The Self-Made Wardrobe Garments


Knitting my “Boring Black Sweater”


I have a love-hate relationship with basics.

I love wearing them.
I hate making them.

This creates a little bit of tension in my self-made wardrobe.

I’ve talked a little bit before about the disconnect between what I love wearing, and what I love making. I love making really complicated & technically challenging, colorful & intricate & interesting things, while I love wearing basics – tank tops, jeans (they’re coming! – eventually…) and straight forward stockinette sweaters.

Sewing basics is pretty boring.
Knitting basics is a nightmare of boredom.

But a nightmare that’s kind of worth it.

basic black sweater

I’ve dubbed this sweater the “Boring Black Sweater.”

It’s a solid black, basic pullover, knit in stockinette stitch, in lace weight yarn on a US size 4 (3.5mm) needle. Which, if you don’t knit, is tiny yarn on a not-so-tiny-but-certainly-not-large needles, in a very basic knitting stitch.

The yarn is “Forest Hills” from Cascade in color #3 “Anthracite” (black). I love this yarn for shawls. But I wouldn’t really recommend it for garments because of how much this sweater is pilling.

The pattern is a basic, yoked pullover, worked from the top-down, with a wide neckline, and turned hems on the sleeves and body.

Knitting it was really boring.

It was so boring, in fact, that I knit the sleeves too way short. And once the sweater was all done I cut off the cuff, picked up the stitches on the sleeve, knit a couple more inches, and graphed the cuff back on.

Even so the sleeves ended up being bracelet length, which isn’t what I had in mind, but works fine.

basic black sweater sleeve

Even though it was kind of a nightmare to knit, I love this sweater. It works with just about everything in my wardrobe, and is the perfect thin layer to wear under or over something.

From now on though, I think I’ll stick to sewing, instead of knitting, my basics.



arrrggghhh! – the I’m a pirate skirt

Moonstruck Cardigan and Pirate Skirt


Pirate Striped Skirt

I absolutely adore this skirt!

The fabric is some sort of striped rayon (I think) that I inherited from my aunt, and the “pattern” is a pleated rectangle with an elastic waistband at the top.

I started making something else out of this fabric, and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but it obviously didn’t work out. I took that project apart, and pieced the pieces back into a rectangle of sorts. Then I pleated the top edge into wide overlapping pleats, that I then stitched into place.

I originally installed a zipper and had a proper waistband, but that made for a skirt that slipped & slid all over the place. So I removed the waistband & zipper, closed up the size seam, and added a thin elastic waistband above the pleating.

The elastic and the pleating kind of fight each other when it’s hanging on the hanger – the elastic pulls in, but the pleating doesn’t, so the elastic waistband ends up looking a little funky. But it’s perfect when I wear it, which is (really) the important part.

Moonstruck Cardigan and Pirate Skirt

(you bet I make these photoshoots do double duty.)

Pirate Skirt

My favorite part of this skirt, is the hemline.

Two of the pieces I ended up with after the unsuccessful first project were skinny and slightly angled. So I pieced those one above the other, and put that piece at the front of the skirt.

Instead of intentionally matching that accidental angle, on the other half of the skirt, to give the skirt a high-low hem,* I left the panel my right (the left side of the picture) as it was, and let the hem take a vertical nosedive to the floor.
*a high-low hem is a hem that is high in the front, and then dips lower in the back, they were huge on skirts and dresses a couple summers ago.

I love the asymmetricality of that bit of the hem, and the edge it gives the skirt.

The downside of this, is that the skirt is very long, which means I can only wear it with certain shoes, these nude booties being one of them.

As piecemeal as the construction of this skirt was, I’m pretty damn chuffed with how it came out.


PS. I’ve didn’t realize exactly how much TopGearUK I’ve been marathoning until I actually used “chuffed” in a sentence – I blame knitting my winter coat.


The Moonstruck Cardigan

Moonstruck Cardigan

DSC_0558(sorry about the blurriness – but it gives you an idea of the size of the collar)

Moonstruck Cardigan

I’ve never been too much of a sweater knitter (my thing was mostly lace shawls that I don’t wear). Prior to the self-made wardrobe project, I had finished:

1. a sweater for myself that I accidentally felted

2. a super straightforward & easy sweater that I knit during Hurricane Sandy

3. and this sweater, which I knit in the fall of 2010.

The pattern is “Moonstruck” by A. Karen Alfke, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and the yarn is Dream in Color “Classy.”

I knit the sweater on a US 7, and reworked the pattern to match my gauge. If I remember correctly, I did a bunch of math, and then just ended up knitting a size or two larger.

Amazingly enough, I’m not sure there’s anything I would change about this sweater. All-over ribbing. Asymmetrical front. Beautiful buttons. Set-in sleeves that are long enough(!)  And a dramatic collar. Total win!

I keep meaning to add a hook & eye to keep the bottom from gaping – after almost 4 years, I’ve accepted that’s never going to happen, so I usually just let the bottom gape, and if it’s a problem, I close it with a safety pin.

I think my favorite thing about this sweater is the color. I love that’s it’s almost-but-not-really a black. It’s kind of a “bad black.”

The yarn is “Classy” from Dream in Color, and the colorway is either “Black Pearl” or “Cocoa Kiss.” I think. I originally wanted to use “Black Pearl” but the shop didn’t have enough skeins, so I ended up with “Cocoa Kiss.” (This is what I get for not taking proper notes…) And either way I love how it turned out.

Moonstruck Cardigan

Moonstruck Cardigan

(This sweater could definitely use a date with a sweater Gleener.)