Lizzy Wakefield '24 dressed for prom in her completed crochet creation

DIY Prom Dress: A Year-Long Crocheting Adventure with Lizzy Wakefield ’24

It’s not unusual to see flashes of crochet hooks or knitting needles at Commonwealth, as students and faculty alike busy their hands throughout the day. Over the last few years, two of those hands have belonged to Lizzy Wakefield ’24, student leader of Commonwealth’s Knitting Cult, lifelong knitter, and crocheting savant. Always looking for her next big project, Lizzy decided in the summer of 2023 to embark on the journey of crocheting herself a dress—which she would finish just in time to wear to her senior prom, almost a year later.

Crocheting a bespoke prom dress from scratch, of course, takes more than mastering stitches and perfecting proportions. Going into the project with only her purple and black yarn selected, Lizzy soon found herself with a host of decisions to wade through, from sleeves to skirt volume to lace density. “I was just looking online and I ended up finding this pattern, which is from a Vogue knitting magazine from 2013,” Lizzy recalls. “I really liked how it looked, and it seemed manageable.”

With a pattern ready to go, Lizzy hunkered down for months of crocheting work, interspersed with her academics, extracurriculars, college search, and the general flurry of activity that goes into a senior year at Commonwealth. Beginning with textured, rectangular panels that would come together to create the skirt and eventually moving onto denser pieces like the bodice and waistband, the project offered Lizzy her most engaging crochet challenge yet.

It’s definitely the most complex crocheting I've ever done,” she reflects. “With crocheting, unlike knitting, all of the stitches are pretty simple. It's what you're doing with them and how you're constructing things that's different.” Things like gauge sizing and yarn tension “became more important than ever.” Hiccups along the way, Lizzy says, included having to find a way to shorten pieces of the bodice that she had initially feared would be too short: “I had to figure out how to chop them off and tuck them in and not be able to tell. That was not fun.”

Ever a creative, Lizzy met each challenge with an innovative solution. When she lost a small piece of the dress, she opted to combine two different patterns while remaking it to create her own design, adding “a little bit more uniqueness into it.” 

After months of intricate handiwork and solving snafus, plus a week or two of last-minute panic that pieces wouldn’t fit correctly, Lizzy donned her creation for Commonwealth’s prom. 

"I think I would do some things differently, which is unsurprising,” Lizzy reflects, looking back on the project. “But it was fun…I don’t regret choosing to do it.” Having spent months carrying her crocheting with her to school, friends’ houses, restaurants, and everywhere in between, she says that experiencing so many people witness her work in progress fueled her excitement throughout her long and rewarding process.

What’s on the horizon for this crafter? Lizzy says she’s ready to give her hands a bit of a break with some simpler, fun projects. “I'm making a bunch of pom-poms and hats for [ceramics teacher] Kyla [Toomey]’s children, which will be fun,” she says. Her next “me project” will likely be a cropped sweater; she's already picked out the pattern and chunky blue yarn. It won’t be, she insists, another dress—at least not for a while. 

"I'm glad it's done, I really am,” she says. “I am really proud of how it actually all happened, and I'm really glad I did it.”

Meet More Commonwealth Students