2018 Advent Calendar + Free Holiday Tags

Hello, my friends! I’m testing out different blog posting schedules to see what feels right and so far, once or twice a month seems the best fit. I’m all about not overdoing anything nowadays, and methinks it’s the ticket to not getting sick. Both K and M came down with the sniffles in the last few weeks and I’ve been impervious to the germs (knocking furiously on wood as I type this).

Let’s talk about this year’s advent calendar shall we? I’m quite proud of this one.

About five years ago, I spotted a DIY project for paper houses on Pinterest and desperately wanted to make a winter village as an advent calendar. However. To start with, the time commitment was obvious — that’s a lot of cutting and folding and gluing. I don’t have one of those handy dandy Silhouette or Cricut machines and had no interest in owning one. Since I tend to procrastinate, I would come up with a different idea at the last minute every year.

For whatever reason, this year I was on top of things. Not only did I plan out the project three weeks in advance, but I even designed the houses myself. I know. Crazy. I was going to download a bunch of free online templates but when I saw how basic the shapes were, I figured it would be easy for me to customize my own. I spent an afternoon designing and voila, I had 8 templates.

I spent maybe an hour or two a day working on the calendar for a couple of weeks. I printed the houses on my usual inkjet textured paper, of which I seem to have an endless supply. I printed three of each template for a total of 24 houses. Then I sliced out the windows and doors with an Exacto knife but used regular scissors to cut out the houses. For scoring the sections that would be folded, I used a Japanese hera, which is actually a marking tool for sewing. I don’t like to get messy, so I got these mini glue dots, which were perfect.

Now, I typically design the advent calendars in a count-down style. The visual reminder of the number of days left is fun for K, and it makes clean-up a breeze later. But I spent so long on these houses and I love the way they look so much that I wanted the whole village on display for the entire holiday season. After mulling over this situation, I landed on the idea of flameless tea lights that K could place in each house. I considered adding numbers to the houses, but I’m more of a visual minimalist. I’m lovin’ the plain white houses.

Conveniently, there are 24 tea lights in a pack. Since these tea lights only last 3 hours, we decided to light them all on Christmas Eve.

I was making excellent progress, but something was still missing. I wanted a sweet little package that K would be able to open each day and a single tea light left something to be desired, so I painted a bunch of animals. I went to town dressing them up in winter garb and labeling them with numbers, then printed these out on the same inkjet textured paper. Aren’t they cute?

I scrawled the daily activities on the back (every other day, she gets a book so I simply wrote “book” for those days).

I wrapped each tea light with an animal card and placed them in a basket, which served as the count down aspect. On a side note, I found that basket at Trader Joe’s and it’s made out of newspapers. So cool! Oh, and the books are wrapped in this super darling black-and-white paper I found at a local natural foods grocery store.

This advent calendar has been THE BEST. K absolutely adores it and I feel so happy whenever I look at the winter village displayed on top of our old upright piano. At first I put it on our credenza (photo below) but quickly realized that Katara, our cat, will think they’re her toys and scatter them willy nilly.

Can you tell that I had a blast making this calendar? I’m going to display it every year for the holidays, you betcha.

I chose a few of my favorite animals that I painted (I removed the numbers so they’re not advent specific) and made them into a free downloadable for you as a little gift from me. Just print them out on cardstock (or the inkjet textured paper that I use), cut around the shape and make sure to leave a little extra at the top to punch a hole. These make lovely gift tags!

Click on the image to download (you may need to right-click and save onto your desktop to enable printing). Please let me know if you have any issues with the download.

Well, it’s time to wrap this up and tend to other to-dos. I’m almost done with Christmas shopping and making and I have some book stuff to finish. If you’re interested, here are the other Advent Calendars from years past:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

I hope to check in again in a couple of weeks or so! For now, I’m signing off with a “Happy Holidays!!!” from my two beloved Ks:

P.S. Katara hated the Santa hat.

Black Wool Dolman Top + Some Forgotten Sewing Projects

Happy Friday! If you’re in the U.S., I hope you had a Thanksgiving feast shared with loved ones! We went to watch Ralph Breaks the Internet (M and K made fun of me because I cried. I cry at every movie, regardless of genre) and capped our quiet, low key T-day at a bustling Taiwanese restaurant and it was awesome. I’m a big fan of stress-free holidays – they’re pretty rare, wouldn’t you agree?

So I finally got photos of the dolman sleeve top that I made out of the remaining fabric from the Linden top post, and this also happened to be what I wore to Thanksgiving dinner. As I move forward with my fabric destashing, my mug and awkward poses will be showing up here on the regular.

Some handy info for my future self:

Fabric: Black wool (I think), origin unknown though most likely Drygoods Design circa 2016-ish

Pattern: The “Dolman Cut-Sew” from a Japanese sewing book that no longer seems available online. According to the back cover, it’s ISBN978-4-539-05451-5, but my search hasn’t yielded anything. I posted a photo of the book on IG here.

Size: L

Modifications: Added a couple of inches to the length

The Good: I love the fabric/pattern combo. This lighter weight wool jersey (I’m guessing) is comfy to wear and cozy for this increasingly chilly weather. I usually fold the neckband and armbands/cuffs in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and then use my serger to attach. Depending on how I feel, I might topstitch to keep the seam allowance from flipping up. I learned a new method from this book that reduced the bulk a bit because the bands were attached more like a bias binding but with a serged edge instead of folding the raw edge under, and sewing from the right side. The hem was finished with a facing sewn in a similar manner.

The Not-So-Good: Although I’m glad I added the 2 inches to the length, I think it threw the shape off a little due to the curved hems. The fit is a little weird. And I’m not sure I’m digging how the neckline is shaped. But I wore it to dinner and as with all my tops, it handily passed the all-you-can-eat buffet test.

Sometimes it takes me a few times of trying out a garment before I fall in love with it, and this might be one of those cases.

The real gem of this outfit is the lower half. I can’t tell you enough how much I love these elastic-waisted linen pants. It’s not uncommon for me to forget that I’m wearing them – they’re that comfortable. I made them this past summer when I sewed up an entire vacation wardrobe, which I never shared on the blog:

Clockwise: Fen dress in khaki linen from Fancy Tiger Crafts, Kiomi dress (from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style) in grey knit, Myla Tank by Sew Liberated in black cotton lawn, Kiomi top in Indian cotton with brown print, New Look 6403 top in charcoal knit, Salt Marsh skirt from Merchant and Mills Workbook in striped brushed cotton, Newlook 6403 pants in the same khaki linen as the Fen dress.

They’ve all been worn and are lovely, but my linen pants have been a workhorse. I have got to make more.

Katara, our cat, wasn’t so sure about my enthusiasm…look at her face!

Anyway, have a fabulous weekend, all!

P.S. K cut my hair, didn’t she do a great job?

 

Destashival + Big Announcement

Hello, my friends! I apologize for the not-so-pretty photo, which was taken in the dim lighting of my basement a few months ago. This is the crazy fabric/yarn stash situation that’s been assaulting my conscience for years. Bear in mind that this is only about half of what I actually own. The yarn sitch isn’t awful; it’s just that one bin in the top row. But the fabrics!!!!!

Luckily, I have a solution.

It’s to pretend that my stash is as soothing and contained as it is in this photo. Denial can be a beautiful thing. No, that’s not it.

The solution is more involved. My dear, dear friends — I’m working on another sewing book. Actually, I’m working on two sewing books!!!!! One is due out in 2020 and the other one will be released 2021. As is the case with books, I can’t say a whole lot about them at this time since I’m smack dab in the middle of it all, but they will perhaps help with the stash problemo.

I’m calling the process my “destashival”, which is an amalgamation of destash and festival. A celebration of destashing! Thank goodness I have an exorbitant amount of supplies at the ready for these upcoming books.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been steadily purging all of my belongings to get closer to something that resembles minimalism, but these fabric-stuffed bins have been throwing a wrench in my whole scheme (not to mention art supplies, and books, and skincare, and teas — but we’ll discuss those later). For the next several months, I’m going to jubilantly sew samples for my books and tackle the many, many other sewing patterns I’ve been holding off on (I just posted on Instagram the dolman sleeve top that’s near completion).

Now, with my destashival in full swing, I’ll be able to show you an empty wall in…I don’t know…a year? D’you think I can do it?

I realize that this announcement is somewhat lacking in fanfare but my insides are full of fanfare and sparklers and massive fireworks. I feel so outrageously, profoundly lucky that I get to do this. Could I have predicted that I would be working on my fifth and sixth book in 2018? Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. One always hopes that opportunities are ever-flowing, of course, but there are no guarantees. It boils down to you and this little blog in many ways. Thank you for visiting even when my posts are sporadic, thank you for buying my books or checking them out from the library, thank you for encouraging me through the Furoku membership (where I talk about all the behind-the-scenes stuff), thank you for all your comments here and on Instagram, and thank you for all the virtual good vibes. I am rendered speechless by the immensity of my gratitude.

Alright, back to book-making shenanigans. Have an awesome weekend, all! I hope this autumn season is treating you well and that you’re gearing up for a spectacular Thanksgiving!

P.S. I’ll be at Queen Anne Book Company next Saturday, November 24th around 1pm as part of Indies First! It’ll be fun!

Black & White: Linden Loves + Making Magazine no. 6

Happy Friday! I’ve had an unusually social couple of weeks with more events on the horizon, which means I can really feel the tug of my inner introvert imploring me to hibernate and recharge. Getting out and about is good for me, I must say, and last week I made a couple of Grainline Studio Linden tops that happened to match one of the events I attended this past Monday: Making Magazine’s Black & White trunk show at Drygoods Design.

You know, as someone who spends a lot of time alone squirreled away working on projects that don’t see the light of day for months on end, I often forget how scintillating it is to connect with people in real life. Online communication has its place and is a wondrous thing, but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. I’ve been working with Carrie, Ashley, Cecily, Whitney and Lily of Making for over a year now but this was the first time we met in the flesh (ew, why does that sound so gross?). It’s such an uplifting feeling to discover that someone’s online persona perfectly matches the in-person personality. They are down-to-earth, easy to talk to, brimming with creativity and ideas and are just all-around wonderful. I had such a lovely time with them all! If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to listen to the first episode of the Making podcast to learn more about Carrie and Ashley. They are so, so inspiring! And I’ve been shy about mentioning it, but I was interviewed a while back as well. You can find that podcast episode here.

Anyway, so caught up was I in blathering away, I forgot to snap photos, but I was excited to see that my little contribution to the Black & White issue was included in the trunk show. I made these guys:

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge

They’re felted animal masks! And how stunning is this magazine cover by the awe-inducing Lisa Congdon??

I also had the privilege of meeting Sonya Phillips of 100 Acts of Sewing, who was teaching a class towards the end of the trunk show and that was a major treat too. She’s the real deal, folks. There’s an abundance of joy in her creations. Another all too brief encounter was with Kristin of Woolfolk Yarn. Oh my goodness, have you seen her website and Instagram feed? Pure gorgeousness. Kristin listened to my knitting woes and sagely assured me that I was ready, that I can absolutely knit. She has such a grounded, beautiful presence. My only wish was that I could have stayed longer to chat more with everyone.

The intrepid women of Making and Jen of Grainline Studio often collaborate together so it was doubly fitting that I wore a Linden top to the event. I chose the polka dot one, of course. Other than adding 2 inches to the bodice length, I didn’t make any changes to the pattern for this version. It’s a straight up size 6. I love the Linden so much. So quick, so easy, so versatile! I’ve made a gaggle of them in the past, and I’ve gotten over my former reluctance about sewing the same pattern over and over. There’s something very comforting about a familiar pattern.

For this black wool version, I tried out Jen’s tutorial for a flat bias neckline. However, I had already cut out the neckband as per pattern instructions, not on the bias — which I don’t think should have made too much of a difference for this stretchy wool knit — and for some reason, my neckline got very wavy. I don’t mind the waviness, though I’m sort of confused by this super awkward pose in the photo. What am I doing? I included it to remind myself that I’m ridiculous in so many ways. I made a few other changes to the pattern with this version: shaved off an inch for each sleeve and slimmed the bodice by about an inch as well. And I always add at least 2 inches to the bodice of any top pattern to account for my extra long torso. This wool feels luxurious, and I’m pretty sure I got it from Drygoods but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I got the polka dot sweater knit from. I adore this black top despite the less than perfect neckline (see the wavy bits below?). Nothin’ a good scarf can’t hide. That I will knit one day.

There’s not a lot to be said for the back view, but here it is:

As long as I’m mentioning patterns that I keep sewing repeatedly, I’m wearing my 5th pair of Ginger skinny jeans that I never blogged about. The thing with these jeans is that the denim doesn’t have a lot of stretch so they aren’t my most comfortable pair. They look pretty good though, don’t you think?

And there you have it. Lindens, crafty folks, connections, repetitive sewing.

Okay! I’m doing a school presentation this afternoon and then I’ll be participating in the Ballard Art Walk at Secret Garden Books on Saturday, November 10th, so come on by if you’ve got a few spare moments from 6-8pm. I’ll have some original illustrations from my books on display and will be doing some custom illustrations too!

I’m off to prepare for these two events and then I’ll be back to my solitary schedule for a few weeks. Ahhhhhh…that sounds nice.

I hope you have a delightful weekend in every way, my friends!

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!!