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!!



Monday Outfit: Bedford in Black and Floral


Good morning! Normally I make a birthday dress for K, but sometimes the sewing stars refuse to align. I purchased the Brooklyn Pattern Co. Bedford Dress well before her party (I knew there was zero chance I’d get it done in time for her actual birthday), and even managed to get K to select a fabric from my stash. Given the way things have been working out for me these days, I would say that a week behind schedule isn’t too bad.


I believe the fabric is from Drygoods – my memory, being what it is, is unreliable. I want to say it’s cotton, possibly a cotton/rayon blend, and it has a distinctly crinkly texture.

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Can we talk exposed zippers? I love them. However, I’ve always had trouble with them looking anything but amateur. Luckily, Erin’s instructions are so clear and detailed, this teal zip installation is looking mighty professional.


I’m digging the overall effect, but I didn’t account for the fact that the crinkles would make it difficult to accurately measure and cut the fabric. The racerback straps in the back are extremely thin, and my facing wasn’t lining up even remotely. As per instructions, I was generous with pin usage, but because of my uneven strap widths, I found it tricky to sew them together.


It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve savored a sewing project — this dress looks simple, but there are a surprising number of details like the cute curved hem and new-to-me techniques, which was just what I needed. I didn’t rush the process, followed every instruction (a rarity for me) and by the end of it, I felt that awesome yet paradoxical combination of calm and invigorated. Good sewing does that for me. The dress could have turned out a complete mess and I wouldn’t have minded. I reveled in not having multiple huge deadlines hanging over my head, and I was sewing for the pure fun of it. It was indulgent in the best possible way.

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Plus, I don’t think it’s a complete mess and K approves of my version of the Bedford Dress, so as K likes to say lately, “win-win!!”

Happy Friday + Randomness


Today, we have a guest post by none other than K! Take it away, sweetie:

hey everyone! this is k here. this year has been tough because all my friends are away! my neighbor just moved. which is sad to me! :-( but my summer has been pretty awesome anyway! being filled with fun stuff like my bday party which could have been the most awesome thing this year! i have been going to coding camp this week and i am the only girl (except one other girl who is in a different group) i just came back from camp! i hope your summer has been as awesome as mine! bye!


Isn’t her enthusiasm for life effervescent? We obviously have a penchant for the word “awesome” in our family…at any rate, I just love how intently she’s concentrating on writing up the blog post. So awesome.

Well, that’s it folks. Even though we technically have three more weeks of summer left, it already feels like the end. We’re going to make the most of these last carefree days, mark my words. K has no other camps and we are going to laze about and enjoy each other’s company as we prepare for the new school year. I’m still restoring my sewing area which I had to dismantle for the birthday party, but there will be some sewing — I’m hoping I can finally convince K to try her hand at my beloved craft. There will be picnics. There will be lots and lots of trips to the library and hours of reading (while on picnics, I hope). Possibilities of goodness ahead.

Happy Friday, all
August is swiftly ending
Time to think of Fall

Mini Onigiri


The last time I posted anything food-related that didn’t feature cookbooks was October of 2014 (this delicious cashew milk that promptly made me break out in hives after overdosing on it for two days — I can eat the nuts by the bucketful without any issues, so that incident was a mystery).

I give you mini onigiri — which translates to rice ball, though the literal meaning is more along the lines of “squeezed” or “clasped”. They are also known as omusubi. I felt that my diminutive snack deserved a post of its own, just because it’s so darn adorable. Standing a smidgen higher than an inch, these tiny seaweed-adorned rice morsels were a runaway hit at K’s birthday party. It’s been two days since the festivities, yet I can’t stop making them. On a slightly more practical level, they would be a fabulous school lunchbox addition. Have the kiddos in your life resumed school yet? We have three more weeks to go till K starts fourth grade, and my mind is full of fall clothes and cute lunches.


You’d think that these would be incredibly labor intensive, but they’re super fun and fast to make. The secret weapon is this handy dandy mold:

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I can’t remember where I got it since I’ve had it forever, but I did find online the other cube-shaped mold that I don’t use as much because I prefer the classic rounded triangular shape. This one seems to come close, though I’m not sure if it’s as awesome as mine. As I was searching for onigiri molds, I encountered a dazzling array of options — this penguin set sort of blows me away.

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First, I cooked some rice; for the ones in the photos, I blended in a mixture of sesame seeds and nori flakes after the rice was done, but I normally just add a little salt. Then I snipped several strips of nori or seaweed (roughly 3/4″ x 2″). Next, I scooped a few tablespoons of rice into the mold and packed the rice in. Push the mold out of the clear casing, slap on a strip of nori and voila! Yum, yum, yum. So far, I haven’t come across a soul who hasn’t delighted in these bite-sized onigiri — highly recommended!


Party Success!


Good morning! [Insert wildly uncoordinated victory dancing here] The hotel-themed 9th birthday party was a major success!! As predicted, I wasn’t on the ball with photo-taking, but I did grab a snap here and there as the festivities progressed.

We started with a little “check-in center” (a vintage typewriter table covered with white burlap I found in my stash). K cleverly set up my ipad with a sketching app so the girls could sign their names. Alas, the homemade cookies a la Comfort Inn was a bust, but those store-bought buttery ones were delicious.


Each girl received a “keycard” (thin wooden tags I got from Impress years ago for no particular reason other than the fact that they’re fun – the metal tins are the same ones I used for the Advent Calendar last year):


I spent two full days cleaning our house and this amounted to shoving a whole bunch of detritus into the basement, where M and I ended up sleeping while the girls took over the upstairs suites. I forgot to get photos of the “suites”, but they looked unrecognizably pristine. The flowers I added everywhere was a professional touch.

The evening started with spa treatments, followed by room service. This involved the girls using my ipad to text to M’s phone, which worked pretty well. M took on the delivery duties, but was repeatedly reprimanded by the girls for getting the order wrong. We focused on kid-friendly and un-nutritious fare: mini pizzas, mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken hot dogs, etc. I did up my game a little and make mini rice balls, which the girls oohed and aahed over.

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As nails dried and food was consumed, M set up a rather, uh, colorful disco ball he purchased and “DJ Fat Daddy” took over the house — check out his handmade sign. Obviously, we have very different aesthetic styles. The sign sent the girls into peals of laughter and abundant singing and dancing ensued.


K blew out her birthday candles (I did not make the cake; totally dialed it in on the food front), and they watched a movie into the wee hours of the night, complete with butter popcorn and Ramune, a distinctively Japanese soda that comes with a marble as a stopper.

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The star of the party, however, was this label maker. The girls went wild for this cool contraption I got at Kinokuniya on sale, and it elevated the goody bag content manifold:

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There are quite a few different tape designs that you can get for the label maker, and the tapes themselves are more like washi but not quite as sticky — you can see them starting to peel off from the keycard and wooden tags above. I believe the girls made about a thousand labels, including one for “DJ Fat Daddy”. M was a humongous hit at the party. I keep finding labels stuck everywhere in the house.


There were five girls total for the sleepover and I thought that was just the right number. The ladies conducted a survey amongst themselves and the consensus was that the party was a 10 out of 10 (well, one girl gave it a 9 out of 10, but hey, close enough).

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The sweet sensation of checking off another biggie from my to-do list!! Alright, I’m ready to get cracking on some sewing for pure fun…I’ve missed it so so much.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Erica, congrats!

P.P.P.S. Our neighbor, who is like a second daughter to me, was an indispensable helper — the key to a killer party is to basically have a savvy 10-year-old run the show.



Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Now that I’ve had a couple of days of staring off into space with little in the way of brain activity, I’m in industrious mode and am preparing for K’s upcoming sleepover birthday party that’s happening tomorrow. Her actual birthday was at the end of July, but due to the unfortunate scheduling of book stuff, I’d promised her that I would organize a fetê to remember after I completed my big deadlines. I think it’s telling that she said, “Well, even if everything goes wrong, we’ll have a good story to tell.” That should give you an idea of how my party-planning efforts tend to end up.

I’m sewing up some goody bags from this luscious metallic knit fabric (purchased from Drygoods many, many moons ago) that I originally meant to use for the book. It turned out to be too blingy for the look I was going for, so now I can make little glam pouches that K’s friends will be sure to love. In the coming months, you’ll start to see all the fabrics that I intended for the book that never made it. To say I went a little crazy fabric shopping is an understatement.

The theme of the birthday party: Hotel Extravaganza. But not just any hotel, friends. We’re modeling the event after The Comfort Inn, that economical and wholly nondescript chain of accommodations in the vein of Holiday Inn (Express), Quality Inn and Best Western. It’s K’s all-time favorite lodging, and thank goodness she hasn’t experienced the Four Seasons, because it’s already proving to be more than I bargained for to transform our house into a lower-to-mid-level hotel for five girls.


There will be a lobby for check-in (complete with a plate of cookies at the counter, just like The Comfort Inn), keycards to the “suites”, and room service. We’re taking some creative liberties with the theme and throwing in a little spa pampering with mani/pedis and a “media + party room” for movies and karaoke — M will resurrect his college DJ days and get a dance fiesta going (I heard him mutter something about getting a disco ball for the living room; maybe I should just drape this fabric over a rotating fan for a similar effect).

So I’m off to assemble goody bags (with miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner, soaps, etc.) and to bake and clean and pump up the air mattresses. Perhaps I’ll be able to show you the fruits of my labor next week — but no guarantees since I’ll probably be running around like a madwoman. Have a wonderful weekend, all!

When our guests arrive
Saturday evening en masse
They’ll see: “K’s Hotel”




At 7:09pm on Monday, August 10th, I submitted close to 300 image files to my publisher. There are only 20 projects in the book, so only a fraction of the photos will make the cut, but I like to err on the side of ridiculously excessive. For all intents and purposes, the hardest parts of book #2 are done done done! From this point forward, it’s mostly about refining, tweaking and updating. I’ll do a final review of the book in its prettily designed and formatted state in September and/or October (?? it’s still a little unclear), and then it’s off to the printer! I signed the contract in early June of 2014, so I’ve been working on this project for a while…the release date is currently set for April of 2016, which means the whole process will end up taking nearly two years. Whew.

I made udon noodles for dinner on Monday evening, read an extra chapter to K (we’re reading this book right now and she loves it), and promptly fell asleep at 9pm. I have that disembodied feeling that I’ve come to associate with completing massive projects.

What you see above is our in-progress shot lists as I spent three intense days with my friends George and Rachel finishing up all the photos (we’ve had several other photo shoots together). We taped the shot lists and my sketches to the wall, which made it feel really real for some reason. I got to play Art Director, and that was a heady and nerve-wracking experience. I want to record details about the photo shoots because they were incredible (large swaths of fabric were dyed! we constructed a teepee on the fly!) — but first, I’m going to go rest up and let my brain decompress. Some reality TV might be in order. Or maybe a rom-com, beachy novel. Whatever it is, it will require zero concentration!

P.S. I’m loving all the childhood outfits from the giveaway question!

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!




Happy Friday + Monthly Income(s)


Happy Friday! As promised, I am continuing with the monthly income reports. M, K and I are, as I type this, frantically packing up for a last-minute super budget camping trip (how is it that all our trips are last-minute?) so I’m keeping this short and to the point.

My income continues to be mainly through the Furoku membership though I’ve unexpectedly sold a couple of pinafore/bloomers patterns via email. I tend to give more nitty gritty details about book sales and behind the scenes information through the monthly Furoku deliveries.

So. My June 2015 income was: $508.86 and July 2015 income was $524.22. Are you seeing the slow but incrementally upward trend? This brings our grand total from March 2015 to 2,389.09. Although all bets are supposedly off in terms of trying to reach $20,000 by the end of the year, I’m holding onto the goal to have something concrete to work toward. My little money-making fish is swimming against the tide with determination. I keep reminding myself that I am still in the beginning stages and am juggling multiple projects that will bear more fruit down the line. I have to remind myself a lot.

OK, I’m being called to figure out how to cram in sleeping bags into the backpacks. I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and if all goes well and I don’t get eaten by a bear, see you back here on Monday!

To Dororthy Lake
We go with trepidation
K’s first camping trip

P.S. I’m still working on figuring out the sidebar thing, but here’s the Furoku sign-up just in case there’s more interest out there:


Email address (to get furoku):
Full Name



Summer Fun with Ba-Chan


My mom returned to Los Angeles yesterday. For 16 days, she cooked us delectables (sushi! Soy sauce mochi balls that K loves! Seafood pasta!) and spent large quantities of time with K while I labored away to meet deadlines. I wouldn’t have survived and most likely wouldn’t have met my deadlines without my Mama.


I took these shots while on the ferry to and from Bainbridge Island. On Sunday morning, I decided that I had ignored my family for too long, and thought it might be enjoyable to spend the night on this little island that’s a 20-minute ferry ride away. Silly me. There aren’t very many places to stay on the island, and the first couple of places I checked were fully booked of course. “We’ll have to make it a day trip,” I told K, but she asked me to try just one more place. So I called the Eagle Harbor Inn to appease her, assuming failure.

“Well, we’ve actually been fully booked three months in advance for a long time,” the hotel guy told me,”but it’s your lucky day. I just got a cancellation a few minutes ago and have a room.” Perfect! Within half an hour, we were out the door and ready to roll. M had a lot of work to do and opted to stay in Seattle.


We had a lovely time: swimming at the Aquatic Center, eating Japanese food for dinner and chocolate lava cake for dessert, strolling around. The fruit flies in the hotel room dampened our spirits a little and they were impervious to my kung fu moves meant to get them out. But the room itself was very, very nice and for a last minute trip, we had no reason to complain. K recorded every teeny tiny detail (and every flower) of our micro vacation with my mom’s camera.

Such a fun way to cap off the Ba-chan visit. We miss her desperately already, and we’re making tentative plans for another girls’ extravaganza in the winter when she comes out next. Destination: hot springs in Canada! I’ll probably have to actually get on the ball and reserve a room far in advance this time. To those of you in the know, any recommendations?