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.


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!

Budget cuts / trying to be a grown-up

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In January, we decided to try something new with how we budget. Instead setting individual budgets for various non-essential categories like coffee, eating out, entertainment, and, oh, fabric! (basically any spending beyond food, bills and housing), we decided we’d each get a set amount of cash to cover all discretionary spending.

The amount is on the VERY lean side compared to what I’d really been spending in each category added together. And so, I was suddenly faced with choices: daily coffee with my coworker, a dance workshop, occasional brunches out with my husband competed with denim for new jeans, yarn for my next knitting project and even new zippers and thread. (PS Did you know zippers and thread cost real money?! I’d been writing them off as free…)

I’ve always prided myself on being a thrifty-ish person, thinking I never really needing a budget until recently because I’ve always lived so cheaply. I have amazing restraint in most retail settings. My expenses have gone up in the past few years, though, especially since I’ve prioritized eating well and taking classes that get me moving like dance and yoga. We started budgeting when we both took time off from full-time employment a couple of years ago (an absolute necessity!) but when I went back to work, I didn’t do a great job of factoring in the increased “fun” spending I felt entitled to. I expected my natural thriftiness to effectively temper my spending.

And to some extent, it has; I don’t spend more money than I have. But my savings goals really weren’t being met. And equally importantly, what I was buying – all sewing stuff – felt burdensome by the time I had to make room for it, like shoving a bite of the most amazing chocolate cake into my mouth when I was already full. I’d been sacrificing my financial goals only to create a sense of stifling obligation.

I know lots of people find joy and make great use a large stash, but I’ve realized I’m not one of them. I like constraints. Any more than several full cuts of fabric in my stash, and I can easily feel overwhelmed and uncreative. I have plenty more than that now but I’m excited to see how the budget will help me use the lovely fabrics I already have.

Which brings me to the project above! I was holding off on buying yarn for a new knitting project, which inspired me to turn my attention to a lawless region of my stash: scraps, large and small. I sewed myself a new dance bag. I’d long regretted the state of my freebie drawstring backpack every time I went to dance class – too small with a busted grommet, impossible to pull one thing out without everything flying out, etc. – but I never wanted to buckle down and sew a better bag. The sewing one wasn’t as boring as I feared, though. Neither the construction nor the shapes were complicated, but I had fun playing with the pocket design and making some construction changes based on the materials I had. Instead of using interfacing, I used two layers of blemished thrifted shirting fabric.

Continuing on the frugality theme, the bag is based on the free Everyday Tote tutorial from Purl Soho, with a few modifications – shorter contrast panel, lining instead of bias binding, front pocket and longer straps inserted at the contrast panel.

I’m on a bit of a high from a good first month of budgeting, but I’m not expecting this to be easy. I’ve already spent time today not buying stuff on two different online fabric shops! I think breaking that habit of constant browsing will be one of the toughest things about this whole endeavor. But it’s time to adjust my spending and stashing to support my goals of creativity and thrift alike, and I’m pumped about it.

I’ve been storing up some inspiration on budgeting, stash reduction and mindful crafting; here are some of my favorites!

  • The impressive Stash Less series by The Craft Sessions
  • This fantastic post by Gillian from a couple of years ago specifically about sewing budgets (the comments are awesome too!)
  • Andrea’s stash assault is fierce and thorough, just like Andrea herself
  • I love Tasha’s blog for the thoughtfulness she brings to her making process; it shows in every post.


2015 as a skirt

I love reflection, especially at the end of the year. I was heartily disappointed to miss participating in Gillian’s Top 5 series, but I continue to have so many favorite pieces still to be blogged that joining in didn’t quite make sense.

Instead, to celebrate the quickly approaching Lunar New Year, I present one garment to represent the year that was 2015 – my skirt created for the September wedding I attended.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

There’s nothing complicated about the construction or the design. Yes, I did draft it but I just followed a recipe from my drafting manual. Yet it epitomizes 2015 for me.

Permit me a bit of a metaphysical ramble. Like nearly all of my friends, family, acquaintances and many fellow bloggers, I underwent the process prescribed by Mari Kondo in The Magical Art of Tidying Up. And I benefitted, as expected – my living space has been reoriented to support me instead of my stuff, and my socks and undies are happily nested in leftover cardboard boxes that fit them perfectly.

But the fundamental question she requires the reader to ask of their belongings – does it spark joy? – quietly and sneakily turned my world upside down. Like my fabric-buying process, most of my decisions have been the product of tortuous mental exercises. I realized how few decisions in my life took joy into account.

So, I decided to make joy my decision-making criteria for the year. I joined an improvisational dance group, without any goal beyond moving my body for a couple of hours every week with a wonderful bunch of women. Sewing hours were more readily set aside for friend and family time. I changed jobs, going back to a full-time regular position on the team I’d left in 2013; it had nothing that I said I’d wanted (flexibility, sustainability focus) but the new role gave me a chance to work with people I really liked and it just spoke to me. I went to Japan. I went clubbing, for Pete’s sake.

I found myself buying fabrics in rainbow palettes that I would have chosen as a 7-year-old, without any of my usual dithering, and sewing up impractical things like Gabriola skirts.

This skirt fabric was one such purchase; I saw it, picked it up and walked it straight to the cutting counter. It sat on my fabric shelf, very noticeable among the solids, but it wasn’t until my friend’s wedding that it demanded to be a simple flared skirt. It was the perfect piece to wear to the wedding. Even in a particularly joyful year, dancing under the stars late at night to atrocious Top 40 music from the nineties stands out.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

The magical cloud of joy that carried me through most of 2015 sputtered out after Japan in October. Major changes started happening at my job. We lost our beloved kitty Orson in late October quite suddenly. Chronic health problems that had miraculously disappeared earlier in the year came back with a vengeance. I was exhausted, and needed to take care of myself.

But I wouldn’t trade my experiment for anything; it was a much-needed tonic and after a rocky couple of months, I’m finally ready for the new year that’s somehow already a month underway.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

I don’t have a particular goal or inspiration for 2016, but I’m wishing you joy and all other good things you may need this year.

Back to life, back to reality

Some days ago, we returned from spectacular two-week trip to Japan. I’ve talked a little bit about my background in this post, but part of my family came from Japan several generations ago. I’d wanted to go since I was a kid, but somehow this was my first trip. I’m not sure I can adequately express my excitement and my expectations before going, or the mix of familiarity and strangeness of a culture my family came from many decades ago.

crabandbee.com | Roscoe Dress

What made the trip feel less overwhelming and the country more accessible was information and welcoming from sewing friends. I reached out to Gillian, Inna and Sanae with newbie questions about what to do, where to stay and how to get around, and they did a better job of getting me oriented and even more excited about the trip than any guidebook.

crabandbee.com | Kyoto

And as luck would have it, Inna and I overlapped by one day in Kyoto, during which she took me on an amazing whirlwind tour of the sewing shops near the indoor markets. Our menfolk met up afterwards for a fun little dinner. The very next day, we left for Tokyo by train and I got to meet Yoshimi, Novita, and Chie for tea! Talk about spoiled. (And I apparently managed to miss Amy by some minutes in Nippori Fabric Town!)

crabandbee.com | Nippori Fabric Town

For the past few years, I’ve intermittently asked myself if I want to continue blogging and why. It does require an investment of time, and I am purely a hobby blogger. The online sewing world is growing exponentially and becoming more commercial, and I wonder if I’m short-sighted for meandering along without any particular goal beyond sewing and writing/reading about it.

And then something like this trip happens, where I’m nearly 5,000 miles from my home and I have sewing friends to meet up with. And they’re just like they are on their blogs, only more interesting!

crabandbee.com | Tokyo bloggers

The trip revealed my infrequently-seen maximalist side. We walked over 10 miles a day for two weeks, pushing ourselves to see a tiny fraction of what was beautiful and strange in Japan, consoling ourselves with thoughts of a return trip. But now I’m back, adjusting to my regular life and have had some time to reflect on how grateful I am to all the sewing folks who made our trip wonderful.


Now, to make some time to sew up the fabrics I bought in Japan…

In-between times

It’s been a few weeks since my sister’s wedding, but it’s still weird being done with the dress. In the month leading up to the wedding, I spend 30-ish hours a week on the dress, kicking up to about 60 hours in the week before. And in the six months before that, I spent anywhere from 5-15 hours per week on it.  The time I spent sewing was the tip of the iceberg, however, compared to how much time I spent thinking about it. Given a construction problem (when and how to underline, boning channel placement, sew-in cups, neckline stabilization…), I’ll chew it over and over like the ruminant I am. A perpetual internal dialog about construction and 200+ hours of sewing is a commitment of a completely different scale than what I’ve invested in any previous project, including my coat. I loved (almost) every minute of it, but it’s left me in a rather odd state.

For one, I’ve come to the realization that I bought a bunch of sewing stuff while in my wedding dress trance – vintage/used patterns and some new (and rather vibrant) fabrics. I got to hang out with Sanae this week and she hypothesized that my sewing wishes were coming out in the form of purchases. I completely agree. Even though I loved sewing the dress, I still lusted after other projects that had to be put off.



Paradoxically, with all the fabric and patterns and projects ready for me, I’ve found it a bit hard to get sewing again since finishing. I’ll get excited about it when I’m at work, but will end up happier spending time in our until-now neglected garden or watching Star Trek TNG with Nathan. I did plod through a black linen Gabriola last weekend. I love wearing it, but the sewing felt a bit like a chore.


So I’m rolling with that feeling. I’ve gotten less and less good at forcing myself into things, which I’m taking as a sign of personal growth. “Disciplined” and “motivated” were words that people used to describe me when I was younger. Those compliments were like food to me at the time, but when I look back I realize how little I trusted my own instincts and interests at that age. I worked for good grades in every subject because that’s how I viewed success and I logged miles of running and ate low-fat foods because that’s how I viewed health. I try to ease off sewing when I get that duty-bound feeling, that I should be sewing because it’s the only way to enjoy myself. When that beyond-excited-to-sew obsessive feeling comes rushing back, though, you’d better believe I’ll be following into my sewing room.

So for now, I’ll leave you with a peek of the lace draping for my sister’s dress bodice. Still trying to figure out how to blog about this project…

crabandbee.com | wedding dress lace draping

What do you do after finishing a large project? Any rituals to share?

Some thoughts on 2014

I typed this title and started blankly at the text field for awhile. How do you sum up a year?

Maybe it’s best to consider how it began. I started this year blissfully unemployed. Then I went back to full-time work as a contractor. It was a rough transition, but it happened at the right time. I’d done all the reflecting and rejuvenating I possibly could, and I needed to hatch from my cocoon before I started stagnating. There’s a part of me that feels like if I’d just stuck with those feelings a little longer I might have found the perfect balance of employment, free time and 100% fulfilling work but that’s probably untrue. Being at home for so long was starting to shake my confidence in my ability to interact with other humans, which has never been that strong.

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Hiding from my office party

So I went back to work and my sewing changed. The “thinking” part of sewing lessened in favor of the “making” part. I spent the early part of this year working on my bodice sloper and adapting a pleated pants pattern into a jeans pattern, but my spring and summer was full of dresses and tops and wearing the jeans enough to realize that a) they would need future improvements and b) they should be given to my sister.

Unblogged V.2 jeans

Now that I’ve become re-accustomed to working, my desire for longer projects is increasing again. I made a jacket. I fitted and sewed a button-down for one of our best friends who doesn’t fit RTW. After a year of talking about it, I’m sewing a coat that should be done by the end of this month. It’s been a slow process, with the construction interspersed with lots of book flipping and internet scrolling, but to me that signals I’m learning something.


Next year, I’m slated to sew a wedding dress for my sister and I’d like to renew my quest for awesome pants. The quickest way for me to develop an aversion to something is to set a hard goal to complete it, so (aside from the wedding dress) I’m not going to do that. I’ll just say this: I’m excited for another year with you people, shared through the magical lens of sewing and creating.

Dressing like a feminist

Since I posted last, I finished my jacket (snapshot at the end of this post) as well as a Pierrot-style clown costume for Halloween, but neither has seen any wear! The weather has turned quite cold and rainy, and I came down with a gnarly head cold that prevented me from any Halloween reveling. I hope to have pictures of one or both soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some reflections on a topic near and dear to my heart.

When I was a sophomore in college in the early aughts, my uncle and parents visited me. We went to the mall, because that’s what we did back then for fun. As we walked through the perfumed air, my uncle said something I never forgot: “You know that women’s fashion is all about vulnerability, right?”

The more I thought about it, the more examples I came up with. Tight waists that restrict breathing and make eating difficult. Long hair and jewelry to grab. Exposed skin. Constricting skirts and pants that limit range of motion. No pockets, which necessitates carrying a bag. Shoes that prevent the wearer from running, walking or sometimes even standing in for more than 20 minutes. Sizes and shapes that make people feel like genetic aberrations. And, perhaps most debilitating, the expectation that women should be gorgeous, fashionable or at least “current” at all times so you have a hard time thinking about other things.

I’ve worn all of the garments and accessories I’ve listed above. Skinny jeans that were so tight I’m pretty sure they gave me heartburn? Yep. Painfully tall, cheaply-made, blister-inducing heels? Yep. As I get more comfortable in my skin, my tolerance for these particular sorts of pain has declined dramatically. Physical comfort is on par with aesthetics for me now. I’m done with skirts I need to keep adjusting or shirts that cut into my armpits. I tend to wear shoes that I can walk at least a mile in. At the same time, I’ve never been more certain about what I want to wear and look like.

I think making your own clothing can be an act of resistance to the shortcomings of mainstream fashion – I’m empowered to make the clothes I need and want, and I can make them to fit me. I know techniques to make my clothes last longer than the store-bought items I could afford, so I’m not always scrambling for replacements. My imagination, skill level and free time are the constraints I work within. I feel lucky.

I still think a good deal about fashion and clothing, and sometimes I question the amount of time I spend on sewing and sewing-related activities. Aside from work, it’s without a doubt what I spend the most time doing. “Sewing” has come to encompass a whole range of activities for me, however: learning, writing, working with my hands after a day of digital work, challenging myself, relaxing, meeting people and being creative, with the hope of a useful object at the end of the process. I like new clothes quite a bit, but would they be interesting enough on their own to sustain my sewing practice?

On the flip side, my interest in clothing and sewing looks dramatically different from others’. I have friends who enjoy the performative aspects of fashion.  Playing with gender and identity through clothing can be extremely powerful and, I think, a feminist act as much as dressing to suit your body and comfort. That exploration may include the 6″ heels, a three-piece suit, a shaved head or cleavage for days. Why a person wears something can easily be as important as what they’re wearing.

Given how much time and thought most of us invest in our home-sewn garments, do these sorts of considerations enter into what you sew? Has making your own clothing changed how you dress yourself?

All about ME

Last week, Lisa G of Notes from a Mad Housewife very kindly tagged Melanie and me in the blog hop on writing that’s going around. Being something of a rule-follower, I tried to find the origin of the blog hop. I traced it back, 6 blogs deep – Lisa, Heather, Leila, and three new-to-me blogs – without any mention of the original hopper. This sewing blog land of ours is vast! Without being able to reference the original post, I don’t know what the intent of the hop is, but what swayed me to participate was just how much I enjoyed seeing these posts popping up in my reader.

Why do I write?
I don’t remember why exactly I started a sewing blog. My first few months of consuming sewing content on the internet are hazy. I wanted to make things and I needed a lot of help. I would look up projects on the internet and invariably end up mucking around Burdastyle without understanding how it worked. I joined the now-defunct Wardrobe Refashion because I was just so interested in what people were doing. After a few months of lurking on WR, I shared my first project with great trepidation – a Burda dress made from a thrifted sheet with some of my illustrations screenprinted on it, shot in Photo Booth on my computer – and people were both kind and helpful. I guess eventually I felt the pull to contribute my own content to the online sewing world in a more involved way. I started two other blogs before Crab & Bee – originally a collaboration with my sister – really took shape.


I’ve continued blogging because I really enjoy reading about sewing and the creative process, and it’s so heartening to know that other people share those interests. It’s about documenting, too: it’s exciting to have a tangible way to track my progress in and attitude towards sewing over the years.

I write in general because I’ve always written. I started a journal at age 5 and have kept one ever since. I don’t really understand something until I’ve written it down, whether it’s how I’m feeling or my grocery list.

How does my writing process work?
I suppose the writing process starts with the sewing process, when I start narrating to myself. It’s hard to justify my narration habit if I don’t blog, so at this point, I’m committed. Once my project is finished, pictures are next. I take the straightforward approach to photography – I’m most interested in capturing the look, fit and feel of a garment. I make sure to capture the details I want to discuss, and then order my photographs in a way that feels natural. By then, writing feels like a mad lib. I don’t try to control much of what I’ve written.

For someone who frequently shares pictures of themselves on the internet, I tend to be a private person with a tendency towards brevity. I think both of these qualities are fine, even admirable in certain situations, but I realized a couple of years ago that one of the things that makes a sewing blog more meaningful to me is the connection I feel with its writer. In the hopes of creating the kind of blog I’d want to read, I’ve been trying to put more of myself into my posts beyond just how large of a broad back adjustment I need. It’s a work in progress – as is the broad back adjustment.

How does it differ from others of its genre?
One of my fantasy projects would be doing a big affinity diagram of sewing bloggers. There are a lot of overlapping themes and interests in the sewing blog world. My main interests are sustainable sewing (and exploring what that even means), fitting and adapting patterns, durability and the techniques to achieve it, and sewing my entire wardrobe in styles I love, with a little textile art thrown in. This isn’t the ambitious affinity diagram, but I did want to share a few blogs I look to for inspiration around these themes:

Sustainable sewing: So, Zo, YoSaMi, A Handmade Wardrobe, Gloria & Me
Adapting patterns and pattern-making: Heather B, Madalynne
Durability and technique: Notes from a Mad Housewife
Creating a wardrobe: Fabric Tragic, What Katie Sews, Handmade by Carolyn
Styles I love: Sew StylistOh, She Dabbles
Textile art: Rolling in Cloth, Liza Jane Sews, SallieOh

I think what makes any blog unique is the combination of the writer’s personality and interests, their approach to the creative process and what they create.

What am I working on?
Too many things! I’m playing with a couple of Scraptember ideas as well as sewing scrap undies, making a couple of mens’ shirts as gifts, and muslining and planning some early-fall sewing so I’m not as cold as I was last year. That’s plenty, but I’d love to make another pair of jeans and play around with my newly-completed bodice sloper.


I’d like to nominate Ebony of Sew Stylist and Sarah from Fabric Tragic. I can’t get enough of Ebony’s style these days – I can imagine looking in her closet and seeing a harmonious wardrobe sewn up in a beautiful mix of solids and tasteful prints. I love Sarah’s intense focus on wearable workhorse pieces, with the occasional Sound of Music singalong costume thrown in for good measure. Also, she cracks me up with her choice phrases – “lady garden” comes to mind. (Ebony and Sarah – no pressure to write up your own post!)

What are some of your sewing interests, and which other bloggers share them?




I took a 6-week collage class recently. I felt a little silly signing up (was there more to collage than glueing paper cutouts onto other stuff?), but I felt very drawn to it, and it turned out to be a fantastic class. I learned all kinds of cool new techniques, and my teacher and fellow students were very inspiring. We got to raid an enormous pile of salvaged art supplies and the wood shop scrap pile.

My teacher noticed that I was making a lot of work in black, white and grey. This seems to have been true for my more recent sewing projects, too, so I thought I’d share a little color-coded photo essay.


Paste-paper mobile, now hanging in our living room.


Shredded knit fabric scraps on a wood background. (Video tutorial on how to shred t-shirts here, by Childhood Flames).



Python leggings, with swap fabric gifted to me by the lovely Heather B.


Collaged wood blocks for my nephew.



The most basic of basics, a white tee for my husbo.


Collage and paint on wood.


Medium transfer (teeth), shredded fabric pieces, dot collage, vintage magazine collage. I think my multi-talented sister made the ceramic piece?


A work in progress.

I noticed that it was really hard to keep the photos themselves monochromatic! The lighting colored the whites yellow or blue, I have some earthy wood backgrounds on a lot of my pieces and furniture, and I apparently like blue accents. As soon as I look at my photos with a white background, it becomes apparent how much tone is behind them.

I know I won’t be creating in monochrome forever, but there is something liberating about it – I’ve been focusing more on texture and composition – even as I’m looking forward to the colors of spring.