Handmade Wardrobe Planning: Part 1

I have been wanting a completely handmade wardrobe for as long as I’ve known about the concept of sewing. Later, this was reinforced by my learning other textile skills, such as crochet, knitting, and weaving. I’ve been slowed down by lack of time, resources, and skills, but I’m ready to start putting a more intentional step forward to at least get started.

As you may have guessed, I spend a lot of time toodling around the internet. Due to this habit, I’ve stumbled across some interesting articles that have both fed my desire to make ALL.THE.THINGS. and to narrow my focus so that I can actually make things that I’ll use.

The first article I want to talk about is by Ann Lupton on Boho Chic Fiber Co. In “Knit for YOUR Style“, she talks about something that I dread. The very first line:

“Have you ever spent hours to hand knit a sweater only to not want to wear it?

The absolute horror. I’ve done this. I have this precise sweater in my closet right this moment. I’ve worn it once, to take photos for Ravelry, and then it was put back away and never worn again.

So, this article really resonates with me. It’s a guide to help create things that fit in with your wardrobe, that you love, and that you’ll actually wear. This comes in four parts:

  1. Really think about your style.
  2. Be intentional about colors and fibers (and fabrics if you’re sewing).
  3. Find and follow designers or yarn companies that you resonate with.
  4. Think in terms of your whole wardrobe.

She even includes three pages of worksheets to help you get to the nitty-gritty of it. Below, I’ve typed out my answers (at least for knitting, since I have a better understanding of that than sewing right now).

For garment knitting, I prefer to use stockinette or other simple textures. I enjoy lace and cable details, but prefer they be accents rather than all-over designs. I also love working on colorwork, but I need large projects to be fairly portable to ensure I have time to work on them, so it’s better if the colorwork is easily memorizable or only as details, like edgings.

I want to feel comfortable and able to relax in my hand knits. Ease of movement and the ability to contort myself into “reading poses” (don’t tell me you don’t get into odd curled-up positions while you read, because I won’t believe you) are important. The ability to layer pieces is also important (less laundry if you only have to wash the under layer after each wear). So, loose-fitting, kind of flowy, nice flattering drape, stretchy, materials with good memory (aka, animal fibers with a tendency toward wool), breathable, cozy.

Common themes in what I wear are leggings (I would live in them exclusively if I owned more pairs), loose-fitting shorts, jeans, loose t-shirt style tops, light tank tops and camisoles for layering, light weight sweaters (that I constantly roll the sleeves up to hit at 3/4 length), hoodies, ballet flats, Converse, and loose cardigans. In colder weather, I also wear slouchy beanies, fingerless mitts, and lightweight shawls as scarves. We won’t go into the amount of socks I wear at any given time, but I need slippers for around the apartment. I also try to exercise fairly regularly, so athletic leggings, sneaker socks, sports bras, racerback tanks, zip-front athletic jackets, and light layers for hiking and snow sports (these would be more sewing-type things for the most part due to the fabrics needed).

Some styles and types of clothing I find inspirational are bohemian styles, Mori Girl fashions, traditional Scandinavian garb, and “witchy”-ish looks. I know that all of these have a pretty strong tie-in with dresses and skirts, but I’d rather achieve that silhouette with long tunics. I also love a lot of Japanese knitwear patterns that I’ve seen on Ravelry and have a lot of designers favorited who would fall into that category.

I’ve mentioned in my blog a few times that I love Stephen West’s designs, but I prefer his accessories rather than garments. Shawls for days, though. Always shawls for days. Nim Teasdale, Kieran Foley, and Josh Ryks as well. Lots of color and texture for shawls that look like a joy to knit. Slyvia McFadden, Caitlin ffrench, and Nat Raedwulf all have witchy designs that are more muted and functional, but have little texutes design elements that pop and keep things interesting. Andrea Mowry has woodsy style functional knits with simple shapes and details. Melanie Berg and Ash Alberg kind of fit into all of these categories, so far. Susanne Sommer and Ambah O’Brien kind of follow along with the Stephen West trend, but have more feminine touches and I like Susanne’s garment style a little more for statement pieces without being too over-the-top. Judith Brien and Anke Strick have cozy-but-functional sweaters that are styled nicely in the gray and neutral tones. Purl Soho staff designs are kind of my go-to for simple neutral inspiration. Joji Locatelli is on this list, of course, but a lot of her designs are kind of all over the place and are more the exception than the rule (all over texture and stitch patterns, stripes and lace, etc). Veera Välimäki is very much in line with Joji. Isabell Kraemer sweaters and cardigans could fill my closet and I would be overjoyed. I’m working on one right now and the whole thing makes me happy (I just wish there were more size options so I wouldn’t have to attain her gauge).
(WOW that turned out quite a bit longer than I thought it would…)

Muted, earthy, and neutral colors are really cozy, but I also like to have pops of color (usually cooler tones of colors). I love knitting with color, but I think that my accessory knitting should front the bulk of it. I love superwash wools, especially merino, Corridale, and BFL. Alpaca, angora, and cashmere are nice if they’re blended into other fibers, but feel too soft on their own. I also prefer cotton and linen blended into synthetic or animal fibers. On their own, they’re too “sticky” to work with and are really difficult to get a solid, even fabric.

Listing yarn companies is a bit challenging because I usually just get yarn I like, regardless of where it comes from. I do want to work with more handspun and indie dyed yarns. I also have a bad habit of getting high-contrast colors because they’re pretty. However, soft hand and functional is always a winner as far as I’m concerned.

Types of garments… So, the types of garments I would knit are positive ease pullovers and cardigans, tops with interesting details for layering, SOCKS, shawls (mostly triangle, crescent, and asymmetric because they’re easy to style), slouchy beanies, mitts, tunics… Yeah, I think that covers it for wearables…

And finally, dislikes. Bulky weight. Lace weight. Form-fitting. Solid brights and neons (accents are okay). Fluffy/novelty yarns. Worsted spun plant fibers. Bamboo. Gauzy loose gauge for garments (I need to wear underwear, so I’d like to be able to, thanks). Too-tight sleeves or chest or neck or belly (or anything, I guess). All-over complex cables on a large garment. Scalloped or lace borders on anything other than a shawl and sometimes a camisole. BOBBLES (nupps on lightweight shawls are passable). While I like the look of cardigans that have the drapey rectangle fronts, I don’t like wearing them as much. Too-short body of sweaters (I have a long torso). Bracelet length sleeves. Cap sleeves. Flutter sleeves. Peter Pan or similar collars. Single spun yarn on anything thicker than a sport weight. Excessive pilling. Scratchy yarn. White (I’m okay with light neutrals and some natural, but white is a no-go).

A lot of that was kind of just automatic typing. I don’t know how completely all those prompts are answered, but I did my best.

More on Handmade Wardrobe Planning to come!


8 thoughts on “Handmade Wardrobe Planning: Part 1

  1. great post and so true that it’s important to knit what will flatter you. it’s so easy too get swayed by the beautiful picture or funky yarn. I always try to think about the shape of things I would buy. 😊


    1. Thank you! I get caught up in that sort of thing fairly often (as my massive slashing of patterns from my Ravelry queue this past week will attest), but Ann Lupton made a lot of good points in her article. I’d been meaning to go through her worksheets for a while and it fleshed out a lot of fuzzy ideas.


      1. I like Amy Herzog as well, and have read several articles she has written.

        One of the reasons I haven’t followed her more closely in recent years is because of the design elements she used to draw attention to or from specific areas of the body. They looked nice, but they weren’t design elements I’d actually wear, like a heavy cowl neck or lots of heavy cables down the middle.

        Thank you for the reminder, though. I did intend to reread her articles.


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