Earlier this year, my husband brought this dress home from a charity shop, knowing that I could resize it to make it fit. It was just a size too big, so I turned it inside out and simply took about an inch in on each side, around the mid section.
The next problem? I didn't have a single top to go with it! I started scouring the internet for a suitable shrug pattern, and came across this, the Easy Shell Shrug. The very word "easy" filled my heart with glee! And then I got started... Now, I don't mean to be wholly negative about this pattern, but I did have a lot of issues.
I started by making a mockup in some scrap wool, and discovered the number of stitches and sizes were a bit odd, the fit wasn't quite right, and the collar section didn't sit flat for me.
I made some changes, and moved on to my finished piece, using just under three balls of an incredibly lovely black crochet cotton [I'll update soon with the exact one!]
To make the shrug to fit me, approx UK size 12, I began with 21 shells across - this required a base chain of 85:
(21 x 4) + 1
(number of shells needed x 4) + an extra stitch
So following the pattern, I had a base chain of 85, then completed Row 1 to make my 21 shells.
I then repeated Pattern Rows 2 & 1 14 times, ending on the pattern, rather than creating a straight edge. If I added any more rows, I felt like the sleeves became too baggy.
I returned to my base chain, and created 21 shells facing the opposite way - imagine a reflection. This meant that I had a nice shelled edge on the long sides of my rectangle.
Next, I joined the shrug by crocheting/stitching together the outer 3 shells at each end.
At this point, the shrug looked like this, and wasn't quite long enough for me to wear comfortably:
So I started experimenting to add extra length. I tried increasing shells along the bottom edge in a curve, but it wouldn't sit flat. In the end, I crocheted a row of 16 shells [needing a base chain of (16 x 4) + 1 = 65], and crocheted shells back along the base chain, to create the "reflection" again. I stitched this on to the shrug, making sure the deep bit of the shells on the strip sat into the shell recesses of the shrug, and vice versa (the deep bit of the shells on the shrug sat into the recesses of the shells on my strip). I repeated this with a row of 14 shells [needing a base chain of (14 x 4) + 1 = 57], and crocheted shells back along the base chain, to create the "reflection", and stitched it onto the shrug as before, attaching it to the previous strip.
This created a low enough back for me to wear comfortably (see the first picture!) I think if I wanted another shrug I would find a different pattern altogether, but I am happy with it, especially for my first proper piece of crocheted clothing!
With sincere thanks to my husband for the photography!