Crafting a Handmade Wardrobe

Crafting a Handmade Wardrobe

Making your own clothes takes a lot of time and energy, both limited resources. So how do we make the most of them? 

Be intentional. 

If your makes are going to be the sorts of things that truly bring you joy and that you wear over and over again, then you have to approach the process with a clear understanding of what your wardrobe needs, and how the piece you make will fit your lifestyle. 

I've been making for long enough now to know what it's like to make a piece I thought I would love only to have it sit in the closet un-worn for months at a time. I've also experienced the joy of a garment that I never want to take off and that becomes a staple in my wardrobe. 

Here are some of the things I've learned in my making journey that will help you curate your own handmade wardrobe.


1. Know your current wardrobe.

If you want to take your handmade wardrobe to the next level, you have to know which level you're starting from.

What are pieces you keep wishing you could reach for but don't have in your closet?

What colors are you drawn to over and over again, and what might be some colors you could add to complement or spice them up a bit?

Are there any seasons for which your wardrobe is lacking?

Your answers to these questions will help you determine the pieces you can make to round out your wardrobe and make it more functional.

For me, one piece that I know I would wear over and over again is a classic black turtleneck, so that is on my list of garments to make this year. I also love earth tones, so I know that things I make in that color family will get a lot of wear.

Knowing your current wardrobe will help you know what to make next.


Cardigan in-progress

2. Choose the right yarn for the pattern.

Yarn choice can make or break a garment. Ergo, you should take time to choose just the right yarn for each garment you make. Here are some factors you should consider:

- Yarn weight (e.g., fingering or DK)

- Yarn construction (e.g., woollen or worsted spun, how many plies)

- Fiber content (e.g., wool, cotton, acrylic, or a blend)

- Care requirements (e.g., superwash or non-superwash)

Each of these factors could provide the topic for an entire newsletter on it's own, so for now I'll leave you with one tidbit.

Woollen spun yarns make excellent garments. I've fallen in love with woollen spun yarns lately for several reasons. First, their lofty construction makes them incredibly lightweight compared to similar gauge worsted spun yarns. Second, that loft traps warmth, making them warm and cozy without being heavy or bulky. Finally, they often have a woolly character and softness that reminds you you're wearing something natural.

My Hobbiton Sport and Breeland bases are both woollen spun yarns, if you're interested in exploring some woollen spun goodness.


3. Take time to get the fit and wear right.

This is perhaps the most important element to making a piece you will wear again and again. Because, let's face it, if it doesn't fit, you're not going to wear it.

Many of us have experienced the disappointment of putting hours and weeks into making something beautiful, only to find that the completed garment doesn't fit the way we've hoped. 

When that happens, I usually do one of two things: wear it anyways and be stubbornly uncomfortable or let it sit in my closet nearly forgotten.

relatable gif

So how do we avoid the sad fate of ill-fitting garments?

Now, some of you might fight me on this, but the single most important aspect of getting a garment to fit is gauge; and to know what your gauge is, you have to swatch carefully.

Once again, this could be a topic for its own newsletter, and it's so important that I'll say it again. Careful swatching is an indispensable part of project planning.

Once you have determined your gauge with careful swatching, you will be better equipped to create not only a garment that fits well but also a fabric that will wear the way you want it.

Yes, an oft-overlooked aspect of swatching is the quality of the fabric produced.

Different yarns will create different fabrics at identical gauges, and this aspect of swatching has come for me to be even more important than stitch counts in a swatch. I can modify the pattern if needed to accommodate a slight difference in gauge, but I can't change the quality of a fabric after it's knit.

So if I want a denser or looser fabric, I swatch until I I have achieved a feeling that I like, and I find a way to make the numbers work.


While there is so much more that could be said about project planning and curating a handmade wardrobe, keeping these three things in mind will go a long way towards helping you plan your dream wardrobe.

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