Greetings from Japan!

Takeshita-Dori at Harajuku, Tokyo. We ate a ton of sweets here.
Ginza, Tokyo. I liked the “San-ai Dream Center” sign because it reminded me of my name and the way I pronounce it, which is actually different from the Japanese traditional pronunciation.
On weekends, the main street in Ginza is closed off and is pedestrian only. K is lounging at one of the tables in the heart of the shopping district.
The theme of the trip was animals. We went to the amazing Yokohama Sea Paradise aquarium where it felt like we could practically touch the dolphins.

Hello, hello! K and I have spent a glorious time in Japan for the last 11 days, and we’re having a hard time leaving. I have so many thoughts and emotions right now and though I’m unable to organize them in a coherent way at the moment, I wanted to pop in to say hello.

I also wanted to talk about Ogden camis. For this trip, I somehow made four Ogden Camis by True Bias Patterns in two days before embarking on the plane to Narita. I originally purchased the PDF pattern and then printed it out via PDF Plotting. This turned out to be a brilliant move because I probably would have never gotten around to sewing these great little tops if I had to tape loads of sheets together.

I started with the size 12 based on the finished size dimensions, but the top was much too large and also too short for my liking. Undaunted, I traced the size 10 and the fit was much better, though I think I could go down a half size. I experimented with lengthening, ranging from 1″ to 3″ — 2″ feels like the right amount for me.

Size 12 in a Japanese fabric I received as a gift from Frances of Miss Matatabi

 

 

Version two in size 10 using a double-gauze.
Here’s the back
Version three in my favorite indigo cotton with subtle vertical stripes. I lengthened this one by 3 inches.

Here’s the sad part though: I brought three of the four camis with me to Japan and I only wore one. The breezy top is perfect for the muggy weather in Japan, but I felt very exposed and a bit scandalous showing so much skin in the thronging areas amid women covered from head to toe in layers of fabric. The Japanese as a whole are a modest people and there seems to be an unspoken rule to cover your shoulders.

This fourth version was made from 1 yard of GORGEOUS linen I got on major sale from the no longer open District Fabrics in Fremont. I love how Katara stays close to me and you can see what the photo area situation is actually like here…

I wore this stripey linen version to a cat cafe in Atagawa — where my parents now live — and I felt all the Japanese cat lovers surreptitiously staring at my torso. Luckily, the kitties were incredibly adorable so the stares were short-lived. The cat cafe was one of the highlights of our trip. K and I were missing Katara and it was a fun way to get a dose of feline fun. I was pleased with how well-cared for the 28 (!!) cats were at the small facility. For the price of roughly $10 an hour, we played with incredibly friendly cats, fed them snacks and enjoyed a beverage ourselves (the snacks and drinks were included).

K at the cat cafe, having the time of her life.

Well, it’s time for me to wake up K so we can have our last breakfast in Japan. I want to absorb all that we’ve seen and done here in the land of the rising sun and will be updating my Patreon lovelies with all the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes stuff as I always do. I hope you’re all doing well, and I’ll be back with more sewing with some fabric goodies I got in Ginza soon!

TEENAGER + BOOK GIVEAWAY {CLOSED}

Hello, hello! Here is a rare photo of M — this one’s from 13 years ago. K is only a few days old in this image, and for several months, she frequently slept on M’s chest like this.

Today, my baby is 13. THIRTEEN. M had a birthday last week as well, and he always says that K has been the best present he’s ever received and I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps the one downside is that ever since she popped out, his birthday has been upstaged by hers (sorry, honey). He doesn’t seem to mind.

1-year-old K

I feel simultaneously emotional and oddly detached, if that’s at all possible. Motherhood is such a paradoxical experience, overflowing with the mundane and exalting. Sometimes it seems like I’m the adolescent and she’s the mature one. I find myself increasingly reliant on her technical savvy, and she shrewdly observes the world with an older-than-her-years wisdom. And then she’ll crumble into a fit of uncontainable feelings worthy of a toddler. I’m constantly wide-eyed with wonder and not a little mystified by how quickly that tiny being has grown up. She’s on the petite side so she’s not quite as tall as I am (I’m 5′ 4″), but her comportment is decidedly young adult. I look back on all the phases — Dora The Explorer, Elmo, Disney princesses, that weird goth period when she was 5 or 6, unicorns — and I wonder what the next evolvement will be. Make-up? Boyfriends? She starts 8th grade in the fall and she’s already talking about preparing for college…oh, I don’t think I’m ready for that. No, not at all.

But today is all about celebrating her entry into teenage-hood. I’m so proud of her. I’m so in awe of her. There’s that popular quote, “I love you to the moon and back,” which I adore, but I want to know where the farthest, deepest, highest point in the universe is because that’s where my love for her extends to and fro.

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As an additional way to celebrate (and because I’ve just completed my fifth book that will be released next year), I’m doing a little book giveaway! Details are on Instagram, but if you’re not an IG type, here’s the 411 for entering through the blog:

To enter, simply leave a comment below with a summer reading recommendation. I’ve been devouring YA books lately, but I’m a voracious reader of any and every genre. I will choose FIVE random winners — winners can select any two books that are shown here and will receive signed (and personalized, if desired) copies. The books are SEWING HAPPINESS, LITTLE KUNOICHI, CHIBI SAMURAI WANTS A PET and BA-CHAN, THE NINJA GRANDMA, published by @sasquatchbooks And @lbfbooks. International entries are more than welcome and the giveaway will be open until Friday, August 9th. Good luck!!!!

 

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!

Rockstars

Oh the days! The weeks! The months! I feel like I’m operating at warp speed and am hurtling through a galaxy littered with to-do meteors. Things are good, though. It’s mega-exciting to see the feedback from all the pattern testers and I am so so so so so so close to getting my manuscript completely done. I feel lucky that other wonderful non-publishing opportunities keep popping up and I’m spending a lot of time asking myself, “Is this something I really want to do? Is this the best use of my very short life? Am I fully using my skills and talents?” These are tough questions to answer sometimes.

Speaking of talents, I always marvel at K’s musical acumen. It’s something I don’t possess — I’m sure I’ve told you at some point that I have on record the lowest score in the history of a certain karaoke machine in Tokyo. Did you know that K is in a band? That’s her and her bandmates above. They have a gig at a coffee shop coming up in a few weeks and have been practicing regularly with their music teacher, Lacey. K does guitar, bass and has also written some original songs. AR, on the left is on keyboard. AM on the right is a spectacular drummer. All three girls alternate on vocals. Their band is called “In Tandem.” I love it.

K and AR have been friends since elementary school and all three are in 7th grade (K and AM go to the same school). They’ve had a couple of recitals together at the building where they have their lessons, but this will be their first “real” performance at an outside venue. We’ll see how it goes — I get the sense that K is wary.

For now, they’re practicing hard and M is designing a band poster for the show (the photo below is one of the photo options I provided). A band poster! How cool is that? Let’s hope that the event doesn’t get canceled due to jangled nerves or unforeseen complications….what brave, beautiful creatures these girls are. I don’t know if I would have been able to go up on stage at their age. From my vantage point, they seem like true rockstars.

Okay, back to work-like things for me. Mid-winter break is almost over and K and I have been “remodeling” our bathroom all week in-between my book editing sessions. It’s looking so fresh and clean! We just went to IKEA for a new medicine cabinet and fingers crossed that we can install it successfully…

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

~xo

Etsy update and whatnot

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge

Hello, my friends! Just a little update because my blog is feeling quite neglected these days, so very much like my houseplants. This post is my attempt at a bit of watering and reviving, though I know that I’ll need to do some serious pruning and repotting and fertilizing (?) and all the other plant metaphors that I don’t know because I’m not much of a gardener.

Anyway. I’ve been meaning to add this little meditative pincushion PDF pattern that I contributed to Making to my etsy shop for months, and I’m so happy that I’m now getting around to it.

February was a hectic month what with the flu and SVE and traveling to Santa Fe during mid-winter break and trying to finish up the book that will be coming out in September. The flu was hard, SVE was awesome (though a few people are still waiting for gifts and as always, Ute and I are so grateful for the herculean patience of all), Santa Fe was glorious, and the book still isn’t done. That pretty much sums it all up.

Now that I’m about 98.3% all better, I’ve been enjoying life immensely. There’s nothing like not being able to eat for almost a week to make you appreciate food. I’ve been chowing down heartily and savoring every bite.

How are you? I’m somewhat more active on IG these days, but blogging will always remain my first love. I have SO much to share with you (I’m sewing again!) that if I think too much about it, I get overwhelmed. For now, I’m keeping the pace slow and meditative and am wishing you a lovely weekend!