Category Archives: Sewing

Monday Outfit: Nautical Knit Halter


Good morning! It’s so good to be back. We had a fantastic vacation, but there’s nothing quite like home. I’m still suspended somewhere between west coast and east coast time zones, and am feeling a bit foggy, but I’m eager to get into productivity mode.

So did you know that it’s KCW week this week? I didn’t. At least not until late last night. That’s how out of touch I’m becoming with the general sewing interwebs. What with frenetic book deadlines and all, I’m barely keeping up with regular life. Luckily, I happened to make something for K this weekend, so I can pretend that I’m participating in the Kids Clothes Week fun.


Realistically, this tiered knit halter is probably all I’m going to be able to manage this week. Our time in Indiana made me realize that K needs more summery clothes and I’ve been on the lookout for quick ones to sew up. This top requires only four rectangles and 6 pieces of elastic so I was immediately sold. The pattern is from this book. You know how I love easy peasy patterns and I was sure that this wouldn’t take more than an hour…wrong.


It’s cute, right? I love anchors and am a die hard polka dot fan, so when you put the two together, you just can’t go wrong. I got this fun cotton knit from here, and I only had a yard of this so I had to shorten the length by about 4 inches. It’s still plenty long, and I also preserved precious inches by not bothering to hem the bottom. I actually like the way it looks un-hemmed.


It’s cleverly constructed: the bottom tier is sewn right side out on top of the upper tier (also with right side out), with the straps sandwiched in-between. Once sewn, you flip the bottom tier inwards to encase the raw edges, and then you can sew casings for the elastic by sewing through both the upper and lower tiers. That probably sounded like gobbledygook, but what I’m trying to say is that I got confused and messed up, and there are few things I hate more than seam-ripping knit zigzag stitches. I always end up with holes and can’t find the stitches.


So this easy peasy top that should have taken no more than an hour took me closer to three, and to my horror, K complained that the shirred part was too itchy and started walking around with it pulled way down, looking very indecent.

She got used to it pretty quickly though, thank goodness, and agreed to keep her “boopies” covered up. Whew.

The shorts, by the way is something I made a while back…it doesn’t get a lot of wear because it’s in the dreaded shorts-that-look-like-skirts category, but I convinced her that it was the only pair I could find to match the top:



Doesn’t she look like she’s being tossed at sea in the image above? The basket was K’s idea and she meant it to be a boat to go with the nautical theme. This, of course, was the grand finale to the photo shoot:


I’m pretty sure she has the genetic marker for a flying squirrel…Anyway, that’s all for today!


Down Memory Lane: Ba-chan Made


Good morning! I’m here in Indianapolis enjoying my family vacation, and I wish I could say I have a new Monday outfit to share, but I didn’t get a chance to sew much last week (no surprise). However, my mom is coming to visit us in Seattle as soon as we get back from Indy, and I was thinking about all the little outfits she used to make K. I’ve posted the crazy story of my mother’s enthusiastic sewing turning into an art show before and you’ve seen the wizardry of her doll-clothes-making, but there were so many other clothes that never got the limelight it deserved.

Now, my mom and I have very different tastes. When K was a baby and even before I got into sewing, I used to clothe her in simple, understated garb like so:

bachan-made7 bachan-made8

Occasionally I would get wild with a pretty print — I apologize that it looks like she’s flipping the bird here:


But for my mom, there’s no such thing as too many embellishments:


And no color or pattern is too bold (can you tell that she likes to add lace detailing?):

bachan-made3 bachan-made5 bachan-made6

She also knit sweaters and hats for K like the world was freezing over any second (and yes, she made that doll):

bachan-made10bachan-made12bachan-made11It was, of course, this grey number that I loved most (my mom complained bitterly about how boring it was, but she did it for me):

bachan-made13My mom tried her hand at making costumes too:

bachan-made14Friends, this is only just a teeny tiny representation of what she whipped up those early years….these photos are pre-DSLR from when K was 3 months to about 6 months, and I’m confident that she had the most abundant wardrobe known to man already at that point.

I’m excited to see what my mom will come up with while she’s in town. She always concocts something brazen and unexpected. Amazing, right?



Sewing for Me: Camouflaged Coastal Breeze Dress + Giveaway! [CLOSED]


Hey, it’s my turn for the Make It Perfect tour! Toni designs comfortable and good-lookin’ styles, and I was so excited to try out her patterns. She sent me the paper version of the Coastal Breeze dress, and oh, I love not having to piece together PDF sheets. I seem to always screw up when aligning PDF patterns and various sheets wind up completely off-kilter. Does that ever happen to you?


Anyway, I’m a fan of Toni and Make It Perfect! This dress is fantastic. Really, I’m already planning on making several more because this is exactly the kind of dress I reach for time and time again. You just can’t go wrong with knit (this is a cotton/spandex blend from here), and the deeper scoop neck, wider waist band and subtle pleating and gathering makes this a very flattering silhouette, I’m of the opinion.


So the thing about this fabric is that I had no idea it would look like camouflage. This, despite the fact that it said “camo” on the bolt. I just thought they were cool, variegated stripes.


But I love it! I think the camo effect is unexpected and slightly edgy.


Full disclosure: I didn’t follow the instructions. I did glance at them, and they looked straightforward enough, but I decided to use my now go-to method of attaching neckbands flat (so much nicer), and because I was serging the edges, I opted to baste together the waistband pieces wrong-side together and treated them as one piece. I did make a quick muslin vaguely following Toni’s instructions and decided my methods would be faster and the end result looks good.


This came together quickly, though it didn’t feel like it in my 100-degree sewing room. It doesn’t normally get this hot in Seattle so early in July, and it makes sewing in an upstairs room challenging. Still, through oceans of sweat, I did my usual “Oh!!!!! It’s SO cuuuute!!!” proclamations to no one in particular. The only change I would make is to sew a small next time. This thin knit in a medium is a little too loose on me, but better loose than straitjacket, I say.


So lucky you, my dear readers, Toni is offering a free giveaway of a Make It Perfect PDF pattern of your choice! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with…hmmmm….how about your summer uniform? Are you a strictly tank top and shorts person? A flirty maxi dress gal? A cardi and jeans down-under sort? I myself am all about the knit dress…I will leave the giveaway open until next Friday, July 18th and will contact the winner that weekend. Good luck!

And don’t forget to peruse the other gorgeous makes below. Thanks for letting me take part in the tour, Toni!

UPDATE: Congrats to Sandra, the winner!


The Make It Perfect Pattern Parade Virtual Catwalk introduces…

Monday Outfit: Tennis (or Badminton) Whites


Good morning! Despite the rain, we powered through with our Fourth of July barbecue, and it was a jolly good time. We pitched in with the neighbors for a community ping pong table, which was a big hit at the party as expected.


So today, I’m sharing an entirely self-drafted tennis dress I’ve been plotting for a while. K is starting tennis camp this week, and it seemed imperative that I make an appropriate outfit. Tennis holds a very special spot in my heart; about five billion years ago as a high schooler, I remember inexplicably wanting to join the tennis team the summer after my sophomore year. It didn’t matter that I’d never played the sport before — when I set my mind to do something, I don’t give up easily. One of my best friends had just made it onto the boys’ varsity tennis team, so I talked him into practicing with me. Almost every day, in the sweltering, smog-filled summer air of Los Angeles, he volleyed with me, patiently teaching me how to serve, how to slice the ball with my backhand, how to strategize. Thanks entirely to him, I aced the tryouts and made it onto the girls’ varsity team.


I loved tennis. But my serves were so forceful and erratic that my doubles partner would step off to the side of the court so as not to get hit by the balls that were so frequently off-the-mark. I’ve pummeled many a partner in the hindquarters, which as you can imagine didn’t make me a very popular partner.

Propelled by my obsession with the sport, my first long-term job in high school was at a tennis store near my school, where the unconventional owner decided that a sixteen-year-old should be the manager of the clothing department (that would be me). It was there that I expressed a surprising rebellion. The store uniform was to wear classic white tennis skirts — you know, the super short kind. That was not okay with me, though it had less to do with feminism and more with self-consciousness. Part of the job entailed climbing frighteningly high, rickety ladders to access tennis shoes stored at the topmost area near the ceiling, and I didn’t want people (especially the cute guys stringing the rackets) ogling up my skirt. I refused to wear the skirt but conceded to wear denim Agassi shorts like the boys. No other female employee had ever refused, so I was quite pleased with my trailblazing ways.

There was also that time when the owner tasked me with depositing a boatload of cash and told me to take his jeep. I’d only just gotten my driver’s permit and didn’t know exactly how to drive a stick shift, but I figured, “How hard can it be?” It was a nightmare, and I still shake my head in disbelief that the owner let me take his car without adult supervision and that I somehow managed to drive the thing like a bucking horse to the bank and back. But I digress.


The point is that in addition to the dress, I had to make matching shorts to wear underneath. These were self-drafted as well. I wanted K to use her actual tennis racket as a prop, but it was so huge that it threw off the proportions of things too much, so I switched it out with the daintier badminton racket.


The fabric is a french terry from here (it doesn’t seem to be available online), and I didn’t realize that the fabric was in a tube until I started drafting my pattern. I used a 7-inch yellow zipper and the binding is more of the denim knit that I used for last week’s top. I had cut up a bunch of bias tapes for future use, and I’m glad I did.


K likes it a lot, though she was puzzled by the zipper in the front. She insisted that it should be in the back:


For an extra clean and neat finish, I hand-stitched the bias binding, and I think the accent color really pops. It took forever, but I stitched while watching Orphan Black– a reader suggestion and now I’m completely hooked (thank you Deana!) — so time went quickly. The show is so so good! Unlike K, I’m loving the sporty look of the exposed zipper in the front, and you’d think that by now, I would have this whole exposed zipper action down. I’d promised Asmita a tutorial, and surprise surprise, I discovered that I’m doing it all wrong, so I’m including a couple of video tutorials done right here and here. These two excellent tutorials will yield a much more professional-looking finish than my method, which is slapdash at best. To speed things up, you could do away with the interfacing, since I haven’t used interfacing and the zippers have been fine on the sturdier fabrics.


So happy. This dress came out exactly the way I envisioned it, and that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Hooray! K’s now all ready for tennis camp, and she’s pumped!

Sewing for Me: McCall’s 6751


Ikat. Something happens to me when the temperature rises, and I long to wear ikat. That’s a pretty nifty back, right? Can I just tell you that I continuously bias bound the entire top portion all the way around the neckline and the cross over straps and arm holes, and I believe that bias tape was at least 6 feet long?  It was taller than me, at any rate (I’m 5’4″).

From the front, it looks like a plain ole tank, made in a lovely chevron-patterned ikat that I got from here ages ago:


I’m pretty keen on the back, a rather modern take on the pinafore:


This is McCall’s 6751. I’m not sure why it looks so fitted on the model because this is definitely a loose tank top. I cut the size M and it has plenty of ease. Also, the instructions offer up the option to just fold over the edges all around instead of using bias binding, and that might account for why the straps are so much thinner and the keyhole much bigger in the envelope image. I’m glad my keyhole is tiny since it makes for an undergarment-friendly top. Well, when I say undergarment-friendly, I mean strapless-bra-friendly.


This pattern requires only two pieces (and endless amounts of bias tape), so it was a pretty quick project. I decided to be smart and added three inches to the hem because I always forget to account for my lengthy torso. But I only did that for the front bodice piece and completely forgot about the back (so much for being smart). Not to worry, I just rounded out the edges of the front bodice so now it’s even more reminiscent of the Wiksten:


It actually worked out great, and I love the length of the front piece. The back length isn’t too shabby either. Lo-Hi! This style will spread like wild fire, I’m sure. Overall, I like this top very much, but I’ll admit to being in a hurry to finish it since I had to get K from camp and thought I could whip it out in the scant two hours I had available. That bias tape killed me. Clip and grade your curved seams, my friends, as our wise maven of excellent sewing tutorials tells us. Otherwise, you end up with a neckline that doesn’t lay flat like mine and it outs you as a sloppy home sewer. Fortunately, it’s not too noticeable, but the other lesson in this is never to rush your sewing projects. Still, I’ll chalk this one up as a semi-success, and I think I might give this top a go in a jersey knit next time. What do you think?

Sewing Plans for K


Now that both K’s and my wardrobes are entirely DIY’d (incidentally, am I the only one who has trouble saying DIY aloud? I always want to pronounce it “Dee-Ee-Why”), I find myself sketching a lot of potential sewing projects. I deviate from my plans more often than not, especially with K’s stuff, but it’s helpful to consider the holes in her wardrobe so that I’m not spending time on yet another linen dress that will never see the light of day.

What she needs are shorts, and lots of them. All the ones I made last year are beyond risque at this point, and Hooters will be dropping off an application for her at any moment. She also needs a mountain of knit clothing, but I might throw in some cotton too (preferably white eyelet). By the end of summer, I might be a knit expert. We’ll see. Almost everything in the image up there I plan to make in stretchy substrate; some are from Japanese sewing books, others I intend to draft myself. I hope to post them (and a few others I have in the works but didn’t sketch) in the coming weeks. I’m extra motivated to sew like a madwoman to have an easy-to-pack set of clothes for our upcoming Indiana trip. Wovens, as beautiful as they can be, are a pain to travel with.

While we’re on the topic of self-drafted clothes, K has officially put in her request for this year’s birthday dress (it’s coming up at the end of the month! How????). Last year, I wasn’t able to carry out my mission because I just couldn’t risk messing up a perfectly lovely all-white dress. Here’s her sketch for this year:


She explained that it’s to be an all-black dress with fireworks and moons and stars. She wants it to be a Macgyver dress with sleeves that can be long, medium or short, adjustable via a piece of thread attached to the sleeve edge (?). And then there’s some doohicky that makes a cape appear out of nowhere. It sounds complicated and a touch beyond my skill level.

Shall we place bets on how many I’ll actually get done (not including the bday dress)? I’m guesstimating five things between now and July 12th, when we set foot on the plane.

P.S. Surprisingly, I’m sticking pretty faithfully to my own sewing plans!

Monday Outfit: Scraps Tank + Matcha Shorts


Good morning! At last, I have something made from scratch that’s K-sized to share — it was getting to the point where even K was starting to wonder when I was going to make clothes for her again. Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention that K made that necklace with fake pearl buttons and a bell, and is so very pleased. I think she might be starting a trend.

A bonafide Monday Outfit this week: I wanted to sew from this knits-based book, and I was specifically looking for an A-line tank. It would have been easy to draft, but I don’t know — there’s something about the way the Japanese patterns are drafted that makes the fit perfect for K. I love that this book concentrates on stretchy fabric, but I haven’t used it much for some reason. I had somehow completely bypassed this spread in previous perusals and was excited to see the exact style I was looking for:


Those bloomers didn’t appeal to me, and I guess I didn’t notice the cute combo on the right. The pocket placements aren’t my thing so that might be another reason I glossed over it. I’m picky, picky, picky…


I hunted for some summer-y fabric, and then stumbled upon a small remnant of the denim knit that I’ve used time and time again. I thought I’d used up every possible inch, but hallelujah, not the case! I didn’t have quite enough though, and then found a scrap of much loved stripes. An accidental color-block tank was born, and I want one for myself.


I also traced and cut out the shorts pattern, but wasn’t feeling any of the fabrics from my now limited jersey knits supply, and turned to wovens. This is a Moda linen-blend fabric called “Mochi” in chartreuse, the color of matcha tea. It’s such a shot of happy, don’t you think?


For the second time (only because being the habitual creature that I am, I keep forgetting to use the method), I inserted the neck band flat a la Andrea of Four Square Walls whose mastery of knits is so impressive, and it looks fantastic. M couldn’t quite understand why I was so excited about a neckband, but that’s husbands for you. I bound my armholes my normal way, just because I like the look better for armholes. Here’s a random close-up of the stripey knit portion:


I can’t overstate how much I love this top. I’m not sure that the textures are coming across onscreen, but I think it looks extremely high-end and stylish in person. The way it swings and fits on K…sigh. I wish clothes would fit on me like that.


K concurred that the top is smashing, but she’s not into the shorts. Nope. Something about not liking shorts that look like skirts…


Still, she wore the outfit for the rest of the day without complaints, so the shorts must not be too bad. She did, however, insist on wearing them low on her hips gangsta style. As an aside, lately, K is having more and more trouble figuring out the front and back of the garments I make, so I’ve started stitching in little strips of ribbon to indicate the back:


I have yards and yards of pretty linen ribbons and they come in handy.


Even though K is less than thrilled with the shorts, this might be one of my favorite summer outfits. She seems to be warming up to it too…


P.S. I was playing with my camera setting and was trying for a dreamy quality. Some might argue they’re all just blurry, and okay, that point might have some legitimacy…

Sewing for Me: Tuttle Book Reviews + Giveaway! [CLOSED]


More pictures of me, yes. I’m trying to hold back from apologizing because after a certain point, you just gotta go forth boldly with this whole sewing-for-self-and-taking-selfies-and-posting-them-online gig, even if it feels like your face is plastered all over the place already and giving people nightmares. But I promised the good folks at Tuttle Publishing to review a couple of pre-release Japanese Sewing Books translated into English that they kindly sent me, and here we are.


While these two books retain the simple and clean aesthetic of the genre, I have to say they are surprisingly unlike the other Japanese books I’ve sewn from. They’re rather fabulous. I’m going to go ahead and talk about both lovelies today, and bonus for you: I’ll be giving away one of the books!


Let’s start with the Basic Black book. I’m not sure I would go so far as edgy in reference to the designs, but every item in the book is sewn in black and that’s definitely unique. I selected this “tunic” top for it’s curvy silhouette and boat neck detail (and okay, because it had no closures and looked super easy). Naturally, I was compelled to sew it in black — I think it’s some kind of suiting? There’s a good amount of stretch in the fabric but wasn’t finicky in the least. Here’s what it looks like in the book:


Along with an infinite number of other things that I’m picky about, I just don’t feel comfortable pulling off the lace flutter sleeve look. I don’t disagree that lace trimmings on garments are awesome, but I think using the word “girl” here sets the tone that this is a garment meant for young’uns, hence reinforcing my discomfort. What really fascinated me about this top, though, is that the recommended fabric for the main bodice front and back is fleece. How unexpected!


As you can see, I made it without the lace, and I cut out the Medium/Large (this top only comes in either small or medium/large), and I may have been able to get away with the small with some added length. My boatneck became more of a cowl and there’s an awful lot of underarmage showing. As I’d predicted, this was such an easy, quick sew and you know, I think it’s quite fetching. It says, “I’m versatile and comfy and hey, I’d look grand with a cardi and scarf.”

This book is fantastic! As I flipped through it, I kept thinking “Oh, I want to make that! And that one! And definitely that one!” Like so:

basic-black-book2 basic-black-book5 basic-black-book4

I’m especially fond of the zip-up vest (there’s a jacket version too), and this is a must-sew for autumn. I’m also loving the more body-fitting garments like that top above, though to be sure, there’s an abundance of the loose garbs the Japanese are known for. I declare Basic Black a winner!


Shall we talk about skirts? The Stylish Skirts book, in particular? I should briefly mention that this book is no longer in pre-release mode and is available at this time. Anyway, I may have pooh-poohed skirts in the past, but I plumb forgot about maxi skirts. I could wear nothing but maxi skirts and be perfectly content.


So the radically different thing about this book is that there are no pattern sheets. You can see a sampling of the skirts included in the book above, and as I browsed through the styles, trying to decide which one to sew, it finally hit me that the instructions were for drafting the skirt patterns from scratch.


This was the skirt I was instantly drawn to, and wouldn’t you know it, it also happened to only require rectangles and I didn’t even realize that until I focussed on the construction steps. I swear, I’m not that lazy. The pictured skirt is made out of black lace, but I dug up some crinkly navy cotton/knit fabric that I thought would work well:


It looks a little like georgette, but isn’t quite as sheer or light — it’s also stretchier. I don’t like ties around my waist, so I just made it a simple elasticized waistband.


Perhaps because I started the skirt late at night, it took me a lot longer than I estimated, but it’s an utterly straightforward skirt to sew, and I really, really like it. Maybe even love it. It’s casual with interesting bits (there are varying sized panels gathered in different parts of the skirt), and it’s an ideal summer item. Maxi skirts are the best.


I’m so pleased with both pieces, and now for the good stuff: the giveaway. I’m obviously way too smitten with the Basic Black book to part ways with it (it will be available for purchase in July), but the Stylish Skirts book is up for grabs! This book has a lot to offer too, including some funky and unconventional styles, but I’m still not much of a skirt person unless it’s practically sweeping the floors, so it doesn’t make much sense for me to hold onto it.

So the giveaway question…earlier this week, I took a walk with a friend and the subject of introverts/extroverts came up. We both agreed that we are a little bit introverted, but don’t feel like classic, text-book versions. A mixtrovert, if you will. K and M are fully, whole hog extroverts, and I always marvel at how they derive so much energy from being around people all. the. time. I need alone time to re-charge, but I like to be around people for the most part.

So how about you? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Or if you’re a mix, which way do you lean? Please leave a comment with your answer. The giveaway will be open until next Thursday, July 3rd, and I’ll announce the winner on the Fourth of July! International participants are welcome, of course. Good luck!!

Nani IRO Water Window Wiksten


Riding high on the success of my nani IRO Mountain View dress, I threw myself into an idea I had for another gorgeous piece of nani IRO I got from Miss Matatabi. Yes, that is an exposed zipper. And no, it did not go well. In fact, I can’t even show you close-ups because pretty much everything went wrong with this top. This is, I believe, what is called a botch job.

But first, is this not the most soothing, neutralicious palette? I just can’t get enough of it. It’s called Water Window Wata Gauze and the soft washes of color lull me into a sense of meditative calm. Which is a good thing since the sewing was anything but calming.


I’m not sure why it went so south. It’s not like I haven’t made the Wiksten in a double gauze before. I love that navy top and wear it constantly. Yes, the wata gauze is definitely finicky and getting nice and even stitches was pretty challenging. That in and of itself wouldn’t bother me since I recently did a recon at a high end boutique to check out the sewing quality of clothes I could only fantasize about buying and you know what? The stitches were not perfect. There were crooked seams. Crooked! For a $200 tank top.


Surprisingly, the exposed zipper turned out to be the least problematic part. I was inspired by a racerback knit tank top that I have with a decorative yet functional exposed zipper and thought this light grey zip would add a little zing to the top. Convinced I was being clever by gathering the pieces above and below the zipper, I didn’t account for the neckline so it’s curved out like a half bowl, sure to tempt little kids to throw objects in there.

It’s a hot mess. The thing is, I kind of love it. Uneven shoulder widths and all. This is the type of fabric I want to live in during the summer months and I intend to do so. I figure it’ll shrink a bit in the wash so the neckline won’t be so wonky and really, after meticulously studying a ton of boutique clothing and getting a lot of “May I help you, ma’am?” paired with suspicious looks several times over, I’ve come to the conclusion that everything can be considered a design element. Gaping back necklines are fashion forward and hems should flounce for maximum stylishness (think peplum). It’s all good and the key is to wear it with confidence.


So this isn’t officially part of the nani IRO tour, but I did want to share this lovely fabric with you. It looks like Frances is all out of stock in this particular color way, but I see some others here. I have my eye on the canvas one with the greys. Wouldn’t that make such a cool jacket?

Please excuse the obvious lack of effort I put into this photoshoot – it was all I could do to put my hair in a bun and I couldn’t even be bothered to put on a swipe of lipgloss. We’re still a little out of sorts from our trip (though it was wonderful! There was biking and swimming and I read an entire book! And bawled my eyes out so my face still looks like a souffle!)…but hope to be back into the swing of things soon-ish.

Monday Outfit: Ye Old Halter Dress


Good morning! Due to our road trip and other vital things (like sewing clothes for myself), there’s still no sewing for K happening, but it occurred to me that she’s been wearing this halter dress I made several years ago a lot lately and that I’ve never posted it here. If you saw my nani IRO post last week, you might have noticed a very similar muslin, and it was inspired in part by this dress.


The pattern is from this book, and I vaguely remember sewing this before she started kindergarten. At the time it was huge on her and was more of a maxi dress, and three years later, she’s starting to outgrow it. I love these types of patterns that make a visual impact but are so easy to make and can be worn for years on end. The fabric, in case you’re wondering, is some kind of quilting cotton.

It wasn’t until two days ago, when she was wearing the dress for the fifth time in a couple of weeks that I realized she was under the impression that it was store-bought. Hm. I’ve heard that the handmade revolt usually starts around 9 years old, but my child might be precocious.


It brought back a memory that hadn’t crossed my mind in eons. When I was in middle school, my mom had stopped sewing clothes for me due to my entreaties that they just looked too homemade. Of course, we couldn’t afford any of the trendy clothes all the kids at my school wore, which is a colossal bummer when you’re eleven.

But my mom had this friend. This friend was a professional violinist, who lived in this gracefully appointed, breathtaking house in Los Angeles. She had exquisite taste in everything. Because she was extremely petite and had a voracious appetite for clothes, she would often drop off bags and bags of items she’d grown tired of. They were all meant for me, and my mom would painstakingly alter them to fit me.


Isn’t it funny? Here I was, an eleven-year-old wearing Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Sui and the like, and all I could focus on was how I wasn’t wearing the hottest jeans at the time (the brand was Guess, if I’m remembering correctly). My mom has more talent in her pinky toe than most people, but alterations weren’t her strong suit so the clothes never sat on my awkward preteen body quite right. I was also so so embarrassed that I was wearing second hand clothes — at that age, everything embarrassed me, but that topped my list big time. As I slumped shamefacedly in my hand-me-downs, I had no idea that I was waltzing around in crazy expensive, expertly made, beautiful designer clothes. I’m sure that my mom told me, but I’m also sure that I didn’t believe her. Because tweens are like that, and I was obviously too unsophisticated to know about these brands. I’d like to shake and throttle my eleven-year-old self.


I imagine that K will get to a similar point. There are murmurs of discontent already, but she still loves a lot of what I make. Yet no matter how skilled I become at sewing (and the hope is that I will become incredibly skilled), she may not be able to get past the handmade part of the clothes. I better mentally prepare myself….

And I wonder if those middle school years of reluctantly wearing my mom’s friend’s clothes actually embedded an appreciation for finely made garments? I never thought about it that way, and now I’m even more appreciative of her generosity.


K hoped that the butterfly looked real and insisted on certain poses to fake you all out. Did it work?

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