Book Report: Sewing Happiness!

Hi, guys! Hope you are having a lovely weekend! Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a really lovely book by a blogger that I’ve recently gotten to know and admire, Sanae Ishida. I took part in a super fun Secret Valentine’s Exchange hosted by Sanae and by Ute, a really sweet Instagram-based swap where I made a gift for Sanae and received one from Betsy. (I seriously lucked out… my gifts from Betsy were AMAZING). I did lots of snooping on Sanae’s feed to see what sort of gift she might like, and was really smitten with her clean, modern crafting aesthetic and her beautiful drawings. So when I was contacted by her publisher to take part in a blog tour for her book, I was pumped!

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well (Amazon affiliate link here and Indiebound link here) is a book of sewing projects organized by season and mood- summer (health), fall (creativity), winter (relationships), and spring (letting go). I never would have thought of my life and seasons being organized around themes, but there’s something very resonant about this idea and I can definitely see these threads woven through my sewing output each season, for sure.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The projects are simple and straightforward, with no PDFs to download or patterns to trace. They are geared towards beginners, but there’s a fun twist on the projects that make them enjoyable for people who have been sewing longer. They’re frequently inspired by Japanese design and and traditional crafts- origami and sashiko influences are particularly pretty. I am really attracted to this aesthetic and loved the sample projects and photos in the book.

What I really love about the book, though, are Sanae’s essays about her journey from an unhealthy workaholic to a balanced, healthy woman. She writes beautifully about how sewing helped her regain confidence after losing her job, and how crafting, alongside exercise and diet changes, helped her feel much better both physically and emotionally. I often try to explain to others how much joy and health I receive from handmaking, but Sanae is much more eloquent on the topic than I am! So I think this would make a great and inspiring book for the people in our lives who are curious about why we devote so much time and attention to handcrafts. I think this could inspire them to join our cult community!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I decided to make a project from the book for this post, and chose to make the cross-back apron. Oddly enough, I actually need an apron for both my jobs (dealing with dusty old furniture and gross decades-old foam at one, wrestling fake fur/fleece/glue at the other) and recently dug through my apartment trying to find my old painting smock without any luck. So I was glad for an excuse to carve out some personal sewing time to whip one up!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

I was offered fabric from Miss Matatabi for my project, and you’d better believe that I angsted for ages before finally choosing one! Her whole inventory is amazing, and I really struggled to narrow down my choices to just one. In the end, I picked this Kokka Echino linen/cotton canvas… it’s geometric, it’s got animals, AND it’s metallic? Yep! I’ll take it! (UK readers, I saw it pop up on the M is for Make IG feed the other day… here it is!).

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The apron is a piece of cake to make, but it’s also really clever- the way the straps are attached make it simple to slip over your head, and it stays in place without any annoying ties, something that I’m cautious about since I work with power tools and dangly bits on your clothes aren’t a great idea. I was suspicious that the apron would shuffle around on my body while I worked, but it’s quite comfortable and I don’t notice it at all while I’m working.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

There are dimensions given for three adult sizes, as well as four kids’ sizes (with a variation included to make the kids’ straps adjustable… smart!). I used the pocket size suggested for my size, but I split it into two pockets, which works well for holding my frequently-used tools. I took the time to match the pattern across the pocket, which always makes me smile. It’s one of those things that sets a homemade project apart from cheap RTW and I do it whenever I can.

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

The only thing I’m unhappy about with this apron is… I don’t want it to get dirty! It’s too cute to wear in the workshop!! I almost want to wear it as a dress! It makes me feel like I’m living my secret fantasy, being an art teacher 🙂

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Last but not least, I have good news! I have a copy of Sewing Happiness to give away to a reader in the US! To enter, please fill out the form here. Also, I have a Miss Matatabi gift card to give to another reader- international readers welcome! For a chance to win a $45 gift card, leave a comment below telling me your favorite fabric from Miss Matatabi (and make sure there’s a way to contact you, either through your commenting profile or in the comment itself). Contests are open until Saturday 4/30/16 at 12P EST. Good luck!!

Sewing Happiness | Ginger Makes

Bonus pug spam. 🙂

Xerea!

Hi, guys! I’m writing to you on a super sticky Saturday in New York– it’s a scorcher out there! Luckily, the sure-fire way to beat the heat, besides eating popsicles for every meal, is a new summer dress!

Pauline Alice Xerea dress | Ginger Makes

This is the Xerea dress pattern by Pauline Alice, view B. I keep telling myself that I will never buy another pattern, never ever. But somehow, despite my best efforts to stop myself, this one landed in my cart! 8 euros and 21 pages for the PDF wasn’t too prohibitive, so here we are.  Plus, a swingy, 60’s-inspired mini dress? Be still, my beating heart!

The design lines are really fun- front and back yokes, a deep inverted pleat, and cool curved pockets. Of course, these details are totally obscured by the print, but trust me, they’re there. 🙂 And lucky for me, the crazy print also hides a terrible secret… I made a huge mistake when I was cutting this out! I was squeezing the dress out of 1.5 meters of narrow fabric, and for greater efficiency, I was cutting the pieces flat instead of on the fold. I trace one half of the pattern, flip it over, and line it up with notches on the fold line before tracing the other half. However, instead of lining up second half with the CF notch at the bottom, I accidentally lined it up to the pleat line notch, so my front piece was about 2″ too narrow and was tilted off grain. Noooooo! There wasn’t enough fabric to re-cut the piece, so I had to do a crazy patch job, basically filling in the gap with scraps of fabric. Not ideal, but the mistake isn’t noticeable unless you’re close up, and everything is back on grain and hanging correctly. I’m calling it a good save and not getting hung up on the mistake! YOLO, dudes!

That topstitched seam isn’t supposed to be there… ooooops!

The pattern is a very straightforward sew. There is a small error in the pattern that’s been addressed in a new version of the PDF, but basically, the pleat line isn’t marked in the correct place. I didn’t see Pauline’s post until I had already made the dress, and I assumed I had accidentally stretched out the yoke, so I just eased the seam to fit. Next time I make this, I think I’ll do a small narrow shoulder adjustment. I usually skip them, but I should get in the habit of doing them… they definitely improve the fit of my garments.

The wind wasn’t helping me in all the pics with the back view, so it doesn’t usually hang like this, but I wanted you to see the back neckline!

Let’s talk about the fabric! Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s a cotton barkcloth from Miss Matatabi. It’s got this great texture and weight, but it’s still really drapey… perfect for apparel! There’s a pink/yellow/brown colorway on sale- you should totally buy it all so I’m not tempted to! Good work, team! You bought it all! 🙂 The fabric was a gift from the lovely Gillian… I sent her some stretch denim and she surprised me with this beautiful print! Isn’t it perfectly my style? Orange, blue, and mint? I love it! Thanks, G! Also: why is it so hard to find nice denim in Canada? What gives, dudes? And, do Canadians use the term “Canadian tuxedo” for denim on denim, or is that just a rude Americanism?

Pauline Alice Xerea dress | Ginger Makes

I know this is a simple dress and it’s basically a muumuu, but I really, really like it. It turned out just how I’d hoped! Well, with a minor detour to fix my scissor mishap! 😮 Tell me– what’s your favorite sewing pattern this summer (or winter)? Any new favorites in your collection?

Pauline Alice Xerea dress | Ginger Makes