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!

Summer of Basics Part 1 – The Tello Jacket

After all the fun I had last year with my Summer of Basics (here the final outfit from 2017) I knew that I wanted to participate this year as well. I love the concept of focusing on making three basics over the course of the summer. I’ve already shared my plans for this year on Instagram (see here). Like last year I’m planning to make a full outfit. The first garment from my list (my June project) was a work wear jacket, and (spoiler alert) I love the final garment!

But let’s start from the beginning. I love sewing outerwear and wanted to make a casual jacket that I could easily throw over everything. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of workwear inspired jackets in the shops and after trying some of them on I was determined to create something similar. Here a couple of my favourites.

Source: Toast, French Connection

Looking for a pattern, the Tello Jacket by Pauline Alice Patterns immediately came to mind. I’ve been seeing some lovely versions popping up recently (e.g. Sara’s or Clare’s). While the design is slightly different to what I was looking for, I knew it would be easy to adapt it.

Regarding the fabric, I had ordered some natural bull denim from Empress Mill, originally to make some Lander pants. When it arrived I loved the texture but thought it might be slightly too thick and stiff for trousers, perfect for a jacket though.

To get the style I was after, I made a number of changes to the pattern

  • First I made a straight size 42, which corresponds to my hip measurements but is two sizes larger than my bust. Since I was going for an oversized look, I decided to size up slightly.
  • The front facing of the original is curved at the bottom but I wanted a straighter look so I squared it off.
  • I slightly widened the sleeves for a more relaxed fit, necessary with this heavy fabric.
  • The original collar is a lot more pointy. I sewed it up as is first, but decided it was looking too 70s; I however was going for more of a Japanese style look. At that point the collar was already attached to the jacket, so I decided to just opened the seam at the collar points, make them more square and top stitch them down. Surely not best sewing practice but I don’t think it’s noticeable.
  • Finally I changed the pockets. The original pattern has one zipped breast pocket and the lower pockets extend over the side seams. To match my original inspiration I decided to just stick with patch pockets. One of the upper pockets attached on the inside. This was a feature that I saw on one of the ready-to-wear jackets and really liked. It’s perfect to keep my phone secure. The pockets were all attached through the facing, which keeps the latter in place.

So that’s it. A long list of changes but all of them easy to make. I think this pattern is a great starting point for a jacket style like this. The instructions are great and it has lovely details such as the elbow darts. I finished all seams with bias binding, which gives it a clean look and a pop of colour on the inside. I also added a hook from bias tape, which I attached with bar tacks. The buttons are simple plastic ones from John Lewis.

While I was sewing the jacket, I wasn’t 100% sure if I would like the finished garment, it looked shapeless and in this calico a bit like a muslin. However, now that it’s finished I love wearing it! It’s such a great simple summer jacket, which goes well with a lot of my wardrobe at the moment. I was contemplating dyeing it (I already sewed it up with cotton thread so it would take the dye) but this off white is growing on me. So for now I’ll keep it as it is, I can always change my mind and dye at a later stage.

I hope you are ready for a lot of pictures. It’s the first time that we are taking pictures here in Colmar and there are so many great back-drops!

Oh and this? Just me casually walking along a colourful wall. I didn’t know that this was so difficult. How does everyone else make this look so effortless?


Green Highlands Wrap Dress + Some Exciting Changes

Another wedding, another Highlands Wrap Dress. I love this pattern! It’s the perfect dress for a special occasion, easy to wear but feminine and elegant. This is the second time I have made this pattern (see my first version here). The first one fit like a charm straight off the bat (size 6 for the top and size 10 for the bottom) so the only modification I made was to shorten the skirt. I liked the original length but had to squeeze this out of 2 metres of fabric. The fabric for this version is a bottle green cupro from Rainbow Fabrics (the green seems to be out of stock but there are other lovely colours). It’s a beautiful fabric from green and blue threads, which has a pretty sheen to it. Compared to the linen of my previous version, this fabric was more difficult to manipulate. I struggled to get the armhole facings to lie completely flat and the darts didn’t really want to be pressed. The upside, however, is that this fabric barely wrinkles. The garden pictures were taken after half a day of sitting in church and on the bus, so not bad at all. Fit-wise there is not a big difference to the first one, though the fabric has less give, which means the neckline sits tighter. The wrap sits nice and secure and I didn’t have to keep it close with a safety pin as I had to do for my previous version.

So all in all, another successful addition to my wedding guest wardrobe. I loved wearing this dress on the day, to a beautiful wedding in the Cotswolds.

Now on to the announced changes: this will be my last blog post from the UK. I’m leaving the country tomorrow to join my husband in France for the summer. We’ll be based in Colmar in Alsace for the next 4-5 month. I’ll be sad to leave Oxford and all the great friends we have made in the UK. On the other hand I am very excited to have the summer off and enjoy the beautiful things in life (which will hopefully include a lot of sewing). Let me know if you have any tips for the French sewing scene!