First Anniversary GIVEAWAY !

Hello  I am so very thrilled that I am still the blog world that is.  There were and still are inner struggles that I deal with; wanting to live life; to fulfill obligations; to strengthen connections between family and friends; to take care of my health/spirit/mind; all while pursuing my passion for crafting and sharing it with you on this little blog. All things take time and commitment though. I sometimes wish I could be one of "those" kinds of people who seem to do it all in perfect harmony.  And do you know what happens when I let that kind of "I wish I could be like her" thinking seep into my brain cells?  I end up lying on the sofa under a blanket watching one show after another.  Oh yes, I check out ... big time.

....but today is today...and I AM STILL HERE...limping along but none the less...I am here. And you are here with me.... thank you for I am touched.

And now to celebrate, you and me together.  I want to share a few of my favorite kawaii fabric pieces with you in a giveaway!

You don't have to jump through hoops to enter; simply leave a comment; just be sure I have a way to contact you.  The giveaway will close at the end of day next Monday, March 7th (Hawaii time).  There are two sets of fabrics for the giveaway.  I'll announced the two winners by the end of that week. Good luck~

Each set contains 3 fabulous kawaii COSMO fabrics from Japan. Approximately 1/2 yard of each fabric.

First Set

 The Second Set

 Close Up Photos of Each Fabric

Oh yes, this fabric is kawaii at it's perfection and is in BOTH sets

hel-looo, this fabric is so damn cute..yum! and is in BOTH sets

if you know me..I love deers! set one only

Little Red Riding Hood ... oh what a lovely bag it will make. In set two only.
Okay peoples ~ on your mark, get set, ready, go!

Mini Tote Bag Tutorial

Hello.  The sky is covered with dark menacing clouds. The thunder is roaring and roaring and roaring.  But no rain.  Adding another bit of nastiness is VOG; a volcano smog from the active volcanoes on the "Big Island".  Here's a pic of the VOG I took the other day.
Oh yeah; it blocks out the sun big time.  The VOG covers the entire island chain and gets this bad when there is little wind to help blow it away. 

It's perfect weather to stay in and work on .... my blog post. heh.

Since sewing, I take more notice of women's bags and totes.  You might also find me in Walmart (they have some really cute fabric handbags!)  handling a bag; trying to figure out its construction.

In my last post on interfacing, I mentioned this mini styled tote bag that I noticed was popular with Japanese women on the train in Tokyo area.   (OH the RAIN just started pouring!) 

The construction is fairly basic but I do want to share the dimensions. Sometimes just finding the right size causes major grief so I hope this size is perfect for you!

Preparing Fabric

  • Cut one piece for the exterior : 20" length x 11" width  (if your fabric has a directional design, cut 2 pieces)
  • Cut one piece for lining : 19" length x 11" width
  • Cut mid weight woven interfacing : same as exterior
  • Optional : cotton batting; cut same as exterior fabric or fusible fleece for a soft padding
  • For Handles : Cut 2 cotton webbing pieces; 13" long (finished size is 11")
  • For seams : I used my sewing foot; lined up with the edge of the fabric; as a guide for the seam. Or use 1/2" seam
  • Place cotton batting wrong side of exterior fabric, pin in place
  • Fold exterior fabric in half; right sides together; sew sides.  Trim cotton batting away from seam to lessen bulk.

  • Fold lining in half; sew sides together; leaving a 3" gap on one side for turning bag
  • Box corners; measure 4 inches across; sew and trim.
  • For Handle Placement : Find middle of exterior fabric and mark.  Measure 3 inches to the right of the center and mark. Measure 3 inches to the left of the center and mark. Do on both sides of the bag. Place webbing as shown in picture (the needle is the 3" mark).  I left a 1" allowance on the handle. Baste in place.
  • Place bag inside lining; right sides together. Pin along top edge. Sew lining and exterior pieces together with handles sandwiched in between. Trim the handle allowance about 1/2".
  • Turn bag inside out through gap.
  • Sew gap close.
  • Enjoy
Pick your favorite fabric to make this bag...the cuter the better...Here's a shinzi katoh alice in wonderland mini tote bag (top left) design...Cute huh? 
pic from this shinzi katoh site

    Hello Interfacing

    Okay, I now have a general working guideline of what interfacing to use for things that I make.  I am not an expert but an expert-wanna-be!

    I did attempt another Kutsu Bag with a different interfacing. This time I used a fusible mid weight, Pellon 931TD on the exterior fabric and Pellon 911FF, a fusible featherweight, on the lining. There is a nice structure to the bag, no softness, and easy to bend. I think this combination will work nicely for a simple tote bag.

    Made with a Cotton Linen Blend
    As my third experiment, I decided on making a different tote for a bit of a change...a mini tote bag.  While in Japan, I noticed many ladies on the train carrying these little tote bags...perhaps to carry their bento lunches, books, or a crafty project!  I bought this one from a department store...not too cute but I chose 'cheap'.

    In the ever popular Zakka Sewing book, many of the projects called for cotton batting; with the book also suggesting woven interfacing over non-woven if one is used.

    So I decided to use cotton batting for this bag. 

    Made with Cotton Fabric

    Here's the low down :

    • the cotton batting was easy to work with
    • as you can see it does add a bit of structure but in a short time and with use the bag will become limp-ish; which is okay for this style of bag
    • the batting adds a wee bit of thickness and softness
    I don't mind that the bag will be soft and limp which is similar to the canvas bag I purchased. 

    This is what my interfacing guideline looks like ... not much but hopefully it will save me a few gray hairs

    Firstly for zakka items sewn with linen or cotton linen blends : Use a medium weight woven interfacing to help stop the edges from the linen from raveling and to give the linen structure before cutting. Then use cotton batting or polyester batting for softness.  For things like hot pads for pot handles or tea pot handles, use cotton batting and double. Skip the batting if a very natural looking bag is the desired effect. (mid-weight woven interfacing: Form Flex All Purpose (works well on most medium weight cotton fabrics or Pellon Stacey Shape Flex (SF101) which adds no thickness; just support and shape)

    Secondly for pouches : Use 987 (lightweight)  Pellon fusible fleece for structure, softness, and thickness

    Thirdly for simple totes & bags with no structure. : As a general guide: Use medium weight woven interfacing for handles & 987 fusible fleece as interfacing.

    Note: TP970 Thermolam Plus is a fleece that seems to be popular for things requiring extra padding and structure.

    I don't plan to make highly structured bags like those of Amy Butler's...because gosh darn, they're just tooo difficult for my sewing skills!

    Here are couple of links on interfacing that I liked
    Interfacing guide from Amy Butler on Sew Mama Sew
    Bag making for Newbies on U-handbag (this one has pictures of different style bags along with the type of interfacing to use)

    Happy Sewing !

    "Deer" Friend Embroidered Pouches

    Hello. I had a computer catastrophe a couple of days ago...I had to do a 'hard reset'.  Need I say more?  Everything in the hard drive was lost..sob...all my pictures, documents, a recipe collection for my little niece's cookbook that I was planning on putting together this weekend....sob.  This is my first experience of this sort ... I guess it was inevitable that it should happen.  Lesson learned : backup backup backup!

    On a good note though...I had fun making what I call my 'deer' friend pouches.  I guess you could say they were partly made in China because I did the some of the embroidery on a 4 hour bullet train ride from Shenyang to Harbin and in hotel rooms.

    "Deer" Friend & Bluebird
    Bluebird Closeup

    "Deer" Friend in Pink & Cho-o (Butterfly)
    "Deer" Friend in the Garden
    I like embroidery work.  I find it calming.  Unlike sewing; when the machine acts up at times; garbling up threads or sewing unevenly or laughing at me when I wrestle with the #$!%#&  zipper. Haha

    The deer is a "greeting farm" rubber stamp image.  This company makes the cutest rubber stamps.  At one time they sold an Edward stamp (the Twilight saga guy).  So cute.

    The pouches will be in my etsy shop.

    ...till my next post...

    Felting Anyone?

    Do you felt?  I have felting supplies...and books...but my attempts at felting is at best....just a clumsy ball of wool yarn.  Oh but I still will buy a book if the pictures themselves delight my eyes.

    I mean .... look at the cover of this book ... doesn't it simply "tickle your kawaii bone?"

    ...and oh my lord...all the projects are sooooo kawaii that I wanted to take a pic of them all! your kawaii bone making you giggle yet?  Well, take a look at HARPO.  Isn't he a hoot?!?

    Man oh man, I really have to learn how to felt.  Anyone up for a felting craft house? LOL.

    Kutsu Bag Tutorial & Interfacing Challenges

    I started on a serious sewing adventure from last year.  Today, there are 3 sewing challenges that still stress me out...big time.  1) Attaching Zippers  2) Top Stitching a straight line 3) Choosing the right interfacing

    Of the three, choosing the right interfacing is the stress winner.  "Scrambled" is the best word to describe how my brain feels after reading blogs and books on the subject.  In each writing there is usually one common note that is; working with interfacing comes with experience.

    So I decided on an interfacing experiment with this one bag project using a cotton linen blend fabric. If you have any suggestions...pul-leeze (please) share ~~ thank you.

    This is my first experiment : Using Fusible Fleece Pellon 973F : For some reason this pellon does not show up in any meaningful results in google search and is not on the Pellon site.  Why oh Why??  I'm starting to stress.  ( The 987F Pellon may be similar; described as adding a 'lofty' look and feel to a bag.)

    For this project, I'm making a Kutsu Bag. In Japanese, "kutsu" means "shoes".  My guess is that children in Japan use these bags to store their shoes in school.  But this kawaii styled bags are too cute for just shoe storage ! 

    Kutsu Bags are popular in Japanese craft books

    My Finished Zakka Inspired Kutsu Bag

    Zakka Inspired KUTSU BAG TUTORIAL

    This is a basic tutorial for a Kutsu Bag.

    Step 1: Prepare Fabrics
    • Exterior Fabric for Top : Cut one piece 18" by 8.5" Plus Fusible Fleece
    • Exterior Fabric for Bottom : Cut one piece 18" by 3.5" Plus Fusible Fleece
    • Lining : Cut one piece : 18" x 12"
    • Long Strap : Cut one piece : 12" x 4" ( a little small; perhaps 14" or 16" is better) Plus Light Weight Fusible Interfacing )
    • Small Pull through Strap : Cut one piece : 2.75" x 4" Plus Light Weight Fusible Interfacing Pellon 911FF
    • Attach Fusible Fleece to Exterior Top and Bottom pieces according to manufacturer's instructions and Light Weight Fusible Interfacing for straps

    • To sew seams, I simply line the presser foot along the edge and sew. 
    Step 2 : Pin and sew top and bottom pieces

    • Sew bottom and side of exterior fabric
    • Optional : Top stitch
    Step 3 : Sewing Side and Bottom Seams
    • Fold exterior piece in half so that bag width is 9".  Pin and sew side and bottom seams. 
    • If you'd like to add embellishments, do this before sewing the bottom and sides

    Step 4 : This is an optional step : Sew boxed corners

    • Press the seam open
    • Measure 1" from the tip (it's easier to find the tip if you snip the seam open to lay it flat)
    • Be sure that the seam is in the center by lining up a line from your ruler on top of the seam line to check that the fabric to the left of the seam is the same width as the fabric to the right of the seam. 
    • Draw a sewing line and sew
    • Cut off excess fabric; leaving about 1/4" 
    how the boxed corner looks from the outside
     Step 5 : Pin and Sew Lining

    •  Fold lining piece in half so that the lining is 9" in width.  Pin and sew the side (LEAVE A 2"+ GAP FOR TURNING THE BAG RIGHT SIDE OUT ON THE SIDE).  
     Step 6 : Prepare the Long Strap/Handle & Pull Through Loop/Strap

    • Fold the strap in half lengthwise and gently press to create a crease line down the middle.

      • Fold sides towards the center line
      •  Now fold sides together, pin, and lightly press
      • Top stitch along both sides
      •  Remember my stress about top stitching a straight line? As long as I can use this 1/4" zipper foot ... no problem!    

       Step 7 : Attach straps to front body; along top edge

      • Turn bag right side out
      • Find the middle of the bag
      • Fold long strap in half.  Place strap to right side of bag as shown in pic. If you like, baste the strap together to prevent slippage when sewing it to the bag. Pin long strap to front of bag (if there is front vs back to your bag). Baste stitch in place
      •  Fold short strap in half.  Attach your pull through "?" ... hmmm, I don't know what to call it...pull through "adornment" ?  It's the heart shaped thing in the pic which is actually a key ring. 
      Step 8 : Attach Lining to Front Piece

      •  Insert the front piece into the lining; right sides together and sew along the top 
      Step 9 : The Finish

      • Pull the front piece through the gap in the side of the lining
      • Sew gap
      • Top stitch along the top edge ( I didn't do a top stitch because I couldn't use the 1/4" edge foot to do this job due to the bulk from the fusible fleece; one lesson learned )
      • Lightly press your finished bag
      Notes :
      • I decided to hand sew lace trims to the bag as an embellishment
      • The fusible fleece does make for a nice, soft bag.  I like the look although the fleece did present a challenge for sewing a top stitch along the top edge  
      • For the strap, I adhered the 911FF (Mid weight fabrics used in dresses such as challis, chambray, jersey, broadcloth, linen) on the entire piece. This made for a really thick, stiff handle because of the fold.  I think the next time, I'll add the interfacing to half of the strap to minimize the thickness for this particular project.
      The great thing about simple bags is that there are many ways of making it your own. 

      • Change up this bag by making it in one piece instead of 2 (top and bottom for exterior), 
      • Add an embroidery design, ribbons, patch, buttons ...
      • For the straps, use cotton or nylon webbing or leather
      • I used a key ring heart ring for the pull through. Heavy plastic rings, metal rings or d-rings are other options.  But other options are to 1-make the handle strap longer; sew the handles in as you would a handbag  2-form a loop with the short strap for a pull through 
      • Instead of boxed corners leave the corners as is or sew rounded corners
       Next week I'll try this bag again with another interfacing option.  Till then...aloha

      Oishii : A Most Delicious Banana Bread with Blueberries

      Man cannot live on bread alone..but I think this most delicious Banana Blueberry Bread may be an exception.  It's filled with the goodness of bananas, toasted walnuts, coconut flakes, and those blueberries that I ran to market for yesterday; not to mention butter and sugar.

      My picture doesn't do the bread justice.  One of my resolutions this year is to improve my photo taking.  It's damn hard to take a nice pic...really it is.  This pic is too 'forced'... the look and feel isn't natural compared to the beautiful pics on the noble pig website of the same banana bread.  Yumminess oozes from her pictures doesn't it? 

      The Hungry Housewife's Banana Bread
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon table salt
      1/2 cup butter, room temperature
      1 cup granulated sugar
      2 eggs
      4 very ripe bananas, mashed
      1/3 cup buttermilk (okay to substitute with 1/3 cup milk + 1 tsp white vinegar; let it sit for 5 min+)
      1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
      1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
      1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed), plus a handful for sprinkling on top
      1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

      Toast the walnuts: place in large skillet over medium heat and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Usually around 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

      Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

      Cream together butter and sugar until white and fluffy; about three minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture alternating with buttermilk.  Start and end with dry ingredients.

      Stir in mashed bananas, coconut, vanilla, 1 cup blueberries and walnuts. 

      Lightly grease or line with parchment two 8 x 4 loaf pans.  Fill both pans with batter; top with a handful of blueberries.

      Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a slight amount of crumbs on it.

      I just had another piece while writing this post...the bread is so moist and tender. I can't until tomorrow to have another one (due to weight problems; my banana bread intake is rationed to one a day).  sigh.

      My Heart Belongs to Mr Darcy

       I started the day with a plan.  First on the list, preparing fabric for zipper pouches.  Next, finishing fabric bookmarks started over the weekend for today's blog post.  My morning started with the usual general cleaning with swiff-ing and mopping the floors.  After that was done, I went into the kitchen to prepare my breakfast.  That's when my plan went poof.  I had this sudden urge to clean the kitchen.  Why this morning?  Why can't it wait till later?  But I just couldn't help myself.  I de-cluttered the counters and wiped everything down. Then a bunch of bananas set my emotions to bake mode.  Thank goodness there were no blueberries so I could do a bit of sewing before...going to the market to buy blueberries.  I need help.

      I didn't get to the pouches (surprise!) but I did finish my weekend project.. HEART SHAPED bookmarks with quotes from Mr. Darcy's proposals to Elizabeth. 

      double swoooon
      The bookmarks will be my etsy shop by this weekend.  Hopefully I'll have the urge to sew, sew, sew. I can only hope.