Happy T-day to all my US friends!! Just a quick little hello today since I’m still working on K’s Advent Calendar and tying up a few other fun projects. Today, K and I had a leisurely Thanksgiving brunch, strolled around Greenlake, and now we’re getting ready to go out for our annual Taiwanese family dinner at this delicious restaurant. I have given up trying to be “normal” in any way, shape or form and love love love how stress-free our holidays have been these past few years.
Also! I doodled some cute kitty elves that I originally considered including in K’s Advent Calendar. I’ve decided against it but I thought folks might find them useful as holiday tags? I also threw in a couple of wreaths that I am going to use for the calendar. If all goes well, I hope to show you what I ended up creating fairly soon.
Click on the image below or here to download the tags. As always, I recommend printing the designs on slightly thicker paper or this textured inkjet paper, which is what I use. Download, print, cut them out (make sure to add a little extra bit at the top if you want to punch a hole) and write a little message on the back and/or use it to decorate a gift!
Hello, hello my friends! How are you? I’m flooded with relief right now since I’ve just wrapped up some major deadlines and have a few days to prepare for my mom’s visit next week (my parents are in Los Angeles at the moment to take care of some U.S. paperwork but will be returning to Japan again during Thanksgiving week).
K told me what she wanted for her costume and I made this quick sketch in Procreate today, and she said, “So pretty!” This one is looking like a relatively simple costume so I feel like I got off easy this year. Can you guess what it is? It’s K’s favorite drink: Boba (or bubble) tea. We noticed that it was all the rage in Japan too and it’s called “tapioca” there. The original bubble tea was a concoction of milk tea and tapioca balls, but nowadays there’s an infinite number of flavors and chewy bits you can choose from. In Tokyo I tried a soy milk version that was a bit funky, but K loved all the ones she sampled, especially the mango flavor.
I’ve got all the supplies ready for the costume (not pictured: the blue vellum for the extra big straw that will be magically attached to her head and the black felt for the boba):
I’m not sure how the mesh fabric will look on top of the milk-tea-colored fleece, but I’m eager to see how it all turns out. Are you getting ready for Halloween? What’s in store for you? I’ll be working on the costume this weekend and I just might actually get it done early this year. Wonders never cease…
I’m so in love with this book. SO in love. It’s very much the book I would have wanted when I first began sewing for K and all her itty bitty friends, and it’s a grateful nod to the numerous Japanese craft books that inspired me to teach myself how to sew back in the early days. I remember scratching my sweaty head as I navigated the Japanese instructions, a perplexed expression plastered on my face. How amazing that I’ve been given the chance to produce my own kid-focused craft book in a language in which I have a bit more fluency. Side note: I can speak and comprehend Japanese at near native levels, but my nihongo reading/writing require assistance from Google Translate.
The folks at Sasquatch Books continue to make my book-making dreams all come true and I adore the entire staff there, but I am especially appreciative of my editor Hannah and art director Anna (we even had a photoshoot at Anna’s gorgeous house) for this book! I couldn’t have possibly pulled this project off without the magical expertise of Rachel (photo stylist) and Amy (photographer). “You guys are like unicorns,” Hannah told me and from start to finish, this book really did feel unicorn-y. Can I also mention that we have the CUTEST models in the book? Plus, I’ve got to give a major shout out to all the testers as well — I had nearly 100 testers and they were fabulous. I incorporated their feedback and did my absolute best to make the instructions and illustrations as clear as possible.
So!!! I’ve been wanting to share the cover for awhile, but since we’ve been tweaking the last details I wanted to hold off until it felt pretty much complete. As of this week, I’ve turned in my proofreader edits and we’re finalizing the back cover so it’s feeling super official now.
And hey, how about some behind-the-scenes tidbits? When it came time to figure out the cover, I created four sketches and we photographed a few variations based on the sketches. I always love to see how concept sketches turn into final execution. The ideas go through a number of approval processes (including getting the buy-in from the Penguin Random House team — Sasquatch Books is now part of Penguin Random House). My favorite version was ultimately selected, and I let out huge whoops of joy! I thought it might be fun to share the sketches:
Isn’t it cool that the final cover is so closely aligned in look and feel with the sketches?
Anyway! Did you know that pre-orders have a dramatic impact on the success of a book? The more pre-orders there are, the more exposure the book will get. Stepping up my marketing game is one of my big, big goals and I’ll be getting out of my comfort zone a ton over the next few months. I’m so excited to share this book with the world and I’ve been working on a fun bonus digital gift that I will send out on publication day for all pre-orders! There are a couple of ways to receive the bonus gift.
1. Let me know that you’ve pre-ordered at sanaeishida13[at]gmail.com
Hello, hello! K and I have spent a glorious time in Japan for the last 11 days, and we’re having a hard time leaving. I have so many thoughts and emotions right now and though I’m unable to organize them in a coherent way at the moment, I wanted to pop in to say hello.
I also wanted to talk about Ogden camis. For this trip, I somehow made four Ogden Camis by True Bias Patterns in two days before embarking on the plane to Narita. I originally purchased the PDF pattern and then printed it out via PDF Plotting. This turned out to be a brilliant move because I probably would have never gotten around to sewing these great little tops if I had to tape loads of sheets together.
I started with the size 12 based on the finished size dimensions, but the top was much too large and also too short for my liking. Undaunted, I traced the size 10 and the fit was much better, though I think I could go down a half size. I experimented with lengthening, ranging from 1″ to 3″ — 2″ feels like the right amount for me.
Here’s the sad part though: I brought three of the four camis with me to Japan and I only wore one. The breezy top is perfect for the muggy weather in Japan, but I felt very exposed and a bit scandalous showing so much skin in the thronging areas amid women covered from head to toe in layers of fabric. The Japanese as a whole are a modest people and there seems to be an unspoken rule to cover your shoulders.
I wore this stripey linen version to a cat cafe in Atagawa — where my parents now live — and I felt all the Japanese cat lovers surreptitiously staring at my torso. Luckily, the kitties were incredibly adorable so the stares were short-lived. The cat cafe was one of the highlights of our trip. K and I were missing Katara and it was an unplanned way to get a dose of feline fun. I was pleased with how well-cared for the 28 (!!) cats were at the small facility. For the price of roughly $10 an hour, we played with incredibly friendly cats, fed them snacks and enjoyed a beverage ourselves (the snacks and drinks were included).
Well, it’s time for me to wake up K so we can have our last breakfast in Japan. I want to absorb all that we’ve seen and done here in the land of the rising sun and will be updating my Patreon lovelies with all the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes stuff as I always do. I hope you’re all doing well, and I’ll be back with more sewing with some fabric goodies I got in Ginza soon!
Hello, hello! Here is a rare photo of M — this one’s from 13 years ago. K is only a few days old in this image, and for several months, she frequently slept on M’s chest like this.
Today, my baby is 13. THIRTEEN. M had a birthday last week as well, and he always says that K has been the best present he’s ever received and I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps the one downside is that ever since she popped out, his birthday has been upstaged by hers (sorry, honey). He doesn’t seem to mind.
I feel simultaneously emotional and oddly detached, if that’s at all possible. Motherhood is such a paradoxical experience, overflowing with the mundane and exalting. Sometimes it seems like I’m the adolescent and she’s the mature one. I find myself increasingly reliant on her technical savvy, and she shrewdly observes the world with an older-than-her-years wisdom. And then she’ll crumble into a fit of uncontainable feelings worthy of a toddler. I’m constantly wide-eyed with wonder and not a little mystified by how quickly that tiny being has grown up. She’s on the petite side so she’s not quite as tall as I am (I’m 5′ 4″), but her comportment is decidedly young adult. I look back on all the phases — Dora The Explorer, Elmo, Disney princesses, that weird goth period when she was 5 or 6, unicorns — and I wonder what the next evolvement will be. Make-up? Boyfriends? She starts 8th grade in the fall and she’s already talking about preparing for college…oh, I don’t think I’m ready for that. No, not at all.
But today is all about celebrating her entry into teenage-hood. I’m so proud of her. I’m so in awe of her. There’s that popular quote, “I love you to the moon and back,” which I adore, but I want to know where the farthest, deepest, highest point in the universe is because that’s where my love for her extends to and fro.
As an additional way to celebrate (and because I’ve just completed my fifth book that will be released next year), I’m doing a little book giveaway! Details are on Instagram, but if you’re not an IG type, here’s the 411 for entering through the blog:
To enter, simply leave a comment below with a summer reading recommendation. I’ve been devouring YA books lately, but I’m a voracious reader of any and every genre. I will choose FIVE random winners — winners can select any two books that are shown here and will receive signed (and personalized, if desired) copies. The books are SEWING HAPPINESS, LITTLE KUNOICHI, CHIBI SAMURAI WANTS A PET and BA-CHAN, THE NINJA GRANDMA, published by @sasquatchbooks And @lbfbooks. International entries are more than welcome and the giveaway will be open until Friday, August 9th. Good luck!!!!