2020 Christmas Gift Round-Up

It’s that time again! Here’s another roundup of the handmade gifts I made for family for Christmas this year. This process always starts at the beginning of the year due to that post holiday high I get after coming off of working on a Christmas show and finally having some time off come the beginning of January. But due to this disappointing year and the less than traditional Christmases I’m sure (or hope?) we’ve all had, I don’t know if I’ll feel that high come January. So this may be the end of the road for the handmade gifts for a while. Or maybe it won’t be since it seems as though we still have a long way to go before the pandemic is truly over and we can all go out safely again, leaving me with almost too much time on my hands at home to knit and sew. But I guess that’ll just be the overall theme of 2021, the unknown.

Having been quarantining in our one-bedroom apartment for the better part of a year, I didn’t really want to give up valuable real estate to a Christmas tree. So the only tree I put up this year was this wire hanger Christmas tree that I made for FaveCrafts.com. You can find the tutorial here.

Now onto the gifts!

This Free Your Fade Shawl by Andrea Mowry was gifted to my sister.

I made these Terracotta Socks by Woolfield Studio for my mom and my sister-in-law. The yarn for the socks on the left is by Toad Hollow NJ and the yarn for the socks on the right is by J.K. Fibers. I made the lavender spray using a tutorial from Public Goods and I made the lavender sachets using an embroidery tutorial by Floral Stitch. I purchased the lavender for both of these projects from Shop Asha Joy.

I made The Slacktide Socks by Larkspur Knits (formerly Lost and Fawned) for both my brother and teenage nephew. I actually made the pair on the left very early in the year and completely forgot about them. So when I dove into the bin I keep all of my handmade gifts in when it came time to wrap everything, I was surprised and relieved to find them because I didn’t have anything else for our nephew yet. They must have been made with him in mind though because they are the same colors as his favorite football team, The Eagles? I think that yarn is by Malabrigo but I can’t remember. The yarn I used for my brother’s pair on the left, though, is by Chelsea Yarns.

I made these Basecamp Socks by Fancy Tiger Crafts (free pattern!) for my father. I actually started these over a year ago for our teenage nephew but working on them wasn’t bringing me joy so they sat in a bag for a very long time. And then at some point during quarantine I figured I should finally just finish them just to get them off the needles as gift for my dad instead because shopping for him is always the hardest. However, after finishing the first sock, I cast on the second sock in a different size because it had been so long I had forgotten what size the first sock was. I didn’t feel like starting over so I just kept going because I figured it wouldn’t matter since I’d given my father socks two years in a row already and he seemed to never wear them. I wasn’t offended by this, I think he just thought they were too precious to wear. But I guess he must have REALLY liked this pair because he wore them Christmas Day. My parents dropped off gifts and food on Christmas morning and Kevin and I noticed he was wearing them tucked into the front pocket of his shirt, which we thought was funny (wish I had gotten a picture of it.) And then I found out from my mom later that he did that because he wanted to wait to put them on until they got to my brother’s because he didn’t want to stink them up 😂. I was just relieved they fit!

My best friends and I held a Secret Santa party over Zoom and I drew my friend Sara’s name. I made her these Lyne Socks by Dawn Henderson and the main color yarn is by Marianated Yarns and the contrast yarn is by Mockingbird Fiber Co.

I made this Dopp Kit by Grainline Studio for our niece.

I gifted our other niece this hand painted zipper pouch that I made for Fabric Wholesale Direct. You can find the tutorial for it here.

I made this hooded raglan sweatshirt for our baby nephew (another free pattern!) The robot print fabric is from Mood.

I made this Strawberry Sweatshirt by Sew Over it and this Animal Bonnet by Wiksten for our newborn niece.

And that’s everything! Till next time 👋

Makers Market 2020- Cancelled

Urban Sewciety has made the understandable choice to cancel their Makers Market this year. This would have been my first time vending at a craft fair so I’ll be looking forward to crossing this off my bucket list when it’s finally safe. In the meantime, please consider checking out the other vendors who were supposed to take part this year. And definitely check out Urban Sewciety for any of your sewing needs!

David Kother Wood Turning

Little Flower Essential Oil Blends

Poetic Memory Sewing

Angela Tong Designs

Stitched By Cate

Creatives By Elisa

Indigo Heights Design

Mother of Son

Laguna Bohemia

Cloud 9 Fabrics

Etsy Shop Update

Just listed these bags on Etsy but they will also be coming with me to the Makers Market at Urban Sewciety in Westfield, NJ on December 5th from 10 AM- 4 PM.

Rifle Paper Co. Zipper Tote with Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Rifle Paper Co. Canvas Zipper Tote with Front Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Liberty of London Drawstring Project Bag with Interior Pockets $65
Mustard Denim Zipper Tote Bag with Rifle Paper Co. Metallic Print Front Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Gingham Print Drawstring Project Bag $45

Makers Market 2020

If it feels safe to do so, I’ll be a vendor at the Makers Market at Urban Sewciety in Westfield, NJ on December 5 from 10 AM – 4 PM. I’ve always wanted to participate in this craft fair but was never able to do so because of work. This is the first year that I’m able to participate due to my new job (although the old job is shut down due to the pandemic anyways so…🤷‍♀️) but the excitement is a little tainted due to the fear and anxiety associated with gathering in large crowds right now. If I feel uncomfortable at all attending, I will probably back out. But in the meantime, below are some of the items I’ve been working on and if you aren’t local to NJ they can also be found on Etsy. I have several bags I haven’t listed yet so I will be updating the shop soon as well.

Canvas Zipper Tote with Rifle Paper Co. Bunny Print Front Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Jen Hewett Print Zipper Tote with Front Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Jen Hewett Print Drawstring Project Bag with Denim Bottom $35
Mustard Denim Zipper Tote with Rifle Paper Co. Floral Front Flap Pocket for Interchangeable Knitting Needles $75
Liberty of London Drawstring Project Bag with Denim Bottom $40
Notions Pouches $20

Family Heirloom Frame Upcycle

Back when my aunt and uncle moved into my grandfather’s house a few years ago, my aunt did some serious cleaning and unearthed this gem.

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Nobody on this side of the family reads Chinese but an aunt on the other side of the family was able to translate it for us. It’s basically a letter from my great grandfather to my grandmother approving of her marriage to my grandfather. Pretty cool, huh?

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I love that my aunt was able to uncover this part of our family’s history but no one in my family wanted it. Since I am addicted to frames I decided to take it but didn’t think it made sense to hang up something that I couldn’t even read. Heck, as beautiful as this is, my own grandmother never even had this hanging in her house. None of us even knew about it until the moment my aunt discovered it while she was cleaning. So I decided to convert it into a mirror using this mirror from Pottery Barn as inspiration. Can you believe how much it costs?! 😲

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I didn’t want to lose this letter entirely and there was no backing to the frame- the letter is written on fabric that is stapled inside the frame and the back is covered in paper if that makes any sense. So I began by taping off the edges of the glass in preparation for painting without removing the letter. I then lightly sanded all around the frame so the paint would adhere better. The paint I used is Americana Decor Metallics in Vintage Brass. The paint is sort of thin so it took a lot of coats to get full coverage and once I lifted the painters tape I had to touch up some spots using several coats yet again.  

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But it was worth it! I originally thought it would be easy to get a mirror cut to size for the frame and keep the letter preserved behind it. But once I discovered the letter was written onto a piece of fabric that was stapled into the frame, I switched plans because I didn’t want to have to disassemble the letter from the frame. (How else would I be able to preserve this part of my family’s history? Put it in a frame? It was already in a frame.) So I found this mirror film from Decorative Films. It is actually meant for windows but I thought it would work great for what I needed. However, I am horrible at math. I ordered this film specifically due to the good reviews and the fact that I would be able to order enough to cover all of the glass without having to piece it together…except all my math went out the window when I placed the order and I came up short going the long ways. 

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So I wound up filling in the gaps with some gold washi tape I had on hand and I think it works just fine. I couldn’t justify spending more money on a new piece of film when it already cost more than getting a real mirror cut to size at Lowe’s would have. It actually finishes the edges nicely because I got nervous when cutting the film and it came out very jagged at the ends. The film didn’t go on perfectly (there are so many bubbles!) But from some angles it looks just fine and I’ll just pretend the bubbles are patina. Who cares? This way this frame will fit in with my current decor and the letter is still intact inside for if I want to share it with future generations. 

Another one of my aunt’s lucky finds was my grandmother’s wedding dress- and just a month before my own wedding four years ago no less! I already had my own wedding dress (which was actually quite similar to this one) but I changed into it after our ceremony to recreate my grandparents wedding photo- the very marriage the letter above approved of.

As a third generation Chinese American, I am very proud of my heritage. Although, sometimes I feel very far removed from it. One thing I am grateful for is the weekly trips to Chinatown my parents took me and my siblings on growing up. This was crucial in connecting us to our roots and to this day the only words my siblings and I know in Chinese are all food related. I thought when I have children of my own one day, I would be able to take them to Chinatown as well to give them some sort of connection to their Chinese half. But now with the Coronavirus still raging on and the prejudice against Asian people attached to it, Chinatown is dying and it breaks my heart to see. One organization currently working to help struggling businesses in Chinatown is Welcome To Chinatown. I’ve already made a donation and plan on making more. I hope you will too.

And if you’re near Chinatown, an even better way to support all the businesses struggling there right now is to order food from them. My grandfather’s favorite char siu bao establishment has already shut down but hopefully we can work together to save other businesses before they are gone.

Sewing Room Tour

Over three months of sheltering in place and I finally snapped. One tutorial for turning a small folding tray table into an ironing board led to me rearranging our entire apartment to make it work better for us as this one-bedroom apartment continues to contain our entire universe.

Below is the only before picture I have of the mess because I was too focused to actually document the process.

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Much better now, right? All this was made possible by just folding up my full sized ironing board. It’s amazing how much space they can take up. Now I’ll only pull it out when I need to iron large pieces of fabric.

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I love that painted table holding my spool rack. We found it along the side of the road several years ago and freshened it up a little. I love free curbside furniture! Kevin doesn’t love it as much but we found this table the day before my birthday so he let me take it home 😝.  The tiered rolling tray is from Target.

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Cleaning up my sewing space also motivated me to finish up some long languishing projects, like these two embroidery hoops. Embroidery was a nice quiet project to work on for a few days when I didn’t know what else to do with myself.

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I copied this idea to turn a folding tray table into a small ironing board from Pinterest. The tutorials online stapled the fabric down to the table with some Insul-Bright in between but I made my cover removable like a real ironing board cover instead. Now this table serves a dual purpose. This is where I sit when I need to use my serger but if I need to iron something small, I’ll move the serger to the floor and use the table as an ironing board. The fabric for the serger cover is from Fab Scrap and I used a free pattern from Closet Case Patterns to make it.

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I put current works in progress in a small tray on top of my dresser so that they don’t get lost in the fray. Getting those baskets and hanging them from a ladder helped me clear the clutter off the top of this dresser in order to do so. It still looks cluttered but at least it’s an organized mess now!

Utilizing my closet space more effectively definitely helped a lot in terms of space. A lot of baskets and bins that I just left on the floor before now sit in here. I love this closet so much. I also moved my small dresser in here which helped make more space next to my side of the bed so that I could do this…

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I moved this armchair into our bedroom from the living room to make room for Kevin to get a new desk as he continues to work from home. I also wrote down all of the projects I’m working on and want to start working on so I can keep myself on task. I’m thinking having this armchair in our bedroom will make for a nice, cozy knitting spot for me this Fall.

Free Sewing Machine Cover Pattern

During Shelter-In-Place, my one bedroom apartment has become my entire world. Not only does it serve as my living space, it is also functioning as my husband’s office and a wardrobe room for a late night TV show. Shipping supplies are currently taking up our entry way. I’ve always used our dining table for cutting out projects but now those recreational projects are intermingled with things for work. My dress form is also now living as a different size for work purposes. Long story short, I just needed more differentiation between work and home life right now.

So I decided to finally make myself a cover for my sewing machine. And since I needed some art therapy, I also went so far as painting the fabric. My husband and I are very fortunate to be able to work from home right now but it has helped my mental health so much to be able to just throw this bad boy over my sewing machine when it’s time to call it a day…even if I’ve left the rest of the apartment a mess.

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If you are also in the market for a sewing machine cover, I’ve left the free pattern below. The tutorial will be going live on Fabric Wholesale Direct‘s blog in the near future:

Ruddy To Craft Free Sewing Machine Cover Pattern

And if you enjoy the pattern enough, might I suggest donating to one of the organizations below in return if you are able to?:

 

What I’ve Been Doing During Social Distancing

These are unprecedented times we’re living through right now. There are no hard rules during social distancing (except stay at least 6 feet away from people and wear a mask whenever you go outside!) So I’ve made a bullet point list of all the things I’ve been doing while quarantining over the past month. This way, if I have kids one day and they ask me, “Mommy, what did you do with all that time?” I can show them this list and say, “THIS IS WHAT I DID WITH ALL THAT TIME!” without having to go into too much detail. While I am not able to work right now, I am very lucky to have a job that is paying me until May 1. I don’t know what will happen after that but I’m am extra fortunate to have a husband with a job that allows him to work from home. In the meantime, I have decided it is my new job to take care of him and our friends and family as much I possibly can during this time of social distancing (this includes scheduling lots of Google Hangout activities with friends and doing my best to take care of the apartment while my husband is working.) So these are the things I’m doing to take care of myself because self-care is also very important during this time.

Works in Progress:

 

Finished Objects:

 

 

What I’m Watching:

  • Kim’s Convenience on Netflix
  • Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu
  • Flea Market Flip on Hulu
  • Community both on Netflix and Hulu
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Hulu
  • Modern Family on Hulu (very sad their series finale just aired 😥)
  • Mixedish on Hulu
  • Single Parents on Hulu
  • The Bold Type on Hulu
  • Flea Bag on Amazon Prime
  • Hustlers (rented digitally through Google)
  • Everything any late night talk show host has to offer on YouTube

 

What I’m Listening To on Spotify:

  • Trolls World Tour soundtrack (I just needed something cheerful and happy. Don’t judge me!)
  • Frozen 2 soundtrack (“Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” have me in my feelings. Don’t judge me!)
  • Dear Evan Hansen cast recording (Again, in my feelings. Don’t judge me!)
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast
  • Happy Sad Confused podcast
  • HAIM
  • Acoustic playlists (I find them soothing.)

 

Where I’ve Donated Money To:

  • Feeding America
  • Safe Horizons
  • MoveOn
  • Meals On Wheels (My grandfather received meals from them towards the end of his life, so this one is near and dear to me.)
  • Franklin Food Bank (A friend of a friend is a teacher in this school district and is very concerned about her students being fed while school is out.)
  • meals4heroes
  • Some GoFundMe to raise money to buy medical masks for hospital workers that I can’t even remember the name of let alone find a link to 😕

Local Restaurants I’ve Gotten Takeout From:

Small Businesses I’ve Purchased From Online:

 

Every Other Moment is Spent:

  • Washing my hands
  • Sleeping
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Reading Twitter and going through all the emotions (sadness, anger, joy)
  • Scrolling Instagram
  • Living in fear of grocery shopping
  • Cooking mediocre and unsatisfactory meals
  • Baking
  • Eating (while living in fear of when I’ll need to go grocery shopping again)
  • Doing dishes
  • Playing Animal Crossing
  • Looking for Lysol or Chlorox wipes online
  • Failing to find Lysol or Chlorox wipes online
  • Wishfully filling up a cart on grocery delivery websites even though there are never any time slots available

 

Hope everyone is doing OK out there!

DIY Kate Middleton Hat Band

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Back in December, my friend Rose and I got together to DIY some headbands inspired by Kate Middleton. We hope people will find this tutorial to be a nice distraction during this time of social distancing. You can find it on Rose’s blog, Royal Caffeine, here.

Let us know how we did in the comments. And if you make one of your own, tag Rose and me on Instagram so we can see it! Happy Crafting, everyone!

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Embroidered Floral Emery Dress

Around this time last year, I started working on a dress to wear to a dear friend’s wedding. Since I know what I like, I resorted to using my go-to pattern for special occasion dresses- Christine Haynes’ Emery Dress pattern. However, this time I wanted something a little different than my previous versions, which I blogged about here. My friend, Sara, had worn a really pretty embroidered floral mesh dress to another friend’s rehearsal dinner recently and I became obsessed. So I set out to find some embroidered floral mesh fabric of my own. I spent a couple of hours pricing fabric in the Garment District in NYC one afternoon after work. After going around to various stores, I finally settled on this fabric I found at Hollywood Fabrics. It was a pretty good deal at $18/yard when everywhere else was quoting me $20-25/yard. The under layer is a polyester satin from Elegant Fabrics that I think was somewhere around $10-12/yard. I would have loved to use some beautiful silk satin but it was all way out of my price range.

I started by flat lining my bodice pieces together by hand because I found the fabric to be too shifty to just pin and run under the machine.

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It probably felt like this took longer than it actually did, but I’m so glad I did this.

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Here’s the bodice all stitched up!

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Next, I attached the skirt pieces. I added 1/2″ horse hair to the hem of the under layer to make the skirt poof out just a little. It was looking a little too limp on its own.

Then I let it sit around for months because as the calendar says, it was May, and I didn’t need this dress to be finished until January. It was nice having a pretty project on hold, ready to resume work on whenever I needed a pick-me-up.

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The time for a pick-me-up finally arrived, and I decided to put the zipper in. I chose a lapped zipper insertion because this is how I always insert zippers into my dresses. I learned early on in my sewing journey that although invisible zippers look nice, they are the devil and break too easily. Working in theater, invisible zippers on ready-to-wear garments always get switched out before they even have a chance to go on stage because no one wants to deal with an invisible zipper breaking in the middle of a quick change.

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Then it sat around a little more, adorning my dress form like the eye candy it is.

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There was actually one day I was really sad and put the dress on in this state to make myself feel better. And I have to say, it really worked.

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Finally, the wedding was drawing near and I decided it was finally time to put the lining in.

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I had originally planned to add a full lining but was afraid having three layers of gathering at the waist would be too bulky and make the dress too tight. So I decided to just line the bodice as the pattern instructions called for. Also, french seams! Since the skirt and sleeve seams would be visible, I went with french seams. The bodice has regular seams since you can’t see them with the under-layer backing the mesh.

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Lastly, I added 1/4″ beige elastic to the wrist of the sleeves to make them poof a little. I felt like they looked weird without being cinched in towards the bottom.

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For the wedding, I paired the dress with these gold shoes from Anthropologie. I bought them to wear as a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding and was glad to have another use for them.

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The photo booth at the wedding was awesome! I’m glad to have this nice memento of me and Kevin looking all gussied up together since we’re usually in our pajamas around each other.

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Here I am trying to look sassy with my beautiful friends. Doesn’t the bride look gorgeous?! Her dress was custom made! These women have lifted me up since we were 5 years old and I love them all very much. So I’m including this photo in this post in honor of International Women’s Day. Happy International Women’s Day to all the fierce women out there! 👊