Obsessively designing

Hello, hello! How are you all doing? What a crazy time…I have no adequate words for what seems like ceaseless global upheaval. 

I find solace in making things when the world seems to be churning, and lately I’ve been having a love affair with designing patterns for wallpaper, stationery and fabric. I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday this weekend, and let me tell you — wrapping the presents with my own designs is incredibly gratifying. I’m getting more and more comfortable with what’s called “seamless repeats” and am challenging myself to more complicated patterns. I am drawn to simple designs too, though.

I’ve been diligently adding to my Spoonflower shop with new designs every week. I’ll be adding more items to my online shop this upcoming week as well and I’ve also been experimenting with making my own “mock-ups.” Mock-ups are easy ways to visualize what a design would look like on a product without actually sewing/producing said products. It’s all done digitally. For example, I created a mock-up of my Reversible Eco Bag pattern. You can see the same apricots pattern on the Eco Bag here:

And here are a few other versions I played with:

Fun, right? I designed the eco bag to accommodate different fabric combinations, but I often just like to simplify and cut the outer bag from a single piece of fabric as shown in the first three bag examples. I have so many strewn around my house and use them all the time.

The floral pattern shown in the first couple of images is my faborite so far and will be available soon. After I printed it out for the wrapping paper, I realized that I need to make a few more tweaks.

Anyway, today I just wanted to share this heightened devotion to puzzling out seamless patterns. It’s a good way to use my brain so I don’t worry so much about everything, you know?

I hope you are all staying safe and cozy and peaceful. Much love!

 

 

 

 

2021 Advent Calendar + Free Printables!

Hello, hello my friends!

If you’re in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the holiday season. Mine was quiet and very low-key, which is exactly how I like my my celebrations, especially celebrations about gratitude.

One of the things I’ve been working on over the long weekend is the annual Advent Calendar. It’s going to go on top of the piano, and this tradition is a much beloved one in our family. As I was cutting and assembling, I realized that this will be my 10th Advent Calendar. 10 years!! Isn’t that mind-boggling? As always, I’ve listed all the calendars I’ve made to date at the bottom. 

 

It’s always a challenge to come up with a different concept, and this year I designed a bunch of patterns, then I folded them into triangular boxes (I followed the tutorial from here, but made my own template of quatrefoil shapes). Aren’t the patterns cute? Can you find the boba tea and volleyball ones? You can tell that I had a lot of fun trying to make them holiday-esque! I created about 30 designs total but obviously only used 25, and tried to include a few motifs that represent K’s favorite things. I had a “doh!” moment, however, when I noticed that I forgot to include a music-related pattern. Music is at the top of her favorite things list! That and true crime podcasts, which I also didn’t include. What would I have drawn? Knives and blood and dead people? Crime tape?

So I started by cutting out the shape…

Then folded in the “petal” edges…

Then folded each triangle inward to create the square base…

Added the filling and punched a hole in each petal tip…

Threaded a cord through and attached a little circular label (for the countdown numbers 1-25)….

And voila!

I was especially proud of the idea of including a puzzle piece every day. I got one of those DIY puzzles from an art store and painted it with watercolors. I love that she’ll be able to slowly put together the puzzle throughout the month.

 

 

Fun, right?

Here they are…adorable triangular gift boxes, ready to be opened (sorry for the image quality — I was rapidly losing natural light):

 

Every year I like to offer up some free printable holiday tags for YOU, and realized that I could simply reduce the size of the quatrefoil shapes into sweet little tags. You know how much I love tags! If you’d like to download some tags from years past, scroll down after the list of Advent Calendars.

For this year I selected 12 of the designs that felt more generally appropriate (you probably don’t want a volleyball themed tag, right?) and arranged them onto one sheet as tags. Click on the image or here to download the file. I recommend printing them on card stock or textured paper like my go-to Inkjet paper for best results. 

I’m so excited for K to see the calendar tomorrow morning (December 1st)! That’s the most thrilling moment for me: when she wakes up and beholds the whole shabang.

By the way, if you’re subscribed to receive blog posts by email, I’ve switched email services and will be sending the blog posts from a different email address (sanae[at]sanaeishida.com), so you may find the blog updates in your promotions tab or in your spam folder. Please have a look there if you notice that you haven’t been getting updates from me. Thank you!!!

Oh, and here are the past Advent Calendars:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

 

And here are tags from years past for your convenience if you’d like more options:

2020 Tags

 

Cat Wreath Tags

More Cat Tags

Bleu Tags

 

 

Animal Tags

 

 

Uncomfortable

Happy Halloween, my friends! If it’s a thing in your area, are you dressing up and/or trick-or-treating? That very abstract inky image right above is actually my living room wall when sunshine suddenly burst through the clouds and cast a murky, Halloween-y shadow pattern. Although I want to get more into the spirit of things, my Hallow’s Eve zest has been distracted by surreal events happening throughout the month. I’ve been very, very uncomfortable. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, as it were, and am feeling like I’m wearing an existential costume a lot these days.

Part of it was flying out to California to film for Creativebug. So fun! So not in my wheelhouse! The image you see above was from the production set — I taught a bunch of sewing classes and they will be available through their site in a couple of months. More on that later.

Part of it was trying to update this ole blog of mine. Technology has always been challenging for me, and I kept messing up the website so I ended up reverting to the old blog format for the interim. I was also trying to revamp my email subscription system and botched that up too. If you are subscribed, you will probably get a number of annoying emails from me telling you that you’ll need to confirm your subscription. I apologize in advance! I haven’t given up yet and will continue to work on updating everything.

A little part of it was learning how to use various inks in my art supply stash in an unofficial attempt to join Inktober (apparently there’s some sort of copyright scandal associated with it so people don’t call it Inktober anymore? Not sure). I’ve been painting tiny sketches every day and posting them on Instagram. I realized how comfortable I’ve gotten with watercolors and gouache, and it was surprisingly challenging to adapt to the slightly different nature of inks. I also have an absurd amount of art supplies and had no idea that I had so many different types of inks. My favorite were these three: fuyu-syogun Iroshizuku by Pilot (a deep, deep indigo blue color), Yasutomo Sumi ink, and though not technically an ink, Dr Ph Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolor in carbon black is wonderful.

But all of these aspects have been good. I felt weirdly satisfied that I stuck through the discomfort of filming, failing at technology and understanding new paint mediums — I can’t say that the end results are exactly what I had in mind, but I feel less intimidated now. I’ll take it.

Alright. I am, as always, working  on meeting deadlines and will be back next month with some holiday goodies for you. Take good care, my lovely friends!

 

SUMO COUNTING + SUMO OPPOSITES!

Wow, August just vaporized and I’m reeling from the fact that September will be upon us in a matter of hours. How are you, my friends?

I’m doing a quick check-in today for a couple of reasons:

  1. I wanted to say hello – August has been somewhat rough for me and my monthly ritual of updating my blog has a helpful, grounding effect. Though I’ve been pretty overwhelmed especially in the last week, there’s a chance that life will calm down very soon. Whew. My favorite autumnal season is just around the corner, and I’m excited to savor it. Things are starting to look up!
  2. I have new books coming out:

Oh my goodness, aren’t they CUTE?????? SUMO COUNTING follows a typical day of sumo wrestlers with little rhyming couplets. SUMO OPPOSITES is just that — opposite words, plain and simple. I did try to incorporate lots of Japanese cultural elements in the  illustrations for the OPPOSITES book too, though. Plus, there are Japanese words accompanying the numerals and English terms. I always love it when board books are informative and interesting for adults as well as for the littles, and I kept that in mind as I created these.

The official release date is next Tuesday, September 7th! They are available wherever books are sold (you can click on the book images on my sidebar or click here), and pre-orders are always awesome!

I am particularly in love with this spread from SUMO COUNTING (the most elaborate one):

The Japanese garden I painted is a mash-up of three local gardens: The Seattle Japanese Garden, Kubota Garden and Bloedel Reserve. All three are incredibly beautiful and it was such a delight to incorporate various aspects of the three gardens.

This is the opener for the SUMO OPPOSITES book:

I loved trying to balance the minimal and complex illustrations for the series.

So! I like to include fun extras whenever possible, and to celebrate the forthcoming launch of my adorable sumo guys, I designed a little repeat pattern, which can be used as gift wrap for small presents. Click here to download the printable PDF file.

I taped two sheets of the sumo paper to wrap both books. As you can tell, I’m very into blues and greens lately.

Here’s what’s even more thrilling: there are TWO more Sumo books in the pipeline! Like all of my kids’ books, the next two will be published through Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books. The entire set will be a great addition to any library, and these make excellent baby gifts. The best way to describe how I felt making these books is “joyful,” which was much appreciated since I was working on these during the height of the pandemic lockdown last year. I’m so grateful to have had these sumo books to keep me company during these uncertain times.

Yay! Please order these joy-boosting books for every baby/toddler you know :-)!!!

 

June Round-Up


Hello, my friends! We just survived an epic, record-breaking Pacific Northwest heatwave (108 degrees on Monday) and I’ve never been more thankful for our scary-and-fit-for-a-horror-movie basement that remained at least 15 degrees cooler throughout the onslaught of scorching temps. For some reason, I always associate heatwaves with that bit in The Great Gatsby when the characters are all resting on tasteful settees or davenports with white curtains billowing about. My own situation was decidedly the exact opposite of that — we sweated up a storm in a dark, airless, bunker-esque room.

Katara, our cat, was flopped on her side the entire time. She refused to go down to the basement and stubbornly stayed in the sweltering upstairs levels, If she could speak human, she would have said, “I’m done. Stick a fork in me.”

Heatwave notwithstanding, I had a decent output in terms of illustrating and sewing. I’ve now posted on Instagram every week for six solid months, and my friends, it’s time for a break. I’ve decided to delete Instagram for the month of July to fully unplug. I wanted see if I could consistently produce illustrations and sewing projects without making any excuses and the answer is clearly yes. This was meant to be a personal experiment just for me because I’d always been a procrastinator and excuse-maker and I didn’t want to be those things anymore. I’m glad I’m creating this new level of trust with myself.

Next week we’re heading out to visit family in Michigan and we’ll be celebrating M’s and K’s birthdays later in July. We have camping trips and outings planned and really, I just want to enjoy a few weeks without the constant pull to produce, produce, produce, which is probably both my strength and downfall. I do have a few deadlines, but compared to the sewing book deadlines, the current projects on my docket are easy-peasy.

So here are the illustrations and sewing projects from June:

SEWING PROJECTS

I quickly made the reversible ironing board cover for the sewing book photoshoot, and I’m so glad I did! It’s not that I minded ironing before, but now it feels inexplicably special to be pressing fabrics and sewn items on a custom cover. There’s a quick tutorial on how to make it here.

The flutter-sleeve tops are self-drafted based on an old Anthropologie top, and I’ve been wearing them a lot. I started sewing a lot more for K these last few weeks and she’s been requesting cropped, puff-sleeve tops as teenagers are wont to do (I’m told). The first top was a flop. I drafted it but it didn’t fit well, so I tried out the Tudor Blouse pattern by Stitch Witch Patterns, which was recommended to me via IG — social media can be wonderful at times. K loves both her button-down and wrap Tudor tops!

ILLUSTRATIONS
I used Spoonflower to test a couple of my repeat patterns (the bunny and birds), which was fun. I originally had the idea of getting fabric printed regularly but didn’t realize that shipping would take so long…I may just add my designs to Spoonflower and see how the mock-ups look — how amazing that the mock-ups are instantly created on the Spoonflower site! In general, I’m having a blast practicing seamless patterns and I’m really loving my morning routine of painting simple watercolor illustrations.

More details on my Instagram feed here.

I hope you all had a lovely June! As I mentioned before, I turned fifty this month and after much contemplation, I came to the conclusion that my fifth decade is simply about being unapologetically myself. Aging is marvelous and I wish I’d had more examples of people expressing that. No matter, I’ll be that example. Aging is awesome, y’all. It really is.

Alright, I’ll be back at the end of July with a quick update, and my weekly Instagram postings will resume in August. I’m looking forward to taking this break and to come back refreshed and raring to go! I also have exciting updates later this summer! xoxo