Japan Travel Wardrobe – Part 1

It’s official, my husband and I have finally booked our holiday to Japan. We’ve been planning to go for two years now (it was supposed to be sort of our honeymoon) and we finally managed to find a date. We’ll be there from the beginning of April until the beginning of March, travelling around the country. I’m very excited!

So what is the first thing a sewist does when they booked a holiday? Dream up a travel wardrobe of course and make a list of things to sew. This list I’ve sketched out focuses on some key pieces I felt I was missing. Clearly I’m already dreaming of warm weather sewing. No worries I’ll take thermals and jackets too.

This list got me so excited that I’ve already sewn half way through it. Today I’m showing you the Claudia Dress and the Stellan Tee. The leather fanny pack is done too (check out my Instagram for a preview) and I’m currently working on the Raspberry Rucksack.

The Claudia Dress by Tessuti has been on my to-sew list since it came out. I love the neckline, the length, the side slits; basically it’s my dream summer dress. I used a Robert Kaufmann cotton-linen mix that I got from Ray Stitch a while ago. It’s a beautiful fabric but it took me a long time to decide what exactly to make with it. I’m glad I decided to pair it with the Claudia dress. It’s the perfect weight for this dress and the stripes work well with this simple shape.

Talking of stripes, I totally copied the idea of playing with stripe direction from Ellen (@ejc______). I saw her version of the Claudia on Instagram and immediately wanted to make my own. I broke up the front pattern piece into two (actually just at the place where you would stick the two pattern pieces together) and cut one piece on grain, the other one cross-grain. The back stripes are aligned with the ones of the lower part of the front. I made sure to pattern match just above the slit where both sides meet and love this little detail.

In terms of sizing I graded from a size S at the top to a size M in the hips. The amount of ease around the hips is perfect, at the top though I had to take the dress in quite a bit through the side seams. Now it sits close enough to not show any boob but it’s still relatively loose so that I can wear a T-shirt or turtleneck underneath. I tried to be super careful with the armhole stitching to not stretch it out (I stay stitched instead of using tear-away vilene as suggested in the pattern), still it gapes a little. Something to improve on the next version.

For the facings I used the main fabric, but decided to also invert the stripe. I figured rather than trying to match up the stripe I would create a sort of checkered pattern if the fabric was to sheer. And indeed you can see a faint pattern in the right light, which I think is quite fun.

The dress has pockets that are topstitched to the front. While I like the construction and the fact that they are there, I feel the pockets are really tiny, and I don’t even have big hands! Something to keep in mind if you ever make this pattern.

While I like the dress loose as drafted (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture), I also sewed up a tie to cinch in the waist. It breaks up the front bodice and adds a little bit more to the stripe play.

All in all it’s a wonderful pattern. For my next version I might hack it into a top for summer.

Next up is the Stellan Tee by French Navy. It’s a FREE pattern and a great contemporary version of a tee. I love the high neck and the relaxed fit.

The fabric is the ochre merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t really wear yellow/mustard colours, but it suits my husband so I had ordered some to make him a T-shirt. While the fabric was sitting in my stash, I got curious and decided to give this colour a try. So I stole a piece to make the Stellan Tee (don’t worry, there is still enough left for my husband).

It’s a simple tee, nevertheless, the instructions are nice and thorough. I’m not much of a T-shirt sewer, so this was actually the first time that I used the technique to enclose the back neck seam allowance with tape. I love how clean it looks and will definitely add that to any future T-shirts.

I don’t have a coverstitch machine, so I used a small zig zag stitch to finish the neck and hems. I always thought it looked a little bit amateurish though these days I actually really like the look of it.

The sizing for me is spot on. I made a size S based on my bust measurements and there is plenty of room even at the hips.

The hem is drafted as curved, which was a bit fiddly to sew. It’s a cute detail, though I might straighten it out next time to give it an even cleaner look.

Such a quick and satisfying sew and this merino is a dream to wear! My husband only wears merino shirts these days and I can understand why. It’s perfect for any climate and will be great for travelling.

Stay tuned for more holiday sewing!

Summer 10×10 Challenge 2018 – The Experience

So the Summer 10×10 Challenge is over and I thought I’d quickly run you through my outfits and the lessons learned. First of all I loved choosing and wearing my 10 pieces. It was surprisingly easy to stick to them, and there are even more outfit combinations I want to try.

Here a quick run-down of what I wore each day:

Day 1: black linen Peppermint Magazine Spring Shorts (a free pattern!) and self-drafted cheesecloth top (both unblogged) for a quiet day staying in. It’s the perfect outfit for the crazy hot weather we’ve been having lately.

Day 2: thrifted lilac tank and self-drafted natural linen skirt (unblogged). I love the colour scheme in this outfit, so summery! Apparently lilac is the new millennial pink (thanks Katie for letting us know) and I can see why. I went from a slight aversion towards anything purple to being obsessed within a couple of days. I’m already planning to add more of this colour to my wardrobe.

Day 3: Blaire Shirt and Persephone Pants. All the earthy colours in one outfit. This was an Instagram favourite and I agree, it’s a great colour combination. In terms of sewing patterns these two are absolute favourites, I love sewing and wearing them!

Day 4: thrifted and altered black linen dress. Already a favourite from last year and I’m really enjoying wearing it this summer too.

Day 5: Persephone Pants, here paired with the cheesecloth top to get some pictures for the blog. Brown and natural white seem to be the colours of my summer. It might have to do with me wanting to blend in with my surroundings ;)

Day 6: Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse and self-drafted skirt for a trip to Basel for the Swiss national holiday. This skirts turns out to be exactly the summer skirt I needed. It was perfect for people watching by the river and strolling through the city.

Day 7: Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress. This was not on my original list of 10 pieces, but I realised that it would not be cool enough to actually wear my Tello jacket, so I swapped it with this dress for a dinner out. I love this dress and am glad that with the summer we are having and our life in France I have more opportunities to wear it out.

Day 8: Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse and Peppermint Magazine Spring Shorts. An easy breezy outfit, trying to combat the heat.

Day 9: thrifted linen dress (again) for a trip to Freiburg. Again this dress has proven to be the perfect dress for very hot days. The long skirt with the slits creates a breeze when walking and it’s linen and so loose it barely touches my skin.

Day 10: thrifted tank and Persephone Pants. This was one of the colour combinations I’d been most excited to wear. In the end it was too hot to really wear this outfit the whole day but I am keeping it in mind for cooler days. To switch things up I am wearing this outfit with a belt I just made. I haven’t worn belts in ages (not really necessary if you sew your own trousers and they fit properly) but since my husband and I have taken up leather working, I decided to make one for myself. I’m still getting used to wearing a belt, but I’m excited to try out some different styles.

So what are the lessons learned from this little challenge?

  • I love the colour palette I chose and instead of getting sick of wearing the same colours I am only more obsessed with them. I feel I need to add even more brown, orange and lilac to my wardrobe.
  • Taking daily pictures indoors is hard. Our flat only gets little direct sunlight and we are facing a church with pink walls, which makes it very difficult to get clean pictures. I really need to improve my photography and picture editing skills!
  • I am bad at accessorising. I tried to make an effort to accessorise more, but I really struggled. I just like simple, unfussy outfits (and don’t even own that many accessories). I do want to try and get better at this in the future as I find that the right accessories make a look feel more intentional. I’m planning on making/buying some minimalist pieces that fit my aesthetic.
  • I don’t mind wearing the same shoes every single day. These sandals are so versatile! I will need to add some more summer shoes to my collection though, otherwise these will be worn out by the end of the summer. I’m currently working on my shoe-making skills, which is very exciting!
  • Most difficult item to combine: the Dove blouse. While I love it on its own, it had a different vibe than the rest of the wardrobe so it felt slightly out of place.
  • Most favourite outfit to wear: anything that included my Persephone Pants.

So that’s it. All in all a very successful experiment. I stuck to my 10 pieces and didn’t mind that I was limited in what I could wear. I love the idea of a small, mix-and-match wardrobe. I am conscious though that summer has made things very easy as no layering was necessary. I’m not sure I would have had the same success in winter, maybe I’ll join the winter edition, to really challenge myself.

I’m still figuring out my new style, but it becomes increasingly clear to me what silhouettes, colours and fabrics work for me (loose silhouettes and all the linen!) and which don’t . This should make planning future projects a lot easier. The only issue now is that I am so inspired and have so many project ideas that I don’t even know where to start!

Summer 10×10 Challenge 2018 – My Picks

There are so many challenges on Instagram that it’s hard to keep up. One that I’ve followed for a while and which I’ve been very tempted to join is the 10×10 challenge, which is organised by Lee Vosburgh and Caroline Joy. The idea is to choose 10 items of clothing and wear them in 10 outfits over 10 days. While it is not a challenge specifically for makers (the focus is on ethical, thoughtfully chosen clothes and small, capsule wardrobes) a lot of makers have participated in the past.

I’ve been following this challenge for the last few rounds (it’s run every season), however, I’m participating for the first time with this Summer 10×10 which started yesterday. I love summer but for the last 4 years I was stuck in an air conditioned office and had to wear layers and basically the same work wardrobe all year round. Now living in France with the summer off I have finally the time and climate to join.

Narrowing down my 10 pieces was actually quite straight forward. While my style has evolved over the last month it’s going in a clear direction. A lot of loose fitting clothes, neutral shades but with some newly discovered earthy tones. The garments selected have either been firm favourites for the last few summers or they are new additions that I am very excited to integrate in my existing wardrobe.

So let’s go the 10 pieces I picked, shall we?

Item No. 1: SyleArc Blaire Shirt, avocado-dyed (find the full blog post here). This shirt has been one of my favourite shirts since last summer, so of course it had to be included. Also my love for the colour blush has not yet faded.

Item No. 2: Self-drafted tie front top (unblogged). I picked up this cheese cloth last summer because I loved the texture. To let the fabric shine I decided to draft a simple top, made from two rectangles. It’s so breezy and has been perfect for any super hot days this and last summer.

Item No. 3: A silk-linen-viscose tank from the second hand store. This lilac colour is something I don’t usually wear but I couldn’t pass on this beautiful tank, the fibre composition and the cut are perfect. And guess what, the colour is really growing on me. That’s the beauty of thrifting, you pick up things that are maybe not 100% your style and you end up loving them.

Item No. 4: Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse. I tested this pattern for Megan two years back (here the original post). I slightly refashioned the original version by shortening the sleeves and making the high-low hem less pronounced (find the changes here) and now it’s become my go-to summery blouse.

Item No. 5: Peppermint Magazine Spring Shorts in black linen. I love this free pattern! I made my first version two years ago during the Fold Line Sewing Weekender (here a picture, it’s tencel and perfect for the summer heat). Since then I’ve made it three times as Christmas presents (see here). So to deal with the heat here in France I decided to make another two versions for myself, one of which are these black linen shorts. For all these versions I removed the paper bag waist detail of the original pattern to make them easier to wear.

Item No. 6: Anna Allen Clothing Persephone Pants in terracotta cotton twill (not yet blogged, but they’ll be up soon). This pattern seems to be the pattern of 2018 and now I understand why, it’s such a joy to sew and the fit and shape are so flattering! I’ve been contemplating making this shape of trousers for a while, and after a less successful experience with the Lander Pants, I have found the perfect pattern. I’m very excited to mix and match these with my existing wardrobe.

Item No. 7: Maxi skirt from natural white linen (unblogged). None of my summer skirts survived my closet purge before the move and it was about time to remedy that. It’s another self-drafted garment, literally just one rectangle joined at the side with an elasticated waist and a slit at the side for walking/swishing. After a day of wearing it I added a patch pocket. It adds a little bit of interest and makes this skirt much more practical.

Item No. 8: Black linen maxi dress from the charity shop. This is another example of why thrifting is so much fun. Last summer I took a pottery course in Oxford. Completely energised by the experience I went to a charity shop afterwards and came across this dress. It was too big on me but I could see the potential. However, it was one of the cases of “I wish I was cool enough to pull this off” and I was just about to put it back when I decided that if I could make beautiful things my first day doing wheel throwing I could wear a black maxi dress. So I bought it, took the sides in and have been wearing it a ton since. It’s comfy, it’s cool. Maybe it looks like a shapeless sack, but I don’t care. In fact this dress inspired the previous skirt. Somehow I’m feeling the long skirts (preferably in linen) and high slits this summer.

Item No. 9: My Pauline Alice Patterns Tello jacket (find the blog post here). Including this jacket was a no-brainer. Since I’ve finished it two months ago it’s the only jacket I reach for. It’s easy to wear and these pockets are just the best, especially for carrying around wine bottles, ask me how I know ;)

Item No. 10: Sandelles leather sandals (these ones here in tan). My shoe game is not on point this year. My espadrilles are sadly falling apart and I haven’t learned sandal making yet (on my list for next year). So my beaten up sandals that I bought a few summers ago will have to do. I like their versatility and have been wearing them for four weeks straight so I should be able to get through another 10 days with them.

So that’s it, 10 pieces that I love. It’s a new colour palette for me, more earthy than usual, it must be the change in climate. I’m very excited to come up with different outfits and be inspired by all the other participants. You can follow along on Instagram where I will post daily pictures, and check the #summer 10×10 and #10x10challenge hashtag, it’s very inspiring! I’ll also make sure to write a round up post here afterwards. Happy summer!