Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The art of the knitted dress.

Since there seems to be a rumor going around that I wouldn't know a good design if it bit me on the, uh, nose.

Here is the dress from Vogue Knitting (winter 2005/2006) that I keep meaning to knit for myself:

I would leave off the crocheted bobbly stuff.

Ravelry link, here.

The pattern calls for cashmere, but I would knit it with a wool/nylon blend. As I see it, that's the only choice available for winter dresses. The yarn is lightweight (by yard, compared to an equal length of, say, cotton or silk), is warm, and has strength. The big problem with knit dresses - even commercial ones - is what they call 'seating' in the industry, and what I've heard called 'bucket butt' more informally. That's when repeated sitting causes the butt area of the dress to stretch out of shape and leaves a large, sagging... spot on a part of your anatomy that likely needs all the help it can get to NOT look saggy. Nylon helps the wool's ability to 'bounce back' after being stretched repeatedly. That's one of the reasons it's in sock yarn.

Obviously, yarns with no ability to bounce back - most obviously silk, alpaca, llama, cashmere, and plant fibers - are a bad idea for dresses, particularly fitted dresses that WILL stretch when you sit down. Unless you intend to stand the entire time you wear the dress. In which case, go for it. Silk all the way, baby. See you in the hospital while they treat you for heat stroke.

The yarn used in this dress is a DK weight, knit at 3.5 stitches to the inch, which I think is pushing the envelope as far as it can go on weight/fabric thickness. But on the other hand, with all the square footage of a dress, you don't want to be knitting it on zeros or you'll never finish it.

If I were to design a dress, it would look a lot like this one (without the crochet - ha). The ribbing at the sides is excellent; it adjusts the fit to the individual AND adds a vertical line. The styling at the shoulders draws the eyes up and sort of broadens the view of the shoulders, so that it balances out the hips and leaves the impression of an hourglass figure, even on folks who might be a bit more test-tube shaped.

For summer, I'd try for something looser. No sleeves, and a flared skirt so air could move around the wearer, and lace patterns in places that won't let your ass hang out. And I'd use a yarn that was as light as possible, probably a cotton/tencel or cotton/nylon blend. Linen/nylon would be AWESOME, but I'm not sure it's made. Which is a damn shame.

And incidentally, yes, I could wear the dress. I'm five nine and wear a size ten and could wear the size large, as written in the pattern. All those times I bitch about the lack of size options? It's not because I'm a plus size. It's because I'm NOT a plus size, and often Vogue Knitting STILL doesn't offer things in my size. I find that damned pathetic, especially considering what the designers get paid. Cottage designers can turn out patterns with a huge range of sizes and make almost nothing, selling the patterns individually. And here come these great Designers who can't be bothered to do more than two sizes. I think it's a disgrace.

I'd design a knitted dress, but almost no one knits them. I'd rather stick with stuff like the Steeked Jacket that I know will be worn and enjoyed. And adjustable to anyone, of any size.


Donna Lee said...

I went back and read the anonymous comments and I have to say, you must have touched a nerve. I don't like criticism any more than the next person but then I don't publish a magazine and put myself out there and ask for it. You're going to dye that beautiful white doily/shawl blue? But it's so beautiful. I would be awfully nervous about that. But then, you could just knit another.....

Lauren said...

Someone posted on a Ravelry group (can't remember which now) that it's VK that decides which sizes go in their magazine, not the designer. They ask the designer for one size and do the rest themselves.

Julie said...

Either way, the sizing is a disgrace. A 38 inch bust as a size large? ONE SIZE with a 34 inch bust? I can understand not sizing a halter dress out to a sixty inch bust, but there are a LOT of designs they do that would look good on larger women and aren't available. Whoever is responsible, I think it's sheer laziness.

Amy Lane said...

I like the way you touched on fiber and gauge--those are REALLY important considerations if you're designing a wearable garment to make. (That dress is very classic--I like it. But I think there's a law out there somewhere that says that I, specifically, am banned from knit dresses as a humanitarian measure for the rest of the world.)

Rose Red said...

I love the idea of a knitted dress. Even more so a knitted skirt. But I'm pretty sure that a knitted skirt, or dress, wouldn't love me. Sigh. At least I can admire them on others.

Violet said...

Love to wear knitted dresses in winters...

Emily said...

If I were doing this (or any) dress
...which I am not...I'd put in a lining, specifically to preserve the shape. And keep it from seizing unto my undies & riding up. I guess I'm not the trustful type.

I have never seen the anonymous postings. Which I gather is a good thing!

On the Goober again: someone said, "Pick your battles", to which I should add, for as long as possible, pick only those battles you are sure to win. That way you preserve your authority, and later you'll really need it.

Congratulations on the shawl being almost finished! Wow. What a lot of work, and what a gorgeous result.

Cara said...

I am Bill Gates, and I object to your using a computer to pick on that poor, defenseless little magazine! I command you to go to KMart and buy a new computer. (Windows, please!)

Just kidding. That white dress is very classy.