Getting started with crochet garments
Taking the leap to crochet a sweater or a top can seem scary, but choose the right pattern and you won't look back! I am by no means an expert on the matter, but I've made quite a few garments now, and I love making them - so I thought I would put together a selection of patterns I think would be great to start you off on your garment making journey. All of these are patterns I've made myself so they are truly tried and tested. I've also included a few tips to get you off on the right track before you start on a pattern.
When I started crocheting, I made made very simple items like amigurumi and scarves/cowls. I often saw sweater patterns in crochet magazines, but I thought there was no way I could make something like that. This feeling was reinforced when I eventually started to crochet a sweater and got completely confused by the pattern and the shaping - to this day, I have the front and back panels of that sweater tucked away in a basket, since I couldn't make any sense of the sleeves. Someday I will most likely frog it and use the yarn for something else. I had chosen a pattern that wasn't the easiest to follow, and size that was too small for me. And I did not do a gauge swatch! This experience knocked my confidence, and it was nearly three years before I tried another sweater pattern. The moral of the story is to choose your pattern wisely. Look for a pattern that uses stitches you are familiar with and techniques you can easily understand.
Once you have chosen your pattern, there are a couple of steps that you should definitely not skip just because you're excited to get going!
Measurements: I strongly recommend measuring your bust before you start a pattern. Most patterns will be sized by bust measurement (around the widest part of your bust), so knowing your own measurement means you can choose the size that will fit you best. I've made the mistake in the past of choosing a size based on clothing size and had things turn out either too big or too small, which is such a shame when you've spent so much time working on something.
Gauge: garment patterns will have a gauge measurement that you will need to meet in order for your sweater/top to measure what it's supposed to for your size. I cannot stress enough how important gauge is! Not bothering to gauge swatch is the reason some of my projects have not turned out the right size for me, which was obviously really disappointing. If your gauge is off, you also run the risk of running out of yarn for your project, and no one wants that! Since I've started pattern testing, I now religiously swatch for everything.
Read the pattern: before you start, read through the pattern so that you know what is coming up next while you're working on it. I'm not saying read it word for word, stitch by stitch, but look through it so that you have a good idea of each step. Sometimes you can get into a rhythm with a project and get carried away, only to find out that you missed a step 10 rounds back. I personally hate having to frog, so I always check my pattern to make sure I'm still on track. Using stitch markers can be really useful if you need to count rows or stitches to check where you are in the pattern too.
If you don't already have a pattern in mind, here are a few suggestions ranging from beginner friendly to intermediate.
Summer Romance Top by Blue Star Crochet
I tested this pattern, and it would be a great first garment to crochet. Designs made up of panels can be less daunting as they are worked up in smaller pieces and then joined together. The Summer Romance Top is made up of two T-shaped panels worked in a deceptively easy pattern repeat with DK yarn, meaning it crochets up quickly. The pattern suggests sewing the panels together, but you could crochet them together if you're more comfortable with that. This is a lovely summery crochet top that's really comfortable, I wore mine loads last summer! The free pattern is available on the Blue Star Crochet blog here.
Rosebud Raglan by Knits 'N Knots
This is a top down design, worked raglan style in joined and turned rounds. It uses basic stitches - single and double crochets (UK double and treble crochets) so it's totally achievable for someone new to garment making. There are also helpful photo tutorials included in the pattern. I really enjoyed making this sweater and loved the look of it, but I wasn't happy with the fit on me in the size I chose, so I gave this one away to a friend. I do plan to make another though!
Neverland Top by Nomad Stitches
This is another pattern made up of two panels, which are seamed together before the sleeves are added. It has a simple filet crochet design worked in double crochet (UK treble crochet) and chains. The pattern has lots of photos and charts as well as written instructions. This is one of my favourite makes, I love the design and find it really comfy to wear.
Goldenrod Sweater by Eleven Handmade
The Goldenrod Sweater is a lovely, eye-catching pattern that will test your new-found garment making skills just a little. It's a seamless design, worked top down in simple stitches. It's worked in fingering weight yarn but it flies off the hook! This pattern was on my list for quite a while before I found the colour of yarn I wanted to use (I chose Marmalade on Merino Smooth Sock by my local dyers Giddy Aunt Yarns). This is also the only crochet sweater pattern I've ever made twice - the second one was a sample for Bear in Sheep's Clothing. I would recommend practising your puff stitches before starting so that they are as neat as possible in your sweater. Be aware that this pattern is only available in two sizes (XS-M and L-2XL) - for reference, I have a 38" bust and am wearing the smaller size. If I was making another for myself I would probably size up for a looser fitting sweater.
If you have crocheted sweaters or tops before and would like to try a new technique, here are two patterns to try your hand at.
Huldra Sweater by Lillabjorn Crochet
Once you've gained some confidence in your garment making abilities, the Huldra Sweater is a great pattern to move on with. This was actually one of the first crochet sweaters that I made! This pattern uses mosaic crochet, which is a really fun technique. It may look quite complicated but it is easier than it appears, and the pattern is very clear and has lots of helpful photo tutorials. It's top down and seamless, and the sleeve and body length are easily customisable.
RBeadG Tank from By Stephanie Erin
I had the pleasure of testing this pattern, and it's such a fun design. I had never used beads in crochet before, but this pattern totally got me hooked! This is another top down, seamless design with a really beautiful beaded yoke. Adding the beads is easier than you might think, and the pattern includes a helpful video. This would be a perfect top to wear when you're dressing up to go out - whenever we can do that again!
I hope you've found this post helpful and it's given you some confidence to try crocheting garments. Please feel free to tag me on Instagram so I can see what you create!