Fabric scraps and the art of omiyage

Vacation is a time to relax and break out of habits, but that doesn’t mean its time to put down my needle and thread. I find it extremely soothing to have a hand sewing project that I can enjoy while sipping on my morning coffee. Its a bit challenging in the winter months when there isn’t enough daylight but as soon as spring comes along I notice I pick right back up on this morning ritual of mine. We were in Barcelona this year as the clocks sprung us forward officially into spring and I was sure to plan ahead and pack supplies into my already busting-at-the-seams case.

But there is more to this story, so perhaps I should explain that I very much believe in the tradition of omiyage. The Japanese custom of gift-giving resonates with me deeply. The idea of presenting a small gift when traveling to or from friends and loved ones is an important part of etiquette and there is a lot to learn from the highly complex tradition in Japan. The ideal omiyage is something transient, perishable, and thus food goods rein supreme at the top of the charts. This way you are not burdening someone with something unnecessary that they need to take care of or commit space to in their home. Now the thing is, Japan has a support structure for this, but when it comes to the US nothing really stands out as an ideal, iconic small gift. Maybe I am missing something obvious. What really represents New York and isn’t a bad tourist trinket? I just don’t feel we have an equivalent to the dainty, well packaged, perfect box of treats that other countries have.

plush bunny faces made using leftover fabric and lace scraps

As cooking or baking is simply out of the question for me the next logical answer to the gift-giving conundrum is craft. Admittedly this breaks the rule of being perishable, but it allows the gift to be sincere and from the heart. (And I will not be offended if anyone discards their gift, it is theirs to do with as they please.) Equally important in this approach is that the item share something of both the giver and the recipient. And that brings us back to a freshly brewed cup of coffee, breathtaking sunrises from a rooftop flat in Barcelona, and a mish-mash collection of fabric scraps, lace, beads and satin flowers.

Literally in the last moments before our flight the idea came to be to make plush bunny badges. The item needed to be sewn by hand while away, so I squeezed in a few quick stitches to shape the face and the ears before dashing to the airport. What I particularly like about this project is that it uses up little pieces of lace and fabric that normally would be discarded. Waste is waste and now I feel justified with my basket of odds and ends I have held on to for so long. Given the frenetic pace at which the materials were packed its very fortunate that in the end they worked well to make cohesive pieces. All-in-all I am pleased with the outcome and hope that the recipients enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

 

 

Project Complete: Summer ILD Sailor Cutsew

pastel lolita marine style sailor cutsew

The past weekend was International Lolita Day. I was very fortunate to attend a meet with some of the most badass Lolita’s of the East Coast. The theme for this year’s get together was “a day at the beach.” Well, you know me, theme-time!! Except I have nothing that wold pass for beach, mermaid or marine in my wardrobe. Was time to get cracking.

Work shipped me off to Singapore for meetings before the event, and how can you complain. Can you say S-i-n-g-a-p-o-r-e?!?! {It was amazing by the way.} That didn’t stop me. The minute I landed back home I was at my sewing machine. To hell with jetlag we need something, anything, that says beach.

coordinating hand made accessories with Sugar Baby Icing Cookie

The solution was to make a sailor cutsew blouse. It had to be something simple that could be knocked out in a day… because that was all I had. So I pulled out one of my previous patterns and a few of the Otome no Sew mooks to find a sailor collar. After franken-patterning them together we were on to something. There was just enough of this really nice sky blue jersey lurking in my fabric stash.

Originally I was going to trim it with white braid and lace making it more traditional sailor style. However when pulling out trims this pink braid landed on top of the fabric and it was love at first site. Pink trim is really hard to find in NY, really hard. When I do find some I save it as if it is treasure. If you sew, do you ever have that feeling, telling yourself to hold on to something for the just right project? That’s how I was but forced myself to say that perfect project is right now.

My last haul included Kumya chan’s Sugar Baby Icing Cookie in a sunny yellow. Sea and sun, check. For one extra pop of color and marine touch I converted a keychain into a necklace. During the Singapore trip I found this adorable charm featuring the Merlion. And the best part is that it glows in the dark!!

As for everyone’s coords… check out this awesome video that was on the New York Daily News!!

Hope you had a blast on ILD in your neck of the woods :3

P.S. When editing the photos for this project I was really inspired by a spread in the June edition of Kera. Was getting bored with doing basically the same layout for all my posts and thought playing around and trying something new would be fun.

Sweetie’s Challenge: Handmade Ouji Vest Part 1

While waiting for parcels to finish my other blouse, this weekend I dove into the world of making menswear. And we have named this adventure, “Royal Order of the White Rabbit.” The concept is to have layers of cream but with very royal details such as the military braid and the lush raised velvet arabesque in the main fabric. OK Sheri so if it is about the “white” rabbit why is it cream? Well most white bunnies I have encountered aren’t exactly pure white so I am sticking with it.

Work in Progress

handmade kodona ouji velvet brocade vest tail coat

I made significant changes to this Butterick pattern. Always start with a muslin draft folks!!! The armholes on the pattern were just dreadful so trimmed them back and made modifications to the fit of the shoulder.  Then took it in a bit on the sides. Also removed a few inches from the front and drafted the inset vest panels. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to ensure a professional finish as the pattern was unlined. There are 3 seams inside that I didn’t properly think through in my mind first so can correct for that on the next vest by splitting the back lining at the waist. The tail flaps and the front seams all turned out crisp and nice which was the key objective.

belgian medal of civic service and french macaron fabric details of this kadona vest

Still a ways to go and finish up. Need to make the button holes, finish the arm holes, add the collar, and add pockets for some extra distinction. Then it will be onto making the ouji/kodona breeches. Not as worried about those as I have made shorts for the Boy in the past. But still, need to ensure all the details come out just right.

Oh and how can I forget, it took a few searches, but finally found a plain, cream, wool tricorn on eBay. Originally I assumed we would buy a brand hat for him, but since I’m at it might as well make a matching one to complete the look. Spent more than I would have liked, but it appears to be well made and is a blank slate so that I can decorate it to my liking.

no ouji look would be complete without a proper hat so a wool tricorn is added to the project list