Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year & More!

Yes, I am sewing! Yes, I am!

Though, I don't have anything completed to show you today.

Non-sewing stuff is also taking a lot of my time, so here's another newsy post for you!


Paris 2016

I've mentioned before that I don't do year-in-review or New-Years-goal-setting posts. But here's an exception, of a sort. I've been wanted to go to Paris with the Tilton sisters for years and I've decided that 2016 is the year!


Marcy just posted her fall tour and I'm a-goin'!

I've already spent a lot of time in the wee hours (when I have insomnia) thinking about a travel wardrobe. Unlike Margy, I do NOT excel at creating a travel wardrobe! Not at all!

I started consulting with Margy on my wardrobe plans in the last week or so ('cause that's a HUGE part of the fun, amiright?) and she decided to come, too! Margy is gonna be my Paris roomie, and I couldn't be more excited!

It's too early to share my wardrobe plans, but stay tuned.


Cast of Atelier (a screen shot, not a video)

I recently learned about a series made for Japanese television called (in English) "Atelier". Netflix joined with Fuji TV to produce the series, so it has also been released on Netflix.

This show is about a young woman, a country-bumpkin sort with little sense of fashion, who has just completed her degree in textiles. The series begins as she starts her first job in a small boutique in Tokyo that specializes in making one-of-a-kind, custom lingerie for a select clientele. The head of this "atelier" is a woman who very much resembles Anna Wintour, in both her haircut, and her fierce determination.

The story proceeds from there. So far, they have released one season of 13 episodes, but I hope there will be more! The show is subtitled, so it requires that one pays close attention. (I usually sew as I listen to TV.)

I LOVED this series! Oh my goodness, it is SO addictive. I don't care much about lingerie - it's not something I'm interested in sewing. Supporting my uber bust requires more of an antigravity, cantilevered, miracle-of-modern-engineering sort of approach. But it's so much fun to watch a series that includes sewing machines, pincushions, and near orgasms over fabric and lace. In the second episode, our protagonist gets a lesson in how to measure the bust for a bra. How often does one see that in a television series? Or pattern drafting? Or someone sewing away on an industrial Juki while wearing couture?

I should add that this series does not take a salacious approach to lingerie. It's a sweet-but-quirky show, filled with drama and humor. I've never seen a Japanese soap opera, but this feels like what I would expect from a Japanese soap opera. Much of the acting is expressed in clinched fists, screaming to the heavens, and includes some very expressive facial performances. It's a hoot!

If you don't subscribe to Netflix, why not try the 30-day free trial? I watched the entire 13-episode season in a couple of days. I also found this review.

(a screen shot, not a video)


My friend and colleague, Kathy, was interested in trying her hand at making felted soaps. Back when I was a Waldorf parent (yes, it's a Thing) I did loads of wet felting and I've also done needle felting. I agreed to bring some of my handmade soaps (I was an obsessive cold-process soap maker until I was up to my ears in a lifetime supply of soap), and some colorful wool roving to her house, to give them a lesson.

Wrapping the soaps in wool roving.
Kathy is showing me the tee that her daughter made for her dad for Christmas—Laine is highly creative!

There are many youtube videos on how to make felted soaps. But please don't do your felting under a running faucet! It is SO wasteful and can be easily done in a bowl of hot water. In fact, here's a video that doesn't use the faucet and here.

Laine and Kathy

Finished soaps

Then I taught them how to needle felt wool roving onto fabric. Right off the bat, Laine free-handed an adorable mushroom.

It was a fun afternoon! It's been years since I've felted soaps! (I also used to make lots of felted Easter eggs - along with tiny felted chickens peeking out of the "cracked" egg.)

My new soaps

Zippered Pouches

Thanks for your kind comments on my lined, zipper pouches! I received some questions, asking for a pattern and instructions. I don't use a pattern. I learned the technique in a class I took several years back. However, I looked and found the same technique taught in this video. Here a link to the free pattern for the pouch shown in the video:

While the technique is much the same, my bags use different dimensions. My bag requires:

  • Two 8"x10" rectangles for the outside of the bag. I often piece these, and then cut out the 8"x10" rectangle afterwards. A 1-3/4" square is cut out from each of the bottom corners. (See pic.)
  • Two 8"x10" rectangles cut from Pellon fleece, or equivalent. You can use fusible fleece. I generally don't use fusible, and I apply the fleece to the outer layer of fabric using spray glue designed for fabric. You also cut the 1-3/4" rectangles from the bottom corners of the fleece.
  • Two 8"x10" rectangles cut from a lining fabric. Also with 1-3/4" squares cut out from the bottom corners.
  • One 7" zipper. Each end of the zipper is covered with a scrap of fabric.
Pouch in process: two outside pieces, zipper with ends covered with fabric scraps, and two lining pieces. The Pellon fleece, not yet cut, is piled on the left.

Dritz Spray Adhesive for attaching the fleece to the outer layer of fabric. Or, you can use fusible fleece.

I also wanted to clarify something. A few people seemed to think that I used old ties to make my pouches. Several years back I bought a couple bags of silk scraps from a manufacturer that makes men's ties. You certainly could use old ties, and piece them together, but that's not what I did.

2015 Top Blogger

Well, this was a nice surprise. I recently received an email from that one of my tutorials is one of their most popular projects.

While I am flattered, this is rather amusing to me. Back in September 2009, someone asked on a forum how to replicate this skirt from Anthropologie.

Original Anthropologie skirt

Recreating the skirt required some fairly straightforward pattern drafting, so I dashed off a quick tutorial and posted it to my blog. I didn't actually make the skirt, as neither I nor my daughters would have worn it.

This tutorial has been one of my consistently most read posts. To date is has over 95,000 page views and, for this week alone, it's my third most read post. It has been pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest over and over. If I had any clue that this post would be so popular, I would have taken a lot more care in producing it!

Soon after I wrote the post, asked if they could link to it from their site. I told them that so long as they weren't selling it, and that they understood that I retained all rights, that it was fine.

Anyway, thanks,, for the honor. They sent me the badge above.

Happy New Year!

Black Eyed Pea Chili

One tradition I adopted in the last few years is having Black Eyed Peas for New Years. I'd never heard of this Southern custom while growing up, but I love it!

This year I bought SIX pounds of dried Black Eyed Peas.

I couldn't help myself.

I just cooked up a pound in my Instant Pot using a favorite recipe: Black Eyed Pea Chili with Quinoa and Corn.

I have a rather involved sewing project almost finished. Hopefully, I'll have some projects to show you soon.

And Happy New Year!!!


  1. Wow! All I can say is Happy New year and Yay for Paris xo

  2. Happy New Year!!! Ahhhh Paris!! It will be a grand year!

  3. Happy New Year Shams and take an empty suitcase with you to Paris!

  4. Always creative, always good to read. I can't wait to see what you create in 2016. Enjoy planning for Paris!

  5. 2016 sounds like its going to be a blast, you and Margy in Paris, c'est bon. Have a wonderful new year's eve and all the very best!

  6. I love your blog posts, always a lot of "meat" to them.
    Enjoy Paris!!! That is uber-exciting.
    I don't subscribe to netflix but I like the idea of the 30 day trial to watch Atelier! I haven't heard of it but it looks like a fun show.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Wow - 2 posts from Shams in 1 week - yippee! So happy you're going to Paris with the Tiltons and Margy as your roomie. Anxious to hear more about your travel wardrobe as hubby and I travel quite a bit so that's always of interest to me. Also interested in your account of Atelier. Happy sewing in 2016. Karen

  8. Happy New Year - can't wait for your inspiration & planning for Paris

  9. Happy New Year and I'm thrilled for you about Paris and jelly too!

  10. Enjoy Paris! Get to General Dif if you can...he has lots of wonderful fabrics, and the prices (especially downstairs) are reasonable. ~Martina

  11. how fantastic you have booked the Paris trip - it will be so exciting. You are quite the wardrobe planner - and you could go tomorrow using all the great items you already have. but the planning is half the fun! Happy New Year.

  12. Great end-of-year post, Shams! I didn't know about Atelier, it's in my queue now!
    And a huge "yes ma'am" on the Paris trip...with Margie! Will love to see pics of that!

  13. So happy for you and Margy - going to Paree! Should be an awesome time. Thanks for the info and link to the LoriAnn patterns. Of course, I ordered the pant pattern. I won't be home until next week - will be anxious to check it out. I may even start a thread on SG - it looks like this pattern line is a well kept secret?

    1. I'm sure that LoriAnne would LOVE to be more widely known, Marcia! Go for it! (She also has an active page on FaceBook.)

  14. What an exciting life you make for yourself!

    A dear friend used to make black-eyed peas every New Year's. This nutritious version sounds delicious.

  15. Happy New Year!! Wow ... Paris ... how fun! :-)

  16. A wonderful post that reflects your wondrous creativity on so many fronts. I can't wait to wish you a fond Bon Voyage for The Paris Trip. With Margy- oooh la la! Must get that Japanese lingerie going on my TV. Happiest New Year to you and yours.

  17. Happy New Year Sharon! Thanks for the heads up on Atelier!! I love to binge watch a good show....

  18. Happy New Years! I wish you all the best!

    Rose in SV

  19. Happy 2016! You and Margy are going to love going with Marcy and Katherine to Paris. Those of us not going would love to read posts and pics of your trip. All your creative antennae will be twitching even more than usual anticipating Paris. Thanks so much for all your inspiration.

  20. I was 'watching' (yeah I just listen while I sew, mostly documentaries) 'Velvet' on Netflix, and just not into the soap opera pacing. 'Atelier' hopefully has more....sewing.
    Your job in Paris will be to take a billion photos, and then post them all. Instagram please!
    Your other job is to have a wonderful 2016. That goes for all of you!

    1. I would be interested to know what you think, SJ! I tried watching Velvet and didn't finish the first episode. I'll try again, but it didn't hook me in the way Atelier did.

      Thanks and Happy New Year!

  21. Another interesting post - I enjoy all your posts. Happy New Year 2016! I'm looking forward to seeing your planning for Paris.

  22. Oh, you two lucky duckies.........going with the Tilton sisters to Paris! That has been on my bucket list for a long time. Maybe one day. Have fun for me and please give us a full report with lots of pictures.

  23. Oh I am so jealous, I had a quick look at the Tiltons page thinking I could afford to go from here in the UK but it's way beyond my budget. I shall look forward to your photos & the planning stage in between. I shall now see if I can find a way to do a solo trip & educate myself in a similar fashion!