Maybe Matilda: Darcy’s Vintage Shell Shrug (Free Crochet Pattern!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Darcy’s Vintage Shell Shrug (Free Crochet Pattern!)

Our church service doesn’t start until 1 in the afternoon. One. In. The. Afternoon. This is the source of much complaining in our house, because it sure would be nice to just wake up, get ready, go to church, come home, and still have a huge chunk of daytime to spend together. Church at 1, though, means trying to manipulate naptimes around church (which never works), finding a way to fill the morning that will leave plenty of time to get ready and head out when the time comes (which usually means wasting the morning entirely), coping with endless nap-deprived whining at church (inevitable but always aggravating), then feeling like you hardly have much of a day left after getting home from church (dinner then straight to bed for grouchy children).

One perk, however—one of the very few perks—of afternoon church is noticing in the morning that Darcy’s new (and by new I mean thrifted, because hello, have you met our budget? we don’t do ‘new’) dress would look cute with a little beige shrug, and realizing that I have more than enough time to start and finish it well before heading off to church.

Free crochet pattern and step-by-step photo tutorial for this sweet vintage-style shrug! Adaptable to any size, from baby through adult.

Free crochet pattern and step-by-step photo tutorial for this sweet vintage-style shrug! Adaptable to any size, from baby through adult.

I first came up with this shrug pattern way back in February—my mom is quite the talented seamstress and sewed a darling dress for Darcy. It fit her perfectly in February, but since it was sleeveless, I worried she’d be chilly and came up with this shrug pattern to complement the dress. Since the dress has such a sweet floral pattern and soft, muted colors and that high ribbon waistline, I get a very ‘Austen-y’ vibe from it, and wanted to design a shrug that would go with that vibe. I think it worked out pretty nicely.

Free pattern and photo step-by-step tutorial to crochet this sweet vintage-style shell shrug!

It’s such a cute addition to girly little outfits, and I love how it has come out both times I’ve made it. It works up so quickly, looks so sweet, and I think the shell pattern is really lovely. Although I haven’t made it in a child or adult size yet, I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be easily adapted to a bigger size (and if you do this, would you let me know how it goes? I’d love to see it on an older kid or an adult!). I’m including the short, abbreviated pattern way down at the bottom of this post so feel free to get your scrolling finger ready if you’re a seasoned crocheter, but if you would benefit from a more in-depth approach, I hope you’ll find the step-by-step photos helpful.

And as is always the case with patterns/tutorials on my blog, feel free to sell any items you make! I’d love a link back to my blog as your pattern source if you decide to sell online, please and thank you and have a nice day.

Darcy’s Vintage Shell Shrug
- You can use any weight yarn for this project (obviously, worsted or thinner yarns will make a more lightweight shrug while a bulky yarn will be, well, bulky). For the white shrug pictured above on itty bitty little 4-month old Darcy, I used Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend in Bakery Box White. This yarn was wonderful for this shrug—deliciously soft and comfortable against baby’s skin, and offered a bit of warmth for spring wear without being overwhelmingly hot as the weather heated up. For the beige shrug (worn with the coral dress on big chunky 8-month old Darcy), I used LB Collection Cotton Bamboo in Magnolia. It was fantastic for this project, too—the cotton yarn really shows off the stitch pattern nicely, and it’s very lightweight and comfortable on warmer days. I would highly recommend either of those options (or whatever other yarn you fancy!). For a baby-sized shrug, one skein of either of these yarns will be plenty.

- Gauge is unimportant in this pattern—use whatever hook size works well for your choice of yarn. I would recommend using a larger size hook than you typically might in order to keep the shell pattern open and airy. I used a J hook for the shrugs pictured here.

- The shrug is made by making a large-ish rectangle in the shell stitch, then bringing the ends together and partially sewing them to create sleeves. The cuffs and collar are added afterward. See the pictures for details—hopefully they will make the construction sufficiently clear!

- I have made this in a 3-6 month and 6-12 month size, so I’ll include the details for those sizes in the pattern below. I think it should be easy to adapt to bigger sizes, and if you do so, I’d love to hear/see how it turned out!

Row 1: Start by working foundation single crochet in multiples of 6 + 1. If you aren’t sure how to do foundation single crochet, today is a great day to learn it. A chain followed by a row of single crochet won’t give the shrug enough stretch and will probably be uncomfortable and fit poorly, so head over to YouTube and learn! For Darcy’s 3-6 month size shrug, I started with 37 fsc (a multiple of 6 (36) plus 1 = 37). For the 6-12 month size shrug, I started with 43 (multiple of 6 (42) plus 1 = 43).


Row 2: Begin shell stitch. Chain 1 and turn, then work 1 single crochet in the first single crochet of the foundation row. Skip 2 stitches, then work 5 dc in the next stitch. These 5 double crochets all worked into one stitch make your first shell.

first shell stitch

Skip 2 stitches, then work 1 single crochet in the following stitch (this “anchors” the shell). Skip 2 stitches, then repeat across the remainder of the row, working 5 double crochets into the next stitch, skipping 2 stitches, and working 1 single crochet into the following stitch.

first row of shell stitch

Row 3: Chain 3 and turn your work. (This chain acts as the first double crochet of the row.)

ch3, turn

Work 2 double crochets into the same stitch that the chain of 3 emerges from.

half shell

Skip 2 stitches, then work 1 single crochet into the next stitch (this is the center of the 5 double crochet shell of the previous row).

1 sc in center of shell

Skip 2 stitches, then work 5 double crochets in the following stitch (which is the single crochet between shells of the previous row).

5 dc

Repeat across the remainder of the row, working 1 single crochet in the center of each shell of the previous row, and working 5 double crochets into the stitch between shells of the previous row. When you reach the end of the row, end with 3 double crochets in the final stitch.

2 rows of shell stitch

The shells of each row will be staggered with the shells of the previous row, which is hopefully clear in the picture above. ^^

Row 4: chain 1 and turn, then start with 1 single crochet in the first stitch of the row. Continue with your shell pattern (skip 2 stitches, work 5 double crochets in following stitch, skip 2 stitches, work 1 single crochet in following stitch, repeat).

row 3

You will continue with the shell pattern, repeating rows 3 and 4, until your rectangle is the right length. To figure out what length you need, just hold the rectangle against the back/shoulders and fold the short ends together around your arms—they need to meet comfortably around your arms. For the 3-6 month size shrug, I ended up with measurements of 10.5 inches on the long end and 7 inches ‘tall.’ For the 6-12 month size shrug, it was roughly 12 inches across and 8.5 inches ‘tall’.

When you’ve reached the right ‘height’ for your shrug, you’ll need to even out the shell pattern to get a smooth/straight edge.

(In the pictures below, my previous row was a repeat of row 3. If you ended on a repeat of row 2 or 4, the evening out will be slightly different, but it should be fairly obvious what to do once you see the pattern. Or just add another row so you end with row 3.)

Start with a chain 1 and turn your work. Slip stitch in the first double crochet of the previous row, single crochet in the next double crochet, half double crochet in the next double crochet, and work a double crochet in the single crochet between shells of the previous row. This mimics the height of the shell and straightens it out. Then work up the next shell of the row by placing a half double crochet in the first stitch, then a single crochet in the next, and a slip stitch in the center of the shell. Work back down the other side of the shell by following that same pattern in reverse: single crochet in the following stitch, then half double crochet in the next, and double crochet in the stitch between shells. See how that works?

even out shell pattern

Repeat across the row. Lay the rectangle out flat and bring the long ends together (‘hot dog style’) and slip stitch just across the first inch or two of the long ends to create sleeves. Fasten off and repeat on the other side.

slip st to make sleeve openings

Check the fit before continuing on—for a baby size, you really have to be careful not to sew too far when making the sleeves. In the picture below, for instance? I sewed too far! I actually had to go back and undo it a bit to get the fit right. Be careful and check the fit before you move on.


Once again, use this picture as a guide of how to sew it and not how far to sew it. For the 3-6 month size shrug, this was too much! I went back and undid it, leaving only about an inch sewn together and that was perfect for Darcy. It’s easier to go back and sew more than to pick it apart.

Now on to the collar and cuffs!

Join your yarn somewhere in that inner circle of the shrug (I started at the seam, but you don’t have to), chain 1, and single crochet evenly around the entire circle. Slip stitch to join with the starting chain, chain 1, and single crochet evenly around. Continue to reach the desired collar length (I did 3 rows). Repeat this process for the arm openings to create the sleeve cuffs. If you’d like, you can go down a hook size or more on the cuffs to create a more fitted cuff. I did 3 rows on the cuffs using a J hook, then 3 more rows with an H hook.)


Weave in all your ends, and you’re done!

Free pattern and step-by-step photo tutorial to crochet this sweet little shrug!

And the shortened, photo-free version of the pattern.

Darcy’s Vintage Shell Shrug

Row 1: fsc in multiple of 6 + 1 to desired measurement—measure from one elbow, up arm and across the back/shoulders, then down to the other elbow. (for 3-6 month size, I did 37 fsc; for 6-12 month size, I did 43 fsc). Ch 1, turn.

Row 2: (begin shell stitch) 1 sc in first st of foundation row, *skip 2 st, 5 dc in next st, skip 2 st, 1 sc in next st.* Repeat from * to * to end of row. Turn.

Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), work 2 dc in same st as ch 3, *skip 2 dc, 1 sc in next dc (center of shell of previous row), skip 2 dc, 5 dc in next sc.( Repeat from * to * to end of row, ending the row with 3 dc in the final sc. Turn.

Row 3: Ch 1, 1 sc in first st, *skip 2 dc, 5 dc in next sc, skip 2 dc, 1 sc in next dc.* Repeat form * to * to end of row, ending last repeat with 1 sc in top of the ch 3 turning chain.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until desired length is reached. It must be long enough to cover the upper back/shoulders, and when the shorter ends are brought together (‘hot-dog style’), they must be able to touch around the upper arms. (See photos above.)

Even out shell stitch. If you ended on row 2: ch 1, turn. sl st in 1st dc, sc in next, hdc in next, dc in sc between shells, hdc in next, sc in next, sl st in next, sc in next, hdc in next, dc in next. Repeat across row.

Fold long ends together, sl st from edges in just a few inches to create the sleeves. Be careful and check the fit!!! You probably need to sl st less than you might think!

Join yarn at inside seam, ch 1, and sc evenly around to create collar. Join to ch 1 with sl st. Ch 1, sc in each st around. Repeat to desired collar length. (I did 3 rows.)

Repeat for sleeve openings. If desired, decrease by 1 or 2 hook sizes for a more fitted cuff. (I did 3 rows with J hook, then 3 more rows using H hook).

Weave in ends.


Please let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to see pictures of your finished work—share them on my facebook page! And to see more of my crochet projects/tutorials, click the crochet tab.


  1. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing the pattern! I hear you. We like to plan sports and stuff in the morning and have a whole day for playing.

  2. You're the best, thank you so much Rachel! So precise and easy to follow.

  3. Oh man, another thing to crochet before my baby girl's due! Thank you for sharing this adorable pattern, and with such thorough instructions.

  4. Love the shrug and really love that your baby's name is Darcy!! That's my name and very rarely do I see it!! She is precious, by the way!

  5. Fantastic!!! They look great! I'm so excited to hem mine up. Don't know why I never thought of this before. You did a great job!

  6. You're welcome! I'd love to see pictures if you make it!

  7. Thank you! I've loved the name Darcy for years and years, I'm so glad I got the chance to use it! It's a good one :-)

  8. This worked up perfectly! I made adjustments for a 12-18 month size and am hoping/planning to make one for Emma, too. I'll take pictures of Chlor wearing hers tomorrow and send them to you. :) Thanks for sharing with all of your fellow yarn addicts!

  9. Oh my gosh. I don't think that I've ever seen anyone putting crochet shrugs on babies and it's so so perfect. Adorable.

  10. I am planning to try this! I'll make a baby one and a matching one for big sister!

  11. I can't believe you can fit these kind of projects in before lunch! You're awesome, and Darcy looks adorable as always.

  12. It must have been a slow morning ;-) Thanks!

  13. Hi Rachel, I want to make this as a surprise b'day gift for a friend. I'd guess she's about your size. Can you give me a ballpark length for the foundation chain you would make for yourself. If not possible that's cool :-)

  14. I don't have a number of chains for you, but I just measured (attempted to measure, the best I could do by myself!) and for someone roughly my size, I'd shoot for a foundation chain roughly 33-36" long. Good luck!

  15. That's a big help, thanks! Will post a pic on FB when I'm finished.

  16. Just a quick the written directions (with no pix) you numbered your rows incorrectly. You wrote row 1,2,2,3 and then said repeat rows 2, 3 until it is the correct length is reached. What the heck, two row 2s? I thought "did she mean 1,2,3,4 rows and then repeat 3,4 for the desired length? Looked at the pictorial instructions and, yes, you just did a couple of small row number typos. :-)

  17. Gah! So much for my proofreading. Thanks for letting me know!

  18. Not a problem :-) I'm nearly finished with the shrug for my friend and will post a pic when finished :-)

  19. Finished!!! Thank you so much for your foundation size suggestion. BTW, I really love that FSC thing, awesome way to start a project. It's small on me so I think it will fit my friend, fingers crossed! This is really a beautiful pattern you came up with and so graciously shared.

  20. Thank you for sharing not only your lovely patterns but your beautiful family. Seems like Darcy has an older sibling please don't get offended if I am wrong but looks like a big brother and from the quick look I got from the instragram she looks very pleased to be near him. Bet he sometimes wants to have time to himself even if he's a loving brother. My lot did. I am going to try upscaling your pattern soon and making 2 for my granddaughters size 8 and 10 and then or before them another 2 for my beautiful nieces age 2 and 4. Will let you know. Love and Happiness for your family.

  21. Thank you for that sweet comment! I'd love to see pictures of your finished work if you'd like to share :-)


Thanks for commenting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...