Good-bye Little Girl Room

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Poor M pulled a muscle in his back on Friday, so we figured teepee camping was probably not the best idea. Since the camp site is so close and the rate was on the economical side, we didn’t feel too guilty about canceling and had a quiet, at-home fête of three.

But K had been looking forward to the teepee and was a bit bummed out (I suspect what she really wanted was the s’mores). Partly to assuage her and partly because we’ve been talking about it forever, K and I hit IKEA to finally update her room from pink and purple sparkle-ness to something a little more grown-up. I was rather impressed by her decisiveness when it came to selecting the rug, bedding, and curtains. As you can see, she went with a subdued palette. That swivel-chair was her favorite purchase, fyi. I was surprised that she chose black because it comes in cute colors like green, pink, blue, light grey…

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The Nordis sheer curtains were too long, so I shortened them, which was the highlight of my sewing over the weekend though I am working on my secret sewing project for M (spoiler: it’s not going well – if you saw my sneak peek on Instagram, that is by far the best-looking part of the project).

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This. This curtain rod and double brackets had me pulling out my hair, proving, yet again, that I am so not handy. “Mama, there’s an awful lot of ‘ow!’, ‘oops!’, ‘AAAAAGH’s going on,” K commented, as I tried to wrangle the power drill to tame the uncooperative screws. The curtain brackets are from IKEA as well and a monkey could have easily installed them, but I am obviously not as dextrous as a monkey.

Because K’s room is east-facing, it’s like a broiler in there during the summer months, but her original curtain rod had broken and we’d been trying to shield the sun with foam boards that I happened to have on hand. Not a classy look, let me tell you. I’ve known for a long time that I should put up blackout curtains, but laziness kept winning out, and I was willing to live with the shanty-town look.

But it’s my girl’s 10th birthday in five days and she deserves better. Clearly sheer curtains weren’t going to cut it. Hence the double curtain rods and blackout curtains. I’m quite proud that I finally got everything measured, screwed in and acceptably installed. The curtain rod with the glass finial is from Amazon as is the grey-ish white blackout curtains — they were a good deal! They initially looked really cheap, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by  how put-together it all seems.

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All this talk of curtains and bedding is well and good, but the most important part of her room is directly across from her bunk bed: the studio. This is where my musical child practices her instruments and composes songs and generally blows me away. She recently recorded a song with her piano/guitar/voice instructor (yes, one teacher for all three) and I couldn’t believe it was K when I heard it in the recording studio. I tried to upload the MP3, but it says the size exceeds the limit for WordPress…oh technology! At any rate, it’s pretty awesome to watch the blossoming of a talent through perseverance.

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And then, of course, there are the signs of approaching teenage-hood on her door.

Alright, all that drilling and redecorating wiped me out! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! While we were in Michigan with M’s family a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law quietly handed me a box while I was reading and nodding off on their cottage deck. It was from her mother, my grandmother-in-law as it were, who passed away last September. “Sanae,” her elegant handwritten script had labeled the plain Kraft paper box.

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Inside was a meticulously folded origami box.

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And inside of that, beautiful shibori-dyed fabric. Ronia Marie is a textile artist based in Indiana, where M’s family is from.

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I love ’em. I love, especially, that a woman I’d met only twice who hardly knew me but enfolded me into her family, selected such a thoughtful and appropriate gift.  And that an ancient art form from Japan is practiced with care in Indiana — the heartland of America — where my husband’s family has deep, deep roots. It all feels interconnected.

These handkerchief-sized habotai silk pieces are proffered as jewelry. K immediately beelined for them as soon as I started snapping these photos. I guess we’ll be sharing. We’ll wear shibori bracelets together and think about Great-Grandmom as K knows her, and we’ll learn more about dyeing fabric because I actually don’t know a lot about it and have wanted to dip my toes into what looks like messy fun. Have you done any fabric dyeing? I adore Morgan’s experimentation with shibori (I’ve been asking her to give me lessons for years), and Ute has featured a gorgeous book (I can only find the German version online — I might have to get it anyway) and A Verb For Keeping Warm (of the tunic pattern from earlier this week) also has a heavy focus on textile dyeing — this book by AVFKW owner Kristine Vejar looks amazing.

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Anyway. Wishing you all a terrific weekend! We’re gearing up for this weekend and will be celebrating up a storm for M’s birthday.

A little ferry
Will take us to an island
To our sweet teepee

 

Potential Birthday Tops for a 10-Year-Old

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July is teeming with birthdays in our cozy circle of family and friends, and it feels like we’re celebrating every other day. But the two that matter the most in our household are coming up this weekend and next. This Saturday is M’s special day and we’ve got a teepee booked. He loves those teepees, and I hope we can slumber without any moose scares.

And then the following Saturday, K turns 10!!! A while ago, I found this amazing silk fabric with pink horses and nothing was going to stop me from getting it for K even though a) it’s silk, which is an impractical textile option for a kid and b) it wasn’t, as I’d initially thought, pink unicorns. K is going through a humongo unicorn phase right now.

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I know that she’ll adore it though.

I’ve been so scattered lately. It wasn’t until yesterday that it dawned on me that I have less than two weeks until her birthday and I’ve done so little planning. I’ve totally dropped the ball on this one. If nothing else, I’m determined to sew her a sweet top because she noticed that I’ve been sewing for myself again and said, “No fair! I want you to sew for me!!”

Because the fabric was a bit spendy, I only got a yard and a quarter, which limits what I can make. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following:

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From this book.

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From this book.

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From this book.

I’m leaning towards that last one. The silk would flow so prettily and I might be able to reduce the width a bit to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the small amount I have. What do you think? Which one would you go with? Or do you know of other tween-worthy patterns that could be made from 1.25 yards? I suppose I could combine it with some lawn fabric I have (which is what I might have to do with the very top option with the lace inset), but I don’t know…this one deserves to shine on its own.

I better get crackin’. There’s a sewing project I want to try for M as well, but that one is fairly ambitious so I highly doubt I’ll be able to complete it in time. You know me, always biting off more than I can chew — what would be the sewing equivalent of that? Threading more than the eye of the needle can hold? Cutting more fabric than the pattern requires? My brain is not cooperating…More later!

Endless Summer Tunics

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Good morning! Looky here — I sewed something! In fact, I sewed two somethings:

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This is the Endless Summer Tunic pattern by A Verb For Keeping Warm (have you seen the IG feed? Stunning). How is it that I didn’t know about this pattern?

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I made the grey linen one first — complete with pockets — and used the same fabric as this top for the yoke facing and pocket linings. I should mention that I’ve long since donated that polka dot button down because I felt sloppy and frumpola in it every time I tried it on. No regrets! Marie Kondo would be proud of me.

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Here you can see what it looks like on the inside. It’s an interesting pattern. At first glance it seems super easy and quick but in fact, I timed myself and it took me six hours to make this grey version of the tunic. Most of that was due to hand sewing the armhole bindings and facings, which is recommended though they can easily be machine-stitched. The hand sewing results in a sleeker finish, but man, I’m slow when it comes to stitching by hand. Both the front and back pieces are cut as two pieces instead of on the fold because the center line is slightly curved to provide subtle shaping. I found that this created a flattering silhouette.

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I’m a fan of the gathered detailing on the shoulders and back, though I’m finding more and more that these types of back gathers tend to render me hunch-backed in appearance. Maybe it’s the way I stand?

There was much hemming and hawing over which fabric to use for the pattern, and I’m so glad I started with the linen. I LOVE this tunic. Though I completed it four days ago, I’ve already worn it twice and have gotten quite a few compliments on it!

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Spurred by this newfound sewing mojo, I proceeded to cut out this tutti-frutti-fun-fetti looking fabric I got from here. I can’t find it on their site anymore, but it’s German lightweight cotton according to my receipt as there’s no selvage info on the fabric itself.

I shortened this version by 4 inches, omitted pockets and used a pretty dusty pink/rose cotton gauze for the armhole binding and yoke facing. For this shorter tunic, I didn’t bother with interfacing the back yoke. Maybe it’s because of that and the stretchiness of the gauze, but the armholes are huge!

endless-summer-tunic7I cut the 41″ finished bust size and the fit is spot on for the grey version, but I feel like I should have gone down one size for tutti-frutti-fun-fetti. Fingers crossed that this will shrink some in the wash, because there’s some embarrassing gaping that happens around the armholes and this might have to be a swimsuit cover. I guess I can always wear a tank top underneath, but the point of a summer tunic is to stay cool and not layer up, right?

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Still, it’s cute enough and I like that it’s a departure from my usual color scheme (or is it? It does have pink and navy and mint, which are all high on my list of preferred colors).

The first Endless Summer Tunic I stitched up is probably going to get a lot more wear. Linen. Grey. Loose, long, comfy yet stylish. Pockets. Easily mistaken for maternity wear. It’s got everything I look for in a garment.

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Have you tried this pattern? What do you think of it? Would it be too much if I made a third one out of dark denim shirting? I would lengthen it by a few inches so I could wear it as a full-on dress. Mmmmm…I just might do it.

 

FOUR YEARS!!! (+ a giveaway bundle) [CLOSED]

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Well, well, well. If you traverse all the way back to the beginning of this little online notebook/sketchbook of mine, you will see that I started to record my thoughts and projects on July 16, 2012. Which means that tomorrow, this blog turns 4 years old. FOUR. I powered through the clumsiness of the newborn stage filled to bursting with love, uncertainty and awkwardness. Then I dug my heels in for the toddler phase and touch-and-go twos. Finally, I observed with somewhat flagging energy and a misguided sense of been-there-done-that weariness as the third and fourth years undulated up and down. In fact, this last year, I took more breaks than ever (though some of it was against my will – darn hackers) and wondered if I would ever get back into a regular thrice-a-week schedule on a consistent basis again.

It would be easy to blame Instagram, that enabler of quick and easy updates. I could also offer up my deadlines and book stuff as excuses. But really, I believe that we make time for what matters to us regardless of extenuating circumstances, and for whatever reason, year 4 of blogging felt less compelling to me.

As I contemplated my 48-month trajectory from blogging novice to…I don’t know, blogging slacker, I went way back to browse through my initial posts. Oh, I had so many ideas! The sewing hadn’t even begun. Publishing books was a mere bucket list item that seemed as unlikely as sprouting wings and a narwhal tooth/horn. I was sparkly-eyed and twitchy with giddy nerves every time I clicked “publish”. Now it’s as though my blog and I have been married for a good while and the consuming passion has given way to wondering if my next 50 years are going to be the same old, same old. Comforting, yes. Still steeped in bone marrow level love, absolutely. But suspicious that maybe, just maybe, there could be more? Is it a matter of spicing things up? Am I being too complacent? Maybe we need to go on an adventurous road trip or sew up some lingerie? Perhaps it’s disconcerting that I’m mixing metaphors and comparing the blog to both child and spouse, but I guess it’s about falling in and out of love, which is inevitable for every relationship, no?

I’m entering my 5th year with caution. If nothing else, I’ve learned that I’m hopeless at keeping my word once I declare something here. I tested as Upholder for Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz, but my inability to deliver on public pronouncements doesn’t seem very upholder-esque of me.

How to fall back in love with blogging, that’s what I’m pondering — this time with less fervor and more serene contentment. While I continue to gnaw on what year 5 may look like for this online space, a celebration of the anniversary is in order! And what better way to do that than through a giveaway? Because the blog has been such a key part of making my dream of creating books come true, it seems appropriate to give away a signed copy of Little Kunoichi as well as Sewing Happiness (if you already have copies, might I suggest passing them on as gifts if you win?). PLUS a $45 gift certificate to Miss Matatabi (I’ve linked to her new online shop, but you should be able to select from her etsy shop as well; I’ll confirm). Frances is a delightful friend with whom I plan to hang out next summer when I go to Tokyo, and I want to support her whenever I can. The pile of fabrics in the photo above are from her shop. They’re there just as props and are not part of the giveaway. Thought I should clarify.

To enter the giveaway, comment away! Anything will do, as you know, but I’m curious: are you still reading blogs? Which ones continue to be your favorites? You don’t have to list mine — in fact, let’s take it off the table. Or have you shifted over to IG these days? Do tell! I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, July 22nd. Can’t wait to read your comments — good luck!

Thank you, everyone
For reading my little blog
You have changed my life*

*The very, very best part of starting this whole venture is the community that I’ve become a part of. I now have online friends that are real-life friends and when I’m here, I feel surrounded by a bevy of kindred spirits. It makes me gawk with wonder.

P.S. So here’s an interesting blog tidbit: for all the sewing, illustrating and yammering on about feeeeeeelings that I’ve done over the past four years, guess which post has been the most popular by far? This one. It’s also been pinned thousands and thousands of times. Crazy, right?