January Round-Up

Hello, hello! This is my first post of 2021, though it’s already the end of the month. How’s 2021 going for you so far?

I’ve been trying something new over on Instagram. I’ve never been on much of a schedule with IG in the past, but I thought it might be fun to stick to a twice-a-week posting regimen to see how long I can keep it up. My aim is to practice surface pattern designs and to establish a weekly sewing habit (i.e. sewing for myself — sewing for K when she was little was much, much easier). I like to do this sort of thing. Routines + skills-and-habit-building is my jam.

I’ve done pretty well for January. Since I know that social media isn’t everyone’s thing, I’m going to do monthly round-ups of my Instagram posts right here on the blog.

SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNS

At first, I was going to just share a pattern which is what I did the first week, but then I came across a tutorial on how to make surface pattern design mock-ups/prototypes and in my usual manner, I got obsessed. How cool is it to see a product with the design?? Here are the designs and mock-ups from January:

WEEKLY SEWING

I was a little nervous about starting a weekly sewing habit. I’d attempted this several times in years past, and always failed. However, I’ve been sewing so much in preparation for my next book that I’m pretty darn speedy now, which gave me the boost to try once again. A big part of the incentive to sew for myself is not only to continually improve my skills but also to finally make a significant dent in my fabric stash. The enormity of my stash has been weighing heavily on me physically and conscience-wise for what seems like an eternity. I’m using a good chunk of fabric from my stash for the book, but there’s so much that just won’t fit with the book aesthetic or that I don’t have enough yardage of, so that’s where personal sewing comes in. I may sew some for K too, but it’s been about 50/50 in terms of meeting her approval since her standards are WAY higher than mine when it comes to quality control.

So far, I’ve been able to create something every week. I’m getting into the groove, my friends! I can’t help but notice that no matter how many hours and days and weeks and months and years of practice I have under my belt, I rarely have an error-free sewing project. I misread instructions or sew the wrong parts together or cut out incorrect pattern pieces. 99% of the time, the sewn items come out just fine in the end. Or maybe my standards are really low, so they seem fine to me. Whatever the case, the mistakes are less and less frustrating.

Anyhow, here are the things I sewed for the month of January:

Vogue 9275 View C in French Terry + Self-drafted leggings in performance knit

Japanese-style apron from this book (size L) in herringbone linen.

 

Style Arc Brooklyn Knit Top (size 10) in sherpa knit + Anna Allen Persephone Pants (size 10) in lightweight denim

Merchant and Mills Landgate Jacket (size M) in a thick-ish, nylon raincoat material…I think. I’ve had this fabric in my stash for at least six or seven years and can’t even remember where I got it from. I also made a pair of self-drafted slim-fitting corduroy pants.

Okay! That’s it for this month, and I’m excited to see what I end up creating for February!

P.S. I’ve gotten a few inquiries about the Secret Valentine Exchange and sadly, it won’t be happening this year again. I can’t take care of all the administrative tasks by myself, I’ve realized, especially with my current book deadlines. I’ll continue to rack my brain to make it happen for next year (fingers crossed!)

2020 Free Holiday Printables

Hello, hello!

I am, as ever, a creature of habit: the annual Advent calendar (this year’s is my absolute favorite to date, by the way), the monthly blog posts, and all the other various habits I’ve cultivated over the years that I uphold with a Pit Bull determination. For the month of December, I created some cute holiday tags and print-at-home goodness for my Patreon members and then remembered that I normally offer up free printables here on the blog during this season.

So I started to play around with a more simplified set of tags and wrapping paper designs and things got a little out of hand.

I created 16 tags:

…and 10 wrapping paper designs (ideal for wrapping very small gifts):

The tags and wrapping paper can be easily printed on 8 x 11.5″ (or A4) paper. I always recommend thicker paper for the tags like this one. I’ve finally figured out how to make seamless repeat patterns, which has been a major learning curve for me. Surface pattern design is SO fun. Most of these were created using Photoshop, but some were done in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve also learned how to use Procreate to make patterns, but I’ve had the best luck with Photoshop so far, especially since I like to use my watercolor illustrations which often don’t vectorize nicely in Illustrator

I hope these come in handy! I may dip my toes into printing some Spoonflower fabrics with a few of my designs in 2021. My mind is now spinning with ideas!

Anyway, since combining all the files into one PDF created a giant document, I had to split them up. Please click on the images below to download the PDF files:

 


 


 

 


 

Let me know if you have any issues!

Alright my friends, I’m wishing you all a festive end of the year! I’m looking forward to posting in January — a fresh new start is exactly what I need. I don’t want to put too much pressure on 2021, but I’ve got high hopes! Cheers!

 

2020 Advent Calendar

Hello my friends! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to add a post this month because my blog got hacked a few weeks ago, rerouting my site to dubious-looking websites of the spammy, identity-theft sort. My techie husband stepped up, however, and tackled the problem, and for now things seem to be back in order. So here I am, on the last day of November with a little update.

How are you? I spent the last four days of the Thanksgiving weekend relaxing and working at a snail’s pace on the project you see above. Yep, the annual Advent Calendar.

I returned to my neutral roots after the colorful calendar of last year. Because we’ve been fully quarantined yet again with the rise of COVID cases, I wanted to add some extra-ness this year, and decided to bend my normal rules of using mostly what I have on hand. I sketched out a design, then ordered faux foliage and large wooden beads and some kitchen twine. I think the fake leaves are pretty convincing from a distance — what do you think? Am I deluding myself? No matter, it looks pretty to me and I know that K will love it (she hasn’t seen it yet as I write this). A couple of my fingers are sporting burn wounds from my enthusiastic hot glue gunning of the greenery, but the effort was well worth it. Hmmm…you can see some of the dried glue strands on the leaves. Oops.

The big beads are 1″ in diameter and the smaller beads are about 3/4″ in diameter — the sizes feel just right. The little sparkly beads that are holding the wooden beads in place were a lucky find in my messy buttons container. I immediately found about half a dozen and I kept getting more and more excited as I unearthed bead after bead. Wouldn’t you know it, I found exactly 24 beads, so they were obviously meant to be.

This is the countdown part of the calendar and I wrote numbers on each bead with a grey colored pencil. The idea is to snip off one bead per day, so the numbers start at the bottom and go upward for each string. I’ll place a little container to house the snipped beads. There are some other treats to go with the calendar and ways to encourage K to give, but I’m still assembling those parts and will have them done by the end of the day, just in time for tomorrow, December 1st. If I get around to it, I’ll share all the components of the advent calendar at a later date (probably not likely, but who knows?). I feel like the main part is done, which was my ultimate goal. Simple, neutral, pretty. Ahhhh…now this is my kind of advent calendar!

Here are all the past calendars to date:

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

December! Are you ready for the holiday season? I’m actually looking forward to it — it will be quiet, of course, and I’ll miss gathering with family and friends, but I’m determined to make this a festive one regardless!

 

Non-Halloween + Costumes over the years

Hello, hello my friends! I drew some Halloween-inspired watercolor doodles in my sketchbook today, and like this witch, I’m feeling a bit melancholy about this season. My neighbors are going all out in the decoration department, so there’s an air of spooky festivity in our ‘hood, but this is the first year in a very, very long time that I haven’t sewn a costume for K because: pandemic. Trick-or-treating isn’t happening, obviously. Then again, now that she’s in high school, maybe it wasn’t going to happen anyway?

Haunted by a sense of nostalgia, I foraged for all the images that I could find of costumes I’ve made for K over the years, and there were quite a few. In fact, I made two costumes for certain years which was all sorts of crazy. I’m pretty sure that I’ve made at least one costume every year since 2007, but 2013 was the earliest pictorial record that I have, at least since starting this blog. I do have images of the very first costume I ever made here.

So here they are!

2013 Witch and Owl:

 

2014 Ninja and Werebear (a mysterious animal):

2015 Superhero K:

2016 Unicorn:

2017 Minion:

2018 Cat:

2019 Boba Tea:

Clearly, I had a boatload of fun making these. It was especially scintillating when K was itty bitty. Tiny costumes are the best! I guess I’ll just have to wait until I have grandkids to flex my Hallow’s Eve garb-making again…

What are you doing for Halloween?

I’m now turning my attention to creating the annual Advent Calendar, which is a highlight of the holiday season for everyone involved. I’m keeping it extra simple this year and have some ideas in the works! Hope you’re all doing well despite the mounting tensions. I focus on the smallest things I can do to bring more beauty and joy every day, and that seems to help a little.

See you next month, my friends!

Tyra Tee by Just Patterns

Hello, my friends! Now here’s a rare sighting of me in a handmade outfit…it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Excuse the crazy escapee hair strands — my bun skillz are haphazard at best.

Let me tell you a little bit about this sweet li’l top I’m wearing. It’s called the Tyra Tee by Just Patterns, and it’s an effortless pattern to sew up. Perfect for beginners as well as more experienced folks looking for a quick, refreshing project that’s certain to become a comforting, gotta-reach-for-it garb.

My friend Delphine is at the helm of Just Patterns, and as you would expect from her lovely French heritage, she’s stylish in that oh-so-Parisian-chic way. That in and of itself is inspiring, but she’s also gorgeous, incredibly kind, brilliant and has a rather hush-hush career in an extremely exciting field outside of sewing like a boss. She’s the kind of person that would normally foster envy, but she’s so darn charming and generous that you can’t help but celebrate her polymath-ness. She’s building her business with gusto and I love the care and thoughtfulness that Delphine puts into her patterns, infusing them with her 20+ years of sewing expertise.

But onto the Tyra Tee. So easy. So fast to sew. So, so comfy.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that oversized tees are my jam. Given the French roots of the pattern, as it were, I decided to channel Coco Chanel and selected a striped knit. The fabric actually has a nice amount of body despite its drapey quality, and I believe I’ve landed on the ideal pairing with the Tyra. The pattern recommends going down a size for knits of this type, and I agree. According to the size chart, I would have been a 42, but I cut out size 40 (the sizing is European) and the fit feels spot on. Roomy, but not swimmingly so.

My years of sewing for K has made me lazy when it comes to knit sewing and despite helpful instructions about finishing the raw edges, I didn’t bother. I also didn’t bust out my serger/overlocker or cover stitch machine and used a zig zag stitch with my regular machine to sew and hem this baby. Worked just fine.

I love this top. Incidentally and totally un-relatedly, can you spot the difference between the two photos above? Hint: it’s not about the outfit. Sometimes little things bother me for no reason, and I have to make tweaks.

 

The final analysis: thumb’s way up! Today is the launch day for Tyra Tee, and my shiny forehead and I highly recommend it! Just Patterns shop is here.

P.S. Delphine obviously gifted the pattern to me, but all opinions are solidly my own.

P.P.S. If you’re wondering, I self-drafted the linen pants and they may or may not be part of my next book. Still trying to decide…