Friday, August 1, 2014


M's textile design (train tracks in blue) and Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress.  

It is summertime and our crazy fun activities did not step aside for a week of sewing.  We went to the zoo, to the pool, to the beach, to the forest, tidepooling, and also had preschool -  I would say it was a more busy than usual week for us.  Add Kids Clothes Week to the mix and well, a week later here is the post and here are the pictures!

Back of the dress - used wooden blocks as stamps.

The theme for this round of Kid's Clothes week was Kids Art.  This pink pink pink dress is the Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress pattern in a size 3T made in the blouse version with the end extended into a tunic. M painted the pink cotton voile fabric after I cut it out and it was a fairly straightforward sew.  Like all things with preschoolers I had to let go of the product and embrace the process while we were working - in the end it looks so different from what I imagined but so much better!!  There was a point where she was totally done with my idea of taking blocks and stamping them and she grabbed a toy train and ran its wheels in blue paint and then back and forth across the dress. When M saw the finished dress she pointed to the tracks immediately so totally stoked her train painted on it too. She will get that little thrill of memory when wearing something handmade that the maker has- a memory of working on this together in the backyard painted and stitched into the dress. 

Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress + most gorgeous fabrics ever = in love.

This shirt is my favorite fabric combo in the universe.  I had no idea what to combine with the Kaffe Fassett Stripes but had to find something that would work as I had the littlest rectangle left over of it.  The polka dot fabric is a polkadot quilting cotton, overdyed with indigo at A Verb for Keeping Warm.  It is so alive and gorgeous a color - blue and deep teal green.  Unfortunately its too short!  M went through a crazy growth spurt the last couple weeks and all her shirts are half shirts now!  Thankfully I have more of the polkadot fabric and will pick out the hem and add another panel to make it a dress.  Its really magical to sew with fabrics that you really resonate with.  The yarn dyed stripes and weaving of the stripe fabric feels so handwoven and the polkadots vary in intensity of indigo dye.  I cant wait to finish sewing through my stash of fabric (almost done!) to seek out more handwoven/handprinted/handdyed and dye and weave my own textiles to sew with.

Handstitched Sashiko bodice, Geranium Dress

Where I am in love with the fabric combination of the previous shirt, I am in love with the construction and everything else of this one. Every piece is a little different color denim as its completely from scraps from four other projects, similar weights, but unified in a simple shape and sashiko stitching done by hand to transform it into maybe the thing I am most proud of making ever.

Full length - will fit for awhile!

It is a size 3 and there is totally room to grow.  I used more Kaffe Fasset shot cotton stripes for the lining - it is so soft and the color a nice surprise inside.

In studying alot lately about Japanese textiles techniques (I tend to really get into it needing to learn EVERYTHING)  Ive learned that sashiko (or boro stitching) is found in vintage japanese textiles alot to unify patchworked pieces of cloth into a whole again.  Full kimonos made from many different parts or  an obi unified with an overlaid pattern.  I wanted to try to apply sashiko to garment making, designing a pattern from scratch to fit the space of a pattern and see if I could stitch it all and sew it together in a week (along with the other clothes!)

The back 

Making my own fabric from something plain and leftover fabric is something I intend to do more of.  I love this dress.  More importantly M does as its super full and twirly.  She said  that it is very comfy!

The Dinosaur Map Dress!!

There is not a fancy picture of this right now because M wore it to school this morning!  So this one taken in the middle of the night will have to do for now.  The Geranium Dress pattern is a wonderful canvas for playing with fun fabric and this one is obviously someone dinosaur obsessed favorite dress.  

Perfect for someone who came home from school with this one day.

News Flash!  Someone let me take a picture of her in it, but just wants to eat her sandwich..

Till next time Kids Clothes Week.......

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


On tuesday I didnt have much time to work as we were too busy at the zoo.  Yes.  Going to the zoo and seeing animals, riding ladybug rides and the carousel are Very Important Things To Do this summer for an almost 3 year old.  Especially things like to get our faces painted, ride on the pony with the jewels on the carousel at least 4 times in a row or watch the lemurs sleep.  Which is all they do in this heat.

 At night, exhausted I finished stitching one bodice piece.  It went very quickly or I am now used to "sashiko-time" which is that because you stitch in an all over pattern (from one corner to another) rather than motif by motif finishing a pattern is a little surprise- did I miss a section - oh wait I am done yay!

Today, with M at playschool I had a few hours to really get working on the dresses.  I finished the dinosaur map Geranium dress sans buttons and tried it on M after school - OMG.  What?  It fits perfectly now which freaks me out because I am pretty sure last week measurements indicated the 3t would be huge for her. Thankfully I left a 3 inch length of fabric under the hem and may be letting that out soon. Yikes!

We also picked out buttons. and I got working on the indigo dyed polka dot/Kaffe Fassett top.  It might be too short already so I am thinking about cutting into some more polka dot fabric and adding more to the length to make it a dress/tunic.  Still loving this combo.

Tuesday = sashiko stitching about 2 hours
Wednesday = 3 hoursish

Monday, July 21, 2014


*Drafted and started stitching the sashiko on the bodice of the denim dress
(I started stitching one motif but realized there was a genius to the traditional method of all over stitching of sashiko - stitching across the pattern to distribute the stitches.  Doing that now.)

*Sewed up the skirts of the Geranium Dresses with french seams - with pockets! YES!

*M painted and printed the fabric of her dress - one of her trains helped out

= about 2.5 hours.


Today is the first day of Kids Clothes Week Summer 2014 and I am sewing along for the second time!  The last time I sewed along with KCW was over a year ago  and M still wears the dresses I made that week (though maybe more they are tunics as shes growing so fast!)

Kids Clothes Week is simply to sew one hour a day for the week for the kiddos in your life.  I will probably sew more - I have the time blocked out this week to be able to do this so some days I might be able to do more than an hour  I like the forward momentum this will kick my studio time back into gear - that next week one hour a day will seem like nothing.

I decided to keep it simple in regards to the patterns - the two patterns I used last time were so well written and resulted in such great garments that I am sticking to the known and using them over again in a larger size. The one thing I really struggled with last time was the fact that they were new patterns to me and so I was learning the construction from scratch on two garments at the same time.  This way I will try to focus on special details and maybe eek out another extra garment if I sewed assembly line style.

The patterns for this round:
The Ice Cream Dress from Oliver & S  is still my favorite pattern ever to sew.  I still have plans to redraft this shirt in my size, its that cute and fun to sew.  It has a very clever yoke construction that makes it all so nice and tidy on the inside, and with french seams it feels very fancy indeed.

The Geranium Dress from Made by Rae is such a classic pattern that its a perfect "blank slate" pattern to add special details to like needlework.  The side pockets in view A are especially useful to a preschooler, to hold dinosaurs, hair clips, and rocks.  

On Saturday (prep 30 minutes) I picked out the fabric I thought I might want to use. (Picture above) I have been working through the stash of fabric that I already have rather than buy anything new for the rest of the year so this was a challenge.  I picked out everything I loved that looked like it could work for a bodice or a skirt knowing that I am not afraid to mix and make do.

On Sunday (prep 3.5 hours)  I went through and traced one pattern, actually measured, cut, reconsidered, recut, adjusted patterns, redrafted a couple pieces and made the fabric work for my vision for each garment. 

The plan for the week (from left to right) is to sew:

Fabric:   Pink cotton voile with pale yellow cotton voile lining 
Pattern:  Ice Cream Dress (Blouse Version)
This is going to be the one we get to play with this round's theme of Kid's Art.  M requested hearts as her stamp and I am digging through all my stamps and might need to carve a couple out for her to stamp like crazy all over it.  I have black and white textile paint so in the spirit of using what you have, it will be black and while and hearts all over a very very pink blouse!  If I dont have time to make a stamp then we will use wine corks.  We have PLENTY of those around here.

Fabric:  Indigo overdyed polka dots fabric from A Verb for Keeping Warm and what is left of the Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons Stripe
Pattern: Ice Cream Dress (Blouse Version)
Oh Kaffe.  This is my favorite fabric of all time, a yarn dyed shot cotton irregular stripe - just typing that makes me drool. The dress I made of it last round is still in major wardrobe rotation - its survived over a year of washer washings and dryer dryings and I wanted more than anything to make it again.  The polka dotted fabric, curiously, has become my second favorite fabric of all time.  Its a quilting cotton that Kristine overdyed with indigo but something about the synergy of the vat and the green print - the color is just perfect.  I originally intended to use the polka dot with the denim but in casually putting them on my ironing board realized they went together in the best weird way possible.  So there it is.  I am in LOVE already.

Fabric: Misc Shirtweight Denims
Pattern: Geranium Dress
I made a MAJOR error in guestimating the fabric needed for this so its different denims (left over from my own dressmaking) all together, similar weights.  In the spirit of not buying anything new right now I intend to make it work!  I mentioned earlier that this pattern is perfect for needlework and the bodice I am going to...SASHIKO.  Is that a verb?  I have been using it as a verb as I have gone SASHIKO CRAZY lately.   I will be sashiko stitching a hand drafted pattern that sampled on this very weight of denim is perfect. (I am crazy.) Will I get this done by the end of the week?  

Fabric: Dinosaurs made of Maps (?!?!)
Pattern: Geranium Dress
M found this fabric on her own one day at the fabric store.  Walking by the novelty cottons she screamed DINOSAURS!!!  Pointing to this bolt.  Made of maps.  Huh?  I continue to wonder what the textile designer was thinking but also think its too rad.  A twirly dress for M, with pockets to keep her tiny T Rex and Pteranadon and maybe a train or two.  Perfect.

Monday, April 14, 2014

new space new place

Patti and Anna in my new studio space.

It has been a few months, a few months of settling, unpacking boxes, getting used to new routines and commutes.  Getting used to a little more space (a studio room for me!  It is a dream.) and being able to spend so much time outside, all the time we want to, really.  The weather is so stupid nice here.

We now live in San Jose, in the middle of the Silicon Valley.  As native north-bay/west delta identified, this is weird.  When looking for somewhere to live, not having any idea where Cupertino is, that Campbell was more than Taco Bravo or just a place on the way to Santa Cruz, realizing that there is this vast area here that in my myopic (literally, I am almost blind without vision assistance) life in San Francisco anything south of South San Francisco almost did not exist, I knew nothing about.

It is a strange place to be a handmaker - sure the maker movement sees alot of its home here but talk about sewing or weaving or whathaveyou and Ive felt a bit of an outsider, more so than ever.  There is an overriding industry here, much like it felt in Los Angeles, are you in tech or outside of it?  And craftwork isnt really a part of the scenery.


Little pockets.  Last weekend I went to a meeting of the Peninsula Wearable Artists Guild and wow.  That is a crazy inspiring group of people.   I also met a group of jewelry makers who were hardcore, basically blacksmithing in the back of a pizzeria at a group meetup.

The little pockets of makers I am meeting here are intense and pretty interesting.

I suppose its because of how this is the suburbs, life lead mostly anonymously, until you make the effort to meet with others and you make it really matter. I am really looking forward to finding more of these pockets.

So yeah.  Hello.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wise Effort - Alabama Chanin Fabric Tasting Party

 As I continue to work on an Alabama Chanin inspired dress for my daughter, (going on - maybe 6 months now) with each stitch I cant help but think about a very inspiring evening last spring at A Verb for Keeping Warm.  

It was an Alabama Chanin Fabric Tasting party, done as a benefit for the Verb dye garden.  Can you imagine?  An informal stitch-in where fabrics and thread and beads and sequins were supplied by Alabama Chanin, where one could experiment with techniques with the actual materials they use.

When I arrived the place was mobbed!  There were stacks of gorgeous samples on the cutting table with everyone choosing their fabric sets (so generously we were able to take 3 pre-airbrushed and 3 plain fabrics to use as our samplers, thread and any beads or sequins we might want to use.)

Once the fabric selection excitement settled down, Kristine and Natalie spoke.  One thing Natalie Chanin mentioned that has stuck with me these last couple months was how she employs local women in her town in Alabama to handsew the gorgeous garments that Alabama Chanin is known for.   How she would find that they would come and go because of a family emergencies, who else in the family would be the one to caretake when an emergency (large or small) would happen but the woman, the daughter, the mom, the sister.

It makes me reflect about how skilled these women are - to not only be such amazing textile artists but also - if they are the primary caretakers for their family - how little time really there is to fit it all in.  How much focus you have to have to drive yourself to have such beautiful stitch lengths, or beading skills.  To be able to learn to do it, and do it for work.   It is humbling.

It also reminds me of what Edward Brown in the Tassajara Cookbook says of Wise Effort.  If we do everything with wise effort, it will be done well. No matter the job, large or small.  The classic "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

Chop wood, carry water, and stitch.  Repeat.

(photos by me of the event.)

Monday, May 20, 2013


Most everyday when M falls asleep at naptime, I tiptoe out of the room, quietly close the door, and rush to the kitchen to get to work on something.

The kitchen is all hard surfaces, its the counter, the table, the chairs that we bought years ago in our life when we ate our meals in the living room, on the couch.  The chairs, oh god, they are uncomfortable, and only good for momentary sits while water is boiling or sorting out the mail.

Now the kitchen is everything - we eat all our meals at the table, we do work in here when M is asleep because its the only part of the apartment that she cannot hear anything from.  Sew, write, draw, plan, it all happens around the table and I love it.

Making space.  If ever I do hang out in the living room on the couch during naptime, its to do something.  Its for me to SLEEP.  and when I am done, off to the kitchen, refreshed and able to doubly focus on doing SOMETHING.

So I choose to not sit in the kitchen.  I sit in the living room and I space out.  I read and lay down and sit up again and try to meditate and then laydown again.

In a twisted way, making space makes me more productive.  I found the solution to a problem I was having with  sweater design.  I reconnected with the fact that I just need to spend less time online.  I realized I can just do nothing, and things just happen without force.  Or if they dont, whatever.  I am more relaxed anyways.  Bonus!

So off the computer goes.  Lay down.  Let the dishes lie.  Sit.