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.
I’m deep into the summer struggle. In need of tops with at least a little bit of sleeve for indoors, but in fabrics that are bearable outdoors. Really, this is the summer I absolutely have to learn to wear dresses (and make said dresses) — more about that coming up — but in the meantime, I just really need something to put on my top half with my trusty wide-leg pants, so I can get dressed in the mornings. And I’ve had this little tee in my head.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve had a fixation for a few years now about tops/dresses with volume stemming from neck pleats or gathers. I particularly love a placket combined with gathers. But as far as something simple to sew, simple to wear, I just want a linen tee made slightly more interesting with neck pleats. Rather than proper set-in sleeves, I’m imagining it as just a two-piece situation — front and back — and believe I can get here by manipulating the same old pattern I’m forever messing with. And if it works, I want it in like a few different weird/bright shades of linen.
I’ve never attempted a mod quite like this one, which makes it both a little daunting and a lot of fun. I just need to make the time to try it! Asap.
First things first:There’s a new Field Bag color launching at 9am CT, very exciting — I’ll update this spot and reveal the photo at that time!YES!, that is a photo of an olive-drab Field Bag alongside the matching olive w/waxed army Town Bag and army green Porter Bin! I would say “it’s back,” but it is the same fabric as the body of the new olive Town Bag, which is slightly different than the original army-green Field Bag we’ve all mourned for years. So it’s all new but every bit as wonderful as the late lamented version! And it’s available now atFringe Supply Co.and through ourstockists. We also have the brand new MDK Field Guide: Wanderlust, and are restocked on our sashiko tool kit and the natural Porter Bin!
For anyone new here, Summer of Basics is a very simple concept: Spend the next three months making three pieces your wardrobe could really benefit from. The definition of “basic” is completely up to you — one person’s outlier is another person’s core wardrobe item. You be you! They can be knitted, sewn, crocheted, or any mix thereof. If you take this as an opportunity to stretch your skills, awesome! And everyone is invited and welcome, whatever your age, race, size, gender, ability, you name it — including those in places where we’re headed into winter, not summer. Please don’t let the word “summer” or “basics” deter you!
Remember, this year is Low-key SoB — no eligibility requirements or judging or prizes, just the joy of making good stuff for yourself. You can share your progress — or follow along and chime in — by using the #summerofbasics hashtag on Instagram and/or by posting on your own blog or wherever on the internet and leaving links in comments here for others to see.
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For my trio this time around, I’ve decided on 1 knit, 1 sew and 1 crochet project! (Life circumstances permitting.) Hilariously, they all come from the same color family, which is pure coincidence, albeit born of my obsession with this part of the color wheel at the moment:
1.KNIT: Grace pullover by Denise Bayron Denise is a good friend but I knew nothing about this design until it was revealed a couple of weeks ago as part of the Laine issue that launches today. The instant I saw it, I knew I had to knit it — in the toffee-colored Our Yarn from Fringe — so it was a no-brainer to make it one of my SoB picks. I’ll be knitting at a little bit finer gauge than the pattern (chunky rather than superbulky), but it’s top-down so will be easy to adjust. This will be such a simple, versatile sweater — and in this abbreviated shape, hopefully well worn.
2. SEW: Dress N by Naomi Ito I’ve been obsessed with this Nani Iro dress pattern, simply known as pattern N, since it first crossed my radar last year. I ordered the book at the time — Atelier to Nani Iro, in Japanese — and thought I would brave it. But I’d be lying if I said I weren’t thrilled that the English edition publishes in just a few weeks. I’m determined to form a dress habit this summer (more on that soon) and this one is the obvious place to start. Plus I’ll be using a fabric designed by my pal Alexia Abegg — part of the debut collection for the new Ruby Star Society line launching this summer — which is called She, in a gingery spice color they call Earth. (As it happens, she’s talking about all of this on this week’s episode of the Love to Sew podcast.) Everything about this is a little outside my comfort zone and I am SO excited about it.
3. CROCHET: Joanne hat by Wool and the Gang I desperately need a crushable hat and have never found one that works for me. And I think I’m actually going to try two here — the first being the crocheted Joanne bucket hat from Wool and the Gang (from last summer’s New Favorites), in a tawny colored raffia (the natural was sold out!), and the second being a sewn hat pattern in the Nani Iro book (left image above), which I’m planning to make out of natural canvas, just to see! Hopefully one or the other will actually suit my head and solve my problem, if I can manage to tailor the fit.
There’s also a new Fancy Tiger pattern coming sometime this summer that scratches one my longest-running itches, and I’m considering it a bonus item. I decided to make the hat one of my official 3 instead, to help ensure I actually tackle it!
So that’s my plan, and it seems so doable! How about you — will you join me?
I woke up to such exciting news yesterday: Kay finished her Logalong sweater! And it’s a beauty. (Back story here.) Which is likely what reminded me that my Log Cabin Mitts pattern is a great holiday-weekend project, whether you need something portable for travel or an addictive little something to get into (and scrounge leftovers for) on a quiet weekend at home.
On a totally different front, I’ll be reading the Wikipedia short history of Memorial Day, which — as with just about everything — is more rich and complicated than I recall knowing. And we’re planning to dust off Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary this weekend, which I’ve only ever seen bits of.
However you’re passing the weekend, wherever you are, I wish you the best — and I’ll see you back here next week!