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!