Sewing Japanese - A Success Story

Well I'll be damned - it can be done!

Last winter I started thinking about sewing for my little girl.  Naturally, I began my research online.  I found some really great blogs about sewing for kids (my favourites are listed on the right) and made a short list of patterns I wanted to try.  But I had also seen some amazing clothes that people had made from Japanese sewing books - something I didn't even know existed.  I haven't sewn clothes in a long time, so I didn't even consider buying a book with instructions in Japanese!

Then, a month ago, my Japanese friend Maiko, who doesn't sew at all, brought me a book.  I have no idea what the title is, but it rocked my world!  I absolutely loved the clothes, and seeing it up close gave me a chance to have a good look at the instructions and the pattern sheet.  I decided to jump right in.    

I tried these little knicker-type shorts first, since pants are pretty easy.

I loved them so much I went a little nuts and cut up an old pair of linen pants I hadn't worn in a while and made a second pair!

I was so excited by the fact that I was able to decipher the instructions and actually make this stuff I ordered a few more books from Amazon's Japanese site.  

Below is a top from one of those two books, with some Oliver + S Puppet Show shorts which I also made recently.  

Turns out the hardest thing about kid's clothes is getting them to stand still for a decent picture!

 If anyone is interested in the ISBN numbers for these books just let me know.  
I've got a lot of summer sewing planned… stay tuned!

Linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday...

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Art Quilt Category

I hope I'm not being presumptuous by entering this in the "Art Quilt" category of this year's spring edition of the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  I'm calling it art because it was designed to be hung on the wall - how's that for literal for you!?

I actually started this little quilt with an eye to putting something new in last year's spring Festival, but when I realized that the hand stitching I wanted to do would have taken too long, I entered her sister quilt instead.  This one was finished up in a whirlwind of WIP finishing this past January, but now I finally have her mounted on a frame and up on the wall.

Here's some pictures I took along the way...

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  It took a long time, but I just love the effect of all those tiny stitches!  Ideas for other small stitchy quilts are already floating around in my head…

Thanks for stopping by!

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Large Quilt Category

Well, here we are again - the spring installment of the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  
This is the second time I've participated.  It's great to be able to see all these incredible quilts in one place, as well as share your own quilts with the blogosphere.  

The first quilt I'm sharing, in the "Large Quilt" category, is my QAYG Herringbone made entirely with Anna Maria Horner's two collections Field Study and Dowry.  This is my favourite quilt I've every made.  In the winter we are duvet people, but this quilt has been on top of the duvet since the second I finished the binding!  The fabrics, not all of which appeal to me on their own, are absolutely magic together.  I made this a "winter" quilt, with warm silk batting and a fleece backing, and when it's cold and grey outside nothing lifts your spirits more than a colourful quilt.

This was the first time I ever tried QAYG as well.  I followed this tutorial and I have to say - I've also never made a bed size quilt from start to finish in under six weeks either!  I am currently mulling over various options for my next QAYG quilt, but I will definitely be doing this technique again.  It really reduces to a minimum the usual wrangling connected to quilting a big quilt on your home machine.  I upsized the batting strips a bit so it is a bit over 90" square.   I find this lessens the arguing over who's hogging the blankets between me and my husband!

Thanks for popping by!

Wip Wednesday - Placemats!

A few weeks ago I decided it was time to get "a decent set of placemats" off of my future "To Do" list and onto the "Current WIP" list.  (Why did I ever buy placemats that need to be ironed??)

I started to make a set of eight with a matching runner, but then I realized I could get twice the mileage out of them if I made them double-sided… lightbulb moment!  I dug into my WIP drawer and pulled out some wonky strips I had started making more than three years ago, and decided to finish them and put them on the back.

 They're not my favorite color palette, which is probably why they ended up in the WIP drawer, but my husband loves them, and well, I hate to waste fabric.  I'm going to unify the two sides with a simple black border.  
Now for the Habitat side...

I really like it.  It's a shame I have to cut it up now!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced...

Life, lately...

I seem to be having trouble writing very often unless I have a finish to show you.  It's so hard to find time to make things (much less take pictures, edit the pictures, and actually write something meaningful about it) when every minute of every day is consumed by this wonderful yet exhausting little person I'm raising.  And since my husband travels for weeks at a time, I only have the evenings to sew, and I'm usually exhausted by then!  

I know I'm very lucky that we could afford to have me quit my job and take care of Olivia full time for these first years, and sometimes I feel really guilt and selfish wishing I had some me time. I want to savor every moment with her, take every opportunity to give her a new experience or learn something.  But sometimes I miss the old Ann who flitted about Rome on her scooter, the Ann who loved her job and had an actual social life.  

I don't know how other women/mommies/bloggers do it.  Maybe their kids are older and go to school.  Maybe they have family nearby that helps out.  Maybe their kids just play by themselves where mine won't yet.  But they sure do seem to get more done than I do.

Anyway, here are just a few things going on over here...

The first tulips are up in my garden.  This is a project of mine I started last fall.  I rototilled a portion of our lawn (12' x 21') and have been trying to make an English cottage garden.  Got lots of books by the Royal Horticultural Society and have been trying to turn my thumb green.  I could look at those books for hours - such gorgeous gardens!  I also planted 60 strawberry plants in March that I'm hoping will produce this year.  Olivia can't wait for her "bobbies"!

Ordered a Crayola Color Wonder coloring book and markers from Amazon after I stupidly bought just the book when I was at home last Christmas.  She seems to like it, but she likes it better when mommy is there to do it with her.

Her new favorite game is closing the doors between us when one of us is on the balcony.  She loves the "knock knock" part!

I've been starting to sew her some summer clothes, so I've done a lot of zig-zagging and pre-washing lately.  Now if only spring would come so she could actually wear them!  I will be showing you some of my creations soon!  

A lovely stack of Sarah Jane, Heather Ross and Lizzie House all washed and ready to be made into something cute.

Here is the fabric I bought in Canada (or on Etsy) in December to make clothes for Olivia - everything from linen to organic cotton to chambray.  The hardest part for me is deciding which fabric for which pattern.  Since I can't get most of these fabrics locally, it's SO hard to cut into them.  You wouldn't think so, but the fabric stores I've been to in Italy have an absolute crap selection.  A large store in my city has three colors of flannel - white, cream and baby blue - and that's IT!  

On Sunday Olivia and I went to an organic fibre/fabric fair and I picked up this lovely hank of vegetable dyed 30% silk/70% wool yarn.  It should be enough to make a little cardigan for Olivia in the fall.  I love how it's darker and lighter in places.  

So, that's what's going on over here.  See you soon, or as Olivia says: "soon!"

Finish Friday - Flying Geese Lap Quilt

As previously mentioned, we hosted a big birthday party at our house on April 27th.  One birthday was for my friend's baby who turned one, and one was for my dear (American) friend Nicole.  Nicole lives close by and we see each other frequently and she's always abreast of my latest projects (she might have called me a craftaholic a few times!).  So far, Nicole and her husband haven't been able to conceive, which as you can imagine is stressful and disheartening at the best of times.  A while ago, while I working on another baby quilt, she made a comment about never getting one because she doesn't have a baby.  I thought this was a misconception that needed correcting!  
I decided to make her a lovely, snuggly couch quilt.  I know her couch is red, and she has black and white pillows, so I thought a layer cake of Circa 1934 would look great.  I worked like a madwoman to finish this quilt in two weeks, in time for her surprise birthday party.  I made as many flying geese as I could (with this tutorial), adding in some solids, and then had some fun arranging them.  
I used my standard winter silk batting, some cream colored flannel on the back, and quilted it in waves to soften the pointy geese.

She loved it.  And was very surprised.  Thought she was going to the umpteenth baby birthday party and instead she got a cake and a quilt too!  There may have been tears.

Doesn't it look perfect on her couch?

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Up Friday...

Friday Finish - Lily's Kona Rainbow Baby Quilt

This pretty little quilt was actually started in March and finished a few weeks ago, but since my friend Maiko reads my blog, I had to keep it under wraps until it was gifted to her daughter Lily.  Last Sunday was Lily's first birthday, so I wanted to make her a special present.

I was inspired by my Kona couch quilt, not only because I love it, but also because it's received a lot of love from both friends and blogland alike.  I thought a baby version would be a great go-with-everything kind of quilt.  I pulled out a selection of solids, cut up some 2.5" squares, and started playing with the arrangement on my design wall.  (I literally would not be able to quilt without my wall!)  
For the background I chose the grey crosshatch from the Architextures line.  I thought it was a nice low volume print and a little more interesting than Kona Ash. 

Get comfy - I took a ton of pictures!

She likes to lay on everything and say "beep" (sleep)!

Final dimensions are 34"x38".  Quilted with an elongated wave to soften up the squares.  

Found the perfect backing in my stash… Lily's mommy is a piano teacher - she loved it! 

She likes it!

The quintessential first birthday picture!  

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday
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