Valentine’s Round-Up

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The other day, I was talking to a friend who needed a last minute Valentine’s card for her kids’ classes and I suggested my printables. I tried to search on this here blog and realized how terribly disorganized my categories are. Must do something to rectify that.

In the meantime, what with V-day coming up, I figured I could at least round-up the printables I’ve created. I’d completely forgotten about the word search one! Bookmarks seem to be my go-to; at least there’s a variety…If you too are looking for some down-to-the-wire options to spread some Valentine’s cheer, feel free to download away. I’ve included links to the original post, just because, but you can simply click on the images below to get the printables (it seems to work best to download the image onto your desktop by right-clicking and selecting the “Save images as…” option and print from there vs. trying to print directly from the browser).

Sweet Valentine Bookmarks:

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Dinosaur Bookmarks:

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Animal Bookmarks:

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Word Search:

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Just a Scarf

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Superman got nothing on meeee…I intoned as I worked on binding off this scarf. It’s a tune that’s part of K’s repertoire and I have no idea what the song actually sounds like since I’ve only heard her softly murmuring that line periodically. I guess it’s by someone named Charlie Puth? I don’t feel compelled to look it up, but I like the words.

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Anyway, I knitted a scarf. It’s not, as I had hoped, the longest neck warmer in the universe. It’s long enough to loop around my neck twice. I seamed the ends together to make it into an infinity scarf and that part’s a bit of a botch up job, but it’ll do. You can see all of my freckles in this pix — the one between my eyebrows is actually a scar from a particularly rough cystic acne month about 4 years ago and that spot refuses to go away (happily, now that I hardly consume dairy, I don’t have any cystic breakouts anymore). Here’s the seam:

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It took a couple of months to finish this up, though I’m sure this could be done in a matter of a few hours. I knitted in dollhouse-sized windows of time: just before starting dinner, or while K was taking a shower, or in the quiet moments when the sun or any of the people in my house hadn’t completely risen. I probably averaged about two rows a day.

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I haven’t blocked it yet, even though I know I’m supposed to wait to piece together the ends until it’s been blocked and stretched. I was impatient and I like its wonkiness. The whole process was wonky, really. I progressed from one ball of yarn to the next without any premeditated plan. Even the yarn fiber content is a mishmash of wool, acrylic, cotton and there might be a cashmere blend. I didn’t give much thought to the color combination or order and figured it would all turn out fine if I stuck with greys and blues. I was right. What you see above are both sides of the scarf.

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It’s a win as far as I’m concerned. The scarf keeps me toasty and I’m sure I’ll get around to blocking it at some point, but right now, I’m just going to enjoy it as it is. I hope you all had a lovely weekend! In between working on my SVE gift and other life stuff, I was on a cleaning rampage. Our living room hasn’t looked or felt this clean in eons!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! Have you checked out the Instagram hashtag #2016sve? Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Ute and I were joking that the sneak peeks make us want to steal all of the gifts for ourselves! We’re excited that quite a few of you opened an IG account to get into the spirit of sharing the progress. Be forewarned newbies, you’ll get hooked! The photos are pouring in, and I’ve tried to comment on as many as I can, but I’m a slowpoke when it comes to IG — how do you guys all stay on top of the zinging and zooming comments? To say a collective thank you and to marvel at the tantalizing show-and-tell, I’ve created a collage of the Instagram snaps so far.

It looks like so many of you have already shipped your gifts, and I’m in awe. Does no one procrastinate like I do? Wait, do as I say, not as I do. Remember to ship by February 7th if you’re shipping domestically (or to Switzerland — last year I was amazed that my package got to my partner early)!

I finally decided on the fabric and pattern for my partner; that’s always the part that takes me longest. I’m going to get it all done this weekend and off it goes. This year, I don’t have an international partner so it feels like I have ample time, but I better get moving! So looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Time to buckle down
Get the lovely gift sewn up
I hope she likes it…

Have a spectacular weekend, my friends!

Are You Proud of You?

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K often runs up to me to show me something she’s made: a song, a story, a drawing. “Are you proud of me?” she asks.

I ask back, “Are you proud of you?” As someone who grew up needing a lot of external validation and knowing how hard and fickle and endlessly dissatisfying that can be, I do what I can to plant little seeds of self-approval in my little girl. I like to watch her glow, nod, and say, yes, yes I am. I’m so proud of me. I might be naive to think that this will instill a lifelong habit of creating a sense of worth that doesn’t depend on others’ feedback, but one can always hope.

Incidentally, K did that painting above at an art camp last year. The campers studied and imitated impressionists, as you can tell, and this is her interpretation of The Manneport, Cliff at Etretat by Monet. Kids are amazing.

McCall 7199 – Asymmetrical Zip Outerwear

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I think my body might be shrinking. Or not. Maybe I’m not understanding what “moderate stretch knits” are, since I didn’t think the fabric I used was crazy stretchy.

This is what the envelope image of McCall 7199 view A looks like:

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This is how it looks on me:

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I cut the size 12 and made no mods other than making the hem slightly longer to account for my generous torso length (I folded up 3/8″ instead of 1″). I actually like the loose fit, but it might have been a good idea to go down one more size. I feel like I’m writing this sentence a lot lately. I’m having a bear of a time figuring out the right sizing for myself with so many different pattern companies and very little standardization. Throw in the quirks of each fabric, and I’m constantly scratching my head.

There’s a lot to love here. The double knit is super luxe and soft. I think it’s a sweater knit? I’m just going to put it out there that from here on out, chances are good that I won’t remember where any of the fabric I’m using is from nor am I adept at identifying types of substrate. I’m sorting through stash from years ago at this point and my memory isn’t great on the best of days. That’s why I have to write about my projects right away; otherwise I won’t even be able to remember that I actually made the thing.

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Anyway. I’m drawn to asymmetrical designs, and that zipper! I never thought I’d be able to make something that looks this difficult. Spoiler: it’s not difficult at all.

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I did make things difficult by installing the left zipper incorrectly at first, forgetting that the front was supposed to overlap. I installed it like I would a normal jacket or hoodie, which made it extremely maternity-friendly —  I must have unwittingly wanted it to look like all my other tops. Luckily, unpicking the seam wasn’t a total nightmare, and it was an easy enough fix.

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There’s quite a bit of piecing involved as well as hand-stitching of the facing (I used the thinnest cotton knit I could find in my stash), so it’s not the fastest project on the block but I’m thoroughly digging the end results. I love all the panels and shaping that happens as a byproduct and the overall effect is sporty yet stylish. And sort of futuristic, no?

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Trying to figure out how to get the collar to lay in a pleasing way is a fun challenge. And I need to shift the snap position inside because it’s hitting at a weird spot in my armpit. A couple of other nit-picky things: I noticed that because this pattern is meant for knits, there are no instructions for finishing the seam allowances. However, I like to serge the raw edges of my knits, so I did that where it made sense. And my pocket linings keep peeking out, so I’ll need to sew them down and next time, I plan on skipping pockets altogether because it adds bulk to the midsection that I can do without.

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Other than a few minor, minor issues, this is a top/sweater/jacket thingie that’s going to get a lot of wear! M was very impressed when he saw me zipping it up and declared it “cool”. Now that’s high praise because he rarely notices my clothes — I could be rocking out in a grain sack (which, sadly, many of my dresses resemble), and he would be unperturbed.

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I’m having a blast sewing for myself and can’t stop! Oh, side note: I was perusing my Pinterest board after I finished making this and noticed that I had pinned an image that obviously propelled me to purchase the pattern without me even realizing it. I’d forgotten all about that pin! The power of the subconscious…

 

P.S. Furoku members, part 1 is going out tonight!!

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! I’ve been noticing that I like to go in cycles when it comes to making things. Right now, I’m feeling a huge resurgence of love for sewing and my sketching/painting is taking a back seat. I had a brief fling with knitting and then my enthusiasm waned, but I can tell that I’ll want to go back once the sewing bug eases up a bit. Do you find that? Are you the alternating or concurrent type? I used to think I liked to dabble in a variety of crafts at the same time, but lately I want to focus more — what is it that they call it? Single-tasking, I think.

Anyway, I painted this li’l blue-grey lady a while back with some beautiful handmade Greenleaf and Blueberry watercolors (based here in Washington!).

We had a balmy, sunny, I-want-to-run-around-without-my-winter-coat kind of day yesterday and I’m hoping for some more of those.

I’m wishing you a happy weekend!

Haiku by K:

Friday is the best
No homework I need to do
I get to relax

 

 

SVE Prep

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I’m “shopping” through my stash, looking for Secret Valentine Exchange inspiration. My partner, like me, favors blues and neutrals and linens, so I’ve got an abundance of choices. Ute has already completed and shipped her gift!! Isn’t she amazing? By the way, if you haven’t been following Ute on Instagram, it’s a must. She takes breathtaking photos of nature and her projects are impeccably made and presented. I often gasp at the beauty she creates.

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Totally inspired, I’m plotting and planning and scheming about what to make for my own special Valentine. Are you making progress? Have you already shipped your gift? If so, I’m beyond impressed!

Everyone should have their assigned partners by now, and our final count is 177 participants (I wrote 179 before, woops). That’s almost double of last year!! Ute and I are very excited and grateful that so many women are taking part in this special celebration of Valentine’s Day and handmade goodness. Please let us know if you have any questions, issues, etc. at secret.valentine.exchange [at] gmail.com. If you’re on IG, don’t forget #2016sve!

Time for me to wade through some more fabric!

Gingers in Indigo and a Shakespearean Valley Top

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So my right calf is slightly bigger than my left calf. These are the things you learn when you make your own clothes. I’m on a sewing roll, and I pumped out not only my second pair of Ginger skinnies, but also the Cali Faye Valley Blouse. It was a good week.

Look at me, trying to mix things up with some props:

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Yes. A little cornball. You can’t help but imagine muzak accompanying this.

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Shall we start with what I’m calling my Shakespearean Valley top? It looks pretty awesome on the hanger, and though the top has grown on me now that I’ve worn it for an entire day and now that the cashier at Jo-Ann’s complimented me on it — she called it my “over-shirt”– I have to admit I feel like I’m billowing all over the place in this blouse. I could probably be airborne if I jumped off of a roof.

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I saw the top featured on the Sewing Rabbit via Pinterest, and loved the way it looked so I immediately purchased the pattern. It’s pretty easy to construct, but I noticed that it was labeled “intermediate”. Had I read that first, I probably wouldn’t have attempted the top because I wanted a quick and easy project of the flow-y variety. I’m guessing it’s the fabric recommendation of very light wovens that makes this garment slightly trickier to sew up since I’d made similar types of tunics that were considered beginner-friendly. I used a double-gauze (I can’t remember from where, sorry), which made it even fiddlier. I like the keyhole feature, and I opted to go the non-functional button route. I lined it with a cream voile, and this is what the inside looks like:

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The sleeves are what make this top especially Shakespearean, or of that era if you know what I mean. If I’d sewn it in white linen, I would be spouting sonnets. Such full, gathered sleeves! And more gathers at the front and back yokes…all of this makes for a very cute design, but I think the issue is that I should have gone down one size. According to the sizing chart, I should have been an XL, but when I looked at the pattern pieces, I was certain a large would fit me. Sizing is always such a conundrum. At least too big is better than too small!

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As for my indigo Gingers — I’m a proud, proud jeans-making mama. I made these out of Selvage denim, which wasn’t quite as stretchy as the black denim I used for my first pair, but with a little tweak here and there (letting out the seam 1/4 inch along the sides and 1/2 inch around my calves), the fit of these indigos are almost better than the black ones. I also made these a smidgen longer.

gingersandvalley8Excuse my exposed belly there and hey, you can see a little of the zipper. Also, I know it’s pure vanity that makes me even mention this, but the fly guard is sticking out in the middle image, making me look like I’ve got a bit of a pouchy stomach. Not that it matters since my Valley blouse leaves everyone wondering when I’m popping out the triplets (what else is new, right? I say this about virtually all my tops). It was significantly easier and faster to sew my second pair of jeans, though I ran into a major problemo:

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Ugh. That there is a hole inelegantly patched near the crotch. The lesson here is not to multi-task when serging the fly seam allowance. K was chattering about this cool restaurant she went to with a friend where robots serve sushi, and my hand slipped in astonishment. “Are you okay, Mama? Are you going to cry?” K asked me when she saw my expression as I put my eye to the hole.

Luckily, it is just where no one can/should see unless the person happens to be pervy. Moving along, I used this beautiful striped cotton for the pocket lining. Ditto for the black Gingers.

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The only other issue I ran into was my inability to hammer in the rivets to the back pockets. In a display of foresight I’m not usually known for, I had purchased several Thread Theory jeans notions packets. After destroying 12 rivets, I conceded defeat. I’m all out of rivets now, so I’ll have to order some more. I tried to steam close the pocket corner holes, but no go.

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I tried this outfit with different shoes, and I can’t decide which I like best. That’s the great thing about skinny jeans – so so versatile. I love that I can slip on boots without all the bunching that happens with my bootcut jeans.

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It’s official: my sewing energy is back!
gingersandvalley13P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Jeannie, congrats!

Happy Friday + Cleanse

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Happy Friday! Yesterday, I met up with a good friend for coffee and received this mouth-watering book as a gift. The Food Lover’s Cleanse by Sara Dickerman — a chef turned food writer — is exactly what I need right now. I can’t wait to dive in! Although I didn’t indulge that much in junk food during the holidays, I was under the weather much of the time, and my body is feeling a little run down and in need of a reboot. It’s a stunning book with photography by Michael Graydon and Nicole Herriot. I’ve been a fan of Herriot Grace since the beginning of time and I’m eager to immerse myself in Sara’s writing and food concoctions.

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There are 140 recipes divided into seasons, and I love that it comes with a menu and shopping list for each seasonal cleanse. Originally an online series in Bon Appétit magazine, it became so popular that the idea has been expanded into a full book. Brilliant!

I’m going to try it…I might crash and burn because my track record for these types of declarations isn’t exactly stellar. I recently tried to incorporate the Korean 10-step skincare with much fanfare and enthusiasm, then quickly abandoned the routine because it was just too much. I’m way too low maintenance for such an elaborate system.

Food shopping will happen this weekend, and the cleanse shall commence Monday. I figure that either way (success or failure), it’s sure to be a learning experience.

Alright, I’m off to peruse the book. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and see you next week!

It’s body cleanse time
Can I do it? I’m not sure…
Let’s see how this goes

P.S. SVE update: we are fine-tuning some final details but it looks like we have a grand total of 179 participants!!! Woo-hoo!! Are you getting excited and planning your makes?

Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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One of my favorite things to do during the book process was prop shopping. I love me some good props. Being the way that I am, however, let’s just say that I didn’t hold back and now I have a mountain of charming, photogenic items taking up a whole lotta space in my basement. Luckily, most of them are very small.

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Like this tiny Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit. “FIRST AID FOR CLOTHES”, it promises, and this approximately 3.25″ wide x 2.75″ high metal box contains teeny scissors, thread (black + white), needles, pins, a couple of buttons, safety pins and a tape measure.

I mean, really. How can you not love this? Since I have an extra kit, I thought it might be fun to offer it up as a giveaway. Perhaps you too have a soft spot for all things miniature and industrial chic?

To enter the giveaway, any comment would do, but I’ve been thinking about how I schlumped and dragged and resisted making the jeans when in reality, it was completely doable and enjoyable. Now I want to make 10 pairs. There are so many things that I do that with, big and small. Do you have a project or projects like that? Something that feels beyond your capabilities or too much work or just plain hard, but you know that if you took that very first step and saw it through to completion, you’ll be so excited and will find yourself proudly telling the mailman that you just completed your first pair of jeans? Okay, I didn’t tell the mailman, but I came close. Now that I’m feeling more comfortable with jeans-making, I’m noticing that I still feel that way about grown-up sized coats and in the non-sewing realm, entertaining — I’m quite intimidated by the idea of hosting dinner parties, though I have no problems having friends over for tea/coffee with snacks or even casual impromptu dinners (our neighbors come over for dinner all the time). There’s something about the “dinner party” that raises the bar and stresses me out. There’s a list about 15 miles long with additional stuff, but those are the two that came to mind first. And you?

I’ll keep the giveaway open until this Friday, January 22nd and will announce the winner on Monday. International entries are, of course, lovely. Good luck!

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