I thought it might be fun to show a little bit of my design process on my most recent design. I'm always drawn to articles and interviews discussing different designers and how they go about designing and what inspires them so I may as well throw in myself.
Quite honestly, I have a shelf lined with 3 ring binders that are stuffed full of sketches, clipped magazine pages, sewing pattern envelope covers, and bits and pieces of yarn and fabric. There's more "inspiration" in there than I will ever be able to bring to fruition... but every now and then something just pulls at me so much that I drop everything else and must work on this one idea.
More often than not its something very simple that gets me going. A clean shape, a soft color or maybe a color combination or a texture. I'm very drawn to the shapes I see in sewing patterns probably due to the fact that I've been sewing much longer than I've been knitting so its something I'm very comfortable and familiar with.
I've always enjoyed traditional sewing patterns, again with simple shapes, like little A-line dresses, gathered frocks, and frilly pinafores so its no big surprise that when Japanese sewing patterns started showing up more and more here in the States I was all over them.
In many of the Japanese sewing books I have there's at least one design based on a very simple 2 piece construction method... just a front and a back with little sleeve extensions built right in. I've been totally flabbergasted at how something without a separate sleeve still has a sleeve and still fits and is ridiculously adorable. Simple.
So, of course, I had to give it a try knit-wise and I sure am glad I did.
To get there I start with just a simple outline sketch. My drawing and sketching skills are far short of grand but its good enough to help me get a clear picture of things like edgings and where to put shaping and closures. With such a straight-forward shape I wanted to add something. If I were sewing this with fabric I could choose a nice print to "fill in" this basic shape and lend to the over all feel of the project but that's not something I can do knit-wise. That's not to say that I couldn't choose to add color-work and whatnot but that's not what I was going for here so I decided to add texture to the upper portion...
I really wanted a color that would help keep the "light" feel even with a texture as well as a yarn fiber that would keep the texture crisp and clean without being stiff. The whole idea was for something pretty and comfortable... a little top that little girls would just pull on with a pretty skirt as they run off to start their day. I chose Blue Sky Alpaca's Skinny Dyed cotton in the color "Glacier"...
I was a wee bit concerned about designing something that essentially has cheater-sleeves... no set-ins, no seaming them in, no knitting on double points... just little extensions. But I've sewn these sorts of things, even for myself, so I know they fit just fine when made of cotton fabric which has much less "give" than a knitted fabric so I figured the worst that could happen would be that when I was finished with the knitted sample I'd stuff it in the cedar chest along with a few other not-quite-right projects that need to be rewound into yarn cakes.
As it turned out I was worried for no reason. The knit fabric, with a little help from some gentle shoulder shaping, fits over the shoulders so nicely to make good use of those tiny built in sleeves and Tater really likes the simple fit.
The little flowers on the fabric I used for the matching skirt just happened to match the color of the yarn perfectly. See, no matter how long I've been designing I still really don't see myself as a designer as much as I see myself as a mom who just likes to make stuff... and I like matchy-matchy.
If you like to make stuff and you think you may want to make this little knit top... it'll be available here tomorrow. If you'd like to make matchy-matchy... you just might need to go fabric shopping as well :-)