What You Need to Make - Building a Handmade Wardrobe pt. 3


So far we have looked at the joys of wearing handmade and how to discover what you wear. Now it is time to figure out how to combine the joys of handmade clothes with your everyday life.

Does What You Make Match What You Wear?

For a long time I kept knitting cardigans that were big & cosy. One after another hit the wardrobe shelf and they stayed there. After I did my own wardrobe assessment I realised I kept wearing short, fitted cardigans in navy, grey and mustard. No wonder I never wore my moss green cardigans!

If you have done the big wardrobe assessment I mention in part two, you should know what things you keep wearing. Look at your handmade items - and do they match what you wear? Are you making things in colours you actually wear? Are your handmade clothes the same silhouettes as your shop-bought favourites? Can you combine your shop-bought favourites with your handmade pieces? Why (not)?

Sept 2015 862-horz

Think Colour & Fibre

Jackie made a great point during the last instalment: you need to think about the fibre you'll use as well. Make things in fibres you know you like wearing and which will work with the project: cotton or cotton-blend shirts; alpaca cardigans; wool/nylon socks.. make sure the material you choose to use is practical (which is a broad church depending upon your lifestyle) and works for what you are making.

Also think about the colours you will be using. Aim to make something in your neutrals but also something in your core colours and accent colours. Make the colours work with what you are already wearing.

August 2015 1250-horz

How To Figure Out What To Make

While I am a big fan of making very special handmade items - a delicate shawl for a wedding or an amazing fair-isle hat to show off my colourwork skillz - I am an even bigger fan of wearing handmade things every day. So, let's think about the things you'll keep reaching for again and again.

By now you should have a good idea of what you tend to wear and in which colours. You should also have an idea of what items have proven to be wardrobe staples and which ones linger at the back of the shelf. Can you make any of these wardrobe staples yourself?

Basics Need Not Be Dull!

You'll probably want to make some basic staples for your wardrobe, but remember that these do not need to be all grey 4-ply stocking stitch cardigans or black trousers! Find some great everyday patterns and start thinking about which neutrals you keep wearing. Remember, you are not trying to imitate a machine-knitted cardigan from a high street shop, but you will be making a handmade item that fills the same spot in your everyday wardrobe.

Some examples of jumpers and cardigans I would knit/have already made for my own wardrobe: + River Pullover by Cecily Glowik MacDonald Stevie Cardigan by Sarah Hatton (long-sleeved version) + Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers

As you can see, they are fairly simple projects but have a bit of interest at the same time. Likewise, I designed my Scollay cardigan with the same notion: easy to wear but with some knitterly interest. Think about your favourite silhouettes and styles - and then start trawling Ravelry! Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration. I lean towards vintage & feminine - so make sure to seek our patterns that cater to your style.


Don't Stick To Basics!

I know. Counter-intuitive. However, your wardrobe consists of more than just basics. Think about your accessories as well. Do you keep wearing the same hat? Do you like to pep up your day with colourful brooches? Do you drag big tote bags around with you?

  • Having a gorgeous hat/cowl/gloves set that matches your favourite winter coat/jacket is a great way of wearing handmade with pride.
  • Making your own brooches not only get you an excuse to visit bead shops and haberdasheries, but it is also a nice way to introduce handmade items into a wardrobe that may be too formal to allow flamboyant knitted shawls (except on weekends).
  • Become the woman who always carries a stunning handmade purse with her. I know a stunning lady in her 50s who always looks immaculate - and her purses are always killer. Imagine my face when I found out she makes all her purses herself from re-purposed textiles!
  • I find having a rainbow of scarves/shawls invaluable - even the most neutral of outfits can be pepped up with a seriously bright shawl

Accessories are small, achievable projects - this is often important when embarking on making your wardrobe more handmade.

The last instalment will discuss how to gradually adopt the slow wardrobe approach - and how to do that on a budget and a regular life. Most slow fashion blogs I have seen tend to cater to people with far more disposable income and time than anybody I know, so I'll discuss how I'm approaching it and hopefully give you a few ideas!

From not knowing what to make to making things I love to wear: L-R - Jess, Brygga and Scollay. 2011 - January 122-horz

Happy making, folks x