My summer uniform 2019

So, it feels like summer is slowly coming to an end. Time to take stock on my summer wardrobe. First of all, I love summer, it’s my absolute favourite season to sew for! So it’s not surprising that my sewing output for summer clothes is pretty high, which gives me a lot of garments to play with and figure out my ideal summer style. And guys this year I really figured out the formula for the perfect outfit!

Give me a pair of Persephones (long or short), a loose fitting top (preferably a Roscoe or a Blaire) and a pair of comfortable shoes. This really is my ideal summer uniform. (That and linen sack dresses, a love that’s well documented on this blog). I’m so glad that I’m finally at a stage where I’m this happy with my wardrobe, in terms of shapes but also fabrics and colour scheme.

It won’t come as a surprise to any of you that the Anna Allen Clothing Persephone Pants and Shorts made it on the list. These are my fourth and fifth pair and they go perfectly with the rest of my wardrobe.

I’ve been dreaming about a natural white pair for ages but couldn’t find a good quality natural bull denim. Then during the move I realised that I had enough heavy weight bull denim left over from my Tello Jacket to squeeze out a pair of Persephones. And by “squeeze out” I really mean squeeze out! I didn’t even have enough fabric for a second pocket. Instead I decided to make it a feature and topstitch the one pocket. I’ve been meaning to try that out, as I find the pocket bags move around too much for my taste. I have to say I love the look. Though if I do this again, I will move the pocket slightly over towards the fly front to give it a more balanced look.

There is not much I can say about the construction of the Persephone at this stage. You can read about my adjustments here and here. The one thing I will mention though is that I batch-sewed these together with the shorts and it was amazing how quickly they came together. To speed up the process I decided to go with a top-stitching colour that would coordinate with both the natural white and the terracotta fabric. On top of that I finished the seams with a zigzag and used a triple stitch with the same thread to get the look of a top-stitching thread. That way I didn’t have to change threads at all. This is such a fast way to produce two garments at the same time! And I love the contrasting top stitching on both.

I paired the white Persephones with a True Bias Roscoe Blouse. This blouse had been on my to-sew-list for ages but I only managed to sew it up for the first time earlier this year. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long! It’s the perfect blouse; so easy to wear and I just love those sleeves. I also really like how it looks in this linen fabric which gives the blouse a bit more structure than intended, and I’m totally into it. I will definitely need to make more of these.

A quick note on this colour. I’m completely obsessed with anything khaki/olive lately. This blouse though was originally a mustardy colour (see here). I loved the original colour but unfortunately the fabric faded like crazy in the wash and looked really worn out. To put the blouse back in rotation I decided to just dye it in a colour that I had lying around (Dylon hand wash dye in olive green) and I couldn’t love it more. It’s like having a brand new garment, and it goes so well with these Persephones.

Another favourite pairing is the Persephone with my trusty Style Arc Blaire Shirt. I made this back in 2017 and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. The fabric is some white linen that I dyed with avocado skins and pits. If you are interested in the process, you can read about it here. Even though it’s been worn on repeat for more than two years now, I’m really happy with how the colour has held up. I’ve washed it a good number of times on a gentle cycle and the colour has not faded much. It has changed slightly in hue though through all the sun exposure and is now a little bit warmer in colour. I actually love the fact that natural colours shift and change over time.

This pairing of garments is so great for hot summer days. The linen of the shirt keeps me cool and comfortable and while the shorts are short the high waist balances the shortness nicely and I don’t feel too exposed.

The fabric for these shorts is actually the same as my long pair of Persephones. I had to play another round of pattern tetris to make them work with the piece I had left over. Luckily these shorts don’t use up a lot of fabric; great for scraps!

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about these shoes. If you have followed me on Instagram or have seen me in real life this summer, you know that I’ve been wearing these leather Huaraches non-stop.

There is a little back story to these shoes. The Germany based shoe company CANO Shoes reached out to me last year to ask if I would promote their Kickstarter campaign. As you’ll know, I rarely do collaborations and in that case, they didn’t have a product for me to test, so I felt uncomfortable to promote a product that I didn’t know. However, I had been looking for the perfect pair of Huaraches for years, and never really found any that were ethically produced, easy to purchase in Europe and fit my style. So in the end I decided to back their kick-starter with my own money for a pair of their Huaraches as a reward. Lucky for me they managed to raise enough funds and when I got back from Japan this May, these Mara Huaraches in Natural Cognac were waiting for me.

I have to say these are great shoes. They took maybe a week to break in, but now they are the most comfortable pair of shoes that I own. They are perfect for summer as they let your feet breathe but still look like a closed shoe. And in my opinion they go with everything, trousers and dresses alike.

So when CANO contacted me again, because they are having a summer sale, I decided to collaborate with them after all. It’s a beautifully crafted product and I love their mission on transparency and sustainability. If you have been looking for a pair of leather shoes for summer you can get them here.

And if you are more interested in making shoes than buying them, I encourage you to check out their Instagram where they regularly give insights into the shoe making process (check out their highlight on boots, so fascinating!).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you use the above links to purchase a CANO product, I will receive a small commission from the sale with no extra cost for you.

Persephone and Mandy

Hello there! We are having a couple of warm and sunny weeks here in Germany and I wanted to check in to show you my new spring uniform: the Persephone Pants (by Anna Allen Clothing) and the Mandy Boat Tee (by Tessuti).

I’ve been wanting to make the Mandy Boat Tee for ages, but somehow never really got around to it. Then I was in Berlin in November and visited Siebenblau, a beautiful shop with organic fabrics, where I picked up this striped jersey with the Mandy in mind. I’ve been stalking them online and was very intrigued by their naturally coloured cotton. Shortly after, I came across the new podcast Reverberate by A Verb For Keeping Warm where in Episode 1 they interview Sally Fox who breeds coloured cotton and explains the history behind it. Definitely worth a listen!

In the shop I was warned that the fabric was warped due to the way it was wrapped on the bolt and that I should wash it and then stretch it in place. Unfortunately that didn’t really work. I stretched, I steamed and stretched but the fabric was still far from rectangular. My last resort was to pin it, while damp, to the wood wall of my bedroom and stretch it into submission. That worked reasonably well, not perfectly, but given the loose fit of the Mandy Boat Tee I decided to use it as it was.

The other struggle I had was the fact that I had only purchased one meter of fabric and with the warped ends even had a little bit less than that to use, so it was difficult to fit all the pattern pieces. In the end I had to piece the sleeves and shorten them slightly.

The construction process on the other hand was a breeze, thanks to the jersey being very stable. Another reason for being able to achieve a neat finish was that I finally purchased some flexible seam tape (I used the Vlieseline Nahtband Flexibel T15) that helped immensely with stabilising the neckline and the hem. Why have I not started using this sooner?

Excited about adding a new staple to my wardrobe I put it on but immediately realised that the sleeves were far too tight. Apparently the sleeve is drafted with a lot of negative ease and my fabric did not have a ton of stretch. Since I didn’t have any fabric left over to re-cut the sleeves I could only let out the seams a little bit. Now it’s wearable but still on the tight side. So next time I’ll definitely widen the sleeves. In terms of sizing, I used the new graded version of the pattern and chose a size 2 (S-M).

Despite all the struggles, I’m really happy with the final tee. The fabric is beautiful and lovely to wear. Now I finally understand why everyone loves the Mandy Boat Tee. It’s so easy to wear and I love the boxy fit. Once I have sorted out the sleeves I’m sure I will make more.

This pair of Persephones has been a long time coming. After I had finished my first pairs last summer I knew immediately that I wanted to make a denim pair. However, somehow I just couldn’t find a good heavy-weight denim neither in shops nor online. Then The Fabric Store had their sale at the beginning of the year and in addition to the merino jersey that I came for, I added a length of a 12 oz denim in Indigo to my cart. The fabric is actually perfect for the Persephones. The 12 oz weight is heavy enough to give them the needed structure but still thin enough so that my domestic sewing machine could handle it.

In terms of fit adjustments I made the same as for my first full-length pair (here the blog post with all the details). In summary, I sized down to a 10, shortened the front crotch, deepened the back darts and added a curved waistband with a centre back seam. When I basted them together to check the fit they came out bigger than expected. This was due to a combination of two factors. First, I had lost a little bit of weight after changes to my diet and second this denim, while being non-stretch, has some give whereas the fabric on my previous pair had none. To make them sit a little bit tighter I took them in through the inseam of the leg and some further through the back darts. They still sit a little bit looser than my other pair but they keep their shape nicely and are super comfortable to wear.

While I loved the construction of the original button fly, I do think a zip fly is a little bit more practical to wear. I could have probably figured out how to convert the button fly but decided to purchase the Zipper Expansion Pack that Anna just released. The construction is slightly different to what I normally do (which is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans method) but it came out beautifully. I love learning new techniques!

I also added some length to the legs. With a generous 5 cm double hem they finish just at my ankle. This makes them a little bit more practical to wear in cold weather, without the need for knee-high socks all the time.

Since I went with denim, I decided to go all out with the top stitching details. I chose an orange colour and loved adding all the details. I also incorporated the pretty selvage by using it as the belt loops. To top it all off I used a white bone button from Fringe Supply Co. The white button with the orange stitching makes me so happy!

So, another pair of Persephones down and I think I’m still not done with the pattern. I might make an off-white pair or one in khaki. I’m constantly inspired by the all the great versions popping up in my Instagram feed (just check out the hashtag).

Hope you are all getting some sunshine, wherever you are!

Summer of Basics Part 2 – The Persephone Pants

The whole sewing scene has been going crazy about the Anna Allen Clothing Persephone Pants since they came out earlier this year and finally I know why. It really is a magical pattern that looks amazing on everyone!

When they came out, I was immediately tempted to make them; however, I already have the Lander Pant pattern in my stash and the two patterns are very similar. I’ve already made the Lander Pants this winter but struggled to make them work for me (read all about it here). I could have probably experimented more with that pattern but in the end I decided to buy the Persephone pattern, based on all the amazing reviews.

These Persephones are on my Summer of Basics list since I’ve been searching for the perfect wide-legged trousers for ages. What I love about Summer of Basics is that it forces me to really focus on garments that I actually need in my wardrobe. The fact that the challenge is spread out over three months allows me to take it slow and make them with the attention they deserve.

With these trousers I knew I had to get the fit right, so I read a lot of reviews and decided to make the shorts version as a wearable muslin. Even though a lot of people had mentioned that they had to size down with this pattern, I decided to go with the size that corresponded to my measurements in the hips (a size 12) and take it in at the waist through the darts. While the shorts are comfy and wearable, they did turn out too big as anticipated, but at least I knew it would be safe to size down for the long pair.

I did not have a vision for the cropped version in terms of colour. Initially I wanted to make them in some navy twill I had in my stash but the fabric basically disintegrated in the wash. While I was annoyed at the quality of the fabric and the waste, I’m glad I realised the issue before sewing it up. Just imagine, it could have ripped while I was wearing it! Due to the lack of bottom weight fabric in my stash I had to go to the fabric shop (the usual in my home town) to find something suitable. And there it was, the perfect medium weight twill in the most gorgeous brick/terracotta colour; not too thick but slightly stiff, ideal! Lately I have been drawn to all the earthy browns which is a departure from my normal colour palette but works perfectly with the rest of my wardrobe.

The construction of the trousers was very straight forward. Since I had already sewn the shorts version I knew all the construction techniques and changes I had to make, which included the following:

  • going down by one size to a 10
  • deepening the back darts
  • removing 2 cm from the front rise
  • swapping the straight waist band for a curved one with a centre back seam

All these changes were easy to make, but massively improved the fit. The amazing thing is that this pattern does not have any side seams but still it was possible to make these fit on my pear shape figure. Amazing!

The construction of these are a lot of fun too (thanks to very detailed instructions). I love how the button fly front comes together. The only change I made was to add horizontal seams on the inside to give it more stability. The pockets hidden at the waist seam are such a fun detail! While maybe not the most practical to reach into, they are able to hold a phone (proof below).

Since my overlocker is currently in storage, I finished the seams with a zigzag stitch and top stitched them as instructed. The only mistake I made was to not catch the belt loops in the waistband seam (I was so focused on getting the waistband fit right) but it didn’t bother me enough to unpick it. The pocket bags are from a striped cotton and the buttons are the results of my laser cutting adventures the other week. They are frosted plexiglass and actually work perfectly for this style as they don’t add too much bulk at the button front.

So as you might have guessed from the pictures, or my spam on Instagram, it is love! This is one of these styles that I always admired on other people but wasn’t sure I could make work for me. In the end they feel very me. I love wearing them and even my husband doesn’t mind them too much. I guess that’s because they are more tight-fitting than my other “clown trousers” (as he calls them).

The fit, with only a few tweaks is great (at least in my opinion), tight enough through the hips, and no gaping at the waist! Also the fabric turned out to be perfect for the style. The outdoor pictures were taken after a full day of wear and the wrinkles aren’t too bad, the fabric holds the shape of the legs really well and most importantly they don’t bag out through wear.

I’m loving these so much that I have included them in my Summer 10×10. The idea of the 10×10 challenge is to choose 10 items of clothing and wear them in 10 outfits over 10 days (for my picks and more details see my previous blog post). I hope this challenge helps me to become more adventurous with styling my me-mades and better figuring out my style, which has been evolving a lot lately.

So, I’m probably the last one to get on the Persephone Pants train, but I’m so glad I did! I’m already planning another pair maybe in a natural white bull denim or canvas?