I’ve been thinking for several months about a few pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t working for whatever reason. Many of us seem to enjoy sharing our finished makes online, myself included, but how often do we go back and talk about when things don’t work? Several years on from finishing a project, it can be very clear that it doesn’t fit your wardrobe needs or style the way you thought it would. Even if you love it.
In those cases, there are a few different options. The most passive approach is to simply let it sit in your closet/wardrobe/storage, either totally forgotten or occasionally haunting you when you remember it exists. I’ve had a few of those. More active responses to the realization that a piece doesn’t fit your life include selling it or giving it away to someone whose life or body it fits better, or choosing to re-work it or re-use the materials in a way that will work better for you.
I’ve done this at least once before – back in 2016 I frogged a sweater project that rarely got worn, and wrote a bit about it in the latter half of this post. That yarn later got turned into a basic raglan pullover that I wear all the time, although I don’t think that FO ever featured on the blog (I did post about it on Instagram, though). I think the success of that experience is part of what’s led me to consider other pieces that could use a similar treatment.
So, there are a few pieces of my handmade wardrobe that haven’t been working for a long time, and I’ve been devising plans for them. I’ve even started executing a few of those plans, in fact. I’d like to share the results of each transformation when I finish them, but I figured I’d share a bit about my plans here at this point.
First up, my Svalbard cardigan, knit back in 2014 (you can see the original FO post here). I think this is a lovely design, and I actually did wear this cardigan a lot in the first year or two after I knit it, particularly when we still lived in Seattle. But over time, it became less and less something I reached for, for a variety of reasons. It didn’t work as well in the colder climates we’ve lived in since Seattle (Norway and Montreal). A huge part of why this is true is that it doesn’t pass the Jacket Test (that’s my shorthand for the question: Can you put on a coat or jacket over it without too much faff? If yes, it passes; if no, it fails). I’ve learned that my clothes live and die by the Jacket Test. Over time, I felt like Svalbard was less flattering on me and I rarely reached for it, but I love the yarn I knit it with and would happily use it in another project. So a month or two ago I frogged it, and it felt good. I’m not sure yet what this yarn will become, but it’ll be ready for me when I’ve made up my mind.
Other pieces I have plans for:
- This simple gathered skirt sewn back in 2015. I’ll go more into detail after I’ve sewn a new skirt from this fabric, but suffice it to say that it turned out this skirt didn’t work as-is, and I deconstructed it this weekend in preparation for sewing it up into something that I hope will work much better. This plan was largely inspired by my success with the Fiore skirt.
- My Circlet Shrug, knit in 2017. This plan is also already in progress, and luckily it doesn’t involve any frogging, but just a simple addition to the garment: sleeves! My Circlet Shrug is becoming a Circlet Cardigan. I’m very excited about this transformation and hope to share the finished modifications soon!
- I’m also tentatively considering adding some length to the sleeves of my Lapwing pullover (again, an FO I never blogged about once finished, but that I did post on Instagram). This is lower on my priority list and it also wouldn’t be particularly fun – it would involve unpicking sleeve seams and pulling out a bind off in Hillesvåg Sølje, not the easiest yarn for that kind of task. I do wear my Lapwing, but I think I’d wear it more if the tightest part of the sleeve sat lower on my forearm for a more comfortable fit, and I do have enough yarn to make this modification. So we shall see.
I do think one thing that comes along with making our own clothes is continuously learning about what does and doesn’t work for us – and the wonderful thing is that as makers, we can so often tweak pieces we already own to make them work better, or even re-use the materials for a larger transformation. Have you ever frogged a sweater you knit or crocheted, or re-worked a piece you sewed? I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you!
7 thoughts on “FOs revisited”
I always find posts like this, revisiting designs that ended up not working, very instructive. They help me think about important things (like your point about dolman sleeves and the jacket test) that are easy to overlook when deciding how to use my knitting time. Thank you!
I’m in the process of frogging my Turtle Dove as the style just doesn’t work for me and I’m frogging the body of my Humulus as it needs to be a little more A line in style for me to enjoy wearing it… It is nice to have the sweater work better so we can enjoy living in them. Loved your post!
I do love the look of Turtle Dove, but I’ve never been too tempted by it as it definitely doesn’t pass the jacket test! So lovely to hear that you’re able to modify or reuse your knits/yarn as well 🙂
The ability to change an FO has been one of the most empowering aspects of knitting for me – thanks for celebrating that feeling in this post! A favorite FO-redo of mine was when I had finished a top down turtleneck cable sweater, Hugo by Michiyo, and gloomily realized that the shoulders just too tight for me. I couldn’t bear the thought of undoing the entire thing. I first steeked open the two back raglans and knitted patches over the holes to get some more width. That wasn’t enough so I also steeked the top half, sewed down the turtleneck to make an open V collar, and now I have a unique, sailor-like top. It was such a huge turning point for me in my making life, realizing that I had so many options even once something was ostensibly “finished”.
I was actually working on a sweater re-make as I read this post. It’s a prototype that will eventually become a design, made in (supposedly) my size, and the first iteration was much too big in the body all over (partly because the swatch lied and partly because I way overestimated how loosely I would want it to fit). I’ve reworked the math with about 10 cm less ease in the bust and a bit more swing at the hips, shortened the body, and raised and narrowed the neckline a bit. (Luckily it’s a sideways cuff-to-centre knit and the sleeves fit fine–they just needed to be shortened by exactly the amount I took out of the body width–so I just had to frog the body.) Here’s hoping the second time’s the charm!
I had to start over twice when designing the sweater that was the prototype for what became my Sundottir pullover! But I got there in the end. Here’s hoping you nail it on your second go!
Very recognisable! I’ve recently unpicked a few of my early days sewing projects, and re-used the fabric of those for all kinds of projects. One of the earliest times I “frogged and re-used” a sewn garment was a shift dress that just wasn’t working which I turned into a pinafore, but just as often I’ve used the salvaged fabric for bits and pieces and smaller projects.
In the case of the pinafore, I felt the original garment wasn’t quite working but I very much agree with you on looking back with some distance after the initial “Oh look, I finished this”-rush. I’ve been doing it more as I get better in crafting, so I think reworking is also a skill in itself. I recently frogged a tweed sweater that I never wore. I had been reluctant to do that, it was my first project in such expensive yarn, and the yarn had been a gift. Only while frogging it I realised that honestly frogging and re-using the yarn would do it more justice than leaving it to gather dust in the back of my closet.