At the end of April I released Let Them Knit Cake, a Marie Antoinette inspired pattern collection as part of the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project!
“Let Them Knit Cake is a pattern collection exploring the intersection of history and fashion viewed through my personal lens as a knitwear designer, a source of inspiration I’ve begun to explore recently. Here I turn my focus to Marie Antoinette, the iconic French queen who is remembered by the public at large for her beauty, glamorous style and perceived superficiality. I’ve interpreted rococo fashion for the modern knitter by examining portraits of Marie in addition to reading accounts of her sartorial choices.
The phrase “let them eat cake” has been falsely attributed to Marie; while an agreed upon fallacy in the academic community, pop culture holds tight to the wrongful association regardless. So as a historian-cum-knitting designer, why not use it as the basis for this collection’s title? I wanted to play upon our familiarity of the phrase and make a reference to the usage of the terms ‘cake’ and ‘frosting’ in the sewing community. ‘Cake’ refers to basic foundation garments in one’s wardrobe (plain tanks, versatile jeans), and ‘frosting’ means fun, maybe frivolous clothing (party dresses, maribou trimmed nighties). The four pieces shown in this collection appear to be frosting on the surface—due in no small part to the saturated and exhilarating colors of Malabrigo Yarn—but I hope that they will take the place of cake in your handknit wardrobe, as essential pieces you wear day after day.”
Let’s take a closer look at each piece, shall we?
The Polonaise Cardigan, shown in Malabrigo Silky Merino in size 36″, is knitted bottom up in one piece starting with a wee lace hem. No shaping in the body, but a small pleat on the upper back (in addition to armhole shaping) helps narrow the silhouette through the bust. I worked the bow with a combination of intarsia and stranded knitting, but you could easily work the whole bow in one color with intarsia, and use duplicate stitch to add the ‘shadow’ accents instead of stranding that color. After the body is complete, stitches are picked up around the armholes to work short row sleeve caps, and the neckline is finished with an I-cord edging.
The Coronation Tank, shown in Malabrigo Arroyo in size 34″, is also worked from the bottom up in one piece. Large cables gradually shift from the center of the tank to the outer edges following princess seam lines as the stockinette center of the front expands. Waist shaping takes place on the back of the tank creating subtle corset lines, and a smaller cable detail decorates the chest. I love the versatility of tanks that can be layered as vests in the fall and winter, which is why I showed it here over a blouse.
The Fargeon Mitts, shown in Malabrigo Silky Merino in size S, are quick mitts that you can easily make using the leftovers from your Polonaise Cardigan. Knit from the bottom edge up, they feature a ruffled edging that transitions into a wide ribbed pattern and a thumb gusset.
The Dauphine’s Stockings, shown in Malabrigo Sock in size M, are knit toe-up with a short row heel. The lace pattern on the tops of the feet continues up the shin and repeats on the back of the leg, but grows to accommodate leaf motifs for the calf shaping.
Since the goal of the collection was to do ‘modern Marie Antoinette’ and not ‘recreation-level authentic costumes’ I made sure to style them with modern clothing, though with a few nods to the original inspiration. Those shoes, for example–exactly what I had in mind and I nabbed them at the Salvation Army! What do you think? Would you be able to work these pieces into your current style?
You can find the patterns on Ravelry by following the links throughout this post. The Polonaise Cardigan and Coronation Tank are available for $7 each, the Fargeon Mitts and The Dauphine’s Stockings for $5 each, and the ebook is available for $18.