Summer of Basics

A long, long time ago.

(Okay, it was last summer, but it’s October, so it counts.)

As I was saying… A long, long time ago I participated in a little Instagram inspired event called the “Summer of Basics.”  The general idea was to choose to make three garments before August 31 that would fall  into the wardrobe “basics” category.  Typical Diana, I started the summer with a serious list of epic projects (like jeans, coats and colorwork sweaters) that involved purchasing all new patterns, all new materials, a year off from my job, and the sale of one of my kidneys to afford it all.  Clearly, I needed to rein myself in.

I decided to use the self-imposed stipulation that I needed to already own either the pattern or fabric/fiber, as my guideline.  It felt good to move things from the stash to the hanger, and I’m finding that second kidney really handy.

After a summer of making lots of things for other people (which was great fun), it was nice to make a few things for myself.

Basic #1: Chambray shirt dress

All summer, I found myself reaching for a simple throw on dress that did not exist in my closet.  Something that would look nice, but also be casual…  Wiksten tank dress to the rescue.

Already owned pattern: Wiksten tank dress/top pattern

Already owned: Chambray from JA Fabs I believe.

Modifications: No pocket, serged seams

My take: I’ve made several tank tops from this pattern already, so the dress was an easy sell.  I opted to leave off the pocket so it would be a tad bit “dressier,” and took my time to match the stripes – using the bottom edge of the armpit as my guide.   Success!

Ginger makes an excellent pattern weight…

Basic #2:  Crop Pants

Already owned pattern: Emerson Crop Pants by True Bias

Newly Purchased: Robert Kaufmann Cotton/Linen blend Essex from Fancy Tiger



I grabbed this pattern last spring and finally their magic was realized. (Also, when sewing on a deadline, changing serger thread is optional… nobody has time for that nonsense.)

Mods: I did add back pockets, because I feel strongly that any additional layers between my cheeks and the world are a benefit for society… they do buckle a little at the top because of the elastic waistband, but since I won’t be tucking a shirt into these, that part is hidden.

My take: I will certainly be adding another pair (or three) of these to my wardrobe.  The pockets and pleat detail at the front elevate the simplicity of the elastic waist pants.  I’d definitely recommend this as a good first pants pattern, as the construction was easy and straightforward.  I cut a straight size six  with no adjustments. I’ll be honest – I have mixed feelings about elastic waistbands in general – on the Emerson, the flat front is a nice touch, but I find that where the elastic gathering begins at my hips isn’t super flattering with tops that shows off the waistband. Untucked shirts will be my go-to with these.

Basic #3: Knit Hat

Newly purchased Pattern: Proof by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed

Stashed yarn: Junegrass batch #1 from Fancy Tiger Crafts


Mods: I couldn’t figure out (read: didn’t have the patience to practice) the tubular cast on that the pattern called for, so I watched this video from Purl Soho and used their long tale tubular cast on method.  It worked fine, though perhaps doesn’t look as clean as Brooklyn Tweed’s method would have.

This hat was straight up fun to knit.  The cables look far more complex than they are to execute, and I adore the yarn.  Junegrass is a Colorado yarn project – sourced and spun right here in the beautiful state I call home.  It’s a DK weight in natural gray, and worked as a solid substitute for the recommended Arbor.  I used their recommended needle sizes, and found the hat came out as specified – it even covers my ears!! I’ll admit that day one of wearing it was a little itchy, but I think I’ll get used to it.  The hat is the tiniest bit on the loose side, so I may try to re-block at some point… maybe I stretched it too much the first time.

Summer of Basics – I think you’re pretty rad.

Until next time,

Di and Her Kidneys


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