wardrobe stuff

I have this bad habit of knack for wearing out the left elbow on my jackets. Not just knitted ones — store-bought blazer-type ones too. Not only do I get to be annoyed by having a jacket that is perfectly wearable except for the one elbow ruining it, but I get to have insult added to injury when various people tell me to get those suede patches that everyone loved to hate in the 70s.

Right. Because suede patches look so incredibly good on tailored suit jackets

Instead, I've been busy making up some knitted jackets. Not cardigans, exactly, although technically I suppose they are. "Cardigan" implies something casual. These are office-ready, and have some dressmaker details to make them more tailored-looking.

The first one I finished is a Fiona Ellis pattern:
It's a basic shaped jacket, with just a little two-colour work as trim. I made two changes from the original design. The first change was to add hems to the bottom of all the body pieces. The original pattern just called for a few rows of the contrast colour in garter stitch, and it was doing absolutely nothing to keep the edges from curling, so I had to rework.

The second change was to omit the floppy pleated cuffs and replace them with a plain hem that had the same trim as the front and neck bands. I thought the dramatic cuffs were great, but not terribly practical for the office. I have to type a lot for my day job, and worried I would have to do a Liberace-style wrist flourish every time I went to edit a new version of a requirements document.

The second jacket is from a recent issue of Interweave Knits:
This one had a lot more mods to the original pattern.

  • I added extra rows of garter stitch to the bottom of the body and sleeves to keep the lace edging from curling. It still does, a little bit. The directions said steaming would get rid of this. I am not inclined to steam a jacket every time I want to wear it, so decided to let the knitting do the work.
  • I added a 5-stitch garter stitch border at the fronts of the body's lace edging so the edges wouldn't curl in. The original pattern called for the knitter to flip back X number of stitches and tack them down to the wrong side. "X" didn't equal a pattern repeat or half-repeat, so the lace on the back of the facing wouldn't have lined up with the front of the facing. I had to re-jig the stitch counts a little, but was pleased with the garter stitch.
  • The stranded colourwork (the stylised plants around the body) were worked in the round with a steek up the middle, because purling back through a 25-st repeat with no symmetry in it did not appeal.
  • I worked the colourwork chart so that only whole motifs were knitted in, instead of partial motifs per the instructions. I figured since I was creating the fabric instead of working with printed & cut stuff, I could pull off little niceties like that.
  • Because of the steek, I changed the way the front facings were worked from the original directions.
  • I added some rows of I-cord and I-cord knot buttons with loops to close the fronts. The original pattern had a single hook-and-eye closure just below the collar.
  • I made the sleeves full-length, instead of the original 3/4 length. If I'm wearing a 100% wool jacket, I want to stay warm. Also, 3/4 sleeves look ridiculous on me.
I don't think the alterations on either of these were any big deal — having it "your way" is a big motivator in DIY. Even with all the mods to the purple jacket, I only needed one sticky note to track all the numbers, and it's still perfectly recognisable as a rendition of the original jacket in the magazine.

What are your favourite DIY wardrobe tricks?