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


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!


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.


Must make this Saltmarsh skirt stat.


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.


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


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.


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.

Imaginary Sewing


I do this thing, this thing that often starts with a discovery of a new book (or two), usually of the Japanese variety. I flip through the pages and daydream and plan and think, “oooh, I’ll make this top from this book…”


“Or this comfy looking one from this book…”


And before I know it, I’m carrying the books out of the store, my checking account slightly depleted, but my spirits buoyed. I scroll through my mental fabric stash inventory and gleefully anticipate wearing my new tops.


The beautiful books lay undisturbed, the fabrics neatly folded and unfound. Weeks pass.

I am excellent at imaginary sewing. Do you ever do that?

Now that I’ve posted these photos, though, I’m feeling more motivated and actual sewing might happen! Let’s hope so. My energy is slowly returning, and I’m going to start small. Itty bitty. Maybe a single seam. Or maybe just spreading out the pattern sheet. Yes, I think I can handle that.

Summer is coming and I think that pleated tank top would be so pretty…

How to Make Clothes That Fit and Flatter


Oof. I’ve been struck down by the bug that’s going around, and I was utterly useless yesterday. As I floundered about, I realized that the pile of books by my bed is out of control. There are about 30 assorted books, of which I’m currently reading 10 at once. I don’t normally do that, but I feel like my focus has been scattered, so I keep finding myself picking up one book and reading a couple of pages, then reaching for another book for a couple pages. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic way to read, but then I remembered that this was exactly the way I powered through my textbooks when studying for college exams. I don’t know if I’m absorbing more material this way or not, but the variety is sort of refreshing.

Beneath the 10 books in rotation, I found the book above. I hunted it down and ordered a used copy from Amazon a long time ago when I read Sarai‘s lovely review of it. The cover speaks of a well-loved and oft-thumbed through copy. Published in 1969, it’s full of charming illustrations and what appears to be a gentle style of writing, and although it hasn’t made it into my rotation yet, its turn is coming soon.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m determined to become well-versed in fit. Yes, let’s call this Project Survival of the Fittest. I’m aiming to start this…evolution, I suppose, at the beginning of 2016 since there’s no way no how that I’ll finish the book before then at my current glacial speed.

But first, I have to survive this pesky quasi-flu. Off to stock up on cough drops!