Avocados and Houses

In 2017, an Australian millionaire remarked that many millennials couldn't afford a house because they were spending all their money on avocado toast and expensive lattes. "Shouldn’t they be economizing by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house," he opined. These remarks spawned a million memes and, rightfully, some harsh criticism for his words. 

In the United States at least, my generation (currently those between 25 and 40 years old) has faced a stagnating minimum wage, the deterioration of workers' rights through a gig economy, the Great Recession, the rising cost of college (and corresponding rising debt), and continued racial and gender barriers in a system that is decimating the middle class. The idea that small-scale, individual decisions could fix these problems, or that a great many millenials could even buy these small luxuries to begin with, was laughable. While I'm all for smart money decisions and saving, if you're scraping by on a minimum wage job (or jobs), hoarding your pennies will not buy you a house where I live. 

So of course when I saw this avocado toast fabric at Stonemountain I knew what I had to do. A quick search revealed that they sold a houses print from the same company, and my 'avocados and houses' shirt was born. I'm not sure everyone will get it, but it's funny and just a little bit snide. 

Pattern: McCalls Misses' Dresses #7920 as a top with ties
Fabric:1 yd each of Dear Stella in Avocado Toast and Holiday Village
Cost: $30

It took me a while to decide the best way to combine these two fabrics into one shirt, but I eventually settled on a simple button-up shirt. The pattern is McCall's #7920 (originally a dress pattern) that I've made before and like the fit of. I added the ties from McCall's #7976, which on its surface appears to be a very similar top but is much more over-sized. 

The darts give it a nice shaping in the back and the front. 

The patch I ordered from Etsy full the full millennial effect. 


Admittedly it's a very bright shirt in a novelty print. But I finally wore it out today and got compliments at both the yarn shop and fabric store, so I think it will be a fun one to wear. Maybe I'll find a good outdoor brunch spot and can get some avocado toast. ;)


Made It Through 2021!

This is my tenth sewing year in review. It's become somewhat of a tradition--a little something I do in that lazy time between Christmas and New Year's to reflect on what I've been making. In some years I've run the stats; in others I try to learn something from my mistakes. But as the years go on I'm also just content to make things as my heart desires. Last year I made a lot. This past year I made less. I like to just make things as the mood strikes. If I wear it, that's great. And if I don't, hopefully it at least makes me smile or challenges me in some new way.

One big difference from ten years ago has been the rise of social media, especially Instagram. It seems hardly anyone reads blogs anymore. But I've been doing this so long I'd hate to part with it. So below is a little roundup story I made for Instagram along with some notes about where you can find each project. It's a nice little index of the year. And if you want to watch the video, I'll add it below. 



My favorite project of the year was this embroidered jumpsuit. It was a technically interesting project with lots of fitting and time spent learning new embroidery skills. It used fabric from my stash. And it was a celebration of sorts for getting vaccinated and being able to see more friends, mostly outside in the warm, welcomed days of summer. I loved making it and I loved wearing it, and if there's one memory I want to hold on to from this year it's this one. 



Many of the other things I made this year were well-worn, made me smile, or both! They include:

Most Worn:
Other Favorites:
  • My Perfect T-Shirt pattern, sewed up in two new prints - sharks and stripes
  • Women Shirt - there's just something about this top that feels right - it's fun, put together, easy, and I wore it to get my vaccine!
  • Seabright Swimmers were a fun one-piece suit with great sun protection for kayaking
  • October Days Sweater was a real triumph for me in knitting a beautiful, complicated light-weight sweater that I actually wear
  • Exaggerated shoulders were a new look this year and made both my favorite and least-worn lists
  • The Green Blazer was something I didn't wear at all, but I still like it! Maybe there will be more opportunities this year? (probably not)
  • Railroad Denim - the jury's still out on this particular pair of pants, but I really loved trying out the custom fit of Fayma patterns
There are also a few things that probably won't make the cut
  • My Myosotis dress fit better than the last version, but has gotten a lot less wear. Maybe it just feels too prairie? 
  • Lawren Bathing Suit - despite having a lot of fun choosing the fabrics and loving the cut of this suit, it was still a bit short on me and the neckline was too high. I may try this again with a few adjustements
  • Party Cami was an experiment in converting an old thrifted Halloween Costume into something wearable, but I'm not sure it's made the cut
  • McCall's #7976 Tie-Front Top - this was an interesting experiment in buying two nearly identical-looking McCall's patterns with very different fits. I like the #7920 better


By far my biggest project this year was moving in June. After feeling a bit priced out of the SF bay area, we took advantage of an opportunity to move a few hours south to Santa Cruz County to a new (old) house and closer to family. The change of scenery has brought me a lot of joy, and I'm also trying my hand at seeing how far some paint and a screwdriver can take me in fixing up our place. It's been fun to balance these new skills with sewing projects. 

I hope the new year has something bright in store for you! I don't know where this year will take me, but I'm so ready to be done with 2021!



My Perfect T-Shirt

Probably more than a decade ago, I bought a cute striped shirt with cut-on sleeves. I wore it all the time (still do) and eventually decided I needed to make myself a pattern. I sewed myself one and wore that one all the time. So I guess it was time to make two more. 


Pattern: self drafted t-shirt with cut-on sleeves 
Cost: sponsored

One of the best parts about making your own t-shirt is picking out a fun fabric. As opposed to a coat or a special occasion dress, I feel like I can be a little bit more playful with a t-shirt. Modes4U, who specializes in cute prints, was nice enough to send me a yard each from two brands I'm obsessed with: a Dear Stella shark knit and an Art Gallery coral stripe knit

How great is this shark print!?! Fun fact: that ocean behind me is VERY sharky. 


This top has some nice features that I think make it a favorite. For one, the cut-on sleeves are easy to wear and make it very fast to sew. I also make it with a hem facing that gives the top a nice weight and prevents any curling hems. The hems of the sleeves and neckline are serged to give them a bit of weight, too, and then just folded under and stitched with a zig-zag stitch. 

I've always loved Art Gallery knits because they have a nice weight without being too bulky, and they're buttery soft. The Dear Stella print has a bit less stretch and feels more like a traditional t-shirt weight, which also works well for this top. 

If you'd like to make your own, this is probably the most common shirt pattern I've seen on the internet, so choose your favorite pattern brand and see if they make one. And check out the Modes4U knits to get yourself something fun. 

Happy holidays everyone!

Ruby Star's Warp and Weft

I'm currently obsessed with Ruby Star Society's Warp and Weft Fabric. To my count, I've made at least four things with it this year, including this latest project. Designed by Alexia Marcelle Abegg, I love these soft and drapey fabrics, with yarn-dyed flats creating beautiful geometric designs.


Pattern: McCall's Misses' Dresses #7969
Fabric: 2yds Ruby Star Society Warp & Weft Wovens in Parade Lavender
Cost: $30

The pattern for this is McCall's 7969, which has to be one of their most popular of the year. Honestly, I passed it over the first time I saw as a somewhat boring, loose-fitting dress. However, it's Instagram fame was such that you keep seeing more beautiful and beautiful versions until it slowly wears you down and you're hoping over to the site to buy it at full price. Ok I probably bought it on sale. 

You'll notice that this is, in fact, a top and not a dress. Something that is much more likely to get worn by me. And while I long ago tried to stop by quilting cottons for garments, I have more recently learned that I do like the occasional button-up and wrap top, so I think this will be ok for me. Lord knows I have worn it a lot already this fall. 


Its best feature is definitely those sleeves. The opening is slightly tilted at the cuff and they have beautiful full gathers at both the cuff and the shoulder. The neckline sits nice and wide on the shoulders but somehow stays in place. Of course, I had to reinsert my neckline binding after I stretched in out, but the second (third?) time worked well. As others have done, I sewed a few stitches at the bust to keep the wrap in place. And next time I may cut it a tad longer but even with two yards I barely squeezed this out of my fabric. Those sleeves are a beast. 


Anyway, I think it looks nice with my new backdrop. And also for pumpkin carving. And Thanksgiving. I may have worn this to every occasion since I made it in late October. 


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 company now based in Singapore that sells 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. 
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