Post-travel Melancholy: I brought the blues back from Japan.

I've been home from Japan for a little over a week, and a deep melancholy greets my bones each morning when I wake up in my own bed. My body has the blues; it's sluggish, slow to respond, and heavy in my shoes. While I am happy to feel my cat asleep on my feet in the morning, sleep itself is hard to find. My dreams are strange, and waking is even stranger. I'm experiencing unpleasant episodes of dissociation, split between Tokyo and Portland, two very different places.

Everything in Tokyo was vivid, to the highest degree, and I was certain I could hold onto those feelings for a long time. It's only been a week, and I already have to close my eyes and focus hard on the sights and sounds I left across the Pacific. 

So far distraction has been the only antidote to these post-travel blues. I sewed up a very cozy Inari Tee Dress in a thick, squishy, striped knit, and I already have a woven version of the pattern cut out and ready to go. If my body feels comfortable, my mind will usually follow.

Inari Tee Dress by Named Patterns. US size 8, shortened by three inches.

Inari Tee Dress by Named Patterns. US size 8, shortened by three inches.

And this dress is so comfortable. I love the gentle cocoon shape, and the asymmetrical slits (though I accidentally made mine a bit too high). Any dress that has a little give around the belly is a dress meant for me. I think this is my new go-to sewing pattern.

Sitting at the sewing machine again was admittedly very therapeutic. It killed my blues for a few hours, but how long will it take to feel adjusted again? Tokyo rocked my world - for real, there was a 5.3 earthquake! - and I think it is very possible for a short trip to a foreign country to permanently alter your perception. 

inari 3.JPG

Until my body lets go of this melancholy, I have plenty of memories (and a few Studio Ghibli souvenirs) to ease the transition. Plus, these new THREADFOX garment tags make my sewing projects feel extra special...

Dyeing among friends.

I am incredibly lucky. All of my friends are amazing artists. From music to print making, cooking to graphic design, and writing to producing, I am surrounded by talented, inspiring people. 


For the past few months, I have been collaborating with a dear friend, Alyson Provax, who is translating her beautiful art to fabric, so that I can selfishly sew it all up.  What I love most about Alyson's art is her perspective on texture and placement. Whether its a scene, a phrase, or colors, everything she touches looks like it is in its right place.

Alyson's designs.

Alyson has been hand dyeing and hand painting canvas, linen, and denim. I came over during a dye sesh, and took a few pictures. She has been mixing her own colors to get those oh-so-pretty shades. 

A basket of ready-to-dye fabric

The hardest part, aside from rinsing, rinsing and more rinsing, is waiting to see the results. Every piece of fabric becomes a surprise.

Alyson is a bit of a mixologist, using soda ash, and salt to get those amazing textures.

Her colors look great with a shibori technique, as well as my favorite trick of hers, which lacks a name, but is best described as "wadding fabric in an empty yogurt container and splashing it with dye" dyeing. We filled a basket with several experiments - folding fabric between boards, twisting fabric into tight ropes, using rubber bands and wood blocks, and laying out the fabric flat and sprinkling with salt for hand painting.

Patience makes for great colors

Lately, I will come home from work to find a mysterious paper bag on my porch, and as soon as I peek inside and see a bunch of colors, I know that Alyson has just finished a dye batch. What a lovely thing to come home to!

A hand-dyed scarf.

Working with friends is the best way to create -- I get lonely sewing and crafting by myself, and having folks around me always leads to great conversations, new ideas, and the best kind of criticism.

I hope to soon include some of her text in what I am making as well. Did I forget to mention Alyson is also a wordsmith?

Check out Alyson's TimeWasting Experiment. Seriously, leave my blog and go check it out now.

Hard at work with those rubber bands.

I want to reiterate how grateful I am to be able to create with friends. What a warm, fuzzy feeling. Stay tuned for more of our creations. And, please, for your own sake, go take a few to gaze at Alyson's art...

....aaaand, I'm back!

It's 2015, and I finally have a computer! My laptop died a few months ago, and I was slow to replace it. Here is a picture of Tan from New Year's Day. The sun made a rare appearance, and I woke up to him appearing to meditate. Perhaps he was working on some resolutions for 2015?

Hudson Pant Sewalong!

I was so stoked when True Bias released the Hudson Pant pattern, and even more stoked when it meant I could participate in my first sewalong. Usually I find patterns a year after release, but I was on it this time. Kelli's tutorial was broken down in a way that made her already fabulous pattern even easier to digest. 

My favorite thing about this sewalong is that it gave me an excuse to buy some fabric I had been eyeing at Fabric Depot, but couldn't swing full price. Then Fabric Depot decided to have a 40% off sale, so I hustled there after work and bought the rest of the bolt. The fabric is Sophia by Logantex, a thicker Polyester/Spandex/Rayon blend in a fun orange color with a lighter heather orange on the wrong side - perfect for the waistband and cuffs on this pattern! It is extremely soft, and it worked pretty well for this pattern, although I am not sure I would choose it again, because it does cling a bit in the rear area. I think the softness might beat the clinginess, but I am going to try to make a shirt with the rest of the fabric to see how that fares in comparison.

Which laces? Too many options!

Which laces? Too many options!

The hardest part of the pattern was picking the right cording for the waistband. I bought a bunch of fun neon cording and some bright shoelaces. The husband had a pretty strong opinion about the orange and black shoelace, and I trust him and his design-sense. Thanks, hubs.

The pants are extremely comfortable. I could definitely wear them out of the house, and I plan to just pop them on every day after work, especially in the winter. Changing into lounge pants immediately after getting home from work is probably my favorite part of the day (off with the bra and on with the comfy pants, right?) and this pattern allows you to feel fashionable and comfortable. The best!

The pants sit comfortably on the waist, and I am very high-waisted. I was worried they would hang too low on the butt, like most pajamas or sweat pants that I have tried, but the wide band and the crotch length are perfect for me, and probably even better for you ladies with more even proportions. I love the accents and slight flaring on the pockets. It gives me a little more shape in the hips.

(Tan the kitten was an excellent helper as I tried to photograph the results, so here is a shout out to him. He's still too wiggly for pictures, but he also refuses to leave me alone when I am trying to take them.)

All done, and definitely ready to be worn.

All done, and definitely ready to be worn.

I only had one hiccup in the whole process. For some reason my machine was just not into sewing the second row of topstitching on the waistband. As soon as I hit the pockets, skipped stitches were the norm. I ripped out two-and-a-half attempts before deciding to skip the second row of stitching at the front of the pants, so it only has two rows in the back. I think this will keep the elastic in place just fine. Next time I might add an inch for my long legs, but other than that, these sewed up quickly and beautifully. More importantly, this pattern is FUN. I think it is my favorite pattern that I have worked with, and I can't wait to make an after-work uniform of Hudson Pants!

They go well with my me-made tank, but why are my toes so pink?

They go well with my me-made tank, but why are my toes so pink?

On being 31, and just starting to figure it out.

I had a long childhood, and I would not trade it for the world. Now that I have over 30 years in my past, I have been feeling the tugs and itches that call for change. Recently, I have been trying to pick apart my successes as well as my trials and errors, because they have brought me to where I am today. It is sort of like trying on dresses - it takes me many, many attempts to find one that fits just right (this lazy choice of simile will make sense in a few).

People tend to ask, "what do you do for a living?" and, for some silly reason, this question has always disarmed me. I immediately felt the need to explain that I don't really know what I am doing yet, that yes, I am 31 years old and I have a ton of hobbies, and a pretty amazing life, but I haven't really found my focus, and yeah, I dropped out of graduate school, and no, I don't have kids, and yes, I am writing my first book, but it doesn't feel real, because I have never published anything before...and, wait, what was the question?

For too long, I have been operating under the wrong assumption that what I do for a living defines who I am. Paying the bills was the goal of my professional life, and over time, I lost touch with creativity. I distanced myself from all my creative endeavors because I failed to appreciate the joy in them. It took me a little extra time to realize that I simply need to write and make something with my hands every day after work, and I will find peaceful sleep at night. 

In the last few years, I have moved to a new state, bought a house, adopted two cats, dropped out of a graduate school path, got hitched, and was gifted a Bernina sewing machine, which led to discovering the first activity for which I have truly held a passion: sewing!

I am throwing myself into this new hobby with all of my heart. I want to give it as much of my free time that I can spare - daydreaming, and the usual blood, sweat, and tears. I look forward to joining this inspiring community, and I will share my efforts with the steep learning curve on this website, because that's how I hope to connect with other crafty folk from around the world. So, with this first blog post, I am offering myself a cheers - to finding what I truly love. It is never, never, never too late to start something new!