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…

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….