May 2, 2014

It's been over a year!

Wow, it's been over a year since I wrote this blog.
Alot happened in past year.

Last September, my family uprooted ourselves off the island of Oahu and moved to California!

That's where my husband and I love to be.
But after having two kids, my husband always wanted to move back to California to bring our kids closer to family.
(Well, his side of the family, because my family is in Japan)
I was always against this idea... Because I just love Hawaii.
I couldn't imagine my life not being by the Hawaiian beaches.
But when we visited CA in May, I saw how happy the kids were to ge with their cousins, it finally hit me what my husband was talking about.
I felt so selfish for keeping our kids from their happiness just for my preference.
So after weighing the pros and cons, we decided to move.

Just in 3 months, we sold our townhome and packed up and moved.
We had so much hopes and dreams for our future in mainland.

....But the reality wasn't all the dreamy.
Although we were lucky that my husband found a job after few months, we didn't realize that cost of living in CA was actually higher than Hawaii in many situation.
We are charged higher in our medical insurance, and taxes are higher.

Although I was already known to be 'budgety' (cheap?) before, I have to really stay on top in order for us to live within our means.
And here I am to share some of the experience to live comfortably while on budget.
(And my sewing & cooking hobbies...)

December 24, 2012

Child's Apron

Two more days for X'mas...
I have this friend that has two boys & 8yr-old girl.
I originally bought movie tickets for their x'mas gifts, but today, two days before x'mas, my DH said "that's what they're gonna get for x'mas?"
(he always does this!)

So I went out to get a toy gift for the boys, and nothing for the girl because I can make some cute tote bag for her real quick.

Then I realized, I was already planning to give her the bag as a favor to my kids bday party for next month.
I don't wanna double up so I need to come up with something quick to make in next two days...
(i don't want to go out shopping anymore!)

This is what I posted on the PR thread, asking for any gift ideas...
I like the idea of an apron, and I managed to make two in two days.
I made one for the 8-yr-old girl, and another for a 4yr-old that we'll be seeing tomorrow for dinner.

I think it turned out really cute!!

December 7, 2012


Got a new toy for X'mas... An embroidery machine!!

Few weeks ago I went to a Thirty-One party my friend was hosting.
It's like a Pampered Chef kinda thing, that a consultant would show off her product and the guests would place an order with her.
In Thirty-one's case, they sell bags.
At the party, of course I was thinking "I can make my own bags!" but since they personalize it by embroidery, I thought it was the cutest thing...
To help my friend and also because it was an one-stop X'mas shopping, I ordered sooooo much from her.
Then I thought, "you know, with the amount of money I just spent, I probably could've gotten my own machine."
So I checked Amazon and they had Brother PE-500 for $269.99 with free shipping.
(free shipping to Hawaii! That's a big deal.)
I asked my hubby if I can get it for X'mas, and of course he said "Just get it."
(That's what he says with whatever, but I feel like I still need to check with him)

I waited for few days, anticipating, checking the tracking everyday...
It arrived few days ago!!

Well, first of all, I advise you, if you ever get an embroidery machine...
I've found some cute designs, and didn't realize how many colors it takes, so I ordered threads few days after I ordered the machine.
I had a couple of days in between the shipment, and oh boy the anticipation was killing me!
I was still playing with the machine with all purpose thread, and it just felt different.

Oh the stabilizer... There are so may types...
I wanted to embroider some tees, and cut away was recommended so I ordered some online.
I got a tear away while I wait, and I guess you can't really use tear away on knits because the needle will perforate the stabilizer and mess it up.

So far I love it!
I've personalized a pajama for my niece, made some tea wallets with "Drink Me!" design, and just embroidered Spiderman onto my son't tee.

November 26, 2012

Car Seat Organizer - Simplicity 2553

I'm making bunch of car seat organizers for X'mas gift.

I actually ordered Simplicity 2916, but didn't receive it right away, so ended up buying digital pattern of Simplicity 2553 online.
I did receive 2916 and cut into the fabric, but I've gotta tell you that 2553 is MUCH better.
Simplicity 2916 seem to make you cut alot of pieces for pockets etc, and 2553 seem to make you cut one big piece, and just fold it in pleats or stitch lines to make pockets so it's alot easier.

The hardest part about this pattern is definitely prepping.
Cutting the layers of fabric, interfacing, padding, then fusing the interfacings...
Sewing part was a breeze, finished everything in an hour or so.

Another thing is, it's REALLY thick toward the end.
I couldn't even use pins to hold the pieces together, so I used the clips I got from Japan. I love these things!

One thing to mention, is that it wasn't really a cheap project.
Buying two fabrics, interfacing, padding, 2pks of bias tape, webbing, parachute buckle... I think each organizer was about $15-17, using 20% off coupon from
I don't know if you think it's cheap or expensive, but to me it was pretty pricey, since I was hoping to make a $10 gift.
But I've never really seen any car organizer in character fabrics (I've seen alot of solid black, etc) so it does make a really nice unique gift, in my opinion.
(I just hope all the receipients enjoy homemade gifts!)

Overall I'm very happy with how this came out.
My kids saw one and of course they wanted one in their favorite character.
I think I will make them one, hoping they can keep the car a little more organized...

November 5, 2012

Refashion Contest

Wow, it's been almost 2 weeks since I wrote my post!
I was in Japan, and after we came back, I was battling a jetlag...
Then it got busy with Halloween... I've been going to bed at 8pm with the kids that I haven't really sewn anything.

Before all these, I joined the Refashon contest on PR website.
It's only for two weeks that I don't even know if I can make anything in time!

Challenge Contest 2012 - Refashion / Repurpose

It was a good timing, because around the time I entered I sorted out my closet for old clothes.
I divided them into something to donate pile (something I wouldn't wear anymore...too old, or don't like the color or print so I wouldn't wear it even if I upcycle it) and "potential" pile... Something that I don't wear, but like the material or print enough that I might still wear if I upcycle.

At first I was thinking of making something for my kids.
Then I found this top.

I bought it few years ago, and it had so much style back then...
The pleated neckline, dolman sleeves, long fitted hem to wear over the leggings (when leggings first came back to style).
But because it has so much styles to it, it looks so out of style now.
Also it's so fitted that I didn't feel comfortable wearing it.
I like the material (rayon/spandex) so I'll see if I can make something out of it.

At first I thought of making a top...
Cut the sleeves, make them into ruffles and attach it to the neckline.
But I don't like how neckline is so low.
I'll have to wear a cami even after upcycling it to sleeveless.

A skirt, maybe?
I wore it upside down, to make the hem band as waistline.
It was too tight overall.

So I raised it higher, and the hemband was perfect at my bustline.
I'll go with this idea, just need to refine it... Only 10 days to go!!

Ok, I'm done with one upcycle wardrobe!!

I really like the hem band of the turquoise top, so I kept it as is, and made a tee using Maria Denmark's free Kimono Tee pattern.
This has been one of my favorite pattern!!
It was long enough so I could cut off the pleated part and make a new tee.

I made a bias strip from cut neckline material.
I like the kimono sleeve as is, but it was Too short so I cut two bands from the original sleeves and attached them.
I like how it turned out... Dropped shoulder is in trend, and it's more wearable!

Here's another one.

I don't think this would qualify for the contest, but it's still an upcycle.
My friend gave me one of her maternity dress.
She thought I could do something with it...

I like it as is, but it is a maternity dress, so it has lots of material under the bust and it does make me look pregnant.
So I just cut down the bottom tier to make it a regular skirt.

Here's the combined wardrobe.

This should be good for the contest entry, but I'm on a role so I'll be going through some more upcycleable clothes...


After I cut off the tier from maxi maternity dress, I was thinking of what I can do with the chiffon material.
It wasn't much, but it's such a cute print that I didn't want to just throw it away.
I wanted to make something like a tierred top, but I couldn't find any material that can go underneath the tier.

I had this long sleeve knit shirt...

I haven't worn it for a long time because
1. it's a long sleeve, it's too hot to wear in Hawaii.
2. I don't know like how low the neckline is.

When I layered the chiffon, it actually matched.
So I decided to make it a ribbon around the neckline, and made it a sleeveless.
It took care of the problems I had with this top!
I like how it turned out... It's more wearable!

I might do more upcycling, but for now I'm going to make a composite picture and post it up.


I did another upcycling.
Here's the "before" photo.

I loved this top when I first got it.
I loved the color, the print...
But I never liked the low neckline.
It' so low, and because of the material it's droopy, that even if I wear something underneath, it has that droopy lazy look to it.
But I loved the print so much I couldn't get rid of it...
I took this opportunity to upcycle it to my daughter's top.

I cut off the neckline and reused it as a bias strip on the new neckline.
I added the butterfly sleeves but cheated and didn't finish the sleeve hems. :p

I added a little crocheted flower that I bought for 50cents in Japan.

My daughter likes it, and I think she'll get a good use out of it than just sitting in my closet.

I just loved this contest!!!
I love upcycling to begin with, and this contest gave me a motivation.
There're so many good materials hidden in a non-wearable garments, and upcycling brings it out!

October 17, 2012

Japanese Sewing Magazines

It's been awhile since I wrote a post... Why?
I'm in Japan!!
I'm visiting my family, it's been 3years since I came last.

Three years ago I wasn't this much into sewing, so I didn't go to the fabric store here in Japan.
I visited one few days ago and was a little disappointed...
I was looking for a nice soft cotton knit to make something for my daughter...
Then realized they were all the same prints as RTW, and RTW is so much cheaper, and the quality is pretty good.
Double gauze was something else I wanted to get, but the ones I wanted (Nani Iro) were out of my price range.
I didn't have much time as I went out while my mom watched my kids taking a nap.
I think I'm going back just to get a basic double gauze.
I just don't know what to make with it...

So I went pretty crazy shopping for pattern magazines.

1. Female Fall/2012
I think this was my favorite.
Although the patterns were basic, they were more of my style.
I liked it so much I ordered a back issue of Summer/2012.

2. Cucito Fall/2012
It's for children's clothes.
They had some matching patterns for kids & moms, which weren't all that great, but there were some other cute stuff.
I'd like to make some caps from this.

3. Mrs.Stylebook Fall/2012
I guess this one is pretty popular among sewing community.
I got it without looking inside too much...
I didn't realize it uses sloper and you have to draft your own pattern.
It seems interesting (and there are some nice garments) but sounds pretty hard.
I don't know if I'll ever make anything from this...

September 29, 2012

Patrones 305, #2 shorts

Patrones has alot of shorts.
It's amazing how much variation of shorts they can come up with.
I'm not a really shorts kinda person...
My stomach is sensitive so whenever my legs are bare I get a stomach cramp. :(
But even then, I wear shorts when it's really hot at home (I can't wear it at a store where they crank up the AC).
I really liked this shorts!!

It has so much details, and I like how it's more like a skirt.

I cut 40 waist and 38 rest.
It seems like true to size, since I didn't have to do any alteration.
I used a leftover denim that I made my jeans with.
This was a really light weight denim, and I didn't think it was fit for the jeans... But perfect for this shorts!!

Oh but the pattern looked REALLY short.
I didn't really read the instruction (cuz it's in Spanish), so I don't know if it suggested longer seam allowances for the hem, but I added 2in to the hem, and folded in about 1in after serging the edge.
This material didn't press well, so I only folded in once.

I really like how it turned out.
The picture looks so staged, but it's just on a white bed sheet. :p
It looks alot more dressy than the regular shorts.
(too bad I normally wear the top over and it'll cover most of the details...)
Now I can proudly wear this around the house and answer the door to unexpected visitors, rather then my other shorts that don't fit me.

Also I made this with about 1/2yd left over material (It wasn't enough so I used a scrap for pockets) so it was about $3 + $1.50 zipper.
Not bad, eh?
I think a pair of shorts with this much detail is much more expensive.
I might be having a big head, but I think this shorts at least looks expensive, thanks to a nice fabric from Fabricmart. :)

My husband said "Oh, are those skorts? Are you trying to bring the trend back?"
Am I trying to bring the trend back, or is my fashion too old in time??
Whatever the style I like seem to be few years old...
I need to research the current fashion more often...
But I don't like the current fashion, like print jeans.
I kinda like the color block but I'm too cheap to buy 2 different fabric for one garment. :p

I'm just so glad that I learned how to install a zipper and able to make bottoms.
I'm slowly replacing all the ill-fitted RTW bottoms in my closet. :)