It seems like everyone has signed up for Elsie Marley's KCWC
and I'm no exception. I definitely need some motivation, the weather is warming up and Lizzy and Martin have both grown so much over the winter that they need some new clothes. (desperately!)
My challenge is to take all of my patterns and inspiration out of my sizeable stash of Japanese pattern books. I'm passionate about them but definitely don't use them enough. I am forever buying patterns when in reality I have enough to keep me going in my Japanese pattern books till my kids move out.
While at times the patterns can be little confusing (hello hiragana!), there are lots of amazing resources out there to help you out. Last year I blogged about them here
Why do I love these books so much?
- Their aesthetic is beautifully simple ( I don't think I've ever seen a diamonte in a Japanese pattern book...)
- They sew up beautifully ( as long as you don't forget to add seam allowances!)
- There as many gorgeous patterns for boys as there are for girls
- The patterns are timeless - they aren't caught up in the latest trend or fashion and they are just as suitable for a ten year old as a three year old
- The books contain lots of basic shapes - They make a perfect blank slate for your own designs and inspirations
- While the books seem expensive, they all contain at least 8 patterns in multiple sizes. When you look at it like that, they're a bargain!
So - the sewing challenge has been set. Seven days of sewing, all Japanese patterns and no fabric buying. Easy....Are you sewing along with KCWC? What are you plans? Do you use Japanese patterns? I'd love to hear all about it!
Today, we're excited to have Cherie from you and mie to tell us all about her best friend. Cherie's post made me a bit teary... I think she's really captured the essence of what sewing is all about for me, too (and I am a teeny bit jealous of her super - organised crafting space). Thanks Cherie!
Read on to find out all about it!
Hello! I'm Cherie from you & mie
and I'm so happy to be here today as a part of Caroline and Maryanne's Best Friend series!
Truth is, I had the hardest time picking one thing that I wanted to write about. There are soooo many necessary tools, amazing resources and incredibly inspirational and creative people that help me continue to sew and blog. But I wanted to share something that I really couldn't do without.
(This is going to get a little long winded and actually ends up getting a little personal, but I hope you can stick with me till the end :) )
I started looking through all my old pictures to jog my memory about what really inspires me and how I learned to sew in the last couple of years. Then I came across a folder of pictures that really got me excited. My (then) new sewing area!
So I decided to tell you a little bit about my sewing area and how much I truly love it and can't live without it. It is, after all, where all the "magic" happens! So here's the story:
I've been sewing casually for several years now. But when Yuki, our daugther came along, it really ignited an interest in sewing things for our home and for our little baby. About one year ago, I started getting really serious about sewing and started considering starting a blog, creating an Etsy shop and really investing more into this growing passion.
I didn't have my own sewing machine - I was switching back and forth between borrowing my mom's and my mother-in-law's. I had my own desk to sew on, but it was ridiculously cramped and cluttered. But I was happy with what I had because it worked, and what more could you ask for, right?
Well one day, some time just before my birthday, I came home to see the most AMAAAZING sight!
My partner, Hideko, and one of our very best friends, Sanjai, had spent HOURS cleaning and organizing all of my stuff, purchased and built furniture and cleared a bunch of other stuff so that I could have all of this beautiful space. My jaw dropped and I was in tears. It was honestly the best gift I've ever received!
All of these pictures were taken the day that I came home to this amazing surprise (almost a year ago), so A LOT has changed since then. Namely, the huge piles of projects, papers and clutter all over the place, but there have been positive changes as well. The most important things have stayed the same though, the things that make this space so efficient and conducive to work. So I thought I'd show you around a little bit.
2. Scissors, ruler, rotary cutter, pens, pencils, water soluble pens, etc.
3. Sewing machine and small cutting mat
4. Pins, measuring tape, seam ripper, etc.
I think the most important thing is to keep all your essentials within reach. At any given moment during a project I might need anything of those things and nothing ruins a groove like having to put down the project and get up to go get something. Or even worse, go searching for something!
I love having all these drawers surrounding me. They are filled with office supplies, decorative paper, zippers, bias tape, elastic, needles, trims, and every other notion I might need for sewing. Again, all within reach from my chair. On the right of the machine I have a jar of buttons, my yard stick, more thread and bobbins. I also keep my patterns in the shelves near the wall. The magnetic board above the machine now houses some pictures as well as lists, ideas and inspiration.
This desk used to be Hideko's and we're actually still supposed to share it, but honestly, no one gets much stuff done here anymore because my "work in progress" basket had about a million babies and they have been strewn all over that desk. Hah!
I LOVE having my iron and board so close and always out. I'm a short cut taker, so unless I make it really accessible, I probably would never bother. I definitely value ironing during sewing, so this just makes it that much easier.
Something that I added immediately was a clothes line to one of the blank walls. There were actually already 2 nails in the wall from a large frame that used to hang there, so I just strung a rope between them and now I use it to hang and photograph almost all of my projects. It's by no means original or stunning to look at, but it allows me to document my projects in a consistent way. The clothes really stand out and I think it's almost become a trademark for me.
I also love that I can get great shots of detail or can photograph the clothes from unique angles. Something that I can't get when my lovely, super active model keeps running away from the camera!
Now my sewing area is really great and everything, but it isn't actually what my "best friend" is. See, when this gift was given to me, it wasn't just the sewing space that touched me. It was the fact that these people who were so close to me, really believed in me and wanted to support my dreams.
Shortly after that, for my birthday, a bunch of friends and family members pitched in to buy me my very first sewing machine. All of their support really changed the way I viewed myself and what I then considered, just my hobby. I decided to take the plunge and start a blog and start investing time and money into sewing and see where I could go with it. It's been almost a year and I have had the most amazing experiences since then. My sewing has improved by leaps and bounds, I've joined an incredible community of artists, parents, and bloggers, and every day I feel even more inspired and my "to do" list grows way faster than I can keep up with. And I really owe it all to them. My family and friends.
The people who offer to take Yuki out of the house for a few hours so I can finish my current project. The ones who listen to me DAY after DAY talking about my next project, my next blog post, or my next fabric purchase. The one that lets me buy SO. MUCH. FABRIC. The ones that hold up my quilt so I can take pictures or takes 300 pictures of me so I can get at least a few where I don't look too fat. The ones that console me when my project has gone awry, even though they can't even see what's wrong with it. The ones that give me advice every time I ask, even though I almost never take it (sorry!). The ones that compliment every little thing that I make. The ones that put up with the messy house, the unwashed dishes and the instant dinners because it's KCWC. The ones who put up with just one. more. trip to Joann's (it'll be quick - I swear!). The ones who love and support me through it all.
So it turns out that my best sewing friends really have little to do with actual sewing at all. They are my friends and family, and most of all, more than anything or anyone in the world, my real life best friend and life long partner, Hideko. And I am forever grateful!
Thank you, Caroline and Maryanne, for inviting us all to think about the things and people who enable us to do what we love and for letting me share my story with your readers!
Happy sewing, everyone!
Don't forget to go and check out you and mie.
It's a gorgeous chronicle of all things crafty!
Have you been reading the recent series on Whip up
? I have really enjoyed this interesting collection of posts about Creativity - creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting and creativity and process.I loved Kathreen's post today:"Being creative is not about skills – it is a state of being, a way of living. It is about process and thoughtfulness and slowing down of life. It is about appreciating the small things, not getting hung up about money and a bigger house, and more appliances and a new car – it is about shopping at the farmers markets, making your own bread, sketching and gardening and baking with your kids — and hand sewing the binding."Writing this post for the series gave me an opportunity to think about some of my own reasons for trying to live a creative life. Being creative gives me a greater sense of well being. Sewing with the Flow
looks at why that might be.I'd love to hear what you think... Why do you create? Are there particular projects that give you a greater sense of fulfillment than others?Does creating improve your mental health?
I love craft blogs. I love reading them and taking a tiny peek into the lives of other crafty souls - their passions, projects and sewing spaces. I love the way in which people share information, the way they spread inspiration and are so very generous with their hints, tips and ideas. Just lately though I've been thinking... (My husband hates it when I say that - he thinks that I'm going to suggest a renovation project or initiate one of 'those 'relationship talks.) W
hat's this blogging business about anyway?
For me, blogging is about trying to make crafting connections and friendships beyond the people that I come across in my day to day existence. It's for this reason I love it when people make blog comments - especially ones that initiate a conversation or a dialogue. While it's lovely when people say 'Wow that's amazing'
or 'I love it'
, ultimately it's constructive criticism and questions that really make me think and make me happy. Craft and creative projects are all about aesthetics. What you find aesthetically pleasing is just that... what YOU
find pleasing. Chances are, it won't be someone else's cup of tea and that's ok. If you're only after positive comments to boost your creative ego, then blogging probably isn't the right crafting zone for you
Funnily enough, Pinterest has taught me something pretty important about blogging and blog comments - just because people don't comment on a project, it doesn't mean they don't like it. Maryanne and I have many, many, many posts that haven't initiated any comments, and that's OK. But a brief check on Pinterest (is searching your blog on Pinterest weird? Probably, but that's beside the point...)
reveals that tonnes of people have pinned the said commentless post or project. Hey - who am I to complain? It's great that they like it and it's not like I make a comment on every single thing I pin. It has inspired me to be a lot more diligent with commenting on other people's posts and ideas, though, especially those that I have pinned.
Since we finished up on Project Run and Play
, Maryanne and I have been thinking a lot about our blog and the direction we want to take it. We haven't really firmed up any answers yet other than the fact that we love to sew and craft and that we love to connect with other crafty souls and maybe that's enough.
What kind of commenter are you? What kind of comments do you love? I'd love to have a chat to you about it!
PS - don't worry - we're not going all existentialist on you. There are plenty of crafty posts coming up soon!
Madeleine turns 7 on Thursday and preparations are in full swing - dinner on Thursday with our family and a party with 5 of her friends on Saturday. It is all going to be lovely, but I have to admit this year I am feeling a little confused when it comes to presents...
A take along art satchel made by me, filled with beautiful art supplies and a watercolour nature journal or some Littlest Pet Shop?
All my instincts about parenting would instantly tell me the Art satchel is perfect. It is a gift that I have made for her and making for me is a way to show my family that I love them. It is full of quality art materials that I hope will nurture her creativity, her interest in the environment and an appreciation for the beauty in the world around her.
And well Littlest Pet Shop is... Littlest Pet Shop - a huge collection of plastic stuff sitting on toyshop shelves waiting to be purchased and collected. Stuff that I would usually dismiss as rubbish, stuff that would annoy me if anyone else gave it to my children. But this stuff has another role that I am only just learning about. It is something that helps Madeleine connect with her peers. The two littlest Pet Shop characters Madeleine already has are highly treasured possessions. Madeleine would say that it's because they are cute, but I think it's got a lot more to do with her feeling like she belongs - she has something that her friends have and that makes her feel good. This is probably the first lesson they teach in Marketing 101, but I haven't really thought about it like this before!!!
So what do you think...
Should birthday gifts be virtuous or should you put your parenting philosophies aside and let your children have what they would truly love but you don't really approve of?
I'm going to sit on the fence this year...
On Thursday morning Madeleine will be unwrapping the Art satchel and a Littlest Pet Shop character to add to her collection.
If you're feeling virtuous or you're a fence sitter like me, I'll have a tutorial for the Art satchel later this week. It's quite nifty!! I'll show you how to measure up your art supplies and make a take anywhere satchel in any size you want.
I'm not normally much of a costume maker, but a recent invitation to an Alice in Wonderland party took my fancy. Lizzy and Mart were both invited and elected to go as Alice and the White Rabbit (respectively!) After trying to convince Lizzy that she didn't want a horrible Disney-esque costume (who designs those truly horrible things????) I set about making a blue and white dress and apron and a vest and pocket watch.
The finished products looked like this...
Every one looks pretty happy in the photos, but I have some questions...
a)is it bad if your daughter looks disappointed when you present her with a handmade costume because it's not slippery and shiny and looks like the one in the shop?
b)Should I have made her a shiny blue one even if I really, really, really hate that kind of thing?
c)At four, should she get a say in these kind of things?
d)How much say do you give your kids in what they wear?
I'd really love to hear your ideas...
Despite a bit of drama as we addressed the above issues, we all had a great time. I do have one more question though... If your kids get invited to a themed party, is there an expectation that they dress up? The only reason that I ask is that my kids were the only ones in fancy dress. I kind of felt a bit like a Toddlers and Tiara's mum and we could have avoided the aforementioned drama. Anyways...
Somedays I really, really, really need a parenting manual!
PS - We're starting our Beyond the Basics series tomorrow. It's going to be a huge week with a fabric giveaway, a round up and two tutorials. Drop in and let us know what you think!
I did so much sewing before Christmas that I thought a week at the beach would be an ideal time for break.
In a moment of craziness I decided to come away without any sewing. That’s right – no hand sewing, no machine, fabrics or patterns. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Three days in and I’m starting to feel very, very twitchy… especially as I dropped my Kindle last night and I am now without any reading material.
With the absence of any real sewing or reading to do I’ve resorted to the best possible alternative – setting some New Year's Sewing Goals by blog hopping! What would we do without craft blogs?
So - here they are! Modest, but definitely doable, I think.
This week has made me realise that sewing is no longer my hobby, it's my passion. I can hear Lizzy and Martin down on the beach with playing with their big cousins. Passion or not, I need to go and join them. The sewing can wait, but my children won’t always wait for me!I know I'm a little early, but Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing goal for 2012?
- The new season of Project Run and Play begins in less than a week. I really, really want to play along this season!
- Inspired by my Christmas quilting success ( I still have to post about this) I want to make a gorgeous quilt for Mart for when he finally gets into his big boy bed.
- Needle felting... I have the roving, I have the needles. I just need the know- how!
- I want my big sister (yes - Maryanne is older than me he he!) to teach me how to knit...
- I want to organise my beautiful sewing room. I have a gorgeous space, but it's always, always, ALWAYS a mess!
Well, I have now had a taste of what it is to be blog famous! It was fantastic to get such a wonderful response to our giveaway. It was even better to get all that amazing organisation advice
. Now, if I could only fly like the flylady, remember the milk like that app, and have married a tidier husband I would be right!The comments
on our giveaway post are an amazing resource for anyone trying to get their act together. I am planning to collate them into a useful post but you may just have to wait for me to get a bit more organised! (What I really mean is - in the New Year when I have caught up on some sleep after the pre-Christmas sewing and cooking frenzy.)I want to share a few comments that made me laugh.Kathy told us:"
I play "Super McCleaning" with my 5 year old (he made up the game)... he changes his name to Max and I'm Roberta and we have a grand time cleaning together."I can see then racing around the house in extra clean capes, whipping up a cleaning frenzy
.Meghan suggested I marry someone who is organised. Well, anyone who knows him, is aware that organisation is not one of Rob's strengths, but there is too much else I like about him to trade him in.Cate was concerned that I might think she was a little crazy with this advice
I continually talk to myself, telling myself to do it properly, put it in it's right spot, pick it up now- not later" Interestingly, this is one piece of advice I have already put into action and it seems to be working. So Cate, if you are bonkers, so am I.Reassuringly I am not alone
- it seems lots of people struggle with organisation. Check back in 2012 for that summary post.And so to the winner. I was thrilled to find that
random.org chose this comment from Kim T
"Oooh, so sorry, organization is not my forte! You'd think it would being a homeschooling mama to 5 littles, but no. In reality, it's discipline I need, not organization. Discipline being doing that which needs to be done, yet no one wants to do it. :)"As I read through all the comments as they arrived, this is the one that stood out to me. I know all the apps, websites, storage tips, calenders, lists and books that you have encouraged me to try
are going to be really helpful, but ultimately I just have to do it.
Thanks Kim T for the reality check! I am not sure when you are going to find the time to sew a dress when you home school 5 little ones, but I hope you enjoy it when you do.Well, so much for all the words! It's been ages since I have shared a picture of my 3 little ones - so here they are:
Two little felt kisses and two little felt hearts - a tiny sewing project made late one night.
I was tired and rushed, so the workmanship is far from spectacular. Despite their imperfections, these tangible symbols of my love for Madeleine satisfied an important need for both of us.
Madeleine's world is rapidly expanding. There is a new school with the potential for lots of new friends and wonderful experiences.There is also a fair bit of anxiety about how it will all work, away from the protection of the classroom, teachers and friends she has known for half of her life. This handful of love and a reassuring letter from her Mum and Dad, tucked in her school bag helped ease the stress for her on her first day of orientation.
For me, I know that Madeleine's world is becoming more and more separate from mine. I will have to satisfy myself with hearing about her new school life rather than being there to share it with her. Each stitch in these hearts and kisses is filled with my love. I feel like a little bit of me will travel with her on her adventures at school. And if she is ever feeling lost and lonely I hope she will remember her handful of love and find some reassurance by holding it close.
I've decided I don't like the word busy. I have been using it a lot lately, and I don't like the way it makes me feel - rushed, pressured and with no time to enjoy the things I do.
I am very lucky that almost everything in my life - working two jobs, sharing the running of a household and the care and love of three children, sewing and (occasional!) blogging - I really enjoy. There may be pressure to fit them all in, but these different parts of my life create balance and bring me pleasure. I say I would like more time, but in reality, other than a few household chores, there is not much in this list that I would be willing to give up.
So I am trying something new. I am no longer busy (with all its negative connotations). My life is full - full of good stuff - work I like, sewing that is fun and friends and family that I adore.
And to celebrate, I have been doing something that busy people don't have time to do - a little hand sewing. Little projects to celebrate some big events.
Some birthday badges to celebrate two very special birthdays...
And a new bag for Pippa. She is off to big school with her sister.
Sitting quietly with a needle in my hand, if only for a moment, gives me time to appreciate the amazing fullness of my life.
I hope you can find some of that quiet time too.