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Beach Daze MAL Week 1: The Back Piece

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

It’s Week 1 for the Beach Daze MAL hosted in the Scheepjes International and Dutch Facebook groups, and I am thrilled to have so many playing along! Let’s jump in to making your version of my Beach Daze pattern. Will it be Tunic, T-shirt or Dress?

A bit of housekeeping first:

My blog is written in UK terms. The pattern is available in UK, US and Dutch.

The very first Beach Daze MAL blog in the series showed all the options and how to choose your size and is here if you are just joining us now. The second blog talked about how to swatch for gauge and a LOT about chains and can be found here.

Before we start hooking it’s good to get an overview of the garment.

Here is the run-down of the general approach, no matter which garment version:

We start at the shoulders of the Back Piece and work top-down. Once we get past the shaping around the Neckline (as described in the Pattern PDF), we work rows of a set number of Filet Units across the piece down to the Hemline, it’s just that the number of rows to reach the Hemline varies between garment options, and the full-length Dress version uses a couple of larger hooks down the skirt and adds 1 st to each Filet Unit at the lower skirt before you reach the Hemline (as described in the Supplement PDF).

We follow the same principles to make the Front Piece (except the JAYG Side Seam option for the full-length Whirlette/Whirl Dress kicks in once you reach the lower Armhole on the Front Piece – this is in the Supplement PDF and we will talk about that next week).

Shoulder Seams are worked to assemble the Bodice, then the elaborate Placket is made separately with the Inner Neckline separate loops vs linked loops is made according to your preference (separate loops to thread ribbon through are described in the Pattern PDF, linked loops are described in the Supplement PDF).

The Outer Neckline edge of the Placket is inserted into the garment Bodice as described in the Pattern PDF, then each Side Seam is worked which continues on as Armhole Edging for each side of the garment (except the W/W Dress if you worked the JAYG option – your side seams are already finished).

The Hemline is lengthened by rounds of an increasing stitch count of dtr sts with regular picot stitches to finish the final round.

This week:

We will focus on making all of the Back Piece with lots of tips provided along the way. Since the same techniques apply to the Front Piece you can get a start on that too (at least down to the level of the lower Armhole), but if you are making the Whirlette/Whirl Dress it might be best that you stop there.

Beach Daze T-shirt in Whirlette Blueberry 854, Tunic in MAXI Sugar Rush Fuchsia 786 & Dress in Whirlette Kiwi 857

Read and follow the Pattern PDF instructions and your cut-out Filet Grid chart (see Prep 2 blog here), checking the Supplement for each Pattern section as you go for any variation to the instructions that might apply to your version of the garment.

Everything you need is in the PDFS, and my blog will contain extra tips and tricks along the way which provide technical insight into garment design and can enhance your fit, technique, level of finish etc.

The Back Piece

Here we go:

Foundation Chain and the First Row…

As much as we talked about firm chain in the bodice and not much light gets through the stitches, make sure your foundation chains are relaxed enough so it’s easy (yet snug) to insert your hook for Row 1. The foundation chain spans all the way across your future shoulder seam and have no flex, yet they need to approximately match the width of the subsequent rows with taller sts.

There might be quite a few Blocks to work in Row 1 depending on your version of Beach Daze and chosen size, and a few dtr sts in a row will stretch and distort your foundation ch if it was made very tightly and they also inherently splay wider than the chain. Check after your first couple of rows that your fabric so far is pretty square like the example in your Pattern and the photo below.

Increasing to Shape the Neckline…

Rows 6 and 7 describe the technique for how to increase at the Neckline end of the Back Right Shoulder, but here is a little explanation to the logic.

For Filet Lace, chains are often used to mimic/count as a tall stitch, it’s just a matter of the number of chains. The increases are a diagonal triangle Unit shape instead of a square shape, and that means the long side of the triangle that will form part of the Neckline needs to count as a stitch that is taller than the dtr. The triple treble (just one more “yoh” before inserting the hook, and one more “yoh, draw through 2 loops” to work off the stitch compared to the dtr) is the logical choice and this requires an extra chain (when turning) to mimic its height.

So now to inc at the end of the row (as a Space) we have a (dtr, ch2, ttr) into the last st, and to inc at the beginning of the row (as a Space) a ch(5+2=7) counts as a ttr and 2 ch, then the first stitch of the next Filet Unit is worked into the stitch at the base of that 7 turning ch.

Extension Chain at the Back Neck…

Like the Foundation chain at the shoulder, make sure the extension chain made at the end of Row 10 Back Right Shoulder are made in a firm and even consistent manner but again, not so tight that the dtr of the subsequent row will distort them. When working Row 11 of the Back Left Shoulder, I like to work into the back of the extension chains (ie. have the rear bumps of the (not twisted) length of chain facing you and insert your hook under the top 2 loops of the chain). This way, when you arrive at the ttr at the edge of the Back Right Shoulder the extension chain is not twisted and everything sits smoothly.

Add Rows Top-Down

After Row 12, my pattern describes work “X” Filet Units in each row for “Y” more rows or to desired length depending on your garment version – sounds pretty easy, right? What could go wrong?

Since this is a large and symmetrical geometric pattern any missing or out of pattern Blocks will stick out like the proverbial canine’s reproductive glands, so when you make a mistake it must be frogged, not fudged. Once you get underway it’s easy to start thinking you know the pattern now and don’t have to look at the chart so much or even the row you just made.

My own experience with my own pattern AND despite making four garments with this geometric pattern (a tunic, a t-shirt and 2 dresses - you will see the second dress very soon) was that I had to frog here and there on EVERY project because I thought yep, the blocks are travelling this way or that and just went for it hooking away in my own little zen bubble, then would discover my error on the return row. Aaaghhh! My testers all had some frogging issues too because they missed that they made a Block instead of a Space somewhere way-back and pulled out quite a few rows!

SO… my advice is to hold it up and have a quick check your work at the end of EVERY single row before you carry on!

Desired Length…

I provided the gauge before and after blocking for each yarn as a bit of a guide to see that it doesn’t move a great deal – but this does assume that you have stretched your pre-blocked fabric in a few directions and laid it as flat as possible encouraging a bit of vertical stretch before you check it. This enables you to check that your gauge is in the right ball-park over a small area as you begin to work the bodice to check you are on track, but there is no substitute for blocking to get than bunchy WIP fabric to lay flat and smooth to really see how big the finished project is.

When you hold your cotton WIP up to your body to check length, bear in mind that due to the future blocking relaxing the fabric (for all projects) and gravity stretching stitches (most relevant for large/long projects - the heavier the accumulated fabric/the looser the stitches the more the stretch), the finished blocked garment will hang longer than it does as a WIP.

Please also note that schematics always describe measures as laid flat after blocking and if it’s a flowy drapey garment (such as the skirt section of this dress – check out the photo below) when that same garment hangs on the body it will hang a bit longer than the as laid flat measurement.

Swoosh!! That is flipping good drape!

My experience and observations lead me to use a 10% stretch rule of thumb when I am trying on a WIP crocheted cotton garment and deciding how long I want it to hang. It might be 8-15% depending on the cotton fibre blend and the gauge, but the point is the finished garment (particularly if it’s the longer tunic or dress) is going to hang a bit longer than when you hold the Back or Front Piece up to your body as a work in progress (make sure the side seams are at your sides as well before assessing the length).

For the dress, this could mean it’s going to “grow” 10-15cm/4-6in or so due to stretching when blocking and gravity when worn, so bear that in mind! Note: This assumes your stitches and chains are not tight – tight stitches relax and do not stretch as much but are not desirable for drape.

I describe in the Supplement PDF to ideally adjust for length (to shorten the dress) in the bodice rows (rather than remove them from the lower skirt) and this is for 2 reasons:

1. Shortening the bodice means the increased hook sizes kick in early and the fabric will become wider earlier which gives you more ease for the skirt around your hips. You can still add more rows at the lower and widest part of the skirt if you think you have shortened it too much. If you have a long torso or slim hips though, maybe this doesn’t matter to you.

2. When combining Whirl with Whirlette for the dress, I have designed it so that you will use almost all of one Whirl cake for each of the Back and Front Pieces and the majority or all of the Whirl is used in the skirt depending on size, so removing bodice rows to shorten the dress will maximise Whirl in your project. If you are making a solid colour Whirlette or MAXI Sugar Rush Dress, then it doesn’t really matter, and length adjustments are easily fine-tuned around the lower skirt subject to the previous point regarding torso length and ease around the hips.

The Fuzz-Buzz in the W/W Dress

Working with Whirl is addictive and awesome, and we all know about that “ooh the next colour is coming” anticipation when we see the “fuzz-buzz” colour join approaching our hook! Here is a tip to blend that fuzz right in for a smooth finish in your stitches. I added some rows to my gauge swatch just to demonstrate a useful method for fuzz-blitz. I am sure many of you already know this, but for those that aren’t aware, prepare your “aaaaahhhs” that utter from one’s lips in that lightbulb moment of revelation!

Here is a short video to show how to “calm the fuzz down”….

Smoothed out and ready to hook! Be gentle as you work the stitches that include the smoothed fuzz-buzz and the fuzz is no more! I have heard people refer to this as the “wet twist” technique. You only need the tiniest bit of moisture to dampen the palms of your hands. If you fully wet the yarn its REALLY difficult to crochet with.

…And with that life changing tip, it’s a wrap for Week 1!

You can finish your Back Piece and Front Piece using these principles, but if you are making the Whirlette/Whirl dress and particularly if you want to use the JAYG blended side seam technique, then I recommend to hang-tight until next Wednesday as we are going to start with how to handle the Whirl for the smaller sizes where it begins near the shoulders and discuss that JAYG side seam technique in more detail. We will also be covering the Shoulder Seams and the Placket.

In the meantime, use the #beachdazeMAL and #beachdazefilettunic tags so I can see your projects coming to life!

If you have joined the party fashionably late, don’t worry all the MAL blogs will stay available on my website to support making your Beach Daze garment. The Pattern and Supplement PDFs come as a set in one transaction from my Ravelry and Etsy Stores and give you 7 different garment versions to make – each sized XS to 5XL.

The discounted price finishes March 24th!

You can find Scheepjes retailers worldwide here, or consider purchasing via these two affiliate links*

Wool Warehouse (in the UK, ships worldwide including the US)

Caros Atelier (in The Netherlands)

...and Perthites can source their yarn from my local Scheepjes Retailers

Leanne at Yarns For All

& Anna and Mike at Stitchcraft & Wizardry

I will see you in the Scheepjes Facebook groups and do my best to help you out!

Until next week,

Susan (Peppergoose)

Thank you to Scheepjes for yarn support for my designs!

* This post contains affiliate links – it doesn’t cost you any extra to purchase via these links and I receive a small percentage of the sale that helps to support my design work. Thank you for your consideration :)


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