Monday Outfit: Necessity Sewing


Good morning! For over two years, I’ve been sewing K an outfit nearly every week. An important lesson from last year was that I failed to make her enough clothes that are appropriate for cooler weather. All my lovely linen creations and flimsy dresses sat unloved as temperatures dipped and poor K suffered through the rainy season (which, as you know in the Pacific Northwest, lasts forever) with nary a waterproof jacket.

I decided to rectify the situation this year and got some water-resistant nylon fabric for that specific purpose. Turning to my go-to book, I selected the “No Collar Coat” and added a hood from this coat’s pattern.

It became clear why I’ve avoided making a raincoat: the fabric is a nightmare. You can’t really iron it all that well, you can’t pin it, and when you make a mistake, the stitches permanently puncture the material, as you can see in the hood here:


Not only that, I slipped while cutting open a button hole, and momentarily thought I’d sliced through the whole coat — I nearly sobbed because this darn thing took so much work. Luckily, the damage was minimal and I was able to suture it decently enough and the button hides most of the ugliness.

I learned a few things from this coat:

- For nylon or nylon-esque material, use a microtex needle. Otherwise, the underside pokes through, which looks terrible when it’s white like mine. I switched needles after attaching the first pocket, and the difference was remarkable.
- Ironing is possible with a press cloth, but keep the iron at a pretty low setting if you don’t want the material to melt (I used my poly blend setting). Finger pressing is also helpful.
- For hand-sewn buttons, an extra sharp needle is highly recommended. It felt like I was trying to sew through cardboard with my less-than-sharp needle.

necessity-sewing2 necessity-sewing6This was a challenging project, but if you don’t look too closely, it’s quite professional-looking. In fact, M was so impressed, he asked me to make him a rain jacket too. He never asks me to make him anything and I so wanted to accommodate. I really did. However, I had to put my foot down and say no, because man, this was not a fun project.


I love the way the hood looks with the coat, and I used a french seam to prevent unsightliness when the hood is down. The metal buttons look vintage, and are from my mom, and I can’t get enough of metal buttons. They work perfectly for the shoulder and sleeve tabs, I think, giving it a sort of militaristic feel.

necessity-sewing14 necessity-sewing11

I’m happy to report that the long-sleeved tees and denim loose pants were a breeze. These are also from the same book, and the pants are actually supposed to have suspenders but K ixnayed them, saying they looked weird. Oh, and I added 8cm to the hem so she wouldn’t outgrow them too quickly.

necessity-sewing12 necessity-sewing13

She’s besotted with both tees, though she complained that the pants are too baggy. I keep promising to make her skinny jeans, and am still looking for a good pattern. Not just for K, but for me as well…the search continues.

I’m a little fuzzy on where all the fabric came from. I’m pretty sure the nylon and floral knit are from here, and the denim is from here. The black-and-white stripes…probably from here.

Smooth sailing, it wasn’t, but I was able to mutter my motto frequently: it’s not a mistake; it’s a design element. At any rate, bring on the rain. We’re ready!





Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! On Wednesday, after K’s orthodontic appointment, we stopped off at a fabric store to see if they had any orange felt or knit for her requested pumpkin costume. Then she saw that Southwestern style print and immediately changed her mind about the pumpkin. Soon, a maroon fringe ribbon was added along with silver lace. “What do you want me to make?” I asked her. She shrugged and said, “I dunno, some maid-fancy-girl”. Hmmmmmm…..I am awaiting design specs with some trepidation.


On alliteration:

K: Mama! We’re learning how to come up with nicknames using the first letter of our names. For you, I thought of “Sanae Superglam”. Or, how about this? “Mama Megabucks”?

We laughed heartily at the irony of those nicknames.


I’m off to have coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in over seven years! She’s in town for just a few days, and I can’t wait to have a good catch up session. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

I am so loving
all the giveaway answers
so cool to find out*

*I had this secret theory that a lot of sewing folks would have science/math backgrounds, and I think my theory is holding pretty true! And can I just say that it’s awesome that some of you answered the question just to answer the question even though you already own the book. Thank you, I love getting to know you all better!


Fall Cleaning Giveaway: Part 3 [CLOSED]


This is such a great book. A great, great book. And the two patterns that immediately drew me in were first, the dress on the left:


And next, the giant bow top:


Herein lies the problem. I am simply not a giant bow kind of gal and quite frankly, I think I can self-draft that other dress. And as I looked through the book carefully, I realized that none of the clothes really felt right for me. I was drawn to the photography, and there must have been a part of me that wanted to be more “feminine” as the title promises. Chances are, however, that I will end up squirming with discomfort in the clothes. I’ve been doing this a lot for the last couple of years — asking the question, “does this feel right?”

So, as part of my fall cleaning/purging I am offering up this gem of a book for someone who can actually strut the pretty clothes in a way that I never will. And bonus: the book is in English!

Now, for the question, I was thinking back to my university days. I initially started out as a Mass Communications major with a minor in Business. Initially is the operative word here. The Mass Comm program was, at the time, an incredibly competitive and selective major that required an extensive essay for entry. It was essentially Journalism school, and being that my college was in Los Angeles, there was a prominent media/broadcast journalism component to it and was regarded as one of the top programs in the nation. Long story short, I got in. And then I found out two of my roommates got in as well (the third roommate was a math major and scoffed at all Liberal Arts). I’ve talked before about my reluctance to compete with people I know and this put me in a quandary. As silly as it sounds, I did not want to be in direct rivalry with my roommates, so I decided to switch to the lesser known and quite openly mocked Interpersonal Communications major. When you’re 18, you make decisions like that. The course load for Interpersonal Comm heavily incorporated Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy as well as core Mass Communication classes.

I remember thinking, “Dude,” (remember, I was 18) “what have I done?” At the helm of my first day of the required class stood the professor: she of a beehived coiff, pince-nez and a bristling energy that you could sense yards away. She handed out multi-colored packets with a child-like drawing of  – I don’t even know what it was — something on the cover. The packet contained sheets and sheets of daily exercises with questions like “What did you dream last night?” and “If you couldn’t fail, what would you do?” and “Name three strengths and three weaknesses that you’ve never told anyone. Why don’t you tell people?” Some of it was way out there and beyond wacky, something like “If you could be an alien, what kind would you be?” More child-like illustrations accompanied each sheet along with lots of stars and curlycues. I listened skeptically as she listed her credentials from MIT and described her stint at NASA. That seemed to explain the alien part. And I eventually figured out that the packet was meant to help me explore parts of myself that I would never openly discuss. The idea being that you couldn’t truly connect or relate to other people unless you knew yourself.

I obediently worked on the sheets since I’ve always been a good student and attended all the other requisite communication classes. Meanwhile, I was taking Micro and Macro economics and Finance/Accounting for my Business minor. Which I hated. I quickly sussed out that I was doomed when it came to any business aspirations.

And secretly, I loved my Interpersonal Communications courses. The major was so ridiculed among my peers that I had to put up a front that I too found it a waste of time, but in actuality, I discovered that what I was and still am deeply interested in is interpersonal relationships. And multi-disciplined learning. So although I ended up with a Business minor (a mystery, since I stopped taking the required classes but my academic advisor told me I qualified), I took so many education courses that I should have had an Education minor.

I’ve read that people rarely end up pursuing careers directly in their field of studies. I meandered a lot too, but I was thinking of how I have consistently utilized an overwhelming number of the lessons learned from my classes in my scattershot career — this, I think, is the point of a Liberal Arts degree and I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time to study what you love. It will inevitably prepare you for a variety of opportunities. And obviously, that weird packet from Interpersonal Communications 101 or what-have-you has unconsciously become my source for these giveaway questions. Vital life skills, wouldn’t you say? But back when I went to college, it only cost $3000 a year and I could justify (at least to myself) that I could study anything I wanted. I worked and paid my way through school, but I worry that K will have a far more difficult time when the question of higher education comes up; I have no idea if we’ll be able to save enough money for what is bound to be an astronomical amount for university costs in 2025, and I don’t know if it’s even feasible for students to pay their way through college anymore unless they have Warren Buffet-esque investment skills.

But that’s a subject for another time, and my giveaway question is this: not what kind of alien would you be, but what did you study in college/university? Or perhaps a better question is, what was your favorite subject in school? It could be from university, high school, preschool, whatever.

I will keep the giveaway open until next Thursday, October 9th and will announce the winner the next day and yes to international folks. Good luck!


Monday Outfit: The Classic Combo


Good morning! I walked three miles yesterday for K’s school fundraising event and now I’m hobbling all over the place. Very out of shape. My fitness level is neither here nor there, and today, I have a semi-homerun of an outfit. Clearly, I’m not a baseball fan. Would that actually be a three-baser? A foul? Who cares, right?

I’m back on track with my goal of sewing through this lovely book. This weekend I tackled the “boat neck cut sew” (cut sew is how the Japanese refer to knits) and a pair of pleated pants. Yes, pleated pants. This might be too much of a generalization, but I think someone of K’s size and svelteness is the only type of person who can get away with this style.


This top was only half successful. I was an obedient rule-follower at first and ironed on some knit stay tape (I cut this up into 3/8″ strips). But only on the front piece around the neckline and arm/sleeve curves. I have no real explanation for why I didn’t do the back, but it proved to be a good lesson because the front neckline looks great, but the back is completely stretched out and fugly.

classic-combo7Well, I guess this isn’t such a helpful reference. Don’t you love the pose, though?


I used this super thin knit jersey that turned out to be quite see through, which is why K is wearing a tank underneath and rocking the 80s Flashdance look. The stripes may appear to be black and white, but the colors are actually more in the natural/charcoal family. This is very much a K ensemble.

classic-combo11 classic-combo12

The pants had all sorts of interesting details and was extremely fun to construct. There were plenty of unexpected elements like the funky pant piece with the pocket already attached and a new-to-me method of attaching the yoke. The front and back pockets make these pants look high-end and those little button loops are très cool. However, I forgot to sew on buttons! Ah well, that’ll be fixed some time in the next year I hope. I apologize that I didn’t put too much effort to get the color correction consistent with these pants. For some reason, the color shifted depending on which angle I shot the pants. The photos of K modeling the pants are closest to the actual color — Essex yarn-dyed linen of course.


classic-combo8As you can see, a lot of dancing happened and we all know that means only one thing: she loves this outfit.


And you know, though I didn’t execute as well as I’d hoped, I love it too. Stripes and denim — it’s a classic combo, and you just can’t go wrong with classic combos.





Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I am extremely lazy at heart, and when several friends told me about the easiest bread to make, I was in. The no knead bread has been around for a while, and I’ve seen various versions of Jim Lahey’s original recipe around the web and I suppose in a vague sort of way, I’d been curious about this wonder bread. My first attempt, sadly, was a bust. Though the crust was amazing, the glutinous, uncooked middle was disgusting, and the bottom burnt to a crisp.

I’m not easily put off by failure and have since tweaked the recipe to get the best result from my decrepit oven. It literally requires no kneading, and yesterday I stirred up the dough in the morning, and by dinnertime, I had a bubbled mass that easily rolled into this loveliness ready for some baking:


Which came out like this:


It’s so delicious that it makes me salivate just looking at the photo. Look at that beautifully crackled artisanal beauty! K has been cramming her mouth with the stuff, generously slathered with butter. Nothing beats freshly baked bread with butter.


In order to have an easy reference for myself, I’ve written down my own version of the no knead bread. Perhaps you’d like to give it a try too?

No Knead Bread adapted from the Sullivan St. Bakery

3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water (room temperature)

1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

2. Add water and mix just enough to combine. Don’t mix too exuberantly, and scrape off dough from sides of bowl to create a gloppy, singular mass.

3. Cover with plastic wrap (I ran out of plastic wrap so I used a slightly damp towel instead – worked great). Let sit at room temperature for 10 to 18 hours. I’ve tried 1o hours and 20 hours and both times the bread came out wonderfully.

4. When you’re ready to bake the dough, check to make sure it’s full of bubbles. These bubbles will give the loaf those airy holes once baked. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a surface and scrape out the dough onto the floured surface. I like to also sprinkle a thin layer of flour on top.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. My oven runs hot, and I had tried it at the recommended 500 degrees first and the loaf was disastrous. You may have to play around with different temperatures. Place your dutch oven with lid in the preheating oven for about 30 minutes.

6. Gently fold the dough once or twice — remember not to knead — and shape into a ball with seam side down. This is optional, but I like to put the dough on parchment paper.

7. Place parchment paper with dough into preheated dutch oven. I’m a little OCD so I trim the parchment paper to the edge of the dutch oven opening. Put the lid on.

8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes with lid on. Remove lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until crust is an achingly beautiful golden hue.

9. Slide loaf onto a cooling rack and wait a few minutes if you can to cut into it. We haven’t been able to wait.

That’s it! I’ve already baked four loaves and plan on baking another one tomorrow. It’s gluten heaven, I tell you.


The winner of the Kyuuto book is Max, congrats!


Full of emotion, M told me this week:

“Man, it’s such an honor to be K’s father…guess what she said the other day? ‘Daddy, you know what I love about you? You really listen to me.’

They’re a good pair, those two.


Happy weekend, friends!

Fall weather is here
Crisp air and rain aplenty
The crunch of apples



Sewing for Me: Skippy in Abstract Indigo


It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted something I’ve sewn for myself. And if it weren’t for Toni’s new pattern I received, I may have skipped this week too. Let’s get some details out of the way first, shall we?

The fabric: indigo abstract print knit from here

The pattern: Make It Perfect Skippy

The size: Medium

The modifications: Added 4 inches to skirt length


Since I’d already sewn two mini versions, this came together snappy snappy. I’m partial to 3/4 length sleeves, which is what I cut out, but to me it looks more like half-sleeves, no?


I fell hard for this abstract design and I’ve been saving this knit for some time, not sure which pattern to pair it with. I can’t remember the exact knit content – it feels like it has some spandex and has excellent recovery. Since I wanted the kangaroo pocket to be fairly subtle, I surmised that this cool abstract print would keep it from standing out too much. Goal accomplished.


It’s an easy dress to sew, and I like that the shape is casual without feeling like I’m trying too hard to be hip. My only issue is that I had expected the bodice to be a bit looser, so I’m pretty self-conscious in this dress. Although I didn’t resort to spanx this time, I am wearing tights underneath which helps serve the same purpose though that section where the waistband cuts into the surplus back flesh wasn’t ideal. But since I can’t see it while wearing the dress and wouldn’t have even known about it were it not for photos, I’m going to ignore it.


M tells me that I seem like I’m pretending to be a Sears catalog model every time I show up online (I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I get the sense he’s implying that I look cheesy), but hey, at least I don’t look like I’m about to puke, which I’m pretty certain is how I felt when I first started posting these types of photos. I’ve come a long way, baby. Whether that’s a good thing or not has yet to be seen, but I do know that the Skippy pattern is definitely a good thing. Both M and K gave a thumb’s up for the dress and I know that I’ll be wearing this one throughout the fall season!


Monday Outfit: Big Joey Dresses


Good morning! A while ago, Toni of Make It Perfect Patterns checked in to see if I would be interested in trying out her new patterns. Since I wear the Coastal Breeze dress all the time, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed and because I’ve never tried any of her children’s patterns, I was keen to give the Joey dress a go. I’m so happy I did.


I love it. Well, okay, I love the grey and stripey version. I’ll go into the leopard print in a bit.


I think this may be one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. I cut the size 8 and the fit is perfect, and for the first time ever, I was able to get the stripes to line up everywhere. This knit print has a little lycra or spandex in it, so it was super easy to sew, and I knew that the sporty vibe would go well with the pattern. Love love love love.


K concurs, and she couldn’t wait to wear the dress.  I always know when I’ve hit it out of the park for her, because she busts out with dance moves. I didn’t want to inundate with you too many photos, but there was a lot of dancing.

big-joey6 big-joey7

If I was forced to nitpick, I would say that the skirt is a smidgen short, and I would add a few inches next time. I’ve made so many knit dresses at this point, beyond glancing at the kangaroo pocket section, I didn’t look at the instructions very closely (sorry, Toni). I think I may have attached the sleeve cuffs a little differently since the 3/4 sleeves in Toni’s version looks a little longer. I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed it with raw edges matching to the sleeve end. I actually love the length I ended up with.


Now, with this leopard print I decided to go big or go home, and went with the full-on cowl, long-sleeved version. I was convinced that K would adore it knowing her obsession with animal print.


This is a rather realistic jersey print and actually looks like fur. It was too late by the time I realized that this imparted a costume-y impression and…I don’t know, it seems sort of like a uniform for a jungle-themed restaurant in Disneyland. Or worse, it seems too adult for her and not in a good way.


She’s not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, she’s all over the animal print, but she doesn’t like cowls, and it seems to be a deal breaker for her. Not much dancing in this dress.


Should have stuck with the shorter sleeves and regular neckline. I’m contemplating altering it to look like the other version, but I bet she’ll be wearing this dress a lot more when the weather turns cooler. The overpowering print notwithstanding, this is an extremely comfortable dress. Let’s look at the beloved stripey dress again, shall we? Sigh. I just love it so:




Oh well, one solid score, and a possible miss. Can’t win ‘em all….

Thank you Toni for gifting me the patterns! If I can dig myself out from under the enormous mess in my house at the moment, I just may have the grown-up Skippy version to share this week!














Happy Friday + Randomness


This is the view from my doctor’s office. A muddy shot I took with my ipad while I was waiting — that building in mid-construction hadn’t even broken ground when I first started seeing my doctor almost three years ago. I had an appointment on Wednesday, the quarterly one for my thyroid condition called Graves’ Disease. Every three months or so, I get blood work done, and my Harvard-educated physician and I go over the numbers while we sit next to this view from the seventh floor.

This time, the prognosis was a mixed bag. My condition hinges on the levels of three types of hormones: TSH, T4 and T3. I’m not going to delve into details, but basically two of my numbers are heading in the right direction and the other one is decidedly ambling the wrong way. My results shift around with each lab test. Last quarter, two different numbers were looking better and the third one had held steady so I was definitely improving. I’m not in critical condition now but I’m not really out of the woods either.

I often feel like we’re conducting an experiment together, my doctor and I. Every quarter, I report on my stress level, my diet, my exercise regimen and we examine how they correlate with my numbers. I am an anomaly in that I refuse to take medication and my doctor — who I love and if she weren’t my endocrinologist, I’m certain we’d be hanging out as friends — tells me I’m “so fascinating”. I take zero medications, and the nurse who checked me in (blood pressure, weight check, etc.) marveled that my medication list was empty. “I never see that,” she told me. “Even eighteen-year-olds have a laundry list of meds these days.” That surprised me, though I suppose anyone who needs to go to an endocrinologist has some predilection that should or could be controlled with drugs.

For the first time in nearly three years, I was intensely curious about the specifics of my thyroid hormone levels. I didn’t really know what any of those numerals meant. I talked in-depth with my doctor about my test results. I asked her to show me the numbers when I was at my worst, and though I knew I had been in a seriously dangerous state, I hadn’t known or had forgotten that I was “off the charts”. My thyroid was producing nearly four times the normal amount, which as I understand it is the equivalent of shoving every known black market amphetamine down my throat. So sick and haggard and mentally deranged was I at the time, I hadn’t paid close enough attention — hadn’t really needed to pay attention since I was obviously in a downward spiral. I had so much thyroid hormones pumping through me, I could have easily had congestive heart failure. My ticker could have literally jackhammered itself to death. I’m actually surprised I didn’t have a dozen goiters on my neck. My doctor told me that she couldn’t believe my refusal of medication at that stage (she had actually pushed for surgery to remove my thyroid at the time), and that she is still consistently amazed by how much I’ve improved via simple lifestyle changes. I think she may view me as an experiment of her own too, but in a good way. I’m grateful that she stood by me as I learned (and am still learning) how to trust my instincts and listen to my body.

What we know is this: I’m highly susceptible to stress, and I risk shutting down my immune system if I try to revert to my workaholic ways. This is terrible news for me, because it drives me crazy when I can’t get a lot done and a lizard brain part of me believes that I thrive on stress. My version of relaxation makes the President of the United States look like a sloth. But this has also been an epic blessing. I had been steadily killing myself for years with my need to push myself, and now I’m forced to stop. To breathe. To take stock of what’s really important. It is hard for a chronic people-pleaser and productive-aholic like me. In this culture that celebrates doing astronomically more with less, in which the national anthem is “I’m too busy” — in this culture that I used to represent wholeheartedly wearing my workaholicism like a badge of honor, I’m compelled against my will to say “I can’t.” Or more accurately: “I won’t”.

The good news is that I have a fabulous liver of a 25-year-old, according to my doctor. Which doesn’t help with my thyroid, but still. So I will continue my experiment. I think incorporating meditation in earnest might be next…I will record my results here come January 2015, and maybe by the time that building is completed, I’ll finally be able to say I’m in full remission.


It was so heartwarming to read all of the comments for my giveaway — the winner is Danijela, congrats!


K on improving skills:

Mama, I’m not comfortable singing in front of people and I love singing. I think I need voice lessons to get better…it’s time for me to man-up!


Have a lovely weekend, all!

At the end of it
My health is what’s most vital
Sleep, eat well and move



Fall Cleaning Giveaway Part 2 [CLOSED]


I haven’t even closed the other giveaway yet, and here I am, back with another one. Just as I had to relinquish all thoughts of engaging in extracurricular embroidery, I’ve had to break down and allow myself to admit that crochet (and knitting in general) is just not my thang. I bought this book back in 2007 when it first came out. In case you were wondering, “kyuuto” is the way “cute” is pronounced in Japanese. And you know that Japanese crafts are all about the cute. I mean, look at this:


Those little booties had me shelling out cash as if my life depended upon it. And then the book sat. And sat and sat and sat and sat and….seven years later, I have yet to crochet a darn loop.


I had visions of pumping out these charming baskets to hold all of our little tchotchkes.


I was amused by this little project because c’mon, we all need a crocheted mobile phone holder, right?


And these little sachet bags are just the ultimate in granny chic. The book is full of wonderful projects. But I have no plans on becoming well-versed in the art of crochet.


Oh, this is random, but when I thumbed through the book, this fell out:


Baby K. So so so cute. She looks so vastly different now. That’s another dress that my mom made. That girl has never known what it’s like to have less than several hundred sartorial options to choose from.

Anyway. Anyone up for a free kyuuto crochet book?

To enter the giveaway, I was stumped for a question when K asked me, “Mama, if you could have any superpower, what would it be and what would your superhero name be?” Well, that seems like a good one, don’t you think? I told her that I would be Speedra and would be able to get things done at mach speed (or maybe my name should be Machrina?). She was disappointed that I didn’t want the power of flight, but hey, I’ve got things to get done and flying will do me no good.

What would your super power and hero name be? Would you want invisibility? The ability to time travel? The power to control the weather? So many options! I will leave this giveaway open until next Thursday, September 25th and will announce the winner the next day. All entries welcome, international participants included. Good luck!










Not My Monday Outfit Post


Good morning! Today, I am completely and utterly cheating. I earmarked a pattern from the book I’ve been studiously sewing from, blocked out some time, and then things just went haywire. I could lay on the thick excuses, but I will spare you.

So what is this? This, my friends, is K’s all-time, deeper-than-ice-cream-love, favorite dress. Yes, my mom made it. But can you guess when she made it?


When K was five. It’s true, she’s been wearing this dress for three years. It’s gone through some battles, this dress. The skirt, as you can imagine, used to graze the floor and has torn multiple times, the stitching is barely hanging on around the neckline, the LP print flannel (flannel!!) has definitely seen better days. But there’s no sign of the love waning, and K will pull out this dress at least once a week.


On the one hand, it fills me with great joy that she’s so beholden to the quintessentially Ba-chan garment. On the other hand, I am starting to get angsty about all the clothes I’ve made for her that languish unworn in her closet and dresser.


I have some thoughts. And will share soon. For today, this is all I got. P.S. M contributed to the art direction by instructing her to sniff her armpits. Elevating the level of classiness, that’s what we do around here.