The Self-Made Wardrobe Garments


The Perfect Transitional Sweater

knitted sweater

sweater blocking

This is not my typical type of sweater.

I’m not usually into short-sleeved sporty-looking hand-knit wool sweaters. But that’s what this sweater wanted to be, so that’s what this sweater is.

I tried to take down the sporty feel – that just looked half-assed.

I tried adding sleeves – they threw off the proportions – plus I ran out of yarn.

I tried doing turned hems – they were bulky.

I thought about doing buttons instead of a zipper – that felt wrong on every level – plus I love zippers on knits.


Once the body was done, instead of working a hem, I went back and added ribbing. I unpicked the bind off, dropped each stitch that I wanted to change from a knit to a purl, and picked them back up with a crochet hook.

This was definitely the right idea – even though it took forever and a half.

The turned hems were bulky, and sloppy, and felt heavy, whereas the ribbing is sleek and wonderful, and keeps the bottom hem from curling up beautifully.

adding a zipper to a hand knit sweater

My favorite part of this sweater is, by far, the zipper. I adore zippers in knits.

I’d never sewing a zipper into a hand-knit before, and am quite proud of how it came out. (Now I want to add zippers to all my sweaters.)

basting a zipper into a hand knit

I put the zipper in by hand. First basting it in (to hold it in place, and help line up the stripes), and then using a back-stitch to sew it in properly.

zipper in a hand knit sweater

Even with basting, the stripes are the teeniest smidge off (about half a row, most obviously on the first white stripe), which I’m a bit annoyed about.

Though not annoyed enough to take out and reattach the zipper.


And despite my face in this photo, I really do like this sweater.

It isn’t something I’d ever pick up in a store (theme!), but I’m really glad it’s part of my wardrobe. There’s something to be said for expanding your comfort zone.

And it really is kind of the perfect sweater for weird transitional weather.


Graphic Silk Circle Skirt – when what I love to sew meets what I love to wear

self-made wardrobe take 1self-made wardrobe day 77Day-79

This is one of my absolute favorite pieces in my self-made wardrobe. It’s a very versatile piece, without being a true “basic.”

I made it one morning way back in June (during the first try at this project) when I was absolutely sick of everything in my closet.


It’s a two layer, square shaped circle skirt, with an elastic waist, and handkerchief hem, made out of a 100% silk printed fabric.

It has two layers of fabric, one on top of the other. (That I then rotated so they’re offset from one another – more of an explanation.)
A circle skirt is made by laying your fabric flat and cutting two circle, one within the other, the outer circle becomes to the hem of your skirt, while the inner circle becomes your waist. For this skirt, instead of shaping the hem as a circle, I shaped it as a square.
It has an elastic waist, so it’s wonderfully comfortable.
A handkerchief hem is a hem with points which, in this skirt, are created by shaping the hem like a square.
The fabric is a lightweight 100% silk with a really beautiful graphic print.

black & white graphic printed silk fabric

I picked up this fabric on a whim, mostly because of the print.

I love black & white prints, and it’s one of the places where what I love sewing and what I love wearing meet.

More often than not, what I love making isn’t what I love wearing (lace shawls for example), and what I love wearing isn’t what I love making (mostly because it’s boring).

Black & white graphic prints being one of the exceptions. They’re prints, which make them interesting to sew, and they’re black & white which makes them easy to wear. Love.


This is definitely and absolutely one of my favorite pieces.


Hand-Knit Sweater Dress – I highly doubt I’d wear this dress if I hadn’t knit it

hand knit sweater dress 2

hand knit sweater dress

The minute I decided I was actually going to do the self-made wardrobe project I started rummaging through my yarn and fabric to see what I already had on hand.

I came across a huge ball of lace weight yarn in fairly ghastly colors, but it was a beautiful yarn, with a great drape, so I figured I would just overdye* whatever I made with it.
*overdying is when you re-dye something (yarn, fabric, clothes, whatever) that’s already been dyed, so it’s a different color than it was originally dyed

The results were unexpected, and pretty spectacular. That being said, I would never wear this dress if I hadn’t knit it.

Never, ever, ever.

I don’t do pink.
I don’t do brown.
I don’t do tan.
I don’t do green.

I guess this is the exception that proves the rule…

sweater dress

Unfortunately the ball was unlabeled when I pulled it out of my yarn stash (oops), so I don’t know what the yarn is, or what the color way is, or what the yardage is. But I’m guessing that it’s a wool/silk blend, and that the yardage was around 1,000 yards.

ETA 10/25/14: I did a little digging and I think the yarn just might be “Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace” in the colorway “Vera.” In which case it’s a 50/50 wool/silk blend, with 1,250 yards per skein.

I wanted a simple straightforward lace weight sweater pattern, and the “Silken Straw Summer Sweater” from The Purl Bee was perfect. I loved how simple the design was,  that it was written for a lace weight, and that I got gauge (almost).

Since I didn’t know how much yardage I had, I wanted to knit my sweater from the top-down, so I reworked the pattern to be top-down. I also eliminated some of the neckline shaping so that the front and back scooped evenly.

Other than that I basically worked the pattern as written – but backwards.
So increases became decreases, decreases became increases, cast-ons became bind-offs, and bind-offs became cast-ons, etc.

(I also did a garter ridge around each hem just before attaching the i-cord – I don’t remember if that’s in the original pattern or not.)


Because I kept going back and forth on over-dyeing I finished knitting this sweater way back in May, but then it sat on my desk unblocked until a couple weeks ago.

hand knit sweater dress 3

Overall, I really love how it turned out. It’s a weird, funky, unexpected, (hard to style), self-made wardrobe win.