Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Makeover Monday: Rethinking the Concept

I’m working on some fairly major makeovers right now, none of which are quite ready for their close-ups, so I’m going to take a little break from the projects this week, and give some thought to my whole makeover concept.

If I was going to have a total makeover myself (clothes, hair, makeup), I would only consider it a success if the changes were more than just superficial; helpful shopping advice, greater confidence, more openness to trying new styles, or tips for tailoring clothes to fit me perfectly, for example. And if I apply that same thinking to my Makeover Monday projects, shouldn’t I expect more than, say, newly-dyed jeans or a scarf turned into a sweater?

I’d like to think, when I’m choosing and working on my Makeover Monday projects, that you’re getting more than just a tutorial; after all, maybe you don’t actually have a pair of jeans in need of an overhaul, or a scarf that you love and yet don’t wear. If that’s the case, I still want you to derive some benefit. So now, after quite a few weeks of makeovers, maybe it’s time for me to ask myself: Is there more to my makeovers than meets the eye?

The more I think about the answer to this question, the more I come back to the original intent of this blog: to inspire you to think about, and wear, the clothes you already have in new ways. That may involve repairs, alterations, embellishments, or all-out makeovers, or it might be simply rethinking the way you use the items in your current wardrobe. I’ll give a simple example from my own closet: jeans (recognize them from a previous Makeover Monday?), cowl-neck knit top, tweedy jacket, and my very favorite (okay, only) Hermes silk scarf, a souvenir from my very first trip to Paris over 20 years ago. Here are 3 ways I wear the same scarf:

1 scarf 3 ways

1 scarf 3 ways: draped and tied at the neck, swinging from a belt loop, and embellishing the bag.

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Makeover Monday: Cardi-Wrap to Cocoon

Ever since I made my first 3D scarf for last week’s Makeover Monday, I’ve been wearing it almost every day. It’s the perfect light-yet-warm layer that goes on easily over everything. (I’m wearing it even as I type right now!) In fact, this surprisingly versatile piece has gotten so much use already that it inspired me to root through more than my scarf collection for makeover candidates. And lo! Lurking deep in a stack of seldom-worn hand-knitted sweaters, I found this:

Cardi-wrap, pre-makeover

Cardi-Wrap, pre-makeover. This is literally just a long, wide scarf with sleeves set into the rectangle.

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Makeover Monday: 2 Steps to a 3D Scarf

On this new Makeover Monday, I present my Ode to a Scarf. I wear one scarf or another almost daily, almost year-round, so I have a lot of them: silk, wool, pashmina, mohair, cashmere, cotton, rayon; striped, solid, printed, jacquard; scarves I designed and hand-knitted for myself, gift scarves, thrift-store and hand-me-down scarves, even one upcycled from a skirt into a scarf.

Out of this motley but well-loved collection, there’s one scarf I love best: my hand-knitted brushed-wool entrelac scarf, in the most luscious combination of deep, dark brown and rosy, pink-y reds.

My favorite scarf ever!

My favorite scarf ever, pre-makeover. All it needs is to be wearable.

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Mix It Up 3: Using Yarn Grab Bags

A couple of days ago, in an effort to be creative with “orphan” balls of yarn, I started putting them together into grab bags I call “Fab Five Plus“: 5 different balls of yarn, all in the same color family, along with a coordinating hand-painted silk ribbon (that’s the “Plus”). Here’s one example:

Fab Five Plus in Citrus

Fab Five Plus in Citrus: 5 different yarns, plus coordinating silk ribbon!

Note: This Fab Five Plus collection is currently up for grabs (pardon the expression) in an eBay auction, ending 1/17/13; click here to go directly to that page. This link will most likely not work after the auction ends.)

This morning, I got this question from a lady who has placed bids on some of my Fab Fives: “Do you have a recommendation for a pattern for this combo?”

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Changing Your Scarf: The 4 Seasons Project

The 4 Seasons Project. It started several weeks ago with the idea of creating color sequences based on each season that could then be interpreted for my line of yarns*. (For more on the development of the color palettes and skeins, and to see photos of each season’s color sequences, see A Colorful Year: The 4 Seasons Project on a Musing, my other blog.) Once I had the colors worked out and had put together the skeins, all (?) I had to do was design one or more pieces that could be knitted with this collection of skeins. Or better yet— design a piece that could be finished in 3 different ways! (I think there’s something in me that positively revels in making a project more complex.) The idea I came up with is a scarf that morphs into an infinity scarf (a continuous loop) that morphs into a cocoon-shaped jacket! (Sure… why not?) And since I needed a title for the knitting pattern I was writing, I dubbed this design 4 Seasons 3 Ways.

 * I create a line of one-of-a-kind yarns for Knittique; each skein has a color sequence based on the color palettes I develop. You can see these skeins, and the patterns I’ve designed for them, in Knittique’s Etsy shop.

Here’s Version 1: The Scarf

The 4 Seasons scarf

The 4 Seasons scarf. The ends hanging in front are (on left) Autumn, and (right) Winter; Spring and Summer wrap cozily around the neck.

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Warm Evenings 2: How I Dressed Up My Coat

After writing my last post about evening coats (Warm Evenings: Dress Up Your Coat!), I got to thinking: what is that makes a coat “evening”, anyway? Sure, there are the duchesse-satin numbers, the velvet wraps, even some occasional cape drama— but how many of us own any of these, or want to? Since I’m not on the socialite circuit, let alone on the red carpet (yet), where’s the use value? Even with all the financial doom-and-gloominess, we still want to buy new clothes— we just expect more versatility. As I suggested in the previous post, why can’t one coat work for everyday use, as well as for dressier occasions?

To get into that day-coat-for-evening concept a little more, I thought I’d let you in on my getting-ready-for-the-museum-party (mentioned in the previous post) thought process.

Step 1: Pick a dress. I narrowed my choices down to 3 possibilities: the favorite, the pinch-hitter, and the in-case-of-emergency. And here’s where I ran into my problem. As I was trying on my favorite (a 1950s fit-and-flare-silhouette dress that I made with pale aqua silk noil to which I added an overlay of dark brown metallic lace), I suddenly realized it’s November, this dress is sleeveless — I have to wear a coat. Or something of that ilk. Problem: I have no coat/wrap/cape that’s the right combination of color and look to work with this dress.

So I ended up wearing my pinch-hitter dress: a bias-cut print silk georgette, one of my favorites; I got this from Anthropologie over 6 years ago, and I love it just as much now, but it’s quite definitely a summer dress. (Anthropologie called it the “Surrealist Dress”, which made it seem all the more appropriate for a night at the museum.) Here it is:

Surrealist Dress Surrealist Dress from Anthropologie; not exactly cold-weather wear! Continue reading


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In Transition Encore: Fall into a Summer Dress

As promised, here is another trio of transitional fall outfits, each based on the same summery dress shown here. This is a cotton jersey knit, so it’s basically a long sleeveless T-shirt, to be honest. (Actually, I made this dress with the same pattern, Vogue 1234, as the printed one in my Santa Fe wardrobe; the only difference is that this one doesn’t have the cap sleeves. They look really different, don’t they?) I love the tie-dye print in these bright, rich oranges, which incidentally is a great color for fall.

Cotton jersey knit summer dress; the interesting draping at the sides makes the hemline nearly ankle-length at its longest point, which bodes well for making it work for fall. Continue reading