Tulipfield Dresses: Saskia

comments: 93


PATTERN: Mine (a prototype I am working on)
SIZE: 12 months
YARN: Various DK- and sport-weight yarns in cashmere-wool and baby alpaca

As you can imagine, it wasn't hard at all to be inspired by the tulip fields. The rows of color (and soil) stretching out beneath the chilly spring skies seemed perfectly suited to soft, wooly rows of half-double and double crochet, and tulip-shaped skirts. I had three ideas for wee dresses inspired by the tulip fields; this tiny groovy Dutch girl is the first, called Saskia.

Saskia is a cousin of the Morning Glory dress, which I was gushing about last month. I don't think anyone guessed this dress specifically when I flashed what I had done so far of the bodice last week. :-) I loved the simple construction and hippie vibe of that MG dress so much. Saskia's bodice, like MG's, is constructed as a long rectangle (with an opening for the head), folded in half lenthwise. The skirt is worked in rows turned vertical, and shaped somewhat on the principal of short rows in knitting (at least, this is how I thought of them): The first 12 stitches in the row are half-double crochets, the second 36 stitches are double crochets, which stack a bit taller and ultimately give you a wider-at-the-bottom, tulip-shaped skirt. The top edges of the two skirt panels are attached to the bottom edges of the bodice pieces, and then the side seams and underarm seams are quickly stitched up with slip stitches. A few more rows around the bottom to finish things off, and with a cute little button and a few single crochet stitches around the neck and sleeves, done. So! Easy!


It's been a long time since I designed a crocheted piece to fit a specific size, and there is something oddly satisfying about how the process works, I must admit. I don't know exactly how other people do it, but when I have an idea like this, I start with a sketch of the general shape I want to achieve. Then I use a standard measurement chart (I like this one) to determine exactly how wide the neck opening should be, or how deep the armhole, or how wide around the top of the skirt, how long the sleeves, how long the skirt. I plug those measurements in for the size I want to make (usually one of the smaller sizes, since it goes faster, and if you are really on the wrong track you'll find out pretty quickly), and then I multiply each measurement by my gauge (the number of crochet stitches or rows per inch). Then I look at each piece of the dress separately (in other words, I'll draw out what that bodice piece would look like if it were unfolded, for instance), and transpose the general measurements again, and then make some decisions — round neck? Square neck? Tapered sleeves? Full sleeves? Skirt length? Stuff like that. I plug in all of those measurements, get a stitch count again, and then start thinking about how to achieve those shapes by increasing or decreasing stitches and rows to create curves, or openings, or fullness, or whatever.

Then, when I have all of those theoretical numbers, I pull out the hooks and the yarn, and give it a go. Crochet crochet crochet, kiss puppers, crochet crochet, watch another episode of Psych on DVD, crochet crochet, let one of the pets either in or out, crochet crochet, talk on phone, crochet crochet crochet, bake bread so there's something for people to eat, crochet crochet crochet crochet. Make notes occasionally (though not very good ones; I wish I was better at this). But basically I just keep crocheting like a maniac because I really want to see if my idea is even going to work, and there's no shortcut for that. And I thought this one pretty much worked just like I imagined! So then I go back to the drawing board and make a few changes, and start grading the schematics for different sizes, write a formal pattern, and start testing it again to see if I'm making sense to anyone besides myself.

Back view

It's really fun. Just a cool process, when you think about it: From tulip field to brain to string to piece of clothing. I have two more sort-of-related ideas for stripey crocheted dresses I am working on at the same time (naturally I have two more sort-of-related ideas for stripey crocheted dresses I am working on at the same time), so my hope is that I can turn them all into patterns, 'cause I think they will all be really great for beginning crocheters. And I really like the idea of these cuddly, cozy, cold-spring dresses for just this kind of (still) cloudy, chilly April weather, so I want to finish them all before it warms up outside for reals.


Could I have one in my size, please? :)

Beautiful work! It looks very snuggly, a little girl would be irresistable to hug wearing that.
I must get out to thoes tulip fields, I hope it isn't too late.

This is adorable!! Looks really sweet. I love how you got away from the "traditional" pink and purple, yet give it a very girlie touch with your colorchoice!

The color palette for this dress is exquisite. Beautiful piece, you will definitely have the best dressed little girl in town.

You are so talented!! And I hope you know how much you inspire others to try new things (I am currently crocheting my first baby blanket and finishing up a summer dress for myself). Also I just love psych I think it is such a funny and clean show.

This is a beautiful dress! Will you consider writing up the pattern...? Pretty please?

your work is AMAZING...seriously...

Beautiful! I love your color choices (as always:)

impressive - i have no idea how you do that!

You are soo talented...could you adopt me??? Your child will be lucky indeed ;)

That is just the sweetest little dress!

Alicia, have you read The Saskiad, by Brian Hall? Great book. Great dress, too.

Wow! I love it! Are you going to make any to sell???
It is wonderful! I have been so inspired by your little dresses!

Psych is really the best show to create to. "You can't call shotgun in a hot air balloon, Shawn." :)
Thanks for sharing your pretty designs with us - I can't believe I am jealous of the wardrobe of a baby.

I'm so glad that you designed this. It"s beautiful! I'm trying to design my first knit hat. Do you have any advice for first time designers?

So fun- I love when you are crocheting away at some idea in your head and suddenly it becomes something. And such a lovely something at that!

ya know ... you are a nut bar. A sweet, beautiful, wonderful, kooky nut bar. Rock On ! or Crochet On or Sew On ! ...

christine says: April 16, 2010 at 11:51 AM

I am incredibly late to the bandwagon but wishing you the best as you wait for your little one to make her appearance. She will be the best dressed kid in town for sure!

The dress is awesome! And you watch Psych? My husband is a huge fan and we just recently watched all the episodes to get me up to speed. It's so funny, and I can't believe more people don't watch it. Happy weekend!

Beautiful!! You are very clever!! :)
Vivienne x

Madre in Tennessee says: April 16, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Love it, love it, love it.

Great colors. I loved hearing about your design process, too.

Laura Burch says: April 16, 2010 at 02:33 PM

Beautiful, what a wonderful interpretation. I can see the tulip fields in this dress!

Can you create a pattern for size 4T?

You are going to have the best dressed daughter ever. In order to prevent the other mothers from stewing in their jealousy, you're going to have to do things like offer to host the playgroup and then forget all about it and greet the crowd in your pjs.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com