Category Archives: Sewing

A Tiny Little Nani Iro Dress


Good morning! This weekend I stitched up a teeny tiny dress for a friend’s employer’s daughter (it’s a long story), and I was flooded by memories of when I first started sewing for K. Oh, how I struggled back then! I couldn’t figure out how to attach a bodice lining; I remember being stumped by which function to select on my sewing machine to create button holes.


And although things have gotten much easier and a whole lot less stressful in terms of sewing, I’ve become quite accustomed to whipping up t-shirts for K so I was surprised by how long this itty bitty sundress took to construct. Of course, because it’s a gift, I was extra careful with my stitching (not so with things I create for K) and didn’t rush anything.


The fabric is a luscious Nani Iro double-gauze with metallic polka dots from Miss Matatabi. I lined the bodice with a cream cotton lawn from my stash, which should feel nice and smooth against the very chic recipient’s skin. I was happy to bust out my oldie but goodie pattern book, which K has long outgrown. Such a good book! I’m going to have to find more little ones to sew for because I just love the super small sizes.

I mean look at the difference between 90cm and 130cm, which is K’s current size:


I actually made the same square-necked dress in size 120cm for K here, but I didn’t have a good comparison photo, so plopped this geometric one there instead. K was about 3 years old when she wore 90cm. I just can’t believe how much my girl’s grown in the last five years…

Anyway, the polka dotted sweet frock is on its way to California — bon voyage!

Happy Monday + Easter Bunny T-Dress


Good morning! Today, I have more of a craft project to share with you since the garment itself is simply an elongated t-shirt (using the same pattern as here). I added roughly 10 inches to the length.


The frogtastic tee is so beloved (and now that I think about it, I used the same pattern for that tee too), I wanted to give freezer paper stenciling another go. I even created a visual step-by-step!


I used the ubiquitous, standard freezer paper like this one, and the fabric paint is this brand. I forgot to heat set it since K was so eager to get the dress on, but that’s a good thing to remember. As you can see from the image above and from about sixteen thousand tutorials online, the freezer paper stenciling process is very straightforward.

1. Using a regular pen, I sketched out the general design on the non-coated side of the freezer paper. The plastic coated side is what will stick to the fabric when you iron it on, so keep this in mind.

2. Then, with an Exacto knife, I cut out the shape, and since I knew I wanted an outline of the bunny, I also cut the bunny out from the other side of the outline.

3. Iron the freezer paper on to your fabric. Remember to put the coating side down. I used my wool setting without steam, and though it got a teensy bit puckered, it wasn’t too bad and didn’t affect the results.

4. To ensure that the fabric paint doesn’t bleed through and stick to the back of the tee, place a piece of cardboard or several sheets of thick paper inside the tee, between the front and back layers.

5. I have the small set of these Jacquard textile paints. They seem to work well and the paint is flexible even after it’s dry.

6. Using a brush that’s not precious (I have a lot of watercolor brushes I don’t let K use), paint the open areas of the stencil. K did an excellent job.

7. We did two coats, waiting just a few minutes between each coat (like 5 minutes).  We could have done one more, probably, and should have waited for the paint to dry between coats, but we were impatient.

8. Without waiting for the paint to dry, peel off the freezer paper. This is my favorite part – love to see those crisp lines! I didn’t cut out the eyes or nose for the stencil because I thought K would want to freestyle to her liking, but then she asked me to do it, so I directly painted the eyes and nose/mouth.

9. And we can’t forget some kind of animal print element, can we? The leopard print ribbon is from here.

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K gave the t-shirt dress an enthusiastic thumb’s up! She ran out the door, all ready to be an Easter Egg Huntress.


We worked on the stenciling on Saturday afternoon and it was so easy and quick – ahhhhh, satisfaction. The part that excited her most, of course, was the animal print bow and she deliberated over where the exact placement should be for a very long time. I’m of the opinion that she chose the best spot. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!


Sewing for Me: Ginger Skinny Jeans Muslin #2


We’re getting close. In my glacial-paced sewing of the Ginger skinny jeans, we last left off at discovering that the size 12 made me look like I’d sampled Charlie Chaplin’s trousers. Like so:


So I shaved off a size from the original muslin and dutifully sewed up a size 10 muslin (fabric salvaged!).

At first glance and with a roomy top (the beige-y top is a Renfrew I made in the softest imaginable bamboo knit a while back that I never shared here. I love it to death), it’s looking pretty good up there in the topmost image.

But then, you see that the hip area could use some denim liposuction:

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And holy cow, I truly have no butt, so I need to take a few inches off of the center of the back yokes:

ginger-2ndmuslin5Sorry about all the dust on the floor – I actually swept the floors before taking photos and it makes me question my cleaning abilities.


Now, I have to confess that it was terribly, terribly exciting that I had to go down two whole sizes (except for my calves. Those are solidly size 12). Then I read that these patterns tend to give you extra wiggle room, so poof went my momentary thrill that my plodding, 16-minutes-per-mile treadmill workouts might actually be having an effect.


Oh well. At this point I exercise because I love the endorphins, so I’ve made peace with the idea that there may not be a fitness model bod lurking underneath my currrent physique. The important thing is this: I’m seeing the potential for a flattering pair of skinnies on the near horizon. Because I’m deep like that. Though at the rate I’m going, the near horizon is most likely a few months away. Still, I’ve got my snazzy rivets and jean zipper from Thread Theory, and a few tweaks to go. I am wildly optimistic.


Monday Outfit: Sailor Dress + Giveaway! [CLOSED]


Good morning! One of the unexpected perks of starting this little online documentation of sewing and whatnot has been the relationship I’ve developed with Tuttle Publishing. Considered the largest publisher of “Asian-interest” books, they’ve recently been adding a slew of translated Japanese sewing books to their catalog. It’s been such a thrill to receive books before they’re let loose into the big world, especially when they’re the type of books I’ve adored and sewn from for years. Like this beauty by Yoshiko Tsukiori, who is one of the top designers of Japanese sewing patterns:


What makes this book especially appealing to me is that the sizing goes up to 140cm (roughly equivalent to sizes 8-10). For K, this means I could sew outfits from this book for another couple of years (she’s currently a perfect 130cm, and each size seems to last over a year with their generous proportions). I’ve gotten emails asking if I know of any teen-sized Japanese sewing books, and so far I haven’t been very successful in hunting down any. Then again, the smallest size from the women’s Japanese sewing books will probably be up to the task.


But back to this lovely book. This one takes the approach of offering up eight basic patterns, and each pattern can be modified in several ways (the modified patterns are called “Applied” in the book). I counted 18 variations, but the possibilities are limitless.


Here are a couple of spreads that I really liked:

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And when I saw the sailor dress, I was all over it. Anything nautical or sailor-themed makes me weak at the knees.


I had just the fabric, and though it’s described as midweight quilting cotton, it’s actually quite fluid in its drape.

dotted-sailor-dress6This book requires a lot of flipping back and forth to look for the illustrated or photographic step-by-step instructions, but it wasn’t too bad. In fact, the step-by-step photos were excellent, and as a visual learner, I appreciated them immensely. Also included are basic sewing tutorials that are heavily photo-based as well, and overall, this is my kind of book.


The trickiest bit for this dress was the front placket, and I had to put my full body weight onto the iron to get the bottom of the placket to lay flat because I managed to sew it all puckered. Looks nice and flat now, right?


As for changes I made to the pattern…I don’t like armhole facings, so I created my own bias tape instead. Appears much cleaner that way to me, and I imagine it’s more comfortable for K.

I love this dress! And I love this book!

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You, my lucky readers, can win your very own copy since Tuttle generously sent me two. And if you don’t want to leave things to chance, the book is available for pre-order now and will be officially launching in a mere two days on March 17th!

If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment with…let’s see…Okay, I have spring break on my mind, so how about a dream spring break location? If you could go anywhere in the world for spring break, where would you like to jet (or sail) to? Italy is sounding really good to me right now. Or perhaps New Zealand, because the season would be completely opposite and that would be fun.

The giveaway will be open until this Friday, March 20th, and I’ll announce the winner on the following Monday. International entries welcome as always! Good luck!





Monday Outfit: “Robe Jacket”


Good morning, friends! I started to make K yet another animal print top as per her request this past weekend, but I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I flipped through my favorite Japanese sewing book, and was intrigued by the “Robe Jacket”. It reminded me of a mini version of the jacket I made a while back, and I had a hankering to sew with linen, so Robe Jacket it was. This is what the illustration looks like in the book (you can’t see them, but there are additional ties inside):


And here’s my version:

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You can see that I didn’t follow instructions to the letter. I knew that K wouldn’t even attempt to tie those multiple, kimono-inspired strands, so I just added two leather cords that could be tied or just left loose.


I’m deeply in love with this leather cord. I found the spool buried in a sales box at Anthropologie over the holidays and I snatched it up. The fact that it’s on a wooden spool excited me beyond a conventional level.

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This raglan jacket is a super quick sew, or at least it was for me since I didn’t bother with all the topstitching or the extra ties. I cut out the fabric pieces Saturday evening, then started sewing Sunday morning, and I was done within a couple of hours. I just love this Essex yarn-dyed linen. It’s a cotton blend, I believe, and is such an accommodating yet stylish fabric.

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K puckered her lips and said, “It looks weird, Mama.” I beg to disagree – with the neutral outfit she happened to be wearing already (chosen by herself! Be still my happy heart), I think it looks awesome.


Here’s the trick: add some funky, pop music in the background, and she’ll dance and sing away, forgetting that she thought the jacket was odd. And then, if you’re lucky, you get a big ole smile:


I went ice skating over the weekend! K’s classmate had a birthday party, and I was one of the only parents willing to go on the ice — a decision I questioned the whole time. The battered leather rental skates didn’t seem up to the task of supporting my feet, but they clung on. For a split second, I forgot to be scared and glided across the vast frozen expanse…then K nearly tripped me. If you’re in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the Lynnwood Ice Center. It’s huge, and I’m told by those in the know that it doesn’t get very crowded. K loved it so much she wants her own birthday party there, but since she’s turning 9 in the month of July, I feel the need to explore other options…

P.S. The tee is from this post and the suspender skirt from this one (wow, I made that one two years ago and she still fits in it!).




Monday Outfit: Bow Dress


Good morning! I did something hitherto unheard of: I planned ahead. For almost all these Monday outfit posts, I usually start sewing on Saturday afternoon after thinking a few minutes about what wardrobe holes I can fill in K’s closet (this is becoming pretty challenging, as you can imagine). Although she’s growing like a rice plant amped up on Miracle-Gro, sewing for K takes a fraction of the time it takes to sew for myself, so I’m usually done by early evening. After breakfast on Sunday, we have a five-minute photo shoot and by now, these posts take me about an hour, if that, including photo editing time.


Anyway. Two weekends ago, I decided to spend a little extra time sewing up this bow dress in addition to the Giraffe print outfit, and I snapped photos and got most of the photo editing done last week. This made a huge difference! I felt so much more on top of things since I had all of Saturday and Sunday to check off items from my to-do list this past weekend  — not a feeling I’m familiar with, I’m afraid.


It was somewhat challenging to infuse enthusiasm in K for modeling this dress since she loved the giraffe print combo and wanted to start with that one instead (but I knew she’d refuse to try on the dress had I gone that route), and above she’s saying “Mamaaaaaaaa, are we done yet??”


Then she brought out the teddy bear I knitted for her about 7 years ago, and that soothed her. That bear was one of the few successful knitting projects I’ve managed in my un-illustrious knitting career.


So the dress: it’s from my current fave book, and I’m determined to sew every single thing from it. I think I only have about four or five things left that I haven’t yet tried! The fabric is from this sweet little shop and is a cotton shirting. It reads purple, but you can see that it’s actually red + white + navy, quite patriotic.


This is a deceptively simple dress to sew. I did have to fudge a little where the ties meet the neckline in a couple of spots, but otherwise, it was a snap to construct. The pleated detail at the back of the neck is a design-y touch, but I have to say, I think this dress would look a lot cuter if the bodice wasn’t just a simple A-line. If I were to make it again, I would trim the width, and make it a low-waist bodice with a gathered skirt. With a different fabric choice, it probably wouldn’t quite so matronly or flight-attendant-esque.


I like it, though. And K thought choking li’l bear with her ties was hilarious.

Sigh, I wish I had the foresight to sew this past weekend so that I could experience that remarkable sensation of being ahead of schedule, but you know how it goes. It was still a very productive weekend! I hope you had a lovely weekend, friends!


Monday Outfit: Coral Giraffe Print


Good morning! This week, I decided to sew up something that I knew K would absolutely love. It’s knit, it’s animal print, and it’s bright. The trifecta of success. This tiered tunic is from this book, and because the largest size goes up to only 125cm and K is squarely a size 130cm now, I added 4cm to the length. I need to try to sew more from this book before K completely outgrows it — so far I’ve sewn this and this and this from it and there are a few more that’s on my sewing docket!

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And why stop at just a tunic when I can make a pair of matching leggings? The effect, admittedly, is pajama-esque and a little overwhelming, but my hunch was right and K loves the whole ensemble. I used the pattern from this book for the leggings, and I actually didn’t have enough fabric, so these are shortened by about 8 inches.


This very cool giraffe print is from Drygoods and is a rayon/lycra blend – super easy to sew!


I had a full day to sew on Saturday, so not only did I sew this top and leggings, but also cut out four more pairs of leggings in various colors. The leggings — or “spats” as they’re called in Japanese — situation has been problematic since she’s either outgrown or completely worn through all the ones I’ve made in the past. I gently suggested to her that perhaps she’d like to wear the top and bottom separately, so she styled it with one of the other new leggings I sewed up in some thick, mystery, aubergine knit (these are too long, so we had to roll them up a bit):


Nice. Much less jammies, no? But who are we kidding? She’ll be wearing the full-on combo out and about next time. The cardigan is the one I made for her first day of third grade – it’s one of her very faves. You can see it up close and personal here.

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My little coral giraffe girl — such a sweetie. She told me last night, “Mama, I try really hard to be a good person. I’m very successful at it most of the time.” Gah. Love her.

Front Placket Dress Tutorial


Well, here it is (this one’s for you, Lucinda): the tutorial I meant to post on Monday from this awesome, awesome book that has rapidly become my favorite. This tutorial is very long and is purely a reference post, but it could also be an interesting way to see the Japanese text translated. I just hope it’s helpful in some way.

I approached this in a way that seemed most practical to me, but let me know if you have recommendations and suggestions for improvements. I want to do more of these since I get so many questions about whether certain books are available in English, and though translating entire books wouldn’t be feasible (nor legal, I imagine), my aim is to provide tutorials for unique designs or specifically requested items when possible. I broke up each step and directly translated the instructions, but I also did my own sewalong and will show you how I actually sewed the dress. What’s interesting is that I translated the instructions after I made the dress and I realized I missed a bunch of steps!

So let’s try this, shall we? Continue Reading →

Monday Outfit: Front Placket Dress Revisited


Good morning! I really must do something about my penchant for overestimating my productiveness. I was so excited to share a tutorial for this dress I made, and though I have all the photos snapped, alas, time got away from me so it will have to wait until Wednesday (I think I can get it done by then).


It’s the same dress I made last week, but this time the placket is more or less in the center. Very spring-like, no? Which is okay since it’s supposed to get up to sixty degrees in Seattle today (!!) – a balminess previously unimaginable in February. In fact, I suspect I might be feeling the onset of allergies…


Alright, I need to run for now, but will be back in a couple of days with a full tutorial!

Sewing for Me: A Linen Top + Ginger Jeans Muslin


I almost forgot how to set up the tripod, it’s been so long since I’ve inundated you with selfies.


So today, I’ve got a double-whammy with a stripey linen top made using this lovely book (it turns out I was misleading on instagram and showed the wrong book) and a quick and dirty muslin of the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns.


I can’t help but make these maternity-esque tops – I just love them so and my stomach is free to hang out in its natural state. Comfort is key, and just for fun, I just might say yes next time someone asks me if I’m pregnant. The silhouette is similar to this one, but this Japanese version — I made the one featured on the cover — was slightly easier to construct since it doesn’t have any yokes or gathers. I’m going through a serious blue-and-white-stripes phase right now. I made the SVE gift out of a similar linen, and I just ordered this fabulous fabric from Miss Matatabi.

I don’t have a lot to say about this top since it came together quite easily, particularly since I did away with the extra back ties. The original design is reminiscent of a hospital gown with an open back — this is not a look I can rock. I also had to adjust the pintucks because I poked a hole when I had to undo some wayward stitches. By folding them slightly wider, I was able to hide the hole, so I patted myself on the back for my clever solution.


I purchased the Ginger Jeans pattern a good while ago, and it’s been staring at me hopefully for weeks. I cut out the size 12 for this muslin that’s simply basted together, and clearly it’s too big. Actually, my calves probably need a little more room, but everywhere else, it’s the I’m-PMSing-and-am-feeling-fat jeans. It’s worth pointing out that I shortened the pants length by three inches. And it’s still too long — I’m shaped like a dachshund. Next step: downsize to 10, try to salvage the pieces I’ve already cut out and shorten another 2 inches.

I opted to attempt view B, that of the high-rise sexiness. This is mainly because all of my denim is on the thin side and the pattern recommends a sturdier denim for the lower-rise view A. I’m planning on documenting the whole process from beginning to end for these skinny jeans, and it may take several weeks. But once I have the adjustments all sorted out, I will have a most useful sloper for a pair of well-fitting skinnies, and that’s worth all the extra time. We’ll see how successful I am…


You can see how it compares to my favorite pair of skinny jeans above. I got these cropped ones eons ago, and I wear them all the time. So much so, that the fabric is wearing down, and I’ve had to mend them to keep them in rotation.


I love to mend my jeans. I use the darning program on my Bernina, which I think a lot of machines have? I’m not sure. The function creates a grid of stitches to patch holes and I use grey thread so that it’s not very obvious. Given the position of the holes, it’s not noticeable at all (the inner thigh). Exhibit A from the front:


Exhibit B from the other side – I could have ironed the patch on better, but it’s still effective. I got the small 2×3 inch patches that I trim down, and I’ve found them to be comfortable. This is easy enough to do manually with a shorter stitch length, but the darning function allows me to set the overall length of the row and then the needle automatically moves back and forth, creating as many rows as you need. Super handy. Ignore the weird zig zag area, that was where I forgot to initially switch to the darning function.

darning-jeans2I like fancy jeans and have had them for a very long time, so I’ve become a pro at mending jeans. The stitches gives the jean a rough-shod, cool texture, resulting in an inadvertently hip, distressed effect.

That’s it for today! A floaty top that will be worn frequently in the Spring, and a slow, but at least concrete start on skinny jeans. That’s good enough for me.



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