Thursday, September 17, 2020

Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Blouse & Skirt

I must say that my most favorite material to sew is hands down, cotton. Maybe because I am a quilter too, and I am more familiar with the material; better than any other fabrics. Also, I wear cotton dresses like this daily even when I am just staying home. Some people might think I am over dressed and being funny, but to me, I feel comfortable in them and they are all washable! I found this dark navy and blue stripe shot cotton by Kaffe Fassett at a local store and immediately fell in love with it. I was going back and forth trying to decide whether I should make a dress or separates. It looks like a dress, but it is actually a blouse and a skirt!

I just used a pattern from one of my posts Liberty of London Top & Skirt for the skirt. Revised a little to make it into an elastic waist instead of a zipper. For the top, I used Esme Top pattern from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style. I used this pattern to make a tunic a long time ago, but I really like the fit and I thought this would make a lovely top to go with the skirt. Speaking of the skirt, I even lined it! Fun thing is that I can wear this top and skirt together like a dress or separately. I know I will have fun fishing things from my closet to coordinate. :)

What is your favorite material to sew with and why? I would like to get out of my comfort zone and try new things during this sew my stash challenge, there are some sitting in my closet... I guess I will get my hands on them when I run out cotton (or maybe sooner!).

Monday, September 14, 2020

Liberty of London Wrap Dress

In my last post, I shared the wrap top I made using a pattern from the Japanese sewing book Kana's Standard II. In the book, her version is a dress. I loved my top so much so that I wanted to sew a dress. Not a dress with any fabric, I was going to sew with my precious Liberty of London fabric!
I tweaked a few things, results? I love it!! I lengthened the skirt by 4". Also, I cut the sleeves shorter, so they will be 3/4 sleeves instead of long sleeve. I did this after I was done sewing and trying the dress on. I loved the fit, but there are something bothering me and I didn't know what it was. Then, after a while I realized that with the long sleeves, long skirt and floral print, it made the dress a bit like out of Little House on the Prairie. I love it much better after I cut the sleeves shorter. I also had to make a pleat on the cuff to make the opening smaller for a better silhouette. They are not even noticeable; hooray for the printed fabric that hides mishaps well (grin)!
Speaking of printed fabric hiding things well, in the Japanese sewing book, she did a gather skirt, but I wanted to look less puffy, so I decided to do a pleated skirt. I didn't even measurements and mark the pleated lines, I just eyeballed it and pinned like crazy and sewed. It is hard to tell in the pictures, but can you see the pleats??
The last thing I did was to add a button and an elastic loop to the skirt so they stay closed. I love wrap dresses, but one thing I wouldn't want is a wardrobe malfunction when there is a strong wind and I don't think the public would appreciate a middle age women flashing everyone. hahaha Can you even find the button and elastic loop in the picture?
I feel like this pattern will be one of the go to patterns from now on for a wrap top or for a wrap dress. I can see this dress in my mind's eyes in a solid color too. Fall is around the corner, but I am going to wear this with boots and a comfy cardigan.
I am so glad that the dress turned out to be something I love and I am not regretting using the fabric, phew! My "sew my stash" challenge continues, see you at my next post. ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Long Sleeve Wrap Top / Kana's Standard 2

I don't even remember how long ago I purchased this light weight cotton fabric. I was "shopping" from my fabric closet and I knew exactly what I could turn this piece of fabric into. I remembered seeing a pretty wrap top in a Japanese sewing book Kana's Standard II. Perhaps, sewing garments so often over the past few weeks improved my senses and decision making skills? I sure hope so! :) I barely had enough to make this top and I am so glad I did! I love how it fits so perfectly to my body and I already wore this three times since I made it!
This can be easily dressed up or down and I could think of many ways to coordinate it with what I already have. I love this style so much that I know I will make more in the future with a different fabric.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Summer Dress/Pattern review

I was going to sew something else next, but when I was going through my fabrics, I found this light cotton fabric in my stash.  I just LOVE this soft color and light weight cotton and wanted to use this for the next project.  I remembered that I had a pattern that I wanted to try and thought that the fabric and the pattern would be a perfect match.  The pattern I used is McCall's 7969. 

 I changed the neckline a bit; I made it higher to my liking, but everything else is the same. I love how the dress turned out, especially the sleeves!  The dress is a bit baggier than I imagined around the waist, but I like that style too, so it works for me! :)

Did you know that September is a national sewing month?  It gives me more encouragement to keep sewing from my stash! (hehe)  I still have a bunch of fabrics lined up to sew, I am just over here trying to match the right fabrics to the right patterns.  It is one of the most exciting and difficult processes in sewing garments, in my opinion.  As I keep sewing from my stash, I am learning a lot about myself;  for example, I have a fabric buying habit where I buy without specific plans, lack of skills/knowledge, and so on and so forth. But one thing I always knew and has been confirmed with the recent sewing challenge is that I really do love to sew.  when I am thinking, planning and sewing something, it makes me happy. It gives me solace when my soul just needs the extra strength. It helps me to connect with who I am without being distracted by outside noise. I consider myself blessed to find such things in my life. Hopefully, I will keep learning and improving my sewing skills through this sew my stash challenge (not to mention all the newly sewn clothes!). 

Have you been sewing anything new lately?  what is your favorite part in the whole process? 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Flare Sleeve Top and Simple Skirt

My recently turned 15 year old daughter is now taller than me and has started to borrowing my clothes. I always wondered when she would even be interested in my clothes. Turns out that we have different styles, but there are some common likes that we share. I am just happy that I could share some of my clothes and jewelries (a selected few) while we have a mother-daughter talk and enjoy each other's company. I was looking in my fabric closet; two fabrics stood out to me and pretty much right away, I knew what I wanted to sew with them. 

I just used the same pattern I used in my previous post and modified the sleeves, so it would flare out more. For the skirt, I measured her hips and based on that I drew lines directly onto the fabric to cut out the parts I needed. No pattern, the waist is just elastic, you can't get any simpler than that. :) I thought she might say "EWW" to an olive green skirt, but surprisingly, she liked it! They fit perfectly on her and she looked a bit grown up.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Liberty of London Top & Skirt

Where do I start to explain my love for Liberty of London fabrics? Ever Since I laid my eyes on Liberty of London fabric decades ago (I think I was in Jr. high), I have been a huge fan of their beautiful prints.  I got my first job in high school and bought my first Liberty tana lawn fabric. Even though it was a small pack of precuts, and I didn't know what I was going to make with them, I was so happy that I finally had a piece of beautiful and fine designed fabric in my possession.  Over the years I have bought from them here and there with the intent of sewing something, but cutting into gorgeous print is extremely hard for me! What if I mess it up, what if  I don't care for the clothing I made or I might find a pattern I like better?  Ugh... Welcome to the world of indecisiveness. 

If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you might know this, but I have used them for smaller projects such as; Shoes makeover, Mod podge mini tree, fabric thread on the wood spool ornament, Christmas ornament, and button bracelet

Ok, I got a little side tracked, let me go back to the fabric and this project... you might ask why I finally decided to use these precious fabrics. As usual, I was looking at my collection and thought to myself "well, my daughter is not interested in sewing, and I never know how long I am going to live. Why am I just letting that fabric sit on the shelf? What kind of "special occasion" am I waiting for?? I should totally sew something with them and enjoy it while I can!! I was going through another health issue at the time (it turned out ok, not life threatening) and made me think of organizing my life better;  both lifestyle and things I own. I took the plunge and decided to sew a wearable. Guess what? I have no regrets!

I used the patterns I drafted a few years ago, and modified them to create this look. I love how it turned out, but I would make a few changes to the skirt if I was ever going to make same skirt again. Also, I like how the back of the top turned out, but it was not planned. While I was cutting the fabric, I realized that I didn't have enough main fabric to sew the top, so I had to improvise and added the secondary fabric to the back, haha, I am looking forward to wearing this through the fall, I am thinking about where I put my favorite navy sweater...

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Bell Sleeve Top with Bubble Gauze Fabric

I shared my Bubble Gauze Dress post not so long ago. I bought this mint green bubble gauze fabric at the same time when I bought the fabric for that dress. I wanted to sew a relaxed top with a little bit of flare and I finally found a pattern that spoke to me for this particular fabric. The pattern I used was Burda style 6266. There are three version of this top, and I honestly think they are all very pretty.

I have a short torso, so I decided to shorten the pattern by a few inches, but everything else I cut out as directed. I love how the sleeves are so flowy.

Suggested fabrics were Crêpe, viscose-rayon, or cotton, but I really wanted to try this design with bubble gauze. Although I love how my top turned out, I guess it came out a little bulky... The next time I use this pattern, I am going to use something more light weight to see how that would affect the finished top. Eek! I am so excited!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Red Linen Skirt

I have been wanting a red skirt to wear for a while and I remembered that I bought some red linen fabric a long time ago. Sure enough, I found this fabric in my fabric closet, yay! One thing I have loved ever since I started my own "sew my stash challenge", is that I am more mindful of what I already have and am thinking creatively. I love clothing made out of linen, but 100% linen gets wrinkled very easily, so I usually buy linen blend fabric for easier care and it's nice drape.

I only had just over a yard, so my design options were very limited, but I was able to find an A-line skirt pattern in my old Japanese sewing book. I wanted a skirt with a simple line, so this worked out perfectly. I cut the fabric diagonally and started to sew!

I love how it turned out and wondered why I haven't sewn a skirt like this in the past. It is easy to sew, the style goes well with many tops and makes me look slimmer (bonus!). I might dig through my closet again and sew the same skirt in a different color. :)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Bubble Gauze Summer Dress

I bought this striped bubble gauze at Joann Fabric a while ago at 40% off. I knew I wanted to make a summer dress, but didn't have any specific design in mind at the time. Now I am doing my own "Sew my stash challenge" and I have been Looking at the fabric really trying to see what it could be. Then an inspiration came to me... I wanted to sew a dress you might find at a brand like Madewell. I had a french sleeve top pattern I created years ago, so I decided to modify that pattern and add the skirt part to it.

Originally, I was just simply making the top portion stripe go horizontally, and the skirt portion vertically, but I thought it would look more visually appealing to add vertical strips to the sleeves.

The bubble gauze is so airy, comfy and absorbent. Perfect fabric for summer! I know I will wear this dress again and again for the rest of the summer into the fall. I bet it would look nice to wear with a cardigan and boots too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Rifle Peper Co. Wildwood Top

I bought this fabric by Rifle Paper Co. Wildwood a while ago, but being that I am indecisive, it was forgotten in a pile. In the last few weeks, I have been going through my fabric stash and patterns and doing my own "Sew My Stash Challenge". I haven't formally announced the challenge or anything, but it feels good to make decisions and to sew with the fabrics on my shelves (or in a closet or on the floor, haha), it's about time! I used pattern Burda 6204, it has three different styles. I chose a style with ruffles on the sleeves and the bottom, but I modified the pattern a little. I brought the neckline a bit higher, narrowed the armholes and reduced the ruffles and decided not to add the ruffles on the bottom.

It is easy to sew and wear; a perfect top for summer! As I was wearing it, I noticed my teenage daughter was eyeing it and complimented it a few times. She normally doesn't care about clothing and she hates going shopping, for her to say something like "ooh, I like that" or "that is a cute top" is a big deal for me, I was giddy inside! When she wore it, it looked better on her than on me. I have a feeling that the shirt may end up in her closet for good and I don't mind at all. :) I have more projects lined up, so come back to check them out soon!

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!
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