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Customising Clothing with Crochet

We all wear our clothing as a representation of ourselves; whether its a conscious thing or not, there are decisions made on the styles we wear. I have always liked having interesting clothes, shirts with prints, bright coloured pants, big print skirts, you name it.

In recent years I've settled into a core wardrobe of clothes, doing my best to only buy something to replace. Some clothes get a bit boring with time or aren't quite right when bought new. I had some ideas for how to improve them and finally took the plunge.

Here's three items from my wardrobe I've revamped with crochet, the second two even including free pattern for you to try yourself!

(10 minute read)

Three photos of crochet added to clothes, left a pink crochet skull on denim cropped close, middle a white and black shirt close up of the sleeve with purple detail, and right photo of a green no-cut board with rotary tool above fabric with in progress crochet.
Three fun ways to update your clothes with crochet

The first was a bit messy, but taught me a lot and best of all resolved the problem I'd been experiencing.
I had shared this on Tumblr when I made this, though I didn't document the process.

I had a pair of 3/4 jeans that I wore all the time but was getting annoyed by the buttons on the outside of my calf. I sit on my leg all the time, these would dig in and leave very angry marks on my leg.

Photo of legs wearing 3/4 jeans with metal buttons on the outside seam.
Jeans before

Step one was cutting out the seam with buttons then replacing the hem. The yarn I used was Scheepjes Cahlista in light pink. It's a really pretty and sturdy yarn, which would work well with denim.

The next photo shows how I did a crisscross pattern for the hem. This didn't leave leave room for easily attaching the crochet piece. I didn't have a rotary tool at this time, so each bit was using yarn needle to sew. It was slow and very hard on the hands. 

Next time I'll use rotary tool to add the holes then crochet along the edge, like the next pattern. 

Photo of a leg with jeans with hole cut out with pink hem.
Progress has been made

Now I knew the size I would be filling, I was able to decide on a design. I had been working on a Lost Souls shawl at the time and could see the shape was similar. I backwards engineered the pattern to work top down, rather than bottom up. 

I don't have the notes anymore for how I did this, but I remember it was a challenge to make the matching pair for the other leg. 

Totally recommend this pattern for a lacy skull shawl:

Pink crochet skull
Lost Souls pattern backwards engineered to happy skull

This is where the hem became interesting. It already had a pretty pattern so deciding how to attach the crochet piece was tricky. If I had just a row of single crochet to join onto, it would be easier.

My hands were very sore by the end, sewing with a yarn needle is tough work. Particularly with denim and 8ply cotton yarn. 

The final piece is certainly unique and I love them a lot. They are more comfortable, cooler and no longer leave marks on my legs after sitting for a long time. The bunching you can see in this photo at the top has relaxed over time and they are my go-to pants throughout most of the year. 

Close up of the jeans from before with the seam replaced with pink crochet skull.
All finished with my first custom pants

My next trip into the world customising my clothes was adding detail to the sleeves of a shirt I had picked up from K-Mart. The shirt itself was already wearing after a few wears and could do with sprucing up. 

After the joy of sewing the hem by hand on the last project, I invested in a rotary tool with skip stitch blade to cut the holes for crocheting onto. This ensures the holes are consistent and fast - no more straining my fingers. 

I had to pick it up from Amazon, which suuuuucked being based in Australia. We have fewer options and sellers on Amazon, so there was only one listing available and it was more than I was hoping to spend. I've used it twice though and it has been worth it. 

You also need a surface that can take the blade running over it, because that blade is Sharp. I use a no-cut board, usually found in quilting section. 

A rotary tool with skip stitch blade
Rotary tool with skip stitch tool

The shirt sleeves were properly finished and I didn't want to change them so I used the hem as a guide. Keeping the blade about 2 mm away from the edge, be careful not to cut the thread on the seams. 

Be very careful of catching your fingers or anything else you don't want cut. When moving the fabric around and trying to keep track of where the seam is, it's easy to be distracted and go to roll onto something you don't want to. 

With the holes added, I was ready to start. 

I used 2.5mm hook. The yarn was 3.25mm cotton thread from Base Warehouse (cheap shop). 

I use US terminology in my patterns. This pattern will include:

  • Single Crochet (SC)
  • Chain (CH)
  • Slip Stitch 
  • Double Crochet (DC)

I started in the armpit, as it's the most hidden section. I also didn't finish the round, instead left 1-2cm to keep some stretch as I didn't want it tight on my arms. 

Row 1: SC into first hole, CH2, *SC into next hole, CH2* repeated until returned to the start. CH1 and turn the work, not joining to the first stitch. 

Row 2: Working back the other way, in the first CH2 gap, DC3, CH2, slip stitch to the top of the last DC, DC3. *In the next CH2, DC3, CH2, slip stitch into the top of the last DC, DC3* repeated to the end. 

Slip stitch and sew in the ends to finish off. 

Closeup of black and white fabric with purple crochet along edge.
Part way through row 2

To hide the ends, I used my small yarn needle to sew in under the triangles / along the first row. The final tail I looped into the seam on the inside. 

The final detail was on the collar. 

I started in the same way as the sleeves, using the rotary tool to add holes along the collar between the edge and the seam. I didn't want anything that would tickle or itchy my neck so I slip stitch along. Be careful to do it evenly without bunching the fabric. 

Sewing in the ends was interesting as there wasn't much crochet to hide it in, instead I turned the shirt inside out and sent the thread through the hemmed edge then back again a few times to lock it in place. 

Close cut photo of black and white shirt with purple crochet on sleeve and collar.
All finished with my first custom top

I am sceptical on how long this particular shirt will last, but I will certainly be more willing to keep wearing it with the cute purple details. 

My most recent project has been improving one of my favourite clothing finds. It's a circle skirt with cupcake and teacup print from a goth / scene kid store in Central Coast (NSW, Australia). I found it on the sale rack and fell in love. 

The two issues I found with it was: no pockets (no shock here) and it was very prone to being blown up by the wind. I'm still mulling over how to add pockets, but I had some ideas on weighing down the hem so it was less prone to flying up. 

I used the same hook and cotton for this as I had with the shirt: 2.5mm hook and 3.25mm cotton from a cheap shop, using the left over purple from the last project and a full ball of pink. 

I use US terminology in my patterns (repeating in case you've skipped down to here). This pattern will include:

  • Double Crochet (DC)
  • Single Crochet (SC)
  • Chain (CH)
  • Slip Stitch 
I started with the rotary tool along the bottom hem, the same as with the shirt. Aiming to have 2mm from the edge, this gives the base to crochet onto. Be very careful of the blade, it is very sharp and it's very easy to get distracted and add holes to something you don't want to - your clothing, couch and skin included!

Row 1: DC into the first hole, CH2, *DC into the next hole, CH2*, repeat along until back to the start. Slip stitch into the top of the first DC.

Photo showing rotary tool with skip stitch blade above fabric with crochet work in progress along the hem.
Row 1 in progress

Row 2: into the CH2 gap on the row below SC, CH1 to act as a DC, then DC2 into the same CH2 space, CH2. *In the next CH2 space, DC3, CH2*  repeat along until back to the start. Slip stitch into the first DC of the row.

The same fabric from last photo now working on second row of crochet.
Row 2 in progress

Row 3: The same as row 2, SC into the first CH2 space, CH1, to act as a DC. Then DC2 into the same CH2 space. CH2. *In the next CH2 space, DC3, CH2*  repeat along until back to the start. Slip stitch into the first DC of the row.

Note: for this row I turned at the start of the row to work back the way I came rather than slip stitch to the next CH2 space, it's up to your preference.

The same fabric from last photo now working on third row of crochet.
Row 3 in progress

I change colour at this point because I ran out of pink.

As with last row I had turned the work to do the final row as I liked the pattern from that side more.

Row 4: SC, CH1 into a CH2 space on the row below, this will act as a DC. In the same CH2 space, DC2, CH2, DC3, CH2. Slip stitch into the next CH2 space, then CH2. *In the next CH2 space, DC3, CH2, DC3, CH2, slip stitch into the next CH2 space, then CH2* repeated until back to the start.

You may not have the right number of gaps on the previous row to finish cleanly, adjust pattern as needed on the last section then slip stitch into the first DC of the row.

Two photos, both showing a fourth row of crochet being added to the same fabric from above.
Row 4 in progress

The skirt was finished at long last. This was a much larger project than I had anticipated, purely because circle skirts have so much hem! It was very warm working on it through Summer as there is a lot of fabric.

I am so happy with the final result though; it was sorely missed from my closet while I worked on it. Even with all these annoyances, it was all worth it for a unique addition to an already special piece of clothing.

Cupcake fabric with hem of pink and purple crochet.
All finished with my first custom skirt.


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