Category Archives: Gouache

2015 RECAP: Sewing for K

2015-recapfork

Good morning! I hope you all had a restful and celebratory Christmas, and perhaps you too are now looking back upon all the happenings of 2015. It’s been a big year for me: one book launched, another completed. I inadvertently started something that could be considered a side business. My little family of three had highs and lows, but the good times outweighed the bad. I hadn’t been quite prepared for the emotional turbulence that was part of this year, but in hindsight it stretched and pulled me like taffy, loosening me up, adding flexibility.

Given the many life-altering events that happened in the past 12 months, it’s no wonder that my personal sewing took a major hit. But I can’t really blame it all on book activities. The inevitable seems to be happening, and as K grows older, she’s less interested in wearing clothes that I’ve made. She wants to live in t-shirts/knits and leggings, preferably with characters and bright designs on them. “The non-stretchy stuff you make is uncomfortable, Mama,” she tells me.

So it makes sense that I tended to default to stitching up knit clothing, just because that upped the chances of them getting worn. Even so, she’d rather wear the store-bought hand-me-downs from our neighbor — I can understand that.

I’d assumed I made about a dozen things for K this year, but as I looked through my archives, the grand total came out to 27 (if counting each component of her Halloween costume separately). Not too bad! An average of 2+ a month is far more than I thought I could manage.

So here they are by month (surprisingly, the only month I completely skipped was May):

JANUARY

raglan-navy-floral5

 

Raglan Navy + Floral

frogtastic10

Frogtastic Tee

 

perripullovers5 perripullovers6

Perri Pullovers

FEBRUARY

plaid-wool-dress1

Front Placket Dress (Wool Plaid)

geometric-placketdress1

Front Placket Dress (Geometric)

coral-giraffe-print1

Coral Giraffe Print Top + Leggings

MARCH

bow-dress5

Bow Dress

robe-jacket7

“Robe Jacket”

dotted-sailor-dress3

Sailor Dress

APRIL

bunny-tee-dress6

Easter Bunny T-Dress

JUNE

maritime-y-dress4

Maritime-y Dress

non-recital-dress7

Recital Dress That Wasn’t

whitefloral-naniiroshorts3

White Tee + Nani Iro Knit Shorts

JULY

bralette1

Bralette

henrydress-gradientgrey8

Henry Dress in Gradients of Grey

AUGUST

bedfordinblackandfloral1

Bedford in Black and Floral

 

rockstar-pants14

Rockstar Pants

SEPTEMBER

ottobre-marja3

Ottobre Marja Top

 

animal-knit-dress4

Second Day of School Dress

OCTOBER

superherok6

Superhero K

NOVEMBER

fauxfur-vest8

Faux Fur Vest

DECEMBER

gold-recital-dress3

Gilded Recital Dress

27 items! There were a few pairs of leggings I didn’t post, so it’s probably closer to 30. I’m not sure how to approach 2016 and sewing for K… I’m in the midst of making her a puffy jacket — it probably won’t be done until this Saturday — and I will continue to make her necessary clothes, I’m sure. But it’s different from when I first started this blog and I could make whatever I wanted for her and she happily donned the outfits. She’s no longer my dress-up doll, and we are entering a whole new phase of tweenhood and strong opinions and self-consciousness.

I’ll figure something out, though. Maybe 2016 will be about teaching K how to make her own clothes. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Happy Friday + Randomness

mysterious-apparatus

Happy Friday! Thank you so much for all the comments from my last post!! I’m overwhelmed by the kindness! Slowly, slowly I’m decompressing after months of chasing deadlines. The upside is that the holidays are going to be a piece of cake – I’ve vowed to really (really!!) keep it simple this year and I’m not ashamed to admit that most people are receiving gift cards. Even kids. Maybe next year I’ll wow you all with an array of handmade presents, but not this year. Now that the Advent Calendar is in full swing (it’s sweet how K puts the flowers in a vase each day) I feel that my elf duties are done. Incidentally, the glitter washi didn’t hold up the flowers all that well, and we kept finding them strewn about the floor, so I had to re-tape them all with not-so-glamorous painters tape. Oh well.

2015-adventflowersinvase

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I’m not sure what the illustration is up there — I’ve been doing this funny thing lately: I take my art supplies with me to coffee shops and paint for a little while. I was sketching the top portion of a coffee grinder at one of the cafés, and then thought of gramophones, and added a few hearts. I like it.

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Have a cozy weekend, all! I’m making my holiday list, checking it off, and reading some books for the sheer pleasure of it. Can’t wait.

Are you making things
for this holiday season?
If yes, then good luck!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

2015-thanksgiving

Just a little note to wish you and all your loved ones a spectacular Thanksgiving! We’ll have our usual unconventional movie + Chinese food Thanksgiving of ultra low stress. Since I won’t need to slave over the stove, I’ll be using the extra time to sew a recital dress for K, work on the annual Advent calendar (see previous ones here and here and here) and finish up the next Furoku (it might be a day or two late…).

I have so many thanks to give. Too many, really, and I think I’ll leave it at that. I am sending you all a flurry of good thoughts, and I’ll be back next week with some fun updates. Happy Turkey (or in my case, Dim Sum) Day!!

 

P.S. I will be participating in Indies First Day at Queen Anne Books on Saturday, November 28th at 10am. Stop on by if you’re around!

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

blue-mushroom

Happy Friday! I’m scuttling toward un-sickness, and I’m optimistic that I’ll be all better before the end of the weekend. I had a good day yesterday, a day full of lovely moments and quirkiness. As we walked to school in the drizzly morn, K and her friend spotted two ginormous mushrooms flanking a tree trunk (they were red, but I painted only one in blue — I’m going through a Picasso phase).

blue-pumpkincarriage

And then amid the remnants of Halloween decorations, I saw a carved pumpkin carriage.

blue-bundt

 

 

I splurged on and thoroughly savored a slice of olive oil apple bundt cake at the ridiculously charming Coyle’s Bakeshop and chit chatted with a new friend.

blue-manicure

On a long walk back to pick up K, I passed a nail salon and caught a glimpse of a much, much older gentleman getting a manicure from a tiny woman with a bun.

blue-peninbun

And speaking of buns, when the walk became too much and I boarded a bus, I sat behind a woman with an expertly coiffed updo. I couldn’t help but notice the haphazardly inserted pen in her hair.

blue-ginger

I was able to cut out most of the fabric pieces for my ongoing Ginger Skinny Jeans project.

Yes. A good day.

Have a refreshing weekend, all!

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Gonna make porridge
in my crock pot this weekend
mmmm mmmm mmmm can’t wait

 

 

 

 

Madame Frump No More

madame-frump

When I was a young lass toiling over catalog page layouts amid the design-y and stylish citizens of Williams-Sonoma / Pottery Barn HQ, I used to spend a lot of time and effort on my appearance because everyone around me sashayed about in beautiful attire. One of my good friends and co-workers — he of the vintage couture connoisseurship and wearer of thrifted Ferragamo loafers — would appraise my daily outfits and give me a thumbs up or down. We had the sort of honest and hilarious relationship that was blatantly modeled after Sex and the City, except I wasn’t as cool as Carrie and he was way cooler than Stanford (though technically, we both wanted to be Carrie). One day, when I was developing what seemed suspiciously like pink eye and generally felt unsexy and un-urban, I showed up to work in a pilled, shapeless sweater and baggy pants.

My friend’s hands flew to his cheeks and he uttered in horror, “Ay Mamacita*, what happened? You look like… Madame Frump!!”

*He was from the Dominican Republic

Fast forward many, many, many years, and I am Madame Frumpin’ it hardcore. I look like that illustration above on a good day. At least that has a sporty vibe and is acceptably like the ubiquitous “momiform”. I did rustle up deeply hidden energy to wear normal clothes on the few occasions I was meeting people for the first time or for special events — it’s always a good idea not to be mistaken for a homeless person. For most of the last six months in particular, though, I’ve been reaching for pretty much the same three t-shirts and stretch pants. The other issue is that in my enthusiastic embracing of the KonMari method before I got caught up in deadlines, I’d vigorously emptied out my closet. You’d think that if I kept only what sparked joy, I would look presentable, but no, apparently dumpy clothes light me up. Perhaps in the chaos of this last year, I yearned for comfortable and forgiving garments with elastic waists.

BUT. No more, I say, no more!

Now that I’ve cleared away most of the bookishness haze and I actually have a manageable to-do list, I’m eager to revamp my handmade wardrobe. Would this be considered completely non-essential? Yes. But I am a staunch believer in the power of clothes and have had a perennial love affair with them. I’ve experienced how differently people treat me depending on how I’m dressed (let me tell you, the dirty tee and leggings combo doesn’t garner a lot of respect), but more to the point, I’m acutely aware of how I feel in clothes. Beautifully-made, well-fitting clothes are inherently uplifting and confidence boosting. And who doesn’t want a more positive and self-assured person around?

Of course, it’s going to take me a bit or maybe a lot to get to the revamped, lovely me-made wardrobe of my dreams, but I’m prepping my fabrics, sorting through my patterns, firing up my sewing machine and iron.

Goodbye Madame Frump, hellooooooo….well, something better, I hope.

Stay tuned.

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

little-k-covers

It’s been quiet around here, which means things are bustling in the background. I have much to share, but one of the highlights of last week was a Little Kunoichi event. It was my last scheduled event and was held at a beautiful Japanese gift shop/gallery called KOBO. There may be some more events in the future, but that particular book reading capped what I considered the launch season. My book has been out for almost five months, can you believe it? I just found out that someone’s seen it in Madagascar!!! What??

At any rate, I’ve learned some notable tidbits from doing these events:

1. I am the worst promoter ever – I actually ran into some friends right before the event and didn’t even invite them because I was so timid about it. I’ve been tsk-tsking myself for days.

2. And when you don’t promote your own events, not many people show up (average number of attendees: 5, not including my own family members). Cozy and intimate events, these are. I was all gung ho and invited everyone and their distant second cousins to the launch party back in May, and about 100 people showed up for that event — just goes to show you that I can do it if I set my mind to it.

3. And when not many people show up, you don’t sell very many books.

I’m going to have to work on this. I’m much more comfortable in front of people now, which has been a lovely side bonus from the series of book readings I’ve done, and I’ve really beefed up my illustrating-on-the-fly skills (I offered custom illos for some of the events). I can whip up a watercolor dolphin in five minutes flat. I really love creating little paintings, especially for kids.

I’ve also been including a fun presentation about how the book came to fruition, and the part that seems to make people perk up is the cover options we went through. I’ve collaged together the versions that I presented up there, and the one of the lower left corner was the winner, but with a caveat: the colors needed to be brighter. The background and ninja uniform then went through various hue iterations, and it was fascinating to see the business side of developing a cover. It is, despite the general pleas to never judge a book by its cover, the most important element. Everyone took it very seriously. Which is pretty funny when talking about ninja girls and pet bunnies.

Alright, must go focus on the elusive sorcery that is book-making. Will be back some time next week!!

How do these weeks zoom?
Could’ve sworn it was Monday
but no, weekend time…

Happy Friday, and happy weekend to all!

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

2015-summer-vacation

Happy Friday! So, yesterday marked the third year of this little virtual notebook/sketchbook of mine. Three years that whisked right on by, full of surreal and life-altering changes, the whole nine yards. My thoughts are still very much aligned with what I pondered for my second “blogiversary” here (why, oh why are there so many unpalatable words associated with blogs, including the word “blog”??)

I’ve decided to do something different and will take two weeks off from here. My mom is coming on Sunday, I’ve got a huge deadline on August 3rd, two birthday parties to plan (M’s and K’s), and I want to spend some time away from here to see what ideas bubble up as I ease into the fourth year of blogging. It’s my summer vacation from all things online to reconnect with people and tactile, physical stuff.

I will, of course, miss you and will be sorely tempted to post something because I’m an incorrigible creature of habit, but this feels like a good thing to do. I have visions of a recharged, refueled, much more relaxed me.

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Bon voyage, adieu
Wish you a lovely two weeks
Back on August third

P.S. I will post two months’ worth of income information the week I return…

P.P.S. Furoku #5 will go out as scheduled at the end of the month-ish, and if I get my act together, I’ll finally get the sign-up button on the sidebar!

Happy Friday + Randomness

lots-o-watermelons

Ah, summer vacation…it’s finally here. We’ve flitted from one end-of-the-school-year party to another these past few days, and we have consumed frightening amounts of ice cream and watermelon, sometimes together. I’m in full anticipation mode for the upcoming aimless, schedule-less moments until the camps kick in. I was pretty on the ball this year and have K signed up for a number of half-day camps, and I’m particularly excited about coding (yes, computer programming) camp that she specifically requested. How are your summers looking so far?

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I have much sewing and photo-taking to do, and am keeping it short for today. Have a wonderful weekend, all!

An outing with friends
Tea parties and starfish*:
a winning combo

*K and I went to one of the prettiest parks in Seattle called Carkeek with friends yesterday. It’s a vast recreational area with open fields, a play area (which includes a salmon-shaped slide) and a beach. The plan was to have a tea party for our girls and to then let them roam around and splash about on the beach; I was not expecting my friend to be so prepared — she brought a small table and an impressive array of afternoon tea paraphernalia. We plunked the table down in the middle of the field and had a proper tea party rivaling the one from Alice in Wonderland. The kids then zoomed off and found dozens of starfish in the tide pools. It feels like summer.

Joie de Vivre

joiedevivre

Just a quick “Joie de Vivre” image today. It felt like I was continually on the go this past weekend and haven’t had much time to process Mother’s Day or the launch party or the author signing event I did at K’s school on Friday. I am wiped out, but joyful.

I’ll be back with updates on Wednesday. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

I was gaining momentum…

custom-illo

…and then my custom illustration output had to be put on hold as I re-examined my to-do list. Which is a shame because I really, really enjoy working on them.

Like this foxy guy.

fox-with-scarf

They’re actually not entirely on hold, since I’m painting what I can here and there, but progress is slooooooooooooow. But mark my words, they will get done!

I’m loving all the various requests so much, I’ve scanned them all with a vague notion of showcasing them together at some point. So many plans, so many hopes. When will human cloning become a viable option?

 

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