Attention Span + New Sewing Gadgets

Hello, my friends! How are you? Are blogs still a thing? I’m committed to updating my little space at least once a month, but I get the sense that the collective attention span has been rapidly dwindling (including mine for sure) and Instagram is so much easier, isn’t it? Despite my amoeba-like attention span, I can spend so much time just consuming images — which perplexes me. There have been times when an entire HOUR (or more!) will have been frittered away while I mindlessly scroll through my feed. Yikes. Intellectually, I understand that I’m getting dopamine hits with every new image or a “like” for something I’ve posted, but I make sure to read super interesting books just before going to bed and have noticed that I can barely make it through two pages before my mind wanders off. There’s something about just looking at fun square photos that feels easy and addictive and lately, reading can seem like too much work. This is a travesty for someone who considers books to be the very lifeblood of existence. So I’m actively working on weaning myself from social media.  Although I’ll continue to post on Instagram every once in a while, I’m going to dramatically cut back on the time I spend ogling at all the pretty feeds. I don’t want my gravestone to read, “She excelled at Instagram, the viewing of.”

I also like to watch my cat, Katara. True to the cliché, she’s a curious creature and is constantly exploring all the smells and sounds and sights around her, and her attention span is ultra robust. Her ear twitches back and forth in this cute way when she catches an unusual noise that my ears are incapable of hearing. We have staring contests sometimes and she beats me every time. It’s so fascinating to see how primal and deeply encoded many of her actions are. For example, when she chooses not to finish her food, she’ll scratch the linoleum all around her food bowl. I found out that it’s a genetic predisposition from ancient times when cats lived in the desert and would bury prey in the sand to save for later and to hide it from other animals. Katara’s never been near a desert or even a sandy area as far as I know. It makes me ponder our human encodings — what do we all act out unknowingly, instinctively? Marketers and advertisers and social media developers seem to have a full grasp of our primal instincts of wanting validation and constant change within a comfortable nest of familiar safety.

Anyway, I wanted to pop in and ramble digitally for a bit.

Also! Earlier this year, I treated myself to a cover stitch machine and a new serger (to replace my dying Brother 1034D). I am completely intimidated by both machines and have only used them once. I did figure out how to thread the snazzy things, but I feel very shy around them, like they’re the cool kids that might reject me. Anyone have recommendations for tutorials or resources for using the Juki MO654DE and Janome CoverPro 1000CPX?

I’m off to go give them another whirl. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, my friends, and I’ll keep you posted on my serging/cover stitching adventures!

Vintage Patterns Haul – Part 1

Hello my friends! There’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes and I’m feeling slightly scattered, but I wanted to take a moment to post this amazing vintage patterns haul I received from a friend a few weeks ago, mostly as a way to have a handy reference for myself. The patterns appear to range from the 1960s to 1990s and I feel like a sewing godmother swooped down unexpectedly and waved her wand.

There are SO many patterns that I couldn’t scan them all in one go, but for today I wanted to feature the Vogue patterns in the large envelope format, many of which have me swooning. For example, I desperately want to make this coat:

Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s happening for winter 2019, mark my word!

I thought these from the 80s were hilarious:

 

 

Oh man, I’m so in love with the Vogue Paris Original patterns:

 

 

I’m also digging the Couturier series:

And then there are some patterns lumped into “Vogue American Designers” (there are a couple that are called “Americana” which might be a different category, but oh well)::

 

I wasn’t aware that Vogue had all sorts of other categories like Basic Designs, Career, and something labeled Vogue Attitudes.

 

Finally, there was one random pattern for making stuffed animals. So funny!

Incredible, right? Most of the patterns are in pristine uncut condition and I’m pretty sure I can fit into the size 12. In part 2, I’ll share the interesting backstory of how I came to receive this treasure trove. For now, I must get back to sample sewing and preparing for my book’s upcoming photoshoot! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

xo

New Sewing Set-Up

Hello, hello! Now that Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma has officially launched, I am sewing like a fiend.

You may or may not know that I sew in my bedroom. In our sweet little townhouse, we have a disproportionately huge master bedroom and though I love me some airy minimalism, it seemed a shame to let all that space go to waste. I’ve carved out a little corner as my “atelier” and for the last 6 or so years, this has been working out pretty well. One of the downsides, however, was that I pushed one of those massive craft/cutting tables from Jo-Ann against the corner of the room and it wasn’t optimal in terms of functionality. I couldn’t really access every part of the table and dust collected at an alarming rate underneath all the bins and boxes I had crammed under it. Additionally, my ironing board was mostly an unsightly dumping ground and I was forever bumping into it.

This summer, after some extensive research I decided to ditch the craft table and ironing board. In their stead, I got this Sullivan’s Ironing Center to serve double duty as both cutting table and ironing station. Oh my goodness. I LOVE IT. It’s changed my life. It’s crazy heavy and I pulled a shoulder muscle lugging the box up the stairs to my room, but the manual labor involved — including the two hours it took me to build it — was totally worth it.

First of all, its slim profile takes up very little room, and the table top is collapsible to further diminish its size when not in use. The dimensions are 22”L x 59”W x 37”H when fully extended, and 22”L x 34”W x 37”H when collapsed.

Also: wheels. This baby is completely mobile, yet sturdy and stable. Such an awesome combination! I’ve been wanting to blog more about my sewing again, but without my trusty white living room wall with the beautifully diffused light cast by the adjacent window, I was at a loss. When we inherited our neighbor’s piano for K a couple of years ago, we shifted furniture around and a ginormous credenza now occupies the former photo wall. You wouldn’t think such a minor detail would derail my dedication to blogging, but it did. And yes, there were a few other extenuating circumstances that I’ll share in the near future, but now, at long last, I can scoot this table out of the way and I have a lovely expanse of pale grey wall with an adjacent window equipped with light-giving goodness. I still have to figure out the camera/tripod situation but that’ll happen soon!

The other major benefit of this ironing center is the built-in storage beneath. As you can see, my monster pattern binder fits easily in there along with other essential sewing accoutrements. LOVE.

Now, this table comes with an ironing pad, but I didn’t like how it looked and felt (oddly bunchy), so I got a smaller cutting mat and ironing pad. So far I’m liking this configuration, though I’m toying with the idea of getting the 59” wide cutting mat designed for this table and plopping the smaller ironing pad on top. We’ll see.

On a side note, the fabric scrap basket you see on the left was our laundry hamper in a former life, but it fits that space beneath the table so perfectly, I had to repurpose.

So what am I sewing? For starters, I’m making K some leggings that actually fit her. I tried a pair from New Look 6445 in size 10 and she’s drowning in them — I’m so confused. They unexpectedly fit me really well. I don’t know why the sizing runs so big; she’s a size 10 in other commercial patterns. I just might have to self-draft them. I’m also in desperate need for outerwear for myself. In a hasty flurry of summer purging, I got rid of all of my worn out winter coats. Which meant all of them. I was guided by the usual erroneous assumption: “I’ll just whip up a coat or two before winter is here.” Well, here we are in late October and I have yet to sew anything that will keep me toasty. In the meantime, I’ve raided M’s closet and am looking like a fleece-clad blowfish on most days. Or maybe I just look like a sheep.

How are you, my friends? What have you been up to? Are you making things? Are you happy with your creative space? It’s amazing how a few adjustments can increase my productivity level and enthusiasm a millionfold!

Okay, I’m off to sew, and I’m wishing you all a spectacular weekend!

P.S. I just finished reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and it’s the most charming book I’ve come across in a long time. Highly recommended! For tweens, K recommends The Warden’s Daughter and Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli.

 

 

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! Still plugging away at my various projects…I did, however, take a little jaunt into downtown to Drygoods Design on Wednesday to pick up a beauty of a book. The Merchant and Mills Workbook makes my neutral-loving heart sing. I want to make everything. Everything!

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The instructions seem to be pretty sparse, which is okay with me since I don’t seem to follow instructions all that closely anyway.

Oh, the photography and styling of this book are so, so good. On a side note, I traded a watercolor from the Artwalk show I did at Drygoods for this lovely collection of patterns. One of the surprising benefits of the illustrations I’ve been doing is how handy they come in for bartering.

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Must make this Saltmarsh skirt stat.

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And this Bantam tank would be perfect to take with me to Michigan in a little over a week. Could I somehow locate a couple of hours to whip one up before July 3rd? Mayhaps…Rachel of House of Pinheiro did a fantastic review of the book here, and I love her version of the Bantam.

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I’m heading back into the dungeon for more painting and crafting, but I leave you with a poem from K. Today is the last day of fourth grade! How did my baby become this poetry-spouting, guitar-playing, tween-y young lady?

splash in the water
play in the sun
bumble bees buzzing
    summer is fun!

ice cream and lemonade
no homework at all
no school to go to
   until the fall

Happy weekend!

Freshly Laundered Linen

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There’s something about freshly washed linen that’s a mood booster. I’m talking about plain fabric here, and not fitted sheets or shams. Rumpled and textured and oh-so-soft, when I look at these, I pretend I live in the French countryside in a charming villa painted a dusty bleu-grey, overlooking fields of lavender. I can practically hear a baby goat bleating nearby.

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I have plans for these beauties. But because I’ve noticed that I categorically avoid making the things I declare as part of my plans (rather, it seems to take me longer to execute when I declare anything on the blog), I’m going to keep mum until I have something to show. But isn’t it nice just to look at the luscious linen? Doesn’t it make you want to toss the pile into a handwoven laundry basket and head outside to clip them to a clothesline (wooden pegs, of course) and watch them gently flap in the wind? No? Is it, in fact, making you shake your head that I obviously have nothing to say and am filling up the space with nonsense?

Deadlines, people. I’m currently translating a Japanese craft book and I have to have it completed by next Tuesday. Whenever I’m in deadline mode, I need to let off some steam by adding something here. Makes me feel productive. More soon. Promise.

In the meantime, I am dying to get my hands on these metallic linens from Purl Soho. Anyone sewn with these yet? I want every color, but so pricey!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the white and indigo linens are from District Fabric – at $8 per yard for 100% linen, it was a very good deal. The yarn-dyed pink cotton linen lawn (I know!) was from Miss Matatabi. I can’t remember where I got the other ones (here, probably), but they’re gorgeous.