sewing tip #2: using the floor as a measuring tool


Totally not kidding here. I have used this quirky method numerous times while out shopping for fabric. I’d say this tip is actually another ode to architecture school; using everyday objects around you to get an idea of scale.


If you have ever looked at a photograph of someone that was really difficult to gauge their height or maybe couldn’t figure out how big a painting was in the picture, it helps to try to pinpoint another object in the photo that you are very familiar with the typical dimensions of. This could be a standard mailbox or a bike, for example. By comparing what you do know alongside what you don’t, you get a real idea of how large or small the object in question is. That is scale.

Here’s a fabric related example. Have you shopped online for fabric and ever often noticed how many online retailers will photograph their printed fabrics with a coin set on top of them? This too is used to give you an idea of the scale of a fabric pattern they’re trying to sell. Sure, it’s hard to tell the size of a polka-dot print fabric you can’t see in person, but you know exactly how big a quarter is. Knowing this, you can make a pretty good guess how large or small those dots are. Still, it’s always a smart idea to order a swatch of fabric reasons beyond pattern size.

Anyway, I really want to talk about the floor (floor tiles, specifically) and the idea of using existing things around you to aid in measurement.

I don’t know about you, but I never think to bring a tape measure with me to the fabric store. Most of us wouldn’t, right? But sometimes I grab a fabric bolt that doesn’t appear to have much left on it and I’d really like to know how much yardage is remaining before I stand in that insanely long line to the cutting table. Other times I will grab a cute fabric wrapped on a ridiculously long, unlabeled cardboard tube…..but how long IS it though?!?

I’ll help you out.

Most large chain craft stores like JoAnn Fabric, Hobby Lobby, and others, have the same generic white-speckled floor tiles which are measured at 1’x1′ (or 12″x12″). A single yard of fabric is 36″ (inches) in length, which equals 3 of these white tiles. I’ve simply rolled out the fabric bolt above the floor just to get an idea of the yardage I need for a project. You may think this is silly, but it has saved me on a number of occasions at these stores.

Watch and learn, kids.


Amazed yet? Probably not. But my sewing project tip #3 still awaits!

Have a great rest of your week, friends.

sunshine, tan lines + foolishness


c rowley muslin

1. I never believed in love at first sight until I saw this fabric. Smitten.
2. Muslin fabric practice pattern pieces for above dress (Simplicity #2250 by Cynthia Rowley) + nearly-but-not-quite-finished-yet baby romper (Simplicity #1594 by Cynthia Rowley, again).

I’m loving being 30. I didn’t quite mean to begin the post here, but hey, why not? I’ll be 31 in a few months and it feels good to not be afraid of that. It just takes a while to get comfortable in your own skin; to be honest and proud of what you personally have to offer the world. You keep getting more steady with your thoughts and opinions, and more accepting of those personal “flaws” – which seriously aren’t flaws at all. 

I bring this all up because I’ve been following Sarai’s Wardrobe Architect blog series. She opens up and encourages us seamsters to honest with our personal style and unique needs when creating our own wardrobes. What hooked me in was the mention of buying a fabric, making a garment, and realizing that it’s not really YOU at all. It’s like you just get caught up in a pattern or fabric without even really looking at if it really suits you. As a result, very few have ever been worn again after the first photo op. That’s me all day. I mean, why do I have so many unused fabrics in my stash? My ultimate goal would be to sew more and buy less. Sewing already grants you the unique opportunity to take fashion choices beyond the department store racks, so why not create an actual wardrobe that would reflect my own core style?

First personal clothing project of the year will be this dress. No more snow. No more layers. No more polar vortex. YASSSSSSSS sunshine and tan lines!

Although I hate doing practice runs for garments, I really want to get this right. I’d like to wear this out more than once this summer and next. I think the sweetness of the dress mixed with the abstract/semi-ethnic vibe of the fabric will pull together a nice bohemian-chic look.

I’ll also be making a vintage bra top with the leftover fabric (I bought 2.5 yds).


HA! And how do I explain this foolishness? Well, my fellow is stationed in Japan for the Navy. Sometimes I’ll send him random life video snippets just because. So here’s me in the employee parking lot at the crack of dawn enjoying my last minutes of freedom before a trip. (And looking around to see if anyone has caught me!)

Sewing Tip #2 up next! Have a great weekend friends 🙂

uncommonly good sewing project tips – let’s start with #1


I’ve had a few tips up my sleeve for some time now and since this is mostly a DIY blog, I figured I should start sharing a few already.

Let me just say that it’s totally okay if you don’t know how to sew at all. I always feel that posts like these make people that may be new to the subject, but may possess a true interest, to feel like any tip mentioned will automatically go over their heads.

Relax – it won’t!

The best way to learn about sewing (and most things) is to jump right in. I personally started collecting a few patterns and picking up some sewing-related tools long before I actually learned how to sew. Like, before I got the courage to un-box my machine from the previous five Christmases before that. If you have any interest in sewing and fabrics, these tips should prove quite useful to you going forward. If anything, you’ll be much more knowledgable than I was when you decide to really start on your own.

So without further ado, my first helpful sewing project tip is to use a roll of butter paper for tracing commercial sewing patterns.

tracingpaper2Tracing a commercial pattern with a 18″ x 50 yd sketch paper roll

 “Butter paper?” You ask.
I know. Consider this insider tip stolen straight from inside the studio walls of architecture school. No tuition fees required.

You. Are. Welcome.

tracingpaper3Pieces of Cynthia Rowley baby pattern, version B.

Before you start getting hungry, let’s first talk a sec about commercial patterns. These are envelops that are packed with pattern pieces (of various size) that are printed on thin sheets along with a set of instructions for sewing garments, home furnishings, and accessories. The finished look of the item and its variations are printed in color on the front of the envelop for your reference.

There are patterns you can buy from most local box-store craft retailers that include, but are not limited to, Simplicity, Vogue, McCalls, Burda, Butterick, etc. There are also indie patterns that are usually found at select specialty fabric and sewing shops in your area and/or online that are ship-ready or available in PDF (Colette Patterns, By Hand London, Megan Nielsen, Deer and Doe, etc.) Most of my current pattern collection is made up of the former since they are easier to get my hands on at such a deep discount (usually between 99 cents to $4). However, the indie pattern folks that I mention above are really great about having helpful sew-alongs on their popular patterns, and it’s pretty darn cool to see lots of seamsters around the world wearing their finished projects!

Regardless of where you source your patterns, for the love of all that is awesome DO NOT CUT YOUR ORIGINAL PATTERNS! Tracing is definitely the way to go. Why?

  • Save yourself some money. If you cut out a particular size, your pattern is DONE for. What if you actually needed the next size up instead? What if you decide 4 months from now that you want to make that one dress pattern in version B for your sister too? Oh well. Looks like you’ll need to buy that same pattern again, provided it’s still available. (Womp womp)
  • Speaking of next sizes – what if you needed to modify a certain area like the waist, hip or bust? Or maybe you wanted to alter a part of the pattern in your own design? Yeah. Good luck with that.
  • I think it’s safe to say that commercial pattern tissue paper is just flat out terrible. So easy to tear and wrinkle.

So that’s why I suggest using “butter paper” which is just the name our profs would kick around in reference to this special roll of thin tracing paper that we would use for our floor plan/building design sketches. The roll comes in a varying lengths and is usually found between off-white to yellow hues (hence the nickname “butter”) from the art store. It was great for layering sheets for jotting ideas, developing sketches, and so easy to quickly tear off sections using a ruler.

Allow me to show you in 20 seconds just how easy you can neatly tear these sheets.

Other things to consider:

  • You get to keep an original collection of patterns. I literally have over 100 patterns in my stash and a few discontinued patterns that are still good as new. These are all worth saving, and I hope to pass these down one day to anyone that carries the interest. Fashions always come back around!
  • Working with a tracing paper roll is so much easier than individual sheets. I’ve always hated the tissue paper, so early on I used to buy large artists pads of tracing paper to use. That proved to be a grand headache too since I had to tape so many sheets together to trace over a large pattern piece. I find that many pattern pieces for garments tend to be longer than they are wide, so having the roll does help cover everything nicely without having to do much taping (or any) of tracing paper sheets together. I personally recommend purchasing no shorter than an 18 inch roll. The 24″ and 30″ are awesome too (you won’t have to tape ANYTHING), but I feel that an 18″ is just fine, a little cheaper, and lasts super long. If you find you need more coverage for a particular pattern piece, just roll out a new sheet of tracing paper, butt the new sheet to the top of the original sheet and tape them together with regular invisible tape.
  • Pinning the sketch paper to your fabric is painless and much easier to cut around than commercial pattern paper.
  • Not quite as flimsy as the “tissue paper” patterns and you can see through to the original patterns with no problem while tracing.
  • You can write extra notes for yourself.
  • Can also be ironed on low setting if has been folded from storage.
  • If you dare to tackle the millions of overlapping lines included on the pattern inserts in Burda Magazine, you will most definitely need this tracing paper roll to transfer the pieces on.

tracingpaper4Just look how nicely this paper pins to the fabric!

It’s a total win-win in my book. And after saying all that if you still don’t believe me you can just check out these other reviews. I actually had no idea that there were a lot of other home sewers that were already using it for the same!

This is just the first, and I hope that it proved at least a bit helpful to ya. Just a heads up – sewing tip #2 is downright odd, but is pretty darn helpful when buying fabrics at the store.

making coasters with fabric scraps







step6Aaaaaaand done 😉

Not too bad, right? I love these coasters! Not only have they proven useful, but they are a cute addition to my coffee table and have been a unique conversation starter with guests. These could also make great housewarming gifts for friends too!

Any questions or comments you may have regarding this tutorial, please leave in the comments below.

mama needed a break!




coastersfin21. One of the patterns I picked up on sale these last few days. Along with Simplicity 1590, 1425, 1426, 1607, S0507, and 1666. But this is the first one I plan to work on ASAP for my preggo bestie that is due in 3 weeks.
Who doesn’t love 5 patterns for $5 sales?

2. Finally assembled this FREE bed set that I scored from a flight attendant pal who’s moving back to San Fran soon. She just wanted to be rid of it. It’s been sitting in my room in pieces since early December.

3. I’ve been on a real serious no sugar/no alcohol kick lately. Went strong for a solid 40-something days (lent style)
Watermelon margarita though? Ummm…………

4. My fav restaurant/bar in Sasebo, Japan that I’ve visited many times has these unique handmade fabric coasters for guests, and this gave me the idea to make a set for my own place. I have so much scrap fabric saved AND I needed coasters for my coffee table. To me, coasters never seem worth it to buy no matter how inexpensive they are.  I made these and are so very happy with them. AND I HAVE AN EASY TUTORIAL FOR YOU THAT IS SCHEDULED TO POST IN A FEW DAYS!!!!! That’s right. I’m giving you a cute and real-life use for your scrap fabrics.
You. Are. Welcome.

IIIIIIIIIIIIIII have been working so darn much. Like basically ever since I’ve come back from Japan again (a few days before Christmas) I’ve been hardly getting a real 2 days at home. And these past few weeks I’ve been working out of Minneapolis, so every freezing cold small town you can think of (Brainerd, MN or Williston, ND or South Bend, IN just to name a few) I was being thrown to. This go-go-go had really been catching up with me. Tired all the time and just slower-than-usual getting back to people that I care about. But I’ve just had 6 glorious days of peace at home and on the ground!! I’m feeling so much better again, and hopefully I can focus more next month on the things that I enjoy at home.

I’m starting a 4-day trip tomorrow, but I definitely am looking forward to updating and sewing more. First up, this scrap fabric coasters tutorial in a few days. I promise!


another use for bed sheets

20140208-123229.jpgbefore + now after

20140208-123238.jpgtaking measurements + making plans

Processed with VSCOcamdiscounted sheets + prepping the first curtain panel

Processed with VSCOcamI embellished the existing embroidery detail on the top sheet by adding my own hand-beaded trim.

Been living here almost 2 years and of course I’d wait til the last 6 months of my lease to put up some curtains. It’s not like I haven’t tried this once before when I ordered a d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r curtain from Urban Outfitters (they were supposed to look like THIS *angry face*). Although I was so undecided about what color or pattern I wanted to dominate probably the most important wall of my entire living space, ultimately I think I was just super hesitant to put holes in the wall.

Sad? Maybe. But I’m pretty sure I’m couldn’t be the only renter that has had this fear. Whatever. There’s a Lowes hardware store down the street, so I’ll just deal with that issue in six more months.

My curtain wish-list was for two panels that had to touch the floor. I was going for long + elegant. I also decided against a busy print since I wanted them to easily compliment my existing handmade throw pillow.  So I figured they would be more solid, but NOT boring. I found the perfect curtains at Bed Bath + Beyond, but they were $109….I just couldn’t do that. And looking for enough lightweight upholstery fabric was much to expensive by the yard (even with a coupon). If I was willing to make them, how could I get that much fabric in the specific color I wanted?

That’s right. Bedding.

At a discounted retailer I purchased 2 sets for around $12 each, and all I really needed out of each set was the flat sheet. Honestly I could’ve purchased just one set, but I wanted them lined in a contrasting color. But if I wanted to make other throw pillows or just wanted extra pillow cases for my own bed, now I have plenty!

Here’s a good sew AND no-sew tutorial to follow if you’d like to make your own curtains out of bed sheets.



I only spent 4 nights at home the entire December. My last month of the year began at 72 degrees in Palm Springs, CA.

Middle of December – back to Japan (yes, again!)
I’ve got my reasons. It’s a four-letter word that rhymes with ‘dove’. I’ll leave it at that!



A white Christmas and late plane in Hancock, Michigan. Middle of the month was bliss, but my Christmas & New Years alike was anything but. Delays, cold weather, angry passengers and more delays!

After an exhausting month, I am totally welcoming 2014 with open arms! I miss you all. I miss my sewing machine. And I miss sleeping in!

Duty may call in the morning, so more later! xoxo

death of a macbook + birth of a new project

kc1 kc2DIY circle scarves I made for 3 lucky new email subscribers for the launch
of my new natural hair site, Kinked & Coiled!

First let’s all bow our heads and acknowledge the bad news *sigh* My dear, dear Macbook. So many good times we’ve had. So expensive you were are. You can never be replaced (mostly because I just can’t afford you right now, or maybe ever again).  Although all of the hundreds of pictures, music, and other data files are now lost, your last remaining bill payments continue to live on with me every month. But you lived a good life. 5.5 Mac years is like 92 in human years. I can only hope we can soon meet again on the other side (i.e. I hope some Apple store Genius can save my data!!)

R.I.P. Macbook (2008 – 2013)

That’s merely part of the reason why this update comes so late. Lately I’ve working on my mom’s old laptop that doesn’t like being moved, breathes hard, suffers from perpetual hot flashes, and has to permanently stay attached to the wall. If this one dies in my care, I just don’t know WHAT I will do. But I throw those complaints mostly in good fun. I’m more than thankful for the use of this machine!

Not backing up your data is a hard lesson, but I just gotta move on. Right before it died I had the idea to begin an email newsletter about my kinda hair – very kinky, coily, textured in nature. I always feel great writing thoughts + sharing my ideas in post on here, but I also wanted to write about something that I was genuinely interested in learning more about – my own hair. And to anyone that has always managed their “natural” God-given hair type since birth, I just know that sounds rather silly. I’ve chemically straightened my hair for so long, all I know is how to deal with straight hair. But when you’ve now got something to deal with that is closer to a Brillo pad than a horse’s tail in texture, the learning curve is steep. I just know I’m not alone in that.

So lately I’ve been doing much research, collecting my thoughts, and making circle scarves for the official launch of If you are interested at all, definitely sign-up or at least check it out 🙂

Last order of business to mention is Thanksgiving! I was lucky enough to get the day off this time since I spent the holiday alone in Milwaukee last year. I told my mom that I would let her off the hook and cook the entire spread myself. She is very grateful. I, on the other hand, am very scared. What have I done?? The fam has already been warned that this will not be a grand affair. And since I actually work a flight to Charlotte, NC + back today, my lack of prep time is scarier and scarier.

Alas, here’s the menu I’m planning:

Of course I got bread rolls, the cranberry sauce, and maybe I’ll bake off a few sweet potatoes for good measure. But that’s it! I’ll definitely share how it goes, but let me know your plans/how it turned out in the comments. I’d love to hear it.

Happy Thanksgiving you guys 🙂

so maybe i got back from japan a week ago

naritaFlying into Narita aiport (Tokyo, Japan)

It’s a small world until you sit on a plane for 13 hours sitting as an uncomfortably captive time traveler. I’m too cheap to swipe my card for in-flight entertainment, even for a travel so long. I had stayed up the entire night before my departure day and kept my goal intact – remaining sleep to reduce jet lag and peek up at the interactive flight map every now and then just to see how much longer until we arrived. But even with a few good naps, you just can’t cheat time.

Just realize that these are the opposite of complaints though. 18 days were spent taking in a new country and language, spending more life than you’d think on public transportation (even the old folks play portable handheld games to pass the extra time), lots of pantomiming to communicate, discovering Chu-his in all of their wonderful varieties, LOTS of noodles + sushi, and last but not least – my first squatter toilet experience.

Which, after checking out the above link, I realize that I totally used it backwards the 3 times I used it.
But I mean whatever, right? I MADE IT WORK.


akihabara2Three perfect days in Tokyo. Akihabara during the day + night.

But before you shudder at the thought of squatting into a porcelain hole in the floor, I mean how nasty are usual restrooms right? I usually squat and hover anyway in public restrooms, but obviously not as low of course (TMI?) They are arguable considered more sanitary because you are not sharing bare-booty germs with another person. Plus you get a workout out of the deal.

Please realize I’m not an advocate, I’m just saying.

Actually bidets are more prevalent there though. Friends, this is a toilet that is plugged into the wall. And they’ve got mad features such as controlling the pressure of the *ahem* water stream (it’s optional to use, but I was terrified every time), electronic flushing or other more “pleasant” sounds to mask “other” sounds, a seat warmer, and an air freshener. Sometimes they have a sink included on top (where the tank is) that dispenses water when flushed so you can wash your hands immediately. It’s not gross. In fact it’s eco-friendly and smart, especially seeing as though toilet water is actually potable (or drinkable). My architecture background taught me that.

But, thank the heavens it is clean water! Because I used a bidet toilet in a public restroom around day 12-13 of my visit, and I had convinced myself that I would try once more to use the feature. It was at nice coffee shop connected to an even nicer office building. So after business was done, I adjusted the stream to a med-low setting and hit the Go button. But something in me didn’t want to do it anymore, so I quickly shot up and looked down at this apparatus that was slowly peeking out from the back of the bowl. Pants down and no longer committed to this decision, I panicked and before I could figure out what picture icon could be the Cancel button, water shoots up as I furiously try to dart backwards in the stall. Yeah, of course there’s nowhere to go though right? Bidet water on the floor, some on my shoes, and dribblings on my jeans. This was straight I Love Lucy style. But I washed my hands, grabbed my purse and my dignity and told not one soul when I went back into the coffee shop.

This wasn’t the highlight of my trip, but is it fair to admit that it kinda blew my mind? And like who else is going to give you the dirty details like me.

Exactly. So you can thank me later when YOU visit Japan.

saseboOverlooking the neighborhood from the apartment I stayed at in Sasebo.


japan5Westerners Bar (all senior lady bartenders in cowgirl gear!)

japan6Sasebo, Japan (Naval Base)

This is where I end up spending most of my time. Sasebo is a definitely a slower pace than the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and other major cities in Japan. It’s also home to a U.S. Naval base that I was able to visit. It was just so strange to step over base lines and feeling like being in little America. Obviously everyone on base speaks English, they’ve got their own movie theater and a few popular American chain restaurants (the last time I’ve eaten Taco Bell was in Japan!), and their major box-type store even carried black hair care products. That last fact alone was awesome, because it’s not like I was going to find them anywhere else!

I met some really great people. Some of which I could successfully talk to, and others I could not. But I did learn a few basic Japanese words to use along with my arsenal of over-exaggerated, yet universal, facial expressions. I had morning/midday/evening greetings, please, thank you, and water DOWN. That’s about as far as I got. But just as it’s fairly common to learn Spanish as a second language here in school, it’s the same there for English so many people are pretty darn helpful. Lots of menus have at least some English translation, and many restaurants I came across had plastic food displays of the meals offered on the menu in the windows along with prices.

So, I’ll just stop there. It’s just getting so long, and I could definitely ramble on more about it all. If there’s anything specifically you want to know though, even if it’s more about bathroom stuff, don’t hesitate to ask! I seriously had an AMAZING time, and I actually wanted to extend my stay. I would recommend to anyone to visit there and create your own adventures, because I definitely plan to go back someday. My wanderlust is just getting started.


length check


Excuse the poor quality of pics, but I definitely remember promising a hair pic or two before I left. So, here it is.

On to the airport. Later!