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    the woes of packing

    (The existence of this video is proof of why many things I set out to do just don’t get done at all.)

    There is mess and destruction EVERYWHERE!!

    Help meeeeeeeee.


    another birthday another bathing suit








    tokyodress31. Strolling along Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii (!!!!!)
    2. Panoramic shot of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu.
    3. This is what you look like after you swim with a school of fish in Hanauma Bay. AMAZING.
    4. Me in front of the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which is one of the largest temples in Japan. Want a fun fact? We got here by accident. The cab driver dropped us here instead of our hotel….which is why I’m pictured at the temple entrance with my luggage. So frankly I still have yet to visit the grounds. Talk about lost in translation.
    5. Apparently this is the best place to go for fresh Unagi (Eel) !!
    6. Me in my latest handmade look on these Japanese streets!
    7. Front + back look at Simplicity pattern #2222, version B.
    8. Closer details of buttons, drawstring enclosure + pockets.

    Since embarking on my third decade of existence, it seems like every birthday I get the recurrent itch to spend a few days as a clothing minimalist choosing to strictly live in only cute bikini tops + bottoms. This also means giving up real shoes, everyday life stresses and my usual concerted effort to avoid terrible tan lines and the overall process of natural skin-darkening in general. I think my back JUST finished peeling, and if I dropped trou right now I am totally the Coppertone girl doppleganger. I spent 3 full days in Hawaii tanning and catching sand between my toes (and other crevasses) for a living.

    I am 31, and I have no regrets.

    And I actually got in the water. Like, I didn’t just dance along the coastline and let those baby waves cover my shins this time. With some major coercing from the fellow pictured above I went rolling in the deep. Er, more like wading on a floater board that is. I’m so in love with the ocean, but it’s a beautiful force I’m deathly afraid of. It’s something about viewing the world as merely a head above water and all that is visible to you is endless sky stacked on a layer of endlessly unsettled water with no ounce of land cut in between because it’s mysteriously hiding somewhere far below your feet. Even the smallest wave becomes your own personal giant that can reel you far from the shore. The same shore where those people you recall who were your size now look a like a collection of ants on a sandy ledge.

    Yep. That doesn’t sound unsettling at all.

    But I didn’t come all the way to paradise to stop living. The next day we went snorkeling and even with a florescent life preserver I was terrified too. Did you know they have prescription goggles for blind folks like me??!! I was so impressed. All the while I wanted to breath through my nose, and I sincerely panicked when water seeped through my equipment a few times. But I did the whole little mermaid thing. Not to mention the romantic swimming hand-in-hand thing (he’s going to kill me for this, lol). These awful tan lines were not earned in vain I tell you.

    Then onto Asia. This marks my 3rd time back to Japan. My Japanese tongue is still underwhelming. I told a hotel cleaning staff person ‘good evening’ at 8 in the morning. Oh well, I do try.

    We spent two hurried and rainy nights at a hotel in Narita, which is the enclave nearest Tokyo airport. Japan is 19 hours ahead of Hawaii, so we lost a day and gained more jet lag. Determined not to be total bums, we managed to get a nice dinner out and some drinks in the city before his journey back to base in southern Japan and my 12-hour flight back to Houston.

    I made this outfit in time for my birthday, so it would’ve been a total waste if I didn’t wear it out on the town. As with most shorter dress patterns, the skirt is always a bit TOO short for my taste. It’s my *ahem* backside. Other than that I think it turned out pretty awesome! I initially had other plans for this fabric, but this romper-style option from my pattern stash with racer-back detail AND pockets was too good to pass up. Not to mention a quicker project to sew overall.

    Getting older is supposed to be terrible I think, but I couldn’t be happier about my 30s so far. Goals for next birthday definitely include going to another amazing beach, but not being as terrified of the water next time. So I guess the first step is learning how to swim beyond doggie-paddling and the deadman’s float in a regular pool.

    And I’d also like to learn a little bit of French. Is that totally random?

    I’m okay with that.



    Why I’ll never be the Beyoncé of sewing + DIY


    I’ve tried, really. Like for the past few years I’ve beat myself up about not being super consistent with my sewing projects and new content for this site. But truth is….

    1. I’ve got a job that requires mucho travel
    2. When I am home I often just want to take off my bra, watch an episode of The New Girl, and just exist in one place on the bed.
    3. Sometimes I just don’t feel motivated (ie. I don’t want to touch my sewing machine)
    4. I told you all upfront – I am a LAZY perfectionist
    5. I have 24 hrs in my day, but I’m very much convinced Beyoncé has at least 48

    I have to come to grips with the fact that I’m not the long lost overseas member of the By Hand London sewing babe clan and frankly will never be. I do, however, sew really cool stuff sometimes. I’m also really bad about creating/following through with new DIY tutorials. I don’t know why I’m that way and other folks can seem to churn them out like it ain’t no thang, but I’m just tired of stressing out about it all.

    Stressing out to the point that I really considered just shutting down my blog altogether.

    I won’t though. (You can thank my mama for that)

    I’m saying all this to get it off my chest. I’m saying all of this because I’m the type of young woman that always puts undo pressure on herself. I just want to be wonderful and on-top-of-it-all on everything I do – I always have. I partly feel like my job as a flight attendant is an awesome opportunity, yet a dead-end and several notches below my degree. And I just wanted something to supplement my creative talents (such as this blog) and I feel like it’s just another thing I’m failing to follow through with.

    There. I said it.

    But it needs to be said. And I’m saying all of this because maybe someone feels something similar. And no one says things or admits things like that. Not aloud they don’t.

    And frankly, my job is just fine. And my degree is an accomplishment I’ll never forget. And at the end of the day, I just need to relax and give myself a break!

    So. The blog goes on. But I have no idea when or how often I’ll be posting. You never know you guys. I could totally do it up Bey-style one of these days and drop 7 new DIY videos in one day when you’d least expect it.


    And just know I may post about randomness not related to DIY stuff at all. Sometimes I just wanna say a few words about my hair, lol. I mean, it’s my little space that I pay a small yearly fee on the internet for.

    And that’s just that. xo

    P.S.– Unfortunately, I’m unable to disable the comments for this post on my blogging app. But please, do not write any comments on this entry. Just really wanted to put my thoughts out there. I appreciate it, thanks!


    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