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Building a Handmade Wardrobe Using Make Nine

In December of 2015, Rochelle from Home Row Fibre Co. decided that she needed to make some drastic changes in her life. She was buying a lot of “fast fashion” and wanted to slow down to focus on making her capsule wardrobe whilst making use of the limited time she had available.

And so, the Make Nine Challenge was born, which Rochelle describes as “a gentle self-guided challenge for makers.” The goal is to choose 9 projects that you would like to make in one year, whether you’re knitting, crocheting or sewing. Your plans can be as flexible or as rigid as you want. However you wish to go about it, the process should be fun!

Graphic that says "Building a Handmade Wardrobe Using Make Nine" and in the background is a crop of someone holding lots of yarn in their arms

Handmade Capsule Wardrobe Planning

At The Fibre Co, we believe in slow fashion. If your goal is to slow down and be more intentional with making your handmade wardrobe, rather than simply acting on impulse, Make Nine could be an extremely useful tool for you.

What do you need?

Before you choose the garments and accessories that you’d like to make this year, we recommend considering the following areas to help you identify what patterns will work best for you.

Start with your own wardrobe

You can learn a lot from looking inside your own wardrobe.

What do you wear the most? It might be handmade or store-bought; either way, it doesn’t matter. Why do you wear it so much? Perhaps it’s really comfortable or you love the colour or the silhouette looks good with everything. Take note of your observations.

Do you have any gaps in your wardrobe that you’d love to fill?

Perhaps you’ve been wanting a cropped sweater for a long time but never got around to making one. This would be a great choice for your Make Nine!

Nicole from our stockist, Cream City Yarn, chose the Seacross sweater from our Foundations AW19-20 collection to be in her Make Nine for 2020.

Identify your style

Consider all of the details that make up your personal style. What fit and silhouettes do you gravitate towards? Do you feel good wearing them? If so, consider including these silhouettes in your picks.

Optionally, you could also think about the colours you love. You might not wear them (yet!) but consider making 2-3 pieces in colours you want to wear more in the future. It’s very easy to default to colours you always wear unless you plan otherwise.

Make things that suit your lifestyle

There is no point in making nine new garments and accessories if you are never able to wear them. Choose your patterns based on the life you have, rather than your fantasy life!

The wardrobe of a stay-at-home parent will be very different to someone working in a very corporate environment. What kind of clothing would help you to feel comfortable and happy in your daily activities?

Graphic that says "How to Curate Your Handmade Wardrobe Using the Make Nine Challenge"

Monitor your making habits

What do you love to make? Perhaps you are an avid sock knitter or you’re obsessed with stranded colourwork? Whilst it’s a good idea to include practical items in your Make Nine, some things should be there for the pure love of making!

Sure, you might have more than enough pairs of handknit socks, but if there’s a pattern you desperately want to knit, you could always knit them for someone else.

If you’re someone who can’t resist casting on all the things, it might be a good idea to have a wildcard or two as part of your Make Nine. Then, whenever you feel like casting on something unplanned, you can use your wildcard.

Use what you have

You don’t have to go out and buy materials for nine new projects. In fact, a big part of slow fashion is about using what you already have.

Do you have clothes sat in your mending pile? Perhaps you could mend nine. Or you could take some of your old clothes and re-make nine. We all have handknits that we haven’t worn much. Rip them out and repurpose the yarn into something new that you will actually wear!

You could also commit to using up some of your stash yarns or patterns. You might be surprised by the beautiful, useful clothing you could make using materials you had forgotten about.

Finally, do you have any UFOs that you’d love to push yourself to finish? This challenge might be just the motivation you need. Alternatively, you might decide that those projects are unfinished for a reason and in that case, rip them out to reuse the yarn in something else.

Selecting your projects

If you consider all of the above, you will be in a good place to choose nine patterns that enhance your handmade wardrobe whilst satisfying your creativity.

A good place to start is on Ravelry. You probably have lots of patterns favourited and queued on there that you can browse through. You might even have a stash of patterns you can browse through!

If you’re active on Instagram and tend to save images of patterns that you like, you could look back through those, too. 

We have a fantastic database of knitting patterns designed in The Fibre Co. yarns, including in-house designs and those by indie designers. You can filter by yarn and pattern category to help you narrow down what you are looking for.

You could also try using Ravelry’s advanced pattern search. It allows you to be very specific about the type of pattern you are looking for, so you are likely to find something that ticks the boxes.

If, after all that, you have still not found 9 patterns you’d like to make this year, don’t force it. The whole ethos around building a handmade wardrobe as part of the slow fashion movement is to only make what you will love to wear on a regular basis. If you can only find 4 that hit the mark, just do a Make Four instead!

Share Your Make Nine

We would love to see your Make Nines (or Fours!) Share your picks on Instagram using the hashtag #makenine. Don’t forget to tag us @thefibrecompany – we can’t wait to see what you choose.

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