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Turning a knitted dress from Playtime into Party Time

by Cindy O'Malley

This week I’m knitting with Universal Yarn Uptown Baby Sport, which is 100% pill-resistant acrylic yarn that is super soft. Available in a wide array of shades, Uptown Baby Sport looks and feels great in projects for children.

Today I’m knitting the Playtime Dress, a free download pattern designed for Universal Yarn Bamboo Pop Sock yarn. As discussed on Day 1, sport weight yarn is slightly thicker than sock weight yarn; in fact, only a single ply thicker. The swatches made yesterday confirmed that I can achieve the correct gauge for the dress with Uptown Baby Sport.

 Playtime Dress designed by Amy Gunderson for Bamboo Pop Sock.

The Playtime Dress is a free pattern designed for Bamboo Pop Sock, but I’ll be making it with Uptown Baby Sport.

The skirt of the dress is a Feather and Fan pattern and the bodice and sleeves are garter stitch. It’s knit in the round up to the sleeve holes; then worked flat. The sleeves are also worked flat (bottom up), and seamed to the dress. It has two buttons on the left shoulder to make it easier to get on and off. That’s what the pattern instructs, however, I’m going to knit it up a little differently.

If you’ve followed any of my previous posts, you know that I tend to personalize standard patterns to make them my own. Today is no exception.

The first change is the color. I’ve selected Pink Pearl and Tea Rose as my color choices. I’m making the 2 year old size which calls for 3 balls of Bamboo Pop Sock which has 492 yds/ball. To be safe, I allotted 4 balls of Uptown Baby Sport which has 361 yds/ball. As it turned out, I used 1 ball of Tea Rose, and had to get into the second ball of Pink Pearl about halfway down the second sleeve. As such, you will need 1 ball of the main skirt color and 2 balls of the bodice and sleeve color should you choose to make this version. There was a lot left over, but more about that tomorrow.

Universal Yarn Uptown Baby Sport colors Pink Pearl, and Tea Rose.

I’ve selected Pink Pearl (light pink), and Tea Rose (bold pink) as my color choices for this dress.

Without repeating all the pattern details that you can download at the top of this post, I have itemized the changes I made to make it my own.

For the skirt of the dress, I’ll use Tea Rose as the main color and Pink Pearl as the accent (Purl round) color. Feather and Fan is a very easy 4-row repeat pattern that creates a lovely scalloped look. When knitting in the round, the 18 stitch pattern repeat is:

Rnd 1: Knit.

Rnd 2: Knit.

Rnd 3: K2tog (3 times), k1, yo (6 times), ssk (3 times).

Rnd 4: Purl.

The next change is the bodice. Rather than garter stitch (Knit 1 round, Purl 1 round), I Knit 3 rounds and Purl 1 round until the sleeve openings, then work flat as follows: Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row, Knit 2 rows. I’m using Pink Pearl for the bodice and sleeves, but I’ve opted to transition the color change by working the first 3 pattern repeats with Tea Rose as the 4th row.

The third change is the button band. The pattern calls for 2 buttons, but I found these adorable little daisy buttons with a bright pink center and decided on 3 buttons. I also used a double yarn over (YO) to make the button hole large enough.

 White daisy buttons with a bright pink center highlight the shoulder opening.

I’ve opted for 3 delightful daisy buttons instead of 2 as called for by the pattern.

Button Hole Band Changes:

  • Save last stitch from neckline cast off.
  • Pick up 3 sts from neckline edge, then knit across 18 sts (22 sts).
  • Knit 1 row.
  • Sl1, k2, k2tog, yo twice, ssk, k2, k2tog, yo twice, ssk, k2, k2tog, yo twice, ssk, k3.
  • Sl1, k3, *k1, k1tbl, k4, rep from *.
  • Continue with pattern as written.

I love these buttons. They really complement the overall dress and act as jewelry for the shoulder opening.

My next big change is how the sleeves are knit. Rather than knitting them flat from the bottom up and seaming them into place, I opted to pick up stitches around the opening and knit them down and in the round using the same pattern motif as the bodice.

This can be a little tricky as you really need to take your row gauge into account in order to end up with the appropriate length sleeve. Another tricky part is the number of rows in the sleeve opening versus the number of stitches (according to the pattern) at the top of the sleeve. The ratio between rows and stitches when joining or picking up stitches is generally 4:3, meaning 4 rows = 3 stitches. This isn’t an exact mathematical science; there is usually always some adjustments needed, but this was a significant difference. According to the pattern, the top of the sleeve should have 54 stitches, and since the sleeve opening is based on a measurement, the number of rows for my project worked out to approximately 88 stitches. The pattern was written for garter stitch, which has more rows to the inch than stocking stitch, thus making it a rather significant difference. I’m not comfortable with that. If I had followed the pattern instructions and seamed the sleeves, I’m sure there would be puckering. Instead, I followed the 4:3 ratio which resulted in picking up 66 stitches for the sleeve. On the next round, I decreased by doing the following:

K2tog, *k6, k2tog (57 sts).

On the following row, K2tog at the base of the sleeve opening and proceed with working down. Yes, I have 2 more stitches than the pattern calls for, but after working out the math based on my row gauge, it worked. It just meant I had one more set of decreases working down. I was very happy with the end result and I didn’t have to seam anything … perfect!

That sums up the changes and the personalization I made to the pattern … and here is the result.

Uptown Baby Sport transforms the Playtime Dress into a Party Dress.

My personalized version of the Playtime Dress made with Uptown Baby Sport.

I love the scalloped skirt of the dress and Uptown Baby Sport in Pink Pearl and Tea Rose truly have transformed this dress from Playtime to Party time; befitting an uptown little girl.

With the 27 color options of Uptown Baby Sport, think of the combinations that can be made for this dress.

Alternate color suggestions for making the Playtime Dress with Uptown Baby Sport.

Uptown Baby Sport in colors (L) Princess and (R) Violet.

I can envision making two of these dresses for twins or sisters. One would be pretty in pink, and the other, lovely in lavender.

I’m so pleased with how this dress turned out. I don’t have a 2 year old in my family, but one of my knitting pals has a granddaughter that fits the bill of an Uptown Girl ready to be the hostess with the most-est for her own tea party.

Tomorrow I’ll make an adorable hat to go with the dress. I hope you’ll join me as I use this and a variation on the Feather and Fan motif with the same two shades of Uptown Baby Sport.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: Knitting some swatches to determine the best needle size for the motifs

Go to part 4: Knitting a feather and fan hat to match the ‘Party Dress’


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