Creative Living

one year handmade

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog

At the start of 2018 I pledged to go one year handmade. This meant I would only buy my clothes from small, handmade clothing brands or make them myself in an effort to not only support these creative businesses, but to make a conscious move away from fast fashion.

There is a big conversation going on at the moment about fashion and the massively damaging impact it is having on the environment and I don’t want to contribute to that.

I also wanted to start making more of my own clothes. I was finding that shops were not providing the kind of pieces I wanted to wear and the ones I did like, seemed financially out of reach (I’m looking at you Toast).

The first couple of months were the hardest. This was perhaps more to do with a mindset change and adjustment to my new style of shopping, but I can honestly say that I stuck to my pledge about 75% of the time. I’ve always been an avid charity shopper so when I was unable to purchase handmade I scoured charity shops, eBay or went without!

Shopping from handmade, independent clothing brands is unsurprisingly a more expensive way to shop and I see it as a huge privilege to occasionally be able to purchase these pieces. There were of course times when purchasing handmade was not within my budget, but it was important for me to make considered purchases and not impulse ones … or not buy at all!

In the end my aim was to reduce the amount I consumed, not to just start buying more expensive clothing!

Here’s the outcome of my year...

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog

Being a knitter for well over 5 years I had yet to follow any kind of pattern. It always felt too daunting and involved too much brain power, but I was determined to finally give it a go. For my first project I jumped straight in and knit my first jumper… and once I’d got my head around it, it really wasn’t too hard!

And so the knitting pile grew.

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter Blog
Balloon Jacket . Pattern by Petitknit.

Balloon Jacket. Pattern by Petitknit.

Handmade socks! These were both using  the sockalong pattern  for beginners.

Handmade socks! These were both using the sockalong pattern for beginners.

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter Blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter Blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter Blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter Blog
Vertical striped sweater.  Pattern by Petitknit (Irish wool sourced locally).

Vertical striped sweater. Pattern by Petitknit (Irish wool sourced locally).

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
No Frills Sweater  by Petitknit

No Frills Sweater by Petitknit

‘Touch me shawl’ pattern by  The Loveliest Yarn Company   Yarn by  Toft

‘Touch me shawl’ pattern by The Loveliest Yarn Company

Yarn by Toft

I used  this bikini top pattern  - but added some length to make it more of a top.

I used this bikini top pattern - but added some length to make it more of a top.

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog

One year handmade really does feel like the opposite approach to fast fashion. A couple of the knitwear items I made took up to 2 months to make and sometimes when ordering an item from a handmade clothing brand you had to allow up 2-3 weeks for making time and postage. So some forward planning was necessary.

Etsy was my main go to place online - i created a favourites list on the app and started to carefully plan my purchases.

Dress by  Phaedra Clothing
Linen jumpsuit by  OffOn Clothing

Linen jumpsuit by OffOn Clothing

Linen trousers by  NotPerfectLinen

Linen trousers by NotPerfectLinen

Trousers made by my sister, pattern by  Burda

Trousers made by my sister, pattern by Burda

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
Handmade underwear by  Brighton Lace.

Handmade underwear by Brighton Lace.

I have also discovered some beautiful, handmade jewellery by independent makers both online and at craft markets.

Handmade jewellery by: (clockwise from the top left)  Mikaela Lyons ,  Clare-Elizabeth Kilgour ,  Molly Debiak ,  Rebecca Gladstone ,  Linda Tucker  &  Lennie Beare

Handmade jewellery by: (clockwise from the top left) Mikaela Lyons, Clare-Elizabeth Kilgour, Molly Debiak, Rebecca Gladstone, Linda Tucker & Lennie Beare

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog
one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog

To summarise

It took a hard nosed decision like this … but it has completely changed the way I purchase clothes and I won’t be returning to high street fashion retailers. I enjoy my clothes more, take care of them better and buy things I really love and will wear for much longer.

My plan is to continue choosing quality over quantity and seeking out responsible and sustainable clothing brands, as well as making more myself.

I would definitely encourage others to attempt something similar. Even little changes are enough to gently shift our mindsets and change the way we shop. You may not consider yourself crafty but remember, I hadn’t even followed a knitting pattern at the start of this project… anything is possible!

one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog

I would like to do more sewing this year; I know some basic things, but would love to get better and push myself to try pattern reading. I bought this haori jacket pattern from Wiksten, which is supposed to be good for beginners and I loved its style and shape.

This cardigan by The Weststrand Sisters is next in the queue of knitting projects and I’m going to try and add a bit of colour to my handmade wardrobe this year, with fabrics & yarns that are not grey, black or cream!

Please do check out the links below to discover some creative, handmade brands making beautiful clothes. I have also linked some really interesting articles, information and inspiration regarding slow fashion.

Feel free to share any discoveries or information yourself in the comments.



one year handmade - Carolyn Carter blog