Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blue belle


When my daughter was born, I felt a bit of panic. It hasn't really gone away. I enjoy being female myself (well, most of the time) and liked being a little girl when I was one, but I admit to some worries about parenting a girl. I think part of it has to do with the times we live in and the influences and pressures girls face, but also I'm not a particularly girly girl and I wasn't sure how I'd handle parenting her if she turned out to be one. In the end, that's exactly the kind of girl the GB is and I do my best to rise to the occasion, though it doesn't always feel natural to me. She loves pink and sparkly things and I indulge these interests sometimes but just as often, I attempt to steer her in a more independent direction.

I spend a lot of time perusing sewing and crochet patterns for little girls' clothing. Actually, it's what first drew me to crafty blogs several years ago. I feel like being able to make some of the GB's clothing helps me give her more options. Last winter, I came across the beautiful Mina Dress pattern by Alicia Paulson. Alicia sells the pattern in her online shop, Rosy Little Things, and it's also available to purchase and download on Ravelry. This was actually the first crochet pattern I ever purchased. I knew the pattern was beyond my skill level at the time, but I bought it anyway because the dress was just so sweet. I struggled at first, and picked it up and put it down over several months, but I'm happy to report that I figured it out.


I shared this same photo on my blog last March, right after I bought the yarn. It's Baby Bee Sweet Delight Baby, an acrylic/polyamide blend, in a shade called Meema's Blue. The color has been frustrating to photograph; in real life, it's a bold periwinkle tone. It's not expensive yarn but I thought it would be a little nicer for a wearable garment. Truthfully, I didn't like crocheting with it. It splits a lot and feels rough yet plasticky in my hands. But there was a fair amount of frogging as I came to grips with the pattern, so I'm glad I didn't spend a lot on the yarn. The patten is very well-written, by the way; the fault lies with me. I just needed practice to get things right.


I really enjoyed making the yoke. I used small amounts of various DK yarns for this; included in my yoke are bits of Stylecraft Special DK (in Meadow, Pale Rose, Plum, Clematis, Raspberry and Silver), Lion Brand Baby Soft in White, and the Baby Bee yarn of the dress's main body. This pattern is worked top-down, so you crochet the yoke first, them move onto the bodice and skirt. I made this dress in the 3-to-4-years size, which is the largest size offered in the pattern; the GB is small for her age and though she is five years old, she still wears many clothing items in size 3T or 4T and her measurements fit the dress pattern specifications. I realize now that I really took a chance on the sizing, given how long it took me to master this pattern, but I'm happy to say that it fits her very nicely and I'm glad I went with my intuition on the sizing.


I started the yoke at a point when I was beginning to feel drawn to neutrals and softer colors in my crochet work. I was a devotee of the bright colors used by some of the popular crochet bloggers but over time I realized my tastes ran toward a softer look. I'm happy with the colors I used here; Stylecraft's Meadow shade is one of my favorites, probably my favorite of all their green shades, actually, and I like the way the blue, purple and pinks work with it. The gray and white keep the whole thing looking fresh, I think.


The back could be a lot neater. The pattern is cleverly written to prevent a twisted look as you crochet in the round to create the bodice and skirt. This was where I ran into trouble. It took me a long time to feel confident with the joining method at the end of each round. When first crocheting the bodice, I also misunderstood the instructions to "turn" the piece after completing each round; i.e., turn it inside out/right side out with each round of work. I crocheted part of the bodice without doing this and I can see it but it's not terribly glaring.


I took it upon myself to finish the edges of the back opening with a row of half-double crochet stitches (the same ones the dress is made from), with a row of slip-stitches on top. My button loop is made from 5 chain stitches between the last two slip-stitches at the top of the opening. I used a half-inch white plastic flower-shaped button. I like the way the edging neatened up the edges of the yoke's opening; it looked a bit sloppy before.


I think the belt is a really cute touch. It's just a long strip of single crochet, threaded through holes at the waist. The belt-holes are created as part of the pattern. I used Stylecraft Special DK in Silver for the belt, which I tied in a bow at the front of the dress.

Other yarn enthusiasts would have blocked this dress. But I have to confess that the idea of blocking terrifies me. I have tried to block small items just for practice but I always chicken out. I am so afraid of ruining all my hard work by melting or burning the piece. Given that I made this dress from synthetic fibers, I decided not to take any chances. And to be honest, this project was such a labor of love that I really couldn't imagine how I'd cope if I ruined it. The GB doesn't mind wearing an un-blocked dress, I am sure. In fact, she asked to wear it to school as soon as I finished it. Before I let her wear it out in the world, I persuaded her to pose for few photos. I think she looks pretty cute; would you like to see?





The GB flitted about the planter beds and tiptoed through the shrubbery. She adores the dress. She says it's warm and soft. We're pairing it with leggings. The crocheted fabric is a bit too heavy for serious twirling, which is one of her passions, but she can still get it going a little bit. I'm proud of this project - I can crochet a dress! I don't have immediate plans to make another but it's a possibility. I think this would make a lovely gift for a baby girl and the baby sizes would be pretty quick to hook up. Once I got the hang of it, this was a very enjoyable project. The best part is seeing my daughter in a one-of-a-kind item, something as special as she is.

56 comments:

  1. Jennifer, I adore this little dress, it is just beautiful. The colours you have chosen are just perfect together. The GB looks very cute in and so proud to be wearing her lovely new dress. Definitely a project to be really, really proud of.
    Marianne x

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  2. Jennifer I understand the fear of raising a daughter and trying to give her more options. My 6 year old is all sparkly and dress up all the time which is a complete mystery to me, her tomboy mom. But on the other hand, her favorite things are catching bugs (in full princess attire) and sword fighting off imaginary bad guys (also in full princess attire). I think perhaps it is the best of both worlds. Absolutely love the dress. Great job not giving up! That is a skill I need to learn. Have a happy day!

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  3. This dress is so cool,you have made a very good job x

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  4. Jennifer, I can totally sympathize with your concerns of raising a daughter in this day and age; yes, it can be scary, nerve wracking and worrisome! I admit that even though my daughter is now 24 years old (!), I now have OTHER concerns, one being that we are not living on the same continent, (for starters), and therefore, I don't have the luxury of seeing her, spending time with her and simply just being around her. It is very hard and my hope is to move to be wherever she is in the future, especially since she is my only child.

    The dress is perfect on your GB, and she looks very pretty in it, and the best thing is that it is a dress made by her mommy, which makes it one of a kind and precious!

    Poppy

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  5. Hi Jennifer, I agree about the girl/woman/society thing. That's why I think is in our hands to change that old and negative old social pattern that says which size, hair style, clothing style....women should be to be accepted by this society. It's about time that we teach our daughters about being good human being no matter which size they are or which kind of clothes they wanna wear. This society and its behavior towards women is sick and to many girls are getting sick themselves seeing all the time the kind of women on TV, magazines, movies....anyway, I think it's something to think about it.

    That dress it's soooo lovely and you have a very pretty girl :)

    Have a nice day!!

    Lluisa xx

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  6. It's a lovely dress, and I'm glad to see both you and your daughter are proud of it. :)
    I should say that it's not only girls that have unfair pressure put on them. Maybe it's not so widely reported in the media, but teenage boys feel they have to look, and behave a certain way - and again it's not all positive. I find it so sad to be adding extra pressure to children, when growing up brings enough challenges. I guess no one said being a parent would be easy. x

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  7. Your daughter looks enchanting in her mama made dress.......well done for getting to grips with some new crochet skills.

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  8. Okay you get best Mom of the year award. That dress is just perfect, perfect color, perfect pattern and perfect fit. GB looks simply adorable in it, of course she would look good in a brown paper sack. Well done Jennifer.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  9. Absolutely beautiful. We've spoken before about raising daughters, but I think the fact that we've had sons before a daughter compounds the fear. I've no idea how Eleanor has turned out to be such a girly girl having me for a mum, but she has, I love it and embrace it as I see you're doing with your daughter.

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  10. It's an absolutely gorgeous dress and it's easy to see that your daughter loves it. She looks beautiful in it. You're doing great Mom!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  11. I love reading your posts. They are thought provoking and ring so many peals of truth. I have a grown up son and 2 grown up daughters. My poor son had the hardest passage. My daughters are totally different from each other but both delightful. I think so much depends on their peer group.. That dress is beautiful and I miss mine being that age xxxx

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  12. Absolutely lovely! You did a wonderful job Jennifer. Your GB looks adorable in it. =)

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  13. She looks lovely - the colour really suits her. Jx

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  14. She is a doll! And how beautiful is this dress! Goodness! You knocked it out of the park! My daughter would so love this because she is all about layering, soft and color!!! But best of all your daughter will have this piece when she is older to look back at and cherish! Well done friend!! Nicole

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  15. Aww so sweet you did a great job.
    Clare x

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  16. Your daughter looks very pretty in her lovely dress. It must be nice having a daughter. I had two sons but have since got 4 granddaughters which is so nice!

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  17. I love the dress and it looks lovely on :) If you wanted to make another one in a larger size, you could do more stripes on the yoke before starting the skirt part. You could also do a crocheted yoke and a gathered fabric skirt for twirling.

    I think all girls go through a pink 'n' sparkly phase!

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  18. The dress turned out really well Jennifer, and LB looks great in it! xx

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  19. I know that feeling of mommy panic but your daughter is so lucky to be loved by one so faithful in family and mommyhood. I love this dress. It looks like it took a lot of patience and hard work to complete but the finished designed and the model are absolutely beautiful!

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  20. It's so pretty, I bet she just loves wearing it.

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  21. Your daughter and the dress look so pretty she is lucky to have a talented Mum.
    Sarah x

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  22. I'm glad you showed it on her. She looks so cute and I really like the color!

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  23. She's cute as a button and that is a stunning bit of work ... well done you xxx

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  24. I love the dress it's turned out beautifully and your little daughter looks so sweet in it. I wouldn't worry about blocking it, it doesn't need it and I find blocking acrylic yarns a waste of time it doesn't make a lot of difference. I was so happy when my daughter was born, she was my little dolly, I loved making clothes for her and dressing her up, I have to say though compared to my 3 boys she was the most difficult...girls can be so moody and stubborn! she's 31 now and that hasn't changed but I love her to bits and she's my best friend. :)

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  25. Aw ,you did a wonderful job and she looks so very sweet and lovely in it !

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  26. What a lovely dress and your daughter looks super sweet in it. The blue is gorgeous, a girly blue, without being to girly girly, if you know what I mean.
    Sally xxx

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  27. Beautiful dress and gorgeous daughter ♥

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  28. Oh she is a cutie!!

    And what a beautiful dress! You did a super job with the colors and the little flower button! Lovely!

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  29. Bravo on this project! Making a clothing item is a big accomplishment.. and she looks as cute as a button in it! I loved the Mina dress from the time I saw it on Alicia's blog. She's something, isn't she?

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  30. Jennifer,
    I am impressed! Your work is beautiful, this is such an accomplishment and your daughter is a darling and she looks precious in the dress. I am going to pin this to my crochet board.
    On another note-I have 4 grown children-1 son, 3 daughters, I do know the concerns you have for your little girl, but I honestly can see through your writings that your heart and soul are so in the right place and because of this you will guide her in right direction!
    Jemma

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  31. What an adorable dress! My daughter is a little young to be going through the princess phase but I am secretly dreading it because I want her to be an independent thinker.

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  32. It's wonderful Jennifer, clever you. And your little bear looks adorable in it, she must love to have such a special dress. Of course you know now that you'll have to make more... I love Alicia's blog, she always produces fantastic things. I was happy to hear you say that you worked out how to crochet it over time; I'm contemplating a little crochet that I may have to work out as I go along - only something very tiny. So you have encouraged me. I want to make a mini blanket for the littlest boy's toys to sleep under (this is very important to him), and I wanted to use the pattern for tiny squares on Lucy's blog, Attic 24. I don't know if you've ever read it, but it's really lovely. She was the person who inspired me to start a blog. Her style is very colourful, and her creations are genius, especially her seasonal wreaths. I was interested to hear your thoughts on girls and clothing. It always slightly annoys me when you go into a shop (toys or clothes) and the girls section is a sea of pink. I do like pink, but I love acquas and greens and soft greys and so many other things too, and I'm sure lots of people would like more choice. Children have been brainwashed I think into "pink for a girl". My eldest has a lovely bright pink pyjama top - not sure he would wear such a colour in the day, although the littlest no doubt would. The powers that be have hijacked pink for girls, a whole colour has been taken away from boys! Sorry to ramble on, I really just wanted to say that the dress is fantastic, and your crochet is really beautifully done. You have inspired me!

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  33. You should indeed be proud, that is such a gorgeous little dress, well done you!
    Hugs xx

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  34. It's fabulous. I love the colourful yoke. Well done x Keep on making those 'one of kind' items - it's a great feeling knowing that no-one else is walking around wearing the same thing.
    It is a huge responsibility having a little girl isn't it. Saying that, it's totally brilliant too.
    x

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  35. Wow, you have worked hard- the dress is really pretty and your daughter looks so cute in it:)

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  36. Wow this is amazing Jennifer and you should be really proud. The idea of doing a dress always seem so intimidating to me, but you have made a gem of a dress. It is so pretty and I love the colours you chose. I so wish I could make one, but sadly I just can't imagine that little Es would actually wear it. Maybe I should give it a go. I am so pleased to hear that GB loves it, she sure looks gorgeous in it! Well done you!! xoxo

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  37. I have one word for this blog post. Adorable! Both the dress and your daughter. :-)

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  38. The BEST dress!! I am coveting it. I love this colour blue and the detail around the yoke is perfect. When I was little I had lots of knitted clothes that my neighbour, Beryl made for me. 'Love in every stitch,' is what she used to say. It must be such good feeling that your little GB loves it too.

    Leanne xx

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  39. It's so, so nice. I love the shade of blue and the colours in the yoke work really well. You were right to trust your own colour instincts and go with things you like as you have a good eye. I am a million miles away from creating a garment like this so I now think you are a crocheter-extraordinaire. And the GB looks adorable in it. x

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  40. This is a beautiful dress :) I have never tried to crochet something wearable but I am now rather tempted. Thanks for visiting my own space, glad you like it there. So much to discover still in the blog world! Christina x

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  41. You did a terrific job on the dress ... your daughter looks so adorable in it! It's always nice to get a new project under your belt to give you confidence to try something new again. Love the shade of blue. And just so you know, you don't have to steam the finished piece with a hot iron (that would terrify me too!), but you can also spritz it lightly with water and pin it to a towel until it's dry. I used this method for the scarf I recently finished and it relaxed all those little bumps & puckers to make the scarf lie completely flat when dry. And I think you perfectly combined your "not-so-girly" with your daughter's desire to be "very girly" ;) Wendy x

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  42. Beautiful Dress, Beautiful Daughter. It's a real treat to indulge my Grandaughter's (same age as your precious girl)'girly-ness' - my spare room (her room now when she comes for all-nighters)is completely covered in pink and I love it! They won't be little girls for long.

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  43. The dress is so cute and I know it will be so so so warm!!
    I wish I had your crochet talent!
    Tammy xx

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  44. That dress is absolutely darling! Your little girl looks so sweet in it; I'm sure she's proud that her mommy made it. Do you follow Alicia's blog, Posie Gets Cozy? I love her photos and writing. And she has the cutest baby. :-)

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    1. Thank you. Yep, I've been reading Alicia's blog for a long time and it's lovely. :)

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  45. Hi Jennifer,

    Lovely post and how adorable your sweet daughter is in her gorgeous blue dress.
    You are very talented and great to see your work.
    happy weekend
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  46. It's so pretty… I love the color! And it looks lovely on your adorable daughter.

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  47. That's super, Jennifer. Your daughter looks so sweet in it and I know the satisfaction you must be feeling at having made it for her. I really, really must learn to crochet.....

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  48. What a beautiful little girl your daughter is! That dress is darling - I love the fresh, crisp, pretty colors you are known for using. The style suits her so well and the fit couldn't be better! A treasure to keep, I think, for a future daughter of her own....???

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  49. I think that looks pretty darn perfect on your beautiful girl. How did I miss this post???! Jo x

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  50. I'm with Jo :) I almost missed this post, but viewed it now with great pleasure, Jennifer. Thanks so much for sharing your creative process with us. I admire Alicia's pattern and your execution of it, and GB's modeling of it. Bravo! You inspire me.
    Gracie xx

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  51. Wow beautiful dress and what a beautiful model too! X

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  52. What a beautiful frock! I am sorry I missed this post last week - I've had one of those crazy, run-up-to-Christmas weeks, but I am so glad I am catching up with you because I love what you have made! It fits her perfectly, and the colours are stunning. I'd be tempted to make a grown-up version... ;-) Chrissie x

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  53. Gorgeous dress and little lady!! You're one talented mommy! :) Absolutely fantastic post as always! *hugs*

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  54. Oh my Jennifer, this dress is so gorgeous, i'm impressed my friend, well done you! What a lucky (and super cute) GB, to have a mummy who makes such beautiful clothes! xxx

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