Crochet as an art form has been around for a long time, but it really hit its stride in the 1970s. Clothing, blankets, pillows, toilet seat covers—literally anything that could be crocheted was crocheted. While a lot of crochet styles have gone by the wayside, one that’s making a big comeback is the crochet dress.
There’s a lot of versatility in crochet dresses. Lacy, open patterns are perfect for vintage beachwear, whereas tighter, longer patterns are great for parties or a night out on the town. These unique crochet dresses are definitely head-turners, and if you learn your crochet essentials, you can create a whole new wardrobe.
You don’t need a lot of fancy tools to crochet a dress. All crochet requires just three essentials and a few extras to make fantastic-looking wearable items.
Crochet Dress Pattern
When making a crochet dress or other clothing items, you definitely want to follow a pattern. Because you need to fit the item to a specific size, it’s not something you can easily improvise.
The internet is full of patterns, so browse away until you find your preferred dress style. A crochet dress pattern usually consists of the following parts:
- A material list that contains suggested yarn type and hook size.
- A gauge, which allows you to determine your project’s size.
- An abbreviation guide that will help you decipher all the stitches.
- The pattern, which gives you a step-by-step guide for the whole project.
- Pattern notes, where any special stitches or instructions are contained.
Crochet hooks use a letter/number combination—for example, G/6 or I/9—to designate their size. As the numbers increase, the size of the hook increases. Your pattern will tell you which size to use.
At your local craft store, you’ll find hooks made of wood, aluminum, plastic, and several other materials. Test out some different hooks to find which you prefer. You also have the option to add an ergonomic handle to a hook to help with hand strain, which you may find useful if you’re working on a larger piece.
Yarn sizes fall into the following categories that have a number and “weight” designation—and again, your pattern will tell you which to use for your project.
- 0 or Lace
- 1 or Superfine
- 2 or Fine
- 3 or Light/DK
- 4 or Medium/Worsted
- 5 or Bulky
- 6 or Super Bulky
- 7 or Jumbo
Your local craft store will be chock full of acrylic yarn, making it the cheapest option for your crochet dress. However, as a synthetic material, it tends to not breathe as well as natural fibers. Cotton yarn is an obvious choice—while slightly more expensive, cotton is a comfortable material for clothing.
Also consider the function of your dress when choosing a yarn fiber. If you’re making a light sundress or something to wear at the beach, cotton is the way to go. If you’re making something that’s more of a costume, acrylic or other fibers might work just fine.
The following tools are necessary to crochet a dress, but you’ll likely already have them in your home.
- Tapestry needle
- Measuring tape
- Some kind of stitch marker—bobby pins or safety pins work.
What Stitches to Use
There are all sorts of crochet stitches, but many of them are different arrangements and combinations of a few basic stitches. Any instructions you see for how to do a stitch use these common phrases.
- Loop: When you look at your hook, a loop is any time the yarn rests over the top of it.
- Yarn over (yo): From back to front, put your working yarn over your hook, creating a loop.
- Insert hook: From front to back of your row, push your hook through the head of the specified stitch.
- Pull through: Using the hook end, you pull yarn through a specified number of loops.
Here are some stitches you’ll probably encounter when crocheting a dress, along with steps on how to complete them.
Purpose: Move across a row without adding more stitches.
Instructions: Insert hook in stitch, yarn over, pull through stitch, and loop on hook.
Purpose: The most basic and shortest stitch.
Instructions: Insert hook in stitch, yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops.
Purpose: A slightly taller stitch than a single crochet.
Instructions: Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through all three loops on hook.
Purpose: Following the pattern, an even taller stitch.
Instructions: Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops. Yarn over, pull through two loops.
Notice the pattern here? It continues on—half-treble crochet, treble crochet, double treble crochet—and just involves putting one extra loop on your hook at the start.
Crochet Two Together
Abbreviation: dc2tog (or hdc2tog, etc).
Purpose: These stitches create a decrease, which shortens the length of your project. You can do this over more than two stitches as well (dc3tog).
Instructions: Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops. Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops. Yarn over, pull through all loops on hook.
Decreasing allows you to create a tapered effect in your project. The opposite—increasing—involves putting two stitches into the same stitch below them. This increases the length of your project and can be used to create the flare of a skirt.
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How to Crochet a Dress
Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re ready to get started on your dress.
Step 1: Choose a Crochet Dress Style
There are a lot of dress options you can find online. Here are some things to consider when picking one.
- Function: Where do you want to wear your dress? Is it for the beach or a picnic, or something more formal?
- Length: This is probably the most adjustable element of a dress. So, even if a pattern is longer than you want, you can easily change it.
- Complexity: If it’s your first time crocheting a dress, you may want to start with an easier option that uses simpler stitches.
Step 2: Read the Pattern
Once you’ve found a pattern you like, give the pattern a once-over. There will certainly be a point in your crochet dress project where you’ll hit a snag, and if you haven’t done the prep work, this can really derail your progress.
Step 3: Take Your Measurements
Crochet dress patterns are not one-size-fits-all, and you’ll want to tailor the pattern to properly fit your body. Most patterns will come with several sets of instructions for different dress sizes. It’s helpful to take a few measurements so you know which sets of instructions to follow.
- Waist to bottom hem
- Center of neck to hem
Step 4: Make a Gauge
Gauge measures the number of stitches across and how many rows high make up a four inch square. It’s vital to make your gauge so you can get the exact size you need for your dress.
There are a number of things that could affect your gauge—like hook size, yarn brand, and stitch tension. So, even though you follow a pattern exactly, the size of your dress could wind up drastically different than you imagined. Making a gauge will prevent this from happening.
Step 5: Attach Your Yarn
The most common method to attach your yarn to your hook is the slip knot. Create a loop with the yarn and insert your hook into it. Pull the working end of your yarn through the loop. When you pull both yarn ends, the knot will tighten around the hook.
Step 6: Create a Chain
To create a chain, yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook. Your pattern will tell you how many chains you should do. When you begin your first row of stitches, you will insert your hook into the “v” shape of each chain.
Dresses are typically made in several different pieces, so you’ll likely have to chain several times for each piece.
Step 7: Follow the Pattern
Each crochet dress pattern is unique but is likely made up of the following component parts.
- The skirt extends from the waist to the bottom hem. It can be done in a lot of different ways, but it will likely involve increases.
- The bodice is the top part of the dress that connects to the skirt at the waist.
- The straps are often quite simple, but they are also a place where you can add a lot of elaborate touches.
- If the dress includes sleeves, they will likely be done separately and attached to the bodice later.
Step 8: Finish Off
At the end of every piece, you’ll have to tie off the stitches so they don’t unravel.
To do this, chain two after your last stitch. Cut your yarn about five inches from your hook, then pull that tail through the loop on your hook. Push down on the chains with your fingers as you pull on the tail. This creates a knot and, effectively, closes off that section of the dress.
Step 9: Sew It Together
Using your tapestry needle, you’ll use yarn to sew the pieces of your dress together. The pattern will give you specific instructions on how to do this.
Some patterns will instruct you to use a whip stitch—which resembles sewing. Sometimes, dress pieces may connect together with a row of single crochet, creating a little more length and a unique look.
Step 10: Weave In Your Ends
After finishing off every piece, you’ll have a five-inch tail. To hide these ends, thread them back into the row of stitches with your tapestry needle. If you weave back and forth a few times in the row, there’s a better chance for the tails to not slip out again.
Hit the Runway
A handmade crochet dress is a dynamic piece that none of your friends will have in their closets. It’s a modern take on a retro look—you’ll probably start a whole new trend!
And now that you’ve mastered the dress, you can attempt all types of clothing—sweaters, crop tops, capes—anything you can think of! Soon enough, you’ll have a whole wardrobe of crochet masterpieces.
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