A Symphony in Indigo and Gold

Right before Thanksgiving, my sweetie picked out this scrumptious fabric for me to make a Christmas dress:

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Gorgeous! It’s one of the Les Fleurs patterns from Cotton + Steel’s collaboration with Rifle Paper Co., in a lovely deep indigo with a metallic gold print. It’s got a nice heft to it, and a good balance between structure and drape. Since I already loved Cashmerette’s Upton dress pattern (and I can always use more dresses with pockets), I figured that it was time to make a third one! This time I made it in a longish tea-length version, for extra twirliness. Because twirliness = holiday festivity.

I had a good time with the construction, and the inside looks almost as pretty as the outside! The bodice is lined with some Bemberg rayon that I had in my stash, and the skirt seams are all flat-felled.  I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, although there are a couple of spots that demonstrate my continued struggle to sew a really straight seam. Let’s just say that I won’t be making topstitched jeans anytime soon. img_20161214_230020

However. I neglected to pay attention to the fact that almost my entire wardrobe is black, red, gray, or white – and that none of it went very well with my lovely new dress! Enter the cardigan:

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It’s a RTW cardi from Lane Bryant, found on a chance foray into the shops the night before the symphony to which I wanted to wear my new dress. It had sleeves, was reasonably warm, was in the right color range, and had enough metallic shimmer to be festive…but it was also too long, and the zipper looked a little cheap with the whole outfit. Then I remembered – I can sew! Which means I could certainly modify the cardigan enough to make it work.

As it turned out, it was a very easy alteration. I unpicked the zipper plackets, tucked the bottom 6″ or so underneath, and hemmed it to a cropped length by hand with a blind stitch. Leaving all the original fabric actually helped to weight it down enough to hang very nicely, too, so I’m glad I didn’t take scissors to it.

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And voila! It all worked out pretty well. It was a symphony of indigo and gold, which was lovely for going to the actual symphony with my mom for a Tchaikovsky violin concerto.

We’re fancy like that.

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Peace, love, and pretty fabric + good music,
Sumiko

Quaint

A couple of months ago, I was talking to my mom on the phone. She asked what I was doing, and I told her that I was trying out Great Grandma Tadehara’s legendary homemade bread, in between hand-sewing a dress. This dress, as a matter of fact.

With Mr. Awesome at his beautiful sister’s wedding!

Mom chuckled and said I was awfully quaint for a twenty-something in 2012. While that may be true, I find so much value in homemade things, culinary and otherwise.

My mom was an organic, composting, recycling, cloth-diaper-using mother long before it was fashionable in the eco-trends of today. My dad was a carpenter, and he and my mom designed and built the house I grew up in…personally. As in, actually did the work, not just stopped by a construction HQ and picked out floor plans from a variety of pre-determined models. One of the first gift-giving lessons I remember hearing from them was that a gift made by me, no matter how clumsy or inelegant, would be worth more to them than any storebought item. That’s a mentality I’ve carried with me for years.

My favorite quilts are the one hand-sewn by my great-grandmother using scraps from suits and denim jeans, and the one pieced together by my grandmother right before she lost her vision. My favorite meals are made completely from scratch (just ask me about my lasagna someday). My favorite jewelry is hand-crafted by myself or people I love. My favorite notecards were created by my sister and my friend Kim. My favorite mug was handmade by a craftsman here in Salt Lake City, who coincidentally operates an excellent meatball sub & Philly shop. Most of my favorite cooking tools were handmade, too. My favorite bread? It’s Great-Grandma’s recipe. The best yogurt I’ve ever had is homemade. The most delicious pickles, too. In fact, virtually every single food item it’s possible to purchase in a store is much, much tastier when it’s made from scratch at home.

Maybe it is quaint, and maybe there’s an antiquated, unstylish sense that homemade must necessarily be less beautiful, less perfect, less luxurious. As I look around and see so much disposability, so much temporality and so much stuff, I can’t help but disagree. With more soul invested into the creation of an individual object, it increases in value to me and encourages me not to clutter my life with too much excess. It reminds me that everything I truly value is such either because someone created it with me in mind, or because it is imbued with the memories of loved ones. And it reminds me when I am giving a gift to someone that an object is only worth what I put into it.

So here’s to the quilts our grandmothers made us, the recipes our great-grandmothers passed down to us, and the lessons that our mothers taught us when we were young.

Love, peace, and quaintness,
Sumiko

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