Socks, Sweaters & Styling Handmade Garments
I'm about to go on a bit of a tangent with this post while trying to pull together a few different ideas that are floating through my head. I'll try to wrap it up somewhere by the end of the post, but no promises will be made. Before I get started I want to let you know the garment details for the photos in this post in case I forget to add any of this info during my ramble.
Sweater Pattern Lucinda by Carrie Bostick Hoge
Sweater Yarn Acadia by The Fibre Company in Mountain Ash
Mods knit the sweater and ribbing on the same size needle, knit the sweater and sleeves flat instead of working in the round.
For the record I love both of these patterns and yarns and recommend the lot of them. I actually finished the sweater and socks a while back but due to the fact that I can't stop wearing them long enough to take photos while they're clean I'm only just getting photos now.
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to try something new with my finished garment posts. Rather than simply presenting them as a singular garment that I'd made, I thought it might be more fun and interesting to also show how I pair them with each other as well as with the ready to wear garments in my wardrobe.
Fast forward to this past weekend in Nashville, where I stayed with Karen of Fringe Supply Co. and the blog Fringe Association. We talked about many things, including Slow Fashion October, and I was surprised to hear that through SFO she'd been hearing from people that they didn't know how to wear handmade without looking or feeling like they were wearing a costume or that what they were making wasn't fit for work or daily life.
This is exactly something that comes up to me from readers, customers, and friends over and over again, both on the internet and in person. Sometimes it's in the form of asking how I go about choosing a pattern to knit, asking me where I got my fabrics or yarn, how I decide what fabrics to use with which patterns, or wishing I had a fabric store full of fabrics to pair with my patterns. Sometimes people straight out ask me how I manage to always make things that are everyday wearable. I feel as though all these questions are coming from the same place.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, especially with all the talk about handmade wardrobes. A lot of times people say they won't make or buy something unless they can make two outfits with it using items already in their wardrobe. When I plan my wardrobe or the garments I'm going to make, I never think about things like this for some reason. I don't know why not, but I never have, even as a kid.
As a kid I always knew what I wanted to buy, and much to the frustration of my mom, we could never find that exact thing. This certainty in what type of garment I needed continues to this day, though were those feelings come from I have no idea. Generally speaking I know what I like to wear and for the most part I wear them whether or not they're seen as weird by others. In high school I wore an oversized men's work shirt and a green wool WW2 men's army jacket I took from a closet in our house almost every day. Definitely not the coolest mid to late 90's look, but I guess I've been wearing this general silhouette for a few decades now!
Anyway what I think I'm trying to figure out is how I decide what I want to make, and once I've figured that out, how can I help others figure that out as well. One of my main goals with Grainline since day 1 was to make patterns that you could wear every day and feel proud of, but also feel like a better version of your every day clothed self.
When I was sewing before I started making my own patterns I usually ended up making a silhouette that felt very un-me, like I was a cartoon of myself walking around. That was back when most available patterns were either party dresses or vintage inspired, two looks that aren't great on me. But I wanted to make my own clothes so I tried to make these patterns work and then felt too self conscious to wear them out.
Anyway I'm not totally sure what the takeaway from this is except that I'd like to help those who are struggling to incorporate their handmade clothes into their every day wardrobes to do so. I don't feel like you need to choose a color palette each season, or follow a long wardrobe workbook in order to find what works for you. I'm sure that can help someone who has the time to do that, but I'm interested in a more fluid approach to this process. One that allows you to make decisions on the fly without consulting a piece of paper you've pre-planned. Unless you love pre-planning and consulting paper, by all means go for it!
I'm going to be thinking on this a lot over the next few weeks as I work on my FW '15 wardrobe. I'd like to add a few more prints to my closet so I'm interested to see how that shakes out with my mostly non-printed wardrobe. And I don't mean stripes, I count those in with the solids! I'm not sure this post is coherent enough for this, I did just drive 475 miles earlier today and still feel like I'm in a car, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on this ramble of a topic.
And for those of you who actually made it to the end of this post, here's a bonus photo of me looking like a complete idiot! My friend Michelle shot these photos and it was one of the best days I've had in a while both because she's an amazing photographer, and also because we've been friends for close to 15 years and I love when we get to hang out together.