Summer of Basics: Planning and Progress

Posted by: Peanut in MyBlog

Tagged in: Sweater , Summer , Sewing , Knitting

Since we’re now almost half way through August I thought I’d better post about my Summer of Basics plans and progress. Summer of Basics is a lovely idea thought up by Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co. earlier this year where you spend the three summer months (June, July and August) making three basic items for your wardrobe. Any kind of making counts - knitting, sewing, crochet, cobbling, whatever you want to do - and it is up to you to determine what “basic” means. It could be a simple tee or it could be a pair of jeans. For me this year it is a simple elastic waist skirt that will be lovely in hot weather or over tights in the Fall, a flowery tank to wear and layer according to the season, and a sweater that will be especially good for layering.

So far I’m not finished anything but I’ve been steadily working on all three in between other things this summer.

I started with the Gemma tank. The pattern is by Rae Hoekstra of Made by Rae and I really like the way it is loose but not boxy. I especially like the curved lower hem and I think it will look great with jeans. The fabric I picked is something new to me: a cotton sateen from Nani Iro. The print is so summery with its big, painterly flowers and the fabric is very soft and seems to have a nice drape. I think it will suite the pattern really well ... as soon as I get the pattern sorted out. For a simple pattern with only two pieces I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the right fit. In fact, I think I’m making fixes to issues I normally wouldn’t have worried about or even noticed. Evidence of my growth as a seamstress perhaps? Or maybe I’m just getting fussier. The pattern includes two different front pieces based on cup size and I think that’s what got me started: the medium with a A/B cup was a pretty good fit but gaped in places; the small with the C/D cup was also a pretty good fit but too tight across the upper chest. The dart on the medium lay smoother so I started with that one. I took some width out of the back to make it the same as the small and then moved the dart down (too far) and the front strap up (which fixed my too much lowered dart). Next I’m planning to do my first ever sway back adjustment. That puts me somewhere around the fourth or fifth iteration of mocking up this pattern. Hopefully it will be the last and I'll get to start working with my fabric soon.

While I was giving the Gemma pattern a bit of a break I mocked up the Cleo skirt, also by Rae, with much more satisfactory results. Other than putting the skirt onto the waistband inside out and realizing that I didn’t have any 1¼” elastic it went together really well and even when made from an old sheet was comfortable and flattering. I’ve been waffling about whether or not to include the pockets that are part of the pattern. They’d be pretty handy but also mean I can’t do French seams and would have to come up with some other method of seam finishing. In a heavier fabric I’d definitely do the pockets but my fabric is a very lightweight chambray and I’m not sure how much the pockets will be used (dropping my phone in would dramatically change the hang of my skirt) or if they would show through (probably not much).

My last Summer of Basics piece is a Lila Sweater by Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder. The front scoop is a shape I’ve been kind of shy of in the past but I noticed this winter that I was often admiring clothes on other people with this same shape and when I looked at my wardrobe I found a lot of things that would look nice peaking out from below a scooped sweater. One word of warning: there are two versions of this sweater bottom-up and top-down. I bought the bottom-up version before I knew about the top-down one so that is how I’m working it but it means I can’t try my sweater on as I go. I think I like the raglan lines on the bottom-up version better anyway. The yarn I’m using is Tanis Fiber Arts Purewash Worsted in Caramel. I got it last summer intending to make Ease but discovered I hadn’t bought enough. I spent a lot of time trying to find a pattern that suited the yarn and used all of it. Another first on this garment: I didn’t have any appropriate double-pointed needles so I learned to do magic loop for knitting the sleeves. It took some getting used to but once I got the hang of it it went pretty well. Last night I finished sleeve number two and this morning I cast on the bottom hem. The body is going to seem very slow after the zippiness of the sleeves but it will be fun to get to the sleeve join and decrees my way to the neckline. Raglan increases on top-down sweaters always feel like they take ages to me.