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Our three-year old, no longer a baby, M got a bunch of clothes recently. I made all of them, except one, from the same book, so today I thought I could do a book review of sorts.

I got this book from my last trip to Tokyo in May, the chief attraction of it being the fact that it has several unisex patterns, some of which start at 80cms and run up all the way to size 150cms. N’s t-shirt that was featured in the last entry came from here too, following which I made a few things for M.

First up, the tops:

Besides the t-shirt that I made for N, I made M this loose fitting shirt for M, titled in the book as “cook’s shirt.”

DSC_0025 With a double breasted button placket, supposed to mimic a chef’s uniform, the shirt was pretty easy to put together–good instructions, enough pictures, that kind of a thing. The top technically opens all the way down in the front, but given that these little hands are desperately trying to put buttons on and take them off all the time–still somewhat unsuccessfully, I decided to stitch down the placket for the bottom half while still keeping the buttons. So now thankfully, there are only four top buttons to fiddle with.

The fabric is a light and lovely printed voile that my sister-in-law gifted me ages ago; the buttons come all the way from Taiwan, a gift from another friend.

The second top is even simpler. It is a simple A-line blouse with a back closure.

 

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Given how easy this was to make, and how wonderfully it showcases a special fabric (in this case a double gauze submarine print brought on my Tokyo trip) I had high hopes from this blouse and thought it would be my favourite. Except that, I find the top a wee bit short, and perhaps a tad too feminine. The girl version, in the book shows gathered sleeves with cuffs at the wrists, and I think I might like this one on N more than on M. Oh well, he doesn’t care really for very much except the submarines, and would rather wander around in a skirt than pants on most days. And, who am I say to no to a feminine touch on boys clothing? Plus, its double gauze, summery and we all love blue. So, I would say it works well, and is in heavy rotation.

Having said that, I would still like to add my two bit (reminder to myself and others out there possibly interested in the book): check to see the length if more needs to be added–prior to cutting, of course. M was exactly 100cms when I made it, and that’s the size I cut. It’s been about three weeks since I made it, and its already too short. I might add a band in contrasting fabric at the bottom. Two, the sleeve width runs on the side of narrow. This would not, I think matter to a overall skinny kid, but it did for M. This surprised me, since I am so used to sewing for N, and she kind of floats in Japanese patterns. But my over all sense from the tops in this book is that they might not be as broad as in some other books, which is something to keep in mind for future sewing.

And, now over to pants. (I promise we are done with the bicycle photos for some time now.)

DSC_0165These pants were actually the first thing I made from the book. Titled as “Thai pants” they have again two options: either two side pleats, or a gathered front. I opted for the latter, and it produced a rather cute pair of everyday pants with an elastic waist. They sort of balloon at the waist and then taper to become quite narrow at the ankles.

The grey ones are in mangalgiri cotton and the blue fabric is also cotton but slightly stiffer than mangalgiri with less drape. I got both at HP Singh in Nehru place (see here for a write up on Delhi cloth markets).

Unfortunately, as I write this, both pants are no longer in use. After a few wears, they both tore at exactly the same place–right near the seam at the crotch. I.e the tear was in the fabric, which meant that they were unrepairable. I am still wondering if I should have cut them on cross grain, without which there was too much stress on the fabric when the boy was playing around and doing leg splits (in imitation of his sister). I had initially loved the look of these, and given their simplicity was planning to make one for N too. Not surprisingly, older sister has refused this pattern! I won’t be making these anytime soon (unless perhaps I find some very small baby to sew for–someone is the 80cms range, who is not quite as rambunctious)! But besides that I need to figure out what went wrong with these. Because they are so cute!

And that’s about it in terms of the book review. Despite the failure with pants, I still like this new addition to my collection of Japanese books. It has a good mix of standards, and for those interested also carries three patterns in adult sizes. And, I do like all the tops I made from it. There are still a few other pants to try, and I definitely want to make the blouse with cuffed sleeves for N. It will be good for cooler weather which I hope comes soon.

Asmita/xx

 

Sometimes the most time consuming part for me is the tracing out the pattern. It means making enough space on the dining table at the time of the day when M is not running around. And, it has to be daytime, because by night I am too tired to trace out patterns. Motivation usually kicks in by the time I have cut the fabric after which I am eager to get to get to the sewing machine. (This actually even happens with sometimes M on my lap!).

Something similar happened to the dress here.

DSC_0033Back in April, I added length to a previously traced size 6 of the Mini Southport dress pattern. You can see it here.  All of four months went past until, in August, I realised that it was going to be too short. I dragged myself back to the table for more tracing (because by this time, as is often the case, Ms. N had remembered the fabric we had chosen and was wondering what happened to the dress).

I should mention that I tried to push it off to next year because mosquito season is upon us, and I tried to convince her that she won’t be able to wear it much. Honestly, I was also not feeling much upto making something that I hadn’t thought of for a while. But, as luck would have it, her luck that is, I also remembered that I don’t have much of this fabric and it may not be enough next year for the said dress. And so eventually between her pushing for it, and me giving in, first somewhat unwillingly and then quite eagerly (as is often the case), the whole start to finish took less than a few days.DSC_0018

DSC_0013I suppose the current version could also be slightly longer, but I think the length looks good on her. The fabric is lovely Alexander Henry, if I am not wrong (but, I entirely unsure since I forgot to save the selvage and can’t find details of it anywhere). I have held on to it for a good six years because I loved it so much, but it was time to make something of it. And, I agree with N, the dress suits the fabric well.

The pattern instructions, for anyone making it the first time are very clear, and in general I like the fit of True Bias patterns on N. (These pants were a super hit and I plan to make more). I would say the same about the dress. Version 1 still hangs in her cupboard and while it is incredibly short she wears it plenty.

And so here she is–chatting with M as I am trying to take photos.

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DSC_0030I have to say I am pretty pleased it got off my to-do pile as well. The fact that she has worn it almost non stop since it got made means that it was worth it.

Which really brings me to the question that I have really been pondering over. What and how do you really decide what you are going to sew next? As I read blogs of other sewists, I know a lot of you sew because you don’t buy anymore for your kids. I do the same for N, not only because I like sewing for her, but also because it saves some serious amount of money. But it also means that many choices are dictated by the need of the moment, and so for instance, the reason why I was hesitant to go ahead with this dress was because the girl needs pants and full sleeves shirts, and not, in my mind, a sleeveless dress! (With M, I am incredibly lucky because he gets fantastic hand me downs).

But, then on the other hand, there is also what your child wants you to sew, right? Not just in terms of pattern of a dress or a particularly style or fabric, but increasingly, what does he/she want? I am sure most sewists, including me want to accomodate that desire, because let’s face it: there comes a time surely when you don’t want your mom to be sewing for you? So while N loves for most part what I make, and can be quite exact and demanding at times, the time when she doesn’t care much about what I make may not be too far away.

And then, last but not the least, there is small but significant aspect of this business of sewing which is entirely selfish, right? That, I am not sewing for my child, but really I am sewing for myself because I really really like to do this. But between negotiating what the wearer needs and what the wearer wants, I often feel quite lost in terms of what I want to make. Or at the very least, what I want to make comes the lowest priority.

I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. Certainly, I hope not to be! But I always wonder how others negotiate this, and would love to hear from others.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy sewing!

Asmita/xx

 

 

 

 

 

one more!

DSC_0051Well, so as it turned out the poor boy did not get to celebrate his birthday because he fell sick. He got swine flu! And while the worst had passed by the time the big day came around, he was still very tired and cranky and not up to much. We still did a few things to commemorate the occasion, had cake, and of course he got all his gifts. DSC_0037

DSC_0046And so, in effect, I did not get to finish the sewing I had started for him (It’s just about getting done only now….). But since we are here, I thought I might as well write about some of the stuff I finished a while ago, and which in fact comes from the same book that M’s birthday clothes come from. DSC_0042And so to change the topic…

These pants for Ms. N got made way back in May. She wanted orange pants at the beginning of her new school year, and orange she got. With some blue pockets…DSC_0093The fabric for the pants is mangalgiri cotton with thin orange stripes on it, and being mangalgiri, it is perfect for summer. I bought it in Pune, but really quite easily available in Delhi too I am sure. The pockets come from scraps of a Lotta Jansdotter fabric that I used previously for a skirt. The pattern tried and tested several times before, comes from one of my all time favourite Japanese pattern books. As you can probably tell, these are pants with a lot of style (slightly flared bottoms) and come together in no time. They are incredibly simple to sew. There isn’t even a separate waistband, which means there are essentially only two pieces of fabric, three if you include the pocket.

This time I made it in size 120 cms with length at 130 cms, but she complained about some tightness at the crotch. Next time, I will definitely need to size them up. Uncomfortable or not, she is still wearing them, and four months later these are very much a part of school wear. And while she loves them, I have actually been surprised as to how many adults have come up to me and swooned over these. I suspect it has something to do with the brightness of orange. Or, perhaps it’s such a unexpected colour in pants? I really have no idea.DSC_0056And now the top. DSC_0077It wasn’t particularly made to go with these pair of pants,, but somehow both happened around the same time. And, can I just say, I love this slightly large, slouchy shirt. It’s been my favourite and most fulfilling bit of sewing in a while. I like the shape, it’s swing-iness, the fabric (knit from Okadaya, Shinjuku), and how in general it looks on her. The pocket was a bit of an afterthought (yes, I did sew it after the rest of it was made) because it looked like it needed a pocket. The fabric is a scrap from her old favourite pair of tights,so it seemed like a good way to hang on to those tights too.

The pattern appropriately titled “big silhouette t-shirt” comes from this book (I am currently using it for both of M’s shirts), and has a good bunch of patterns which are unisex. Most of the patterns are in the 100-150cms range, but a few also run as small as 80cms, so it’s a good book to have when one is sewing for both a boy and a girl, who are quite a few years apart. This was one of my earlier “tries” from this book, and was a easy sew (no different in effect than other t shirts that I have made). The length is on the shorter side, despite my adding a good 10cms to the 120cms size–it rides up a bit as you can see, but she is not complaining. And it’s pretty wide–no worries there that it will fit her for some time to come!DSC_0082

DSC_0060DSC_0078That’s about it…looking at these photos taken on an outing during our Pune vacations not so long ago, makes me feels like it happened many moons ago. This summer, has been particularly hard and somewhat long (it still continues to be hot in Delhi despite intermittant rains, unending in the humidity, it seems), and I have at times been relieved that I have had some chance to do sewing.

I am not sure, if we get another opportunity to celebrate the boy’s third birthday–he has had his cake and received his gifts, and is a bit confused now at the mention of a birthday party, thinking perhaps that there is endless array of cars still waiting for him. So, while we are skipping this yea’s full fledged party, I am posting here one last photo of his taken during the same outing.DSC_0076IMG_20170614_084125843As with N who turned nine, at the beginning of July, I can hardly believe M is three. And he is marvelous–with his incredible energy, quiet sensitivity, and beyond everything the sweet love for his sister.

Asmita/xox

 

Hello Hello. It’s been a long summer. We went away for most of it (to Pune, as always) and just returned two Sunday’s back to a terribly hot and humid Delhi.I am trying to inch my way back into everyday life, but it looks like its going to happen really slowly. M and N started school the very next day,  but it’s taken M a few days to really settle into things. I think with the really long seven week break, he forgot that he ever went to school in the first place 🙂 While very little sewing got done in Pune (despite plans–oh, always there are plans!), I did manage to do a bit of prep so a few things are ready to be sewn.

July is a big birthday month for us as both kids have their birthdays this month. Ms. N having already had hers on the 1st, is already nine. 9!! I feel like each year passes by so quickly and here she is another year older.DSC_0111DSC_0081Birth-day this year was more like a week long celebration this year. She had three separate do-s in Pune, plus one small celebration this week in school. All birthday parties were super low key and fun, but yes, there were THREE separate events (not to mention the one in school!

The final Pune do was on the morning of her actual birthday at my grandmother’s house. We had breakfast from her favourite South Indian restaurant and some cake. My grandmother turned 92 this year, and for the last few years N has wanted to have her birthday party at her house. I wish I had a few decent photos to keep and share, but as with any occasion where everyone is having fun, there are sadly none.DSC_0095I do have photos however, of before we just left for my grandma’s place that morning and this is the dress she wore. I made it in a fabric of her choice, but one that I had not expected her to pick out. Pink is not her favourite colour, and the checks pattern figures pretty low on her list, but she chose this fabric herself. (I gave up on surprises a while ago now, having had not such good luck with them). The reason I think is this is the softest, lightest double gauze that she, or for that matter I, has ever laid hands on. And, so the real attraction here is in the kind of fabric. Oh, and the flutter-y sleeves- very summery!

The pattern “r” comes from happy homemade vol.2. (Here is the link to the English version.) I have made several things from this book before, and haven’t run into problems before so this one went pretty easily too. I haven’t made a dress with fluttery sleeves for her in a long time for her (the last time was when she was a wee little thing of 2), so it was nice to try out this sleeve style again. In general, I think they look better on slightly more chubby arms but oh well. She does ballet four times a week, and started swimming lessons. Not to mention that all other times she is upside down. So these are strong arms, and that’s good! Oh, and I think I should have stuck to the 110cm size instead of moving up to 120cms because it sort of sags a bit on her shoulder, but oh well, again. DSC_0103She does seem to like it well enough and that’s more important than getting the perfect dress.DSC_0091Which brings me to getting some things ready for the second birthday that is coming up really soon. Again, M is a bit clued out about birthday’s still, but no one is more excited than N. It really is quite amazing that she is now 9–my sweet, sensitive and caring child. Happy birthday to dearest N.

Asmita/xx

April was a pretty special month for baby M. He started play school. He is still only two, well, he will be three this July, so in reality it is a playgroup where he goes for two hours every morning to “play” with other kids his age, share tiffins, feed rabbits, and the like. DSC_0044Still, it is a big event and I wanted to make him something special to mark the occasion. I have been eyeing this bag for the last several years, but somehow N was never at the right age for this when the book came out, and I never got around to making one for her.DSC_0037Well, I am so glad I did now. It’s the perfect size for the toddler age group and fits his snacks tiffin and a water bottle nicely. And it was a lot of fun to make. I have made a few other things too from the excellent book I mention above, and really to me, there is no better teacher than Liesl. I even managed the dreaded zipper quite well! The only two small additions/ changes I made were to add a rickrack on the front piece for the sake of some visual interest, and to “bind” the straps with a bit of velvet ribbon. And of course, I added M’s name to it. DSC_0004

DSC_0014Cars, are M’s thing (probably true for a lot of little boys), and so I was delighted to unexpectedly find some old Echino fabric in my stash. It was just enough for the outside and the pocket inside. The fabric is canvas weight with 55% linen but somehow it still felt pretty drapey; I wasn’t sure if that was enough weight to hold the shape of the bag so I used iron-on interfacing for the lining. The fabric for straps which is 100% linen also comes from my stash, as does the one I used for lining. I have no memory of where I got both, which means I have had them for long.DSC_0051M, I think, quite likes it. He is not quite vocal in expressing his feelings about it, but the fact that he wants to take it to school every single day must mean that there is some love there.DSC_0053

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I am truly happy to report that baby M has taken to his playgroup like a fish to water, and we are seeing growing signs of independence day by day. And so, now for obvious reasons he cannot be called a baby anymore!

Asmita/xx

a quilt

I am the kind of person who loves embarking on quilts, but then, when I am about half way done interest wavers, I feel unsure about the design I have chosen, my fabric choices feel too boring, and it all feels too unwieldy both in terms of time and size. Needless to say,  I give up.

What follows in a long period of this half-done-thing, not yet really a quilt, sitting in my cupboard, taking up space. Until one day, I am out of my hibernating period and I start work on it like a mad woman. The funny thing is: I am usually, very very pleased with the results–well, its been sitting around for so long that practically everything about it feels brand new!

Well, something similar happened to this one here. dsc_0004dsc_0011The story of this goes all the way back around 2010 (ok, this is one of my oldest). I bought the wool pieces while still living in Brooklyn, smitten as I was by this free tutorial and the idea of entirely hand sewing it. It was a big investment. The felted wool came from here (originally from Australia, a fact that I am discovering only now); it is incredibly lovely and soft, and I believe, hand dyed. Oh yes, and all that also means expensive. Still I jumped into it, with plans of finishing it and making a winter quilt for Ms. N, all in 2010. The cutting happened first and fast. It’s really a whole bunch of 4″squares (225 in all, to be precise). Then came the layout, all still easy. And then began the sewing. The tutorial instructions are great, with very detailed photos of how to put the two pieces together. But once you get that, it’s really just a whole lot of hand sewing. To say that it went slowly, verrry slowly, is an understatement. Because while it is one of those projects that one can carry with oneself wherever goes, and the process itself is relaxing (maybe even meditative), truth be told, it’s also quite boring.dsc_0025dsc_0013The pattern, if one may call it that, doesn’t call for a binding. There is only one layer, so technically there is nothing to “bind,” but with two kids and possibility of play, I decided to add one anyway to give it some more stability. The stitching is done with cotton embroidery thread which is sturdy enough, but I didn’t want to take any chances of unraveling at its edges. And, just because the wool is so lovely to begin with, I decided that border would be in lovely Liberty, of which I had a tiny amount of. The final quilt is about a 60″ square (with 15 pieces in one row).dsc_0015Of course, I love *love* the end result. We all do! There is just something so beautiful about the colours, and there is tremendous appeal in a design as simple as this. In the end, it really is just all about the wool, and I do think that the hand sewing does add its own bit of charm. Even my sometimes impatient stitches such as these.dsc_0019Having finally finished it, Ms. N cannot believe that it was meant for her to sleep under at one point (It just about barely covers her head to toe now.) It’s too large for Baby M, and so for now we have had to put it away. Come winter we will use it to keep warm during daytime, or for extra warmth on cold nights.

I really do wish I had finished this one sooner. But, I suppose there is a time for everything, and its now time to cherish it. And as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I should mention here that what really got me going this year was the fact that late November last year I discovered that the moths had gotten to it. If you look closely, you will notice extra small pieces of wool sewn over in places. dsc_0017dsc_0001Well yes, they, the industrial moths ate away tiny bits of the wool. So what you see, is the remedial work that had to be done to save the piece. Basically I had to cut smaller pieces of wool in the same colour (I no longer had larger pieces to entire replace the damaged squares) and sew them to the damaged part like attaching a bandaid. It looks fine–a good reminder in fact to not let things linger too long–and I was very very lucky to have caught this at the right moment.

So, that’s that. Finished, finally, a full seven years later after it started. I am happy to report that I have yet another WIP close to finish, and I will be able to show you that soon too. What are you working on these days? I would love to hear.

Asmita/xx

Four months is long time even for me, the otherwise somewhat intermittent blogger, to be away from my blog. Except for my super short post sometime in February, I admit I almost gave up on blogging. Lured by Instagram, I considered making use of my account which I opened sometime ago, but then it seemed too complicated and I retreated. (I am sure in reality Instagramming–if there is a word like that–is actually quite fun, and I love looking at what other people make. But for now, I have no head space for figuring out how yet another social media platform works and so I gave up on that idea too. At least for the moment.). Interestingly, what this longer than planned break made me realise that while I do miss posting about my latest sewing, what I miss even more is the writing part. And so here I am, with some determination to give it another chance.

And so without further explanations here is some news of the past few months.

In early March, around the time of my birthday, my husband and I went on the much anticipated trip to Tokyo. It was short (only 5 days), and we didn’t do a whole lot, besides eating, walking, and meeting a few old friends, but it was tremendously soul nourishing and absolutely lovely. For one, my parents were very generous to come all the way to Delhi to take care of the kids, and it was the first time Mr. M and I were travelling anywhere sans children. And then, it felt like a homecoming of sorts. I hadn’t been back in close to a decade, and although of course I have been there many times before, this was the first trip where there was no agenda as such. All in all I came back feeling rested and nourished–not very different from what trip to a familiar and well loved place feels like, I suppose.

Here are a few favourite photos from the trip:DSC_0056A shop selling pickles outside Sendagi station  DSC_0043Aoyama cemeteryDSC_0021The ryokan where we stayed in HongoDSC_0004A bakery in KagurazakaIMG_20170305_093351009And finally, one of my all time favourite places in Tokyo–the Nezu Shrine. Most of the week had been bitingly cold, but the day we walked to the shrine, after meandering through the lanes around Tokyo University, was beautiful and sunny. We mostly sat in the sun for long and reminisced about all the earlier times I had been here.

Besides eating and walking we did some shopping too, and I myself bought a fair bit of fabric from Okadaya in Shinjuku. In my current life, which I cannot envision without sewing, it is, in retrospect, strange to think that before this trip I had never even entered a fabric shop in Japan! My interest in sewing is only about seven years old, and so initially I had no idea where to go. A quick Google search brought my attention to this blog, which was particularly useful.DSC_0062It’s all knits and double gauze, as you can probably tell, and not exactly inexpensive. Of course! Thankfully the cost, and the fact that we went to Nippori, the official “fabric town,” on the day when all shops were closed ensured that fabric shopping was limited. Still I love what I got; N oooh-ed and aah-ed over it after we got back and immediately put in a few requests.

That, in short, was our trip and the highlight of 2017! I can’t believe it’s already been two months since we went. I have sewn up a bunch of stuff in this time and will be back in a few days to show what I’ve been making.

Asmita/xx

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