2016 in some words

Thank you for following along with my 2016 blogstravaganza. It feels good to have my projects blogged in the same year they were sewn (and let’s just ignore the projects I made for other people, shall we? and the dress I just sewed from the wreckage of that wool jersey cardigan?) Now I’d like to share some reflections on the outgoing and incoming years.

Like 2015, I’d picked out a theme word for 2016. It was not nearly as whimsical as “joy” in 2015; 2016’s word was “competence”.

For my entire life, I’ve felt uneven in my skills and personality – quick to grasp things and easily interested, but with poor follow-through and my excitement quickly giving way to feelings of dejection and ineptitude. Inconsistent. Making competence my word for 2016 implied the question “what would happen if I solidified some of the basic skills I want and need in my life?”

Here are some of the very quotidian things I worked on:

  • I got more serious about my financial goals and took an honest look at what my husband and I were really spending. We started using an allowance system, which we now affectionately and ruefully refer to as “petty cash”. With only one full-time income for most of the year, we managed to incrementally increase our savings and I contributed to my 401k to get the max employer match.
  • I took an honest look at how I was doing at my job. I was doing adequately and no more. I decided to invest in my skills, both technical and managerial. I look online classes, I asked a ton of questions, I built consensus, I volunteered for projects, I participated. And it worked; I built up my small program and I felt very proud of the work we created.
  • I dared to think about where I wanted my career to go. I started taking stock in what I was loved doing and was really good at, what I could do competently (there’s that word again) and what I’d really prefer not to do.
  • I took good care of myself this year. After focusing on joy in 2015, I was worn out and sick. I made time to go to dance and therapeutic yoga and sought out health care providers that I liked and respected.
  • Sewing-wise, I’ve made a bunch of projects this year that I wear the shit out of. Again, no glamour here, just solid pieces that I wear daily. But it felt good to really sew up patterns I know and love, like McCall’s 6436, my Morgan jeans and trousers, and my self-drafted jumper dresses.

So, lest this post sound like one long brag on my achievements, I’ll add some context – because almost everything was going haywire.

On a personal level, I was inspired to work so much on my own professional development because every week seemed to yield a fresh new sign that my job was in danger, including (but not limited to):

  • a two-month delay in filling open spots on my small team until word finally arrived from unofficial channels that the team was being dissolved
  • another team tried to steal our headcount
  • our director quit
  • our VP was fired
  • our fired VP still managed to trade my larger team to another organization
  • our new director in our new organization told us in vague terms that our team needed restructuring shortly before he got a new job and left
  • his replacement said he wouldn’t make any further changes to the team and then dissolved it less than a month later and laying nearly everybody off

I consider this year to be my education in corporate politics.

Uncertainty, worry and calamity struck a lot of my friends and family, too, and I began to feel lucky that my turmoil was limited to my lost job. Mental and physical health issues that had been in uneasy stasis swung back out of balance for so many people I know, and there was divorce, breakups and housing insecurity in the mix. One of my friends had a spontaneous and undetectable shingles attack on his optical nerve and narrowly avoided losing sight. Another of my friends got hit by a taxi as he was legally crossing the street and narrowly avoided losing his life and his ability to walk.

The backdrop to these more personal cares is the political landscape of the US and the world. I don’t even know where to start to comment on that, except that feelings and pain that have never been resolved are erupting all over the place in very public ways. As some of you know, my Japanese-American family members were removed from their homes in World War II and placed in so-called “relocation camps”. One group’s pain and fears can easily be molded politically to take form as violations against the rights of citizens and humans; it’s only been one generation (albeit a long one) since this happened to my family. For many, it’s happening right now.

So where to take the upheaval of 2016, in as much as we have a choice? Truth be told, I’ve been resting for the last few weeks of this year and taking some time to feel gratitude for what I have. The personal and political tumult has taken it’s toll on me, but I intend this resting period to be temporary. I think next year is going to be very, very important. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it with unreserved joy – this isn’t 2015, after all! – but I am looking for meaningful ways to participate in public life.

On a bit of a housekeeping note, I am planning on taking some time off from sewing. I’m also spending the first few months of 2017 focusing intensively on my career, and I’m really excited. My plan is to enjoy wearing the pieces I’ve sewn this year, and live vicariously through all of your creations. And I think I’ll be doing some more knitting, since it’s better-suited towards little bits of effort at a time.

Since I’ve been focusing on gratitude lately, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you for being part of my community. Thank you for diving into the details of construction and fit with me. Thank you for listening to my metaphysical sewing rambles. Thank you for sharing your beautiful projects. Love and peace to you all.

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Kimono sleeves on McCall’s 6436, times four

I’ve been admiring some of the awesome kimono-sleeved buttoned shirt patterns (like the StyleArc Blair – check out Kelli’s and Meg’s – and Deer & Doe Melilot – check out Katie’s) and became obsessed with Heather Lou’s self-drafted shirt dress, but the idea of fitting a new-to-me shirt pattern was giving me hives. I turned to my my old favorite, McCall’s 6436, and grafted on some kimono sleeves using my Helen Joseph-Armstrong drafting manual.

I made a quick muslin, and I was off to the races, making no less than FOUR variations of this pattern. In all versions, I finished the sleeves with a cuff.

First up was an aloha shirt in palm-print rayon challis. I had recently re-watched Romeo+Juliet and was admiring Leo’s Hawaiian shirt. This fabric was as close as I could
come this time around (as in, not very close at all), but I’ll be on the lookout for that perfect Japanese floral on a blue background from now on.

(I had to attempt the Leo smolder.)

But this shirt makes me really gleeful…

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleevecrabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Next up was white linen, salvaged from an attempt at McCall’s 7325 that persisted in looking like a baptismal gown. The pattern pieces were large and rectangular, so the only adjustment I had to make was putting in a CB seam.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve

Bonus project: these are my denim Morgan jeans converted into trousers!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeves and Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

I changed the welt pocket placement a bit this time around.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case patterns Morgan jeans altered into trousers

Back to the shirts; after the first two versions, I was ready to lengthen the pattern into a shirt dress sewn in that magical thick silk rayon you saw in my jumper dress post! In order to add more ease to the hips, I added a back yoke and a CB pleat, adding 3″ total to the back width. Uncharacteristically for me, I didn’t end up liking the loose waist, so I added a drawstring.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 kimono sleeve dress

I found myself wishing I also had a collared shirt version in the same fabric, and had juuuust enough fabric to make it happen. I finished this one shortly after my sis and I took pictures, but I thought I’d include it for the sake of thoroughness.

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These shirts are simple, but a wardrobe dream come true for me. They’ll be the backbone of my 2017 wardrobe. The sleeves are a little breezy for winter temps, but I’ve still been wearing them – the dress, especially – quite a bit. They also layer nicely under my jumper dresses!

These shirts have also proved to me how much I enjoy sewing iteratively. Once I have success with a pattern, I love to make slight variations in length and design details to max it out. Being immersed in the construction helped me sew these rather quickly (which isn’t always my goal but nice in this case.)

Revised jumper dress draft

I dared myself to blog all of my remaining 2016 projects before the new year in my last post. I successfully enlisted my sis to help me in this madness by taking pictures of everything last week. So… it’s happening!

Diving right in with what’s been one of the most fun and challenging on-going projects from 2016 – my self-drafted jumper dress. I drafted a torso foundation and designed the original jumper dress shortly after. Since it seems to be the perfect complement to every top I own, I’ve worn it a ton and have had ample opportunity to figure out updates I want to make.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress
The original

I revisited the draft a couple of weeks ago, and made two versions in rapid succession.

First, I made one from beautiful stretch denim gifted to me from Heather and Jennifer. I managed to use every last scrap of it after making some denim trousers.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

From V1 to V2, these were the changes I made:

  • Widened the bib
  • Raised the neckline
  • Raised the side seams
  • Changed the silhouette to an a-line
  • Lengthened the hem
  • Eliminated the closures (for simplicity’s sake)

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

I also added a waist seam and split the front skirt into two, but those were cosmetic updates. If I had had more denim, I would have added some kind of pocket but I used every last scrap.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress
Accompanied by my familiar

I made V3 in some magical silk-rayon blend I found in a pile of remnants at a local fabric store. It’s well-behaved and sturdy, although probably the lightest weight I’d want to make one of these in.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

V3 changes were:

  • Widening the straps to 2″
  • Adding slash pockets in the front
  • Adding a back waist seam, just so I could line the entire bodice easily

I’ve been wearing these dresses non-stop over leggings since I made them.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

Both dresses tend to hang off my back and billow before they reach the hips. Since most of my curves are in the back, I’m not sure how to address that or if it’s just part and parcel of this silhouette on my figure. Please do share if you have any thoughts!

I had a moment of Christmas generosity when we were shooting photos, and gave the denim one to my sister since she was admiring it. We share what I call the Family Torso – broad shoulders, long chest, narrow back and ribcage – so anything I draft off my slopers will likely suit her perfectly. This pattern sews up quickly, so I can make another while she enjoys this one.

Expect to see both of these fabrics again as I continue my parade of 2016 sewing!

Big, fluffy sleeves

I would like to announce that I am personally thrilled with all the cool and weird sleeves that pattern companies are drafting these days. I’m always behind trends and haven’t sewn any of the bell and bishop sleeves that have been coming out, but I’ve been buying a few patterns here and there for when the urge strikes.

I did sew up a couple of unusual big-sleeved beauties earlier this year – one of them was probably the first project of 2016.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1228, v1228 Vena Cava

I’d made it once before as a dress. This time, I raised the neckline by 1″, did some kind of weird square/forward shoulder adjustment that I can’t remember, widened the hips to fit my measurements, and cropped it at a shirt length because I wanted to use up some larger silk CDC scraps.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1228, v1228 Vena Cava

Ultimately, I wish I’d left the neckline lower but narrowed it. I could use a sway back adjustment. I still like it and wear it though. This pattern – designed by Vena Cava – is so cool and unusual, and construction is fun but not overly complicated origami.

Then in July, I made a new McCall’s pattern, 7325, in a black cotton voile.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 7325, M7325

I narrowed the bib based on my design preferences, and cuffed/tacked the sleeves. I also added some vintage cotton ribbon from Nancy’s Sewing Basket as trim.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 7325, M7325

I think part of the cotton was rancid, because it washed away. I still like the visual effect enough not to remove it.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 7325, M7325

In addition to both of these projects featuring big, fluffy cuffed sleeves, they are both sewn out of fabrics I don’t really love. Voile is very irritating to me, for some reason! It’s evasive during cutting and sewing, sheer but with body, and attracts lint. Silk CDC is a pleasure to sew and beautiful to look at, but there’s something about it that puts me off from wearing it very often. Still, I like both of these projects and the black top saw quite a bit of wear during the summer months.

I’ve had some time off lately, and have been doing quite a bit of sewing. I have this crazy idea I can blog what I’ve made, plus a couple other unblogged stragglers, before the end of the year – three shirts, four dresses, and denim trousers in total. (Let’s just ignore the two shirts and pair of jeans I sewed my husband). Wish me luck!

Morgan variations

Thank you for all your thoughtful and interesting comments on my last posts here and here about deciding not to sew everything. Marilla made a comment on my Instagram post that I loved too much not to share:

“I actually think that sewing is a journey to more conscious thinking! There is no need in the end to sew all the things, but learning the process helps you have a better understanding of the work involved and in turn makes you a more conscious consumer. I’m all for trying to make all the things, but not because I never ever want to buy things that have been made by someone else, I just hope it gives me greater respect for the resources and skills required!”

Isn’t that wonderful? It summarized what I was trying to convey in my post but didn’t quite know how to say. I have gained so much in my efforts to sew everything, including the knowledge of just how much it takes. It’s humbling.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really enjoying sewing jeans and trousers. The ones I can make far exceed what I could buy, in fit and quality. I’ve made a couple of variations based on the Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans, since sewing them as designed. The first is a slimmer stretch jean, made in Cone Mills S-Gene from Threadbare Fabrics.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I decided to alter the Morgan pattern instead of use a proper stretch jean pattern was because of how much I loved the back yoke fit and the pocket placement.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I’m also not really a true skinny jeans person – I’m not looking for a really skintight smooth look, just some extra give when I sit down or bend my knees. I also like to interface my jeans waistbands and use front pocket stays, so a non-stretch pattern was a very decent starting point.

I fitted these jeans as I went, removing some depth from the crotch curve and pinning out the outseams to make them more leg-shaped.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans in stretch denim

I loved dressy the dark-on-dark top-stitching made Sophie’s jeans, so I gave it a try on these.

For the second version, I decided to alter the pattern into a trouser pattern. I converted the back yoke into a dart and some width taken from the side seams, converted the jeans pockets to slanted pockets, and added back welt pockets.

crabandbee.com | Closet Case Patterns Morgan jeans converted to trousers

I used a cotton sateen with a little stretch from Emma One Sock. Sewing black basics can be terribly boring, but all the pattern changes made it fun. And they’re my dream trousers! I’m wearing them with a True Bias Ogden cami and some workday wrinkles.

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I loved them so much that I immediately cut out a second pair in stretch denim I had on hand. I’ve also begun the hunt for loud jacquard fabric with which to make a pair for holidays and other festive occasions. I’ve had a real hankering for crazy pants lately.

I’ve also still got a few extra yards of denim, both stretch and non-stretch – any suggestions for denim projects that aren’t jeans or pants?

Thoughts on not sewing everything

Last month, I bought twenty items of clothing – basically a non-capsule seasonal wardrobe, all at once.

I bought:

  • 6 knit tops
  • 4 pieces of workout gear
  • 3 blouses
  • 3 sweaters
  • 2 pieces of outerwear
  • 2 dresses

Fifteen of them were purchased second-hand, three purchased new.

This was very unusual for me and, I’m guessing, for most people. (Shockingly, everything fits in my tiny closet and tiny bureau.) As a sewer, my MO for the past few years has been to sew everything I want or need. It’s brought me to a place where I can stitch myself up a new pair of jeans, undies or even a winter coat. It’s been the best way for me to learn how to sew and I put in tons of hours to make it happen.

Other equally-rewarding activities have started to gain a foothold in my schedule, though, like dancing, reading and getting eight hours of sleep every night. With these positive changes, planning to sew every garment I needed wasn’t working anymore. My sewing queue was growing longer as my output had slowed, and even with my new budget, fabric and patterns have been building up waiting to be sewn.

The revelation that I no longer aspire to sew everything I wear has hit me gradually over the last month. I think it started when I wrote up my IG post for Sew Photo Hop’s “knit vs. woven?” theme. I love me some wovens. I barely tolerate most knit projects, nor am I as excited with the finished garment when I’m done. As I was typing out my post for that day, it dawned on me that maybe I don’t need to sew knits. And I felt a twinge of relief. There will be exceptions – I do what I want, when I want, and contradict myself constantly. I’ve enjoyed making my own undies and even swimsuits. Plus, I have some knit fabrics stashed. But it’s 100% ok to not sew all of my t-shirts and tank tops.

This was my liberated mindset when I walked into one of my favorite local second-hand stores, and I was richly rewarded. I found things I needed (like a knee-length down coat) and things that make it easier to get dressed for work in the morning (a jeans jacket, some dresses, work blouses and knit tops), and they all fit acceptably well, even in the shoulders. I was elated and made two more trips to the Goodwill. I found a few pieces of workout gear and yet more knits. Finally, I bought three other harder-to-thrift workout garments new from a retail store.

I feel satisfied and done with shopping. I’m grateful the capricious thrift-store gods were on my side. I’m going to be warm and well-dressed this fall and winter and I won’t be trying to convince myself I could and should sew a down jacket as I shiver on my walk to the bus in the morning (even though that would be an amazing project….)

Now I can focus on sewing projects that bring me satisfaction. I didn’t buy any jeans or pants, by design – I love sewing those and I love the fit I can achieve. I’m also yearning for more outerwear projects. I’ve been sewing for others, and have a pair of jeans for my husband almost finished in addition to a dress for my best friend and a baby quilt project. I’m even considering refashioning my husband’s beat-up winter coat for him (don’t hold me to that) instead of sewing him a new one.

I can easily imagine a day in the future when I want to return to sewing everything, but for now I’m thoroughly enjoying my new paradigm.

And on the topic of jeans, I’ll be back shortly with some Morgan jeans variations I sewed this spring, summer and fall!

A quick sew gone slow

It was late spring this year when I saw Juebejue’s fantastic linen coat – made in a pattern I’d already sewn and loved, no less. I warned her immediately that I was going to copy her, and pulled out my copy of Vogue 8926 and some super thick linen a few weeks later.

I was ready for a quick and satisfying sew, especially since I’d already adjusted the fit. The only changes I made were adding length to the body and sleeves, and skipping the ties.

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It was completely finished and I was mostly in love with it when I saw some things I could not un-see:

  1. The beautiful collar had a tendency to stretch where it folded over (my first version has developed the same problem over time, probably because the recommended fabrics have a lot more body than linen), and it rolled in a different spot every time I tried it on
  2. The back collar was collapsing
  3. The increase in length meant the facings had more freedom to flap open

So, I went back in under the collar and made some ad-hoc hand-stitched fixes.

I hand-stitched a roll line in using rayon seam tape:

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a roll line

I added a weird little collar stand in the back, pad-stitched from the inside before I closed the facings up and reinforced by quilt batting.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a collar stand

And finally, I hem-stitched the bound facing edges to the body of the jacket. The linen was loose and thick enough the stitches do not show.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 - bias-bound facing

I love it so much more now that is has a bit of structure, and it’s been surprisingly useful during the summer. It’s proved a perfect travel piece, too, especially on a plane trip where I used it as a blanket.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat back

I’ve thought about adding some kind of closure to the front, or perhaps a belt. There’s a weird little moment where the roll line ends but the coat still wants to flip open.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926, altered into a linen coat

But for all my last-minute tailoring, it is ultimately meant to be a loose, easy coat and I’ll leave it as is for now.

I’ve got a nice little backlog of projects from this summer and spring, finally photographed… so let’s just say I’m continuing my tradition of blogging along with the Australian seasons!

Bridesmaid dress

I haven’t been in many weddings, but they seem like good opportunities to stretch stylistically as one of your jobs is to fit into someone else’s vision. One of my best friends invited me to be in her wedding party and I tried not to look dubious when she said her colors were shades of green. (Pretty sure the last time you saw me in a true green was in 2013.)

But she is one of my favorite people, someone I’ve known for over half my life, and if she asked me to wear highlighter yellow, I would. So I set out to find a good green for my skin tone, and ended up with a lovely emerald rayon crepe.

Then came the pattern search. Simplicity 2406, an older pattern I hadn’t really entertained purchasing even during the height of my Cynthia Rowley craze, called to me. I don’t know why I didn’t jump all over it before – it features a big hole where my hardest-to-fit body part is!

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crabandbee.com | Simplicity 2406

I made a few modifications, closing up part of the back bodice, turning the neckline gathers into pleats as my rayon crepe fabric was bulky enough to warrant it, and adding an elastic waist channel.

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I finished the edge of my hem with contrasting bias binding, then stitched it by hand.

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My sis did my makeup and hair, which was a total treat. She used hot rollers to give my hair “a uniform vision”.

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The bridal party wore all different shades of green. Combined with the lush outdoor venue and loads of pale flowers mixed with foliage, the effect was stunning. Consider me a green convert.

I also made a trial garment – a top – before sewing my dress, from a remnant left over from my jumper dress, and it’s one of my most-worn pieces this summer!

crabandbee.com | Simplicity 2406

This is one of those patterns I could sew on repeat, but it’s such a distinct design I’m putting it on hold for now. Unless the urge to make it in a challis print or linen solid becomes too strong…

Have you revisited any designs that were popular when you started sewing?

A shift into neutral and a grainline mystery

Every time I make some kind of pronouncement – like “Hey, I’m into sewing colorful fabrics now!” – I seem to go out of my way to defy myself. Well, it’s happened again. No sooner had I written that post did I sew a string of neutral projects.

The evidence is quite damning:

In addition to these nine (!) projects, I sewed a couple of grey pieces in March. One is a total success and the other a total failure that I could use some input on.

First up – the success! These pants are sewn up in a thick linen woven using Vogue 8909.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8909 grey linen pants

I’ve sewn the pattern up three times before, blogged only once as part of a tiger costume.

This time, I shifted the front seams in by another inch and added 2″ of ease to the hips in the rear. I like my hip ease. I’d also shortened the rise by 1″ in an earlier iteration (and as you can see, they are by no means low-rise even after the alteration.)

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I also lowered the back yoke line by 1″. These are my dream lounge pants, but nice enough (I think? I hope?) to wear to my casual-ish desk job.

And now, the fail: a longline cardigan based on McCall’s 6886.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

To be clear, I think the pattern was a good choice for this project. I altered McCall’s 6886 to include a front opening and a low v-neck. I also think these photos of the cardigan look GREAT.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

The fail is due to the fabric. I washed this 100% wool sweater knit on cold, and dried it in the machine. (Worth noting: I am cavalier with most fabrics. For a pre-wash, I machine wash and dry almost everything except coatings and lace. I baby my fabrics later by minimizing washings and line-drying, but I like to minimize surprises if a piece accidentally gets thrown in the wash.) No unexpected shrinkage, BUT the grainline shifted dramatically. The horizontal striations were now at a jaunty angle. After consulting with the fabric seller, I had mostly straightened it by dampening it and blocking it. So I cut and sewed it and was happy with it. As I wore it, the side seams began to skew but not so terribly that I wouldn’t wear it.

But, as time went on, the fabric relaxed, especially in the arm scye. Back it went into the washer/dryer, after which the side seams skewed dramatically to the point where the buttons now form a diagonal line across my front. Not only that, but the button band edges now form a very ripply fold.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

I’m not here to blame the seller, because I think every fabric care suggestion would tell me not to put wool sweater knit into a washer or dryer. But, I am curious – is this sweater knit intrinsically off-grain or did I make it so?

I have a yard or so left, and my thought is to sew something leaving the striations slanted and let the fabric do what it wants to do. I see quite a few RTW garments do that, so while it’s not my favorite look, I wouldn’t be conspicuous and the fabric wouldn’t go to waste.

Lastly, I shall leave you with a bonus project – the black tank I’m wearing with both of these grey projects!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 black viscose tank top

It’s another McCall’s 6886 in black viscose, bringing my neutral sewing total up to twelve pieces. It’s quickly become one of my most-worn pieces as my two black RTW tanks (purchased in 2008 and 2011) disintegrate. I love the drape of the fabric.

Thanks for stopping by, and please do share any knowledge you might have about knit fabric grainlines!

Sewing Happiness origami pillows + giveaway

Please note this giveaway has been closed; thank you!

crabandbee.com | origami pillows from Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida

Just under three years ago, when I must’ve been feeling exceptionally bold and sociable, I cold-emailed the writer of a new-to-me sewing blog I’d been enjoying. Her posts had inspired me to look at her About Me page and I was struck by our nearly identical work histories. (No small feat, considering I’d worked six completely distinct jobs and fields in my career at that point.) We also shared Japanese heritage and I really wanted to meet this person who could empathize with my wandering career and my bicultural upbringing.

The blogger in question was Sanae. After some small talk and sewing talk, we started digging into what has been an on-going conversation during our friendship: how to work and live well. How to do meaningful work, and do it in such a way that you can remain healthy and joyous. In one of our early get-togethers, Sanae confided that her dream and plan was to build her living by creating books, and I’m so proud to share that her second book, Sewing Happiness, has been released this month.

crabandbee.com | origami pillows from Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida

Sewing Happiness begins with essays that delve into Sanae’s personal journey to physical and emotional health and the role that sewing played. The second half of the book is instructions for projects. None of the projects require patterns. I so wish I’d had this book when I started sewing. I had such an urge to understand how measurements and flat shapes related to the finished 3D projects and a book like this would have helped guide me through my fumbling! Now that I have more experience under my belt, I’m inspired by the beautiful styling and thoughtful, simple projects. Many of the projects would make great gifts.

I made a pair of the origami pillows, which I’d been eyeing ever since Sanae sent me an early draft of her book. The fabric I used is metallic linen provided by Miss Matatabi. The instructions suggest measuring the pillows and adding 1″ height and width for seam allowance. “But what about the space taken up by the pintucks?” I wondered to myself. I tried to figure out exactly how much extra I’d need for 1/8″ pintucks and cut accordingly. I’m terrible at cutting rectangular shapes, however, and one side was longer than the other. Then I kept reading, and the instructions said that the case will end up a little smaller than the pillows, but that makes them extra fluffy. I cut the other side down and stopped worrying. And Sanae was right, my pillows were extra fluffy.

crabandbee.com | origami pillows from Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida

Speaking of fluffy, Puffy, one of two giant cats we adopted in February, graciously curled up in front of the pillows right before the photoshoot. He’s so obliging.

And in the interest of keeping it real, here’s what was happening outside of the frame. I’d tossed a throw blanket and a sweatshirt off the couch to shoot these photos. I think Spencer, our other giant kitty, was feeling left out and parked himself on the discard pile, staring reproachfully at me while Puffy had his closeup. Cats!

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Giveaway: I have a copy of Sewing Happiness and a $45 gift card to Miss Matatabi’s fabric shop for one U.S. reader. Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to be included in the giveaway and an email address where you can be contacted! Giveaway will close on May 23, 2016 at midnight PST.