Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! It can’t possibly less than two weeks until school starts for K. I have no recollection of the last month, and more to the point, I don’t know if I can sew up a new backpack/school bag for K for third grade in the remaining time. When I sat her down and told her that we might have to go BUY one, she was crushed. “But what about last year’s??” she asked. Apparently, the Oliver + S messenger bag I made last year was a huge hit amongst her classmates, and she loved telling everyone that it was handmade. It got pretty beat up and the shape didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped. And really, that bag was a serious commitment, and I’m not sure I have it in me to make it again.

But never say never, perhaps I’ll surprise myself.

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K on profanity:

“Mama, I love saying the word ‘fox’. It sounds like a bad word, but it’s perfectly okay to say it.”*

*I recently discovered that she knows way more curse words than I thought. Then again, she thinks “darn” is a horrifyingly taboo word, so it’s very endearing.

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Have a lovely, lovely weekend, friends! My haiku is embedded in the illustration above, so instead here’s an illustration of autumnal fruits [shaking my head that summer vacation's practically over].

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Sewing for Me: Frances Newcombe (Part 2) Meets Darling Ranges

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The thousand yard stare….perhaps it looks like I’m contemplating the plight of the impending world financial crisis or maybe it merely looks like I’m making a mental grocery list. In fact, I’m thinking, “What IS that brownish spot on my curtain?”

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A picture is worth a thousand words they say, but this one sums it up in six: “Stay down, poufy stomach, stay down!”

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The theme is ‘thousand’, it seems, and I have thousands upon thousands of these “what’s going on here?” shots of myself from these past couple of years. I was pretty satisfied with the one above, and then I realized that I forgot the middle button. I have roughly 500 shots of me with that middle button unbuttoned. Nice. I could have Photoshopped it in, but we keep it real here, folks.

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There, that’s better. All buttoned up.

So this is the world famous Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen that’s been around for some time. The sophisticated dark grey abstract print on a cream background was gifted to me by the textile designer herself, Frances Newcombe. It’s called En Route Sable, and I couldn’t settle on this colorway that you see, or the darker En Route Gravel. In retrospect, I feel like the Gravel would have been a better choice, but it’s still a great dress and the fabric was a dream to work with. I’m really digging the Art Gallery cottons.

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Since I only had two yards, I had to do away with the sleeves and there are a few other modifications I’ll need to incorporate if I make this again (and I’d like to. Very much):

1. Lower the dart apex. Currently, they’re floating somewhere high above where they should be, and none of my push-up, underwire bras were up to the task.

2. Cut out the bodice one size up. I tried the medium based on the measurements, but quickly saw that the 5/8-inch seam allowance was going to make it way too small. I used a 3/8-inch seam allowance instead, and the fit isn’t bad, but you can see the gaping happening between the buttons below. Then again, maybe adjusting the darts will fix the problem.

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3. Add a couple of inches to the bodice. Forgot — as I so often do – about my loooong torso.

But these are really pretty minor changes and I think the dress is awesome. It’s casual enough for daily wear, yet pulled together enough that it could be dressed up for fancier occasions or worn to work. And I love dresses with pockets!

I leave you with another slightly awkwardly-posed photo (I think I was in the process of putting my hands back into the pockets), but at least I look happy, which is how this fabric and dress make me feel. And bonus: when K and I swung by the library to get her some more choose-your-own-adventure books, the librarian was oh so complimentary about my dress. Librarian-approved!

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Monday Outfit: Frances Newcombe Fabric Part 1

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Good morning! Did you have a good weekend? I hope so! This weekend I upheld a couple of promises. First, the enormously talented Frances Newcombe had sent me a generous amount of fabrics from her various Art Gallery collections, and who refuses free fabric to sew up into cute clothes? No one in this household, that’s for sure. Especially when beautiful neutrals (perfect for me) and fun, color-infused prints (perfect for K) are involved? I love them, and over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing quite a few outfits featuring Frances’ textiles.

My second promise to myself was to sew as many things from the book I featured last week. Obviously, I stitched up the same dress as the one on the cover:

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I decided to save the colorful prints for next week and dove into the simple yet whimsical Les Points Powder from the Cherie Bonjour Line (it tickles my inner francophile that all the names are in French). Originally, I intended to make a top for myself, but K saw the fabric in my lap as I browsed through my patterns and asked if I would make a dress for her instead. I’d forgotten how much she likes black and white.

fn-bw-piping-dress2 fn-bw-piping-dress3The drape of the fabric is just lovely. It sort of toes the line between quilting cotton and cotton voile with a gentle fluidity that can be crisply pressed.

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I cut out the largest size of 130cm, and it looked gigantic. And I also didn’t have quite enough fabric. Frances gave me about two yards, and I used it all up but still had to reduce the skirt length by almost 5 inches! I reduced the width by a couple of inches too since I didn’t think it needed to be gathered that much. I lined the bodice with a very sheer batiste cotton and that was a good move since if I’d used the same fabric as lining, the print would have shown through.

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Huh, it’s interesting that K doesn’t look like she’s drowning in the dress; I really couldn’t believe how much fabric was required for this. You can see above that when K spreads out her arms, the bodice is indeed extremely wide, but I guess I just have to face the fact that my little girl is not so little anymore.

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The dress would have been darling as is without any embellishments, but I had a sudden hankering to add piping, and I’m so glad I did. Doesn’t it just take it up a notch? The little green button adds a dash of color that is sweet. Black piping would have probably been better, but all I had was navy, so navy it was.

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Everything came together easily, but I somehow managed to completely skip the inseam pockets. I even had them cut out and ready to go! No biggie, since K hasn’t been all that into pockets these days. She’s crooning some Selena Gomez tune up there: “Who says, who says you’re not worth it, who says you’re not perfect, who says you’re not byuuuuuuuuuteeefulll???”

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“Who says?” I say she’s looking pretty beautiful.

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All in all, a success! You just can’t go wrong with dots and dashes, and I can’t wait to show you more of Frances’ fabrics. She has a great range of styles, and as someone not-so-secretly hoping to get into textile design one day, I want to find out so much about the process and production side of things. I’m hoping Frances will let me pick her brain in the near future, but for now I feel so lucky to have the chance to play with such gorgeous fabric.

P.S. K corrected me when I called that thing her megaphone – it’s a microphone that she made.

Happy Friday + Randomness

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My mom left Tuesday, and we’ve been off kilter  – it’s how we always get after her visits. K’s emotions spiral out of control, I get flummoxed with having to cook again (yes, my mom cooks the entire time she visits. It’s her thing) and after speaking so much Japanese, I tend to get thrown off for some reason. M laments that we can’t have impromptu date nights and is disappointed that I’m back in charge of meals.

This visit was slightly different in that we took a number of little trips and had big events: K’s birthday bonanza full of drama (more on that another time), a 24-hour Portland tour via AmTrak, a day spent at a nearby island. The photo above was taken at KVI Beach on Vashon Island. We loved it. On the ferry over, she challenged K to a fierce arm wrestling match:

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My mom is eccentric and she wears her eccentricity proudly and boldly. Maybe it’s because she’s an artist, but she’s incapable of being anyone but herself, and when I was a kid, this was a source of constant embarrassment for me. Our house was the only one I knew where innumerable completed and in-progress canvases obscured furniture and we literally had to leap over her artwork to get from one room to another. Her daily uniform was (and still is) a paint-splattered t-shirt and polka dot shorts.

She rarely abides by rules, especially when she doesn’t think they make sense. I remember traveling through Europe when I was about eleven, and my mom maddeningly wanted to picnic in off-limits areas. Undaunted by watching eyes, she plunked herself on a grassy field that was clearly closed off and busted out a camp stove to boil water for instant miso soup in the middle of Spain (or at least I think it was Spain, it might have been France. Either way, I was mortified). She did this while munching on rice balls that always seemed to magically appear at picnics.

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As I grew older, I began to appreciate this almost complete disregard for other people’s opinions. I used to think it was because she was an immigrant and didn’t understand the Western cultural subtleties, but no, from the stories she tells me of her youth in Japan, she’s always been this way. Sure, she had her insecurities and probably still does, though she doesn’t show them to me. I believe she possesses a rare sort of self-confidence and comfort with herself.  It’s the reason that I’m drawn to people who are like her: settled in their uniqueness, even oddness – the kind of people who don’t try to hide who they are. Because let’s face it: we’re all weird.

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She has strong opinions. Above she’s imitating my poses when I take photos of my handmade clothes. “Why are you always looking down? Stop standing pigeon-toed!!” She’s not one to mince words, and when I was super sick a couple of years ago, she told me that I looked like death threw up all over me. She was right.

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Though she’s lived in Los Angeles longer than she had in Tokyo at this point, she still retains many distinctly Japanese traits – like covering her mouth when she laughs (not always, but often) and wearing stiff slippers made out of a strange, cardboard-like substance when indoors. She teaches K so much. Not just the Japanese language, but how to live, how to observe the colors and textures and shapes and the very essence of the world. She shows K how to enjoy each day, because no one can celebrate the simple pleasures like my mother.

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My mom has a whopper of a life story, and my hope is that one day she’ll let me tell it in full. Her tale has everything: love and loss and romance and scandal and adventure and rollicking humor. And a lot of instant miso soup and rice balls.

For a woman who barely stands five feet tall, she can leave a gargantuan hole of emptiness when she leaves.

Ba-chan has gone home
Three weeks slipped away too fast
I miss all the laughs

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Happy weekend, everyone!! Thank you for all the stress-relieving ideas; I loved reading every single one and found myself nodding enthusiastically and making mental notes to incorporate many of the suggestions. The winner of the giveaway is Anita. Congrats!!

 

Sewing for Me: The Summer Salvation Dress (aka The Tent Dress) + Quick Tutorial

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Today, I give you the one-hour tent dress. This was a completely unplanned sewing project, and I’m pretty sure that if I saw this on a hanger in a store, I would dismiss it as shapeless and unflattering. Then again, I so often feel like my signature style is the muu muu, and this muu muu has been saving me from the hotter-than-normal days we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest. It hit 90 degrees on Monday, which meant that it was about 110 degrees in our un-air-conditioned house. Not fun.

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I needed something that wouldn’t cling incessantly or broil me alive as I tried not to wilt into oblivion, and this trapeze-style dress was the answer. I don’t care if it makes me look like I’m carrying quadruplets; I love love love it.

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There’s really not a whole lot to this self-drafted garment. I grabbed a bodice pattern piece lying around on my cutting table and loosely traced it onto this ribbed heather grey jersey then extended the side into a trapezoidal configuration. I figured the hem would become slightly asymmetrical — I was right, and I like it. I cut three strips (1-inch wide) for the neckline and armholes running parallel to the width of the fabric to get the necessary stretchiness and bam, sixty minutes later, I was lounging in the world’s most comfortable dress. Using a rotary cutter really speeds things up and I didn’t even bother hemming the bottom. If you can tell, exacting measurements weren’t going on here and I relied on a heavy dose of eyeballing. Not bad for a slapdash effort, I’d say.

Okay, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn’t make the neck quite as scooped, but it looks intentional so I’m going with it. I even added a little pocket, mainly to remind which side is the front.

I’m thinking I might need a color-blocked Summer Salvation Dress – what do you think?

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I created a bare bones, loosey goosey tutorial graphic for quick reference on how to construct a similar dress. It still needs to be refined, but it gives you the general idea.

What you’ll need:

- About two yards of knit fabric. Mine is a ribbed cotton jersey with a touch of  spandex. It has a nice drape but isn’t too thin
- Coordinating thread
- Ball point or stretch needle

I own a serger/overlocker which is great for knits, but I actually like to use my sewing machine zig zag stitch (width reduced to about 1.5mm and length increased to 3mm) to sew the seams and then I finish the raw edges with my serger. I do this because I’ve had problems with my overlocked seams unraveling easily in the past. Note: the finishing is optional since knit fabrics won’t fray. If I hadn’t taken the extra step of overlocking the shoulders, sides, neckline and arm holes, this might have been a 30-minute dress….

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For reference on how to attach binding for the neck, this is an excellent tutorial. I used the same method for the armholes.

Viva la tent dress!

 

 

 

Monday Outfit: A Little Lace, A Little Boho + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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Good morning! Has it really been two weeks? It’s all a muddled blur in my mind now and I’m still racing against the clock to get stuff done, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been working hard behind the scenes, but I’ve been playing hard too (in a boringly wholesome way, I should clarify – no tossing back of jagermeister jello shots or misguided pole dancing involved).

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I have a lot to share, but for today, I’m going to focus on this li’l outfit. It’s from this new book I got as part of my birthday stash:

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I’m officially in love with this book. I want to make every single thing from it, and what with the hubbub of back-to-school ads inundating me at every turn, I may just try to sew exclusively from this book for the next few weeks — my newly minted eight-year-old needs a bunch of Fall clothes. The book has a wide range of adorable woven and knit patterns and some good solid basics along with pure frivolity like a faux fur vest. Who doesn’t love a good fur vest?

But more on the book later. K and I browsed through it together, and I asked her if anything struck her fancy. She immediately stopped me on this page:

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“But can you make the skirt extra long? With that pink fabric from Ba-chan?” she asked. But of course.

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The pink fabric from Ba-chan turned out to be a rather small piece, and I had to make quite a few adjustments, but it was as though this skirt was meant to be made from this bright textile with a distinctly ethnic/boho vibe. Except for a two-inch strip I had to cut to straighten the fabric, I used the entire thing. Here are the changes I made:

- I had to turn the fabric crossgrain to get the length she wanted (i.e. imagine that each of those shapes is a jeweled sweet potato – the “correct” way to use the fabric is to have them line up side by side wider than it is tall, how a potato would naturally rest on a surface; instead, the way I used the fabric makes it look like all the potatoes are magically held upright). I also used the wrong side facing outward because the other side had a lot more flourishes and busy design elements.

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- I kept the more decorative section you see above straight grain and lengthened this section by about an inch too.

- The fabric is quite sheer (a cotton voile, maybe?) so I added a quick poly lining. K loves the extra swishiness the lining gives the skirt. I was displeased by how the elastic kept shifting in the casing, so I ended up zigzag stitching the elastic to the casing at the top to secure it. Not the most elegant solution, but it works.

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As for this charming lace-trimmed top, swiss dot was the obvious choice. I’ve had this pretty white summery-ness for a long time…I have a thing for sheer fabrics, I’ve realized, and to keep the top from immodesty, I underlined the front cross-over pieces with the same swiss dot fabric. Easy. The cotton lace is also from my mom, and wouldn’t you know it, I had just enough for the top. Kismet all over the place.

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K’s super happy with this ensemble and it warranted a dance.

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So. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these last few days, and I had to make some choices. Working on two books is an honor and a privilege, but I’m no Beyonce, and my 24 hours is sadly inadequate for my to-do list, which I’m sure is about 1/10,000th of Beyonce’s.

But not keeping up the blog space is a little like asking me to stop shaving my legs – smooth legs are not strictly an evolutionary necessity, but it’s part of my non-negotiable routine (and you know how I love my routines) and somehow it makes me feel more put together and better in a general sense. Plus I have the kind of overactive follicles that require strict maintenance, and things tend to spiral out of control quickly. I’m afraid that once I stop, I’ll be so overwhelmed that I’ll just give up and let myself have yeti legs, so the extra effort is totally worth it to me even in the dead of winter. I wish I could have come up with a deeper, classier analogy, but this pretty much represents my state of mind: scattered and a bit off the mark and obsessed with hair. My goal is to test out a Monday-Wednesday-Friday blog schedule for the rest of the year (my final manuscript for the sewing book is due December 15th). Let’s see how this works, shall we?

I almost forgot! The giveaway! See how out of practice I already am? Due to a series of circumstances, I ended up with an extra copy of this lovely book I’m planning to sew a lot from. I don’t need two copies, naturally, so I thought one of you would like it?

To enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment with your best stress-busting tactics. Are you a yogi? A meditator? A cleaning machine? Baking used to be my favorite way to de-stress, but the caloric overload added more stress so I’ve cut way back on it. I still hate to exercise, but I’m slowly incorporating it more regularly.

The giveaway will be open until this Thursday, August 14th and I’ll announce the winner the next day. International participants are welcome, of course! Good luck!

P.S. I’m catching up on comments….thank you for all the loveliness!

Children’s Book Process (My Version) + Time Off

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This is a portion of one of the cover options for my children’s book that’s coming out next April. Things are still getting tweaked and finalized so I’ll wait a while to reveal more of the actual book — it’s funny, it takes such a long time for a book to get published, many of the aspects start to get hazy for me. The final cover ended up looking very different from what you see above, but this was my favorite concept I presented. Although I was gung ho about this design, I do love how the final version turned out.

At this point, I’ve submitted pretty much all of my illustrations and today, I thought I would share the process I went through from the beginning to now. Mostly it’s because I’m already forgetting details (I had to refer back to a lot of documents and correspondences for this post) and it would be a helpful reference for me. I should point out that my experience may not be typical; I don’t have an agent and I worked on both the story and illustrations, something that is not de rigueur in the children’s book publishing world from what I understand. I assume the structure and sequence of events are a little different with every book, and the one I’m working on now is proving to be a completely different process.

The progression from a seedling idea to completed manuscript/art was incredibly enjoyable throughout. My editor is so sweet, and I particularly appreciated that she sent me a little care package filled with teas and chocolates for extra fortification during one of the deadline periods. I love small gestures of considerateness like that.

It’s rather text heavy today – I tried to create illustrations on the train back to Seattle, but the swaying resulted in motion sickness so I had to stop. So here’s how it’s been shaking out for me, for the children’s book:

Step 1: August + September 2013 // Brainstorm of ideas

I mentioned my serendipitous encounter with my editor before, and after a brief initial meeting with her, I took some time and came up with about fifteen book concepts with a short description for each idea. It turned out that my top choice was also her top choice, so that part was easy.

Step 2: October + November 2013 // The Storyboard + Proposal

Since this would be my first book, my editor encouraged me to create a storyboard to give the publisher a better sense of the storyline/flow of images. I was provided the layout and number of pages for the storyboard, so it was essentially drawing and writing out the entire book in miniature form. Once I completed the storyboard along with color illustration examples, my editor took it to her team to pitch the book.

Step 3: December 2013 // The Book Deal

Fortuitously, the book proposal was quickly accepted and I then negotiated terms, which included the advance payment amount, royalty percentages, the deadlines (how long it would take me to complete the book and milestone dates), and design elements such as size of book, whether I wanted a dust jacket, type of paper, etc. I agreed to complete the book in six months and it was just the right amount of time. This is the part that an agent would usually handle.

The contract was drafted and sent to me. Once a contract is signed though, it takes a while for the check to be issued. It was about a month after signing the contract that I received the first half of the advance. The second half is issued upon completion of the book.

Step 4: February + March 2014 // Cover Art Sketches + Detailed Sketches + Manuscript

I designed six different cover options for review. These went through a round of revisions, and I believe I ended up creating about 10 cover versions total. Since the cover gets included in catalogs for book buyers, it needs to be dealt with upfront. It isn’t set in stone at this stage, and ultimately we changed the cover a lot.

I also needed to provide detailed sketches of the rest of the book in full size for approval. The first couple of months are usually spent on developing the storyboard and the detailed sketches, but since I’d already done the storyboard — which was approved with little changes — this step was pretty effortless. I leisurely worked on the sketches over a two-week period. I also finalized the text with my editor, though we continued to fiddle with it for months.

Step 5: May + June 2014 // Final Art

Based on the detailed sketches that were approved, it was now time for me to work on the final art. I had created all my sketches digitally, but I hand-painted the final illustrations. I LOVED this part. It was so gratifying to watch the images come to life from the greyscale sketches. This portion took me about three weeks. Because my book is quite small, the illustration phase was pretty quick. Had the book been larger in dimension, I would have needed to spend more time on the art.

Step 6: July + August 2014 // Revisions/Updates/Miscellaneous illustrations

This is the phase I’m currently in. Everything has been submitted except for the back cover art, but I’m waiting on specifications for that. I’ve received the final cover mock-up from the design department (with my name in the lower right corner!! So exciting!) and am waiting for the rest of the book with text formatted from the design department so I can go over it with a fine tooth comb. I’ve also painted illustrations for endpapers (the section that is glued to the inner part of the cover), title page, and dedication segment.

Step 7: September 2014 // Book Goes to Print!

Hooray!

Step 8: April 2015 // Available for Sale

I’m a little fuzzy on what happens between printing the book and making it available for sale, but these are the dates in the calendar for now.

Wow. 19 months from idea to public release. For someone used to hitting a button for instant publishing, it sounds inconceivably long. But almost there!! Sort of. Thrilling nonetheless.

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I’m in the throes of book #2, and although I’ve done my level best to keep up with everything going on and sort of managing, I’ve had to sit myself down and (yet again) give myself a stern talking to about my tendency to go overboard. Did you know that I was trying to launch an etsy shop too? I thought it would be cute to open it on K’s birthday, July 30th. Yep, that’s tomorrow. Let’s all laugh together about that one. I’m starting to feel familiar symptoms of my illness again, and it’s entirely my fault. In order to remain on schedule for the book and to keep excessive stress at bay, I’m so bummed but I’m going to have to take some time off from this here blog that I love to work on so much. My attention feels too divided and I need all the focus I can get…I’m letting go of a lot of stuff. For example, we’ll be celebrating K’s 8th birthday tomorrow but there may be no Macgyver dress (super sad face here) and the cupcakes will be store-bought (secretly happy face here since my handmade cupcakes aren’t always winners). I hope to be back Monday, August 11th with a fun post — maybe, just maybe, if I make some serious headway this week, I’ll be back next Monday. Either way, I’ll miss you!

 

 

Stitched Together for Rachel: Boat + Sheep-ish

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Good morning — greetings from Portland! At the last minute, my mom, K and I decided to make a whirlwind trip to the City of Roses. I was lucky enough to finally meet up with a bevy of the sweetest sewing blog friends, and it was a grand treat and much too short. More on that later, because today, I have a special project to share.

A few weeks ago, Victoria of As It Seams reached out to me with a sweet idea: the lovely Rachel who creates the most beautiful clothes and takes some of the most stunning photos in blogland is ready to welcome her fifth child — how about if we each made her a small sewn item that would then be part of a baby mobile? I adore Rachel, and loved the idea, so of course I was in.

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Sadly, my first attempt looked nothing like what I sketched out. I call it my mutant ninja sheep, though it resembles a turtle, so I suppose I could keep the original moniker. K thought it was a dog with a pillow on top of it. I do like its closed eyes…

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Attempt number two is a fabric origami boat. It took a few tries for me to get the hang of folding the fabric, but I refused to let it beat me. I sewed two nani IRO scraps together to make it double-sided, and it was sort of like wrangling a temperamental fabric coaster. Again, K inserted her opinions and said it looked more like a hat. That works too. Incidentally, one side of the boat is a lighter colorway than the other side, though they’re both the same print. The sheep is made from the lighter colorway as well, and the head and legs are felt.

Victoria was inspired by a similar handmade mobile she received from her friends when she had her son, then her daughter. It’s such a personal and thoughtful gift — I think it’s brilliant! I remember receiving so many baby goods when I was pregnant with K, and I appreciated them all, but the handmade ones always pulled extra hard at my heart strings.

Dear Rachel,

Though not perfect, these little mobile pieces are crafted with the best of intentions — not unlike what motherhood feels like on a daily basis. Wishing you a smooth and joyous transition from a family of six to seven! You are super mama!!

xo,

s

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These awesome gals also created additions for the mobile — Rachel is much adored!
Suz at Sewpony
Kristen at Skirt as Top
And of course, Victoria of As It Seams, who also made a great mobile frame hoop:

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! First, thank you so much for all the kind comments last week, I’ve read them all multiple times!! I was delighted by how many people liked things as they are, and I also appreciated the suggestions. I will work hard on incorporating them! The four randomly chosen Drygoods gift certificate winners are: Dottie, Jing, Beccy and Grace. Congrats!!!

Second, the photoshoot was a blast! Keli generously allowed us to use her Drygoods Design studio (did you hear that they’re moving to a new gorgeous space?), and we were productive and tried a variety of ideas and time just flew — like that random bird illustration I have up there. Can you tell that I’m scrounging to come up with a relevant reason for that image? I just liked it.

Michelle (the photog) and Tristan (the stylist) deserve accolades of the highest order. In fact, they’re both exceptional at both photography and styling and organizing, and I found myself taking a lot of mental notes to improve my own skills. I really really love working with them. It made the photoshoot feel even more legit and lively having the editor and art director and an intern there as well. I learned so much. Tristan did a fun post on part of the cover shoot prep process and you can get some sneak peeks, though we’re all very careful about not revealing what the cover will look like. Day two at the light and airy Studio 207 today!

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K: Mama, when can I get my own ipad?

Me: When we think you’re ready, sweetie.

K: Aw man, that means, “never, and don’t even think about it”*…

She’s awfully bright, our little one.

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Happy, happy weekend! I have something a bit unscheduled for you on Monday and will push out the usual K outfit to Wednesday, when K turns – holy cow – eight!!!!!

We’re taking the train
Portland, we’re headed your way
Fun plans in the works!

 

Sewing for Me: IKEA blouse

ikea-linen-blouse1Sometimes you just need a simple, white linen blouse. It’s been drizzly and bordering on frigid ever since we got back to Seattle, and I welcomed the idea of sewing a long-sleeve top.

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I’ve been saving a breathtakingly beautiful and expensive white linen for years, but I couldn’t cut into it for this project. I knew I wanted white, and it most definitely had to be linen, but I was afraid I might make an irreparable mistake and I wasn’t sure if I could handle that in my current frazzled state. I am nothing if not resourceful, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted our little closet that houses bedsheets and toiletries. I remembered that I had an IKEA linen duvet that always drove me nuts because the ties never stayed in the designated holes. It was satisfying to snip apart the duvet, and it turned out to be the perfect choice because the duvet’s been washed so often the linen is lusciously soft and drape-y. I have enough to make at least two more tops, or maybe even a dress for K.

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The pattern is from this book, and I made a few modifications, mainly to speed things up. I cut the size 11 (roughly equivalent to a medium) and here’s what I changed:

- Ignored the bust dart. The position looked all wrong for me, and I didn’t really want any shaping.

- Also ignored the side slits. According to the pattern pieces, they went up almost up to my belly button, and due to the sheerness of the top, I figured I’d want to wear a cami tank underneath which would have looked odd with the side slits/vents.

- I didn’t set in the sleeve, but used my cheater method of attaching the sleeves before sewing up the side seams of the bodice. Like this.

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Because of these changes, from initial tracing to completed top took me about an hour and a half. I love me a quick project! The hardest part was attaching the very thin ties. My regular foot needs more fabric width to keep things moving, so I’ve recently acquired an extremely handy teflon foot that’s meant for “sticky” fabrics like leather and laminated textiles, but I’m finding it pretty useful for knits and thin bias tapes too. I’m still experimenting with it, so I’ll let you know if I change my mind about its usefulness.

Today and tomorrow, I’m shooting the cover of my sewing book (and yes, I needed this top for the photo shoot)! I have the most incredible photo team — I’ll talk about them more in-depth later — and they’ve made the whole shebang so organized! Still, I always manage to make things harder for myself so it’s crazy town here in my house at this moment. Next week, I hope to be less scattered. Thank goodness for K hugs…they always make me feel less chaotic.

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P.S. M’s birthday was awesome.

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