same friend commissioned me to make her daughter’s flower girl dress for our mutual friends’ wedding. She has long encouraged my creativity, in crochet as well as baking and crafting in general; therefore, it was an honour to be asked and a privilege to make the dress.
The style my friend chose was akin to a princess dress; fitted bodice and a puffed out skirt, like a floor length tutu.
As it was my first commission I wanted to get it right. I did a lot of research into crochet flower girl dresses and came across The Sarah Dress by Deanna Hardin. This pattern is made using rows of ‘shell stitch’- a group of stitches made into one stitch which fan out resembling a shell. Once I’d understood the workings of the pattern it was easy to carry on to make the main bodice.
This pattern taught me a lot about making a made to measure item. Firstly, measurements cannot be approximated! Age 5 general measurements do not equate to this age 5 child. I found that I ended up making the crochet part of the dress twice, adjusting the gauge (closeness of the stitches) the second time to make the dress smaller. This was required in part because I had envisaged a criss-cross back detail, which meant I needed to make adjustments to the pattern.
The pattern suggested using lace for the straps, however I had wanted to crochet these and came up with a pattern which incorporated the shell design in open work. I also added some buttons to secure the straps, and stitched the straps in place as a final adjustment.
As a result of making the pattern, I learnt a fair amount about tulle through a Facebook group I follow (Haphazard Hookers…Hook along). In my experience (and of some others in the group), the best place to source it is eBay. The only local place I could purchase it from was John Lewis and this wasn’t the cheapest (or most convenient).
The best form of tulle to buy for this purpose was in rolls approx 6in wide. This is because it is quite an art form to handle tulle without it ruching and twisting. To combat this I was laying strips to length across my bed and cutting to size, so they remained flat. Another tip I learnt was that to maintain a consistent length, it’s best to have a guide measure, a piece of card to wrap around; in my case this was a house tape measure (one of the bright yellow hard ones) as I had nothing long enough to use otherwise.
The (second) dress didn’t take long too crochet, in fact I think it took longer to attach the tulle by knotting each piece to the bodice. This made a fabulous puffed skirt.
I used a standard dress bag to store the dress and to my surprise I found that tulle gives an amazing texture when it is removed from its squashed state. The puffyness returned to the skirt straight away, but alongside this the top layers of the skirt also attached to one another giving a beautiful layered and pinned effect.
For modesty’s sake, I had planned to also add a lining. I used the fabric from a vest top for the top, with leggings underneath the skirt. Another friend helped to sew the final part of the lining as she is a fabulous seamstress.
It was such a pleasure to make a piece that my friend’s daughter called, “her wedding dress” and to be part of the joy that was a stunning wedding of two lovely friends.
I chose this piece to be the last in the series for a few reasons. Firstly, it is chronologically, the last, large crochet project I’ve done. Secondly, this was the first commission I’d been able to fulfil. Thirdly, this was the project that inspired the blog that you’re reading. Fourthly, it enabled me to put into practice a ‘crochet diploma’ I’ve been studying; by designing the straps. Fifthly, this project helped me to consider my creativity as not limited to the familiarity of playing with colour, but also considering texture and movement.
It’s been an absolute joy to reflect on the years of crochet so far through this little series of posts into my personal history with the craft. It has been a reminder of the seasons that have gone and the help that friends and family have been to my personal growth. So to each of you, many thanks for the hugs, encouragement and well wishes; they are noted and appreciated.
I think this will be my last update of 2017, into 2018 I hope to carry on in the vein of the last few years; growing in, learning of and exploring the realms of creativity.
My intention is to broaden the blog to organisational creativity (as related to Bullet Journalling), interiors (I have some upcycling projects lined up) and continue with the themes of crochet I’ve started this year.
So, all that remains is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.