Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! The other day K looked at me and said, “I don’t know why, Mama, but I think your spirit animal is a donkey.” At first, I was thrown off because Eeyore came immediately to mind.

Later, I did a little research and I think I’m in love with donkeys. Did you know that contrary to common perception, donkeys are extremely intelligent? And that they’re not easily startled and are super strong? They have a well-developed sense of self-preservation (which accounts for their stubbornness) and are incredibly curious creatures. After examining quite a few photos and sketching a couple of donkeys, I now know that they’re adorable. Maybe not as glamorous as horses, but quite beautiful in their own way.

 

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I marveled at K’s wisdom. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be a horse and battling a nagging (ha) sense of unease about it. All this time, I was actually a donkey, an animal that I had discounted as somehow lesser. Which of course, it’s not. I feel like there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m embarking on making another pair of jeans tonight — I’m so excited!!!!

Alas, I’m a lass
granted a spiritual ass
hee haw hee haw hee

 

6 Lindens + A Toaster

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? Clearly, a pile of knits that have seen better days.

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A few weeks (months?) ago, I hinted at having sewn a bunch of Linden sweatshirts and not only did I sew six of them, I have worn them to death.

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From a distance, they don’t look too bad. I even got a little bit creative with a striped back for the black version:

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Alas, these have been so well-loved (that Jen of Grainline Studio knows how to draft a good pattern) three out of the six are not really fit for public wear anymore and have been relegated to pajama tops. Case in point:

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This brownish-khaki-ish double-knit is incredibly soft and comfortable but the pilling! The snagging! I truly look tragic when I wear it. The navy-and-white stripe and black with striped back have suffered similar declines in presentability. The Ocean Blue French terry I got from Raspberry Creek Fabrics is wonderful in quality, however, and it’s been holding up decently, as has the light grey sweatshirt fabric from…I don’t know. Maybe Pacific Fabrics? The double-knit was from Drygoods, I’m pretty sure. The short-sleeved navy version is also a mystery fabric that feels like rayon jersey.

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I wanted to make more Lindens to replace the pilled, unsalvageable ones, but chose to expand my horizons and tried my hand at the Toaster sweater. Here’s the conversation that followed when I triumphantly donned my new Toaster:

M: Did you make that?

Me: Yes! It was so fast to sew!

M:….

Me: Do you not like it?

M: Um.

Me: I know. I’m calling it my Steve Jobs top. It’s not my best look.

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My fabric choice was problematic, to begin with. This thick rayon jersey has no drape and very little stretch, so I feel stiff and awkward in it. I also added quite a bit to the bottom band since it’s what I always do to account for my loooong torso. I think that and the extra amount I added to the turtleneck are throwing the proportions off.

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The back’s not too bad. My Ginger jeans are still surviving though I accidentally ripped the right knee on a jutting apparatus in my basement (it’s torn all my jeans and caused other shenanigans). I figure the ripped knee gives me some street cred.

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Hmmmm. It’s not that it looks horrible or anything. I think it’s more about how I feel in it. I feel…oddly robotic. Inflexible. Rigid. Ah well. Live and learn. Maybe I’ll try this pattern again with a different knit. That might be the ticket.

With spring around the corner, a resurgence of sewing motivation is brewing inside of me. I might even venture to sew something that’s not knit! What are you making lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday + SVE Wrap-up

 

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Happy Friday! This is but a small sampling of the 800+ posts when you search the #2017sve hashtag on Instagram.

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Friends, this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange exceeded our expectations on every level. The creative energy, the kindness, the patience (we know that quite a few of you are still waiting…we’re doing our best to help loose ends get tied up, so keep us posted at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com). Ute and I are experiencing a lot of jaw-hanging and tear-wiping. We’ve especially been tickled by serendipitous pairings of people living near each other and we’ve been incredibly touched by gifts that arrived during trying and much-needed moments. And so much variety! DIY make-up! Bags of all shapes, sizes, colors! Dolls! Pet bibs! Knitted loveliness! Paintings! Jewelry! Hand-stamping / hand-dying / hand-spinning! And much, much, more. It’s been magic.

2017sve-wrapup4As for me, I received a lovingly crocheted bag in my favorite hues and the effort and care that went into it is abundantly clear. Thank you, Sally Mae! The shape makes me think of the word “pochette” for some reason — Google is telling me that it’s supposed to mean “wallet” in French, but in the Japanese culture little purses are often referred to as pochettes. My pochette was stuffed to the max with chocolate and candy, which made everyone in my family very happy. K immediately claimed the Fun Dips for herself. The sweetest part? My SVE partner included a little Pen Pal survey for me to fill out. I used to love pen pal letters when I was a kid! I promptly completed it and sent it to Sally Mae — so fun!

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In terms of my own gift-making, I took quite some time to come up with an idea for my Secret Valentine, Melanie of All by Hand. Her color and fabric preferences were very similar to mine, which was handy. I dug around my stash and pulled out a bunch of linens, then I noticed that her logo was a sweet blossoming tree branch which reminded me of this silky fabric I purchased eons ago. Risking some copyright infringement, I hand-painted her logo and made little notecards that I hoped might be useful for her to include with her shop items. Speaking of her shop, Melanie makes gorgeous rope bowls and assorted sewn items. I thought of hunting down some Japanese ropes to include as part of the gift, but when I did an online search for “Japanese ropes,” I wasn’t quite prepared for the intense bondage imagery that popped up. Red-faced and scandalized, I decided to table that idea.

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The silky fabric turned into an infinity scarf (which I realized isn’t totally seasonally appropriate for Australia, but oh well; it’s almost fall there, right?), and because I wanted to keep the gift compact, I decided to create little embroidered sachets. My stitches are never totally even, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending several meditative evenings letting the stitches come up with their own designs. I’m sort of in love with their wonkiness. I filled them with lavender and called it good. In fact, I loved making these so much, I’ve been caught up in a full-blown sachet-making obsession!

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Ute and I are so grateful to the 426 women who joined in spreading handmade cheer around the globe!!! As with any venture with hundreds of participants, there have been a few hiccups here and there and we’re taking them in stride, knowing that each challenge and learning how to deal with it will make the exchange even better next year. Overall, we’re quite amazed at how smoothly everything has gone — we even got a little more technically savvy this year with mail merge (thank goodness for YouTube)!

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And no SVE wrap-up is complete without me gushing about Ute. You’ve probably all figured out by now that she’s the one running the show, keeping the excitement thrumming, and saving the day left and right. My IG and general online presence can be, shall we say, hit-or-miss, but Ute has been commenting like a boss on massive numbers of SVE IG posts (how does she do that?????), which is no small feat. It’s just one of many ways that shows how awesome she is. Behind the scenes, she does even more and is truly a wonder. Not that I’m slacking off, but she’s so on top of things, it’s magnificent. Working on this project with Ute is hands down my favorite part of SVE.

I’m filled with anticipation for the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange!! I hope you are too!

Aaaaaaand, that’s a wrap!

…except, once again, if you still haven’t received a gift, please let us know at secret.valentine.exchange@gmail.com. We’ll do everything we can to help out! xoxo

 

 

 

My next book! Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet

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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

 

Dopp Kit with Lining – Tutorial by Ute

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Hello my friends! Today, I’m excited to share a tutorial that my dear friend Ute created. When she posted her beautifully made dopp kit as part of the Sewing Happiness Winter Tour, I noticed that she added a lining (the pattern in my book is sans lining to make it extra easy for beginners). I loved that and casually asked her if she’d want to do a little tutorial. She agreed and as usual, she went above and beyond and whipped one up in a jiffy, complete with gorgeous photos (that fabric!!).

Take it away Ute!

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I am so excited to share a tutorial with you on how to line the dopp kit from “Sewing Happiness” – or any other boxy pouch. Thank you so much for inviting me, Sanae!

One of the things I made for the Sewing Happiness Winter Tour was the dopp kit as a Christmas present for my father. Since it was intended as a toiletry bag I lined it with coated fabric that it could easily be cleaned and wiped.

At least for me this process was not very intuitive and maybe a little tutorial can help you too!

Let´s go!

ute-doppkit2MATERIALS

  • Two rectangular pieces of fabric for the exterior (I used 15 inches by 10 inches of cotton – linen canvas of Nani Iro “beautiful life”)
  • Two pieces of the same size for the lining (I used water repellent/coated fabric)
  • A zip at least as wide as your fabric or longer (I used a 17-inch zip)
  • coordinating thread

Optional:

  • Interfacing for the exterior
  • Twill tape or other fabric/leather for zipper tabs or handles

CONSTRUCTION STEPS

The first steps are the same as assembling a simple, lined zippered pouch.

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Make a “sandwich” by laying one piece of exterior fabric right side up, put the zipper with the teeth down and the pull to the left and layer the lining – wrong side up- on top of it.

Align zipper tape edge and fabric edges. You can let your zip hang over the edge if it is longer.

On top of the lining mark your seam allowance at ½ inch away from the edge at both sides.

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Use your zipper foot and sew with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Start and stop where you marked your fabric.

Now flip the fabric so that the wrong sides are facing each other and press away from the zipper.

Take the second piece of exterior fabric, right side up, place the zipper with the teeth down and the pull to the right side and layer the lining – wrong side up – on top of it. Attach zipper like above.

Again, flip the fabrics so that the wrong sides are facing each other and press away from the zipper.

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Topstitch along each side of the zipper.

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Place exterior and lining right sides together and close the bottom of the pouch.

Leave an opening in the lining or exterior for turning the pouch right side out. I left an opening in the exterior because hand-stitching the coated lining would not have given me nice results.

Center your seams on top of the zipper and put your tab(s)/handles in place, sandwiching them between the exterior layers on one side or both. Pin exterior pieces and lining pieces together.

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Starting at the side without the zipper pull, fold back the lining and close the seam, sewing over the zip. I like to use my zipper foot for that.

Repeat for the lining.

For the other side open the zip at least half way and proceed in the same manner.

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Trim seam allowances and zip.

Box all eight corners by pinching them so that the seam is in the middle, sew perpendicular to the seam, 2 inches from the tip of the triangle.

Trim seam allowances of all corners. You will now have something looking like this:

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Turn pouch to the right side through the opening! You are almost finished!

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Now close the opening with a few hand stitches and your pouch is ready to be filled and used!

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I hope this was helpful!

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Thanks so much, Ute! I gave the tutorial a whirl myself and it was so fun to add a lining, I made three! These are all going to be gifts and I think they’ll be well-received.

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As you can see, I played around with the sizing.

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I used Nani Iro Water Window in canvas for this one with a softer fusible interfacing meant for quilting, I think. It ended up a little squishy, and for some reason looks longer than Ute’s version even though I used 15″ x 10″ rectangular pieces. A word on adding the handle: I cut a 8-inch piece of webbing and measured 3/4″ from the center of the zip on each side for placement. The handle felt a little too long proportionally for me, so I shortened the next version to 7 inches.

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I used most of the last bit of my very favorite Nani Iro cotton for a more petite version. I used this lovely textile for the baby pinafore pattern that I sell in my etsy shop here. I can’t remember exactly how big my fabric pieces were since I was squeezing as much as I could out of the little bit I had available. It was about 10 x 11, I think, so almost a perfect square. It’s adorable!! This is the version with the 7-inch handle. I also used decor weight interfacing for this one, so it has pretty good structure.

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For this last version that will be a birthday gift for a friend, I switched up the handle style and simply attached the handle from the outside, as you would a belt loop on jeans. Alright, I admit it, it’s because I forgot to attach the handle beforehand…

This one is slightly smaller than the first one I made (13″ x 10″) and has decor weight interfacing as well. For some reason, K liked this navy graphic fabric a lot and I had some extra, so I made her a dopp kit too, so I guess I sewed 4 in total! I just happened to have the handle strap already sewn because I was going to make a camera strap (also from my book) out of it, but I never got around to it.

All three are lined with dark grey water-repellant fabric used for rain gear, which will make wiping up a breeze. Yay!

I love love love the fabric that Ute used and need to get my hands on it somehow. Anyway, that’s it for the dopp kit tutorial!! Thanks again, Ute!

P.S. Many of you should have received a Secret Valentine Exchange gift by now, but again, please be patient if you’re still waiting for yours. Happy, Happy Valentine’s Day!! I’ll do a full wrap-up next week!