#summerofbasics

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In an ideal world, I’d be making so many more than 3 “basics” for Fringe Association’s summer make-along. (Have you seen my still-untouched queue?) But here in my actual world, consumed by my community garden and traveling and my sister’s wedding and other weddings and all the other summer distractions, and STILL lacking a functional sewing space (a project which may or may not progress itself this summer), I’ll be lucky if I can get to much/any making for myself this summer at all.

For instance, knitting: I’d love to be working on making my olive-green wool Uniform cardigan for myself. Instead, though, I just cast on for a Talon afghan for my sister, who’s getting married in two weeks (!), and I’m already a bit confused about the chart on this. I’m sure once I get the hang of it things will move a little faster, but for now, basically all my knitting time this year will probably go towards that project. (The only bright spot here is that I’ll have LOTS of knitting time on our weeklong road trip to Boston in July, so I’m hoping to get the Talon chart down by then.)

So, if I have any hope to join in on this challenge, it will have to be through sewing. And it’s going to have to stay simple, simple, simple.

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As an aside, I sort of wish that instead of a made-from-scratch challenge this was a mending/refashion challenge, because every time I turn around another piece of my clothing develops some new and exciting issue. Things that I actually need are basically repairs or replacements for items in their death throes. My favorite black cardigan has a hole in the OTHER elbow from the last time I mended it, my favorite pair of slim sneakers is developing a hole in the sole, my ONLY pair of jeans has yet ANOTHER hole in the inner thigh, my cross-body Bookhou purse is falling apart at all seams, and it all just goes on.

I find this intensely frustrating: I finally feel like I am making deliberate and long-viewed decisions about my wardrobe, and yet things still fall apart. I don’t want to buy another pair of shoes; I want the ones I bought! That’s why I bought them. What do you mean, I have to buy jeans again?

Of course, this aspect of wear wouldn’t change whether I bought or made my clothes; either way, especially with my relatively small wardrobe, my pieces show wear and eventually need repair and replacement. I should just be Zen about this, but it’s hard. And visible mending, though beautiful, sort of demotes my clothes from work-appropriate to around-the-house, and I already have plenty of those.

So I’ve been trying to tackle this sort of thing lately, instead of making from scratch:

  • My charcoal-linen Inari dress fell apart at the bottom seams the other month, and since it was already a bit tight around my lower hips (hence pulling at the seams) I decided to try to cut it off to make a top instead. So this weekend, in a fit of not-making frustration, I chucked it down on my hardwood floor, held the cats at bay long enough to plop the Fen top pattern over it, and sort of freehandedly hacked the dress off at the Fen hemline. I put it on, it looked fine enough, so I hemmed it and called it a day. Took maybe 45 minutes, and suddenly it was usable again and back in my closet. I’m wearing it now – calling it my “Fenari.”
  • I had been almost finished with a second wool ankle sock for weeks now, so knitted the toe, got out my grafting instructions, and finished it off… just in time for sandal season.
  • And then I hand-sewed the button placket closed on a loose tencel shirtdress (a RTW purchase similar to the Kalle), which had been gaping at my bust and hips, making it finally wearable in polite company.
  • This is in addition to the other weekend when I spent a frustrating hour and a half fighting with my sewing machine to re-sew patches onto my black jeans, which fit me perfectly except for the holes in the inner thighs, and which still have one small hole in the crotch that I apparently missed and have to tackle in Round 2, sighh.

So that’s all been going on, and I still can’t keep up with the level of entropy in my wardrobe. How am I supposed to find the time to make things from scratch? Get in line, new guys.

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All that said, here are a few thoughts for hopefully-achievable summer basics:

  1. Olive green rayon jersey Plantain tee – I first made a Plantain with elbow-length sleeves out of grey poly/linen jersey from the Joann’s clearance pile, and even without bothering to hem it it’s something I reach for every week. This should be relatively quick, as soon as I sit down and figure out what’s going on with the tension on my serger.
  2. Black tencel tank dress – I’m thinking some mashup of the Tiny Pocket Tank, whose neckline and armholes I love, and the Sway dress. Because who wants a waistline in summer??
  3. Undecided on what my third option might be – I actually do kind of need a summer robe, but a polka-dot rayon Asaka kimono might not be described as a “basic.” I still want to make a black tencel Fen dress and a black poplin Alder shirtdress, and a B&W marl knee-length Sallie dress, and a pair of cobalt-blue running capris, and cotton-lawn Fifi pajamas, and does a canvas shoulder bag count?, and… Etc, etc, etc. I think for now I’ll pencil the Asaka kimono in, even though it’s ridiculous, and see how the first two things go. Because a summer robe IS a basic, of a sort, and I also just really want it. And what’s the point of learning how to sew if you can’t occasionally indulge in making yourself some frippery? (Backup and/or BONUS MAKE: the B&W marl Sallie dress.)

 

Next up, talking about my community garden, which is a terrific amount of work for one person and had BETTER BE WORTH IT.

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