Karie Bookish Dot Net

Wear What You Make – Building a Handmade Wardrobe pt 1.

Over the last couple of months of using Instagram regularly I’ve noticed something. I feel happier and relaxed when I wear something I have made. And so my thoughts turn towards the fabric stash and wanting to make things that will continue to make me happier and more relaxed. Reader, I bought a  sewing pattern with a view to make some wardrobe basics that’ll keep me as happy as my knitted items.

But what about knitting?

Knitting is my first love and I am so lucky that I get to design what I want to wear – and share it with everyone! Wearing what I make is the best feeling (and I’ve started using #wearwhatyoumake as my own personal hashtag to track my handmade wardrobe adventure) and it’s something I’m thinking hard about for 2016 too. Simply put: I want what I design & make to be easily integrated into an everyday wardrobe.

I recently spent some time going through my clothes. It’s a good exercise that keeps me aware of what I own, what I treasure, and what I keep wearing. I do this semi-frequently and I always learn something from doing it.


  • Colours lean towards teal, navy, mustard, and deep cool reds. Neutrals are navy blue and brown.
  • I tend to wear dresses more than anything.
  • I wear the denim, skirts and the cord skirts most. Pencil skirts get most wear.
  • I own two pairs of trousers (1 pair of jeans, one linen) which I rarely wear.
  • Three cardigans get most wear: the Stevie Cardigan (knitted in navy Rowan Wool Cotton) is beginning to show wear & tear; my brilliant Scollay cardigan; and the mustard yellow Hetty cardigan which goes with everything.
  • I still wear shawls but I have grown fond of very big shawls recently – I tend to wear Proserpine, Fika (currently floating around Britain as a sample – I miss it), Swale and Kirkja (it’s smaller but mustard yellow).
  • I shy away from cute patterns (owls, deer, moustaches) but love geometric patterns. Mostly I like to wear things made from plain fabrics.



From the observations, I have learned the following lessons:

  • I love bold colour combinations.
  • I need more cropped cardigans.
  • I need another navy cardigan and another mustard yellow cardigan.
  • And a brown cardigan. And a teal one.
  • I need to add pockets to skirts & dresses. Pockets are brilliant, yet rarely appear in high street women’s wear.
  • I need to make myself more skirts (I’ve said this every year since 1989 or thereabouts).
  • Handmade makes me happiest.

Obviously there are problems surrounding a handmade wardrobe: slow fashion takes time, money, and skill. I am privileged because I can devote time to building a handmade wardrobe (and can justify it by calling it work). Not everybody can do that and that is okay. A good place to start is to wear what you make (and think about whether you’ll wear what you are making) – but that is something I’ll explore in the next instalment!

Happy November, everyone!

9 Thoughts on “Wear What You Make – Building a Handmade Wardrobe pt 1.

  1. I’ve never understood why women’s clothing is so lacking in pockets. Not everyone wants to take a handbag everywhere they go!

    • Yes! I completely agree about pockets. Just about the only time I take a bag with me these days is to carry my knitting. Otherwise, it all gets stashed in a pocket.

  2. This is something I’m trying to work on (slowly but surely) too. Last week I was sick and I felt so much better because I had on a hand knit cardigan <3 I once wrote in my blog that wearing something handmade made me feel like I am wearing a talisman against the vagaries of the modern world, and that I’m convinced that objects we make with our own two hands are imbued with integrity, magic, and soul.

    Bill Buford writes about food in his book Heat: "Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity." I think this can be applied to our clothing too. I definitely feel defiant when I purchase patterns directly from creators to make my own warmth and style, and participate in creative work.

    Finally, I am obsessed with the concept of verum factum: The principle states that truth is verified through creation or invention and not, as per Descartes, through observation: “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giambattista_Vico#The_verum_factum_principle). So, I feel like you can't really know something until you try and make it yourself. If I'm interested in something, I want to make it to understand it.

    (I wear dresses most, have 2 pairs of jeans which look terrible on me but are useful for making art and other messy things, am crazy for big shawls, black, grey, jewel tones, strong earth tones, don't do cutesy but love vintagey and artsy.)

  3. Elaine on November 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm said:

    A really great post as I imagine a lot of us are makers of our wardrobes. Your choice of colors is great. I, too, really like the bright pops of color. Scollay is still in my queue but I think it’s up next.

  4. Thanks for your observations, Louise. I’ve been doing a similar thing recently.. Looking at what I own, which of them I love and deciding that slow fashion is for me and my aim is for less stuff, but also only things I make and only things I’ll treasure, wherever possible!

  5. This is a great post to remind us all that we should why we knit or sew. Knitting is without a doubt my biggest passion, but I also like to sew. The memademay-challenges made me realise I hardly have any handmade outfits, I seem to chose fabric with prints I can not combine with my knitting wear.

  6. Terrific post, and what a great point about pockets!

    I was reading about a woman named Melanie Gall who has written a couple of musicals about knitting during the World Wars. Apparently, there are thousands of songs from that period that reference knitting. Anyway, the shows also include some knitting history, and one thing she points out is the effect of knitting on women’s clothes, including the use of dresses with larger pockets so women could always have their knitting with them!

    I’ve loved that idea ever since – not that I’d want to start wearing a bunch of clothes with huge pockets, but regular-sized pockets are definitely useful, and the idea of knitting going everywhere makes my heart happy. :)

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