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!

Teen Sewing Bonanza

Hello, my friends! How are you doing? Are you still sheltering in place? Or has your area reopened and have you cautiously stepped out into the wild world?

K and I are still in full self-quarantine mode and we’re heading into day 80. M — the most extroverted of us all in desperate need of contact with other humans — has been venturing out a little more while remaining diligent about safety. At this point of lengthy cocooning, I’m not sure if I’m capable of having normal (i.e. coherent) conversations with people and I’m a little nervous about inserting myself into society when Seattle finally reopens.

Anyway! What with my books getting reshuffled schedule-wise and the necessary cancellations of many of my in-person events, I have found a treasure trove of abundant time. And for the first time in years, I’ve been inspired to sew for K. I may have had a poor showing for Me-Made-May, but I kept my sewing machine revved all month.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sewn for K at this pace. I might have overdone it, however, because after sewing up the ruffle top that failed, my mojo skittered to a halt this week.

I self-drafted all of the garments and I’m really proud of this fact. It’s always been my goal to be able to do this, and after 10 years of sewing, I’ve finally arrived. I’m sure it would take most people far less time but I’m a slow learner, especially when it comes to skills that have spatial and 3-dimensional elements.

So how did I decide what to make for K? She and I have a shared Pinterest board and she added all the clothes she fancied, and I used those pins as a springboard to come up with designs. So here they are:

PAJAMAS – she wanted lots and lots of pajamas. I’m happy to report that she loves them all and wears them constantly.

 

SHORTS – Nothing too special about these French terry knit shorts other than its off-the-charts comfort level. I created two separate casings for the waist band because I ran out of 3/4″ elastic and thought two rows of 3/8″ elastic would work (I did the same for the pink gingham pajama pants above). It did. Notice the fancy label. “Koom Koom” is her toddlerhood nickname and I had these labels made 10 years ago.

TOPS – she favors fitted and slightly cropped tops, I’ve noticed. I was trying to make the ones I sewed a little looser than the images I saw on our shared Pinterest board, but I miscalculated the stretch of this grey fabric and it turned out very snug:

She loves it and wears this top frequently. I’m quite pleased with how the lettuce edge hem turned out and you can see the original H & M top that I modeled it after. The stripey H & M top was a hand-me-down from a neighbor and it’s probably one of the most worn items in K’s wardrobe.

This tie-front top was fun to make. I’ve stopped worrying about finishing raw edges with most of the knit projects and K doesn’t seem to mind.

And finally…the failed ruffle top:

The idea behind this top is that it can be worn over or off the shoulder. Unfortunately, the fabric is too sheer, the armholes too deep and I sewed on the ruffle crookedly. I can easily fix the armholes and the ruffle, and I can probably add a lining, but I really, really dislike ripping the seams of knit fabric. We’ll see how I feel after a couple of days.

I’ve featured some of these on Instagram already, which was a lucky thing because quite a few of my photos mysteriously disappeared from my hard drive. Yay for cloud technology — though it tends to be hit-or-miss for me, this time it was a hit and I found the IG images stored on the cloud.

Alright, I’m off to figure out what else I can sew for K. Or maybe I’ll just veg out for a while. However you’re choosing to spend your time, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy!

It’s that time of year…

Hello, hello my friends! How are you? I’m flooded with relief right now since I’ve just wrapped up some major deadlines and have a few days to prepare for my mom’s visit next week (my parents are in Los Angeles at the moment to take care of some U.S. paperwork but will be returning to Japan again during Thanksgiving week).

K told me what she wanted for her costume and I made this quick sketch in Procreate today, and she said, “So pretty!” This one is looking like a relatively simple costume so I feel like I got off easy this year. Can you guess what it is? It’s K’s favorite drink: Boba (or bubble) tea. We noticed that it was all the rage in Japan too and it’s called “tapioca” there. The original bubble tea was a concoction of milk tea and tapioca balls, but nowadays there’s an infinite number of flavors and chewy bits you can choose from. In Tokyo I tried a soy milk version that was a bit funky, but K loved all the ones she sampled, especially the mango flavor.

I’ve got all the supplies ready for the costume (not pictured: the blue vellum for the extra big straw that will be magically attached to her head and the black felt for the boba):

I’m not sure how the mesh fabric will look on top of the milk-tea-colored fleece, but I’m eager to see how it all turns out. Are you getting ready for Halloween? What’s in store for you? I’ll be working on the costume this weekend and I just might actually get it done early this year. Wonders never cease…

2018 Halloween: K the Kat

Happy Friday! Halloween twenty-eighteen was a good one. A very good one. K hosted a little pre-trick-or-treating gathering at our house for a group of her friends and much jollyness ensued.

See that lumpy tunic that human-as-cat K is wearing? I made that. Despite swearing up and down that I wasn’t going to make a Halloween costume this year, I found myself cutting out fabric two days before Hallow’s Eve.

The reason I was anti-handmade costume is because I finally learned from previous years that I always have deadlines during the last week of October and I can’t seem to get my act together enough to have my work done in time to stitch up a proper costume.

Feeling very comfortable with my decision, I asked K what she wanted to be for Halloween. “A cat,” came the obvious answer. So I went to Goodwill and found a cute headband with ears for a dollar and figured I was done. All she would need is a black top and leggings, I reasoned. K was aghast when she heard about my Halloween costume suggestion. “Will you at least buy me a costume that’s furry?”

So back to Goodwill I went, but came up empty. Then I went to Fred Meyer’s, the Target-like PNW store that’s a mecca for cheap costumes during this season. Again, nothing. I went to the local consignment store. Nada. There were a ton of unicorns and Marvel comic characters and a few princess outfits and capes, but nowhere could I find a furry, fluffy, feline-esque costume (I should note that I couldn’t find one in her size or one that wasn’t of the sexy variety).

I got home after my unsuccessful shopping attempts and there, in one of my fabric baskets nestled a decent amount of black and light grey minky fabric pieces looking oh-so-fluffy. I sighed.

It took me 2 1/2 hours to trace one of K’s tops, cut out the pieces, shape a tail, attach the light grey oval for the belly and sew the whole thing up. Turned out to be roughly the same amount of time I spent scouring the various stores. It was meant to be, because I had just enough of the the black fabric. Oh, the sleeves were a little too tight initially so I had to add some funky gussets with knit fabric, but that didn’t take too long and looked discreet (should have gotten a photo!).

K LOVED the costume and practically skipped to school in it (we took these photos the day before Halloween and for the actual day, I upgraded the felt nose and painted a nose and whiskers with make-up). Even though I was a Halloween grinch at first, I’m now so glad I took the time to make this wonky little costume. Both my sweet K’s agree:

And hey, I was able to meet my deadlines so it all worked out.

Do you feel it in the air too? The holiday season is looming large and the upcoming weeks are already starting to look full and festive. Speaking of festive, I’ll be at Drygoods Design on Monday, November 5th with the Making Magazine lovelies if you’re in the ‘hood! 5-7pm! With the extraordinary Sonya Phillips and Woolfolk Yarn!!

I’m off to go relax! Have a wonderful weekend, friends!!

Happy Friday + K’s Grad Dress

Happy Friday! I tell you, these days I can’t tell what’s up and what’s down with all that’s going on. There are daily events at K’s school, work deadlines are looming and it’s dawning on me that my dream of sewing up a whole new wardrobe for my Japan trip is of the pipe variety. We leave next week and the total number of things I’ve sewn for the upcoming Asian adventure: nada.

Luckily, I started early on K’s graduation dress and after many, many iterations it’s done a week ahead of schedule!

One word: silk. Yes, my friends, this little number is made out of floaty, slippery, hair-pullingly challenging silk. My mom gave me this fabric years ago, and I had visions of sewing up a summer tunic for myself at some point, but when I asked K to choose material for her graduation dress, she beelined for this one.

I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am that she loves it. She found every muslin I attempted somehow lacking (I don’t blame her — I was trying to hack this pattern and this pattern together and it took me a few tries. You can see the progression on instagram here and here). In the end I drafted the entire dress pattern from scratch, which was a major learning curve for me given the asymmetry of the design.

The dress is fully lined with some rayon lining fabric, and I made my first ever thread belt loops using this video tutorial. It’s basically crocheting thread, and I had fun.

I thought I had all the kinks worked out and sewed up the bodice with the lining, only to find out that the sleeve was digging into her arm pit. It was a hairy moment since I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to enlarge the armhole without messing the whole thing up, but whew, it all worked out. The dress fits her perfectly and she’s happy as a clam.

The design was based off of this sketch that K so helpfully provided:

What do you think? The end result is pretty close to her sketch, right?

I was so immersed in the making of the dress that it didn’t fully hit me that I was, in fact, making a graduation dress. What a milestone! No more elementary school! Ack!! I’m not sure if I’m prepared to be the mom of a middle schooler…I am having HUMONGO feelings.

Back to preparing,
watch my baby grow,
begin packing for Japan

P.S. Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there!!