I don’t know whether it’s the back-to-school air or wanting to “hug” the ones I love, but I’m preoccupied with the notion of knitting more little sweaters to send off to small humans of various sizes. These two patterns (one new, the other a longstanding fave) top my list for being both timeless and gender-neutral, all the better for future hand-me-downs —
TOP: Willard Mini by Alicia Plummer is a sporty little drawstring funnel neck I’d love to have in my own closet
This weekend I sewed myself a pair of linen pants, and I was so excited Monday morning to have two whole pairs of seasonally appropriate pants to choose from that I was asking myself why on earth it took me so long to make such a thing?! They’re the same modified Robbie pants I’ve made several times before (always in heavy canvas or denim), and then I remembered, oh right, that was the hold-up. I’ve made several pairs of pants, and I have this shirt shortage, so I forbade myself to make any more pants till I solved the other problem. Meanwhile, I’ve suffered through jeans and canvas pants all summer for several years running! While somehow not even solving the shirt problem.
Well. Now I have linen pants (bonus: that aren’t black!) and will be making a couple more as quickly as possible.
I also finished off another variation on the Fen mods I’ve been working on, another top, and this one is black. It’s a test run for the follow-up to my yellow Fen dress — I wanted to try out a few tweaks first and have quite a lot of black linen in my stash, bought at Elizabeth Suzann’s garage sale a couple years ago for $2/lb. While it’s a test for a dress, I didn’t want a black dress, plus, y’know, the aforementioned shirt problem, so now I have another linen top as well! And it cost me under a dollar to make. For this one, I sized down to an 18 in the shoulders and sleeve, blending that into the size 20 body and hemming it at hip length. You’ll have to take my word for all this since it’s impossible to see, but in addition to a single breast pocket, it has the same 5″ center-back pleat as ol’ yella, along with an 11″ center-front pleat, and I think this combo is going to make a most excellent dress. I have fabric washed and ready.
My goal is to sew one garment per week for the next few weeks, catching my closet up with my seasonal needs while I’ve got this burst of sewing mojo working for me and a solid plan to follow. So it’s full speed ahead at the moment!
I know some of you are thinking “midsummer?!” We’re moments away from kids going back to school; there was a football game last night; the stores are already putting out their pumpkin-flavored-everything displays. But I still have a good 2.5 months of heat to deal with and can’t afford to start dreaming of fall. Although — even as I tell myself it’s ok to make clothes that don’t work in every season, that that’s the only way to really address clothes for hot weather — I can’t help thinking about how the things I make now will both travel and transition. That’s what I’m loving so much about the color palette I shared yesterday, which is also reflected above: It’s a palette for all seasons. And with the focus on garments with sleeves, I’m dealing with those in-between times I truly am unequipped for.
The only thing that’s happened to my toffee cable sweater since late June is I finished the first sleeve and cuff. I hope to knit the other sleeve this weekend and get back to the body, wrapping it up soon, because I need to get serious about my fall travel project. You can see I’ve got that skein of green wool-mohair out again, and can’t stop petting it. I’ve decided the very simple everyday stockinette pullover I’ve been planning to knit in navy will be preempted by a cheerful green version, and this Andorra is the precise shade of green I want. Sadly, it’s a warmer blend than I should really knit it in, so I’m pondering that while I finish the toffee sweater.
Meanwhile, I’m all about Linen Quest 2019, as seen in the sketches above — dresses plus mix-and-match separates on the horizon. Sketches 1 and 7 are the Fen dress and tunic mods and I’ve posted in the past week, and sketch 2 is the next variation I’m after. Even more caftany. (Likely making that this weekend!) Sketches 3 and 6, shirtdress and shirt, are slight mods on Liesl Gibson’s Gallery tunic/dress that I’ve sewn and loved before. Sketch 4 is my Hemlock mod from a few years ago, the wool gauze that got away, and I don’t know why I never thought to make it in linen. Sketch 5 is a tweaked Scout tee — a pattern I’ve had for some time and have yet to sew. I want to shape it like the rust one on yesterday’s mood board. And the last two are my pleat-neck tee idea and my beloved modified Robbie pants I’ve made a handful of times but all in heavy fabrics. Time for some linen!
It feels good to have a plan, and to have dusted off my machine. We’ll see what I can accomplish before it wants to go back into hibernation again.
So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend! I’d love to hear what you’re up to —
So how does a color-shy minimalist like me factor in significant color, as I’m itching to do? That’s what I’m trying to figure out as I pause for the first time this year to think about what I have and what I want/need to make between now and the year-end. As I alluded to before and will talk more about, I’m focused on the most potent needs right now: a Venn diagram of sleeves, dresses and linen, plus addressing the imbalance in my stack of pants, which are almost entirely heavy cotton/canvas and next to no linen or summer-weight anything.
The challenge of working with linen is it means mostly solids. It’s like a box of crayons. And whereas I have no problem combining solid neutrals (and the occasional stripe), it’s taken some thinking to figure out how to work with crayons in a way that still feels like me. I’ve determined that the secret lies in the specifics of the palette and in combining colors in offbeat ways. What got emphasized when I went to put this into a 2019 Mood board was that it also means tonal dressing, maybe even more than mix-and-mismatch, which again I totally get! I’m just used to doing it with neutrals. But now that I’m seeing it that way, it seems like a no-brainer.
What it comes down to in terms of the palette is augmenting my existing blues and camels and stripes with rusty-pinky-melon tones, yellow, and a hit of spearmint green.
My weekend was all about making that Fen dress idea from last week come to life and I am exceedingly pleased with this first pass at the concept! You may recall the only thing I wanted to change from the tunic version was to bring the neck width in considerably, as I don’t like wide necklines on me. But I also had two design details in mind for the dress-length version that wound up being relevant to the neck situation: A center-front seam in order to have a front slit, and center-back pleat to keep the back of this thing from just being one big flat sheet. In planning the execution of those two details, I realized they were actually the solution to the neck width.
Rather than moving the neckline inwards to make it narrower, the back pleat is sewn 1″ in from the center-back fold, which removes 2″ total from the back neck width but leaves the width of the lower body unchanged. The front pieces were cut along the selvage instead of on the fold, and the seam is likewise sewn 1″ from the edge. This removed a matching 2″ from the front neck width, but also makes the entire front of the dress 2″ narrower. Because it’s a sack, that has no real effect on the fit, and that all made the neckhole exactly right — it fits perfectly over my head. Not wanting to lose even a quarter of an inch in neck circumference, I attached the bias facing in visible fashion rather than folding the whole thing to the inside.
And I totally and utterly love this. I have plans to make assorted variations in other colors — more on that to come!
The only other thing I’ll note about this one for now is that it’s made from some Roma lightweight linen I bought from Fancy Tiger and, although it’s perhaps a teeny tiny bit sheer for a dress if you’re concerned about that, it was an absolute joy to sew with and is a dream to wear. And this shade of yellow is exquisite — it’s neither bright nor muddy, and shifts beautifully with the light. Thankfully, they tell me they’ll get more, because I want a little linen tee in the same color.
It’s a funny paradox when your clothes are basically (or literally) pajamas and yet you feel overly dressy for your warehouse way of life. But that’s where I’m at!
The simple fact is I need more linen clothes for Nashville’s swamp season than the scant few I own. Everything else in my closet is unbearable in this humidity, and what I want is five or six linen sack dresses I can just wear on repeat, but what I have is the black linen pants I have worn nearly to tatters in only two years of nonstop hot-weather wear, and the natural linen-cotton Carolyn pants I sewed last September. So I’m trying to figure out how best to add more linen to my wardrobe and how to make any of it feel like me.
I had an idea for a slit-front sack dress with a kangaroo pocket (a mash-up of assorted other things I’ve seen and loved lately) and decided to test the top part of it using the Fen pattern I already own and some bright cyan linen that’s been in my stash for a few years to make a tunic that could be worn with pants and jeans. I’m quite happy with it comfort-wise — it’s probably as close as linen can get to that slouchy, cut-up sweatshirt vibe — but this particular outfit still feels like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes.
I’d made the Fen top in sizes 8 and 12 before, and for this one all I did is make the size 20, drawing out a straight hemline from the bottom edge of the original shirttail hem, and make a big kangaroo pocket for the front. This is the same neckline tweak I’d done before but somehow it seems bigger here, so on the next one (there will be a next one for sure), I’ll bring the whole neckline in and possibly shorten the sleeves a tiny bit, although I’m liking them rolled like I have them in the photo above.
But what I’m most eager to do is cut a dress-length version. So stand by for that.
Can we talk about this beauty for a minute? It’s the new Easy Puzzle Blanket (free pattern) by Jake Canton for Purl Soho and it not only looks like it would be spectacularly fun to knit (log cabin forever, please) but would be a great stash buster and a perfect travel project. The sort of thing where a little bit of yarn would go a very long way and the project would grow relatively slowly while keeping your hands busy the whole time. (In other words, it’d take up time, not luggage space.) And I’m still so into the idea of a lightweight square that can function as a blanket or a shawl, folded or not. I’m that person who does not have a stash full of fingering weight yarn leftovers, so there’s that to consider. But I can’t stop picturing possible color combos …