Summer of Basics 2018: The Plan

Hello friends!

I meant to get this post out sooner, but I was floored by the the worst flu I’ve had in years which knocked me out for two weeks. Before that, my cat died unexpectedly and it took me a couple of weeks to get my head towards making things again. Nevertheless, I’m now on the road towards a couple of projects, and I’ve decided to participate in the ‘Summer of Basics’. What’s Summer of Basics? Let me tell you!

This is the second year that Karen Templer of Fringe Association organizes the Summer of Basics.  For those who are not familiar with the event, it is a sort of challenge to crafters who spend their time knitting or sewing intricate sweaters or fancy fashion all winter, and calls upon them to take a break, sit down and use the summer to craft some beautiful basics. There´s a couple of rules:

– Make 3 items in 3 months
– The items can be either knitted or sewn
– The items have to be basic, but what basic means is not the same for everyone.

The theme for my personal Summer of Basics projects will be warm weather clothing. Before the Summer of Basics was announced I had actually already planned to dedicate this summer to making summer clothes. The end of April, the whole of May and most of June have passed in a succession of heatwaves, which apart from being very unusual and worrying in itself, also made painfully clear how little I have to wear when the weather really heats up.

The thing is, I clearly love making clothes, and part of why I love it is to express myself, to express who I am and what I stand for. So, my favourite things to make are… my favourite things. Looking at my wardrobe it is not hard to guess what my favourite seasons are, and in turn for which seasons I like dressing. I know we all have our preferences, and I know for many people, their favourite season is summer, and that is completely fine. Honestly, I’m not judging. But when I plan to knit or sew something I naturally gravitate to autumn/winter apparel. Even in my sewing projects, I just stick sleeves on everything. So, I knew that for planning out my makes I had to do some honest soul searching as to why I low-key hate dressing for summer. Plainly liking other seasons more, or having hay fever, don’t tell the whole story here.

The truth is, I just feel uncomfortable in most summer clothing. Patriarchy and growing up with eating-, and body image disorders in my close environment have left me with a dose of body discomfort myself. Getting constant catcalls about my bust size from an early age made it worse. It wasn’t until I got older, got more into feminism and came in contact with terms like body positivity, the male gaze and internalized misogyny that I recognized what happened to me, and recognize the poisonous pressures society puts on women. Even though I now recognize these issues, and am able to handle them  lot better, I’m not immune to them. Simply wearing fewer clothes -even to cope with heat- always makes these things more obvious, and in turn more uncomfortable.

So, for this summer of basics I want to make things that take my feelings of discomfort away and turn my thoughts about bodies and what I want to project to the world into something creative. I want to experiment a bit, this might be a bit of weird premise for an event that is all about making basics, but who says that basics shouldn’t stretch a maker’s skill? In turn, by shaking things up a bit, I want to bring back some of the joy in dressing for summer.

Since I am focussing on hot weather clothing I will not be knitting anything for this challenge. It feels a bit strange to not knit anything for a challenge that actually allows knitting, since I feel I am a knitter first and anything-else second, but the challenge focusses on gaps in your wardrobe and truthfully my closet of knitwear is quite substantial as is. I am aware that summer knits actually do exist and I thought for a bit of making a summer sweater or something, but each time I started thinking about it it morphed into something else that just wouldn’t qualify for summer.

So what are the projects that I am going to make?

Photo © Named Patterns

1. A pair of summer trousers – Ninni Culottes (Named Patterns)
 One of the big gaps in my wardrobe is warm weather clothes that I can wear outside, biking, generally living life without worrying about looking like a hot mess or accidentally flashing someone. I was mulling this over and when it hit me that culottes were the answer I felt slight stupid for not realising it before. Culottes look effortlessly cool and chic on everyone I’ve seen them on so far and their floatyness makes them perfect for warm weather wear. That is the theory, but it is not a style I’ve ever worn, so I am curious how this style experiment will work out for me in practise. I’ve picked Named Ninni Culottes (possibly the easiest culotte pattern on the market?) to ease myself into my first foray into trouser making. This will be my first project for the summer of basics, so should be the first project appearing on the blog (if not, feel free to yell at me or something!).

2. A jumpsuit – Yari Jumpsuit (True Bias).

I know jumpsuits are probably not the first thing when you think about basics, as they are not exactly basic in construction or wardrobe stable basics, but their attraction as summer wear is undeniable. Jumpsuits appeal to me for many of the same reasons that I decided to make culottes for the summer of basics: they look cool and feel cool even when you are trying desperately not to melt when the world around you is stupidly hot. I debated between two styles that I liked and have seen a lot of lately: first, there is the boho/festival look jumpsuit, which is especially suited to summer. Burda has done a couple of them and I think Knipmode magazine as well. In the end I decided to go for second style I’ve seen making the rounds on instagram: a more minimalistic, linen style. It’s probably the heat, but I’m currently going through a bit of a linen phase. Contenders for this one were Marilla Walker’s Roberts collection and the Yari Jumpsuit from True Bias. I’m currently leaning towards the Yari jumpsuit, because the shorts version lends itself better to summer, and I’m quite taken with the seventies influence. Who knows, if it is a success I can always make the Roberts for autumn.

I’m interested to see how this will work for me. I haven’t owned or worn jumpsuits since I was a kid -there are pictures of a tiny me and my cousin wearing matching ones on holiday in France. They must have made quite an impression on me, as they are still etched in my brain. Being a practical sort of person I’m especially interested to see how much the toilet situation will annoy me and whether it is outweighed by the pros of the garment. Stay tuned for that later in the summer! (I feel I really missed my calling in life not going into advertising…)

Photo © Closet Case Files

3. A summer dress – Kalle Shirtdress (Closet Case Files)
I live in dresses, so it felt weird not to include one here. While I have and wear a lot of dresses, I really need one geared fully towards summer: a sleeveless or short sleeved easy breezy one. Most prominent candidates so far include the Kalle Shirtdress, a darling of the sewing world and while the loose shaping is definitely a new direction for me, it’s also one of the features that attracts me the most to the pattern. Other shirtdress candidates are Grainline’s Alder Shirdress, the Jessica Dress by Mimi G and Sew Over It’s Penny dress. A final option is the Kielo wrap dress by Named, another darling of the sewing world. It’s possibly my favourite wrap dress pattern; its a unique style and I even find the untied version weirdly charming. I really like this dress, however it is also the only option in this entry I don’t have fabric for yet, making it drop a bit in the hierarchy.

The dress will be the final project I make for the summer of basics so it’s the one I’m most open-minded about. August is still a bit away, and my mind on this project might change a few times until then.

So there you have it, my sewing plans for the summer. Even though I missed the first month I feel pretty confident I can actually do this. I’m seriously motivated because I desperately need to have more stuff to wear for this ludicrous heat we’re having this summer.

Speak soon!

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