Designer Spotlight: How Elizabeth Adedeji Wants To Create Crochet Wedding Dresses

My name is Elizabeth Adedeji, I crochet and I own 21 Wool Street.

Growing up, I used to draw, but found myself crocheting and left drawing alone. I miss it, but here we are. Also, do not ask, but

I can speak a little German.

Okay, so a different question then. What is the difference between crochet and knitting?

Crochet is one-hook work. Knitting uses two needles or hooks, and you can even machine knit. In crochet, everything is done by hand.

I love that every crochet piece is original because of this. I never thought of it like that

Exactly. You can create a piece very quickly, using a machine if you knit. But crochet takes a lot of time. You have to put a lot of work into it. People always mix them up, so I’m glad you asked. People always ask me what I “knit”, and I have to explain to them that I crochet, not knit. There is a difference.

How did you go from drawing to crochet?

I was in art class in elementary school, and I was probably my art teacher’s favorite because I was really good at it. Everyone is so good at art these days that competition is tough, but I enjoyed the art class. I thought I would be an artist when I grew up. I remember having an art exhibition when I was in what? Primary five?

I’ll say you’re still an artist, but carry on

Exactly! I think my earliest memory of crocheting was seeing a woman crochet in church when I was in high school. I was immediately fascinated by the idea of ​​creating something from scratch. She gave me a beginner’s tutorial, and from there, you always found me with pins and thread, doing one thing or the other. We also had crochet lessons at home high schools. I spent so much time crocheting that I no longer had time to draw.

Does your drawing background help you visualize the things you create?

It certainly is. Also, I draw from time to time now. This makes it easier for me to sketch out my ideas and bring them to life before starting a project. This is an advantage that my training in drawing has given me.

*One of his first works*

It’s so random, but I just know you were that kid who always gave people things you crocheted.

Yes, oh! So a friend of mine still has a bag that I crocheted for her in high school when I was 11. She’s always like she’ll keep it until I blow, so she can say, “Lizzy did this to me in high school.” “I was definitely that person who gave a lot of things that I made to people. In high school, I made bags, small purses, and scarves, and mostly gave them away.

Disclaimer! it was peach and black.

So people walk around with your originals? When did you decide you wanted to earn crochet?

In 2017, I launched my brand, 21 Wool Street. Before that, I didn’t even know you could crochet outfits out of yarn, but I always thought I’d give it a try anyway. Then I started seeing a lot more people doing it on YouTube and Instagram. A friend of mine told me she needed something to wear to the beach. I had already made a beach outfit for myself and was rocking it everywhere, so I did the exact same thing for her. She got a lot of compliments, I got a lot of referrals, and I thought, “Hey, I can make money off of this.” It was 2016. I started doing things for my classmates in college.

A model in a dress crocheted by Elizabeth.

Which of your crochet pieces do you love most?

I would say a couple. Last year, I collaborated with a friend’s brand, Stepping with Semi, to create a shoe collection called Gaze, and enjoyed the creative process. The whole shoe collection, to me, was just giving. Another project I loved was when I replicated Kate Spade’s crochet design for a client in 2020, and the whole process of doubting myself and then realizing it was a lot. The funny thing is, the original designer who worked on the design under the Kate Spade brand reached out to me, and he was nice about it. The most recent that I really like is my sister’s wedding dress.

Photo credit: Mohini Ufeli-Ezekwesili

How did you manage to crochet your sister’s wedding dress?!

I posted a photo of one of my favorite brands, Studio Imo, in June or May [2022]. He made this beautiful white dress, and my sister responded by saying, “Aren’t you just going to make my wedding dress for me like that?” I laughed because I like a challenge, so I said, “Sure, let’s do that.” She sketched out a design she wanted, and I started researching what kind of pattern I wanted to use and take inspiration from what others had done. It didn’t have to be nuptial; it just had to be crocheted. It took a month and a lot of trial and error. I had to start over when I made mistakes. When I felt sure I got it right, we added more details to really make it stand out and added the elaborate lining and sleeves. On the second fitting, everything looked good.

How many times have you started over?

Honestly, I’ve lost count. I started it a couple of times and kept it aside because I had a dinner for a Topship grant I applied for and was in the top three finalists. I had to crochet myself an outfit at the last minute. I came back to my sister’s dress a week later. When I got to the knees, we had the idea to make it an A-line. We loosened it about three to four times until we decided to make it a shift dress. Then the sleeves didn’t fit, so I had to redo them twice. The thing with me is that if I notice a slight mistake, I’ll start all over again. It helps me to retrace my steps, so that I don’t make the mistake again.

Doesn’t going back to fix errors take a lot of time when you have many orders?

It does. Since I’m working on pre-orders and have mostly been working on bags recently, it’s not too bad. I usually have delivery dates for each order and make sure to create time to fulfill each order. This wedding dress took a huge chunk of my time, but to do it right, you just have to do it. It would have been worse if the whole outfit was a mess and there was no way for her to wear it.

How many pieces have you crocheted since you started? Do you have assistants?

Maybe over a thousand. I’ve worked with two crochet designers this year and had a few people work with me this year, on side projects that I can hand over to someone. I worked alone on my sister’s wedding dress because for a project like that; you don’t need too many hands. I work to attract more people because obviously I can’t do it alone forever if I want my brand to be big. It’s been a challenge to trust people, but it’s been good so far.

What is the most or least expensive thing you have crocheted?

My sister’s wedding dress is the most expensive thing I’ve crocheted so far. I sold it to him for ₦200k. I consider many factors when pricing my pieces: the weather, the design, the amount of thread, and whether other artisans like a tailor need to add linen to a dress, or zippers and buttons. .

Photo credit: Mohini Ufeli-Ezekwesili

Have you ever suffered a loss?

Yes, with my Jadesola bag. At the end of last year, the prices for yarn and fabric kept rising until I realized I was no longer making a profit. When I started, I bought the materials at a certain price, but one day my usual supplier stopped selling the yarn. I had to go to a supplier in Nigeria, and the prices kept going up every time I restocked. I was running at a loss at the start. I had to raise my prices in January.

What’s your favorite part of being a crochet artist?

I mainly call myself a crochet designer. My favorite thing is just being able to start from scratch and bring it to life, see the end product or the result. Every time I finish my work, I’m always so shocked, like, “Wow, I did that! It came out of my hands! “. The process of creating each piece is beautiful and I enjoy every moment of it. I like that my work always stands out from the work of other designers because my goal is to create timeless pieces that outlast fashion trends. I love that as a crochet designer I can show people the endless possibilities of crochet clothing and how it goes beyond swimwear/beachwear. Lastly, I love when my customers share photos and comments about their purchases, being able to organize them and post them to my brand account gives me joy every time.

What do you do outside of crochet?

I’m a content creator and have worked in technology and PR. It’s my 9-5; I write and create content. I recently got into the art of embroidery. I just appreciate anything that allows me to express myself and start something from scratch. I’m not exactly doing embroidery art for money right now. It’s always fun; the business side is trying to mess it up.

No one likes this question, but what do the next few years look like to you?

Laughs* You’re right, but I’ve done most of the things I said I would do three or four years ago, I’ve done bits and pieces. With 21 Wool Street, I try to approach other aspects of crochet.

I started out making swimwear and dresses, and I remember writing in my business plan that I would make shoes and bags. Seeing what I’ve accomplished is amazing. In the next two years, I want to get into menswear and the wedding industry. It’s a market that needs to be tapped, so I strategize on how to get into those markets. It would be cool to be one of the pioneers of crochet men’s and bridal wear in Africa the same way Deola Sagoe modernized the look of traditional bridal wear in Nigeria and around the world. ‘

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