Happy Friday + 2016 Advent Calendar

 

2016-adventcalendar2Happy Friday! We’re 9 days deep into the Advent Calendar and as always, I went with the handmade option. I was tempted to simply use the faux leather fortune cookie version I made for Sewing Happiness:

winter-adventcalendar-28181 winter-adventcalendar-28214And though they’re super cute and would have made this year’s start of the holidays a snap, for reasons beyond rationality, I felt compelled to create something new. I don’t know, using the already made fortune cookies seemed like cheating somehow. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune next December.

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However, “simplicity” is my new life motto, so I wanted to keep the construction process as easy and quick as possible. My solution? Glittery stars. Here’s what I did:

  1. Bought three sheets of glitter wrapping paper from Paper Source (champagne, silver and gold)
  2. Made a star template in Photoshop. You can easily find a template by googling “star template” too.
  3. Using the template, I folded the wrapping paper in half with right sides together, and traced 9 stars per color and cut them out. I figured I would mess up so I might need a couple of extra.
  4. With wrong sides together, I sewed along the edge of the shape, leaving one pointy edge unstitched. Ta-da! A little star pouch.
  5. I filled each star with a numbered strip of paper with an activity printed on it (e.g. donate 2 pairs of shoes, go ice skating, etc.)
  6. I added a little punched circle with the number of the day, hole-punched the unstitched point of the star and secured with baker’s twine that I then hung from the ceiling with masking tape

Okay, when I type it out like that it seems a lot more involved than it actually was. The whole thing took me less than two hours to make, which has not been the case for my other advent calendars to date.

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They’re so fun! I hung them right above the piano so K can play “under the stars”. The overall effect is very festive and every person who has come over has loved this year’s advent calendar.

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K won the indulgent parent lottery so she gets something daily. To balance things out, however, she also has to donate a lot every other day. On odd days, she gets a little gift (there’s a heavy unicorn theme going on this year) and the slip of paper in the star includes an activity, such as making ornaments together.

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On even days, she gets a book and is instructed to donate something specific (stuffed animals, clothes, and such). I have to admit that the donation portion of the calendar isn’t going over too well, but I’m persevering and standing my ground. Instead of the scavenger hunt element, I mixed up the stars so she needs to look for the right day. It was tricky keeping up with the scavenger hunt last year, and even though K had a blast looking for the books, I’m glad I took the lazier route this year.

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This might be one of my favorite handmade advent calendars. It was simple and thoroughly enjoyable to make, looks fantastic, and I love love love that I didn’t include any candy this year. I feel like I’ve finally come up with a combination that blends giving and receiving and meaningful family activities. Happy happy.

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Wanna see calendars of yore?

2012

2013

2014

2015

So much satisfaction! This is my main Christmas gift to K every year, and it’s such a relief to get it done so early in December. Now onto other holiday gifts…

Have a marvelous weekend, all! It’s a rare snowy day in Seattlle today and school is delayed for a couple of hours. We might have to start the morning with some hot cocoa to warm up!

K adores her stars

Such a joy to create one

Every single year

 

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 Thanksgiving!!

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Hello! I’m wrapping up the week with this quick little post. I have much to be thankful for and as 2016 is coming to a close, I also have much to reflect upon. This has been what M and I are calling a “life-changing” year and I’ve had to relearn a lot of lessons…we’re dealing with unexpected health issues in our family that I won’t go into and it’s been topsy turvy all around. Right now, at this very moment, however, we are all well.

Thank YOU for continuing to visit my little space, as sporadic as my postings have been. Sometimes I was so dizzy and overwhelmed by the sheer force of life, I considered giving up the blog, the Furoku, everything. I’m so grateful that I didn’t. As a general rule, I don’t post or talk about gifts I’ve received over the years since I started this blog, mainly because they feel sacred and private and I know that I’ll end up sounding braggy. The gifts have been from extraordinarily generous souls I’ve somehow connected through this virtual notebook of mine — many whom I’ve not yet met but feel, without a doubt, a kinship. And every comment, every glance at a post I’ve written are gifts as well. In the midst of so much tumult on a macro level, my own problems feel small and insignificant, but being part of this online community has been a balm, a source of joy.

K is sitting next to me, organizing her UNO cards in preparation for a fierce game we’ll engage in a little later. I have grocery shopping for turkey day dinner on my mind (this year, instead of our usual slacker T-Day at a Chinese restaurant, we’re celebrating with our neighbors). M is puttering about downstairs. The sun is out, the air is a touch icy, I am wearing sweats and feel at ease in our cozy home.

K just expressed some worry about a future event as she shuffled the cards. I listened, thought about her concern and said, “Honey, let’s focus on doing small things with mucho mucho love.” As always, she rolled her eyes. Or maybe it’s supposed to be muy muy love? My Spanish is rusty.

At any rate, that is what I hope for you this holiday season and beyond: mucho mucho love.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Petit a Petit Block Party: Tip Top

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Had it been entirely up to me, this Tip Top dress would have been sewn in a sophisticated indigo linen with perhaps some Sashiko stitching along the sleeve edges. Or, I might have just simply copied Celina’s version and made it out of buffalo checks. Those days when K was a pliable, acquiescing dress-up doll? GONE.

There are two things that ensure K will wear something I make:

  1. It’s made out of stretchy fabric
  2. It’s tight (sigh, this does not bode well for upcoming teenage years)

I figured one out of two would work, and I pulled out some knit fabric options that I hoped would light her up and she pointed to this black performance knit from here in a non-committal way. I chortled with satisfaction when “piping!” popped into my mind, thinking it would add a sportiness that would be in line with the intended use of the substrate.

tiptop2Oh my friends, she completely rejected it.

I think it’s such a cool and versatile dress, but she didn’t agree. “Only little girls wear that style, Mama,” she informed me.

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So what’s a Mama to do?

Make another one in a lacy stretch knit, of course. I figured that if a similar top from Target can capture her heart, surely a garment that her own flesh and blood has stitched into its likeness would be acceptable?

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I’m pleased to report that she wholly approves of this version. I shortened it, for starters, and also slimmed down the silhouette. As always, I did it all by feel and estimation, so I’m not exactly sure how much I modified the pattern. Because the lace knit was quite sheer, I lined it with an off-white stretch fabric for the bodice part only, leaving the sleeves to flutter in semi-transparency.

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The fact that she loves the lace version leads me to believe that it’s actually piping that turns her off because she despised this top that I made a few years ago too. Hmmm, I just noticed that there’s a piece of black thread on her tunic top. Oh well.

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The lace knit was from my stash as well, and I realized that it might be a good idea to use fabric from the sponsors. Imagine Gnats and Raspberry Creek Fabrics are the lovely sponsors for this epic block party going on in celebration of Petit a Petit patterns, and I am not one to pass up discounted fabric. K selected this fabric from Imagine Gnats (we seem to have snapped up all of it), and I was about to start on yet another Tip Top version, but then I heard a voice intoning, it would look so awesome as a tight dress with a turtle neck. The voice sounded exactly like my 10-year-old and was, in fact, her.

So I obliged (though I didn’t make it too tight).

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I chopped the bodice pattern pieces even more, and eyeballing the Linden sweatshirt sleeve pattern — incidentally, I’ve been a Linden making machine and will share them soon — I drafted my own raglan sleeve. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

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“Love” is not a sufficient word to describe how K feels about this tunic/dress. She’s worn it multiple times already, which is the ultimate sign of approval. As you can see, the Tip Top pattern can be a great base for modification, and I had a lot of fun playing around with it.

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But really, the sewing project that steals the show is that pillow, don’t you think? K made it for me on a whim in between Tip Tops, and this was truly an undertaking filled with blood, sweat and tears. She wanted to do it solo, without any help from me. Yet, on several occasions I heard her defeatedly padding down the stairs and she whispered to me, “I think I might have to give up.” It was enough to melt the most hardened of souls, and I’m already a pushover sap.

Ultimately, I helped her finish up the heart applique and close up the pillow. She eagerly stuffed the heart section with polyfill and after the pillow was complete, we stared at it together in silence. “Does it…” she tentatively ventured, “…look like a boopie?” Indeed, the heart swelled in a distinctly bosomy curvature. We burst out laughing, and I hugged it. I love how hard she worked on it, I love how much thought she put into it, I love my boopie pillow.tiptop15 tiptop13

 

And yes, I love the Tip Top pattern too! And guess what? Celina is doing a pattern giveaway (ALL of them!!) and here’s the Rafflecoptor to enter:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it for my contribution to the block party — check out all the wonderful participants!

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Nov. 1st – Sweetkm | Nov. 2nd – The Sara Project | Nov. 3rd – La Folie | Nov. 4th – Hello Holli | Nov. 5th – Chalk and Notch | Nov. 6th – Sewing Like Mad | Nov. 7th – Beatnik Kids | Nov. 8th – Stitched Together | Nov. 9th – Coffee and Thread | Nov. 10th – Made by Toya | Nov. 11th – Stahlarbeit | Nov. 12th – Lily en Woody | Nov. 13th – My Petite Sophie | Nov. 14th – Handmade Frenzy | Nov. 15th – Paisley Roots | Nov. 16th – While she was sleeping | Nov. 17th – My Cozy co | Nov. 18th – A Jennuine Life | Nov. 19th – Knee Socks and Goldilocks | Nov. 20th – Sanae Ishida | Nov. 21st – Little Cumquat | Nov. 22nd – Gaafmachine | Nov. 23rd – Craftstorming | Nov. 24th – Made by Sara | Nov. 25th – Buzzmills | Nov. 26th – Bartacks and Singletrack | Nov. 27th – Moineau & Petit Pois | Nov. 28th – Naii | Nov. 29th – Just Add Fabric | Nov. 30th – Mie Made Memories | Enjoyful Makes | Dec. 1st – Petit a Petit and Family

 

Happy Friday + Making Magazine

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Happy Friday! This image was shot by the amazingly talented Carrie Hoge of Madder Made and Making Magazine. Don’t you just love the neutral calmness of it all? Carrie and I are completely on the same page aesthetically, and when she asked if I would contribute to FAUNA, the second issue of Making… well, the answer was obvious. Just look at this stunning cover:

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I just received my copy of the magazine and it’s beautiful and charming and full of inspiring and accessible projects. Love it. FAUNA is now available in her shop and at selected locations!! Making the little tooth fairy pillow felt like a second chance since my attempt at a fox version for Sewing Happiness was a funny flop that I ended up loving enough to include in the book as a “dwox” (dog+wolf+fox hybrid).

I’m actually working on another post that’s coming up on Sunday, so I have to get back to that, but stay tuned. It was so so so lovely to dive into sewing and playing with fabric and experimenting. More soon!

Petit a petit
The block party continues
See you on Sunday!

Have a refreshing weekend, all!