Design Theory, Part 1a: Sketch

Last week I very briefly mentioned a design for a sweaterdress that I’m working out as I go. As I said there, I’m not currently planning to write up an actual pattern with different sizes, though I would like to one day (you know, that mythical “one day”). I am, however, going to write about the process of designing this, so that you could reproduce the results, should you choose to, or modify them and make your own!

I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when this design came into my head. I’d been looking for a sweater dress last fall, probably for a good few months, and couldn’t really find one that I fell in love with. So, in that way that only seems smart to knitters, I decided to knit my own. Ideally, I would have sat down and drafted a sketch of what I was looking for, but that’s not what I did.

I sketched yesterday, because I wanted to have a sketch in place for this post. File this one under “Do as I say, not as I do,” and sketch first. This is a good time to really get your ideas down on paper, pinpoint any potential trouble spots, and think about sizing complications if you’re going to provide sizing. (You can fudge this, like me, and sketch later if your design is super simple and you’ll be able to remember it, but really, sketch first.) Also, do yourself a favor: Google “croquis” and find a couple of sites that provide free croquis templates, then print out a couple of those templates for your own tracing purposes. This is especially a good idea if you plan to submit your design for publication somewhere.

(And again, “Do as I say, not as I do,” do not spend 5 minutes of your time being hung up on the fact that the template girl’s hands are weird and that you didn’t trace them very well either. It’s just silly. Move on with your life. And stop looking at the hands in that sketch!)

Around the sketch, I made some notes for design elements. If you can’t read the JPG version of my handwriting, let me just break it down for you a bit. The dress is mostly flat stockinette, with some garter stitch bands around the arms and skirt hem. I’m still debating the collar treatment, even as of yesterday’s sketching time. I’m planning to knit the skirt at a slightly larger circumference, maybe 1″ to 1.5″, to get a little bit of gathered fabric around the skirt and body join. And then there’s my über-clever note about the length: “Maybe not knee-length, depends on how quickly I get bored or run out of yarn.”

I am nothing if not honest, especially with myself.

Even though I did this yesterday, this is exactly what I’d been picturing in my head for the last six months. Really simple silhouette, with an empire waist—pretty much universally flattering—and just a little bit of drape in the fabric. Very basic detailing with the garter stitch bands. Sketching this out makes it even more immediate in my mind, and in the future, if I sketch first, it will help me when I launch into the next part of the process, swatching. I was going to write about swatching in this post, but I didn’t realize I’d have so much to say about the sketching part, so I’ll save the swatching until tomorrow. Yes. Swatching.


5 thoughts on “Design Theory, Part 1a: Sketch

  1. you going to be knitting top down, I’m guessing? I like the look of this. Confession: I hadn’t even noticed the hands until you pointed them out 😉

    • Actually, no, it’s not top down. 🙂 I’ll explain more about that in a future installation.


    • Nope, not top down; trust, it will make sense! and yeah, I’m just being honest; it has to cover my behind, but as I’m not going to wear this sans jeans or tights, it doesn’t *have* to be knee-length.

  2. Pingback: Design Theory Part 2: Measuring and Mathematics « Threadpanda

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