Simplicity 2281: Knitifying Fun

I’m playing catch-up, as resolved, and sharing some of the things I’ve made lately… or not so lately. I actually made this dress in mid-December, but lack of light (and, really, laziness) put off the taking of good pictures until just the other day. So please pardon this slightly used dress, since I love it so much I couldn’t not share it!

Simplicity 2281

I clearly have a problem. I’m a knitaholic. While I suppose most people would think a knitaholic can’t stop knitting things (my actual knitting count: 1 and a half items), I’m defining it as someone who cant help but make any pattern with a knit fabric. “Oh what a cute design!” I’ll think. “But so fitted… surely it would be more comfortable in a knit?” That’s right, I seem to exist solely to turn fancy dresses into sweatshirts. And it’s awesome.

Now, I can’t take credit for the idea to knitify this pattern, Simplicity 2281 (a Cynthia Rowley design – can’t you tell by the giant midriff and dirndl skirt?) That came from Andrea at foursquarewalls, who made the pattern up in a red doubleknit last summer, and when I saw it I immediately wanted one. Since immediately for me means “sometime in the next 16 months”, I finally got to it in December. And of course I had to shamelessly copy her, so I searched for a while for a rust-colored ponte knit before finding one at Michael Levine in LA. I also had the advantage of her detailed rundown of all the reasons this pattern was totally unsuitable for knitifaction. But dammit, I was going to make it work!

I started by choosing the long sleeve version, both because I wanted a winter dress, and also because that meant I wouldn’t need the bodice lining to finish the armholes, avoiding the too-thick-seam problem. I omitted the bodice lining entirely and lined the midriff in a thin rayon jersey from the scrap pile (it’s purple, but whatevs, they’re complimentary colors). No lining meant I had nothing to gather the neckline to, but I just measured the lining piece and gathered the bodice to that measurement. I bound the neckline as the pattern indicated, but halved the binding piece lengthwise so it was just a single layer folded over. At first I was going to leave the slit in the back and fasten it at the top with a button or snap (since I didn’t want to do the tie closure), but the slit stuck out funny in this fabric and when I pinned it closed I could actually get it on over my head, so I just sewed the back up all the way.

Simplicity 2281 back

Having sorted out all the lightweight-woven-to-heavyweight-knit fabric issues, I sewed up the side seams (I left them for last, of course, for easier fitting) and tried it on, and realised the last problem that I hadn’t considered: a long sleeved, high necked doubleknit dress in a solid color can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. As in, I looked like an Amish pumpkin. So, resolved as I was that this unlikely dress would work, I set about reducing the amount of fabric covering me. I took in the sides for a better fit, shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length, and took a good 5 inches off the skirt. It wound up being a smidge short (making this a leggings-for-sure dress, which is fine, ’cause it’s been cold!), but it did actually make it cute, I think. It’s amazing how hem length can change the look of a dress totally!

Simplicity 2281 has pockets!In the end, I really really like this dress. It’s like wearing a really comfortable but fashionable sweatshirt. And did I mention the pockets? Pockets! It’s even cozier when there’s somewhere to put your hands! And I can ride a bike in it, something that would almost certainly be impossible in the woven fabric version of this pattern. So yes, this dress is totally fueling my knitifying addiction… but I’m okay with that.

My review of the pattern can be found here.

One gripe, though, with the fabric. It wasn’t too helpfully labeled in the store, but I’m pretty sure it’s the ubiquitous Sophia Doubleknit that you can get from and others. It’s poly, which I don’t mind, except it pills like the dickens! I’ve worn/washed this dress maybe 5 times and it’s already pilling like crazy. And the dress I made from the turquoise Sophia two years ago (this one) is basically a textured fabric now. It still looks okay from a foot away, but it’s not anywhere near as nice to wear. Any suggestions on how I can delaying the pilly demise of this dress, or recommendations of doubleknits that don’t pill? I think doubleknits are my new favorite winter fabric, but they need to last more than one winter!

  1. Very cute! Turn it inside out, wash on cold, and drip dry. If it’s pilling that usually means it has some rayon or modal in it too. Oh, and you are spot on about the length of things. Sometimes I can be sure a dress won’t turn out but I hem it anyways and surprise! – I end up loving it!

  2. Love the dress! (Amish pumpkin, my buns! Thanks for the chuckle šŸ˜‰ ) I am totally a knitwear fangirl, too. So easy to fit, so comfy, so completely awesome. Sorry to hear it’s pilling. šŸ˜¦ That’s the worst part about working with knits! I agree that inside out on cold would be a good laundering approach.

  3. Nhi said:

    Love it. That color is beautiful one you. The hem is just perfect. I love making woven patterns in knits. There are all sorts of comfy knits that no one can tell that they are knits. There needs to be a name for those like double agent knits. If you want to know the content do a burn test… on a swatch… a largest swatch…near a sink… with the water on. Use a good pill shaver to minimize the pills.

  4. It turned out great! I bought this pattern after Andrea’s post, too, and I live by the same kind of timeline as you!

  5. lisa g said:

    i totally love this pattern done up in knit! i would wear that all the time. nice job on modifying the pattern to work!

  6. Jennifer said:

    Super cute dress! I’ve been wanting to convert dresses to use with a knit fabric.

  7. Adrienne said:

    Love the dress! It’s really great on you. Nancy Zieman carries a line of doubleknit fabric called Bare Knits…from the description it sounds nicer than average and you can buy dyed-to-match ribbing as well. It comes in cotton/poly and 100% cotton. I haven’t tried but I’m thinking about it… If I do I will let you know. Here’s a link to the knits page:

  8. This colour is fantastic on you, and the idea of a sweatshirt dress is great, but this looks way way more sophisticated than any sweatshirt. The raglan sleeves look like they’re a great match for the fabric and I’m impressed by your gathering at the neckline, it’s really even šŸ™‚ I’m currently trying to decide on a knit dress for myself, and your blog has such a great selection, thanks for taking the time to blog them all šŸ™‚

  9. Huh. I love fitted dresses and knits, but somehow it never occurred to me to turn a fitted woven dress pattern into a knit! I think you’ve done a lovely job; looking like an Amish pumpkin is something I would like to have seen, but in the meantime I’ll just smile at that lovely red color on you! For pilly fabrics, like someone said earlier, I try to wash very gently in cold water and then let it drip dry. Less agitation = less pilling. Unfortunately, that also means that the dress is no longer the easy-care-chuck-it-into-the-laundry dress that I usually prefer, but oh well!

  10. AllisonF said:

    Seriously inspiring. I am trying to motivate myself to commit to making all my new additions for spring but you have really set the bar high! Love the new dress and all the years photos!

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