Robyn Chachula’s Secret to Better Crochet Design

Editor's note: On Monday, we spent a little time with Robyn Chachula talking about her approach to crochet. Today, Robyn reveals her secret to better crochet design, focusing on her popular Maggie Wrap Top (available for free download here.)
Here's Robyn to tell you how to adapt this design to suit you.

It is no secret that I love granny square projects. I get so excited to discover what amazing fabric will be created when joining a few squares together. I also love them because they are the easiest to modify into different styles and sizes. You are probably shaking your head right now, saying “Robyn you have lost it, they are not easy at all to modify.”  But they are! All you need to know is how to play with blocks.

My secret tool when I am laying out a granny square garment: sticky notes. Basically I pretend that each sticky note is one granny square. Using some basic sizing guidelines, I lay out the project. Once I get the chest width and armhole depth set, I can modify like crazy and come up with many different garment styles. And so can you.

Let’s look at an example so I can show you just how easy it is to do. Here is the Small/ Medium Layout of the Maggie Wrap Top from Blueprint Crochet. This original version of my design has long sleeves and is cropped in length. The front overlaps to form a V-shape neckline.
This style looks adorable as is, as you can see on our lovely model. But what if cropped tops are not your thing? Or if the wrap isn't as flattering on you as, say, a cardigan? How could you modify this to make it more your style? I looked at the ways some crocheters modified the Maggie Wrap. Have a look with me.

The Maggie Wrap Sweater modification by Marianne Biesbroek in Uithoorn, The Netherlands. Photo by Serge van der Ree

Marianne Biesbroek decided that she liked the wrapping top but wanted it longer in length. She could have lengthened it in many ways. She chose to add 2 rows of granny squares under the waist band to make it hip length.

How will you know how much to lengthen the project? Well, it gets back to those blocks. In the Maggie Wrap, each square is either 4.25” or 4.75” square, depending on your hook size. So when you are modifying the top, you will be doing so in multiples of that size. For Marianne, to get the right length she added a row of half motifs and a row of full motifs, to add 6” to 7” in length, which makes the top now sit wonderfully at her hips.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Kelley in Maplewood, New Jersey

Cathy Kelley added length by removing the last row of half motifs, and adding 2 full rows of motifs. It will make the length the same as Marianne’s Version, just in a different way. Pretty fun, huh?

Did you also notice that Cathy’s version does not wrap?  How do you do that?  By playing with some more blocks that’s how!

Here is my mockup layout of a cardigan version of the wrap top. I removed the motifs on the front and played around with them a bit.

First, I opened the neckline up from 4” wide (one square width) to around 8” wide (two square widths). Since the top will not wrap, there will be less give in the front, and to keep the deep V-neck, we will want a larger neck opening. Even though 8” is pretty wide, the edging around the neck can be increased to make it as small as you like. (I  recommend 1” of edging.) I then added back motifs so that they  meet in the middle instead of overlapping.

I also gave mine short sleeves by only using 1 column of squares for the sleeves instead of the 4 shown. If you wanted ¾- length sleeves, use 3 columns of motifs, and for elbow length 2 columns.

A couple of tips: When you are modifying the neckline of granny square projects, watch where the lowest point of the neck ends and how wide the opening is. I like to relate the lowest point of the neck line to the underarm of the sleeve. In the original neckline, the lowest point is right at the underarm and would be just above the bust line. In my modified version, the lowest point is below the underarm, and the neck would fall in the center of the bust. So if you want a lower or higher neck, just rearrange the squares in relation to the underarm. As I briefly mentioned above, watch your neck width too. The wider you go, the more open the neck, increasing the possibility of it falling off your shoulders. If you do not like where it ends up, you can tighten the neckline by adding a neck edging. Anything 1 inch or less will work easily, and you will not have to worry about the edging turning into a collar.

And here's an adventurous version: a sleeveless wrapping vest. In the layout, I removed the sleeves completely. I also removed the first column after the sleeve on the body and replaced them with half blocks. This allows the vest to sit on your shoulders; if you simply remove the sleeves, the top will have cap sleeves. (This is because we have depth and our layout doesn’t; you will just have to trust me on that.)

In this version, I made the neckline even deeper. I think it would look great with a 1” neck edging that could turn into ties to wrap around your body and tie the top.



See? With just a little knowledge of fashion design and a pad of sticky notes, you can transform any granny square project into something unique. You can always start simple by removing sleeves or adding length, then work your way up to modifying the necklines. 

Good luck, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Having you been playing around with the design for the Maggie Wrap Sweater? Share them in our Gallery. And check out more of Robyn Chachula's patterns in the online Interweave Store.



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