Thursday, August 6, 2020

Tunic Dress for My Mom

I sewed this tunic dress for my mom in Japan. I was supposed to go visit my family in Japan in April, but COVID happened... My trip had to be canceled and who knows when the next time will be when I get to go visit her. In the last so many months, something terrible and devastating happened to my family and I know it will take a long time to resolve the issues. There isn't much I can do right now to help the situation, but I am thinking about them often; especially my mother.

I remembered that I bought this fabric to sew something for my mom a few months back. While I was going though my fabrics and sewing books, I found a perfect thing to sew for her! She prefers clothing that is baggy and comfy, I thought this one would be a winner.

I don't think this book has been translated to English yet, but if you know basic sewing and your way around in Japanese sewing books, you could easily utilize the patterns.

I could totally picture her wearing this by itself as a dress, or wearing it with leggings. I thought adding a simple wooden beaded necklace would be fun.

I know so well that a piece of handmade clothing won't better their situation, but I hope she will feel that I have been thinking of her when she receives the tunic. Sewing has been truly therapeutic for my soul... it's always been and it always will be. Instead of worrying so much, being upset, and wallowing around aimlessly, I sew. What are some of the ways that help you feel peace? Whatever they are, I think those of us who have found that treasure are truly blessed in life.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Versatile Summer Dress

Over the last few month I have been going though my fabric shelves and closet and reorganizing them. I felt like my problem before the pandemic was that I buy fabrics faster than I could turn them into something, but I bet I am not the only one with this problem! I decided that I need to put a stop to that and actually start sewing more. I bought a couple fabrics you see in picture above and below about 3 years ago at a local quilt store but they were lost in a pile and forgotten. I was originally planning to sew a skirt, using a bold Kaffe Fassett fabric as an accent somewhere.

After looking at them for a few days, I really wanted to turn them into a dress instead.

I am a big fan of fabrics designed by Kaffe Fassett. His design consists of bold gorgeous colors and the quilts made with his fabrics are all so stunning. I thought using such large scale fabric for a clothes might be a bit too much, but I really like the combinations and wanted to showcase the fabric rather than cutting it up small. Wearing bold prints under the Summer sun seems desirable, right?

I only had a 1/2 yard of bold print to work with for the top portion of the dress, so I knew I didn't have many options design wise. I looked though all my books and commercial patterns and didn't find any that jumped out at me. Then, I remembered that I designed a simple top several years ago, that would be perfect for this project. I made bias tape with solid fabric I had and used that to finish up around the neck.

I didn't have a solid plan of how this dress was going to look like when I first started. But for the bottom portion, I was going to use a skirt pattern (See & Sew 5840) and modify it. Then an idea popped in my head and I changed course on the design. I added fabric on the wrong side of the fabric to put a fabric string through. So, now I have the option to wear this dress as a drop waist dress, or pull the draw string to make the waist more defined.

I love how it turned out!

I love the drop waist style when I am just lounging at home, doing house chores or reading. The dress feels very comfy and flowy, perfect for a summer day. It is also fun to transform the dress with draw strings to define the waist line. I am thinking about making the same dress with solid fabric, if I use thicker fabric, it will be nice to wear during the fall with a cardigan.

Remember I said I am going to do more sewing from my stash earlier in the post? Well, I am so excited; I am working on a blouse right now with Anna Bond's fabric. I will see you at the next post.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Tall Tale Quilt Finished Part 2

In my last post, I shared a Tall Tale Quilt with light gray background made with modern fabric choices. I had the image in my head of how it was going to look like the moment I decided to make one for my sister.

This one that I just finished is for me! I think you already know I LOVE white (if you have been reading my blog for a while). Without a second thought, I chose white for background color; and for the book covers theme, I chose floral patterns. I love, love how this top turned out. The next difficult decision to make was how I wanted to quilt it. Hand quilting or machine quilting? If it was going to be hand quilted, what kind of design and with what kind of thread? Did I want to use thick colored thread to make the quilting pop or white thread for a more softer look? If I was going to get it machine quilted, should I do it myself (which would be a very simple design) or ask a professional to do it? I know it is kind of silly, but there was so much to think about!

Since I machine quilted my sister's quilt, I decided to hand quilt this one. Some people might cringe about the thought of doing hand quilting, but I started out as a hand quilter decades ago, I don't mind that at all. As a matter of fact, I enjoy it very much. I love sitting in a comfy chair and just quilting away. I also love how I can take the quilt anywhere I go if I want to. It is very calming and soothing to me.

I went with white thread. Oh, how I love the look and whimsical feeling hand quilts create.

For the tag, I decided to use decorative stitches with my beloved sewing machine instead of doing it by hand. I don't have an embroidery hoop for the machine, so I just added a stabilizer on the back beforehand. I love how it turned out! There were several book quotes I had in mind, but ultimately, I decided to go with "A book is a dream that you hold in your hand". I couldn't agree more with this statement.

Because I love Tall Tale Quilts, I might make another one in the future, but for now, I am ready to move on. I am going to find the time to curl up somewhere in the house with this quilt and start reading more. :) What are you reading this summer?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tall Tale Quilt Finished Part 1

It has been a while since my last post. For a while I just didn't have the mental energy to sew or do anything. But all my life, pushing myself to sew and to create has helped me to keep going with life; especially when times were hard. I decided to make this quilt for my sister who is also going through really tough things right now. She is one of the biggest bookworms and I know for sure she will love this quilt. I found the book block pattern at Quilt with Kate and made a quilt top for myself a little while ago. Since I decided to hand quilt that one, it has been taking longer to finish. I finished this quilt much quicker because I machine quilted it! I am not even going to pretend I am good at machine quilting, but using the Digital Dual Feed Walking Foot made it so much better and fun to quilt. You can ask Mr. TRH, I. did. not. want. to. stop! I finished quilting the whole top in one night.

I wanted to take some pictures for this book quilt and thought about several locations. Hmmm... Where should I go? Of course, the library! When I went there, there was hardly any one there. Thanks to a super nice librarian, who offered to let me borrow some big metal clips, I was able to hang the quilt on a bookshelf.

I also wanted to do something a little special for my sister; I decided to do an applique on the back.

I am a little nervous about sending this to her right now, because of COVID-19 and all, the package might get lost or it might not get to her for a really long time. I can just picture her snuggling up in this quilt and reading for hours even forgetting to eat, just like we did together growing up. Is there anyone special in your life you would love to make a quilt for?

I will post my book quilt in part 2, soon. :)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Be Still My Soul and ...

I think this is one of the hardest posts I have ever written. There has been so much emotion and thoughts inside my head and heart for a while. I have been struggling to put them in the right words. Nothing was good enough and close enough to how I was feeling. I am not a confrontational person and it took me a lot of courage to write this post. So bare with me and please be kind even if what I write offends you somehow.

It has been almost two weeks since George Floyd was killed by a police officer. I saw the video and I felt sick to my stomach to see how he was treated. For a day or two, whenever I checked social media, I was just overwhelmed by what I saw, read, and by my own emotions. Social media has became such a toxic place for me and to add to my anxiety on top of what is happening to my family in Japan. I had to leave social media for a while.

I started checking social media little more often a few days ago, and I am learning and listening more.

I am no stranger to discrimination and racism. I was mocked and bullied growing up for missing a leg and for how I walked. I moved to the United States and there were a few incidents I felt wronged because I am Asian (this coming from Caucasians and black people). My children are Caucasian/Asian, but they look more Asian and they have been called some racial slurs such as Jap and flat face. The lunches I've packed for them was called disgusting and gross by other kids. Many of these things are upsetting, but to me most of the incidents were them being rude and unkind people rather than being racist.

I have been watching and observing for a few years and I feel like more and more people use the word "racist" too often when it doesn't even apply.

If someone has a different opinion about law or some policies, it doesn't make the person instantly a racist.
If someone doesn't agree with you 100%, it doesn't mean that they are your enemy.
If someone express things completely the way you want, it doesn't mean that the person is not feeling things.

We are all different people, coming from different background and experiences and dealing with our own feelings. Naturally how we think and deal with things will be different from one another.

On the same note, I am not so naive that racism doesn't exist in this nation, but what would happen to this country, if the whole thing becomes one giant "witch hunt"? How can we have open constructive conversations without having fear of being attacked for your opinion? How can we find actual solutions and help those who are suffering?

Black lives matter. I hope those police officers will receive judgement they deserve. There is just no excuse for the actions of the one officer and the inaction of the other three.

I met this amazing beautiful lady at Babylock Common Thread conference a couple years back. Anita is a talented, graceful and strong women who inspire others in many ways. Whenever I see her post pop up I always want to read what she is up to or what she has to say. After what happened to George Floyd, she posted about her two sons and how she worries about their safety.

I felt her sorrow and worry because I am a mother of two sons and a daughter that I care so much about. After COVID-19 broke out my boys were called some racial slur while they were working. Even though there was no physical danger with those incidents, it made me worry so much because I have seen some Asian people attacked, just because they are Asian. If we all imagine things like this happening to ourselves and our loved ones; how might we feel? We might be able to grow empathetic and desire to do more.

I wish more people would see each other beyond the color of their skin and see who they are, their character, and deeds. It would be so wonderful if more people have mutual respect and show compassion towards every human soul regardless of any differences we may have. I think we can start by educating ourselves and teaching our children to be kinder people. We don't need any more contention or division; we already have enough in this society. It might sounds cliche, but what we need more of is love and understanding.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, I have been learning more about racism. One of the videos I came cross had very good points and I learned a lot. If you are interested, here is the video.

I also found an interesting article written by an Asian Journalist who was trying to report on the Milwaukee protest (written in 2016); got caught in the middle of it but was able to escape: titled "You are Asian, right? Why are you even here?". Most of my Asian friends are not posting anything about what happened to George Floyd. I think it's not that they don't care, but they don't know where "we" fit in this issue.

The question I am asking myself is this, "You are Asian, right? Why are you even bothering to write this?"

I felt like my voice, as insignificant as it may be, might mean something to someone. I know I have much to learn, but my desire to do better is there and I know my heart can expand more. My heart is troubled, that is why I am keep saying to myself "Be Still My Soul". It doesn't mean that I am not doing anything. It means to me that I will trust in the Lord as much I can (remember, I am still learning) and keep trying to do good works.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Book Review ~ Animal Friends to Sew

I have been given a chance to review this delightful book, Animal Friends to Sew by Sanae Ishida. She is known for her award winning book Sewing Happiness.

In her new book, she offers up 15 projects with 35 variations (they are beginner-friendly!) of items inspired by the beautiful simplicity of Japanese and Scandinavian design.

Even though I don't have a little one to sew these items for at home, I had fun looking through the pages. In the book there is cute decor and everything from fun toys to adorable wearables. Here are some of my favorites from the book:

Imagine how fun it would be to use these place mats! Little helpers might want to set the table.

I adore these shoes! Why can't kids stay small to wear stuff like these?

Then these... I LOVE these hooded capes. Beautiful and whimsical designs like these make me imagine all the good things about being a child; being in the moment and just having fun.

Are you intrigued? You can find the book on Amazon if you would love to see the other projects in the book. Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tall Tales Quilt Pieced

I have been making some cute paper piecing blocks here and there when I had time and I finally finished piecing the whole quilt last weekend!

I happened to see these adorable book quilt blocks many months ago on Instagram and found the pattern at Quilt with Kate.

Look how fun these blocks are!

It was such a fun process to make these blocks. I went through my stash to see what kind of "book covers" I could make... one of the fun parts was to look at prints and decide where and how to cut out designs from my fabric for the perfect front cover. I wanted to create something I would want on my bookshelves. I am finished piecing mine, but now I am thinking about making another one for my sister who is a big bookworm. She and I have very different taste in style, so I can totally see in my mind's eye that her Tall Tales Quilt would look different from my floral feminine one.

Now, I am going to think about how I am going to quilt it, but already I have a great idea for a quilt tag on the back (grin). I can't wait to share the finished quilt!

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