These two beautiful ladies is Chie from VivatVeritas and Kayo from Crochetie, both of them are also Burdastyle members and both have etsy shops: Chie’s shop and Kayo’s shop. You should check them out because they make the cutest dresses and accessories!
Anyway, I just met them today in Asakusabashi, it is another district in Tokyo with large selection of craft and bead stores. Some of the stores sell wholesale so the prices are quite cheap. We had lunch in an Indian restaurant before walking around the area. Then Kayo showed us several of her favorite shops there and at the end of the day, each of us went back with something in our hands. Shopping is fun!
We took these pictures near the station, I feel so small standing beside these two ladies! Thank you for the lovely day, Chie and Kayo!
Indian curry for lunch
Do you recognize these bags? Yes, on the right side is my bag, and the pretty bag with rosettes is Yoshimi’s bag! They were sitting together side by side on a wooden bench inside an Indonesian restaurant in Shinjuku.
Yoshimi and I spent a day together last Saturday, it was a bit cold and cloudy day but I was very happy to see her! We’ve met several times before to go fabric shopping, this time we just had a good time walking around Shinjuku area.
We planned to have lunch in a deli, but then Yoshimi mentioned about Indonesian restaurant and that she never had Indonesian food before. I knew one Indonesian restaurant in the area, so we changed our plan and went to Jembatan Merah (it means The Red Bridge). We had some Indonesian curries for lunch, and I was very glad that Yoshimi liked it. It was a good decision to change the plan!
Then we walked to Takashimaya building to look at some fabrics and sewing supplies in Yuzawaya, the place was very crowded because it was weekend. We also walked to Isetan department store, I went past the building very often but had never been inside it. There was a nice macrobiotic food cafe that we found in the restaurant area and we had some delicious cake sets. Mine is baked tofu cake which actually tasted the same as cheese cake, and Yoshimi had cake with nuts caramelized in it. Very delicious! We were busy chatting that we forgot to take pictures of cakes.
Shinjuku is a very big place and it can get a bit confusing if you don’t know the way. That day, we often got lost a little bit because I’m completely useless about directions although I visit there very often. My husband really knows his way around, so usually I just follow him without thinking too much about where I am, like a puppy. Very lazy. Sometimes I even pretend that I am a puppy following him. I know, I know, it’s weird.
Anyway, Yoshimi and I had a really good time that day and we talked about so many things. Not only sewing stuff! It’s kinda funny when meeting blog friends, sometimes they know things about you that real life friends don’t. And you kinda feel like knowing them because you’ve read all their posts in the blog. Well, time runs when you’re having a good time, how very true. We met in the morning and suddenly we were saying goodbye in the afternoon. Thank you for the wonderful time, Yoshimi!
Me and Yoshimi
Made by Hand by Mark Frauenfelder
Mark Frauenfelder, the founder of BoingBoing.net and the editor in chief of Make magazine has just launched a new book yesterday: ‘Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World‘.
I had the chance to read an uncorrected proof before it was launched and it was quite an enjoyable experience. This is not the book if you’re looking for tutorials or DIY projects. It is rather a chronicle of Mark’s journey to find what DIY means to him.
Like many people, he had this romantic idea of living in remote island, and he even had the chance to fulfill it, although it didn’t work out. He also learned to raise chickens, keep a bee farm, and make cigar box guitar. The way he told his stories is so passionate that I got curious to find out whether he was finally able to make his own espresso, and I don’t even drink espresso.
It was not a journey filled with brilliant triumphs over another, but it was an honest and realistic chronicle scattered with unsolved problems, failures, struggles, and his acceptance to those failures. In a way, his journey reflects every crafter’s journey.
I have had my own share of failures, one of them is the green dress from the last post. One of the kind commenter said that I need to look at it not as a failure, but as a learning experience. How true it is! That is what DIY is all about, a learning experience. A successful project will of course give satisfaction, but a failed one still gives knowledge and experience.
I often wonder about all these DIY things and what they mean to me. I didn’t grow up up in a crafty environment. My mother is actually quite crafty, she was a wonderful seamstress and an amazingly good cook. But there was a point when her life became too busy and she probably felt easier to just stop finding time for crafts. Too bad that it happened when I was growing up. She was also really handy with things, but there were too many ‘helpers’ in the house that my mother didn’t have the chance to show how handy she was. It was easier to throw away things than to fix them.
We had servants, gardeners, drivers, and guards in the house. They were the ones who did things. I didn’t have to wash and iron my clothes, wash dishes, or even make my own bed. When the doorbell rang, none of the kids would react because we knew that someone would come to the door. I never had to ride on any city public transportation because the driver would take me whereever I wanted to go. I learned how to take public transportation when I was in college (!!). No, we were not filthy rich, it is just how some people live in some countries.
Naturally, I could have all the time in the world to start getting crafty. But I did nothing. I was always bored as hell but still I didn’t do anything. The problem was, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to spend time. I have never had that failures/learning experience because I have never started making anything. I was just a whiny, spoiled kid, with too much extra time and nothing to do. Without all those ‘helpers’, I was helpless. There were many craft books in the house and I’ve read them all, but I still didn’t make a single thing. I wanted too, but it felt so intimidating at that time.
Between then and now, so many things have happened. At one point in my life, I started making things by myself and for myself, and I feel so lucky that I have that point in my life. I made my first wearable item by cutting up an old shirt and using it as a pattern. If I see the shirt now, I would probably cringe at the unsightly stitches. But I can still remember the feeling when I tried to find how the pieces connect to each other. When the shirt was finished, I put it on and buttoned up (yes, it had buttons and buttonholes too!). It was awesome. I. can. make. things.
Reading Mark’s journey reminds me of my own journey. They are different of course, but the satisfaction of learning is similar. Then there’s also the feeling of control, that I’m able to decide what I can wear down to every details. I feel like I’m taking back the control of my own life. Even if it’s just an illusion of control, it still feels nice. I also began to appreciate things more, because then I realized that every single thing has a long, complicated process behind it.
I think a lot of crafters/DIY-ers share many similar things, we keep raising our own standards and becoming way too hard on ourselves. It can’t be helped, I guess. But then we also learn to accept the mistakes as part of the experience, and the learning cycle starts all over again.
I want to say thank you for all the consoling comments on my green dress. Maybe when I finished sulking about the dress, I can pretend that the mistake was a fashion statement! Or maybe I could unpick it.
Tara is one of the most popular Burdastyle pattern and yesterday I decided to give it a try. It is a top pattern, but as usual I lengthened it to make a dress. The green fabric is another vintage fabric from my mother, it is now pretty old and has a lot of little holes. As it is a traditional cloth from one of the area in Indonesia, the width and length were a bit unusual. I apologize that I can’t remember exactly what area it was from, there are really a lot of areas in Indonesia, each with their own culture and traditional cloth.
Anyway, the pattern is very simple and I really enjoyed making the dress. Everything went smoothly, I cut the fabric and start pinning and sewing. Pin and sew, pin and sew, la-di-da, la-di-dum. And a couple of hours later, I’ve got myself a pretty green dress. I made it in size 32, didn’t make any alteration other than lengthening it, and the dress fitted perfectly. I really like it although the neckline was rather low, but it was expected. Now I understand why it is so popular in Burdastyle.
I hung the finished dress on the wall, it looked very pretty there. When the night came, I lied on my bed and looked at my new dress in satisfaction. But… wait a minute! What is that? Why is the color on one sleeve different from the other? I took a step closer and inspected the dress. Then I found what was wrong with it. One sleeve has the right side of fabric, but the other sleeve has the wrong side of fabric on it!!
Spot the difference
It turned out that, in my ignorance, I just assumed that both sides of the fabric were the same, no wrong or right side. Well, it was a traditionally weft cloth, of course it has wrong side, duh! The wreck didn’t stop there, the back skirt of my dress is also sporting the wrong side of the fabric. The dress is doomed.
Now with one sleeve, I might unpick the stitches and start over. But the whole back skirt? I might just cut another fabric and start another dress! How could I do such foolishness? I’ve cut it carefully, look at all those matching stripes! Then I pinned and sewed happily (note to self: when sewing, focus on what you’re doing! No la-di-da, la-di-dum!), tried it on several times, ironed it, and it took me several hours after the dress was finished to realize that something was wrong! Aarrgh.
My husband came back from the office to find me sulking in the bedroom. I told him about the dress, “Look! Can you see what is wrong with the dress? It’s so obvious! What should I do about it?!” Realizing that he was being put in difficult position where any answer could be interpreted wrong, he took some time to inspect the dress and spoke in as soothing tone as possible. “Well, umm…, maybe you can pretend that you did it on purpose, you know, it’s the design or something?” Can I? No, no, no, that’s unacceptable.
In these pictures where I wear the dress, it might look okay. But in real life, the mistake is so obvious! Or at least in my eye it looks so obvious. I have ruined this pretty fabric. Boo-hoo.
Making a mistake is one thing, but accepting the mistake is another thing, the difficult thing. I guess I have no choice other than accepting it. That this pretty dress with perfect placement of stripes and neat topstitching in red thread, the dress that fits me oh very lovely, is so ruined. I will put it out of my sight and make another one because I love this pattern. And I will be very careful this time.
The thought kinda puts my mind at ease. At least for now. Thank you for reading my failure!
Pattern is Tara from Burdastyle.
One of the advantage of having a small body is that I only need small amount of fabric to make clothing. That way I can make use of those impulsive half-yard cut fabric shopping. These tops were whipped very quick today, the pattern is so simple, and only consisted of two pieces.
The batik top is made with leftover fabric from my tie-front dress. It has side slits with the front and back hem in different lengths. The wide stripes one is made with very comfortable double gauze cotton. The fabric is not enough to make the neck facings, so I stitched a linen tape along the neckline and just let the raw edges shown. I laid the pattern pieces horizontally and use the fabric selvedges for the bottom part, no need to stitch the hem!
I usually wear dresses and rarely wear separates like these, so these shorts and skirts were almost never worn. The funny bubble shorts were bought like 6 years ago in a small boutique in Jakarta, the skirt was bought even longer before that in Bali, and both of them still look like new. Now that I’ve got a couple of new tops, I can wear them for summer. I love how comfortable these tops are, will make more of them!
Oh and I also love my new golden oxford shoes, they are from goldenponies at etsy, so pretty and comfortable. I especially love wearing them in shiny day and watch the sunlight reflected around my feet when I walk. It almost look like I would fly in any moment!
sun on my shoes