Call for Sewing Testers (Round 2)! {CLOSED}

UPDATE: Amazing! So many people volunteered and I have enough testers now, so I have closed the sign-up form. For those of you that filled out a form, I will send a confirmation email in a few days after I’ve gone through all the forms. THANK YOU!!


Hello, my friends!

Many months ago, a whole bunch of you tested patterns for my next sewing book, and it was wonderful. The plan was to release the book in Spring of 2021. Then the pandemic happened. We decided to postpone the photoshoot, which meant we ended up pushing out the launch to 2022.

Not one to let an opportunity pass by, I’m taking advantage of this extra time to conduct a second round of testing for my slopers section. I’ll admit that the testing material was pretty rough the first round, and I received super helpful feedback (I was so impressed by and grateful for how patient and kind everyone was!). The feedback allowed me to simplify and improve the section so much. I’m now ready for new testers!

If you’ve been curious about creating slopers — aka foundation pattern pieces that enable you to design and alter pretty much any kind of garment to fit your beautifully unique body shape — I’ve got a fun project for you. I’m looking for people with a willingness to draft some very basic patterns, have a detail-oriented mind and a penchant for zeroing in on instruction errors. The actual sewing part is pretty minimal and it’ll require just a few hours or a weekend.

This whole sloper thing has been a major game changer for me in the garment sewing realm, and I’m wishing the same for you!

My publisher, Sasquatch Books, has generously offered to provide a free copy of the book for testers (I’ll also be adding an extra treat). This means that you will need to be based here in the U.S. However, a few international folks were happy to test for the ebook version of the book during the first round, so let me know if that’s the case.

I will keep sign-ups open until September 4th and will send out the PDFs and info by September 10th. All feedback will be due by September 25th. Questions? Leave me a comment or DM me @sanaeishida on Instagram, where I’ll also post the call for testers.

GINORMOUS THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Below is the form (if you can’t see it in the screen, click here):

Summer Celebrations

Just a quick check-in to say, “Hey, how are you?”

See that cute li’l girl up there? She’s 14 today. Fully a teenager, mature as all get-out, yet still a little kid in so many ways. This is what quarantine birthdays are looking like:

(A little overexposed, but I love this hasty snap taken just a few minutes ago. It’s so very her)

K has a few of her closest friends over right now, enjoying a social-distanced hangout session in our yard. I can hear snippets of their conversation and it’s like I’m listening to a foreign language. No clue.

I was looking through some old photos with a vague notion of creating a little digital card for her, but it turned out to be a dangerous time-sucking activity and I was lost in a swirl of nostalgia for hours. I mean:

I remember I got that comforter set from Anthropologie on mega-sale and even though I didn’t love the print, I felt so fancy that I bought something from that outrageously expensive store.

We used to go to the Olympic Sculpture Park with friends all the time (oh how I miss museum outings!):

 

And this one just kills me:

I can’t remember what she’s “reading” but M puckers a lot when he reads, and I guess that trait is genetic.

Right now, I’m making her a Japanese style birthday cake and am waiting for the sponge cake to cool:

It’s a recipe from here, and I didn’t wait long enough to let the meringue create peaks, so it may not be as spongy as I’d like. Nothing a ton of whipped cream can’t fix.

Last week was M’s birthday and the cake I made was a huge success:

M loves spice cakes, and the magic was in adding some dark chocolate chips. The cake disappeared so fast, it was as though it was a figment of our imagination. Here’s the recipe I used, though I ended up tossing in some Pumpkin Spice from Trader Joe’s instead of measuring out all the different spices. Worked like a charm. It was, as promised, moist and dense and full of rich flavors. Thumbs up!

Alright, I better get back to the sponge cake. Hope you’re all hanging in there. This month has been rough for us, so it’s been nice to have these celebrations to remind us of the good things in life. Fourteen! I can’t believe it….

Nuanced Not Faded

Hello, my friends! I received this luscious bouquet from a dear friend a couple of weeks ago, on my birthday. We did a social-distanced hand-off of the flowers, which was quite funny.

As I gazed at these blooms the phrase that came to mind was, “faded beauty.” It’s what everyone says, right? The faded beauty of dying roses. Although these roses are no longer in the full blush of its blossoming floral youth, I don’t think their beauty has faded at all. If anything, it’s deepened and is more nuanced.

Of course, as someone who is now 49-years-old, perhaps I’m justifying the passage of time and what might be perceived as the dimming of what K calls my “sparkle.” Here’s what she said to me as she flipped through some old photos, “You had so much sparkle when you were in your twenties, Mama!” My almost 14-year-old K is so full of sparkle and it’s true, I definitely feel more muted. But nuanced!

One is prone to contemplation around the time of a birthday, and I’m a professional contemplator as it is. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my forties and I’m unabashedly excited about embarking on my fifties next year. If I’ve learned anything in my four decades, it’s that if I allow it, life gets better and better. Does that mean the world is better or that everything is perfect? No. That doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In fact, if the news broadcasts are to be believed, the world has gone to hell. But I don’t believe the news (not entirely, anyway). And I don’t believe in suffering because other people are suffering. I tried that for many, many years, and all that happened was a lot of extra suffering. This is probably not a popular stance given current events, but I stand by it 100%.

What I want to do for this 49th year and beyond is to genuinely enjoy each day and — if I may use the quote from my ginger teabag tag today — “plant love and watch it grow”. To just be myself. Who knows how many days I have left? My mom has been an excellent role model in this regard. She used to talk about death all the time, and how she wanted to squeeze goodness out of each moment before she passed on. When I was younger I thought that was macabre and rather depressing, but now I see that it’s the opposite. She’s 71 now and hasn’t changed much. Every time I chat with her on the phone, she tells me of all the joys she finds in her new home and surrounding area and wonders when she’ll die, practically in the same breath — she seems so content to have returned to Japan after 50 years in California, but then again she was content in Los Angeles too. Now there is a woman who knows how to have a good time and is unafraid of the grim reaper.

I’d like to be like that.

I’ve been enjoying many things lately. M spoiled me with books and art supplies for my birthday and I got this amazing set of colored pencils. I’m obsessed with colored pencils and have tried pretty much every brand on the market. According to all the reviews I’ve read most colored pencil artists love soft, smooth, oil-based pencils, but I prefer harder, wax-based leads. What drew me in particular to this set is that like myself, the colors in this Derwent Artists set are quite muted (and nuanced!):

As you can see, I’ve tested a jillion brands to see figure out my preferences. K calls them my broccoli girls.

More experimenting. The Lightfast pencils are spectacular as well, but I still prefer the Artists…

I used to have a phobia about using my “nice” stuff and kept saving them for a day when I would feel somehow more worthy of the high quality items. No more. I dove right into using my gorgeous pencils and I’ve been cutting into my prized fabrics as well. I made this little self-drafted tank for myself this week. It’s made with Nani Iro fabric I bought at Yuzawaya last year in Japan. Again, who knows how many days I have left, right? Might as well use everything up.

Using things up has been a big theme during quarantine for me. I get this huge sense of satisfaction from finishing the toothpaste tube, cooking up all of the vegetables in the fridge, etc., etc. There’s the awesomeness of reducing waste, of course, but it’s that glee of completion that I love more than anything else.

I hope you’re all faring well in spite of the global chaos. Here’s another role model for enjoying each moment (I know that I keep posting similar photos of Katara, but she’s so darn cute and I’m such a cat lady now, I can’t help it):

I’m working on three books starting this week, so my schedule will be full for a while. It’ll be a nice change from my dawdling, doodling days — I like having the balance of the two. In a few months, I’ll be able to go back to aimless coloring and contemplating, which will be lovely.

P.S. K graduated from middle school last week and is now officially a high schooler!! Wow, I don’t think I ever imagined myself as a Mama to a high school kid and so far, it’s awesome.

Teen Sewing Bonanza

Hello, my friends! How are you doing? Are you still sheltering in place? Or has your area reopened and have you cautiously stepped out into the wild world?

K and I are still in full self-quarantine mode and we’re heading into day 80. M — the most extroverted of us all in desperate need of contact with other humans — has been venturing out a little more while remaining diligent about safety. At this point of lengthy cocooning, I’m not sure if I’m capable of having normal (i.e. coherent) conversations with people and I’m a little nervous about inserting myself into society when Seattle finally reopens.

Anyway! What with my books getting reshuffled schedule-wise and the necessary cancellations of many of my in-person events, I have found a treasure trove of abundant time. And for the first time in years, I’ve been inspired to sew for K. I may have had a poor showing for Me-Made-May, but I kept my sewing machine revved all month.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sewn for K at this pace. I might have overdone it, however, because after sewing up the ruffle top that failed, my mojo skittered to a halt this week.

I self-drafted all of the garments and I’m really proud of this fact. It’s always been my goal to be able to do this, and after 10 years of sewing, I’ve finally arrived. I’m sure it would take most people far less time but I’m a slow learner, especially when it comes to skills that have spatial and 3-dimensional elements.

So how did I decide what to make for K? She and I have a shared Pinterest board and she added all the clothes she fancied, and I used those pins as a springboard to come up with designs. So here they are:

PAJAMAS – she wanted lots and lots of pajamas. I’m happy to report that she loves them all and wears them constantly.

 

SHORTS – Nothing too special about these French terry knit shorts other than its off-the-charts comfort level. I created two separate casings for the waist band because I ran out of 3/4″ elastic and thought two rows of 3/8″ elastic would work (I did the same for the pink gingham pajama pants above). It did. Notice the fancy label. “Koom Koom” is her toddlerhood nickname and I had these labels made 10 years ago.

TOPS – she favors fitted and slightly cropped tops, I’ve noticed. I was trying to make the ones I sewed a little looser than the images I saw on our shared Pinterest board, but I miscalculated the stretch of this grey fabric and it turned out very snug:

She loves it and wears this top frequently. I’m quite pleased with how the lettuce edge hem turned out and you can see the original H & M top that I modeled it after. The stripey H & M top was a hand-me-down from a neighbor and it’s probably one of the most worn items in K’s wardrobe.

This tie-front top was fun to make. I’ve stopped worrying about finishing raw edges with most of the knit projects and K doesn’t seem to mind.

And finally…the failed ruffle top:

The idea behind this top is that it can be worn over or off the shoulder. Unfortunately, the fabric is too sheer, the armholes too deep and I sewed on the ruffle crookedly. I can easily fix the armholes and the ruffle, and I can probably add a lining, but I really, really dislike ripping the seams of knit fabric. We’ll see how I feel after a couple of days.

I’ve featured some of these on Instagram already, which was a lucky thing because quite a few of my photos mysteriously disappeared from my hard drive. Yay for cloud technology — though it tends to be hit-or-miss for me, this time it was a hit and I found the IG images stored on the cloud.

Alright, I’m off to figure out what else I can sew for K. Or maybe I’ll just veg out for a while. However you’re choosing to spend your time, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy!

Kid-friendly masks

Hello, hello! You saw this coming, right? If you’ve got a freshly published animal-themed book, it stands to reason that animal-themed kid masks would be the next logical step.

Sweet, don’t you think?

I even created templates and a tutorial! I know there are a zillion mask patterns out there and the main reason I designed these masks this way was to allow for ease of adding the cute details. As far as I’m concerned, we all could use some cuteness right now.

There are two sizes: child and youth (which technically fits adults too). Even with the addition of animal elements and embroidery, these are quick and easy to sew up. Once I got a rhythm going, I whipped out three in an hour.

K is modeling the bear-esque one — as you can see, the sizing is quite generous but keep in mind that K is rather petite with a small face. I positioned the nose a little higher in this one, fyi.

It was even faster to stitch up the youth/adult size since I omitted the animal elements:

These adorable prints have been lounging in my stash for a looong time (unfortunately, the animal fabrics are no longer available, but there is a dizzying array of equally if not more darling fabrics at Miss Matatabi, where I ordered them from). They are from front to back:

Cheers to a light-hearted take on a helpful item during these confusing times. Without further ado, here’s the tutorial!

KID-FRIENDLY MASK

Child size fits approximately 3-8 years

Youth/Adult size fits approximately 9+

 

MATERIALS (per mask)

10″ x 10″ for outer fabric – I recommend cotton or linen/cotton blend

10″ x 10″ for lining fabric – tightly woven cotton fabric is best

Scrap piece of felt – wool is nicer but the readily available polyester kind is fine, naturally

2 pieces of 1/4″ elastic, 10″ in length each

Marking tool – I like to use Chacopen

Safety pin or bodkin

Optional: Embroidery floss and embroidery needle

Click here or the image above for templates (comes with 2 nose options)

 

CONSTRUCTION STEPS

Step 1 Print out templates (link is above) and trace onto fabrics. Cut out 1 outer piece, 1 lining piece, 2 elastic casings and one nose. To avoid confusion later, it’s a good idea to make a marking or create a notch to mark which side is the top of the mask for both the outer and lining pieces.

Step 2 On the right side of outer mask, attach nose in the center about 1/2″ below the tip of the “v”. I like to use a wide zig zag machine stitch (4mm), but you could also hand stitch it on with a whip or slip stitch. If you prefer the nose to be positioned higher, go to step 4 before attaching the nose. You can see that I tried different nose positions, and it’s definitely easier to sew on the nose while the fabric piece is still flat.

Step 3 Optional: embroider details such as mouth, whiskers, snout outline, etc. using a backstitch (if you prefer, you can embroider after step 4). Don’t worry too much about symmetry and such. I love wonky, imperfect embroidery. So charming.

Step 4 With right sides facing, sew the top and bottom “V”s of the outer mask with 1/4” seam allowance. It’s like sewing darts. Press seam open. Repeat for the mask lining piece. Attach nose and stitch embroidery details to outer mask at this point if you did not do it earlier.

Step 5 Prep elastic casings: fold shorter edges towards wrong side by 1/4″ and press. Stitch close to raw edge of both ends. Then fold shorter side in half with wrong sides facing and press.

Step 6 Attach elastic casings: Align the raw edges of the casing to the side edge of the outer mask (I like to fold the edges and casings to create a center crease to align) and baste 1/8″ from edge. Repeat for other side.

Step 7 With right sides facing, sew outer mask and lining together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving an opening of about 2″ at the bottom. Clip corners (careful not to cut into the seam!).

 

Step 8 Turn right side out, tuck in the seam allowance at the opening and press. Edgestitch all around.

Step 9 Using a safety pin or bodkin, thread the elastic pieces through the casings. Tie the elastic ends into a knot and adjust the fit if necessary. If desired, shift the knotted end into the casing — it looks nicer and will be more comfy for little ears.

All done! So cute!

Let me know if you give these a try and if you find any errors or have suggestions for improvement.