Saturday, 6 May 2017

Crochet garments

I have set myself the goal of focusing my making in May on two garments that I have underway; the Luna top by Dora Ohrenstein and Westbourne by Isabel Kraemer. Just under a year ago I made my first crochet garment and since then I have been slowly building up my handmade wardrobe.
From socks to shawls and cowls, I love wearing items that I have made but wearing a garment that I've made feels the best!

Blue crochet top 'Luna' by Dora Ohrenstein
'Luna' design by Dora Ohrenstein

It took my a long while to convince myself that I could actually make a garment so in this blog post today I thought I would share some tips and resources I've found along the way to help others take the 'plunge' into crochet garment making.

Crochet v. Knitting

 I am a crocheter first and knitter second so it's probably not surprising that I would say crochet garments are the easiest items to start making. I find it so much easier to rip back or frog crochet if I've made a mistake - when I made my first crochet cardigan I did a lot of ripping back when working the button bands and I think if I had been knitting, the project would still be sat unfinished in a project bag! With good basic crochet skills you can easily customise a crochet garment pattern - shortening the body, lengthening the arms, whatever you need to do to get a good fitting finished piece.

Great resources to get you started

There are two great resources that I would like to share with you. I have found both invaluable in making my crochet garments;

Three from the top - this is a booklet of three crochet cardigan designs from The Crochet Project. Each design is focused on a different type of top down crochet construction and the patterns for each design are presented in multiple sizes from baby up through a range of children's sizes and a full spectrum of women's sizes. I have made two cardigans from this book and have found it to be such an accessible entry point.

Top down crochet sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein - the Luna top I am working on at the moment comes from this book and it is beautiful but my reason for sharing this book is that the first half of the publication is given over to top-down crochet sweater construction and is crammed full of information and guidance, helping you to make a perfectly fitting top making it an invaluable resource.

Top-down construction

I am a fan of top-down garment construction, both my current garment WIPs, one crochet and the other knitting, use the same technique. When I started to make my first crochet cardigan, the Aberfoyle from the Three from the top book, I couldn't visualise how the piece would come together so I recorded my progress in photographs which I hope will be helpful to share;

Beginning of a crochet cardigan, starting with the  yoke
Crochet cardigan in progress

Working the body of a top-down crochet cardigan

Crochet cardigan with one arm complete

Top tips

I really hope that I might have helped persuade you to consider making a crochet garment and if I have, the following tips might be helpful;

1. Ask someone to measure you - Dora Ohrenstein has great advice in her book about this

2. Yarn substitution is great but just make sure you are choosing a yarn that will give a similar drape

3. Always buy a ball or so more yarn than the pattern suggests giving you plenty for swatching and a little wriggle room if your tension is off

4. If you are working on a garment with top-down construction make sure that you keep trying it on so that you get the best fit

5. Don't be afraid to make tweaks and amendments to the pattern to get the best fit and a garment you'll be comfortable wearing. I tried on my Luna top yesterday and as a result I am now working the body longer than the pattern suggests


I am not the only one having a garment focus in May, if you are on Instagram you may already have seen the people showcasing the most gorgeous handmade items from their wardrobe as part of Me-Made-May organised by So, Zo...What do you know?

If you look at the following hashtags on Instagram, I don't think you can fail to be inspired to get making your own accessories and garments;

Make a-long

Both Ravelry and Instagram are good at helping to make connections and bring people together. I have loved getting to know so many people online through the projects I have made. Here is a fabulous collection of Callander cardigans (from Three from the top) made by four of us who have chatted online, shared tips and cheered each other on;

Montage of four crochet cardigans
The makers, with their Instagram names, clockwise, starting top left: Anna @thecrochetninja, Corinne @salapes, me, Jo @jojotwinkletoes. Thank you ladies for letting me share your work!

It's so much fun to discover other people working on the same project as you, you can support each other, share experiences and celebrate successes. I would definitely recommend always checking out Ravelry and hashtags on Instagram to see if anyone else is working on the same project as you.

Thank you so much for coming to my blog...I hope I might have inspired you to make your own crochet garment...I'm off to finish my Luna top! x


  1. I enjoyed reading your tips and advice Helen. I'm off to check out the book by Dora Ohrenstein ... xx

  2. This is such an informative article, Helen. Thank you for sharing.

  3. What an inspiring article Helen! In January I decided this would be the Year of the Crochet Garment but I have completed only one! That's a great idea to see if other people on Ravelry are making the same garment. It's so much more motivating making something with others.

    1. Thanks so much Tamara...I can't wait to see other garments you make this year! Will be cheering you on! x