Tied, yet unbound

Here I am, another year at school over and, five days in, finally feeling like it might be summer. The weather has been exquisite, but the end of school is always bittersweet with its inevitable farewells, and it takes several days to get past it and into vacation mode. Today I finally feel like I am on vacation, despite the setback of a summer cold which has me sniffling and nasal rinsing repeatedly. Although I am unfettered, my clothing has been less so.


I am unsure what it says about me, but I have been making a lot of garments with ties at the neck. One can see five iterations of the same top (Jalie 2921), although the fifth is in the donation bag due to poor fabric choice. A dress, a blouse and a cardigan are also represented. I had some kind of moment through the bleak midwinter, of needing and wanting all these ties that are not, in actual fact, terribly binding. Most are too short to tie in a proper bow. So why the ties? It is probably best not to dive too deep into that one.

The knit Jalie 2921 has become quite ubiquitous in my wardrobe rotation. The order of construction appears above, although wearing preference would be quite different. The first two were in border prints that were fun to plan. My personal favourite is the navy print, and it gets worn the most often. So often, that a student commented on it. We were doing an inquiry on families and we read this book:

It is about first generation children and how their mothers speak, behave and dress differently than mothers in their new country. The boy reading it with me is a first generation child and he told me that his mother sometimes makes him wear weird clothes. I looked at his football jersey and shorts and said, “Yes, that is a really weird outfit you have on.” To which he replied “Madame, you wear the same clothes every week!” He was correct; it is only the fabric that changes. I do try to vary which of the tie tops I wear, but it all depends on the skirt I wear, and my summer skirts are navy. I finally got around to making a black linen skirt for summer, but it was too little, too late for my fashion critic.

This is the one that did not work out. Love the fabric, but it is just too beefy for the purpose. And I need to wear less black… (according to my seven-year-old critic!)

Brown is a good neutral for me. When I need something that is neither black nor blue (my favourite neutral), I turn to brown. I needed a summer weight cardigan and found a chestnut heather Italian viscose jersey at Downtown Fabrics.

I made a pretty little cardigan to wear over dresses and sleeveless tops. Since I am the Cardigan Queen (when I went to Montréal at the beginning of June for the Chagall exhibit, I went to Simons and bought five cardigans, four of them black!), I needed one for those interior temperature drops. I am always cold, even in summer, especially as I go from exterior spaces to interior ones. This cardigan, from Ottobre magazine, is a nice layer to have and fits in my purse. I opted to ignore all of the procedures using clear elastic (I hate that unwieldy stuff) and interfaced instead. The tie is an attached ribbon from Mokuba, painstakingly matched to the fabric.

The dress is Victory Patterns’ Hazel. It has no closures and pulls on over the head. As a result, it is not terribly fitted, but is very cute. The tie is also long enough to make a bow. I just have to learn how to do it nicely.

I have long thought that the pattern presented a lovely dress, but I was not truly inspired to make it until I saw a review in Threads (pictured on the right). I love the use of the skirt fabric on the collar/tie and cuffs and actually had another planned (in black! And a black/charcoal print.). I ultimately decided that one such dress was sufficient and a great use of the floral wool challis I had purchased in 2013 and never found a use for. Only the skirt is lined, although the bodice has neckline facings. This dress is fun to wear, but being all wool, will have to wait for cooler temperatures. Maybe I do need a summer version…

The blouse is Vogue 8772, which I have made before, a few times and in a few versions. This is a workhorse pattern with many options for collars, sleeves and hem lines. I was first attracted to the pattern because of view B with the tie neck. I have had this silk/cotton since 2013 and always intended for it to be a blouse such as this, but only got it made this winter. It is lovely to wear and has the sheen associated with silk. I still have to work on shirtmaking skills, but I am getting there. There are such a lot of steps and procedures involved; it must be one of the most skill-intensive garments. Shirts and blouses are not quick projects and I tend to avoid them. I am pleased with how this one turned out. The nectarine colour is not great for me, but the mink pebbles help to balance it out somewhat (I hope!). It looks lovely with my brown skirts and cardigans, so I’ll keep it, whilst looking for a good blue or black print.

Here’s to summer! And ties that do not bind.


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