Railroaded

I think I've wanted a pair of railroad stripe denim pants for nearly as long as I've been making pants. This past weekend, I finally did the thing. Photographed on a railroad track, naturally.


Pattern: Fayma's Nightly Walk Pants
Cost: sponsored

The impetus for these pants came about when Modes4U, a Hong Kong-based company selling everything cute and kawaii, reached out to offer some fabric. Even if cutesy prints aren't your thing, I found they had a wide range of fabrics in my style, from Kaufman denim to Art Gallery knits. And, of course, the fabric I have had in and out of my shopping cart for ages - this amazing railroad stripe denim

I typically sew with stretch denim (10% or more) so was a little wary of using something more rigid. However, this denim is only 6 oz and feels very soft. The pants sewed up beautifully and are really easy to wear. They even have a little spandex in them. I actually ended up walking a few miles to take photos (and go on a dog walk) and they felt great. 

To get that comfy faded look, I used the "wrong" side, which has the appearance of a lighter wash. I did an extra wide hem (4") so they would work folded at the cuff as well. And stripes are always fun to play with, so these pants utilize the stripes vertically in the legs, horizontally on the waistband, and diagonally on the back pockets. They have double belt loops in the front and crossed loops in the back. 


For these pants, I also had the opportunity to try out Fayma Patterns, who reached out around the same time to offer me one of their custom patterns. This is my first time using Fayma, and what's interesting about this company is that each pattern is uniquely fitted to you. To get your pattern, you submit 35 (!!) measurements and two photographs (front and side) and they generate something just to your measurements.

I was honestly a bit skeptical about how well this would work. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I love pants and find them equal parts fun and challenging to fit. The idea that a company could produce something for all my unique fitting challenges was intriguing, but I didn't really think it would work. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. My muslin was really well balanced, with the side seam hanging straight down my leg. There were no odd wrinkles at the front or back crotch, which is a common problem area for me. And they fit my legs well, from the curves of my hips, thighs, and calves. It does help that this is a less-fitted design, but really it hung very nicely. 

The one problem area, which you can see on the models on their website, is that the crotch is drafted to be a bit low. This probably makes the pattern fit on a wider range of bodies, but it's lower than it should be. I raised mine at least an inch, but probably need to fiddle with it a bit more. So it doesn't hang as nicely there on me as it should. For my final version, I also ended up reducing the wearing ease and tapering the legs somewhat, but those are more about my personal preference for the pants I wanted to make rather than fit issues. Next time I will probably also lower the rise, as these sit at my actual waist - something few patterns usually do as I'm really long-waisted! I really am quite happy with how these fit right out of the printer and definitely plan to use this pattern again. 


All the kids tell me that skinny jeans are out, so I hope this looser style will serve me well. And damn are they comfy. 

October Days Sweater

After knitting for nearly two decades, I think I've finally timed it to actually finish a sweater in the fall. And, more importantly, I'm finally figuring out the types of sweaters I'll actually wear. 


Pattern: October Day Sweater by Masha Zyablikova
Yarn: 8 balls of DROPS Kid-Silk from Garnstudio in rust
Cost: $70

Learning to knit, I gravitated toward chunkier yarns that were easier to work with and came together quickly. However, over time I've become more interested in complicated stitch patterns. I liked to think that I was getting better and making nicer sweaters. Still, they weren't always getting worn. Made in worsted wool, cotton, or even acrylic, I realized most of my sweaters were HEAVY. They felt like a lot to wear, were often too warm, and were not always made in the best quality yarn. 

Recently, after making a t-shirt from sock yarn, I've decided the key is to knit lighter, smaller gauge sweaters that are more wearable. I've also started investing more in nice yarn for my projects. This project is a combination of both those things and I've actually found myself wearing it quite a bit!


The sweater is a modified version of the October Day Sweater. I made it in the recommended yarn (DROPS Kid-Silk from Garnstudio) which is 75% mohair and 25% silk - fuzzy, soft, and really light! I'll admit that the first time I tried on this sweater I felt a bit like a yetti, but after fixing some fit issues it feels much better. 

This is the rust color, which I had a really hard time tracking down but eventually found it on Etsy and got it shipped from Lithuania. This pattern has you knit with two strands together, which knits up quicker than I thought given how small the yarn is, but the end result is still really lightweight. 


The October Day pattern is really beautiful. I was inspired to make it by a sweater in the Spring 2019 collection from Delpozo, which has a similar lacey leaf pattern. To adapt this pattern to look more like the inspiration, I gradually faded the leaf pattern into stockinette rather than carry it through the entire sweater. Either way it's a fun piece to knit and the lace is really beautiful. 

Other than changing the lace pattern, I tried to follow the instructions closely. Admittedly, they were a bit of a challenge, owing in part to the fact that they're translated from Russian. Some of the things just don't quite make sense or aren't written the way I'm used to. However, I took my time and eventually figured it out. It's a bottom-up pattern with the top knit as a yoke, which allows for a mostly seamless construction.


I'll leave you with this final view at sunset overlooking the cliffs near our house. It's so beautiful I even ventured out in public with my tripod to capture some pictures. Even though it's November it was over 70 degrees out with people playing in the waves down below. 

Now to start knitting some Christmas stockings!

Nearly Identical

Last year as I was shopping for patterns, I couldn't decide between McCall's #7920 and #7976. Sure, the first is a dress and the second a top, but they have a lot of similarities. Both feature a v-neck, button front, and cut-on sleeves. The first appeared a bit more fitted and could be made as a dress, while the second included options for a ruffle and a tie front as well as more traditional shirt styling like a bake yoke and pleat. There was a sale going on, so of course I ended up buying both. I've made #7920 already, so I'm now sharing #7976.



Pattern: McCall's Misses' Tops #7976
Fabric: 2 yds cotton woven
Cost: $20

I'm sure it's easy enough to draft a tie front, but I really wanted a pattern for it, so that was my main reason for getting this pattern. After trying #7920, I was also curious how this one would fit. 

Overall, this style is a LOT more oversized. While #7920 has darts and a more fitted shape, this #7976 has a lot of wearing ease and sleeves that fall almost to the elbow. To further give it volume, it has pleats along the shoulder seam. You can make it in a cropped length, but the tie-front view is also quite long. 

I ended up shortening both the sleeves and the hem, but otherwise keeping the size as-is. It works fine as a casual shirt, though looking at the picture of my back I do wonder if a more fitted style might work better with the ties. You can see where it's pulled tight across my lower back at the hem by the front ties. 



I did have fun making this. A cotton shirt without all the details of a collar and cuffs is quite easy to sew. This one is a fabric hog though, especially if you are pattern matching. I ended up having to piece the ties together, which is fine because you can't tell when they are tied anyway. I also modified the pattern to create a hem facing that finishes off the ties - it seemed much neater that way. 



This garish color combo is my school colors, so it worked out nicely for game day, along with a new face mask. The shirt is definitely a keeper, though for my next project I think I'll go back to the more fitted look of #7920, and perhaps will borrow the ties. 

Last of Summer with the Lawren

As our first winter storm rolls through, I'm sharing the last of my summer sewing - another bathing suit!


Pattern: Madalynne's Lawren Bodysuit
Fabric: 1 yd printed spandex +  nylon-spandex tricot and nylon-spandex power net
Cost: $25

The star of this garment is this amazing printed spandex I found online. It has a vintage, rockabilly ocean feel to it. Clearly it wanted to be a bathing suit, and I had the perfect trip to Vegas to show it off. Unfortunately, we decided to cancel because of Delta and so it sat in the closet for a bit. 




After some re-thinking, I decided to make it up in the Madalynne Lawren Bodysuit. I had ordered a coordinating solid navy and mesh fabric to go with it, and the Lawren offers a lot of opportunities to play with the different fabrics. 

The Lawren was originally designed for lace fabric, so I had to make a few modifications. Whereas lace has a beautiful scalloped edge, I had to add a seam allowance to the front edges of my pattern pieces so that I could fold the raw edges under as I sewed. I did leave the mesh leg ruffles unhemmed as they lay flat just fine. Rather than scalloped lingerie elastic, I finished everything with cotton swim elastic and folded it under.



Madalynne has a wonderful eye for beautiful lingerie and the cut of this pattern is very flattering. It conforms nicely to the curve of my back and I really like the sexy cut of the legs and the sheer front panel. 

Her execution, on the other hand, can be a bit sloppy. There were a few places where the pattern pieces don't match up well at all: the back crotch is nearly half an inch wider than the front it attaches to, and the crotch lining is the width as well. And the seam lines where the top half meets the bottom at the belly button don't line up, even on her pattern sample photos online. She also doesn't include garment measurements for how tall the piece is. I'm 5'7" with a long torso and should have known better, but I had to re-cut the bottom piece and extend it nearly 2 inches to fit. 




Despite these challenges, I had a lot of fun making this using my coordinating fabrics and it was relatively quick to sew, even correcting for some of the pattern errors. I'm hoping it provides a bit of sun protection to my shoulders, and it has already served me well out in the kayak. In fact, it was so warm when I took these photos that I took a quick dip and it works nicely for a swim, too. Here's me having what felt like a "Bond girl" moment. 


The Seabright at the Beach

We're settling into our new home in Santa Cruz, complete with this amazing view down the street! I couldn't think of a better swimsuit for our kayaking and ocean adventures than Friday Pattern Company's Seabright Swimmers. My only regret is not being able to photograph them at Seabright.


Pattern: Friday Pattern Company's Seabright Swimmers
Fabric: 2 yds nylon spandex
Cost: $20

What I love about this bathing suit is the long sleeves for plenty of sun protection. I guess you can't say the same thing about the plunging neckline or bikini-cut bottoms, but that's what makes this suit fun. I've been wanting to make this for over a year to keep my shoulders covered and I'm so glad I finally did. 


I was a little worried about the fit of this suit, and there's lots of areas on it that can be tricky to fit. For one, I have a long torso and a one-piece design can be tricky. The plunging neckline can also be problematic, especially if it gapes and you're out moving around. However, I found that neither were a problem on this suit. I measured the pattern pieces carefully and decided the length was just fine. As for the neckline, a strip of elastic and the nice way the fabric hugs the back of my neck seem to keep everything in place, even when out pushing my kayak past the surf. 



For the bottoms, I made them extra cheeky. I like the look but might go back and re-cut them as the pattern calls for as they can ride up a bit. Other than that, the only other change I made was to not fully line the suit. I'm out of lining and using self fabric would be too bulky. Plus it's easy to sew up without it. 

For those wondering why I'm showing off my bathing suit in October, I will say it's one of the nicest times of year around here. We've had beach days this month that are in the 80s, and it's a great time for the local beach festival, building san castles, and just sitting on the shore. Here's hoping it's not a long winter because I'm clearly loving it here!
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