Category Archives: Sewing

Monday Outfit: Rockstar Pants

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Good morning! Everyone knows about K’s love of animal prints. And most people know that I make all her clothes, so of course, she received two yards of animal print fabric for her birthday.

“Pants!” she said without an iota of hesitation when I asked her what she’d like me to make with her special fabric. Pants it is.

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I used the “slim pants” pattern from this great book, but made a few mods in addition to lengthening the pant legs by 1cm. I changed the front pockets (the original design has front patch pockets) and skinnified the legs, which were easy modifications — I’ll show you what I did in more detail on Wednesday!

rockstar-pants3K is very, very happy with these. Her one complaint was that she wanted them to be skin tight, but despite having a little bit of stretch, making them any tighter would not have allowed her to have the range of movement she so loves.

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Rockstar pants, don’t you think? The shirt is a hand-me-down from her slightly older neighbor friend, and K inherited a huge bag full of bright and colorful clothes. It almost made me toss out my plans to sew school clothes for K. Almost, but not quite. Sewing back-to-school clothes is a ritual I consider sacred.

We tried the pants with the black stripey tee for a different look. That tee gets worn a ton.

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I’ve been meaning to make these pants for years but the zip fly had me cowed, as many zipper projects tend to do. I took the plunge, though, and I’m glad I did because it really wasn’t all that bad. I also had it in my head that it would be incredibly challenging to add one of those adjustable elastic waistbands, which turned out not to be painful in the least.

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The one snafu I ran into was the shortage of waistband width, and rather than cutting out a new waistband, I got creative and folded the fly guard instead. It worked! So much so that I wondered if maybe that’s what I was supposed to do and the instructions just didn’t include it…who knows?

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At any rate, these pants resulted in much jubilation! I would like to try classic skinny jeans without the adjustable elastic for her, however, and I’ve got my eyes on you, Small Fry Skinny Jeans.

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rockstar-pants6Look at all these fun denim colors I have — K is going to love them!

What about you? Any fall sewing plans?

 

 

The Great Pattern Hack

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It’s my turn to chatter on about the lovely collaboration with Melissa of A Happy Stitch and Michael Miller Fabrics (via Kait of Making it Fun): The Great Pattern Hack! My pattern hacking skills are still pretty basic, so I didn’t get all fancy or wild on you, but I had lots and lots of fun modifying the Southport Dress into two garments.

First up, the strappy-backed tank:

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I selected the Indigo Midnight Cotton Couture, which has a drapey hand and feels like an ever so slightly weightier lawn with subtle sheen. It’s beautiful, and of course, I have a weakness for anything indigo. To remain true to my leanings, I opted to go as simple as possible by converting the bodice to a long tank, and attempted to add wow factor with thin straps that ended up forming the letter M (for Melissa and Michael Miller — not really, that part was totally accidental, but now I’m liking the connection).

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I added 11 inches to the bodice, and eyeballed a curvy shape for the shoulders. I’m always very picky about making clothes that are bra-friendly, so I made sure that the back would sit high enough to cover any unsightly undergarments (I wore a strapless).

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I cut four 1″ x 20″ pieces that I then folded and sewed into thin 1/4″ straps. First, I attached two straps each on the front side and proceeded to do a lot of body contortions to figure out how much to shorten and where to place the straps on the back. Alas, they’re slightly off, but I doubt anyone will notice.

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I could have sewn this up in a jiffy, but I wanted to give it a nominally more “refined” look to it, so I hand-stitched the bias tape along the top edge of the front piece. The back is simply double-folded with elastic threaded through. Easy-peasy.

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Conclusion: I love it!!

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I suppose I could have stopped there, but I had also requested the fun Indigo Bias Weave, and I just couldn’t get rompers out of my mind. Rompers! I am quite possibly too old to be sashaying about town in a playsuit, but I wore it all day yesterday and not an eyebrow was lifted (or at least none that I noticed).

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M, however, did say that I look like a “70s housewife” in a way that implied that 70s housewives aren’t too hot. We’ll ignore him because we all know that 70s housewives were totally smokin’ (in the literal and metaphorical sense).

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The only real change I made was to switch out the skirt portion with a pair of slapdash shorts. I’m going to call this “intuitive” sewing since not a lot of measuring actually happened to create the shorts. I marked the width of the skirt waist directly onto the fabric, then grabbed a pair of decent-fitting shorts, and outlined them rather loosely.

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I had more than enough of the fabric and was pretty confident that the sizing would be okay, but once I basted them together, I could tell that the rise of the shorts was woefully inadequate despite adding a few inches. Back to the drawing board, and I added an additional 5″(!) to the rise to accommodate my super long torso.

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Not sure what’s happening here…I think the outfit inspired me to unconsciously strike a heads-shoulders-knees-n-toes pose. At any rate, the True Bias pattern instructions are great, and the top segment came together effortlessly. I had to tug and pull a bit, but the shorts worked, and overall, the fit is spot-on!

I adore it. I thought I would feel silly in rompers, but it’s really comfortable and the fabric is just the right weight and drape for this pattern. The drawstring detail is a necessary element to avoid the dreaded beer barrel look, and because the cinching happens a little higher than my natural waist, it gives the illusion of longer legs — an illusion that has rarely happened in my lifetime.

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What do you think? 70s homemaker or sweet summer garb appropos for 2015? I think rompers are all the rage right now, right? At least that seems to be the case with the blog hop (I hadn’t looked at any of the other Great Pattern Hack posts until I finished sewing and was pleasantly surprised to see other rompers). In fact, you should go see all the pattern hacks pronto:

Monday 6/29- Kick-off with Jessica Abbott: Me Sew Crazy

Tuesday 6/30- Kait Witte: Making it Fun

Wednesday 7/1- Delia Randall: Delia Creates

Thursday 7/2- Jane Kohlenstein: Buzz Mills

Friday 7/3- Melissa Quaal: A Happy Stitch

Monday 7/6- Rachael Gander: Imagine Gnats

Tuesday 7/7- Tamara Serrao: Kaya Joy

Thursday 7/9- Laura Titchener: Craftstorming

Friday 7/10- Kristin Timm: Skirt as Top

Saturday 7/11- Jessica & Ericka: Violette Field Threads

Monday 7/13- Celina Bailey: Petit a Petit and Family

Wednesday 7/15- Erin Sundet: Sewbon

Thursday 7/16- wrap up! More giveaways!

Finally, I should point out that I did receive the fabrics and pattern for free as well as some compensation for creating the garments and writing about them — this is the first time I’ll be receiving actual payment for a blog post so I guess this counts as a sponsored post (I’m embarrassed to say that it hadn’t even occurred to me to call this a sponsored post – I was delighted to team up with Melissa and would have done it for gratis)! Needless to say, but I think I’m supposed to say it: all opinions are my own.

At any rate, I’m pleased with both hacks and really enjoyed sewing for myself again. It sounds like some amazing giveaways are happening and much fanfare abounds. Don’t miss out, and thank you so much for including me, Melissa and Kait!

 

 

 

Monday Outfit: Henry Dress in Gradients of Grey

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Good morning! We’re still recovering from the Fourth of July party, the heat and technical blips, but I have a new garment to share today, and that’s always an energy booster for me.

A few months ago, I had fun sewing up the Franklin dress + tunic (in fact, K wore the tunic when we went to see the fireworks on Saturday). The lovely Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Co. contacted me again recently to see if I’d be interested in giving the Henry dress a try. But of course!

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I had a hard time deciding on the fabric. The combination of the feminine pleated puffed sleeves and the more geometric angled pockets (which I absolutely love) had me scratching my head a bit. I wanted a sort of gradient look and have this fabulous pink linen that I wanted to use, but I only had one yard of it. So I burrowed into my endless fabric supply, pulling out gingham checks, my default navy-and-white stripes, a madras seersucker, a couple of knits with bright prints… None of them felt right.

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I struck gold when I found this gradient striped fabric at the bottom of one of my bins. I think it’s a cotton poplin, and I’m all about the various shades of grey. The one stickler was that the stripes run parallel to the selvage, so I had to cut the patterns cross grain. This made it tricky for K to get the dress on since the fabric couldn’t stretch much width-wise and there are no closures.

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For the neck and pocket facings, I used the thinnest cotton lawn in a refreshing mint color. My neck facing didn’t like staying in place despite my understitching; if you look closely enough, you’ll see the neck facing scooching up and revealing itself in small tufts. But check out my stripes-matching — I’m quite proud. I might have to start thinking about dipping my toe into quilting.

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The instructions are superb, but I did a few things slightly differently, just because:

1. To make finishing the sleeve edge easier, I double-folded and pressed the sleeve edge before sewing the underarm portion of the sleeve together. It’s always harder for me to press sleeve edges in the round, and with the added bulk of the pleats, this turned out to be a good move.

2. I raised the skirt hem by about 2.5inches. It looked too long to me when K tried it on.

3. I basted the pockets on each side before assembling the front of the dress. The instructions guide you to simply pin the sides. By basting each side of the pocket to the side panel, the pockets are nicely attached and makes the next step easier.

On a side note, I think a sleeveless version of this dress would look wonderful.

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The verdict? Thumbs up from both me and K! I cut out the largest size, which is 8, and the fit is perfect. I really like how modern it looks (though maybe she appears to be heading to a corporate board room and just needs to locate her Manolo Blahniks?) and K asked if she could keep it on after the photo shoot. The ultimate sign of sewing success! She even volunteered to add some modeling oomph with her prop of choice:

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Thank you for the pattern, Erin! I thoroughly enjoyed making the Henry dress, and K is a happy camper. Make sure to check out the other blog tour participants and Erin is offering a coupon code for you! Readers receive 20% any pattern in the shop with the code: SUMMERFUN15. The code runs from 12:01 am on July 6through 11:59 pm on July 15.

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Bralette

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Yes. I made K a “bralette”. Or, as it is known in preadolescent female circles, the training bra.

She almost exploded from happiness. I self-drafted the pattern (it’s just a cropped tank top after all) and as soon as I tied off the last knot, she whisked it from my hands and hasn’t taken it off for the last 48 hours. M recommended that I make her a few more versions or the beautiful white Anna Sui knit (also used for the puff-sleeved tee) may end up some unspeakable hue.

We’re prudes here, so I didn’t want to post an image with her wearing it, but she’s declared the bralette “ah-mazing”. That bashful and secretive smile! I remember when I was about K’s age, I desperately wanted a training bra too — what was the allure? Some romanticizing of womanhood, certainly, but maybe it gave me a new and exciting sense of belonging, even though on a practical level there was absolutely no need for one? A little like dress-up, tween version.

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I’ll put together a tutorial at some point if anyone is interested. I like the one I created because it’s so sweet and innocent-looking and met with K’s approval. She will want, of course, an animal print bralette, but that won’t be happening…

It’s an unexpected milestone! My little girl is growing up too fast.

Nani IRO Month!

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It’s that time of the year when Frances of Miss Matatabi stocks her shop with the dreamiest, newest season of the Nani Iro fabric line designed by the one and only Naomi Ito. If you haven’t already, do check out the interview Frances posted with Naomi’s thoughtful and inspiring responses.

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It’s my second year participating in Nani Iro Month, and the 2015 designs may be my favorite. I selected two to showcase, and the first one is called Free Way – hitoiki. Hitoiki, means a single breath, or taking a quick breather. A rather appropriate name for this billowy top I made that feels like a summery respite.

The pattern is from this book, which was yet another generous gift from lovely Karen F. (she of the bestower of the cute French beads).

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Although I thought the sheer black of pattern G was lovely, with the temperatures skyrocketing these days, I decided to omit the sleeves. I cut out the size 9, which is supposed to be the equivalent of a small, but it’s so roomy, I could have easily gone down one more size.

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Double gauze feels like clouds against my skin. So luscious.

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Feeling that one top that makes me look preggo isn’t sufficient, I proceeded to fashion another maternity top out of the gorgeous Jewel Song Metallic Pocho Yozora (Yozora means “night sky”). Miss Matatabi appears to be out of this colorway, but I also have the fabric in a refreshing minty-aqua, and I’m still pondering what to make. In actuality, I’d purchased the indigo prior to Nani Iro Month and received the minty-aqua for free from Frances, but I felt strongly that the top looked better in a darker color. Sorry for the switch-a-roo, Frances! I should let you know that some fabrics that have been featured as part of Nani Iro month may be out of stock at this time as they sell like hotcakes, but Frances is diligently re-ordering so they will be back in the shop!

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The pattern is from this book, and the only change I made was to shorten the length by about 7 inches because I didn’t have enough fabric. I love the tie-back feature, and this too is a great summer top, especially for the Fourth of July barbecue that’s coming up — I always eat way too much.

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I now have two solidly wearable and comfortable tops that will get sleepily tugged on many, many mornings. Awesome sauce, as K would say.

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So! There’s also a fantastic giveaway going on — it’s a must-enter! The giveaway is 20m of fabric, 6 x bias tapes, two books signed by Naomi, and two sewing patterns. Also, Naomi has generously offered to contribute a personal gift from her. As Frances wrote, “I don’t know what it is yet but I’m sure it will be lovely!” Here’s the Rafflecopter for ya:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And I believe I’m the last stop of the blog tour before the grand Miss Matatabi finale, so make sure to check out all the lovelies:

Straightgrain   ∆   noodlehead   ∆   Ute

verykerryberry   ∆   Make It Perfect   ∆   Groovy Baby and Mama

A Little Goodness   ∆   SKIRT AS TOP   ∆   Cashmerette

Sew Little   ∆   imagine gnats   ∆   you & mie

SANAE ISHIDA   ∆   Miss Matatabi

Happy weekend, everyone!

Nani IRO month
Is the best time of year
as far as I know

P.S. I almost forgot! I’ll be at Urban Craft Uprising from 12-1 tomorrow, June 27th. If you’re local, would love to see you!

 

 

 

Monday Outfit: A New Favorite Outfit

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Good morning! Although I make K a lot of clothes, there’s really only a small subset that she’ll wear over and over. This outfit I completed this weekend is destined to be in that small subset.

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The top is puff-sleeve top 2.0 (the actual tee version of this dress I made a couple of weeks ago). I got this amazing embossed-looking floral Anna Sui cotton/nylon blend knit at Nancy’s Sewing Basket a year ago, and I’ve been on the hunt for the right pattern. I think I nailed it, if I do say so myself, because K looooooooves this top. The knit is sturdier and holds the puff sleeve shape nicely and textured fabrics in general buoy me. It wasn’t the cheapest option so I only purchased about a yard and that was plenty to make this top. The pattern is from this book.

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And the shorts! When K slipped these on, she sighed, “Ooooh, these are comfy….” She wore them two days in a row. It’s a Nani Iro Painted Herringbone double-knit from about a year ago as well, and at first I was satisfied with how they turned out, even though I couldn’t match up the sides perfectly.

Then she turned around…

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Hmmmmmm. Not loving the angle — looks a bit like underwear, no?

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Ah well. Who am I to critique a pair of shorts she so adores? The shorts are from this excellent book. Please ignore the uneven folds at the hem — I hand-stitched them in place, and I don’t know why they’re so mismatched.

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Did you notice the pretty necklace that K is wearing? It was a gift from the ever kindly reader Karen F., and she included a few other darling beads that can be somehow attached to clothing. I’m intrigued by the idea and am trying to figure out how to work them in. They are made by Les Pois Plume, a French company. Super cute. I’m so appreciative of these generous acts of kindness that would never happen if it weren’t for this online space. Thank you, Karen!

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How was Father’s Day for you? We celebrated M with yet another impromptu trip up to Bellingham, because K is obsessed with the Comfort Inn up there (living large, that’s what we do — to be fair, it’s a very nice one that happens to have won an award). We roamed around Western Washington, which is picturesque, and caught a showing of the movie Inside Out. I thought it was so, so good and I probably don’t have to tell you that I was bawling like a baby, mostly from relating so much with the movie. I tell you, someone needs to remove my tear ducts. At any rate, a happy weekend was had by all.

P.S. The winner of the Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids giveaway is Laura. Congrats!

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Another nani IRO mini-dress

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I wasn’t quite prepared for how drained I would be after turning in my manuscript. I’ve been somewhat functional and have been managing to get chores and the absolute necessities done, but my brain is foggy and I have this odd floaty sensation in my extremities as if they’ll drift away without my permission. On Monday night, K and I went to an ice cream social at her school, and I sat immobilized by the monkey bars, staring out at the popsicle-licking, vanilla-scoop-chomping crowd. My Its-it ice cream sandwich melted in my hand as my glazed eyes took in the bustle of sugar-amped kids, the chatty adults and the DJ working his aural magic with a laptop and compact speakers (my elementary school never had DJs at events – is this a Pacific Northwest, modern-age thing?). I actually took a nap a few days ago, and I haven’t had one of those in at least three years. And before that? I don’t think I’d ever napped. My mom says sleep wasn’t in my repertoire.

What does any of this have to do with the rather gorgeous little dress, you may be wondering? Absolutely nothing. Let’s face it, I just wanted something pretty up on my blog while I kickstart my brain back into gear.

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This was another dress I made for a friend’s daughter, and I love love love this fabric with the complicated name of Nani IRO Kokka Fuccra: rakuen from my beloved Miss Matatabi. It’s double-gauze and lovely in every way. You might recognize the pattern. Different recipient, but same size, same dress style. I know, I’m starting to sew the same pattern over and over, which is unusual for me. At least I get to prove that fabric choice completely changes the look and feel. And hey, I sewed on snaps instead of buttons. Charting new territories, I am.

I feel another uncontrollable need for a nap…More on Friday!

P.S. I’ll be participating in Nani IRO month in a couple of weeks, and I’m drooling over the new line of fabrics at Miss Matatabi…

P.P.S. One last thing: if you’re in the Seattle/Eastside area, I have a story time scheduled at University Book Store Bellevue tomorrow morning. Fun!

Monday Outfit: The Recital Dress That Wasn’t

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Good morning! Instead of the puffed sleeve shirt 2.0, I made a dress for K this past weekend for her piano/voice recital. Except…I didn’t finish it in time for the recital itself. I’m a little out of practice and failed to whip up this very easy dress in the two hours I was able carve out, though I got really, really close. These photos were taken on Sunday, a day after the recital, when I got around to hemming the dress and adding the gold flower button.

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K didn’t mind and happily wore the dress I made for her winter recital. The night before the performance, her nerves jangled and jostled her into a state of agitation, and we almost had to call her teacher to cancel. But she persevered and oh, it was wonderful. She played a jazz piece duet with said teacher and sang “A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin. I sat agape at how confident she seemed onstage.

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I’m prone to tears anyway, but I held back sobs not only with K’s performance but with all the other ones too. I loved experiencing the unique personality of each performer. From classical to folk to broadway musical, there was a lot of variety. And there’s just something about the earnestness of a recital that always gets me choked up. Sigh. K’s going to be so embarrassed of me as she gets older.

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The pattern is from this book, and I’ve made this same dress in a gorgeous sateen a couple of years ago (she still fits in the dress!). This time I tried it with a slippery, silky, hard to control rayon. It’s a rather chipper print, don’t you think? I had to recut the front bodice because the fabric had shifted too much with my first attempt. I also fully lined it with a beige cotton lawn fabric, and both K and I gave the final result a thumb’s up!

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Alright, I was premature in declaring my manuscript done since my editor promptly sent it back with more text edits, so I’m wrapping it up today. Then it’s on to photos and final illustrations! Here’s K praying that I get everything done in time…

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Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! I did it!! I submitted the entire manuscript for book #2 yesterday afternoon, and I am zonked. I’ve been getting up extra early in the mornings in an attempt to capitalize on my brain power (I’ve learned that I can’t function after 4pm anymore…aging, it’s a topic that’s taking up a big chunk of mental space these days. I feel the urge to start talking about Pinochle and I don’t even know what that is). I have to send out a HUGE shout out to all the pattern testers — a personal email is coming your way, but you all did such an amazing, thorough job, I can’t thank you enough! This whole book has been a series of massive collaborations, and I’m so grateful.

What you see above is a project from the book that I had to sadly remove because it wasn’t beginner friendly enough (actually, my instructions weren’t very clear and I decided I could live without it. Pity, since my friend George took some photos with great light like the one above). I love it even though it shows that I should really get better undergarments. This top also happens to be the most worn clothing item during my unofficial Me-Made-May month. I did okay with wearing handmades…I totally forgot about it three days out of the month when I never made it out of my Old Navy T-shirt + yoga pants combo, but otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised that I naturally reach for my self-made clothes.

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I’m certain that K said some deeply profound and witty things, but the question is, what were they? I hope to remember eventually. See earlier comment on aging.

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86 degrees
The weather report predicts
Wha-a-a-a-t?

It’s going to be a sweltering late spring weekend here in Seattle since our house is always at least 10 degrees hotter than it is outside. I better bust out with the fans and some summer clothes. Have a wonderful weekend, all!

LK Dolls

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Have you seen the latest issue of STYLO yet? So, so good. And did you happen to see the ninja, samurai and bunny dolls? Yep, I whipped them up and submitted a tutorial and pattern that can be downloaded from STYLO. I drew the characters in Adobe Illustrator and then created pattern pieces by pulling apart my drawing below:

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They’re quite small and a lot of fun to make and several kiddos in my life have been especially coveting the pet bunny doll (one girl tried to sneak off with it).

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Okay! Just wanted to share, and back to work…but wait, I can’t resist one more shot:

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