Category Archives: Giveaway

Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit Giveaway! [CLOSED]


One of my favorite things to do during the book process was prop shopping. I love me some good props. Being the way that I am, however, let’s just say that I didn’t hold back and now I have a mountain of charming, photogenic items taking up a whole lotta space in my basement. Luckily, most of them are very small.


Like this tiny Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit. “FIRST AID FOR CLOTHES”, it promises, and this approximately 3.25″ wide x 2.75″ high metal box contains teeny scissors, thread (black + white), needles, pins, a couple of buttons, safety pins and a tape measure.

I mean, really. How can you not love this? Since I have an extra kit, I thought it might be fun to offer it up as a giveaway. Perhaps you too have a soft spot for all things miniature and industrial chic?

To enter the giveaway, any comment would do, but I’ve been thinking about how I schlumped and dragged and resisted making the jeans when in reality, it was completely doable and enjoyable. Now I want to make 10 pairs. There are so many things that I do that with, big and small. Do you have a project or projects like that? Something that feels beyond your capabilities or too much work or just plain hard, but you know that if you took that very first step and saw it through to completion, you’ll be so excited and will find yourself proudly telling the mailman that you just completed your first pair of jeans? Okay, I didn’t tell the mailman, but I came close. Now that I’m feeling more comfortable with jeans-making, I’m noticing that I still feel that way about grown-up sized coats and in the non-sewing realm, entertaining — I’m quite intimidated by the idea of hosting dinner parties, though I have no problems having friends over for tea/coffee with snacks or even casual impromptu dinners (our neighbors come over for dinner all the time). There’s something about the “dinner party” that raises the bar and stresses me out. There’s a list about 15 miles long with additional stuff, but those are the two that came to mind first. And you?

I’ll keep the giveaway open until this Friday, January 22nd and will announce the winner on Monday. International entries are, of course, lovely. Good luck!

Faux Fur Infinity Scarf + Giveaway [CLOSED]



Well now. Ute and I are simply blown away by the enthusiastic response to the Secret Valentine Exchange!! It’s been so enthusiastic that my server crashed a number of times last week. It’s true that I have a wimpy, tiny server, but still. I also think there’s something problematic about multiple people trying to fill out the form simultaneously, but that’s an uneducated guess on my part. We’re approaching 130 sign-ups!! If you were one of the folks who couldn’t access the form to sign up, please email and we’ll send you the form directly. Quick reminder: the deadline is this Wednesday, January 13th!


Today, though, I’m talking more faux fur. There’s a pint-sized fabric store near my house called District Fabrics, and during the holidays they sold these infinity scarf kits. For $10, the kit comes with a 19″ x 30″ faux fur piece, a spool of coordinating thread and instructions. I thought it was a decent deal and a good idea, particularly for a little someone obsessed with all things wild and animalistic in my household. Plus, I’d just seen something similar in Anthropologie, so it was totally on trend (not that we’re ever on trend or ever feel the need to be).


I didn’t get around to sewing it up in time for Christmas, but I did find a few minutes to bang it out this weekend. So fast! It was done within 15 minutes, and then I realized I didn’t follow the instructions because I’ve made so many infinity scarves. Instead of sewing the ends right sides together, leaving an opening and hand stitching the opening closed, the instructions call for finishing one end of the tube, slipping the other end in and sewing through all four layers with the right side facing out. I guess that part would end up at the nape of the neck so the flattened section won’t show, but I’m glad I did it my way for the overall fluffiness.


K decided that she would create a special ensemble – a faux-furnanza, if you will —  and I’ve dubbed her “mini sasquatch”. Actually, with the ear muffs she looks like the love child of Princess Leia and Chewbacca (yes, we’ve seen the Star Wars movie that just came out).

faux-fur-scarf5 faux-fur-scarf6

And here she is, playing the part of an infirm Victorian poet with a furry ascot — or is it a cravat?? She’s engrossed in a game of Mancala (an African game with which she’s obsessed).


There’s a little twist to the front of the scarf, which I like, and because of the thicker material, it’s a simple circle scarf, meaning it doesn’t loop twice like most infinity scarves.


At any rate, after sewing the vest, the trim on the jacket, and now a scarf, I’m all faux furred out. I have an extra kit, but I can’t bring myself to sew it. Would anyone like it? This one is a lighter shade of brown, sort of chestnutty or squirrel-colored. Even if you don’t end up using it as a scarf, there’s plenty there to make at least one side of a pillow cover, which happens to be all the rage right now — something that mystifies me. Or you could add a fur trim to a garment. So many possibilities.


It seems like I should ask a New Year’s Resolution type of question, but I’m going to turn it on its head a bit: what worked for you last year that you want to continue? So often it seems like we try to change when we flip the calendar to January 1st. But there are so many things that we already do right and well and I’m a firm believer that those things ought to be acknowledged. Last year I met with at least one friend a week for coffee or some sort of get together, and it was so uplifting and wonderful, it’s something I’m very conscientious about continuing this year. Another funny little thing that worked for me last year was getting rid of the word “busy” from my vocabulary. Whenever people would ask me how I’m doing, my automatic response used to be, “Good, but so busy!” I can’t remember where I heard or read it, but I came across the term “glorification of busy” and how it’s become so normal in our society and is essentially a humble brag or a way to feel important. So I experimented with not saying that I’m busy for the whole year. And you know what? It was awesome! I felt like I was less in default mode and it forced me to pause to think about how I’m really doing and what I’m spending my time on. I’m going to keep up this habit of not saying I’m busy for sure. What about you?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Friday, January 15th and will announce the winner on Monday. Entries from around the globe are welcome. I hope someone’s interested – I’ve had enough of faux fur for the time being!



Happy Friday + Randomness + Giveaway {CLOSED}


Happy Friday! Since there was no school on Veteran’s Day this past Wednesday, K and I headed to the Japanese Garden to meet up with some friends.


It was so beautiful and serene. I almost felt like I should whisper and suppress my coughs.

The autumnal leaves boldly accented the lush green landscape. Red, gold, persimmon (there were actual persimmons too).

japanese-garden4 japanese-garden7

The koi fish gathered under the small bridges. Many were autumnal in color too, but the one that caught my eye was indigo, of course.


A stately heron camouflaged itself into the foliage and scenery.



This calming, meditative and meticulously manicured bit of nature was just what I needed (we found two women hand-plucking moss off of a small tree; they smiled and explained to us how the moss hinders the beauty of the branches). It reminded me of these coloring books. I’ve always had a weakness for coloring books, and right now there’s an explosion of them on the market. These were meant to be research — I wanted to know what “anti-stress art therapy” looked like. I’m all about anti-stress, as you know. It looks lovely, it turns out, with simple line drawings ranging from geometrics to nature-inspired scenes. I find, however, that I’m not inclined to color in other people’s drawings (I keep wanting to create my own) and it seems a shame to let these sit around without de-stressing anyone.


I’m not sure if anyone would be interested in these but I’ll throw ’em out there to see if there are takers. Even if you’re not into coloring, I think these would make sweet gifts. I’ll select two winners, one for each book, and to enter the giveaway, I’d love to know: what do you do to cultivate mindfulness or a sense of calm? Do you meditate? Take walks? Drink a special tea?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, November 20th and will contact the winner on the following Monday. International entries are always welcome. Good luck!

Mindfulness is good
But monkey mind is my norm
How about for you?

Have a superb weekend, all!

Giveaway: Cute Fall Fabrics! [CLOSED]


Good morning! So. The first order of business now that the book is 99% done (at least in my mind) is absolutely critical: cleaning. I am, by nature, a neat and tidy person, but for the last few months I’ve really let the house go to pot. It’s ugly, folks.

The disarray has been steadily driving me crazy and probably had some impact on my productivity, but I tried my very best to choose taking care of my health via food and exercise and spending time with people over laundry or vacuuming when I wasn’t working. I made dinner most nights, dishes got done daily and bills got paid on time, so I felt like a champion despite the ever-increasing dust giants.

It’s a huge relief to finally tackle the mess. I’m planning yet another massive purge, and I’m getting my feet wet with a little bit of fabric elimination. I have about a yard of the adorable animal print flannel above and according to the selvage, it’s “Urban Flannel by Valori Wells for Free Spirit.” The scale of the print is quite large, and I think this would make a lovely baby blanket.


I also have about a yard of this darling floral corduroy that I purchased at JoAnn’s several years ago. I meant to sew up a back-to-school, first grade dress for K, but I had opted to go with polka dots instead and forgot all about this corduroy until yesterday. I figure that if I haven’t felt compelled to sew with it for 3 years, it’s unlikely to ever happen.

Anyone interested? To enter the giveaway, I’d love to hear about something you’re proud to have accomplished. It could be something seemingly small (unloading the dishwasher this morning, say) or something admittedly massive (climbing Mount Everest, perhaps?). All accomplishments should be celebrated, don’t you think? I obviously feel extremely proud and elated to have reached this point today, and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all the wonderfully encouraging comments, emails, pattern testing help, care packages, and so much more that I’ve received over the last year as I plodded away at the book. But making a dent in the gargantuan laundry pile in the last week has felt just as significant. Maybe that’s weird, I have no idea.

The giveaway will stay open until this Friday, October 23rd, and I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Internationals entries are always welcome! Good luck!




Giveaway: Stylish Party Dresses [CLOSED]


Yet another giveaway! Tuttle Publishing has put forth a fun book — all about party dresses! In case you were wondering, I didn’t translate this one. And because it’s not going to be available until September 15th, today’s post is a bit of a sneak peek.

There are 26 patterns (a – z) with that simple, flow-y and Japanese look and feel. The title is a little misleading since there are a number of separates too. That just adds to the versatility, I say. I flipped through the pages and liked these in particular:


And then I thought, why not sew one? 

I selected pattern V because the raglan construction looked super easy:


I was talking to one of my favorite baristas yesterday, and as I rustled about my bag in search of dollar bills for my soy latte, he told me how he’s been invited to 13 weddings so far this year. 13!!! Even if I added up all the weddings I’ve been to including my own, I would come up short. The barista is very charming and witty, so I can see why he’d be inundated with invites. Feeling quite inadequate about my barren social calendar, I decided that I should make a casual dress out of knit instead. I found this slinky and soft jersey knit in navy and black lounging in one of my fabric bins and the die was cast.


I don’t know…the only fiesta vibe that this dress is evoking is “pajama party”. As you can imagine, it’s mighty comfy. In fact, when K saw me in my freshly made attire, she squealed, “Mama! I love that — it’s so pretty! I want one just like it to wear to bed!” The fabric is from here, I’m assuming, though I’m destined to feature fabric they’re out of. I didn’t have quite enough for the sleeves so I shaved off 3 inches from the sleeve length.

Maybe if I belt it?


Or no?


Not sure…


Either way, the keyhole detail in the back is nice, and I even added knit interfacing (like this) which is a step I usually skip.


A word of caution: I found some mistakes with the instructions. For example, the facing is supposed to be sewn on right side together, but the instructions are reversed. Also, I thought this was a funny misprint:


There’s a missing line — can you see it?

These are minor issues though, and the garments included are quite lovely. Would you like to win a copy?

To enter the giveaway, any comment will do but perhaps you’d like to regale me with a tale of a recent bash you’ve attended (I like to live vicariously). Or maybe share a favorite party song. Or you could vote on belted vs. non-belted for the pajama party dress. Anything, really. I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Thursday, September 3rd and will announce the winner the next day. International entries welcome! Good luck!!



Giveaway: Stylish Remakes [CLOSED]


Good morning! I haven’t done a giveaway in a while, have I? The always good folks at Tuttle sent me the Stylish Remakes book to review, and what makes this special to me is that yours truly actually translated it. Yes, if you happen to get a hold of this freshly published (in English) book by Violette Room, you’ll see my name next to “Translated from Japanese by”. Exciting!


Here you can see the Japanese version next to the English one. The Japanese copy is slightly smaller, and the cover design is obviously different. I find this whole translation process so fascinating, trying to assess a different market, figuring out how to translate idioms into another language. I loved it! It came about quite casually, when I tossed out an offer to translate any forthcoming sewing books when I was in communication with Tuttle about reviewing a book last year. I was delighted when the editor contacted me with this project around October of 2014.


The book is chockfull of ideas for upcycling old t-shirts, athletic wear (think college sweatshirts) and flannel shirts. There are even instructions for repurposing adult-sized clothing into kids’ garb.

I enjoyed looking for the subtle differences between the English and Japanese versions. For example, I noticed that they used different fonts and colors for the project titles.









My favorite projects were the ones with the flannel shirts. They’re very clever and unique. I had a lovely time with this first foray into the world of translations (it’s a flat fee system and doesn’t involve any royalties, which is rather nice), and I’m hoping for more assignments once book #2 is all done! I’m loving all these various avenues into publishing I’m exploring and can’t wait to learn more.


OK! Onto the giveaway…what shall I ask? This isn’t a remake related question, but did you have a favorite item of clothing or outfit as a child? My mom used to lament that I would often pair a pastel yellow wraparound skirt with a pink t-shirt. I don’t know why, but I just loved loved loved that combination. I was about 10. Which is funny to me since I would never wear that color combo now, and it actually seems like an ensemble that my mom would approve of. The world is a mysterious place. What about you? What comes to mind from your childhood apparel?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Friday, August 14th and will announce the winner on Monday. International entries are always welcome — good luck!




Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids Giveaway [CLOSED]


Good morning! I thoroughly enjoyed a low-key weekend and I hope you had a great one too.

I didn’t do much other than eat, it seems. I grazed from one meal to the next, and the best part was that I didn’t cook at all and felt very pampered indeed. Although I squeezed in a tiny little bit of sewing, the weekend was all about hanging out.

My UFO pile seems to be shrinking a tad and my plan is to show you a finished item or two next week, but I acquired the English version of one of my favorite Japanese Sewing books and wanted to do a little giveaway for today. This book is particularly meaningful to me because it’s the one that launched my handmade wardrobe craziness three summers ago. I made this dress, and the sweat-inducing difficulty and the simultaneous exhilaration are still visceral.

Ooh La La Dress

And I kept making things from this book.

Same pattern, different fabric:

pinkdress_1A brown and silver combo:

A starry indigo top:

starryblouse6The Bubble Dress:


Jodhpur pants:


Sashiko Pullover:


Patch-sleeve Jacket:



Capelet 1:



Capelet 2:


Coat Dress


Fluttery Top:


Wow, I’ve never compiled all the outfits I’ve made from a single book before. I obviously had a lot more time back then. I remember how I loved the creative freedom I used to feel, and I can see that I really tried a lot out in the spirit of experimentation. Even though I’ve scaled back on the styling and propping (and the sewing), I do think my photography has improved with time, and it’s nice to see progress.

Anyway. If you’d like to enter the giveaway for this oh-so-special book, please leave a……hmmm, it’s getting harder to come up with questions. I just had a memory flash of a dinner with friends a while ago, and the topic of color therapy came up. Have you heard of it? It’s the utilization of light and colors to restore desired “balance”, be it physical, mental, emotional, etc. It sounds like it’s considered pseudo science, bordering on woo-woo. I admit that I don’t really understand it, but the conversation turned to how the diagnosis part of color therapy is as follows: you are given a multitude of colored papers to choose from (it makes me think of paint chips) and are asked to select the colors you’re drawn to the most and arrange them on a larger sheet of paper. My friends and I discussed which colors we would gravitate towards and that was fun and very enlightening. Whether color therapy works or not, I’m a big believer in the power of colors and their effect on my moods and general state of being. For my colors, I chose grey, blue, white, cream, and dusty, chalky hues you would see in French countryside homes like the bluish-greenish-greys and muted pinks. So my question is this: which colors are you most naturally drawn to?

The giveaway will stay open until this Friday, June 19th, and I’ll announce the winner the following Monday. Entries from around the world are more than welcome. Good luck!

Giveaway: She Wears the Pants [CLOSED]


A long time ago, when this blog was just a gleam in my eye, I had coffee with a writer friend who was an expert in the blogging world (at least more of an expert than I was or am). I confided in her that I used to maintain a blog that had petered out, but I loved it and wanted to maybe-sort-of-kind-of begin another one. I bounced around some ideas with her (“Sewing? That sounds like too much work,” she declared). After much hemming and hawing, I was no closer to figuring out what sort of blog felt right, but she told me this: “Whatever you decide to do, eventually you’ll start getting free stuff.” I slapped her knee lightly, snorted and said pshaw.

Well, here we are three years later, and she was right. The lovely folks at Tuttle sent me not one, but TWO copies of this rather hipster book of sewing patterns to give away. It’s called She Wears the Pants. I’m not sure how I feel about the title, but I do know that I’m definitely going to sew up a bevy of outfits from this when I eke out valuable moments for myself in the next few weeks.

Compared to most Japanese sewing books, this one is dark and moody and dramatic, but I like it despite my penchant for light and airy. The photography is simple as always, and the light is beautiful. I usually try to have an accompanying sewn project to share with my book giveaways so I can provide a more rounded out review of instructions and such, but I’m going to have to just show you my fave spreads this time:

The Oval coat is oh-so-chic, and must become part of my Fall wardrobe!


I love the shape of the mini dress on the right so much…


Again, I’m a sucker for the boxy shape on the right.


This outfit that’s also on the cover looks so comfy. I need to add another striped shirt to my collection of three dozen striped shirts, no?

There are a few quirky projects too, like this one called the belt stole:


It’s fun, right?

To win a copy of this book, I have a question that requires some thought. What’s something that people are surprised to find out about you? For some reason, folks are often taken by surprise that I’m from Los Angeles. So many people think I’m from Hawaii. I also have absolutely no sense of direction and this seems to throw people off too. Before smart phones, I used to build in at least an hour to get anywhere new because I would inevitably get lost. It’s part of the reason I’m constantly early to events, meetings, etc.

I love finding out unexpected hobbies/characteristics/origins about people. Like Rosey Grier’s passion for needlepoint. Or K’s skateboarding interest. Or the fact that M used to work for a big corporation by day and lived in a hostel by night for a few years (this was by choice – he said the people were way more interesting).

So. What’s surprising about you?

The giveaway will be open until next Thursday, May 28th, and I’ll announce the TWO winners the next day! Enter away, international folks. Good luck!

P.S. In case you were wondering, the winners of the Little Kunoichi giveaway were Kristi A., Maki, Sophie, Karen and Anne.

Little Kunoichi: LAUNCHED!! + Giveaway [CLOSED]


Taiko drum roll please…..


Little Kunoichi is large and in charge! Today is THE day, and I am doing imaginary backflips and round-offs of excitement!! The build-up has been so long, I thought I would be all blasé and casual and “Oh, is it the launch date today?”, but no no no. It’s a big deal. A huge deal. I am planning on visiting as many bookstores as I can today to surreptitiously snap photos of my book on shelves because this will never, ever, ever happen again: my first published book! (though I hope I will get to work on many, many more books)

I’m jumping up and down and full of nervous energy so I’m keeping this short. I thought I would show you my favorite parts of the book today:


You’ve seen the island map before, but I just love it to pieces.


And then there’s the secret ninja girls’ school, of which Little Kunoichi is a pupil.


And then….my pride and joy, the island festival page. I’ve hidden Little K and her new friend Chibi Samurai and the page is chock-full of Japanese references that are too numerous to list here, but if it’s of interest, I’d be happy to go into it another time.

Oh…this is so unreal. I am counting my blessings and trying to bottle this surreal feeling of a dream come true. Infinite thanks to my amazing editor Tegan and to the whole crew at Sasquatch Books that made this such a lovely expedition. And thank you, for the cheering on, the don’t-give-ups and for welcoming Little Kunoichi into your homes.


I have the impression that many of you have already gotten a copy of the book, but if anyone out there would like to win a copy, I’ve got some to offer up. Or, if you’ve already got Little K in your hands (or a copy is on its way), I would also love to give away prints of my favorite pages that you see above. The island print is 8″ x 8″, and the ninja school and island prints are about 6″ x 11″, all printed on high quality, archival paper. I’ll select five winners and you have the choice of the book or one of the prints.

M made a comment that made me laugh so hard, I have to share: he said that if I made $100,000 with the book, he would immediately go out and get a Little Kunoichi tattoo. This, I have to see. Neither of us has a tattoo so this is a significant thing — we shook on it! So please tell everyone about my book! It might take several decades to get to that amount, but he’ll be a rockin’ senior citizen with a cute ninja tattoo. To enter the giveaway, any comment will do, but maybe you have a suggestion for where the tattoo should go? I’m still trying to decide…

I’ll keep the give away open until this Friday, May 8th. Good luck!

P.S. I’m skipping tomorrow as I prepare for the launch party on Sunday and wrap up some work for book #2. Would love to meet you if you’re local! And see you back here on Friday!

P.P.S. Just in case I confused people, which I am known to do, I’m considering today Little Kunoichi’s official day of birth…hence, she’s saying “it’s my birthday” up there.


A Past Monday Outfit Giveaway [CLOSED]


Good morning! Time is of the essence as I juggle multiple projects for deadlines that are coming up at the end of the month. In my characteristic overly optimistic way,  K and I planned some fun outfits for me to sew up for her this weekend, and of course, by late Saturday evening it was obvious the outfits weren’t going to happen.

My harried state of being was abundantly evident on that same Saturday evening when K, her friend and I swooped into the theater parking area (we had tickets for Robinhood, if you recall) with 9 minutes to spare. I’d just negotiated a labyrinthine series of construction roadblocks which made a normally 10-minute drive into a crazed, 35-minute one. Fortunately, I’m freakishly paranoid about being late for anything and always leave excessively early. I cut off the engine and frantically fished through my bag for my wallet to insert my debit card into the parking meter. Nothing. No wallet! I’d left it at home. This is something so rare, K gasped.

“We’ll have to miss the play,” I announced gravely. I had no money to pay for parking, no ID to show for the will-call tickets. 8 minutes until showtime.

The girls were crestfallen, and it’s amazing how the brain kicks in when faced with two stricken-looking tweens. I restarted the car, zoomed into the nearby grocery store parking lot — conveniently located roughly two blocks from the theater — and the three of us hauled ourselves at breakneck speed toward the will-call window. The women behind the glass didn’t even ask for my identification and placed the tickets into my sweaty palms. I glanced at the clock: 1 minute until showtime!

Robinhood was awesome. It had a bit of a contemporary twist to it (think disco music), and was full of humor and excellent performances. Note to self: I better go back to that grocery store and buy a ton of food – I’m feeling guilty about parking not-so-legally.

For spring break last week, I tried really hard to focus on K and spending time with her; I also tried desperately to find small pockets of time to hustle on work-related tasks when she was happily occupied with friends, but those were hard to come by. Though I felt good about prioritizing family time, I’ve been tamping down my mounting distress that other things are not getting done. Laundry? Psh. Cleaning? I wish dust farming existed, as I seem to excel at harvesting dust bunnies. As much as I love them, I’ve been cursing all those sound-bitey Ted Talks and books about organization and prioritization — I do think they help remind me about what’s important, but they’re useless when it comes to dealing with the uneasy feelings that come with choosing relationships over impending work deadlines and basic home maintenance.

Anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I may not be gracefully executing my projects, and I may be throwing out a cop-out post offering up a hardly worn garment for a giveaway (and it’s possible I’ll do this again next week), but childhood is fleeting and memory-making is priceless, no?

I’m not sure if anyone is going to want this pullover I made a while ago. It’s super stylish, I think, but it’s not animal print which is the singular most important criteria for K as we all know. So it’s up for grabs. It’s about a 5T in size and it’s not perfectly made, but I was pretty proud of figuring out what was one of the most complicated pocket instructions to date.

I’ve heard of pomodoro techniques, GTD, et al — but if you would like to enter the giveaway, I’d be delighted to know: what’s your most effective productivity or focusing techniques? Do you hide your phone/devices? Or conversely do you live and die by a particular app? Clearly, I need some help and love recommendations from folks.

The giveaway will be open until this Thursday, April 23rd and I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Do I need to mention that international entries are welcome at this point? Good luck!

P.S. Apparently there was some kind of technical glitch on Friday and people weren’t able to leave comments – sorry about that! It’s all fixed now, I believe.

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