March Round-up

Hello, my friends! March zigged and zagged at a furious pace, and here we are. I’m juggling quite a few projects, making the passage of time extra speedy — at the moment, my baby board books are at the press (coming out this fall! more on that soon!), and I’m finalizing my next sewing book which will launch in spring of 2022. The photoshoot is coming up in May and in preparation, I’m sewing like I’m on fire and have also enlisted the expertise of Karen, who is wonderful. In fact, my whole team and everyone involved are phenomenal, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the sewing book elements all come together. I’m also starting on my next books…you know, I sometimes just stand stock still and marvel that this is my life.

I feel like it all started 30 years ago when I began a daily journal habit. I wrote and doodled diligently every single day. Sometimes I only had 10 minutes to spare, sometimes I had hours. I didn’t know where it would lead me, but I decided to believe that if I showed up consistently like I was a writer and illustrator, one day “reality” might catch up. I did the same thing with sewing. I wanted to become someone who could make clothes from scratch, and though my stitches were wonky and embarrassing for a very long time, I kept at it. I don’t take any of my current situation for granted and I do everything that I can to fuel my creative energy.

Some of you have been reading this little blog since the early days when I secretly dreamt of creating books, and I can’t thank you enough for your constant companionship during some very lonely and discouraging periods. I’m convinced that if you don’t give up, even seemingly far-fetched dreams will come true. I think we each have particular desires and dreams because we’re meant to actualize them. I mean, I’ve never wanted to become a professional athlete or an avant-garde performance artist or a politician. My focus inexorably veered towards books and clothes and illustrations.

Moving on! I would be the first to admit that I don’t know how I’m sewing for myself on a weekly basis on top of the other commitments I have going on behind-the-scenes. I have noticed that I’ve become decent at managing my schedule so I don’t ever feel rushed, but even I’m baffled by the amount of stuff coming out of my sewing machine. Granted, I’m not making anything complicated and perhaps that’s the key.

Above are my March makes (clockwise):
Esme Top from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (size L) in cotton
StyleArc Shirley Shrug (size 10) in corduroy knit
Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen Top (size 8) in black with white polka dots rayon/cotton and white windowpane checks linen
Skirt from this Japanese book (one size) – it’s the one on the cover and it can convert to sarouel pants in striped seersucker

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I keep falling more and more in love with watercolors. Here are some of my practice pattern designs from this month (the off-white flowers were originally painted with watercolors, then I digitized them in Adobe Illustrator):

That last image of the moon with a four-leaf clover garland is actually a gif. That was fun to make. I’ve included more info about the patterns and other tidbits on Instagram, if you’d like to check that out (did you know that you don’t actually need the app to view the content on Instagram?).

I didn’t think it could be possible, but April is going to be even more robust schedule-wise. Can I keep up my weekly sewing? We shall see! I’m amazed that I’ve been going strong for three full months. Last week, I recognized that little “click” that I feel when something has become a habit, when it’s harder not to do it than to carve out time to get it done. Weekly sewing has definitely become a habit!

Alright my friends, I’ll catch up with you at the end of April. Until then, have a lovely, lovely month!

 

 

February Round-Up

Hello, my friends! Brief snow storms and budding allergies (ah-choo!) and book deadlines sum up this month for me. I’m in the midst of wrapping up a very big deadline for the next sewing book, so I’m doing a rapid-fire, bare-bones update today. Fingers crossed that there are no late nights ahead of me!

Here are the things I created for this sweet, short month (you can see more images on Instagram here):

WEEKLY SEWING

A gingham cross-over button-down shirt from Simply Sewn: Clothes for Every Season by Michiyo Ito:

The Cali Faye Gardenia Dress pattern in tunic length (wow, I’m looking tired):

Self-drafted snow pants for K – an emergency sewing project when the snow storm hit a couple of weekends ago:

Waxed canvas sun hats from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing book. The first one I made was way too big for me, so I shortened the crown by 1.25″ and I really like it!

SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNS

As always, lots of cuteness and animals…

I Photoshopped faux patterns onto the covers of the Quiet Adventure Books from my latest book, ANIMAL FRIENDS TO SEW:

Some vintage-inspired potholder designs:

Silly and adorable totes:

Floral gift tags/cards that I made into free printables here:

I hope the tags come in handy!

That’s it for this month! So, so amazed that I’ve managed to sew and design stuff for two months in a row! I hope to update you in a more leisurely fashion next time…

 

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!