Happy Friday + Drop Top!

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Happy Friday! Has it really been over four months since I posted something I made for myself?? Whoo-boy, it’s been a long time.

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Well, I’m bursting at the seams to tell you all about the Drop Top by Madeit Patterns today — I’ve already worn my Drop top multiple times and can’t wait to make more. In fact, I’ve made two versions already and they’ve been lifesavers for Thanksgiving dinner and a book event. It’s just the right blend of elevated casual with loads of comfort.

 

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The design evokes the patterns I’ve seen in the Japanese Drape Drape books. However, Olu and Anna have simplified the garment construction and I was able to make the top from about 1 1/2 yards of sweater knit fabric (60-inches wide). I cut the medium size, and made zero modifications.

droptop4Both sweater knits that I used (cannot for the life of me remember where I got them) are thin and super drapey, and this extremely technical term of “super drapey” is pretty important for this pattern, methinks.

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Due to my over-exposing in Photoshop, the lighter top looks like heather grey here, but in fact, it’s more of a taupe-y color with black specks. I love it.

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The darker charcoal version feels a little dressier — oops, sorry for that wrinkled hem. My ironing skillz have been underused these past few months. Whoa, I look tired. It’s been an intense year. Here I am, still exhausted in the lighter and slightly more preferred version (though I adore both):

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At first I was a little worried that the cascading folds would make me look lopsided or like an Asian dumpling, but I’m inclined to think that it’s quite flattering and it’s a fun detail that differentiates this top from all my other knit apparel. The best part is that this is a quick sew with very few pattern pieces. My kind of sewing. Verdict? Thumb’s up (K is making me laugh down there)!

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So! The ladies at Madeit Patterns are doing a special Friday giveaway and a 20% discount thru today (click on image to go to the shop). I have to confess I’m a little confused, but I think the second person who purchases the Drop pattern today receives the fabric?? I’m sure it’ll all work out…good luck!

 

 

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Happy Friday + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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Happy Friday, my friends! I’m becoming comfortable with my new routines. I like posting just once a week, and maybe in a few months, the urge to post more will surface but for now, this feels just right. K’s school time has shifted significantly this year, which means that we have to wake up almost 2 hours earlier and that’s been a major adjustment. 5 weeks in, however, I’m starting to enjoy the early kick-off each weekday. I have books to work on for the foreseeable future and with each completed deadline, my body tells me I need major downtime. I’ve learned to respect that instead of powering through. Right now is my downtime, and I’m puttering around, taking it easy. It’s nice.

I’ve also been slowly plugging away at purging all our belongings. For example, we had this monstrously huge old microwave that we barely used and one day I thought, “what if we got rid of it?” Unfortunately, K seems to have an intrinsic hoarding instinct and vociferously argued against it. “How are we going to heat up the soup dumpling from Trader Joe’s that I love so much??” she keened.

We came up with a compromise. I proposed putting it in the basement and if we managed 30 days without using it, we would donate it.

40 days passed and we didn’t notice the lack of a microwave at all. I melt my butter in a cute, tiny saucepan. We steam those beloved TJ soup dumplings in a pot. I reheat leftovers on the stovetop or in the oven. They taste better that way anyway.

Once the behemoth microwave was gone (and yes, we donated it), our kitchen felt so much more spacious. It’s wonderful. I like my basement quarantine method.

The one thing I have a hard time letting go of is books. I haven’t officially counted all the books in my house, but I’m pretty certain that it would take me a minimum of 30 years to read them all.  It doesn’t help that amazing books keep luring me to buy more (I also check out way too many from libraries). But I’ve had to come to terms with the sheer ridiculousness of my book stash. Our house is simply too small to accommodate them all and I thought about applying my basement quarantine method, but clearly, that won’t work since I can’t possibly read hundreds of books in 30 days. I also tried the Marie Kondo method, but wouldn’t you know it, they all spark joy. So in a rather haphazard, there’s-a-method-to-my-madness way, I am attempting to tackle the issue.

Which leads me to my giveaway today. I have a copy of  The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees, she of the wonderful blog Into Mind, that I would love to pass onto you. I actually have the digital version of The Curated Closet as well, because I definitely want to read it and it’s beautifully done. I haven’t gone completely nuts-o so I don’t have a digital version for every physical book I own, but I thought this would be a fun giveaway and I am reducing the analog possession. That works for me.

Since I haven’t actually read the book yet, I can’t in good conscience give a review, but it looks like there are tons of helpful reviews out there already. I’m drawn, of course, to the chapter about the closet detox though I have to admit that my clothing situation is shockingly sparse these days.

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More on my whole clothing situation later. To enter the giveaway, any comment will do as per usual. And perhaps you’d like to share what your favorite apparel item for fall is? I myself LOVE boots. And big, chunky scarves. Yep, very much my uniform for autumn. I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, October 21st. Good luck!

Minimalistic
That’s what I’m striving to be
Need lots of practice

Have a fantastic weekend, all! There’s a storm brewing in Seattle, and I intend to stay cozy. M’s parents are in town right now, and we’ll need to find some good rainy day activities!

 

P.S. [UPDATE]: The winner of the giveaway is Tammy!

 

 

Happy Friday + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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Great Scott! I’m not usually one to go around exclaiming “Great Scott!” but I feel like the occasion warrants it. I did it, my friends! I finished all the interior illustrations for my third book, and though I still have to wrap up the cover, for all intents and purposes, I’m done with the hardest part. I’m not supposed to talk much about it right now, but wow, it feels great to cross that off of my list. As you may have noticed, I put everything else on hold to get the illustrations done in time — yesterday was my deadline and at about 8:30pm, I did a little celebratory jig of completion.

So I am going to have a restorative weekend, and in the meantime, I wanted to do a little giveaway. The book you see above is not the one I just completed, but one that I translated from Japanese many months ago.

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It’s a beginner-friendly quilting book, focused on totes, bags, purses and pouches called Patchwork Quilted Bags by Reiko Washizawa, published by the lovely Tuttle folks.

I’m not much of a quilter myself, so this was a very educational project for me. I’m discovering how much I love learning through translating. It uses a very different part of my brain and in some ways, I seem to absorb information better by trying to figure out how to convert the words from Japanese to English.

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This book was text-heavier than the other ones I’ve worked on, and I really enjoyed learning more about the author and her career trajectory. Although she discovered quilting in her late twenties, she didn’t truly launch her career until her late thirties, and she’s still going strong in her seventies. Very, very inspiring. She even taught her husband how to quilt! These are her favorite quilts that she’s created to date:

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The book contains adorable, small-scale projects that are very accessible while incorporating traditional quilting methods in refreshing ways. These were the ones that immediately caught my attention, but there are about 20 projects total to tackle (I’m especially smitten with the strawberry pouches):

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I have an extra copy for one lucky reader, and to enter the giveaway, please leave any comment. If you’re stumped for what to write and are a quilter, perhaps you could recommend a blog or website or even a book with quilting resources, techniques or inspiration?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, September 23rd, and will announce the winner the following Monday. International entries are always welcome, of course!

OK! Time to catch up on some housework, return some emails, pay attention to my family and friends…then it’s back to deadline mode because guess what? I’m translating another book. This one’s a good one too!

Happy Friday + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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Happy Friday! This giveaway is all cuteness, my friends. Tuttle Publishing sent me this darling book: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs, and I was very, very tempted to keep this for myself. Normally I would have requested two copies (one for me, one for a giveaway), but these days I’m delving deeply into the minimalistic approach of letting go of things that I know I won’t get around to anytime soon. When the moment comes when I’m ready for some ridiculously adorable embroidery, I’ll purchase the book.

As such, I want to offer it up to you. The book is divided up into five parts that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but that might be because I’m not well-versed in embroidery. Part 1 is called “Little Scandinavian Sketches”, and these are probably my favorite designs. Here are a couple spreads from this section:

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I loved these motifs from part 2, “Sweet Little Sketches”:

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I noticed that the image above features only some of the letters of the alphabet, and it felt like a sign of some sort to see the letters “K” and “M” and “S”. I have a bad habit of trying to make everything mean something.

Part 3 goes into “Cross Stitch Motifs” (I didn’t take any photos of this section, sorry) and part 4 encourages us with the title “Let’s Embroider” and displays ideas for items that could be enhanced with some extra stitchery. There are even some sewing patterns included (e.g. the potholders).

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Part five finishes off with embroidery techniques followed by the motifs/designs that can be traced.

Crazy cute, right?

I’m back on the deadline horse, so I am feeling not so sanguine (I had to look up that word before including it here — do you ever do that? A word pops into your mind to use in a sentence but you have only a vague idea of what it actually means, which could result in embarrassment if left unchecked. In this case, I was happy to verify that sanguine means “optimistic, positive, confident, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.” Works for me!). My non-sanguineness is partly because of the heat that feels oppressive in our unventilated house, and partly because of the heavy food I’ve been eating. I’m craving light, healthy summer dishes.

So, with that in mind, to enter the giveaway, any comment will do as usual, but I would love a summer dish/recipe recommendation. Sweet or savory! The giveaway will be open until next Friday, August 5th. Good luck and have a fabulous weekend!

Oh what a big day
Tomorrow is K’s birthday
TEN! Oh my, oh my

FOUR YEARS!!! (+ a giveaway bundle) [CLOSED]

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Well, well, well. If you traverse all the way back to the beginning of this little online notebook/sketchbook of mine, you will see that I started to record my thoughts and projects on July 16, 2012. Which means that tomorrow, this blog turns 4 years old. FOUR. I powered through the clumsiness of the newborn stage filled to bursting with love, uncertainty and awkwardness. Then I dug my heels in for the toddler phase and touch-and-go twos. Finally, I observed with somewhat flagging energy and a misguided sense of been-there-done-that weariness as the third and fourth years undulated up and down. In fact, this last year, I took more breaks than ever (though some of it was against my will – darn hackers) and wondered if I would ever get back into a regular thrice-a-week schedule on a consistent basis again.

It would be easy to blame Instagram, that enabler of quick and easy updates. I could also offer up my deadlines and book stuff as excuses. But really, I believe that we make time for what matters to us regardless of extenuating circumstances, and for whatever reason, year 4 of blogging felt less compelling to me.

As I contemplated my 48-month trajectory from blogging novice to…I don’t know, blogging slacker, I went way back to browse through my initial posts. Oh, I had so many ideas! The sewing hadn’t even begun. Publishing books was a mere bucket list item that seemed as unlikely as sprouting wings and a narwhal tooth/horn. I was sparkly-eyed and twitchy with giddy nerves every time I clicked “publish”. Now it’s as though my blog and I have been married for a good while and the consuming passion has given way to wondering if my next 50 years are going to be the same old, same old. Comforting, yes. Still steeped in bone marrow level love, absolutely. But suspicious that maybe, just maybe, there could be more? Is it a matter of spicing things up? Am I being too complacent? Maybe we need to go on an adventurous road trip or sew up some lingerie? Perhaps it’s disconcerting that I’m mixing metaphors and comparing the blog to both child and spouse, but I guess it’s about falling in and out of love, which is inevitable for every relationship, no?

I’m entering my 5th year with caution. If nothing else, I’ve learned that I’m hopeless at keeping my word once I declare something here. I tested as Upholder for Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz, but my inability to deliver on public pronouncements doesn’t seem very upholder-esque of me.

How to fall back in love with blogging, that’s what I’m pondering — this time with less fervor and more serene contentment. While I continue to gnaw on what year 5 may look like for this online space, a celebration of the anniversary is in order! And what better way to do that than through a giveaway? Because the blog has been such a key part of making my dream of creating books come true, it seems appropriate to give away a signed copy of Little Kunoichi as well as Sewing Happiness (if you already have copies, might I suggest passing them on as gifts if you win?). PLUS a $45 gift certificate to Miss Matatabi (I’ve linked to her new online shop, but you should be able to select from her etsy shop as well; I’ll confirm). Frances is a delightful friend with whom I plan to hang out next summer when I go to Tokyo, and I want to support her whenever I can. The pile of fabrics in the photo above are from her shop. They’re there just as props and are not part of the giveaway. Thought I should clarify.

To enter the giveaway, comment away! Anything will do, as you know, but I’m curious: are you still reading blogs? Which ones continue to be your favorites? You don’t have to list mine — in fact, let’s take it off the table. Or have you shifted over to IG these days? Do tell! I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, July 22nd. Can’t wait to read your comments — good luck!

Thank you, everyone
For reading my little blog
You have changed my life*

*The very, very best part of starting this whole venture is the community that I’ve become a part of. I now have online friends that are real-life friends and when I’m here, I feel surrounded by a bevy of kindred spirits. It makes me gawk with wonder.

P.S. So here’s an interesting blog tidbit: for all the sewing, illustrating and yammering on about feeeeeeelings that I’ve done over the past four years, guess which post has been the most popular by far? This one. It’s also been pinned thousands and thousands of times. Crazy, right?