Look What the Sewing Fairy Brought

Japanese Sewing Books

I ordered some Japanese pattern books from YesAsia.com and they arrived today, along with a whole bunch of fabric (lots of florals, polka-dots, stripes and reproduction prints).

The dresses in the Stylish Dress Book look so comfy and perfect for spring, which is probably about the time I will get around to sewing any of them. And the kids are pouring over them, completely fascinated by the Japanese writing. I will carve out some time to sew soon. And I will post reviews and the results when I do.

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My Reading List

Stack of Books

Here is the stack of books in my “waiting to be read soon” pile.  One of my favorite parts of the new year is diving into the stack of new books I get at the end of every year.  They make the cold, winter months go a little bit faster.

A few – 1491, 365 Tao and Buddhism Plain and Simple – are left over from last year, but either need to be finished or, in the case of 365 Tao, are used daily on an on-going basis.

I’m almost finished with In Praise of Slowness. Now the question becomes, which book to read next…..

Make a Basket From Newspaper

I recently came across this tutorial on How to Make a Basket from Newspaper and thought it was something I needed to try.   I don’t subscribe to any newspapers, so I made my husband snag the Sunday papers from the break room where he works.   The cleaning crew would have just thrown them in the garbage anyway.  At least now they are useful again.

It took me a few tries to get the technique down.  By the third basket, I had it figured out.  This is a great project to do at the end of the day in front of the T.V.   I have two in my front room keeping the magazines neat and tidy under the end table.  And a third one, I used as a gift basket.  I made it a little smaller in size, lined it with fabric and filled it with goodies.

Newspaper Basket

Indygo Junction Aprons

Before the holidays, I ordered several apron patterns from Indygo Junction.  I used the patterns to make Christmas gifts and of course, I had to make a few for myself.

First I made the Bon Appetit pattern.  It was very easy to use and resulted in a very flattering apron.  My only complaint is that the ruffle was too long and had to be cut after sewing it to the apron.  It was a little confusing to understand the instructions. and I’m not sure the reasoning behind the excess in the pattern, but I just made the ruffle a few inches shorter after the first apron. Several of these went out as gifts and were very well recieved.

Bon Appetit Apron

Bon Appetit Apron made with Cherry Fabric by Robert Kaufmann and Just Dreamy by My Mind's Eye Fabric by Riley Blake

Orange Bon Appetit Apron

Bon Appetit Apron made with Orange fabric by Kaufmann I believe and denim.

I also made the Afternoon Tea apron, and this one went together very easily.  My only suggestion is to try on the apron and adjust the placement of the back as needed before you sew it all together.  I had to take off several inches so it fit properly. I didn’t use this one for gifts since they needed to be fitted and I wasn’t sure of everyone’s size. But, I made one for myself and this is one of my favorite aprons.

Afternoon Tea Apron

Afternoon Tea Apron made with Cherry Fabric by Robert Kaufmann and Just Dreamy by My Mind's Eye Fabric by Riley Blake

Finally, I made my grandmother the Mock Smock.  She loves smocks.  In fact, I’ve rarely seen her without one on, so I thought she would like a nice one made with designer fabric.  The Mock Smock pattern was a little different then the ones she normally wears with the square shape to everything, but I liked the variation as it was pictured. However, I am not a fan of the Mock Smock pattern.  I found the squareness of the arms and neckline very hard to work with.   And the instructions provided were not much help.

My first smock was a disaster. First I tried using the cut pattern pieces for the neck and armholes, but I couldn’t get the corners sharp and pretty. Then I took that off and tried rounding all the corners and using bias trim, but that didn’t turn out too well either. And for some reason, the neckline didn’t match up.

Mock Smock

Mock Smock Disaster

So, I went back and made a few adjustments to the pattern.  I rounded the sleeves and neckline. 

Mock Smock Neckline

I also rounded the pockets and added a pleat to them.  And I finished the pockets, arm holes and neckline with coordinating bias trim. 

Mock Smock Pockets

I think this one turned out much better!  And Gram loves her new smock.  But she says it will be her special occasion smock, as it is much too pretty to wear everyday.

Mock Smock

Mock Smock made with Birds of Paradise fabric by Free Spirit.

No Resolutions, Please

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions years ago.  I always started off with good intentions but I never kept them for very long.  So I decided, rather than set myself up for failure each year, I would just reflect on the previous year and maybe make a list of goals for the new year if I felt I needed a list.  That approach has seemed less daunting and much more constructive than the traditional resolution making.  And I’ve taken to posting my lists (and sometimes reflections) publicly so I am somewhat accountable for them.

I haven’t had too much time to reflect on anything this year.  I spent the last few days of last year and the first few days of this year sick.  I think the only thing being sick illustrated to me is that maybe I need to slow down a little.  Last year I kept a really ridiculous schedule for myself.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a good year.  I had fun, I learned a lot, I made sure to enjoy walks in the park and outings with the kids, but everything was scheduled down to the last second of every day.  I even scheduled when I could watch TV and play video games.  That idea was thanks to a class I took at the beginning of 2009 on time management.  Something is telling me now that I might have taken the concept too far.  I think at the end of the year, when I finally allowed myself to slow down and enjoy some free-time, I crashed and didn’t really get to enjoy anything.  So, I’ve begun the year by reading In Praise of Slowness. I’m hoping it will refresh my memory on how to pace myself.

And because I feel I need a list this year, my list of goals for 2010 are:

  1. Graduate from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with my degree in Interactive Media and Web Design.  This one shouldn’t be too hard.  If everything goes as planned, I am scheduled to graduate in September of the year.
  2. Finally update both of my blog designs and my twitter background.  I think it is really awful that as a future Web Designer, all my sites look so plain and yucky.  I need to change that!
  3. Improve my pattern making skills.  I can make simple patterns myself but I am ready to take it to the next level.
  4. Branch out and start sewing more grown-up clothing.  Why should the kids get all the cool clothing with the designer fabric?
  5. I’m going to look for a full-time job this fall.  This one scares me a bit.  I haven’t worked a real job in over 8 years.   Sure, I’ve worked at Target and Walmart over past holiday seasons, and I ran a little etsy shop or two, and recently I’ve been taking freelance work, but they don’t really bring in too much money.  And they don’t provide benefits, which we really need. Our plan has always been for me to go back to work once the kids were a few years into school and I guess that would be now.  I also have a few thousand dollars in school loans that need to be paid somehow.
  6. And lastly, I am going to take a photography class.  I have almost saved up enough to upgrade my digital camera, it is now time to take a class so I actually know what the heck I am doing with that new camera.

I think that is a good list of things to work toward this year.