Archive for August 5th, 2014

The designer in me wanted to go with the “hot” turquoise, pink, and lime green found in the bedroom picture.

Notice the check pattern peeking out from beneath the coverlet of the bed.

Notice the check pattern peeking out from beneath the coverlet of the bed.

The three color combo said 1960s fun and bold. Alas,the trio was out of my comfort zone of colors I like to work with. I also kept having the urge to switch out the pink for coral. But I knew that changing to coral would update the palette to 2014 colors. I carried an argument around in my head for days over whether the substitution would cancel out the 1960 retro feel of the piece. Did I want the piece to feel truly retro or did I want it to give just a nod and a wink to 1960s? The more I wrestled with it the more the answer eluded me. When that happens I know I have to put it on a shelf and have patience while it works itself out in some behind the scene area in my mind.

Stuck on one thing, I moved on to another. What about the shape, the silhouette of the piece? I had a vague picture of white vinyl go-go boots, A-line shape, bell-bottom sleeves and then I saw this:


No go-go boots. And yes, they are maternity patterns. But they had the details and the silhouettes I wanted for this smock. The details that particularly interested me were the collar and button work on the yellow one. I really fell in love with the button placement on the yellow outfit and the Nehru type collar. The more I looked, the more I loved the idea of a Nehru collar with this silhouette. However, that decision presented some immediate issues.

My design range was babies from 0 to 24 months. But babies from 0 to 9 months don’t have necks. I knew a Nehru collar wasn’t going to work for them. On the other hand, I strongly felt that the Nehru collar was integral to making the silhouette work. That meant the smallest size would start at 1 year. Now I had to start thinking about the piece not as a cute retro baby smock, but as a cute, but not too cutesy retro garment for a child.

I was sketching the smock and watching TV news when the cuff of the TV news person’s jacket caught my eye. The jacket she wore was ho-hum, but the cuff made it zing. Turned back and in a satin checkered fabric, it made the jacket interesting and eye catching. The retro smock appeared as a whole unit in my mind. The main color was turquoise and the checkered detail would be stranded color work alternating the pink and lime green. The checkered detail would be used at the hem, the Nehru collar, the cuffs and the two patch pockets I now wanted on the front.

I researched the use of checks in 1960s clothes and found a treasure trove of pictures and ideas. Yes, there is more than one way to design with checks. See my Pintrest mood board here.

After all was said and done, the rough sketch I came up with was this:

sketch girl's 1960 smock 1

Once I added the patch pockets, the angled button detail wouldn’t work. It’s a feature I will save for another design. But what about all that fabric between the color work borders? Did I really want that to be all Stockinette Stitch? All Stockinette would be relaxing at first, but beyond the first five rows it might drive me mad.

Speaking about the color work borders, did I want all the floats to be exposed on the reverse side of the garment? The hems of a garment get a fair share of abuse. It’s easy to snag a float and pull the stitches out of line. It was time to think about and plan for a folded hem to cover the floats.

In the meantime, I had to find a stitch pattern that created a fabric I liked and that worked with the checkerboard borders. But first I had to come up with stitch counts and measurements.

More on that next time.

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