Belated Thanks and Other Random Musings…..

I realize that it’s been awhile since my last post. Life has been crazy and sadly I haven’t had as much time to sew or photograph my projects. Our computer has also contributed to my headaches lately. I have spent way too many hours on the phone with tech support halfway around the world and their last recommendation was to completely wipe my computer’s hard drive and reinstall windows and everything else. Argh!!! I dread doing that and will procrastinate as long as my computer will hold out. Surprisingly, Mr. Dashing is looking forward to doing this (to improve his video game activities perhaps?) and jokingly calls this the “nuclear” option. Sorry but I have way too many files and I am not ready to go “nuclear” anytime soon.

On a more topical note – I owe a belated thanks to the lovely Emily from Calico Stretch (many apologies Emily- so ashamed that this is so late). She nominated me for the bloggy award One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blog.


I am truly inspired by Emily’s blog. I admire her tenacity in her fitting challenges – particularly trouser fitting. I’m not sure I would have the patience to fit trousers by myself. I did take a jeans fitting class with Jennifer Stern back in February. She personally helped fit me and we went through at least three muslins. I hope to blog more about the details next month. Below are pictures of progress thus far. What do you think of the fit? I think I need to tweak the fit but I am happy with the progress I have made.

J Stern jean muslin - back view

J Stern jean muslin – back view

J Stern jean - front view

J Stern jean – front view

On another belated thank you, I would also like to thank Amity from Lolita Patterns for sending me a cool Fuchsia package a few months ago (Yikes! only seemed like yesterday). I won the Lolita Patterns giveaway back in February and am looking forward to making a pencil skirt with the pink-dyed houndstooth fabric. Lolita Patterns is one of the many cool indie pattern companies that have launched this year.


Lastly, I was happy to be featured today on PatternReview. I am more of a lurker than an active reviewer on PatternReview. I hope to post more reviews when I have some time (heh heh- easier said than done). That said, I have participated in a few of the PR events (most recently, the still yet to be blogged about PatternReview San Francisco). What a lovely community of people from all walks of life. I like the friendly, helpful vibe on PR and seem to visit that site more than any other sewing site. Thanks PR for featuring me!

PR Featured member

Posted in Jeans, Misc, Sewing Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Still Looking for Alternatives to Google Reader…….

Since I found out Google Reader is going away in July (Wah!!!) I have looked into other readers. I had around 100+ blogs that I was checking regularly with Google Reader but now I am a bit behind on my blog reading because I so dislike logging into some of the other alternatives.

So, I am looking into Bloglovin now. I found out from Emily at Calico Stretch I need to “claim” my blog so I am doing that now (Thanks Emily!)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I am bummed that Google took out the menu option for easy access to the Reader. Sheepishly, I admit that I still Google “Google Reader” and log in to read other blogs. I need to get over it and move on. Especially now, after the April Fools Joke by Google about  shutting down You Tube. So not funny…

Posted in Misc | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Silk Origami-Inspired Purse

I have always been fascinated with origami. I have also wondered if I could simulate this art in fabric. As a result, I am very happy with the outcome of one of my recent fabric folding experiments. I made this silk origami-inspired purse for one of my artistic aunts. The design is from the Peace purse project in the book Shadowfolds.


This book is an awe-inspiring read. I have had this book for a while but admit that I was a bit apprehensive to try any projects from it despite its subtitle “Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric”.


This all changed last week when I found out that Chris Palmer, the author of Shadowfolds, was going to be in the area to teach a fabric-folding workshop. I was so excited and jumped at the opportunity to learn his Shadowfolds technique!

In the workshop, Chris brought samples of his amazing work.

Chris Palmer teaching Shadowfolds Workshop

Chris Palmer teaching Shadowfolds Workshop

I especially loved this collapsing Shadowfold fabric structure. The work was initially two-dimensional but it can grow into a three-dimensional sculpture by pulling the top thread.

Collapsing Shadowfold Sculpture

Collapsing Shadowfold Sculpture

During the Shadowfolds workshop, I practiced folding various fabric shapes in muslin.



After the workshop, I was eager to try some of the projects from the book. Based on the book’s recommendations, ideal fabrics for the Shadowfolds technique are cotton, silk or linen.

I had a red silk dupioni in my stash that was perfect for this application. I was happy to do some stash-busting with this fabric because the silk was quite thin and I originally had no idea what to do with it. The silk was perfect for the fabric folding projects. While working with different fabrics, I discovered that if the fabric was too thick, it was harder to manipulate.

To make the purse, I first marked the fabric using pattern templates from the Shadowfolds book. I used a FriXion pen to mark the silk. This pen has heat-sensitive ink that disappears after ironing so marks won’t be visible in the finished project (love this pen!).


I then connected all the pattern points together by needle and thread. I found that it was best to sew all the points first before tying them because it could be difficult to see what to do next.


I then pulled the threads tight and tied them together on the back of the fabric.


This is when the magic happens! Shapes start to form on the other side of the fabric based on the folds created by the knotted threads. I first flattened the shapes manually and then set the folds with an iron.


At this point, I deviated from the book’s directions. I have made many zippered clutches in the past so I used my method of construction. I cut the front panel to size and interfaced the outside purse pieces with medium weight sew-in interfacing (Pellon 50). I used the same red silk dupioni for the purse lining. I also sewed the bottom corners of the purse to create a flat bottom.

I made a mistake in copying the pattern from the book and ended up with two five-point stars on the ends of the purse design. The purse still turned out well. I love how the stars flow into each other.

This project was not difficult but it does take some time to do. If you are impatient or dislike hand-sewing, then this project may not be for you.

I am giving this purse to a special aunt and I hope she enjoys it. I am also using this project as part of my February stash-busting challenge. I joined Cation Designs and EmSewCrazy’s Stashbusting Sewalong last month and hope to keep up the effort (my past track record on sewalongs has not been great but I wanted to give this a decent try).

I am looking forward to creating more fabric folding projects in the future!


Posted in Books, Fabric Art, Sewing Fun | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

And the Winner is …… Patrones Giveaway Winner!

Hola, mis amigas y hermanas costureras,
Quiero anunciar la ganadora del premio del sorteo de la revista Patrones. Gracias a todas las que comentaron en mi blog. Yo quisiera darles una revista a cada una, pero, solo tengo una edición.


Para seleccionar la ganadora, puse todos los nombres en mi mágico cesto de coser, y escogí un boleto al azar.


¡Felicidades a Maryall!


El blog de Maryall is “Handmade by Maryall”, originalmente en Italiano pero comenzó a escribir en Ingles este año. Me inspiro a escribir este mensaje en Español.  Me encanta su blog porque describe la costura y cocina, cuáles son también mis intereses.

Maryall, te mandaré un email. Por favor di me tu dirección para mandarte esta edición especial. Si haces algo de la revista, estoy muy curioso de ver a tu bonita creación.  Tendrás que usar tus competencias de coser porque la revista no tiene direcciones meticulosas.

¡Gracias de nuevo a todas y que sigamos cosiendo feliz!


The winner of the Patrones giveaway is Maryall from Handmade by Maryall! Her blog is in Italian but she just started blogging in English this year as a New Year’s resolution. I love her blog because she writes about cooking and crafting, my interests too!

After reading Maryall’s blog, I was inspired to write this blog post in Spanish, the language of the Patrones magazine. I am just learning Spanish so please forgive me if there are any errors. Writing in another language is much harder than reading another language! I admire the bilingual blogs that are out there. I won’t translate my entire text above because this will hopefully give all the monolingual people out there a challenge.

Maryall, I will contact you by e-mail. Please send me your address so I can send you the giveaway package.

Thanks to all the entered the giveaway and happy sewing!

Posted in Giveaway, Sew Grateful | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Missoni Draped Ballerina Top

I won this lovely black wool crepe fabric in Rhonda’s giveaway last month. I was hoping to make something with it for the Sew Grateful projects day but I am a hopelessly slow sewist and I didn’t have a suitable project for it.


In appreciation for the fabric, I decided to make this Draped Front Ballerina Top from Rhonda’s Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays series. Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays is truly fabulous; you should check it out!

Rhonda made the top below with black sequined mesh fabric. Cute isn’t it!

Draped Front Ballerina Top Rhonda

Draped Front Ballerina Top from Rhonda’s Creative Life

If you decide to make this top, you must choose a fabric that is the same on both the front and the back. One side of the front has the front side of the fabric facing out. The other side of the top has the back side of the fabric facing out because of the twist that is done to form the drape.

I made my top from a Missoni knit that I had in my stash. I love that it came together quickly (only 2 pattern pieces)! I should probably take the sides in a bit for a better fit.


Draped Front Ballerina Top- Front View

My only criticism is that from the side view, the front twist formed a little tummy “pooch”. This could be due to the weight of knit I used. I would recommend using a light-weight drapey open-weave knit for a more flattering look. The black knit Rhonda used in her post is perfect for this top.


Draped Front Ballerina Top- Side View

I had to fiddle with the pattern a bit to fit my petite frame. I reduced the arm length from 8″ to 6″. I also shortened the length from 20″ to 16″. Full instructions are in Rhonda’s post.


Draped Ballerina Top- Front Pattern Piece


Draped Ballerina Top- Back Pattern Piece

I also mastered my serger this week! I now know how to thread this puppy for 2, 3, 4 and 5 thread serging (so happy!!!). I made my top entirely on my serger (so much faster than a sewing machine!).


Thank you Rhonda for the fabric and free pattern! I am now inspired to try more of the fabulous free patterns. I am also “Sew Grateful”!

Sew Grateful button

Posted in Free Patterns, Sew Grateful, Sewing Inspiration, Tops | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Sew Grateful Reflections

Sew Grateful button

Debi of My Happy Sewing Place proposed the following theme for today: “As part of Sew Grateful Week, today is all about reflection. Reflecting on what role sewing has played in our lives, reflecting on those who have been supportive in our journey and reflecting on what the online community means to us.”

I covered a few things that I am grateful for in yesterday’s post but this topic deserves more thoughtful commentary. So here are my thoughts:

Sewing in Life

Sewing is not a huge part of my life but it is still a meaningful activity to me. I have only been sewing for about three years. Prior to that, I have never owned a sewing machine and never sewn anything before. My first project was the set of zippered pillows below.


As my skills grew, I became more ambitious and really tried to push myself. This really came as a surprise to me because I took up sewing mainly as a distraction from my then stressful life. I quickly became addicted to learning more and doing more.

Two of my proudest sewing moments were when I attempted to sew a couture dress and tailor a jacket. The couture dress was challenging for me; it was underlined in silk organza and the silk/cashmere brocade pattern was painstakingly matched at the seams and pockets (I still need to finish both the dress and jacket but those are blog posts for another day).



The point is that I am very grateful to find a hobby where the barrier to entry is fairly low and yet can challenge me over my lifetime. I just needed a bit of fabric, notions and desire to create that pillow.

Sewing Support

I met many accomplished people in my sewing classes and meet-ups. The diversity of the group always amazed me. In the groups, there were doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, pilots, teachers, students and SAHMs. Yet, we all had an instant connection because of our passion about sewing and fabric.

I am grateful to have a hobby that has given me an opportunity to meet other like-minded folks. Working in a technical field, I don’t often have the opportunity to interact with people of many different backgrounds.

Sewing Online Community

What has surprised me the most was how accessible and supportive the on-line community can be. It may be a cliché but the world has truly become a smaller place because of the Internet. I am grateful for all the people that I have met online that have given me thoughtful advice or comments. It still astonishes me how easily I can have casual chats with people over 9,000 miles away via the World Wide Web. I am grateful that I live in the age that allows me to have this awesome opportunity.

For these reasons and more, I am ‘Sew Grateful’.

Posted in Sew Grateful, Sewing Inspiration | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Patrones Giveaway for Sew Grateful Week!

Hello 2013!

Sew Grateful button

Debi from My Happy Sewing Place is hosting a Sew Grateful Week and I am excited to be a part of it.

I have been blogging for about a year now and I originally intended the blog to be a personal diary and creative release from the stress of my daily life. I never expected that any of my on-line ramblings would be read by anyone else.

I was surprised (even shocked) when I gained my first follower. With each new follower, I was inspired to step up my writing and provide a better product for my audience. I was also inspired to leave encouraging comments on other blogs.

I am grateful for the people who follow me and the supportive comments that I have received thus far. I am not striving for mega blog; this blog is supposed to be fun for me and not more work. I am just happy to be part of the sewing community on my own terms and timeline.

As part of Sew Grateful week, Debi has suggested that Monday, February 4th be a Giveaway day to show appreciation to the sewing community. So, I am hosting a giveaway for a Patrones magazine, summer issue 303. It is published in Spain and printed in Spanish but hopefully that just adds to the fun of sewing something from a European magazine.

I am also including Burda Style tracing carbon paper that I picked up in a recent trip to Germany last month. The tracing paper will be helpful because you have to trace the patterns from the magazine.


Here are some of my favorite styles from this issue:





Here is a summary of the patterns in the magazine:

Patrones No 303 Summary

Patrones No 303 Summary

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment below this post. In appreciation to all my followers, if you follow or subscribe to my blog, I will count your entry as a double entry. This giveaway is open until midnight, 23 Feb 2013, central standard time. This giveaway is open worldwide; I will ship internationally. Good luck!

Posted in Giveaway | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Vintage Inspiration in Berkeley

Last month, I took a day trip to Silicon Valley California. There wasn’t much time for shopping but I did stop by the bohemian town of Berkeley to check out this shop:

Stone Mountain and Daughters is an awesome fabric shop! When you first walk in the shop, you see the quilting fabrics on display. The room on the right was far more exciting for me because of the apparel fabrics there.  Check out these cool textured silks.

Textured Silk

What was also eye-catching were the many sample garments on display from the Decades of Style pattern line.

Decades of Style #3101 Parisienne Coat

Decades of Style #3101 Parisienne Coat

L to R: Decades of Style #3009 Capelet, #3010 Crossing Coat, #3007 Button Dress and #2004 Tier-rific Ensemble

L to R: Decades of Style #3009 Capelet, #3010 Crossing Coat, #3007 Button Dress and #2004 Tier-rific Ensemble

I liked the samples even better than the samples shown on the Decades of Style web site and was inspired to try the Collar Confection Blouse based on this sample (sorry for the blurry cell phone photo).

Decades of Style #5003 Collar Confection Blouse with #4004 Empire Waist Trousers, #5007 Object d'Art Dress

Decades of Style #5003 Collar Confection Blouse with #4004 Empire Waist Trousers, #5007 Object d’Art Dress

I loved the red silk brocade used to make this blouse. It was perfect for this style. I hunted for it in vain but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any more of the fabric. I still picked up the pattern though.

Stone Mountain has an impressive stock of indie patterns. I was tempted to walk out with stacks of them but held back.

However, I didn’t have as much control when it came to the fabric. Especially when I discovered the clearance section upstairs!

The prices were very reasonable. This is my haul (from left to right): white silk, grey pinstripe wool, crinkle silk organza, animal print lining and grey wool suiting. The white silk was a steal. It is thick in weight and perfect for my foray into experimental fabric dyeing.

Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabric Goodies

This woolen hairy beast was also a steal. It will make a warm coat. Need to find a simple, non-fussy pattern though because it is quite thick to sew and probably sheds a lot.

Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabric Goodies

After my shopping excursion, we headed back to the hotel. On the way, we had a quick meal in Palo Alto. Downtown Palo Alto was beautiful. Someday, I hope to be back for a longer visit. Perhaps for a Sandra Betzina class at Stone Mountain Fabrics? 🙂

Palo Alto at night

Palo Alto at night

Posted in Decades of Style Patterns, Fabric shopping, Shopping | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Patterns and Postcards in the Mail Part 2

I have been behind on blogging lately. The past few weeks been crazy and all my time has been spent helping out family. And it’s not getting any easier because now Christmas is coming up. I am tempted to leave the country for a few weeks and avoid all the holiday craziness! So, sadly – no progress to share on my ongoing projects.

I do have loads to share on my swapping and shopping adventures though (I always seem to carve out time for that!). I received more goodness in the mail from the Patterns and Postcards swap I have been  playing along with. I love these intercontinental swaps!

My first parcel was from Beata of Tatulinka’s Tales. I swapped for the Burda Couture and she kindly threw in the cute vintage McCalls and OOP Butterick patterns.

The next parcel was from Natasha of Cheeky ChaCha. I have long hunted for this OOP Burda 7658 and was gleeful that Natasha was offering it up for swap. She also surprised me with this cool blue fabric and nautical trim! I also got a kick out of the postcard from Wagga Wagga, N.S.W. Natasha wanted to send a quirky card so she took a 5 hour day trip to Wagga Wagga just to send me this card. Thanks Natasha- I appreciate it!

Thanks again Beata and Natasha for the cool goodies!

Posted in Burda, Butterick, McCalls, Sewing Fun, Swaps | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Domestic Goddess Apron

Check out my latest domestic goddess creation! I was inspired by Tj’s Apron-o-rama and impulsively decided Sunday evening to join in the fun. Karen at Did You Make That? was hosting an Apron-a-long and it instantly appealed to me. I was just recovering from a nasty flu caught after traveling cross-country for the last 3 weeks. I was in no mood to work on anything challenging.

Amy Butler Domestic Goddess Apron

No need to hunt for an appropriate pattern either. I have several apron patterns in the stash including this cute Amy Butler AB037DG apron pattern.

I was hoping to whip this out Sunday but it shockingly took me a couple of days to finish the apron. This is no 2 hour pattern. There were no less than 23 pleats that had to be sewn for this apron! Sewing the pleats was like sewing 23 darts!

I do love how this apron came out though. It would make a great gift. The fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush/Mixed Signals home dec weight cotton (from my favorite local indie fabric store, The Needle Shop in Chicago).

The Amy Butler directions were very detailed for an apron pattern. I followed most of it but added a second line of stitching 1/4″ from the skirt edge-stitching for reinforcement. I also had to deviate from the pocket instructions so I could match the fabric stripes.

Here is the side view. The apron has a handy towel loop.

Domestic Goddess Apron Side View

Also, on the cover picture of the pattern, the hem-line looks asymmetric but the hem on the pattern is not. I was thankful for that because I prefer a level hem and I was going to hack off the annoying excess if needed.

Overall a winner!

Posted in Amy Butler | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments