Tuesday, April 23, 2024

First Time Ever Podcast Interview! ~ with Creative Japan

Emi of Emi & Ko Studio reached out to me a while ago to be a guest on her brand new podcast. To be honest, my initial thought was to decline, because I am usually terrified of public speaking and am insecure about speaking English as a second language. But, I thought to myself, "When am I going to have such an opportunity to try something like this?" It was a bit scary but exciting at the same time! Big thanks to Emi who made me feel very welcomed and I felt it was more like having a conversation rather than an interview. Surprised to say, I had a great time!
Please check out my episode. There are several places you can go to watch. Youtube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Emi's blog

Friday, March 29, 2024

Laptop Sleeve with Baby Lock Sashiko

I have been sewing for many years, but my children have had very little interest in what I do. They think it's great that I have something I love to do and respect what I do, but that's about it. So when my daughter asked me to make a laptop sleeve for her, I was so excited. Hold on, it is coming right up!

There are various sizes in laptops, so I can't give exact measurements to suit everyone in this tutorial. Please measure your laptop to come up with numbers before you cut the necessary pieces; use this tutorial as a guide. Also, this sleeve is to protect the laptop from scratches and minor spills, but not from drops. Lastly, I used 1/2" seam in most places except for the sewing zipper.

You Will Need:

  • Fabric for front and back - I wanted a pieced look but you can make this from a solid piece of fabric.
  • Batting
  • Thin muslin
  • Lining fabric
  • 18" zipper - purchase a zipper 2" longer than your fabric panel width
  • Thread

How to

1. Measure your laptop. My laptop was 10" high x 14" wide x 7/8" thick. Considering the seam allowance, enough room to store the laptop in and pull it out with ease, I wanted the finished pieced fabric to be 12" x 16". So basically I added 2" to the original height and the width. It is pretty easy to do this when you choose to do it with non pieced fabric. If you decided to do a pieced look, make sure that your pieced panels are large enough.

2. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my measurements are just a guide to give you an idea. I cut 2 pieces of 12" x 10" for the larger panel and 2 pieces of 12" x 4" for the smaller panel from large floral print fabric. I wanted to use various scraps to run through in between the large and the small panels. I cut them 4" wide and randomly pieced and trimmed them to be 12" long.
3. Piece the large panel, pieced strip and small panel together. Press with iron.
4. Cut 2 pieces of thin muslin and batting larger than your finished piece and lay them flat on the table. Layer them with the pieced panel to get ready to machine quilt. I used pins to secure them together. Make another panel.
5. I set the stitch setting on my Sashiko machine before I started quilting. Stitch length to 2 and stitch spacing to 3. This is a great feature to achieve the exact look you are going for. I used smaller stitch setting for my Halloween Trick or Treat Bag project.
I wanted different quilt designs on the front and back to have fun with the Sashiko machine (who said it has to be exactly the same! haha) and here are the results.
6. Trim off the excess. I wanted slightly rounded corners on the top, so I used random objects I found in my sewing room, traced them (mine are 2" in diameter) and trimmed them.
7. Find the center of the top seam of the panel and on the zipper. Pin the right side of the zipper to the right side of the panel. Switch the walking foot to zipper foot and sew slowly and carefully, especially the rounded corner. Do the same with other panel. There are some great tutorials on how to attach zippers on Youtube if you are unsure how to do this process.
8. Put together the panels right sides together and sew the sides and the bottom. Make sure to leave the zipper open during this process, otherwise you won't be able to turn the fabric inside out! Trim the bottom corners for a clean finish.
9. Sew the liner. I cut 2 pieces of 12" x 16". I started to sew about 2" from the top seam and ended 2" before the top. You will need that opening to fold the sides to fit and stitch to the zipper and create the rounded corners. Press the seam with an iron for a clean finish and press the top seam slightly more the 1/2" except the corners.
10. Put together the quilted panel and the liner and hand stitch the liner to the zipper. I carefully created the round corner as I was stitching. There are other methods to do this, but I just did what I was comfortable with.
It is time for a test drive. I inserted my daughter's laptop and it was a perfect fit!
This tutorial could apply to other devices such as iPads and Kindles. Isn't it fun to think about how you can have your very own personalized laptop sleeve? I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Monday, February 12, 2024

A Sweater to a Mock Neck Vest Refashion

I have wanted to find a mock neck vest with a bit of personality for a while. Whenever I went out, I kept my eyes peeled, but no luck. One day, I came across this sweater at TJMaxx. The sweater itself is not my style, but I saw potential. I will share what I did to refashion this sweater to a mock neck vest.
1. Cut off the bottom. I didn't need the black + white border and I had enough length, so I cut it off.
2. Cut off the sleeves. Before I decided to buy the sweater, I made sure that the seam of the sleeve and shoulder were where I wanted, which is a couple inches past the shoulder.
3. Cut open the sides. I wanted to wear the vest with my oversize shirts and dresses, so I decided to cut the sides open and stitch up a little bit later. I also cut the front a little shorter. This step is a personal preference in what kind of design you want or how you want it to look when you are wearing it.
4. I used a plate to draw curved lines on the front and back corners to have a nice curved finish instead of straight corners.
5.Serge the edges. If you don't have a serger, you could use zigzag or other stitch setting on your sewing machine to prevent fraying.
6.To make nice and smooth curved corners, stitch the bottom corners with big stitches. Trace the dinner plate onto thick paper (I used a cereal box) to make a template. Place the template 1/2" to 3/4" away from the edge of the bottom corners and pull the threads to gather fabric. press with iron.
7. Sew all around the edge. I hand sewed with slip stitches, because I didn't want the stitch line to show on the front, but I could have sewn with a machine too. Then I sewed the sides. As I mentioned in the beginning of the tutorial, I decided to only stitch a few inches on both sides. This way, the armholes would be opened big, and the bottom opening is more flexible to accommodate oversized clothing when I want to coordinate with such. Make sure to try it on before you determine where to sew on the sides to figure out the best area. My recommendation is around your natural waistline area.
Time to enjoy!
This is pretty much exactly what I envisioned and I love it! I’ve worn it several times already, so has my daughter! I guess it is a definite win when your adult daughter asks to borrow it.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Red & White Table Runner with Baby Lock Sashiko

Every year, from October to now I feel like I am in full gear between three birthdays in my family, Thanksgiving, parties, all the preparation leading up to Christmas and Christmas celebration. Phew... it is definitely fun and exciting, but it can be a bit exhausting. I bet many of you feel the same way. And guess what? Next up is New Year’s Eve!

In Japan, New Year’s Eve and the few days of celebration following New Year’s are very special. I am not very traditional, but I still remember how my family deep cleaned the whole house (yes, in Japan we do a special year end cleaning called Oosoji instead of spring cleaning) on New Year's Eve to welcome the New Year. My mom prepared special meals for New Year’s Eve and Osechi for New Year.

We exchange Nenga-jo (it's like Christmas cards), watch TV shows just for this season, visit Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines to make wishes for the New Year. I get a little nostalgic before New Year and want to carry on some of the traditions in my family. It is safe to say that I do it through my cooking. To enhance the celebratory feeling, I wanted to make a red and white table runner to set my table. I had some design ideas in my head and now it is time to make it happen with my Sashiko Machine!

* You will need
Red fabric 2/3 yard for the top
Fabric for the back -- You could use the same red fabric or something different 2/3 yard
Interfacing --- I used Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece, but it is personal preference
White thread for the Sashiko machine --- I used Gutermann 100% cotton thread for this

* How to
1. From 2/3 yard red fabric, but two 10 1/2" wide x width of the fabric strips. Usually, fabrics are sold 44" wide, but cut off the selvedges. Sew these long strips together to make it longer. Open the seam and press with iron. I did this to save money, but if you don't want the seam in the middle of the table runner, you could buy the length of the table runner you desire.

2. Iron the interfacing to the fabric strip you made in step 1.

3. Draw Sashiko Design on the fabric. On the center of the fabric I drew a 9" x 9" square first. Then I drew three more squares on both sides with 1/2" spaces in between. The both ends of squares are 9" x 8", but this all depends on your desired length of table runner. As far as sashiko design goes, I googled some of the traditional sashiko designs and I made some of them up.

4. Make satisfying sashiko stitch with Sashiko!

5. Right sides together, pin front fabric and backing together. With 1/4" seam allowance, sew all the way around the edge of the table runner. Make sure to leave a 5" opening for turning.

6. Snip the corners to a cleaner finish. Turn the fabric inside out. Use a pin to pull out the corners neatly.
7. Press the edges with iron.

8. Close the opening with slip stitch.

It is all done. I was able to finish the whole table runner in two days because of the sashiko machine, but I know it would take a lot longer if I was doing this all by hand. The table runner has good stiffness to it and I love how it turned out!

I love to think about table arrangements. I am going to do a low key flower arrangement...

Accompanied with red and white tableware.
I hope your 2024 will be filled with love, hope and much happiness. Happy New Year everyone!
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