Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! So, yesterday marked the third year of this little virtual notebook/sketchbook of mine. Three years that whisked right on by, full of surreal and life-altering changes, the whole nine yards. My thoughts are still very much aligned with what I pondered for my second “blogiversary” here (why, oh why are there so many unpalatable words associated with blogs, including the word “blog”??)

I’ve decided to do something different and will take two weeks off from here. My mom is coming on Sunday, I’ve got a huge deadline on August 3rd, two birthday parties to plan (M’s and K’s), and I want to spend some time away from here to see what ideas bubble up as I ease into the fourth year of blogging. It’s my summer vacation from all things online to reconnect with people and tactile, physical stuff.

I will, of course, miss you and will be sorely tempted to post something because I’m an incorrigible creature of habit, but this feels like a good thing to do. I have visions of a recharged, refueled, much more relaxed me.

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Bon voyage, adieu
Wish you a lovely two weeks
Back on August third

P.S. I will post two months’ worth of income information the week I return…

P.P.S. Furoku #5 will go out as scheduled at the end of the month-ish, and if I get my act together, I’ll finally get the sign-up button on the sidebar!

The Great Pattern Hack

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It’s my turn to chatter on about the lovely collaboration with Melissa of A Happy Stitch and Michael Miller Fabrics (via Kait of Making it Fun): The Great Pattern Hack! My pattern hacking skills are still pretty basic, so I didn’t get all fancy or wild on you, but I had lots and lots of fun modifying the Southport Dress into two garments.

First up, the strappy-backed tank:

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I selected the Indigo Midnight Cotton Couture, which has a drapey hand and feels like an ever so slightly weightier lawn with subtle sheen. It’s beautiful, and of course, I have a weakness for anything indigo. To remain true to my leanings, I opted to go as simple as possible by converting the bodice to a long tank, and attempted to add wow factor with thin straps that ended up forming the letter M (for Melissa and Michael Miller — not really, that part was totally accidental, but now I’m liking the connection).

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I added 11 inches to the bodice, and eyeballed a curvy shape for the shoulders. I’m always very picky about making clothes that are bra-friendly, so I made sure that the back would sit high enough to cover any unsightly undergarments (I wore a strapless).

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I cut four 1″ x 20″ pieces that I then folded and sewed into thin 1/4″ straps. First, I attached two straps each on the front side and proceeded to do a lot of body contortions to figure out how much to shorten and where to place the straps on the back. Alas, they’re slightly off, but I doubt anyone will notice.

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I could have sewn this up in a jiffy, but I wanted to give it a nominally more “refined” look to it, so I hand-stitched the bias tape along the top edge of the front piece. The back is simply double-folded with elastic threaded through. Easy-peasy.

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Conclusion: I love it!!

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I suppose I could have stopped there, but I had also requested the fun Indigo Bias Weave, and I just couldn’t get rompers out of my mind. Rompers! I am quite possibly too old to be sashaying about town in a playsuit, but I wore it all day yesterday and not an eyebrow was lifted (or at least none that I noticed).

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M, however, did say that I look like a “70s housewife” in a way that implied that 70s housewives aren’t too hot. We’ll ignore him because we all know that 70s housewives were totally smokin’ (in the literal and metaphorical sense).

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The only real change I made was to switch out the skirt portion with a pair of slapdash shorts. I’m going to call this “intuitive” sewing since not a lot of measuring actually happened to create the shorts. I marked the width of the skirt waist directly onto the fabric, then grabbed a pair of decent-fitting shorts, and outlined them rather loosely.

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I had more than enough of the fabric and was pretty confident that the sizing would be okay, but once I basted them together, I could tell that the rise of the shorts was woefully inadequate despite adding a few inches. Back to the drawing board, and I added an additional 5″(!) to the rise to accommodate my super long torso.

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Not sure what’s happening here…I think the outfit inspired me to unconsciously strike a heads-shoulders-knees-n-toes pose. At any rate, the True Bias pattern instructions are great, and the top segment came together effortlessly. I had to tug and pull a bit, but the shorts worked, and overall, the fit is spot-on!

I adore it. I thought I would feel silly in rompers, but it’s really comfortable and the fabric is just the right weight and drape for this pattern. The drawstring detail is a necessary element to avoid the dreaded beer barrel look, and because the cinching happens a little higher than my natural waist, it gives the illusion of longer legs — an illusion that has rarely happened in my lifetime.

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What do you think? 70s homemaker or sweet summer garb appropos for 2015? I think rompers are all the rage right now, right? At least that seems to be the case with the blog hop (I hadn’t looked at any of the other Great Pattern Hack posts until I finished sewing and was pleasantly surprised to see other rompers). In fact, you should go see all the pattern hacks pronto:

Monday 6/29- Kick-off with Jessica Abbott: Me Sew Crazy

Tuesday 6/30- Kait Witte: Making it Fun

Wednesday 7/1- Delia Randall: Delia Creates

Thursday 7/2- Jane Kohlenstein: Buzz Mills

Friday 7/3- Melissa Quaal: A Happy Stitch

Monday 7/6- Rachael Gander: Imagine Gnats

Tuesday 7/7- Tamara Serrao: Kaya Joy

Thursday 7/9- Laura Titchener: Craftstorming

Friday 7/10- Kristin Timm: Skirt as Top

Saturday 7/11- Jessica & Ericka: Violette Field Threads

Monday 7/13- Celina Bailey: Petit a Petit and Family

Wednesday 7/15- Erin Sundet: Sewbon

Thursday 7/16- wrap up! More giveaways!

Finally, I should point out that I did receive the fabrics and pattern for free as well as some compensation for creating the garments and writing about them — this is the first time I’ll be receiving actual payment for a blog post so I guess this counts as a sponsored post (I’m embarrassed to say that it hadn’t even occurred to me to call this a sponsored post – I was delighted to team up with Melissa and would have done it for gratis)! Needless to say, but I think I’m supposed to say it: all opinions are my own.

At any rate, I’m pleased with both hacks and really enjoyed sewing for myself again. It sounds like some amazing giveaways are happening and much fanfare abounds. Don’t miss out, and thank you so much for including me, Melissa and Kait!

 

 

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! How awesome is that shot of K up there that’s on our fridge? She partook in an all-girls skateboard camp last week and loved it so much, she wants me to sign her up for another camp session. I would have never guessed that this would be the sport of choice for my girl (my heart may not be able to handle it — she can now “drop-in” from the highest ramp and I have my eyes partially covered as I watch her glide down smoothly then do a “kick-turn”). “Mama,” she tells me, “I think I can be really good at this.” I was afraid of that, but I’m all for trying things out.

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We’re oozing all over the place like melted popsicles in this heat wave, and though our basement has been a lifesaver, it’s not the most pleasant place to sleep. We’ve been calling it “indoors camping”. I am thoroughly ready to get my weekend started, how about you? I’m wishing you a wonderful one filled with cool breezes and fizzy drinks!

See you on Tuesday
I will be posting just twice
Deadline time again*

*I’m currently working on a project that I’ll post next Tuesday, so I’ll be skipping Monday. I also need to hunker down for the final two weeks of July to get book #2 in tip top shape, so postings may be a little less consistent over the next few weeks.

P.S. I’ll be at Kinokuniya’s tomorrow from 2-4pm for a book signing and presentation / watercolor demonstration. Hope you can make it if you’re around!

P.P.S. I didn’t take the photo! Credit goes to Marshall, who runs the skate camps.

 

 

Not Buying Clothes: Year Three

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So, it’s that time of year again when I fondly recall that the last time I willingly purchased a piece of apparel for me and K was July of 2012. I say “willingly” because I’m still miffed about having to shell out cash for a couple of t-shirts and a pair of knit capris last year on an unplanned trip. I’m going to disregard that particular incident and act as though my three-year track record of clothes shopping abstention is unblemished.

What makes this truly remarkable is that I used to love buying clothes with the kind of insatiable fervor of an addict. Loved loved loved loved clothes shopping. Well… it was more of a love/hate relationship. I loved the possibilities that a shopping trip held, that slightly chemical and perfumed scent of brand new garments on a rack, the thrill of a bargain. But the ugly side was the woes that filled the fitting rooms, the vast difference between what I imagined the clothes would look like on me and the reality of how they actually fit. Secretly, I obsessed about the tiny printed numbers on the tags — I experienced a boost of confidence if the tags showed a smaller size, and a sharp dip in mood if the numbers seemed too high. I have been known to buy a piece of clothing just because it sported the words, “size 6″, even if the seams strained to burst. “It fits!!” I would tell myself. I also did not enjoy tallying up the financial damages these sprees incurred.

But all of that is behind me. Sort of. I worry that I’ve just transferred my excessive predilections to sewing. I’ve been watching with growing concern as K’s DIY wardrobe continues to balloon and my own collection of handmade clothes overflows out of my rather large IKEA Hemnes dresser that was already crammed to the hilt with ready-to-wear.

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A few months ago, I eagerly embraced the KonMari method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and purged like a madwoman. Then slowly, inevitably, stuff started to pile up again. I made more clothes. I accumulated fabrics and props for the book photo shoots. K brought home a mountain of papers from school. Christmas and birthdays happened. Also, I hadn’t eliminated as much of my own clothes as I’d thought and I had difficulty rolling the clothes in the way Marie Kondo described in her book, causing some untidy storage issues.

During one of the photo shoots at my house, we shifted the IKEA dresser out of the way and moved the hallway dresser into my bedroom for a shot, and I gushed over the way the antique elevated the feel of the room. That’s my lovely flea market 1920s dresser at the very top. But it’s small and I’ve been using it to hold extra linens by the bathroom, and it would only accommodate about 1/4 of my clothes, if that. In a surge of inspired action, we played some musical dressers, and K inherited the IKEA behemoth to replace the tiny dresser that had been inadequate for a few years, and I vowed to slash my wardrobe.

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I ruthlessly applied the “Does this spark joy?” test and filled four trash bags. I was fairly blasé about my store-bought garments as I tossed them in the bags, but I could feel the resistance bubble up when I tried to let go of my handmade clothes…the hours I spent on them! The beautiful fabrics! The truth is, many of the clothes I made don’t fit very well, and I rarely reach for them. And quite a few that I do wear regularly look shabby and tired. I did hold onto a number items made out of prized Miss Matatabi fabric to repurpose, but stored them away out of sight. You can see my work-in-progress in the images above. I still have a little more work to do to trim down my clothing stash, and I might go all out and get super minimalistic. Am I ready? I don’t know…

I do know that I’ve been eyeing people’s outfits a lot lately, thinking “Ooh, I want to make a summer dress like that one,” or “That shirt with the placket and subtle horse print is so fun…” I’ve been sketching a plethora of sewing ideas and jonesing to make more clothes for myself. How to balance these diametrically opposed desires to purge and make? It’s my perennial quagmire, but for now, I’m patting myself on the back for not buying any clothes for three years. No matter what else, I’m happy to chalk that up as a major accomplishment.

P.S. I’ve been mulling over the whole concept of shopping since reading this quirky and charming little book. Among interesting observations on consumer behavior, the author spent a year painting all the things she didn’t (but wanted) to buy, including items from her Pinterest board. I think I might start painting things from my Pinterest board, but that might take me a few million years…

Monday Outfit: Henry Dress in Gradients of Grey

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Good morning! We’re still recovering from the Fourth of July party, the heat and technical blips, but I have a new garment to share today, and that’s always an energy booster for me.

A few months ago, I had fun sewing up the Franklin dress + tunic (in fact, K wore the tunic when we went to see the fireworks on Saturday). The lovely Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Co. contacted me again recently to see if I’d be interested in giving the Henry dress a try. But of course!

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I had a hard time deciding on the fabric. The combination of the feminine pleated puffed sleeves and the more geometric angled pockets (which I absolutely love) had me scratching my head a bit. I wanted a sort of gradient look and have this fabulous pink linen that I wanted to use, but I only had one yard of it. So I burrowed into my endless fabric supply, pulling out gingham checks, my default navy-and-white stripes, a madras seersucker, a couple of knits with bright prints… None of them felt right.

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I struck gold when I found this gradient striped fabric at the bottom of one of my bins. I think it’s a cotton poplin, and I’m all about the various shades of grey. The one stickler was that the stripes run parallel to the selvage, so I had to cut the patterns cross grain. This made it tricky for K to get the dress on since the fabric couldn’t stretch much width-wise and there are no closures.

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For the neck and pocket facings, I used the thinnest cotton lawn in a refreshing mint color. My neck facing didn’t like staying in place despite my understitching; if you look closely enough, you’ll see the neck facing scooching up and revealing itself in small tufts. But check out my stripes-matching — I’m quite proud. I might have to start thinking about dipping my toe into quilting.

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The instructions are superb, but I did a few things slightly differently, just because:

1. To make finishing the sleeve edge easier, I double-folded and pressed the sleeve edge before sewing the underarm portion of the sleeve together. It’s always harder for me to press sleeve edges in the round, and with the added bulk of the pleats, this turned out to be a good move.

2. I raised the skirt hem by about 2.5inches. It looked too long to me when K tried it on.

3. I basted the pockets on each side before assembling the front of the dress. The instructions guide you to simply pin the sides. By basting each side of the pocket to the side panel, the pockets are nicely attached and makes the next step easier.

On a side note, I think a sleeveless version of this dress would look wonderful.

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The verdict? Thumbs up from both me and K! I cut out the largest size, which is 8, and the fit is perfect. I really like how modern it looks (though maybe she appears to be heading to a corporate board room and just needs to locate her Manolo Blahniks?) and K asked if she could keep it on after the photo shoot. The ultimate sign of sewing success! She even volunteered to add some modeling oomph with her prop of choice:

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Thank you for the pattern, Erin! I thoroughly enjoyed making the Henry dress, and K is a happy camper. Make sure to check out the other blog tour participants and Erin is offering a coupon code for you! Readers receive 20% any pattern in the shop with the code: SUMMERFUN15. The code runs from 12:01 am on July 6through 11:59 pm on July 15.

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Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! It’s been a long time since I’ve had technical issues. My laptop seems to be under the weather, and I can’t get it to snap out of its sluggish, sickly mode, so I’m going to go back up everything lest I lose my prized files.

Have you seen Frida Clements‘ work? Last weekend, when I participated in the Urban Craft Uprising (for a Little Kunoichi signing), I had the honor of meeting this über talented illustrator, albeit briefly. Frida has a fun book (aptly titled “Have a Little Pun“) coming out this August, and I want a copy! Frida has a sweet presence and her booth was rocking it at UCU. In fact, she had a pre-order copy at the table where I was signing, and I’m sure that her book is going to sell gazillions, judging from the number of people that stopped to admire the book. Her detailed charming illustrations winningly combines with her folksy handlettering, and I couldn’t resist buying prints. My favorite is the “Oh Whale” up there, but I also got “Honey Bee Yourself,” and had I known about it, I would have gotten “Don’t be Koi”.

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Off to address technical snafus! Have a wonderful weekend, and for those in the US, I hope your Fourth of July celebrations are full of grilled goodness and sparklers!

O Fourth of July
Ping pong games and slip ‘n’ slide
We’ll have a par-tay*

*My neighbor organizes a rip-roaring party for the Fourth every year, and there’s always an amazing feast. My stomach is growling just thinking about it…

Bralette

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Yes. I made K a “bralette”. Or, as it is known in preadolescent female circles, the training bra.

She almost exploded from happiness. I self-drafted the pattern (it’s just a cropped tank top after all) and as soon as I tied off the last knot, she whisked it from my hands and hasn’t taken it off for the last 48 hours. M recommended that I make her a few more versions or the beautiful white Anna Sui knit (also used for the puff-sleeved tee) may end up some unspeakable hue.

We’re prudes here, so I didn’t want to post an image with her wearing it, but she’s declared the bralette “ah-mazing”. That bashful and secretive smile! I remember when I was about K’s age, I desperately wanted a training bra too — what was the allure? Some romanticizing of womanhood, certainly, but maybe it gave me a new and exciting sense of belonging, even though on a practical level there was absolutely no need for one? A little like dress-up, tween version.

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I’ll put together a tutorial at some point if anyone is interested. I like the one I created because it’s so sweet and innocent-looking and met with K’s approval. She will want, of course, an animal print bralette, but that won’t be happening…

It’s an unexpected milestone! My little girl is growing up too fast.

Monthly Income + Furoku Update

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I’m in a bit of a quandary.

In putting together the monthly income report, I scrutinized the number and a self-conscious part of me thought it might be better not to announce what may seem like a piddling sum, though this sum represents so much goodness to me.

The goal, if you recall, is to see if I can generate an income of at least $20,000 a year doing what I love. It doesn’t seem like an improbable financial goal, does it? I mean, if I became a Dick’s Drive-In employee (purportedly Bill Gates’ favorite fast food establishment here in Seattle), I could earn that amount working part-time. With paid insurance to boot. I would, I hope, be earning the shift manager wage of $16/hr as opposed to the base wage of $11/hr because I did go to graduate school — it’s the least that degree can do for me since all it’s done to date was increase my debt. Then again, that debt and getting out of it was a tremendous lesson. Anyway, it’s sobering to realize that I could make more money flipping burgers approximately 20 hours a week; so far, pouring my heart and soul into writing, painting, sewing and taking photos a minimum of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week is generating $491.57 per month, at least for May. That brings us up to $1,356.01 from March. So in the image below, the tree=$20,000, the sapling=$1356.01, and the seedling=$491.57.

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Many of those hours are spent creating a book that won’t see the light of day until next spring. I’m also diligently promoting a book that’s been on the market for less than two months and though Little Kunoichi is doing pretty well from what I can tell — I have no access to exact sales information until August — I still have to earn back enough royalties to cover the advance payment of $5,000 first. Who knows how high my books may soar? (or plummet, but we won’t focus on that)

A few folks have commented on how there seems to be an all or nothing mentality with these targets instead of letting things grow organically. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to explain it well, but I’m all for organic growth and would love nothing more than a slow and steady upward trend in skills, opportunities and financial solvency. It’s the best way to grow and patience is a virtue and in many ways I’ve been on the tortoise path; yet I also know myself and am perfectly capable of languishing without any forward momentum, just mulling, mulling, mulling.

I do well with specificity and deadlines and structure. I started this blog with a self-imposed deadline of posting every weekday — I wasn’t going to punish myself for missed days, but the clearcut schedule was great for me and I had plenty of time back then. For the first two years, I created a post every weekday with very few exceptions. At a certain point, book projects picked up steam, so I scaled back to three days a week, which I didn’t like at first, but after a brief adjustment period, I started to enjoy the consistency and achievability of the new pace. When M proposed the deadline and dollar amount to see if I can make a go at this new, rather vague career in making things, I was game. I like measurable, tangible progress. And I was intensely curious to find out if I could actually make an income on my own terms. In my arrogance I thought, “How hard can it be?” Three years seemed like a long time, and though I knew that the book process would take a while, it seemed doable.

It’s turned out to be much harder than I expected, especially when I can’t pull all-nighters or work myself to the bones anymore with my persnickety health situation. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have clearly overestimated myself. I thought I could finish and promote one book, complete the second book, start some sort of “creative” business, and handily meet my goal. Hmmmmmm. All those business podcasts make it sound so easy.

M has been watching me flounder as I try to juggle the blog, the books, the Furoku membership, and general home and childcare duties. “Flummoxed” is a good word to describe my mental state. “Let’s forget the goal,” he says, “we’ll make it work somehow, and you’ll eventually get there”. But now I have this weird attachment to the idea of hitting the $20,000, if only to prove to myself that I can do it. I’m also partly abashed that I made such a dramatic declaration of stopping the blog, etc. etc. if I don’t meet these objectives by the end of the year. Those stipulations weren’t mine per se, but still, I agreed to them. When I look at how events have unfolded in the last three years, I’m convinced that I’m on the right course, but my rickety, uncertain ride is painfully slow. Quandary. Or maybe there is no quandary since I don’t know what will happen by the end of the year, and no matter what happens, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had these incredible life-changing opportunities. Ugh, I’m going in circles.

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And oh, the Furoku membership. This, too, has been a quandary. I’m not entirely sure what the Furoku is. I know that I’m still lacking direction and though I carve out time each month to think long and hard about how I can best add value to this small but mighty group that is propping me up with their support, I feel a little lost and out of my element. I was so excited and scared (in a good, stretching-my-limits kind of way) about the whole venture. I made plans, sketched out ideas, talked to a developer (hi Steph!), consulted the stars of the sewing world, got a business license, even! I was bubbling with enthusiasm until I received direct criticism via email for the first time. I remember M asking me a long time ago, “What are you going to do when people criticize you?” When you put your words and images out there for public consumption in any way, criticism is inevitable, particularly when money gets involved. And it’s finally happened. As I suspected, I was completely unprepared. In the three-plus years I’ve been blogging, I’ve had only supportive and encouraging feedback, which has made me even more thin-skinned, like a Japanese paper balloon. The criticism immediately deflated me, and I began strategizing on how to shut everything down, cancel the second book (which is intensely personal), disappear somehow — Should I change my name? I wondered. That’s silly, naturally, especially since so many people have offered up kind words about both the blog and membership, so I’ve tried my best to move beyond the temptation to hide away…but I would be lying to say I wasn’t affected. I have heard repeatedly that feedback is a reflection of the person giving the feedback, and not the recipient. I agree with this, but it still doesn’t lessen the impact.

I’m going to continue the Furoku. I’m glad I started it, and I’m grateful that members have stuck with me as I keep experimenting (there have been discounts to great online shops, original illustration downloads, an exclusive interview with the fabulous Miss Matatabi, sewing patterns, and more). In lieu of monthly sign-ups, I’m going to put up a button on the sidebar where it will live, but for anyone interested in signing up, please know that this is still in its fledgling stages. Not only do the fees help me run this blog, enable me to work on book #2, but they also give me that gentle mental cushion that allows me to explore and exercise my creative brain in a way that is difficult to do when I’m panicked about having zero income. And the best part is assembling a special digital gift each month, which I still love doing. Hence, my $400 to $500-ish a month income may not sound like a lot, but it’s amazing how huge the psychological benefit is on multiple levels. And even though it’s incremental, my monthly income is increasing.

I sense that I’m not inspiring a lot of confidence in what I’m doing with these rambling posts, but one of the things I promised myself was to be honest about the entire process. Sure, I could gloss over the financial aspects, I could pretend that I know what I’m doing, but really, I’m just making it all up as I go. And if that doesn’t fly with you, I can live with that. And hey, if it comes down to it, I don’t look so bad in orange (the burger joint’s uniform color — Orange is the New Black, right?), and I bet I’d be a rockstar deep fryer operator.

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P.S. Furoku #4 will be going out soon!

 

Nani IRO Month!

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It’s that time of the year when Frances of Miss Matatabi stocks her shop with the dreamiest, newest season of the Nani Iro fabric line designed by the one and only Naomi Ito. If you haven’t already, do check out the interview Frances posted with Naomi’s thoughtful and inspiring responses.

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It’s my second year participating in Nani Iro Month, and the 2015 designs may be my favorite. I selected two to showcase, and the first one is called Free Way – hitoiki. Hitoiki, means a single breath, or taking a quick breather. A rather appropriate name for this billowy top I made that feels like a summery respite.

The pattern is from this book, which was yet another generous gift from lovely Karen F. (she of the bestower of the cute French beads).

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Although I thought the sheer black of pattern G was lovely, with the temperatures skyrocketing these days, I decided to omit the sleeves. I cut out the size 9, which is supposed to be the equivalent of a small, but it’s so roomy, I could have easily gone down one more size.

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Double gauze feels like clouds against my skin. So luscious.

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Feeling that one top that makes me look preggo isn’t sufficient, I proceeded to fashion another maternity top out of the gorgeous Jewel Song Metallic Pocho Yozora (Yozora means “night sky”). Miss Matatabi appears to be out of this colorway, but I also have the fabric in a refreshing minty-aqua, and I’m still pondering what to make. In actuality, I’d purchased the indigo prior to Nani Iro Month and received the minty-aqua for free from Frances, but I felt strongly that the top looked better in a darker color. Sorry for the switch-a-roo, Frances! I should let you know that some fabrics that have been featured as part of Nani Iro month may be out of stock at this time as they sell like hotcakes, but Frances is diligently re-ordering so they will be back in the shop!

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The pattern is from this book, and the only change I made was to shorten the length by about 7 inches because I didn’t have enough fabric. I love the tie-back feature, and this too is a great summer top, especially for the Fourth of July barbecue that’s coming up — I always eat way too much.

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I now have two solidly wearable and comfortable tops that will get sleepily tugged on many, many mornings. Awesome sauce, as K would say.

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So! There’s also a fantastic giveaway going on — it’s a must-enter! The giveaway is 20m of fabric, 6 x bias tapes, two books signed by Naomi, and two sewing patterns. Also, Naomi has generously offered to contribute a personal gift from her. As Frances wrote, “I don’t know what it is yet but I’m sure it will be lovely!” Here’s the Rafflecopter for ya:

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And I believe I’m the last stop of the blog tour before the grand Miss Matatabi finale, so make sure to check out all the lovelies:

Straightgrain   ∆   noodlehead   ∆   Ute

verykerryberry   ∆   Make It Perfect   ∆   Groovy Baby and Mama

A Little Goodness   ∆   SKIRT AS TOP   ∆   Cashmerette

Sew Little   ∆   imagine gnats   ∆   you & mie

SANAE ISHIDA   ∆   Miss Matatabi

Happy weekend, everyone!

Nani IRO month
Is the best time of year
as far as I know

P.S. I almost forgot! I’ll be at Urban Craft Uprising from 12-1 tomorrow, June 27th. If you’re local, would love to see you!

 

 

 

Cookbooks

kompeito

These Japanese candies are called kompeito, little constellations of pure sugar. They taste like rock candy with perhaps a slight flowery undertone. I have quite a lot left over from the Little K launch party (they didn’t fit in the piñata), and I’m not sure what to do with them, but they take me back to my childhood. My mom didn’t buy very many sweet treats when I was a kid. She made almost everything from scratch, and the ones I requested over and over were sliced, candied sweet potatoes fried to a crisp called karinto, and oshiruko, which is essentially a sugary azuki bean soup with small floating mochi balls. Because we ate mostly whole, unprocessed foods and dessert wasn’t a regular offering, I savored the homemade confections my mom would energetically whip up on special occasions.

I’ve noticed that when my schedule gets frenetic, the first thing that goes is nutrition. Overwhelmed by one thing or another, I’ll quickly assent to eating out or will resort to serving my family Mac n Cheese (the blue box which is not the kind found in the “Natural Foods” section that’s supposedly healthier). On some occasions, I forget to eat altogether. Worse, I’ll toss together a salad but because I’m tired and want to avoid the food-related skirmishes, I’ll douse K’s plate with cheese and let her dip everything in ketchup.

I want to return to my roots of whole, unprocessed eating. Every June, I buy a stack of reading materials as a birthday present to myself and this year, I focused on books about food. I’m really excited about these four:

books-about-food

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal

By Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story (blog and book). It looks like a considered, wholesome meal plan for the entire family designed to encourage kids to eat better.

Full Plate: Nourishing Your Family’s Whole Health in a Busy World

By Sarah Kolman. Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? The author is a nurse and takes a food-centric approach to health, which I absolutely advocate.

Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen

By Heidi Swanson. With her award-winning blog 101 Cookbooks, Heidi Swanson is the grand dame of food blogging, and I’ve listened to and read rave reviews about her cookbooks for years. I saw the paperback version at the bookstore and immediately snagged it.

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Whole Foods Recipes, Including Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Egg-Free Dishes
The title of the book does beg the question, “What exactly can you eat?” I’ve already almost completely eliminated dairy from my diet, and I’ve seen some remarkable improvements with my skin and premenstrual bloating. Inspired by this, I’ve been toying with the idea of going gluten-free. There’s a lot of material out there about how thyroid conditions are exacerbated by gluten, and though my carb-loving body is rebelling at the thought, it might be worth an experiment. Also, one of my very good friends who is also a magician in the kitchen told me that the recipes are superb, and her endorsement is enough for me.

Do you have cookbooks to recommend? I love me a good cookbook!

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