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…

Call for Sewing Testers (Round 2)! {CLOSED}

UPDATE: Amazing! So many people volunteered and I have enough testers now, so I have closed the sign-up form. For those of you that filled out a form, I will send a confirmation email in a few days after I’ve gone through all the forms. THANK YOU!!


Hello, my friends!

Many months ago, a whole bunch of you tested patterns for my next sewing book, and it was wonderful. The plan was to release the book in Spring of 2021. Then the pandemic happened. We decided to postpone the photoshoot, which meant we ended up pushing out the launch to 2022.

Not one to let an opportunity pass by, I’m taking advantage of this extra time to conduct a second round of testing for my slopers section. I’ll admit that the testing material was pretty rough the first round, and I received super helpful feedback (I was so impressed by and grateful for how patient and kind everyone was!). The feedback allowed me to simplify and improve the section so much. I’m now ready for new testers!

If you’ve been curious about creating slopers — aka foundation pattern pieces that enable you to design and alter pretty much any kind of garment to fit your beautifully unique body shape — I’ve got a fun project for you. I’m looking for people with a willingness to draft some very basic patterns, have a detail-oriented mind and a penchant for zeroing in on instruction errors. The actual sewing part is pretty minimal and it’ll require just a few hours or a weekend.

This whole sloper thing has been a major game changer for me in the garment sewing realm, and I’m wishing the same for you!

My publisher, Sasquatch Books, has generously offered to provide a free copy of the book for testers (I’ll also be adding an extra treat). This means that you will need to be based here in the U.S. However, a few international folks were happy to test for the ebook version of the book during the first round, so let me know if that’s the case.

I will keep sign-ups open until September 4th and will send out the PDFs and info by September 10th. All feedback will be due by September 25th. Questions? Leave me a comment or DM me @sanaeishida on Instagram, where I’ll also post the call for testers.

GINORMOUS THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Below is the form (if you can’t see it in the screen, click here):

Summer Celebrations

Just a quick check-in to say, “Hey, how are you?”

See that cute li’l girl up there? She’s 14 today. Fully a teenager, mature as all get-out, yet still a little kid in so many ways. This is what quarantine birthdays are looking like:

(A little overexposed, but I love this hasty snap taken just a few minutes ago. It’s so very her)

K has a few of her closest friends over right now, enjoying a social-distanced hangout session in our yard. I can hear snippets of their conversation and it’s like I’m listening to a foreign language. No clue.

I was looking through some old photos with a vague notion of creating a little digital card for her, but it turned out to be a dangerous time-sucking activity and I was lost in a swirl of nostalgia for hours. I mean:

I remember I got that comforter set from Anthropologie on mega-sale and even though I didn’t love the print, I felt so fancy that I bought something from that outrageously expensive store.

We used to go to the Olympic Sculpture Park with friends all the time (oh how I miss museum outings!):

 

And this one just kills me:

I can’t remember what she’s “reading” but M puckers a lot when he reads, and I guess that trait is genetic.

Right now, I’m making her a Japanese style birthday cake and am waiting for the sponge cake to cool:

It’s a recipe from here, and I didn’t wait long enough to let the meringue create peaks, so it may not be as spongy as I’d like. Nothing a ton of whipped cream can’t fix.

Last week was M’s birthday and the cake I made was a huge success:

M loves spice cakes, and the magic was in adding some dark chocolate chips. The cake disappeared so fast, it was as though it was a figment of our imagination. Here’s the recipe I used, though I ended up tossing in some Pumpkin Spice from Trader Joe’s instead of measuring out all the different spices. Worked like a charm. It was, as promised, moist and dense and full of rich flavors. Thumbs up!

Alright, I better get back to the sponge cake. Hope you’re all hanging in there. This month has been rough for us, so it’s been nice to have these celebrations to remind us of the good things in life. Fourteen! I can’t believe it….

Nuanced Not Faded

Hello, my friends! I received this luscious bouquet from a dear friend a couple of weeks ago, on my birthday. We did a social-distanced hand-off of the flowers, which was quite funny.

As I gazed at these blooms the phrase that came to mind was, “faded beauty.” It’s what everyone says, right? The faded beauty of dying roses. Although these roses are no longer in the full blush of its blossoming floral youth, I don’t think their beauty has faded at all. If anything, it’s deepened and is more nuanced.

Of course, as someone who is now 49-years-old, perhaps I’m justifying the passage of time and what might be perceived as the dimming of what K calls my “sparkle.” Here’s what she said to me as she flipped through some old photos, “You had so much sparkle when you were in your twenties, Mama!” My almost 14-year-old K is so full of sparkle and it’s true, I definitely feel more muted. But nuanced!

One is prone to contemplation around the time of a birthday, and I’m a professional contemplator as it is. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my forties and I’m unabashedly excited about embarking on my fifties next year. If I’ve learned anything in my four decades, it’s that if I allow it, life gets better and better. Does that mean the world is better or that everything is perfect? No. That doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In fact, if the news broadcasts are to be believed, the world has gone to hell. But I don’t believe the news (not entirely, anyway). And I don’t believe in suffering because other people are suffering. I tried that for many, many years, and all that happened was a lot of extra suffering. This is probably not a popular stance given current events, but I stand by it 100%.

What I want to do for this 49th year and beyond is to genuinely enjoy each day and — if I may use the quote from my ginger teabag tag today — “plant love and watch it grow”. To just be myself. Who knows how many days I have left? My mom has been an excellent role model in this regard. She used to talk about death all the time, and how she wanted to squeeze goodness out of each moment before she passed on. When I was younger I thought that was macabre and rather depressing, but now I see that it’s the opposite. She’s 71 now and hasn’t changed much. Every time I chat with her on the phone, she tells me of all the joys she finds in her new home and surrounding area and wonders when she’ll die, practically in the same breath — she seems so content to have returned to Japan after 50 years in California, but then again she was content in Los Angeles too. Now there is a woman who knows how to have a good time and is unafraid of the grim reaper.

I’d like to be like that.

I’ve been enjoying many things lately. M spoiled me with books and art supplies for my birthday and I got this amazing set of colored pencils. I’m obsessed with colored pencils and have tried pretty much every brand on the market. According to all the reviews I’ve read most colored pencil artists love soft, smooth, oil-based pencils, but I prefer harder, wax-based leads. What drew me in particular to this set is that like myself, the colors in this Derwent Artists set are quite muted (and nuanced!):

As you can see, I’ve tested a jillion brands to see figure out my preferences. K calls them my broccoli girls.

More experimenting. The Lightfast pencils are spectacular as well, but I still prefer the Artists…

I used to have a phobia about using my “nice” stuff and kept saving them for a day when I would feel somehow more worthy of the high quality items. No more. I dove right into using my gorgeous pencils and I’ve been cutting into my prized fabrics as well. I made this little self-drafted tank for myself this week. It’s made with Nani Iro fabric I bought at Yuzawaya last year in Japan. Again, who knows how many days I have left, right? Might as well use everything up.

Using things up has been a big theme during quarantine for me. I get this huge sense of satisfaction from finishing the toothpaste tube, cooking up all of the vegetables in the fridge, etc., etc. There’s the awesomeness of reducing waste, of course, but it’s that glee of completion that I love more than anything else.

I hope you’re all faring well in spite of the global chaos. Here’s another role model for enjoying each moment (I know that I keep posting similar photos of Katara, but she’s so darn cute and I’m such a cat lady now, I can’t help it):

I’m working on three books starting this week, so my schedule will be full for a while. It’ll be a nice change from my dawdling, doodling days — I like having the balance of the two. In a few months, I’ll be able to go back to aimless coloring and contemplating, which will be lovely.

P.S. K graduated from middle school last week and is now officially a high schooler!! Wow, I don’t think I ever imagined myself as a Mama to a high school kid and so far, it’s awesome.