Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year & More!

Yes, I am sewing! Yes, I am!

Though, I don't have anything completed to show you today.

Non-sewing stuff is also taking a lot of my time, so here's another newsy post for you!


Paris 2016

I've mentioned before that I don't do year-in-review or New-Years-goal-setting posts. But here's an exception, of a sort. I've been wanted to go to Paris with the Tilton sisters for years and I've decided that 2016 is the year!


Marcy just posted her fall tour and I'm a-goin'!

I've already spent a lot of time in the wee hours (when I have insomnia) thinking about a travel wardrobe. Unlike Margy, I do NOT excel at creating a travel wardrobe! Not at all!

I started consulting with Margy on my wardrobe plans in the last week or so ('cause that's a HUGE part of the fun, amiright?) and she decided to come, too! Margy is gonna be my Paris roomie, and I couldn't be more excited!

It's too early to share my wardrobe plans, but stay tuned.


Cast of Atelier (a screen shot, not a video)

I recently learned about a series made for Japanese television called (in English) "Atelier". Netflix joined with Fuji TV to produce the series, so it has also been released on Netflix.

This show is about a young woman, a country-bumpkin sort with little sense of fashion, who has just completed her degree in textiles. The series begins as she starts her first job in a small boutique in Tokyo that specializes in making one-of-a-kind, custom lingerie for a select clientele. The head of this "atelier" is a woman who very much resembles Anna Wintour, in both her haircut, and her fierce determination.

The story proceeds from there. So far, they have released one season of 13 episodes, but I hope there will be more! The show is subtitled, so it requires that one pays close attention. (I usually sew as I listen to TV.)

I LOVED this series! Oh my goodness, it is SO addictive. I don't care much about lingerie - it's not something I'm interested in sewing. Supporting my uber bust requires more of an antigravity, cantilevered, miracle-of-modern-engineering sort of approach. But it's so much fun to watch a series that includes sewing machines, pincushions, and near orgasms over fabric and lace. In the second episode, our protagonist gets a lesson in how to measure the bust for a bra. How often does one see that in a television series? Or pattern drafting? Or someone sewing away on an industrial Juki while wearing couture?

I should add that this series does not take a salacious approach to lingerie. It's a sweet-but-quirky show, filled with drama and humor. I've never seen a Japanese soap opera, but this feels like what I would expect from a Japanese soap opera. Much of the acting is expressed in clinched fists, screaming to the heavens, and includes some very expressive facial performances. It's a hoot!

If you don't subscribe to Netflix, why not try the 30-day free trial? I watched the entire 13-episode season in a couple of days. I also found this review.

(a screen shot, not a video)


My friend and colleague, Kathy, was interested in trying her hand at making felted soaps. Back when I was a Waldorf parent (yes, it's a Thing) I did loads of wet felting and I've also done needle felting. I agreed to bring some of my handmade soaps (I was an obsessive cold-process soap maker until I was up to my ears in a lifetime supply of soap), and some colorful wool roving to her house, to give them a lesson.

Wrapping the soaps in wool roving.
Kathy is showing me the tee that her daughter made for her dad for Christmas—Laine is highly creative!

There are many youtube videos on how to make felted soaps. But please don't do your felting under a running faucet! It is SO wasteful and can be easily done in a bowl of hot water. In fact, here's a video that doesn't use the faucet and here.

Laine and Kathy

Finished soaps

Then I taught them how to needle felt wool roving onto fabric. Right off the bat, Laine free-handed an adorable mushroom.

It was a fun afternoon! It's been years since I've felted soaps! (I also used to make lots of felted Easter eggs - along with tiny felted chickens peeking out of the "cracked" egg.)

My new soaps

Zippered Pouches

Thanks for your kind comments on my lined, zipper pouches! I received some questions, asking for a pattern and instructions. I don't use a pattern. I learned the technique in a class I took several years back. However, I looked and found the same technique taught in this video. Here a link to the free pattern for the pouch shown in the video:

While the technique is much the same, my bags use different dimensions. My bag requires:

  • Two 8"x10" rectangles for the outside of the bag. I often piece these, and then cut out the 8"x10" rectangle afterwards. A 1-3/4" square is cut out from each of the bottom corners. (See pic.)
  • Two 8"x10" rectangles cut from Pellon fleece, or equivalent. You can use fusible fleece. I generally don't use fusible, and I apply the fleece to the outer layer of fabric using spray glue designed for fabric. You also cut the 1-3/4" rectangles from the bottom corners of the fleece.
  • Two 8"x10" rectangles cut from a lining fabric. Also with 1-3/4" squares cut out from the bottom corners.
  • One 7" zipper. Each end of the zipper is covered with a scrap of fabric.
Pouch in process: two outside pieces, zipper with ends covered with fabric scraps, and two lining pieces. The Pellon fleece, not yet cut, is piled on the left.

Dritz Spray Adhesive for attaching the fleece to the outer layer of fabric. Or, you can use fusible fleece.

I also wanted to clarify something. A few people seemed to think that I used old ties to make my pouches. Several years back I bought a couple bags of silk scraps from a manufacturer that makes men's ties. You certainly could use old ties, and piece them together, but that's not what I did.

2015 Top Blogger

Well, this was a nice surprise. I recently received an email from that one of my tutorials is one of their most popular projects.

While I am flattered, this is rather amusing to me. Back in September 2009, someone asked on a forum how to replicate this skirt from Anthropologie.

Original Anthropologie skirt

Recreating the skirt required some fairly straightforward pattern drafting, so I dashed off a quick tutorial and posted it to my blog. I didn't actually make the skirt, as neither I nor my daughters would have worn it.

This tutorial has been one of my consistently most read posts. To date is has over 95,000 page views and, for this week alone, it's my third most read post. It has been pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest over and over. If I had any clue that this post would be so popular, I would have taken a lot more care in producing it!

Soon after I wrote the post, asked if they could link to it from their site. I told them that so long as they weren't selling it, and that they understood that I retained all rights, that it was fine.

Anyway, thanks,, for the honor. They sent me the badge above.

Happy New Year!

Black Eyed Pea Chili

One tradition I adopted in the last few years is having Black Eyed Peas for New Years. I'd never heard of this Southern custom while growing up, but I love it!

This year I bought SIX pounds of dried Black Eyed Peas.

I couldn't help myself.

I just cooked up a pound in my Instant Pot using a favorite recipe: Black Eyed Pea Chili with Quinoa and Corn.

I have a rather involved sewing project almost finished. Hopefully, I'll have some projects to show you soon.

And Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hooray, Christmas is Over!

My street under the Christmas night full moon

I like Christmas fine, but I'm glad it's over! And 2015 is not far behind!

I have done a bit of sewing, as well as some other stuff. Let me catch you up.


Greedy Gift Grab

As you may remember, I participate in a Greedy Gift Grab with some talented sewers every December. This year was no different. (In fact, Jillian posted about the GGG. If you click on the group photo in her post to enlarge it, you'll see me hiding in the back.)

This year I gifted a pair of red Bohin scissors and a black Zirkel magnetic pincushion. Once again, I wrapped my offering with some battery operated Christmas lights, this time in a glass bowl.

I received a gorgeous hand knitted cowl!

Array of gifts

Silk Zipper Pouches

A few years ago I purchased a bag of silk remnants from a tie manufacturer, and I decided to use them to make zipper pouches as Christmas gifts. I have now given all but one of them away, so I can share.

The pouch in the far back is made from home dec remnants from FabMo, but the rest are made from tie silk.

From a Dress to a Top

My daughter needed a holiday top, and was having trouble finding one she liked. On my suggestion, she purchased a dress and I shortened it to a top. It was a lined top, but it was a fairly easy task.

The difference between a top and a dress was 10"!

And here she is, wearing it

Giving equal time to her sister!

Original dress, from Forever 21 website

Christmas Eve

I celebrate Christmas with my daughters on Christmas Eve. I like to find somewhere interesting to spend our evening. Two years ago, when my youngest was in Thailand, my eldest and I spent Christmas in a tree house. This year, I booked a yacht in Sausalito. Unfortunately, the day before our celebration, my eldest had her wisdom teeth removed due to an infection. That dampened her plans a bit (pain, swelling, and zero alcohol allowed), and I had to change our menu around, but it was still nice!

DD1 on Christmas Eve Eve, right after her surgery

Our Christmas Eve yacht, in the Sausalito Marina

Christmas Eve moon from our yacht

Our host put up a little tree for us

Playing games on Christmas Eve

Sausalito Marina on Christmas morning

San Francisco skyline from Sausalito

Downtown Sausalito

DD1 gifted me with a gorgeous wooden salad bowl and a necklace, and DD2 gifted me with a great hat. I'm sure both wearables will make an appearance at some point.

Diane Keaton

On Christmas afternoon, I went to downtown San Francisco to see Star Wars. I had purchased my ticket a month ago. Guess who stepped into line just in front of me? Diane Keaton! She smiled at me and said "hi", no doubt because my eyes were open wide and my brain was racing—I was asking myself if I was really looking at Diane Keaton.

But it was!

The theater was a chaotic zoo, and everyone else was completely oblivious to her, which gave me a sense of unreality.

Diane was beautifully dressed!

LoriAnne Pattern Collection

Have you heard of the LoriAnne pattern collection?

I discovered her line of patterns last year at Puyallup Sew Expo and I got on her mailing list. She sent out an email recently asking people what kind of patterns they wanted to see, offering a free pattern to those who responded quickly. I sent her an email, quick like a rabbit, and was one of the winners. For my free pattern, I chose her Encore jacket.

Encore jacket

(By the way, the brochure for Puyallup Sew Expo 2016 is now available. However, it turns out that I will not be attending Sew Expo this year. I have a conflicting work event.)

If you've tried one of her patterns, I'd love to hear about it!

Elfriede's Fine Fabrics

After I posted my wool vest, it was pointed out to me that Elfriede's Fine Fabrics, in Boulder, Colorado, has this fabric in a few color ways. As of this writing, they have it in purple, blues and browns, rainbow colors, and black, grey, white, and brown.

I definitely recommend this fabric! And, one day, I hope to visit Elfriede's in person!

"12 Days of Christmas" Sewing Photo Hop

Finally, Rachel, of House of Pinheiro, hosted a 12 Days of Christmas photo hop on Instagram at the beginning of December. Why do I keep participating in these? They are sort of addictive, though I think I need a break after this one.

Day 1 of #sewphotohop: You. Feeling festive! @houseofpinheiro

Day 2 of #sewphotohop: Naughty or nice? I must be naughty or why would I be wearing chains? Also, I bought something like SEVEN Craftsy classes in the Thanksgiving sale. I now have 20 that I haven't watched. @girlcharleeuk

Day 3 of #sewphotohop: Grateful. So.incredibly.grateful. @upcraftclub
Day 4 of #sewphotohop: Memories. My daughter gave me this fabric for Christmas two years ago. I've been driving myself crazy looking for the right pattern. I hope to sew it up soon! @sewalison

Day 5 of #sewphotohop: Shiny. @minervacrafts

Day 6 of #sewphotohop: Fun. For April Fools Day 2014 I made a Noogler Hat for the Google Bison. It still wears that hat today.! @thefoldline @houseofpinheiro

Day 7 of #sewphotohop: Treat. My latest treat is this wool ombré houndstooth fabric from Marcy Tilton! @fabricgodmother

Day 8 of #sewphotohop: While I craft I... I really enjoy Spotify and have a vast and diverse playlist. Right now some of my favorite artists are Kate Rusby, Beth Hart, Hugh Laurie, and David Ford. @sewoveritlondon

Day 9 of #sewphotohop: No regrets. I made this Butterick dress and knew I wouldn't wear it, even after I altered it to fit better (not shown). A week or two later I chopped it off. No regrets, as I enjoy wearing it as a skirt! @vhaberdashery @houseofpinheiro

Day 10 of #sewphotohop: Handmade gifts. I used to be an obsessive quilter. I made this quilt for my father in 1996—more than 20 years ago. My father passed in August and the quilt came back to me. @woolandthegang @houseofpinheiro

Day 11 of #sewphotohop: Wish list. I wish for more time! Time to sew and time to travel. @stylemakerfabrics @houseofpinheiro

Day 12 of #sewphotohop: Favorite things. (I knitted the hat on the left.) @dittofabrics @houseofpinheiro

Day 13 (bonus) of #sewphotohop: Holiday feeling. DD1 as Clara in SF Ballet's Nutcracker. Dec 2005. @workroomsocial @houseofpinheiro

Happy New Year!

It feels like we have arrived at a time where peace, love, and understanding have never been more sorely needed. Here's to a more serene and caring 2016!