A Few of My Fave Handmade Things…

We’re officially back! We got in very, very late last night from Michigan and I’m still a bit wobbly from jet lag, gluttonous eating, etc., but K was a champion traveler and we had a thoroughly marvelous vacation, so no complaints here.

With spotty wi-fi at the lake, and due to constant activities (swimming! canoeing! hiking up a sand dune! bbq on a beach!), I wasn’t able to get online much but I’m catching up and enjoying reading all the comments. Thank you for all the lovely feedback!

Today, I thought I would do my own take on my fave series. After perusing all my past projects, including those pre-dating this blog, I realized what a challenging task I put forth to my guest bloggers. It’s almost impossible to pick just one, and each handmade creation holds a particularly sweet memory. I collected about thirty images of my “favorites” and knew that I was just going down a rabbit hole of epic proportions.

And then I found this illustrated journal entry, and I remembered the project that started all my sewing madness. I talked about this illustrated journal I created a while back, and though it remains one of my most treasured items, it’s that page on the left that’s significant: Halloween 2007. See that little ladybug on the left? I made that costume.

It was made out of cheap felt and entirely hand-stitched. If I’m recalling things accurately, it took me about three days and I burned some midnight oil and pierced my fingers with the needle more times than I care to admit. I also sewed the little treat bags for K and her two trick-or-treating buddies (that’s one of her BFFs next to her as an awesome super hero). Every year, many of the businesses in Seattle give out candy, and these shots are from when we lived in an area called Queen Anne, where the shops really get into the spirit of things.

As I stuffed the wings with poly-fill, I remember feeling that “click”. It was a different kind of magic from drawing/painting that I was accustomed to. You’re still creating something from a vague notion in your brain, but the three-dimensional, tactile, and useful aspects of sewing elated me.

The best part of the costume was that K squealed with almost hysteric joy when she saw it (this was before she could talk) and the design was quite ingenious if I do say so myself. It simply slipped over her head and had two tabs that snapped together on each side. I didn’t use a pattern and just went for it. However, it also made me realize my limitations — the wings were too heavy and if it wasn’t felt, I wouldn’t have known how to hem it.

Hook, line and sinker. I wanted to sew some more and practically ran to Target to get a serviceable sewing machine. A couple of years later, I would upgrade to my entry-level Bernina which I love, but I made a ton of things with that first machine. These are some of my faves stitched from that hard-working Singer I got from Target:

I made up all of these without following a pattern – back then I was actually scared to use a pattern because I didn’t know how and stubbornly thought I would be able to figure things out on my own (the seams of all of these are heinous, in case you’re wondering).  You can see that I used the same fabric for both the doll dress and K’s dress. I talked a little bit about the white top and burnt orange dress here, and about the doll here.

I also tried my hand at painting fabric and made this little green dress (I so loved this dress):

But my favorite of the hand-painted fabric variety is the grey cloud pillow I made from a dress that K outgrew (more info here):

And while I’m at it, my non-sewing fave is this advent calendar that I made last year. It really enlivened the countdown and every morning was filled with excitement leading up to Christmas:

Now that was a true labor of love. OK, I better stop now because I’ll keep going on and on and on. For another post, I’ll do K’s favorites perhaps…that list is much shorter. How about you? Do you have an absolute favorite handmade creation?


18 thoughts on “A Few of My Fave Handmade Things…

  1. Welcome back! Sounds like you had a great vacation! The Fave Things guest posts were so fun! I really enjoyed reading each day. I love your ladybug costume -too cute!
    I think my fave handmade thing is a little black apple doll that I made my daughter. I made it back in 2008 Pre blog and Pre sewing machine. It didn’t come out that great but Erin loved and so did I! I made one as a gift for my niece that year as well. Although I didn’t pick up sewing again until 2011 when i got my sewing machine, it was that little doll that started my love of sewing!

    1. Thank you, Meghan! I love Black Apple! I haven’t checked her blog in a while and must change that. I have such a soft spot for imperfect first attempts, especially when they plant a seed to keep trying to get better. Love your new Washi tunic, btw!

  2. stop…*i* just got back from my michigan trip late last night, too…we should just plan together next time. love this post! i love your early projects (equally beautiful regardless of their seaming to what you make now), and seeing other mediums as well.

    1. How funny, maybe our paths crossed at some point! Hope you had a lovely time in your part of Michigan! Thanks for your sweet comment, Ashley!

  3. It is so nice to read you again! welcome and is so nice that you enjoyed your holidays in Michigan. I love your list of handmade favorites, I could not choose one. But I’m sort of dying for the advent calendar you made, fabulous! I think handmade items have a of special aura, in every one is included brain, soul and fingers!

    1. Thank you Maria! That advent calendar took a loooong time to make, but the end results were worth it. This year, I think I might take an easier route and do something less involved though…

  4. Love the concept of the hanging advent calendar. It’s beautiful! And the details are just lovely. Will you be able to re-use it for this year?

    1. Thanks Adri! Unfortunately, K tore those little geometric boxes to shreds, so there was no hope of re-using them. I still have the strings up on the branch though, and it looks nice. But it’s been over six months, so it might be time to change things up. 🙂

  5. Oh how I’ve really loved this series- all of the guest posts were stellar and so inspiring! I’m just getting started with sewing and I feel very heartened to hear your story. I’m at a similar stage now- with a 3 year old little guy I make dolls for (though boys aren’t as in to dolls as girls-generally speaking-he does occasionally play with them which makes my heart soar.) I started hand sewing with felt too because it’s so forgiving and have now had a sewing machine for 1 year. Quilts and kids clothing are showing up (yes, my seams are hideous!), though sewing clothing for me is as-of-yet intimidating. I feel encouraged knowing that you started from a similar place and let your passion guide you- maybe there’s hope for me! Your dolls are precious and the little clothes and costume too. Early childhood is so magical and the hand mades really enliven the soulful spirit of this time in life.

    1. Early childhood is SO magical – and adding handmade touches makes it all the more so, I say. My mother made everything for us kids growing up, and I remember how wonderful that was and I hope K will recall these times fondly when she’s all grown up. And I believe sewing, out of so many crafts out there, is definitely accessible and easy to master with enough time and effort. Handmade is best!

  6. All gorgeous Sanae – nice to see K’s face!! My favourite creation of mine is my dollhouse – it was so much fun to make and the girls love it!

    1. Thanks Suz! I’d love to see your dollhouse! So funny – I’m banned from showing K’s face for internet safety reasons, but she looks sufficiently different now so baby pix are A-OK. Wasn’t she a heart-breaker? The curly hair! I miss it so.

  7. loved reading your favorite round-up. That burnt orange dress reminds me so much of the ever-popular Geranium Dress . . . see how ahead of the trends you already were?:)
    As I ponder your question as to my favorite handmade item, my mind goes to probably one of the simplest sewing projects I’ve made, but it’s the sentimentality that makes it stand out. When my youngest was a wee baby, I made a peasant blouse from the fabric of my favorite maternity top. I loved to see her wear it and remember me wearing that fabric while still pregnant. Purely sentimental, as it no great work or art. But that’s a big part of why I love to sew – the heart connection!

    1. Ha, you’re right! That dress does look like the geranium! I couldn’t figure out how to get the lining sewn in properly so the shoulder seams are a right mess for that dress…

      How lovely to have made a peasant blouse from your own maternity top! Those kinds of creations are the best. I love anything re-purposed into miniature clothes!

  8. Welcome back Sanae! We were gone for a bit, too, and wow has summer turned our household upside down. I have a feeling I won’t be catching up with everything until September. I love this post! I guess I had assumed you have been sewing since you could walk, or something. It’s kind of funny the stories we make up about our online friends… A year ago I could basically only sew rectangles, ha!

    1. Thank you Monica! I wish I’d started sewing when I was barely walking…my skillz may actually pay the bills then 🙂 Keeping up is like a full-time job, no? Especially when you start a fabulous line of clothes like you did!!

  9. Love the way you describe how something clicked when you made that costume. I remember the same thing when I started sewing, too (I helped my husband make a tipi and sewed up a drawstring skirt at the same time). I remember thinking how it was merging what I loved about creating with usefulness- true utilitarian art. He burned out an old Kenmore we were using from his mom and I did the same thing- ran to Kmart and bought a cheapo Singer. It was a fantastic machine for learning how to sew. In fact, J finished sewing the tipi on it. Can you believe a $75 dollar Singer sewing machine made a 16 foot tipi? Ha! I only recently updated my machine to a computerized Singer and I kind of miss the straight mechanical machine because I cold force it to do things. And how cute is mini K in that photo of the painted dress?!

  10. oh that cloud pillow! and the lady bug costume! and little K! so glad you had a great trip, welcome back to the real world! 🙂

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