Category Archives: Sewing

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.

robe-jacket4 robe-jacket6

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.



Monday Outfit: The Persistence Dress

plaid-wool-dress1Good morning! Well, this was a dress that tested my patience.


It doesn’t look like much, does it? I mean, it’s perfectly fine…it is a very basic dress, after all. Yet, I couldn’t get much right.

First of all, notice that the front placket is decidedly shifted over to the right. I measured and re-measured, and still this happened, so I’m not sure what the deal is here. This is how it’s supposed to be, modeled in the book:


Second, I intended to make this out of a cotton geometric print fabric, which would have been fresh and anticipatory of Spring, I’m sure, but then K said, “Make it a winter dress, Mama. I need warm clothes.” So I pulled out the only wool fabric with enough yardage (I used it to sew a hooded capelet way back when).


But wool gets itchy so I decided to underline it with the thinnest cotton voile. It’s the pink peeking out there. When you underline something, you’re basically basting a layer of the lining underneath the pattern pieces and treating them as one. I, being the genius that I am, managed to sew on the lining on the wrong side on almost all the pieces. My seam ripper got a decent workout.


The only change I made to the pattern was for the neckline. I let a bit of the binding peek out, because I didn’t love the way the neckline hung without that little edge. Oh, I also cut the back yoke on the bias, which I like to do often. Overall, the dress has a bit of a 60s/70s vibe, which I sort of like.


The other issue I ran into was my inexplicable need to add 15 buttons. Why?? I have no idea, and of course, I don’t have 15 of the same buttons so I found a mish mash that were roughly the same size and vaguely in the same color family (aqua, navy and dark green). Since the buttons are hidden by that accidentally off-center front flap, I didn’t lose any sleep over it.


It’s not a difficult dress to sew, but I just kept making mistake after mistake, but by jove, I didn’t give up. Even after stabbing my finger (pretty forcefully. ouch) with the seam ripper that was constantly in use, I kept a-going and triumphantly whipped it out of the sewing machine, only to realize that daylight had virtually run out.


I scooted K outside for the fastest photo shoot ever, and these pics were the only salvageable ones. Thank goodness we’re having a balmy spate these past few days. But she likes the dress, and it’s actually toasty, so let’s chalk this one up as a favorable project.

Monday Outfit: More Perri Pullovers


Good morning, friends! I should just call this the month of tees and be done with it. It’s all K seems to wear and they’re so easy to whip up that I default to sewing one form of knits-based top or another.


These two tops are sewn from the Cali Faye Perri Pullover pattern. I’ve used this once before in an impractical metallic faux leather combo, which of course has never been worn since last May. I actually made the burgundy one back in September of last year and completely forgot about it. I must have thought it was too plain jane and not blog-worthy at the time, but I’ve clearly gotten over that hang-up since all I seem to share with you are these types of garments now.


To give the all-white version some oomph, I tried to add piping. “Tried” being the operative word here since I’m incapable of proper piping insertion. Shallow depth of field photography is awesome because a lot of mistakes can be artfully blurred out. If you look very closely, you’ll see there’s some puckering at the neckline because my serger ate into the seam too far, and when I undid the offending stitches, it left indentations and a teeny tiny hole.


These minor blunders don’t bother me much, but what does bother me is how lazy I am when it comes to certain things. I haven’t added piping in a long time, and I couldn’t really remember how to deal with the two ends that meet. Did I look it up, which would have taken five minutes? No.


So the back is funky with the cord sort of showing, and the sleeve pipings don’t match up evenly. Oh well. Isn’t that a cool glittery lizard tattoo? We are going through a huge reptilian phase, if you haven’t noticed. I’m sort of on the fence about this white top. Does it say “mormon temple clothing” or “insane asylum patient” to you? Not that there’s anything wrong with either, but there’s a vaguely pious or medical feel to it, don’t you think? K is also uncertain about this one, made out of the same sweatshirt knit as the much beloved tennis dress.


On the other hand, the burgundy one in your standard knit jersey doesn’t evoke any unexpected associations. The color looks great on K, and it’s nice and casual with just enough interesting details like the asymmetrical hem and in-seam pockets.


I have to give special thanks to K for modeling because she’s been under the weather. A bit sniffly and sore-throat-y, she was in bed for most of Sunday morning, then cheerfully agreed to take photos in the Perri Pullovers in the afternoon – I think she was bored out of her mind just flopping around.

Before she consented to shimmying into the tops, I was just going to show this:


But then you would have missed out on this money shot:


I’m sure I’ll be paying for a lot of therapy in a few years for forced child labor.


Way off topic, but on Saturday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a fascinating party filled with authors, filmmakers (plus an actor from the movie “Wild“, though I didn’t meet him), illustrators and all manners of making types over the weekend. I noted with interest that my impostor syndrome is alive and kicking, and very robust indeed. I enjoyed the eclectic group and met quite a few lovely folks – my favorite was a photographer whose father worked for the CIA so he grew up around the world. It was heartwarming to see such camaraderie and a spirit of helpfulness all around. I found that people were encouraging about my children’s book, but as soon as I mentioned that I like to sew, eyes started to glaze over….I might have been imagining it. Then again, when you’re sewing up t-shirt after t-shirt like I am, I suppose sewing doesn’t seem all that alluring.

Anyway. Perri Pullovers. It’s a good pattern, but I think I just haven’t nailed the right fabric for it. I could have gone with my first instincts and chosen a striped jersey, but sometimes I like to try something I’m not sure of just to see. Back to the drawing board!

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