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Making your first Knitted or Crocheted Garment? Here's what you need to know!

Your first knitted or crocheted garment is exciting! With even basic skills, you can create a wearable piece, giving a personal touch to your wardrobe. If you’re making your first knitted or crocheted garment, and maybe feeling a bit wary or worried you'll make a mistake that wastes your time or money, these tips can help make it a success. 

The pattern

Choose a pattern that suits your skill level, uses a technique you enjoy (garments can involve doing a lot of the same stitch!) and matches your individual style. Look for patterns featuring simple stitches and clear instructions. Popular choices for first-time garments include simple tops and shrugs. Sleeveless, loose-fitting styles tend to be quicker to make with fewer fitting issues plus it’ll be the perfect for spring and summer when it’s finished!

Nichola Griffiths, whose Caitlin Shrug would be an ideal choice for a first garment project: If you’re daunted by making your first garment, try making a baby/child garment first; You’ll learn all the techniques you need plus it’ll be quick to make and if it doesn’t go well, there’s much less to unpick!

Search for the name of the pattern online, e.g. Ravelry, Instagram, blog posts,  to see what other makers say about it and how their garments look. Identify a maker with a similar figure to yours and decide if you like how the garment looks on them and whether you might want to adjust it somehow. Also, see how it works up in different yarns to the one used in the pattern picture and discover any problems other makers had and how they solved them. 

The yarn

multicoloured soft looking cotton yarns in and around  bread baskets
Blown Cotton Yarn

The right yarn is crucial. Check the pattern’s recommendations for suitable yarn to be sure of getting a result you’ll like; switching a drapey thin cotton or linen yarn for the suggested thicker, springy woollen yarn is going to lead to a very different result. You’ll also want the yarn to be comfortable against your skin.

Joanne Fowler: If you’re worried about your first garment not going well, choose a pattern for a smooth, resilient yarn like cotton rather than a fuzzy mohair so if you make a mistake, or try it on and want to adjust the fit, you can pull it back easily and get it just right.

Making your first knitted or crocheted garment

Gauge swatching is often overlooked but the final fit of your garment depends on it. You’ll make a small sample using the same stitch pattern and yarn, adjusting your hook size if necessary, to ensure that your tension matches the pattern so your finished garment will fit well. It also allows you to practise the stitches to perfect them and make sure your yarn suits them well.

dark blue crochet lace swatches
Candyfloss Cape Swatches

Read through the pattern, checking if you understand the instructions before starting so you'll be able to follow the pattern accurately and achieve the desired result. Note any special stitches, abbreviations or repeat instructions plus any diagrams or charts showing the construction. If anything is confusing, check how to get help with the pattern, e.g. an email address for queries or via the designer’s FAQ blog post.

Garment patterns often involve shaping through increasing and decreasing stitches, seaming, and using different stitch patterns for each section. Take your time to follow each step, and refer to online tutorials or seek advice from experienced crocheters if needed.

Periodically try the garment on to check for size and fit. Adjustments can be made as needed, such as adding or subtracting rows to achieve the desired length. Remember you might need more yarn to allow for this.

Once you've completed crocheting all the main pieces of your garment, you may still need to add an edging to sleeves or hems, attaching buttons, weave in loose ends or create decorative features, like a tassel. Blocking the item, i.e. dampening and pinning to size while drying is important for most crocheted clothing. It helps shape the garment; opens up lace stitches; and enables the yarn to bloom, loosening the compressed fibres for a softer and less gappy look to your stitches. Finishing your project properly adds a polished look to handmade garments.

When it's finished

Wear your beautiful creation with pride at having gained valuable skills and persevered. Share your achievement with others, through social media, local crafting groups, or online forums. Designers, yarn/tool suppliers and pattern publishers usually love makers to tag them on social media so they can see how your project turned out.

Don’t be daunted by the process, enjoy it, learn from your experiences, and let your new crochet skills flourish as you continue to explore the world of handmade garments. Let me know in the comments how you get on or if you have any other questions.

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