Sewing for Me: All About the Comfy

hudson-renfrew4

Hudson, meet Renfrew. I’d planned on having these Hudson pants done last week as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #6, but I already discussed my land-of-the-unicorns approach to my sewing output level (read: completely fantasy-based).

hudson-renfrew1

But here we are, just a mere seven days later and voila, the comfiest lounge pants known to mankind. And look, I’m branching out and trying a new position other than my usual awkward standing. I give you awkward sitting.

hudson-renfrew3

I love wearing these because they’re the very definition of relaxation, but I have to be honest…I don’t love how these look on me. I mean, check it out:

hudson-renfrew5

I have these calves that would be called “daikon” in Japan, referring to large, napiform radishes (now there’s a vocabulary word for you). A rather unflattering moniker for bulbous calves, but sadly accurate. I fear that these so-called joggers highlight my stumpy legs and bulky calves. Not to mention my non-existent derriere.

hudson-renfrew6

Gah.

I think I’m exacerbating the problem with the light grey knit (no idea what type it is). This is the kind of garment that should be made exclusively in black, at least for my body type. And I am going to have to make another pair because these are so darn comfortable. Maybe the shorter, capri version would work better — I will report back! Another tactic I might try is cutting one size smaller for the thigh area. I’d heard that this is extremely slim fitting so I went up a size to 10, but I think less bulk around my thighs would make the whole look more flattering. The pocket detail, by the way, is the denim knit I use all the time (e.g. here and here and here).

hudson-renfrew2

Earlier this week, I posted a blurry shot of this stripey Renfrew top on instagram — hastily taken by K with my ipad — but I felt like it should be showcased a little better here. I’ve had this amazingly soft black-and-white striped sweater knit in my stash for some time, and though it was slated for K, I couldn’t resist using it for myself. K has already asked for a mini-me version. This is my second Renfrew top by Sewaholic (I haven’t shown you my first one yet), and I made some tweaks to improve the already great pattern. I lengthened the bodice by 2 inches, and also reduced the width for the sleeve cuffs and bottom band. The cuffs were too loose on my first Renfrew, and though I like the band looser just fine, I wanted to give this stripey version a slightly different look.

hudson-renfrew7

If this outfit doesn’t say, “I’m not getting out of bed. Ever” I don’t know what does. Speaking of which, I think I might go take a nap.

 

 

 

Monday Outfit: Halloween Ninja

2014-halloween-ninja5

Good morning, friends! Every year, I seem to end up making two Halloween costumes for K. This, I’ve realized, is because I never finish the main costume in time for the annual Halloween bash held at her school (which was this past weekend), so I resort to frantically sewing something quick and effortless.

Enter Ninja K.

2014-halloween-ninja3

I’m quite impressed with K’s idea for origami ninja stars. I helped her make them, and we used the pinwheel instructions similar to this one since that’s what we happened to have in a little booklet, but there’s also a shuriken (ninja star in Japanese) tutorial online too. We wanted to add the extra badassness with the wristguards, but I’m now wondering if it seems as though she’s sporting two broken wrists. K expressed serious concern that she didn’t look like a girl; since female ninjas used to typically wear purple, we improvised with a purple flower barrette.

2014-halloween-ninja2

The light blue criss-cross ties are actually fold over elastic. She thinks they’re beyond cool. In fact, she declared this the best costume I’ve ever made, though I’m still partial to the owl I made last year.

2014-halloween-ninja4

I self-drafted the entire costume, and it’s rather slapdash and sloppy as far as costumes go. I didn’t even bother finishing any hems, edges, etc and the crossover top is safety-pinned together on the side. However, I’m pretty proud of the knickerbocker-like pants/leggings, which gives the costume an almost authentic vibe. Excuse the visible dust all over her socks and general garb — it’s the curse of black fabric.

The costume comprises five pieces (not including the FOE): The mask, a turtleneck tank, a crossover cardi, a sash and the leggings. It was a super fast project and I’m certain K will wear these regularly. Sometimes it feels like it’s the jankiest, least polished items I’ve made that she loves best.

ninja-costume-illo

Anyhow, one costume down, one more to go! If anyone has any suggestions on how to make a werewolf costume with tattered dress pieces attached (to indicate that the werewolf used to be a girl), I’m all ears. We went from fancy-maid-girl to wolverine-in-a-fur-dress to girl-turning-into-werewolf. Although she’s indecisive, kudos for her originality…ninja star coming atcha:

2014-halloween-ninja6

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

kimono-girls

Happy Friday! This little illustration is totally random, but these little kimono girls make me happy. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and are gearing up for a fun weekend. I’m keeping it sweet and short today since a certain 8-year-old wants me to sew up a rather involved Halloween costume.

*************************************

K on adolescence:

Mama, I hope I’m the kind of teenager that likes her parents…I hear teenagers are really mean.

*************************************

Have a lovely time
and wherever you may be
I hope you stay dry*

*It’s raining non-stop in Seattle. Ah, autumn….it’s funny, the rain has grown on me over the years.

rainandclouds

 

Sewing for Me: Perfect Pattern Parcel #6

julia-cardigan1

I hadn’t consciously planned on three tours in a row, but I’ve noticed that these opportunities to try non-Japanese patterns give me the much needed push to get me out of my sewing comfort zone and try something new. And when you combine a good educational cause with a bundle of patterns I’m eager to try like this Perfect Pattern Parcel #6, it’s all kinds of goodness.

I’ve been part of the Pattern Parcel round-up before here and here and here, and though they’ve all been great, this collection of indie designs is particularly appealing to me and includes:

I, of course, erroneously thought I would be able to sew the Julia Cardigan, Bronte Top and the Hudson Pants by today. Oh, and I thought I’d throw in the Syrah skirt and Zsalya Dress with the extra time I would surely have. I really need to stop overestimating my time management skills.
julia-cardigan3
I managed two Julia cardigans, though, and I love them! I’m confident that if a fabric store carries a fabric in a indigo + grey combo, I will sniff it out like a police hound, hyperventilate happily and unfailingly leave the store with at least a couple of yards. This polyester blend sweater knit is so soft and I’m gaga over the stripes, naturally. I sewed the version with the collar facing, and the additional fabric is so cozy and ideal for fall. The stuff is actually quite clingy and prone to rolled edges, so it wasn’t the easiest fabric to sew, but I’m so pleased with the end result. I believe I got the fabric from here.
julia-cardigan7
julia-cardigan2
I’m not sure why my lower body is always in focus when I set the camera up to focus on my upper body, but my boots are cute, and I bet I’ll figure it out one day. I sort of wish I hadn’t worn such a body-hugging cami, but I was rushing to get photos in the dying light so I didn’t put a lot of consideration into the styling.
Anyway. The grey knit is textured with a subtle lace-like pattern. Super drapey and unlike the sweater knit, very easy to sew. I got it from here, and the bolt didn’t have any content info, but I suspect there’s a little bit of rayon and a lot of cotton.
julia-cardigan8
Because of the fluidity of this knit and because I didn’t use the facing, the collar has more of a cascading effect, which I like. It makes it seem more flirty and fun. I had in mind a 3/4 sleeve version (the stripey one is the longest sleeve length, which I actually had to chop a couple of inches), but I didn’t have quite enough of the grey knit. I do like that the simple shortening of sleeve length imparts a completely different look.
julia-cardigan4 julia-cardigan5
I love love love polka dots, but now I remember why I rarely wear this RTW top: it looks like I smuggled one of K’s garments and threatens to be midriff-baring. Hmmmm….maybe I can lengthen it with a contrasting knit.
At any rate, like all excellent patterns that are easy to make, I want to fill my closet with Julia Cardigans! These are certain to be go-to items in my wardrobe for daily wear. And I’ll eventually sew up all the other patterns too…or so I say. Let me work on that time management thing.
julia-cardigan6
So here we go. Details about the Pattern Parcel:

How Pattern Parcel Works
Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we’ve raised over $12,000 for classrooms in need!

Bonus Pattern
Choose a price of $32 or greater for Parcel #6 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern! That’s only $5 a pattern. The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll. Vintage inspired silhouette is had two flattering necklines and a gorgeous skirt. The Odette Dress pattern goes from a size 4 through a 24!

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win
Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Monday Outfit: E & E Ponderosa + (Slightly Modified) Hemlock

ponderosa1

Good morning! Any time Heidi of Elegance & Elephants asks me if I’d like to try out her patterns, it’s an automatic yes. Her designs are comfortable and stylish and the kind of garments that K actually wants to wear.

ponderosa6

“OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT,” is what K said when I presented her the Ponderosa dress. I’m a fan of the chartreuse double-knit combined with the muted bold stripes, and K is a fangirl too.

ponderosa2

The only part I didn’t follow exactly was the neckband attachment. I used my regular method of folding the band in half initially and sewing to the neck opening, then simply overlocking the raw edges.

ponderosa3

Do you like the pink shades? They are actually Nancy Drew stealth spyglasses — ordered via Scholastic Books — and it comes with an earpiece to enable eavesdropping. You have to stand right next to the people conversing to hear anything which renders the stealth part moot, but it’s been a major hit around here.

ponderosa4

The pattern is fantastic. Super easy to construct and the size 8 is spot-on for K. As you can see, I played with the stripes a bit, and the skirt is cross-grain so it might stretch out. That’s okay though — too long is always better than too short. This one is going to get a lot of love.

hemlock1

Heidi generously provided me all three of her new patterns (Ponderosa Dress, Hemlock Top, Magnolia Skirt) and I had every intention to sew up all of them. Sadly, I could only manage the dress and top, but but two out of three ain’t bad.

hemlock3

Some of you may recognize the tee fabric from my Skippy Dress. I had just barely enough left for the Hemlock top, and K was over the moon since she’s been coveting my dress fabric for some time. “Why do you always use the prettiest fabric for your own clothes, Mommy?” is a common phrase around here.

hemlock5

I started sewing the top late at night, and I misread the instructions. This led to me basting the flutters with a zig zag stitch instead of a long basting stitch so I couldn’t gather the flutters. I abhor ripping out zig zag stitches from knits — thus, I decided to make them unfluttery flutters instead. A bit Star Trek, perhaps? The knits are all from here. Such a great little shop and the owner is so, so sweet.

hemlock2

To me, it actually looks very hipster and I’m loving it. No idea what she’s doing up there.

hemlock4

Again, K is smitten (for a while she refused to wear a lot of what I was making, so these recent approvals are heartwarming). Huzzah!

Good news: Heidi’s patterns are on sale ($1 off) with the coupon code TOUR until October 24th! Check out the shop here!

P.S. I’ll be posting on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week.

P.P.S. I finally took the plunge and gave K the book. Guess what she said? “I already know this, Mama.”  All that hemming and hawing for nuthin’…I guess she was just confused about the DNA part.

Franklin Dress + Tunic

franklin-dress10

Happy Friday! There’s a new player in the indie pattern circuit, and I was excited to be invited to try out Brooklyn Pattern’s brand new offering: The Franklin Dress. Erin, the creator, has such a fascinating background (circus, ballet and opera costume designer!) and because I worked in theater for a while, I feel a kinship with her.

franklin-dress12

The Franklin dress has a vintage-inspired feel with a pleated yoke and puffy sleeves, and it actually reminds me of the many Japanese patterns I’ve pumped out to date. So obviously, I love the style. And when you pair a pretty pattern with an equally pretty polka dotted cotton, well…I’d call it a winner.

franklin-dress1

We had a prop situation in that K kept wanting to try different ones, so I apologize that there are so many photos (and blurry ones!) in advance. She insisted that I include them all, and I am nothing if not an obliging parent. We started with a glass tchotchke shaped like a Hershey’s kiss.

franklin-dress2

franklin-dress11Then we tried a gold clutch to match the vintage gold buttons on her yoke.

franklin-dress4

And we can’t forget the Scholastic book order form.

But this was her favorite:

franklin-dress6 franklin-dress7 franklin-dress9

I love those metal letters. The Robert Kaufman dotty chambray is from here, and it’s the softest, loveliest cotton. I cut a size 8 for K, and it’s a little long, but I don’t mind. I read through the instructions which were pretty clear (but maybe some steps were missing?). However, I find that I like to do things my own way these days, and I didn’t set in the sleeves but used my usual cheater method; I also basted the yoke and facing together to keep things tidy as I sewed. All in all, the whole dress came together easily. One other thing you may or may not have noticed…my pleats are facing outward instead of inward and this was purely my personal preference. Sometimes I get nitpicky about stuff like that.

franklin-tunic1

And hey, why stop at just sewing the dress? I felt like a dose of color was in order, and wanted to see how quickly I’d be able to sew this if I eliminated the pleats as well as the pockets (which are part of the black dress, but I couldn’t get good shots of her showing them off), shortened the sleeves and made it into a tunic. Can you guess? 1 hour and 44 minutes. I was a speedster because I only had an hour and forty-five minutes before I had to go pick up K. Got it done in the nick of time.

franklin-tunic2

I’m not sure how long the black dress took. I did a rare thing and worked on it little by little over a four-day period — I never do this, because I’m impatient and want to get it all done in one fell swoop. It was actually super stress-free and very enjoyable. It was fun to speed sew this tunic too, though.

franklin-tunic3franklin-tunic4

I’m liking the Franklin pattern! Oh, the cute apple fabric was K’s find. Perfect for fall!

franklin-tunic5

K made that necklace out of buttons she filched from my stash. She got sort of psychobabbly with her interpretation of what each button meant: “The green turtle is for envy, the purple is for magical emotions, the pink elephant is for happiness…”

Anyway. Erin is offering a giveaway! Here’s the Rafflecopter snazziness, and it sounds as though you might need to “like” her facebook page? That world is a mystery to me. If you’d like to enter the giveaway, here it is:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve inundated you with enough words and images for today so I’ll bid you adieu and am wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Cashew Milk

cashew-milk1

As I grow older, I’ve noticed that I have a harder time digesting cow’s milk and end up with a bunch of weird reactions. In particular, my monthly PMS breakouts are worse and painfully cystic when I’ve consumed too many dairy products, so I’ve been trying to find tasty alternatives. I love soy and almond milk, but I’ve been reading about some scary additives (like carrageenan) and though I usually pshaw those types of hyped up warnings, I figure I should stay on the safe side.

A few weeks ago, when I was chatting with a friend, I noticed her swigging a creamy liquid that she kept shaking up. It turned out to be cashew milk, and I was intrigued. Cashews are my favorite nuts! Why didn’t I think of cashew milk before? Alas, the stuff is not readily available at even my uber granola, natural foods market.

cashew-milk3

Did you know that it’s super easy to make cashew milk? This was a happy discovery as I had cashews and water on hand, and that’s all I needed! Using my trusty Vitamix (though any blender will do since cashews are softer than your average nut), I just blended one cup of cashews with 3 cups of water for about 40 seconds. Some recipes suggest soaking the raw nuts overnight, but I didn’t bother.

In fact, I didn’t even use raw cashews. I got the “less salty” kind from Trader Joe’s and the result was a thick, milky beverage that tastes like liquid cashew butter. Adding a sweetener would perhaps be advisable, but I actually like the slightly salty undertones. Action shot:

cashew-milk2

I’m starting to feel like a televangelist for Trader Joe’s, but I seem to constantly have memorable experiences there. About a week ago, I was having a bummer of a day as it happens sometimes. I’d just placed all my grocery bags in my trunk sporting an Eeyore-esque expression, and was about to go return the cart, when a young man happened to be approaching from my right. He smiled pleasantly and said, “Here, let me take that for you,” and rolled my cart away to the designated area. He wasn’t an employee, and I was looking pretty unsexy (yoga pants, frizzy bun, no make-up, grumpy, cystic acne) so I wasn’t having a cougar moment or anything — he was just being nice. That tiny act of kindness completely lifted my bad mood, and I drove home hoping that K will grow up to be a considerate young adult like that.

But I was talking about cashew milk. It’s taking me a bit to get used to, but I really like it in my coffee as you can see below. I also made a cashew hot cocoa and that was definitely yum. And I bet cashew milk chai using my go-to recipe would be divine…it’s got potential, this one. Lots of potential.

cashew-milk4

Sewing for Me: Wool Zip-Up Vest

wool-vest1

Good morning! Since I’ll be sharing a K-sized outfit on Friday this week, I thought I would change up the routine and post this wool vest I made a few days ago.

wool-vest7

I haven’t sewn much with wool, and this fabric is actually a polyester blend full of slubbiness and stretch. I’m not sure if that made it easier or not, but oh, the shedding…don’t get me started on the shedding. There is a thin layer of dark grey dust all over my sewing area at the moment, and it’s looking rather post-apocalyptic.

I have this Eddie Bauer wool feather-down vest that I wear all the time that I bought years and years ago. It’s starting to look pretty worn out, though, and I thought this pattern from Basic Black sewing book would create a decent substitute:

basic-black-book5

Hmmm, I didn’t look at the modeled photo as I was sewing the vest but the styling must have embedded itself in my brain since I used a very  similar fabric and I even took photos wearing a braid. I usually try to stay away from direct copying, so this surprised me. At any rate, I ended up changing a few things from the original pattern and as usual, I didn’t execute flawlessly. Take a gander.

wool-vest5

Do you see it? The pockets are totally lopsided. They were actually even when I first attached them, but then as I tried to get the separating zipper inserted, one side started stretching out and the right front bodice piece ended up way longer. Next time, I will make sure to add interfacing or stay tape before attaching the zipper. Another note on the zipper: I think the instructions were incorrect? When I followed them to the letter, my zipper was facing the wrong way so I had to figure out a different method. It’s very likely to be user error, but I’ll be making this vest again so I’ll provide the correct way if the instructions are wrong.

I am debating whether or not to re-do the pockets, but you know what’s funny? Because I naturally stand with my right shoulder hiked up, the pockets actually look quite even when I’m wearing it. I guess I should consider attaching all my pockets askew…Anyhow, here are some of the changes I made. Instead of folding over the armhole inward to finish them, I cut out two 2″ bias bindings for the arm openings. Much, much cleaner in my opinion:

wool-vest6

My fabric was pretty bulky so instead of double-folding the hem, I serged it (lazy, lazy — look at that white serger thread) and folded up only once. I also added a couple of extra inches to the hem for my extra long torso:

wool-vest8

I wish the zipper tape showed more because it’s this cool black and white stripe, like this one, except mine separates.

wool-vest3 wool-vest2

The design is great, though I should have used something other than the same fabric for the collar facing…I don’t like wool directly on my skin as a general rule, and though this one isn’t too bad, it’s still a bit scratchy.

wool-vest4

Imperfect, but totally functional. I’ll take it!

Happy Friday + Randomness

birdsandbees

Happy Friday! “Mama?” K asked the other day, “How is it that I have both your DNA and Daddy’s DNA? I don’t get it.” I gulped. At her eight-year wellness check during the summer, our pediatrician warned me that the questions will start. Not MY little girl, I thought smugly, I still have all the time in the world. But here we are, just two months after the warning, and K has been peppering me with some variation of this question almost every day.

So I ordered a book recommended by the pediatrician. Because let’s face it, I know myself and I will end up using weird, untechnical cute-sounding terminology (e.g. “weenis”) and completely botch up the explanation. I am utterly unprepared and unqualified for sex education for kids. My parents never even tried to broach the topic with me. I remember when I was about 11 and had some vague notion of reproduction, I genuinely wondered whether people took off their underwear. A German friend tells me that it’s such a non-issue in her native country, kids know all about the birds and the bees practically from birth. Ditto with a Dutch friend. It makes me want to move to Europe to soak in that blase attitude toward a subject that causes me to squirm when discussed publicly (being of Asian-descent raised by immigrant parents in the US exacerbates this, I think — I have never seen my parents hug, much less kiss. In their homeland, people bow to each other and celibacy is a hip and happening trend, for crying out loud).

The book arrived yesterday so I’m working up the courage to go through it with K this weekend. So awkward. Then again, if you think I’m bad, you should see M. He won’t touch the topic with a 1000-foot pole and has insisted I would be better at enlightening K. He’s got German roots so I don’t know what his excuse is.

Anyway. I’m subsisting on cough drops to avoid the usual bronchial infection I tend to get with every cold and I’m going to go binge-watch Game of Thrones season 3 (thanks for reminding me of the show, Greta!) as I build up my nerve to dive into the it’s-not-the-stork story with K.

Oh, the winner of the giveaway is Lacey, who studied linguistics. Congrats! I absolutely loved reading everyone’s favorite classes, areas of study, etc. So fun!

**************************

Have an un-awkward, relaxing weekend, all!

No Monday Outfit
We’re switching thing up next week
Stay tuned for Friday*

*I’m featuring a cool indie pattern on Friday – I think you’ll like it!

 

2014 Fall Sewing Plans

2014-fall-sewing-plans

It’s like clockwork. The frenetic start of the school year eases into a predictable routine, the air tingles with promises of cozy sweater weather, and then, M or K comes home with a cold and BAM, I’m laid flat on my back, sniffling and coughing up a lung. Due to my wimpy immune system, even the mildest cold tends to hit me hard.

I’m determined to not get sucked into the illness vortex this time (last year I was fighting one ailment after another from November to February), so I’ve been slowing things down dramatically. Yesterday, I did nothing. Okay, I dragged myself to Trader Joe’s and ran a couple of errands as I always do on Tuesdays, but otherwise, zilch. And yes, I drew that illustration, but that took less time than you would imagine. Alright, alright, I may have cut out a pattern that I thought I might be able to sew up for today, but I stopped myself from proceeding beyond tracing out the pieces when the world started spinning.

My mom told me during her last visit in August that when I was a baby, I would work so hard on everything that she used to worry that I had some kind of compulsive disorder. Take walking, for example. At 9 months, I was so intent on walking, I would go at it full force, fall flat on my face, turn a lurid and frightening shade of crimson, get up with renewed vigor and do it over. Sometimes I would fall backwards and hit my head and knock myself out. And yet, I would continue relentlessly and without breaks. It seems to explain a lot about my current spotty brain functionality. It also makes me wonder why my mom didn’t babyproof a little better if I was concussing myself on a regular basis.

You’d think that I would have mastered walking quicker than most due to my persistence, but my mom said she couldn’t believe how long it took me to get the hang of it (months). When my younger brother came along and casually sauntered a few days after his ninth month without much of a stumble, my fanatical determination seemed doubly worrisome to my mom. The funny thing is, my brother and I have approached everything in much the same way our whole lives — effortlessly for him, unglamorously full of prolonged effort for me.

I’m not sure what made me think of that; wandering thoughts may be a symptom of this head cold. Anyway, I did have enough energy to start planning my fall sewing in a more structured way. Unlike last year’s out-of-control plan that I didn’t even come close to executing, this year, I have only three sewing projects and one super easy knitting venture on the docket: A wool zip-up vest, a plaid shirt (a must for Fall, no?), a pair of skinny jeans and a (gasp) cashmere knitted scarf. I’m going for quality vs. quantity, folks. I know I poo-poo’d knitting before, but I think I can manage a big rectangle…at least I hope I can. I’ll be using this book for the vest, but I’m researching patterns for the others. I’ve gotten some good skinny jeans recs from the Monday post, and I’m digging deeper. I’ll update this post with pattern candidates later!

For now, I’m off to brew up some Indian spice herbal tea with a touch of manuka honey and almond milk and will call it a day.

Post Navigation