How it's going toward my goal of making a handmade wardrobe
The how and why of making clothes for myself
I have a goal of making a fully handmade wardrobe.
I want every single item in my wardrobe to be one that I adore, that makes me feel gorgeous, and that I wear constantly. Five years ago, I had no idea I’d want something like this. I’ve always loved clothing, right back to being a tween and saving my allowance to buy new outfits for my Skipper doll (Barbie’s younger sister). But, clothing for myself was also something I thought had to be a hit-or-miss proposition. I’d love some pieces, but others would only fit so-so, or my body would change and something that felt right in the store, didn’t feel right on my body at home. I thought this was just how clothing was.
It didn’t even occur to me that it was possible to love everything in my wardrobe.
A key person in my wake up is the writer Aja Barber. Aja is working to turn the tide on climate change by revealing how fast fashion (and our addiction to it) is destroying our planet and how we can rise up and make better choices. Aja’s work “builds heavily on ideas behind privilege, wealth inequality, racism, feminism, colonialism and how to fix the fashion industry with all these things in mind.” You should 100 percent be reading her book, following her Instagram and supporting her Patreon. She inspires me, every single day, to be a better human.
One of Aja’s messages is that you should love everything you own and wear it often. She’s the first person who ever told me this, and it blew my mind. What about all the sweaters that didn’t fit quite right, or the shirts that felt restrictive, or the pants that gaped at the back when I sat down?
I began to believe I could pare down, buy less, and love my clothing more.
My second reason for wanting a fully handmade wardrobe is menopause. As my body has and continues to change, shifting from premenopause to now being several years post-menopausal, I’m finding that clothes I make myself have the best chance of fitting my body the way I want.
I’m also a bit pickier about how things fit: I no longer tolerate that little gap in pants or the armhole that’s a tad too snug, and I attribute this intolerance to menopause, too. It’s a mindset shift: Life is too short to have nagging issues with my clothes. I’ve finally learned that my body’s not the problem, the clothes are. And I can change them.
My third reason is pure vanity. Have you ever worn a beautiful sweater that you knit and had a stranger say, “Your sweater is beautiful!” I have, and my favorite reply is, “Thank you! I made it!” That feeling right there. Thank you, I made it. I have that feeling every time I wear a handmade outfit. And I want to have that feeling all the time.
How am I doing towards this goal? I am about halfway there. I have way fewer items of clothing than I used to, and I have a solid core wardrobe to wear in the spring and fall, when temperatures are fairly mild in San Francisco and when I don’t need a coat or heavier bottoms to stay warm. (Like my favorite outfit, shown above.)
I have room to expand my wardrobe too. I have several favorite patterns for tops and I know which fabrics feel the best on me and which pair well with which patterns. I have a couple of favorite patterns for lighter weight, elasticated waist bottoms. And, of course, my knitting is on track with lightweight pullovers and lots of cardigans.
My current favorite lightweight bottom (shown above): Elizabeth Suzann’s Florence pant
My current favorite lightweight top with sleeves: Sew House Seven’s Remy Raglan
My current favorite tank top: Wiksten tank (pattern not size inclusive)
It’s the cold weather clothing that continues to flummox me. I only have a couple of heavier weight sweaters, so I get a little bored wearing the same things, day after day. And, I’ve yet to crack the formula for how to make heavier weight pants. My elasticated waist versions using corduroy and denim aren’t quite right (yet?), and I am daunted by the sewing of pants with a zipper fly. So, my wardrobe at the current moment, when we’re having an extra-cold California winter, is both boring and in continual rotation, making me dream of new cabled sweaters and corduroy pants and beautiful wool jackets. The weather will be warm again before I can master the sewing skills I need. Maybe I’ll get there by next winter?
How about you? Do you aspire to a handmade wardrobe?
A small thing to do right now to help make the world safer for trans kids
There’s an organizing campaign happening right now on behalf of trans kids that you should know about. Earlier this one week, one journalist wrote a prominent piece of research “calculat(ing) over 15,000 words of front-page (New York) Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone.
In response to this article, (entitled: Why Is the New York Times So Obsessed With Trans Kids?), a group of Times writers and contributors wrote an open letter to the Times asking them to more fairly report on gender diversity. The response from the Times, so far, has not been encouraging, but you can help add power to this organizing campaign by signing the open letter. (I am a subscriber, and I’ve signed the letter, along with 20,000 other media workers, subscribers, and readers of the New York Times.)
You can read the letter here, and scroll to the bottom to add your name, too.
Unfair reporting on gender diversity and the issues impacting trans kids emboldens bigotry and pseudoscience—which is “fomented by the kind of coverage (these writers, myself, and hopefully you too) are protesting.
In the shop
I have two colorways of yarn in the shop right now: Cockled (a watery blue) and Lightly Foxed (the perfect, lightly speckled, creamy neutral) and I keep dreaming of a French bateau-style sweater out of them. A beautiful, hand-dyed blue background, boat neck, with speckled white stripes. Wouldn’t that look dreamy with my wide leg pants, pictured above?
If you’ve been wanting to try my yarn, one (or more) of these skeins would be a great choice! The blue is my classic style of layered semi-solid, and the cream is my style of gently speckled.
I’ve also put a few books back in the shop from the “A Kids’ Book About …” series. I’ve been carrying these books since 2020, where my “A Kids’ Book About Racism” got lots of positive interest in my Stitches West booth, and I have two new titles to share about being transgender and non-binary. These books are beautifully written and age-appropriate for ages 5 and up. It’s never too early to start talking with kids about race and gender. Kids are ready. (I love this slogan from the publisher!)
A well-wish for our collective well-being
Thank you for all the well-wishes you gave me after last week’s letter. Your kindness and care meant so much to me. This week, I wish for you—and all of us—a warm sun, the feeling of blossoming, and the tenderness of knowing that we have a community around us, both seen and unseen, that is a safety net, ready to catch us. It’s okay to stretch, to jump and leap. We got you.
I am new to your posts and thoroughly enjoyed. Regarding heavier weight pants for winter, i like the Luce pants in Tauko magazine, vol 6 (the most recent one). i don't know how you feel about asymmetry, but they do have a nice fold and snap closure which is also nice for shifting waistlines. They are modelled as a crop pant but i don't see why they wouldn't be just as comfy full length. I am working out fabric options for mine right now, but will probably select something lighter-weight.
Thanks for including the letter. Signed. As a parent of a nonbinary teen in Utah, I'm unhappy and trying to figure out the next steps to protect my child.