Happy Friday + Hallelujah!

Happy Friday, my friends! I did it! I did it! I completed my rough art for the next book that’s coming out in 2018. Normally, I create digital rough art using only Photoshop brushes like these and these, but I wanted to try a little something different.

For this next book’s rough art, I used only black watercolor and I enjoyed it so much! It’s a different kind of challenge to paint with a single color to create various shades. Surprisingly, it took less time to hand paint than it does to do everything digitally. How could this be? I’m still scratching my head. That’s a bit of a sneak peek of the next book up there. It’s a continuation of the Little Kunoichi series and the ninja world is going to keep expanding.

Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet will be out on August 8th, which feels just around the corner. I’ll be doing a mini PNW book tour, so Portlanders: if you have recommendations for awesome places to stay and eat, I’d love to hear ’em!

What’s nice is that with each book, I’m learning from previous mistakes and developing a system that minimizes stress, so I don’t feel quite as drained after each phase. Hooray!

Now I have a slight respite until final art is due mid-September, so I’m going to go full hog in preparing for my upcoming Japan trip. We fly out June 24th! Because we’re traveling with K’s school, there’s so much paperwork involved…better get to it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Painting bonanza
and loving each progression
book-making is FUN

P.S. Furoku members! The next edition has been delivered!

Happy Friday + Little K Turns TWO

By Sasha

Happy Friday, my friends! It’s Thursday afternoon as I type this and it’s hailing. Massive amounts of raindrops are thrashing against our window panes that don’t seem up to the task and thunder and lightning and sunshine are adding to the confusing yet exciting mix. By the time you read this (if it’s Friday), I will be headed out of town with M and K for a little weekend getaway in Roslyn. Let’s hope the weather gets better.

Left: By Dylan // Right: Ines

So! May 5th is not only Children’s Day but Little Kunoichi’s 2nd birthday!! How amazing. I am currently up to my eyeballs with sketches and illustrations for my next book that will be published in 2018, and yesterday, an advance copy of Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet arrived on my doorstep. I still have a hard time believing that this is all happening.

Left: S.C. (this is debatable) // Right: Poppy

I did not get my act together enough for a fun giveaway or celebratory post, but I wanted to acknowledge this special day somehow. I remembered that last January I had taught a watercolor class to a group of elementary school kids and about a month later, I received a big envelope stuffed with wonderful thank you cards from the kids. I became very emotional – they’re brilliant, just brilliant! What better way to commemorate my very first book than by sharing these special cards inspired by Little K?

By Beth

There were so many cards and because the names weren’t all entirely legible, I chose a few that I could decipher and that I felt captured the energy of the kids.

Left: Valentine // Right: Max

I love how fearless children are about making art. How do we allow them and encourage them to keep that fearlessness?

It’s been a dream-like adventure since Little K flew out into the world. I don’t think my self from five years ago would recognize my current self that is whistling away and drawing cute ninjas and samurais. I feel like I’ve somehow regained a tiny little bit of fearlessness. I like it.

Left: Leo // Right: Coral

Anyway, I’ll be celebrating away this weekend (and sketching/illustrating like crazy) and I hope you all have a terrific one too!

Two years go by quick
There’s much to appreciate
And that includes you*

* I don’t think it’s possible to thank you enough. Although my postings are far less frequent, I’m so grateful that you stop by and preserve that sense of community that I love so much. Thank you, thank you!

 

Happy Friday + Sewing Happiness Anniversary

Happy Friday! Somehow I totally missed that this Wednesday was the one year anniversary of Sewing Happiness. A whole year! Yesterday, I attended a marketing meeting for Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet coming out in August and I’m currently working on the illustrations for the book that is slated to be released in 2018, so I’ve been a bit preoccupied…

It’s interesting because I think Sewing Happiness is doing just as well as Little Kunoichi in terms of sales, which I hadn’t expected. I was gently warned that because the book topic is so niche, it was a gamble. A crapshoot, if you will. Then again, every book is a gamble and nothing is ever guaranteed. All I know is that I love making books. Absolutely love it. I want to keep creating books and I want to keep improving my skills. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do this, especially with Sasquatch Books/Little Bigfoot.

I received many wonderful responses for Little K, but maybe it’s because the content was so personal — the emails and feedback I’ve received from people who read Sewing Happiness have been so heartfelt and candid in astonishing and humbling ways. I’ve always been prone to tears, but it’s been a year of consistently wiping at tear-stained cheeks. Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out!

I often get asked, “What’s your favorite project from the book?” I have origami pillows and fabric buckets scattered all over my little abode, and the eco bags and knit dresses often come in handy, but the most used and loved item I sewed is the cross-back apron. Hands down. I made about ten of them for the book, and I wear one every day (I have them hanging on a hook in the kitchen and will grab one that strikes my fancy — I can even wear some of the kid’s versions because I made the straps adjustable).

A little behind the scenes: this image was cropped in for the final, and the bamboo stick was tied to a nail above the kitchen doorway on one end and a curtain rod on the other end…

I listen to a lot of audio books and podcasts, and the pocket that’s part of my many aprons is perfect for my phone. I wear it when I cook, do dishes, paint and sew. There’s something comforting about donning a long apron and puttering about the house. If you have the book, have you tried any of the projects?

See how the fabric was taped to the wall? This image didn’t make the cut, but I liked it.
I actually preferred my hair down, but the powers-that-be thought my messy bun was better so that’s the version that ended up in the book. K is holding extra sprinkles in her scooped left hand there.

I need to dive back into illustrating now, but I plan to do a round-up of projects I’ve seen from Sewing Happiness around the web and on Instagram. They’re so awesome!!

Have a delightful weekend, all!

A year goes by fast
Book babies are so lovely
J’adore my lit kids

P.S. The images are outtakes from the photoshoots. Styled by the incomparable Rachel and shot by the always fun George.

My next book! Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet

chibi-cover

Hello, my friends! I know that updates here have been sporadic and unpredictable these days, but I have a pretty good reason. I’ve been deeply involved in book-making fun and my hours are spent dreaming up stories and images for the printed page. When I startle back into “real life”, I’m amazed to realize that days and weeks have passed.

I’m SUPER excited to share the next book in what is now the Little Kunoichi series!!!!!!! Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet is already available for preorder but will be officially released on August 8, 2017. I’m totally, utterly and unabashedly head-over-heels in love with this book. The message I tried to include is one of my core guiding tenets and I had a spectacular time painting the illustrations.

Danielle of the lovely blog This Picture Book Life did a sweet cover reveal post about the book, and I hope you’ll hop on over to read more about it. I share a bit about my illustration process and the thought sequence that led to the cover.

You know, sometimes I can’t believe this is my life. I’m currently working on the next book in the series, and it’s magical. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It all started with this little blog, and I give this space a virtual hug of appreciation every day even if I don’t update it as regularly as I used to. For now, I’m heading back into dreamland, but I will be back with an SVE wrap-up later this week! xo

 

Happy Friday + Winter Tour Week 2 Wrap-up

1000stoffgiftvoucher1Happy Friday! What a fun, fun, fun week it’s been! Sewing Happiness continued to wind its way around the world for the Winter Tour and I’m enamored with everything. I love how each participant put her own spin on the projects and the individual personalities shine through.

Before I go into the eye candy supplied by this week’s tour participants, I wanted to feature the gift voucher that 8 lucky recipients will win from 1000 Stoff. That beauteous origami dress up there? Handmade by Lara (and maybe Ute too?? I should have asked). I can hear you gasping. At least, I did when I opened the package from her. She created 8 custom gift vouchers for her shop and they’re so pretty I’m hesitant to let them go.

1000stoffgiftvoucher2

I’ll be sending a signed copy of Sewing Happiness along with one of these gorgeous vouchers for each winner, and I can’t wait to see who wins! Thank you so much for your handiwork, Lara – I want to learn how to make these origami dresses myself!

1000stoffgiftvoucher3

OK! Let’s move onto Annika, Olu, Emi and Eva. I just noticed that all four ladies have names that begin with a vowel, which doesn’t mean anything really, but I take note of these things.

shwintertour-weektwo1
Photos by Annika

When I first thought about doing the tour, Annika‘s bright and happy style immediately popped into my mind and I knew I had to reach out to her. With panache, she presented a bright and happy butterfly tooth fairy pillow which would make any child in the world want to gleefully stuff their newly loosened tooth in it. Annika’s life sounds dreamy: her family built a Swedish-style home in Southern Germany where she and her husband are raising two adorable children. She clothes them in über fashionable handmade garments and conjures up delightful patterns for her shop. Although folks from all walks of life with varied careers and interests discover the joys of sewing, I have been meeting more and more scientists absolutely smitten with the craft lately. Makes me think of how so many Buddhist monks used to be physicists. Anyway, Annika is a geologist and I get the sense that she’s got precision down to, well, a science. Look at her folds and stitches on that butterfly! The many version I created never looked that good. I was also incredibly touched that she mentioned Furoku in her blog post — the rather mysterious and undefined monthly membership that I offer. A few days ago, I was telling a friend that I never know how to describe it and don’t feel comfortable promoting it, but it is something that I pour my heart into every month with all the creative energy that I can shore up. It’s so wonderful you’re a member, Annika! To read about the sweet tooth fairy pillow and more, check out her blog here.

shwintertour-weektwo2
Photos by Olu

I was so excited when Olu of Needle and Ted agreed to take part in the tour. I encourage you to read this little segment about the talented Olu with a British accent, since she’s based in the UK. She has this effervescence, an energy that seems to recharge itself endlessly. She is, if you don’t already know, one-half of the supremely chic pattern company MadeIt Patterns (the other half is Anna) that easily puts high street to shame. I wear my Drop Tops constantly and have definite plans for sewing up the Groove dress. If you sneak a peek at Olu’s IG account and blog, it’s a sea of glorious, glorious neutrals (with the occasional zing of color) and you know how I feel about neutrals. She went above and beyond by featuring so many items in a bag-a-palooza of holiday crafting with her daughters and sister, I had difficulty choosing three images. My favorite is the red pouch that her daughter Scout made for herself. How adorable is that? I also can’t get over the ipad case — such a great way to modify the zip pouch pattern with that added pocket! To see the many, many, many items sewn up by Olu + Co. see her post here.

shwintertour-weektwo3
Photos by Emi

If you are at all associated with sewing, you have probably received a kind word or encouraging comment from Emi of Just Add Fabric. She is thoroughly plugged into the crafting community and her prolific sewing prowess is second to none. Emi is so super humble, she would never ever let on that she’s a brilliant scholar, but she is. And of course you know that she contributes to Petit a Petit and Family. Though she grew up in the US, she now calls Tokyo home and shares it with her Japanese husband and two darling girls who get a lot of air time on IG and her blog (the daughters, not the husband). The girls have an abundant wardrobe that equals K’s and Emi is a true sewing and pattern-testing Jedi master. When I reached out to her, I was extra thrilled because I also got to tell her that I’m going to Japan!! K and I will be jetting out to Tokyo this summer — well, “jetting” in the coach section of Delta, but still. It’s so rare to have face-to-face interaction with virtual sewing friends and the few I have been able to spend time with have become wonderful real-life friends so I have no doubt that Emi and I will have a grand old time together! I was so busy extolling Emi’s awesomeness, I forgot to mention that she made a Dopp Kit and an infinity scarf from the book and the best part is that she made a “muslin” for the Dopp Kit. How can you not love that? Prepare to be entertained by her blog post here!

shwintertour-weektwo4
Photos by Eva

The grand finale of the Winter Tour was beautifully delivered by Eva of With Love – by Eva. Originally, I meant to have a week-long tour with 5 bloggers, one for each weekday if they all said yes. I compiled my list and initially sent emails to 5 women, crossing my fingers that they would all be on board. Then I got a very clear intuitive pull — something that I’ve been working on paying more and more attention to these days. I knew I was supposed to contact Eva. A little voice whispered firmly, “With love by Eva”. Her blog name alone reveals her sweet nature. Once I reached out, she responded quickly. As a university student in Belgium, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to participate due to her exam schedule. No problem, I told her, just keep me posted. As it turned out, all 5 said yes, and then Eva’s exam schedule cleared up just in time for the tour. After a little readjusting and after listening to more intuitive recommendations, I came up with a plan for 9 participants. My intuition is turning out to be mighty trustworthy.

I hadn’t known that Eva had been battling a chronic health condition for the past two years, and I had no idea that my own struggle with health would connect us on a deeper level. I read her post here and I cried – happy tears for her lovely descriptions about Sewing Happiness and her gorgeous pouches and camera strap and for the way she’s patiently working through her illness, but also tears of knowing how hard it is to feel enervated and listless, to feel cut off from things that once brought so much enjoyment or comfort. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a sewing expert — I’m not an expert in anything actually. Most days I bumble around, fairly confused and half worried that someone will tell me to knock it off, stop making books, stop writing, stop trying to create things. Reading Eva’s words (and Ute’s and Lara’s and An’s and Trine’s and Shelley’s and Annika’s and Olu’s and Emi’s) generated a feeling I don’t even know how to describe. Gratitude is probably the closest I can get. I’ve been over the moon seeing all the projects made with such care and like Eva’s blog name, with love. Thank you all so so much, my heart is full. xoxoxo

Wasn’t that awesome?

I have some more goodness lined up for next week, and until then have a wonderful weekend, my friends!!

Next week there’s a treat:
Ute-made tutorial
Right here on this blog*

*The ever generous Ute created a tutorial to up-level the Dopp Kit which I’ll share next week!