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!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mask Tutorial

How are you all doing? It has been quite a ride since the COVID-19 outbreak. I have been staying home most of the time except when I go to a doctor's appointment or grocery shopping, just like many of you who are reading this. I also have been making many masks. I started making my own mask so I could go shopping, then I made some for my family, friends, to donate, extended families and more. During this mask making journey, I have tried several different patterns I found online. I found a mask that fits fine for me, but my family always had something they didn't like about those masks. Here are some problems with the masks we have tried:

* They felt like the tip of their nose was being squished, but to loosen the tie or elastic to relieve that pressure, the mask slides down or creates too much of a gap around the bridge of their nose.

* They prefer the kind that loops around the ear, but after a while of wearing their ears start to hurt.

* The mask doesn't cover the chin

* With the ear loop type, you can't adjust the length of the loop for individuals. Sometimes this creates an arch shaped gap on the sides.

* Not enough space around the mouth and it is hard to breath.

They have given me a lot to think about and to study! I never put that much thought into masks before. Who knew mask making could be so complicated and difficult!!

It is especially hard to find masks that would fit Mr. TRH. He and I have very different facial structures and features. He has deep set eyes with a tall nose and the distance from under his eyes to chin is longer than mine. I have rounder face with typical asian features. No wonder the same mask that would fit me doesn't fit him.

Keeping the problems I listed above in mind, I drafted a few patterns and made some prototypes and asked him to try them on. After some trial and error, I finally came up with a pattern that works for him and I! I know there are lots of great patterns out there and my pattern may not work for you, but here is my contribution to the mask making community.

I drafted three different sizes: small, medium and large. Large fits perfectly for my Mr. TRH, my teens and I take medium and I made small just because. my neighbor helped me by having her kids try the mask and I figured the small would fit kids around 5 to 8. I am wondering if small would work for even bigger kids if you put longer elastic. Let me know if you find out. :)

Please read all the instructions before you start


For fabrics, it is recommended by the CDC that tightly woven cotton fabrics layered together is very effective. Also, using flannel as a liner is a very good option.

1 piece of Outer fabric (S - 6"H x 12"W / M - 8"H x 12"W / L - 8"H x 12"W )
1 piece of Inner fabric (S - 6"H x 10"W / M - 8"H x 10"W / L - 8"H x 10"W )
2 pieces of 1/4"wide and however long elastic(or knit string) for individual - I usually cut mine to 9" to 11" to have extra for adjustments
Wire, pipe cleaner or twist ties (optional)
Other basic sewing tools

How to

1. Download my printable pattern. If you are planning on making many masks, it is very helpful to make a template with thicker and harder material.

2. Fold the fabric right sides together in half. Trace the template on to the outer and inner fabrics.

3. Sew short straight lines along the top and the bottom.

4. If you want to make the mask with an opening for a filter, take the inner fabric and fold both sides twice with 1/4"seam and sew. If not, you can skip this part.

5. With right sides together, pin outer and inner pieces. Make sure that the seams on the top and bottom are facing opposite directions for a cleaner finish.

6. Sew the top and the bottom with 1/4"seam. Turn inside out.

7. Press the seam with an iron and top stitch both seams.

8. Fold the sides of the outer fabric twice (1/4" first then 1/2") and stitch. Make sure that you don't stitch over the opening for the filter.

If you skipped step 4, you can just sew the folded outer fabric on top of the inner fabric. If you want to sew in wire for the bridge of the nose just like I did, you should do it now.

9. Put the elastic through or knit string through the sides and tie the ends to make a loop. Hide the knots inside of the sleeve and it is ready to wear! Elastic is very hard to find nowadays, but I actually LOVE knit string so much better. You might be wondering what knit string is; basically, you vertically cut thin knit fabric such as a t-shirt and pull it hard. Both sides of the fabric will roll toward the inside and voilá! You have knit string. Dana from Made Every Day has a tutorial for this along with her pleated mask tutorial.

*Optional --- This mask is pretty secure around the bridge of the nose without the additional wire, but if you prefer, you can sew one in like I did, or you can sew ribbon or bias tape to the inner fabric side to create a sleeve for your mask to have a removable wire option.

Here is what I did:

1. I measured 2" from the center of both sides and marked.

2. Slide in the wire (in my case, I made an aluminum strip out of a piece of a soda can) from the side. Keep the wire in place using pins while sewing.

3. This is the view from inside and outside of the mask.

When I wear the mask, the tip of the nose area has more space than Mr. TRH's does. It fits perfectly for him and the fabric is not pushing his nose in and he loves it. The rest of the family is pretty happy with the results including myself.

I know some areas are relaxing the stay at home order, and I don't really know what this means for us, and the whole nation, but I think it is good to be cautious and wear a mask when we go out. Not just for us, but for the other people around us. Might as well sew what we want to wear, right? ;)

Stay safe everyone!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Photo Wall Canvas Art Review

This post is sponsored post by Photo Wall

I was given the opportunity to work with a Sweden based company called Photo Wall. I visited their website and I was blown away by their choice of beautifully designed wallpaper. I spent a long time scrolling through their site and going back and forth to decide on the design I wanted to work with. At first, I really wanted wallpaper, but I couldn't think of any walls in my house to put up at this time. Maybe when we finish our basement... there are going to be a few big walls in need of some design inspirations.

I decided to do a canvas art and ordered mine. They ships within 1-4 days and offer free US shipping. My order came very quickly but I was a bit surprised... to be honest with you, I was thinking that I was going to receive canvas art on a wood frame ready to hang. The box delivered on my door step was a long slender one. I thought "Oh no! I have to put it together myself? What if I don't do a good job? Do I need special tools?"...

I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to work. There were 4 wood pieces, some small parts and instructions. With genius design and clear instructions I was able to put my canvas art together in less than 15 min. Oh, and I did not need any extra tools. I was so impressed by how easy it was and the quality of the product!

There were other designs that caught my eyes, but I LOVE flowers and I LOVE white. When I saw this design; Ivory White Double Tulip I heard a voice inside of my head screaming, "This is it!". I loved the look online, but it is much prettier in person. when I finished putting together the canvas, my most toughest critic AKA "teenage daughter" exclaimed "That is SO pretty!!" :) As of today, I am thinking about hanging this in the front room or the hallway, but I haven't decided yet.

Photo Wall offers canvas prints, posters, wall papers and also, you can use your own image and order them as well. If you are looking for a beautiful wall art, you need to visit their website to be inspired!
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