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 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?

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!