My Theme for 2015

Random stuff discovered - csews.com

Hi, now that we’re nearly two months into 2015, have you given any thought to what you want  to accomplish this year, not necessarily resolutions, but maybe goals or themes? I’m not really into resolutions but I like the idea of a word or theme for 2015. This has been in the back of my mind for a while, particularly since I got a mailing at the end of December from Flight Design Co., a branding and strategy company. I follow their art director Katrina McHugh on Instagram (@katrinamchugh), which I think is why they sent me the card. (I got an email in Dec., asking for my mailing address, telling me they would be sending me something fun. It was addressed to “CSews,” which is my IG handle.)

The mailer was a New Year’s greeting and thank you – a long rectangular piece of cardstock folded in three. When I unfolded it, it said “2015 is all about” and  then there was a blank area to fill in, followed by an exclamation point. To the right of the exclamation point were the following instructions:

  1. Think about what you want
  2. Find a common theme
  3. Choose a word or phrase
  4. Write it down
  5. Hang it on your wall
  6. Take a picture
  7. Share it
  8. Build community
  9. Make it happen
  10. Celebrate!

I didn’t want to make any New Year’s resolutions but I kept this card and let ideas percolate. And when I read a January post by the effervescent Leila of Three Dresses Project, about her word of the year (freedom), I thought, I need a word! But what word?

Well, it all came together this past weekend when I realized I forgot to bring the power cord for my sewing machine to a Sew Together meetup, an event I organized for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. (The idea was to have a meetup at Lacis in Berkeley (great upstairs classroom space!) and people could bring their sewing machines, patterns, etc. and sew, trace, cut, in the same space.) Luckily I live around the corner from Lacis. I needed to get some measurement forms for the group anyway, so I thought I could quickly pop home and get the two things and be back in a few minutes.

Well, I couldn’t find the power cord. I had brought my secondary machine – my lighter, plastic Kenmore to the meetup. I don’t use it much these days,which is partly why I couldn’t find the darn power cord. But the real reason, which I finally had to face, was that my sewing area, essentially our dining table, was waaaay overdue for a cleanup – as my husband had been complaining about to me for weeks. (My main machine is now a used Bernina I got last year, which I haven’t blogged about. It’s a mechanical one, no fancy electronics.)

I knew the machine’s power cord was somewhere around the table but I couldn’t figure out where it was. We’ve got boxes stored under it, my various sewing carts are on one side of the table, and my husband’s book cases line the walls around the room. So things are rather crowded. You can see my carts in this post on sewing organization. (Yeah, my drawers are organized but that didn’t help me when my work space was a mess!)

After about 10 minutes of searching, I realized it was taking too long and I wanted to get going on that muslin! Lucky for me, I also knew one member, Hillary, brought a machine she was willing to let others use – as were other generous members. So I returned to the meetup – sans power cord – and took Hillary up on her offer. Thanks to Hillary, I was able to put together most of the pieces of my muslin  – a 16-section (8 panels each for the front and back) A-line skirt from Basic Black, which I’m working on for the Japan Sew Along, organized by Tanoshii (hashtag #2015JSA).

Here are a few photos of the meetup.

Sew Together meetup

When I got home, I started going through the disorganized mess on and around the dining table (in case you’re wondering, we usually eat on a table in the living room – such is cozy apartment living). I’m too embarrassed to show a photo of the mess so I just took a photo of a few of the random things I discovered during my cleanup – that’s the photo above, clockwise from the left:

  • a receipt from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics from December 2014,
  • a receipt from Britex Fabrics from July(!) 2014,
  • testing stitches on the stretch twill fabric I used in my first Chardon Skirt,
  • the formerly missing lid to a box of pins,
  • the pocket pattern piece for my Chardon (gee, how did I not put that away with all the other pattern pieces?),
  • an “O” I embroidered for a drawstring bag I’m making for one of my nieces,
  • leftover bias tape from my Trench, a summer stashbust project,
  • a pink erasable highlighter (I was wondering where that went, rolled under the table),
  • clothes pin, and
  • small polka dot drawstring bag I made.

Whew! And I found the power cord!! It was in a bag sitting on a tall chair near the kitchen island, which is right next to our dining table. Sheesh. I decided to put my Kenmore machine AND power cord away in our small storage area. More table space!

So I decided I needed two words for 2015 – because one without the other wasn’t going to work.

Creativity and discipline- Flight Design - csews.com

Yes, creativity and discipline! Because if you don’t have discipline you may not finish anything, not matter how creative you are or how many ideas are in the hopper. My husband Kofi is always saying how important discipline is and he’s right. I know if I’m not more disciplined about carving out time to sew/trace/cut, even if it’s only 30 minutes, a day, it will take me a really long time to complete anything. And if I’m not disciplined about putting things away, I’ll waste time hunting for things – not to mention drive my husband crazy – when I could be sewing or doing something else. I can only sew after I get home from work or on weekends, which means I don’t have a lot of free time.

Meanwhile, I’m going to stick this on the wall. Now all that’s left of the instructions are: build community, make it happen, and CELEBRATE!

What’s your sewing space like? Do you have a dedicated area or is it shared space – as in someone else uses the space, so you need to clean up all the time? Do you put things away or can you just leave everything out? If you have any tips, please share! Do you have a theme or word for 2015?

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Japan Sew Along 2015

Japanese sewing books - csews.com

I was on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw that @Sewbusylizzy (of the blog Sew Busy Lizzy) had regrammed an image from @stoffbuero about her Japan Sew Along, which just began. When I saw it, I thought, should I participate or not? I’ve got these four Japanese pattern books in my collection but only made one thing (not blogged) – from Shape Shape – and it was too small. It was my first Japanese pattern book and I forgot to add seam allowance and size L was too small anyway.

The blog Tanoshii features Japanese sewing books, at least from what I can tell. She blogs in German and hosted a Japan Sew Along last year as well. I didn’t know about that one. Her schedule for the Japan Sew Along are in German, followed by English translations posted in italics. You just have to scroll down to find the English. (The hashtag is #2015jsa.)

In 2013 I bought the Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear because I wanted to make some everyday dresses BUT I didn’t realize until after I bought it that size large was more like a medium. The dimensions for Large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hip.  And there was no XL. Too bad. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon because I was seduced by the photos. But who was I kidding? I have broad shoulders and at 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) I’m much taller than the average Japanese woman. So I haven’t made anything from that book yet.

I bought it because I wanted to make some “everyday” dresses because it seemed as if the dresses I was making were more for work or fancy occasions. In fact, I wrote a post back then about my desire for Everyday Dresses but since then I’ve only made one dress that really seems to fit that description – my Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress.

Before I saw Lizzy’s regram, I just happened to get a comment from Nobu Murakawa, an Etsy seller in Japan (JapanLovelyCrafts) who sells fabric, Japanese sewing pattern books, and craft supplies. She read my 2013 post about the Stylish Dress BookHips, “Husky” Girls, and Japanese Sewing Patterns, and commented:

I have read your blog. I am also a husky girl of weight 70+ . Why don’t you try one of these Japanese sewing books that helped me a lot to sew cute dresses for me.

She provided a link to a Japanese sewing book with larger patterns; it was described like this:

Large Size Clothing – Japanese Easy Sewing Pattern Book – Chubby Woman Dress Clothes – Blouse, Shirt, Tunic, Pants, Tops, Coat

OK – I admit the “Chubby Woman” description gave me pause but I thought it might actually be easier to grade down and do an SBA (small bust adjustment) than to grade up on the other pattern books.

In case you’re wondering what “pocchari” means, well, I looked it up. Apparently it’s Japanese slang for “chubby” but in a positive sense;  it’s also a fashion trend in Japan that’s more about celebrating a full figure rather than hiding it or being ashamed of it. So pocchari fashion is bold and colorful. You can read more about it in this Guardian article “Japan’s pocchari trend celebrates chubby women.”

I weigh more than 70 kilos (150 lbs.), but I’m not petite in height so I’m not exactly “pocchari” though I do have many days when I feel like I am!

I decided to take a chance and order the book ($25.50 + $8.50 for shipping) and it arrived last Thursday, less than two weeks later. (The seller graciously upgraded me on shipping at her expense, so it would arrive earlier than the usual 2-3 weeks for economy air. Thank you!). It was very carefully packed in a plastic bag and bubble wrap, plus she included a cute note along with a packet of Hello Kitty tissues. It was her only copy, which is why I didn’t include her link. (If you want to order it, I found a used copy on Amazon for $28.99 + $3.99 shipping.)

Pocchari girl's sewing book

I don’t usually order books from overseas because of the shipping costs. I tend to be a bargain shopper for sewing books getting them at used bookstores or on sale at Amazon. Of the books in the photo at the top of this post – the one on the far left was a $5 discovery at the San Francisco Public Library book store (proceeds go to the library), Shape Shape and The Stylish Dress books were discounted Amazon purchases, and Pattern Magic 2 about $10 at Half Price Books.

I’m thinking of making this blouse from the Pocchari book. I hope it doesn’t look like a tent on me. I’ll definitely have to make a muslin and do a major SBA. This could be fun in a knit fabric. Nearly all of the book is in Japanese so I have no idea what the recommended fabrics are. The only English text you’ll find is on the front and back covers and on the pages where the garments are photographed. Everything else is in Japanese. Maybe I’ll make a trip to Japantown in San Francisco to see if someone at Kinokuniya bookstore can translate for me.

Japan Sew Along - pocchari top - csews.com

I’m assuming the shoulders will fit. We’ll see…

Japan Sew Along

Have you made anything from a Japanese sewing book? How was the fit?

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