The Self-Made Wardrobe Garments


Spinning Yarn for a Sweater

handknit handspun swatches

handspun yarn

handspun sweater

It wasn’t actually too long after I got into knitting that I also took up spinning. There’s something immensely satisfying about knitting with handspun yarn, it’s so much more “alive” than most mill spun yarn.

Though unlike knitting and sewing, my spinning mojo seems to come and go more with more frequency.

Because of this, I tend to spin accessory quantities of yarn, and I’ve never knit a sweater entirely out of handspun before.
*the main exception being the yarn I knit the swatches for the first Shawl Geometry book – that was about 1,000 yards of spindle spun lime green light fingering/heavy lace weight…

This sweater started when Michele offloaded a a giant ball of camel colored alpaca fiber on me – I figured it was about 8 oz or so and started spindle spinning it into a 2ply lace weight – which is my favorite yarn to spin (as well as knit).

spinning alpaca yarn

3 oz of lace weight spinning later, I hadn’t made a dent. I was sick of the project, and it turns out that ball of fiber was closer to 12 oz.
(I know, I should have weighed it.)

Thankfully Michele had recently gotten a Hansen miniSpinner and she let me use it to finish spinning the last 9 oz. (Which I don’t have photos of – booooo!)

So, I have 3 oz of very thin spindle spun camel colored alpaca (about 250 yards/228.5 meters), and 9 oz of much thicker miniSpinner spun camel colored alpaca (about 500 yards/457 meters).

750 yards (686 meters) total – not enough for a sweater, and too much for most accessories. At this point, I kind of had my heart set on knitting a sweater out of this handspun yarn.

spindle spinning

So, enter 2 oz of beautiful grey BFL,* which I spindle spun into 250 yards (228.5 meters) of lace weight yarn.
*BFL is short for “bluefaced leicester,” which is a type of sheep.

All together everything added up to approximately 1,000 yards (914.5 meters) and 14 oz of handspun yarn. I would be cutting it super close, but I might have just enough yardage for a handspun & hand knit sweater.

In the end, I cut it super close, I only had a couple grams left over, but I knit a sweater out of handspun yarn!

Since this post is already getting a little long, I’ll save the nitty-gritty sweater details for tomorrow.

handspun sweater


A Black Maxi Skirt – super easy to wear, damn hard to photograph




At the beginning of the self-made wardrobe project there were a couple of days when I would make a new piece of clothing in the morning, and then wear it out that afternoon – this skirt was one of those projects, I made it on Day 12.

The projects that I often end up wearing the most are these sorts of straightforward, simple to sew and easy to wear projects – and were often made at the last minute (the graphic silk circle skirt, and the cascading flowers skirt.)


Fun fact about this skirt: If you look closely, you can see a bit of navy thread peeking out at the top of the slit. All of the internal finishing and inside seams are sewn with navy blue thread, because I was almost out of black – the only black thread in the skirt is the stitching on the hem and slit.

-An unknown quantity of an unknown fabric. I think it’s a rayon? Maybe?
-Black thread
-Navy thread
-1” wide elastic


Super straightforward & improvised. It’s a very simple maxi skirt made of three rectangles of fabric and some elastic for the waistband. It has rolled hems, and a mid-thigh high slit to make walking possible.

I sewed the two rectangles together at the side seams for the main body of the skirt (leaving one side mostly open for the slit), attached an elastic waistband and hemmed the bottom hem & sides of the slit with a rolled hem.

The simplicity of the project. It was fast to make, it’s easy to wear, and these are the types of projects I wear all the time.

Remember to buy black thread. Seriously.
Black thread is one of those things I use all the time, and never remember to buy, which is not the best state of affairs – especially for someone who does a lot of last minute and middle of the night sewing.


PS. Fun fact about this post: photographing a matte black skirt in any sort of potentially interesting manner is really damn hard. (Kind of like a boring black sweater.)


The First of Many Archers

Archer Button Up Shirt


I’ve been planning on making at least one button up shirt since the very beginning of this self-made wardrobe project. The Archer pattern from Grainline Studios was perfect, and after this one I plan on making at least two more, (one of them in a solid so I don’t need to do any pattern matching).


– 3.5 yards (45″ wide) of a very lightweight basic plaid cotton that I got at Elegant Fabrics in NYC

– 10 1/2 inch “la petite” buttons with a fake metallic looking finish (they say “not recommended for washing or dry cleaning,” which I didn’t notice when I was buying them – so we’ll see how the hold up in the wash)

– lightweight black fusible interfacing

– basic black thread

Archer button up shirt - back view


“Archer” from Grainline Studio – Jen did a great sew a long on the Grainline Studio blog, which I followed for some of the steps, since the instructions included with the pattern are concise


I cut a size 4, then added about 5 inches (12.7 cm) of length to the body, because I like my button up shirts long.

I also added 1 inch (2.5 cm) of length to the sleeves, which makes the sleeves a smidge too long when the sleeves are rolled down, but the absolute perfect length when they’re rolled up (which is how I always wear them.)

I made view A, and did an inverted box pleat at the center back.

Archer button up shirt

What Worked Well

Most things.

I love the fabric, I love the pattern, I love the fit, I love the length, and I’ve been wearing it basically nonstop since I finished it (and even before it had buttons). Now that it’s winter, the heat is cranked up, and since I don’t have control over my heat, it makes the perfect light indoor layer.

When it came to attaching the yoke, I used the “rolled up burrito” method that Jen wrote about during the sew-a-long, and loved it. I hadn’t done it before and it’s so much easier than anything else.

What I’d Do Differently

I placed the center of the box pleat at the center back, on one of the white plaid stripes, and I really wish I had centered it on the yellow stripe that’s less than an inch to the left. It’s hard to see in the photos, but feels a little off kilter in person.

There isn’t much I’d actually do differently, I’d just pay much more attention when cutting because there was a fabric and/or pattern piece wibble, which led to the left front being off grain, which means the center front stripes don’t match up.

To be fair, I do my pattern cutting on the floor of my living room, which involves sometimes stepping on my fabric to get to the other side to move pieces around. I’ve been doing this for years without a hiccup, so I was probably long overdue for a mishap.

Archer scowl

Lets Talk Pattern Matching

(in sewing pattern matching is where you cut your fabric so that the fabric matches across a seam – kind of like in knitting when you increase/decrease within a stitch pattern, the goal is to create shaping without interrupting the patterning – it can sometimes get a tad crazy making.)

I laid my pieces so that the body of the shirt would match (side seams & center front). I’m not super concerned about the sleeves matching the fronts, or the cuffs matching the sleeves.

I cut the yoke, and the right front button band are cut on the bias, so no stripe matching necessary there.
(for the people who don’t sew: when talking about woven fabric, “on the bias” means” at a 45 degree angle from the warp, vertical threads, and weft, horizontal threads – since, in this fabric, the stripes are made with the warp and weft, cutting on the bias gives you a piece with diagonal stripes – more about warp & weft here.)

So I pattern matched the sides and center fronts, but then something happened to my left front that caused it to slip (probably me stepping on the fabric), this caused the center fronts to no longer line up, and it also means that I cut the left center front off grain (not quite parallel to the warp, vertical threads). Sad panda.

Unfortunately I didn’t notice it until I was attaching the pockets, and didn’t have enough fabric to recut the piece. Super sad panda.

Want to see exactly how far off it is?

Archer center front close up

And the most annoying part?

Archer button up shirt - side seam

Look at how well that side seam matches!!!! You can barely find the damn seam! Grrrr!!!

Ah well. If I wore my button up shirts closed it would be one thing, and I’d figure out how to make the misalignment less noticeable (probably by adding a wide bias button band to the left front to help fool your eye).

However since I never close my button up shirts – unless it’s stupidly cold (in which case I don’t care about much and hopefully wouldn’t be wearing this shirt), or I’m taking photos to show you how far off the stripe matching is, – I decided it’s something I can live with.

At least the not-matching-ness at the center front isn’t noticeable while the shirt is open.

Archer button up shirt

Archer button up cuff

I did however, get a touch of totally unintentional pattern matching on my right sleeve cuff. Maybe it was a consolation prize.

Archer button up shirt - back yoke