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!!

Happy Friday + Simplicity Tween Patterns

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Happy Friday, my friends!

A little while ago, it occurred to me that K has officially outgrown the largest size (130cm) for most of the Japanese sewing books that I own. This was a momentous and startling occurrence. I’ve been sewing from these books for five years, which means I haven’t bought her (or me!) any clothes for 60 months. Wait, that’s not true. I did buy the first day of school outfit here.

Okay, K has received an embarrassment of riches in terms of hand-me-downs from neighbors and she’s worn the ready-to-wear outfits exclusively and exuberantly for the last couple of years. Mildly discouraged but also relieved that it gave me more time to work on books, I had stopped sewing for her.

But joy! K has a sudden renewed interest in handmade clothes and has been squeezing herself into the garb I stitched up years and years ago. It was time to get the sewing machine cranked up again.

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So we hightailed it to the nearest JoAnn’s and found a bevy of tween patterns. I already had a few tween patterns on hand, but we were looking specifically for cardigan patterns. She has big, big love for cardis. And shrugs. And boleros. I’ll do another post on the New Look patterns that was part of the same haul, but these were the two Simplicity ones she liked: 1025 and 1510 — see what I mean about the cardis and boleros?

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The funny thing about this view C of Simplicity 1025 is that it’s actually a faux cardi. The shirt portion is cleverly stitched as part of the cardigan. I didn’t realize this until I started sewing and was perplexed by the instructions and stared at them for a while. Once I figured it out, it was easy to assemble. K loves it. Size 8 seems to be spot on for my petite, almost 11-year-old in all the Big 4 patterns.

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She also begged for the knit skirt, and chose all the fabrics from my stash. That’s my ironclad new rule: no new fabrics. Both were quick to sew, and though my stitches got a little weird around the neckline of the faux cardigan, I’m pretty sure that no one would actually notice.

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It looks sort of business-casual to me, but hey, she adores the outfit. That darn skirt hem keeps flipping up…

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By now, I’ve quietly surrendered all creative decisions to my budding fashionista, and her next request was for a “musical” outfit. For those of you that may not know, K is a musician. She plays the piano, guitar and cello and she also takes voice lessons. All by her own request. As a totally non-musical person who is tone-deaf myself, what she can do with all her instruments is miraculous to me.

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I actually made three boleros total from Simplicity 1510 (the other two disappeared in her laundry basket and I haven’t been able to get photos). The pattern is meant for wovens, but I used a sweater knit, and as per her instructions, I ironed on a big ole gold treble clef. It’s become a fave.

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The dress is made out of quilting cotton and isn’t the best in terms of drape. The pleats don’t really show up much with dancing musical notes everywhere, but it’s a nice detail.

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Speaking of dancing, apparently this is the new “it” dance move called The Dab:

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The Dab from behind:

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It’s all the rage at K’s school. My invisible zipper insertion technique needs some work, and I couldn’t get the waist seams to line up but again, chance of anyone noticing are slim.

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I’ve noticed that the dress isn’t getting much wear compared to the boleros, but maybe it’s because she had wanted the maxi version and I just didn’t have enough fabric. She’s talking to M here and making him pinky promise something, but I can’t remember what it was about.

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Alright, I feel like I’ve assailed you with enough photos for now. As you can see, I’ve been sewing fairly frequently. And I am LOVING it.

I’m not ready to figure out what to do with all the Japanese sewing books, but I will get around to it when the time is right. Baby girls seem to be popping up around me a lot lately, and I do get an outsized amount of pleasure from sewing itty-bitty clothes…

I’m off to sew some more! Have a delightful weekend everyone!

Tween sewing is good
Though our tastes aren’t quite the same
We connect through it

 

Happy Friday + Morgan Jeans

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So. Shall we talk about the brilliance that is the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Patterns? I happen to be one lucky gal and am real life friends with both Heather (who created the pattern) and Morgan (who is the muse for the pattern). When the energy of two women that I adore converge into a singularly stylish and comfortable jeans pattern, well, I flounder for the right word to describe the magic. Maybe fizazzlepizzazzle?

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I took my time with this one, friends. I lovingly traced the pattern pieces. Slooowly cut them out. I carefully ironed on the interfacings. So on and so forth. And you know what? It was AWESOME. I was enjoying myself so much while making these, a casual observer might have assumed I was on some mood-enhancing drug. Nope, just a natural high from creating the most professional-looking pair of jeans.

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From start to finish, it took me seven hours to make these jeans. Yes. Definitely an investment of time. But I paced myself and worked on it over three days and it truly felt effortless. Would I do it again? No question.

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The one rub: I think I cut one size (or possibly two sizes) too large. This is a size 8, and I knew from the instructions that the non-stretch denim would expand in size over time and based on the measurements the 8 seemed like a safe bet. I took the photos as soon as I finished them and the fit was perfect, perfect, perfect. Snug, but not tight around the waist. Casually slouchy but not ballooning around the thighs and calves.

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I don’t have pictorial evidence, but by the end of the day of the third wear, the jeans looked like they belonged to a hefty bodyguard three times my size.

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I’m going to toss them into the washing machine and hope they shrink up back to the amazing initial fit. If not, that’s okay. I’m not one to shy away from too loose jeans.

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It just means I’ll have to size down, which means less fabric to cut and hey, that sounds like a win-win to me. On a side note, I went with the cropped version but due to my legs that have the DNA of wiener dogs, they don’t look as cropped as I’ve seen on others. I like this length a lot though!

Spurred by the success of my Morgan Boyfriend Jeans for which the instructions are excellent, I decided it was high time I made K some skinny jeans again. I’m afraid the lack of pictorial evidence is deliberate this time. I used the Blaverry KoKo pattern (the company no longer seems to be in business) and maybe I was exhausted and double-visioned from already making grown-up sized jeans, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the zip fly insertion instructions. I completely flubbed the whole thing, but K wore it for a full day anyway just because I had spent so much time on it (a speedy 4 hours compared to the Morgan). But in the end, she had to admit that the jeans were terribly uncomfortable. If I get around to it, I’ll add the photo of the finished KoKo jeans here at a later date — it actually looks pretty good at first glance, but oh, the zip fly (suck in breath through teeth here)…it ain’t pretty.

Upon reflection I’m certain that I messed up K’s jeans because I felt rushed and through no fault of her own, K’s eager expectation added some pressure to the experience. With the Morgan jeans, I thoroughly and leisurely enjoyed the process of it and didn’t really focus on the end result. With the KoKo jeans, it was all about the end result. Hm. Thoughts to chew on. Have you made the Morgan? Was it as fizazzlepizazzle for you too? What about the KoKo? I’m sure it’s a great pattern and that all errors were just from my misreading the instructions.

Anyway. I have another deadline next week so I better focus on that. Have a delightful weekend, everyone!

Jeans are fun to make
Even if they don’t fit well
Just gotta make more

P.S. I almost forgot! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

P.P.S. I’m wearing the Linden sweatshirt in the lovely french terry I mentioned a few posts ago.