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5/26/2015

One of the things I obsessed over while planning my trip to Tokyo was train travel. I knew we could sight-see all over Tokyo by just using the train, but how exactly would we do it? What tickets did we need? How much were the fares? What lines to take? I consulted with my brother (who lived there for a couple years in the 2000s, my mom (who was born and raised in Japan and lived there till her mid-20s and has gone back every now and then over the years), and friends. I also read a lot of blogs and websites scouring for info.

If you're traveling to Tokyo and only staying in Tokyo, which is what we did, then here are some train travel tips to save you some headaches. Do note that I'm notoriously frugal, but in some cases I'm not always suggesting the cheapest option. Sometimes, it's worth paying a few extra yen to save time and travel easier.

1. Choose a Hotel Near the JR Yamanote Line
My #1 suggestion for visiting Tokyo, is book a hotel near one of the stations along the JR Yamanote Train Line.
Soure: Tokyo Moob 

Taking a taxi is in Japan is $$$$$ so you'll want to have easy access to the train everyday to save money. The hotel's distance from the train station should depend on your comfort level walking to/from the train station with luggage. A 10 minute walk is my max distance, but you may think that's too long or you may be willing to walk longer WITH luggage. For reference, we stayed at the Celestine Hotel in Minato, about an 8-10 minute walk from the Tamachi Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

Also think about what time of day you may be leaving and arriving. We ended up arriving around 10:30pm and I'm glad our walk wasn't any longer. The Tamachi Station is about a 10 minute train ride from Tokyo Station (which really isn't that long) and only 1 stop away from Shinagawa Station, which is another big station where you can transfer to other major lines.

2. Traveling to/from Narita Airport
Check out Tokyo Cheapo's post on all of your options traveling to/from Narita Airport into/out of Tokyo. Most likely you will choose either the train or bus and will be dropped off at Tokyo Station.

I opted to take the Access Narita bus because we arrived at night and the bus came every 20 minutes, it's only 1,000 yen per ticket, and you pay when you board. The website has a lot of info and it's super easy to board. The bus was like a coach travel bus that you take on tours. The seats reclined, the bus was very clean, and the ride was comfortable.



The most popular train option seems to be the Narita Express. I decided not to take the train because it's 3x more expensive (3,000 yen per person), you have to buy a reserved ticket before boarding, the trains came about every 30 minutes, and the train is only a little faster than the bus by about 10 or 15 minutes. Saving 10-15 minutes wasn't worth it to me considering we probably would have spent even more time trying to buy the ticket and then waiting for the train.

3. Suica or Pasmo Card; Just Pick One
Most train systems around the world have a card or ticket that you can recharge with additional fare. In LA we have the TAP card, in NYC there is the Metro paper card, and I think Chicago has something similar. Tokyo's versions are the Suica Card and Pasmo Card, which from what I could gather, are pretty much the same thing.

Instead of buying a ticket every time you ride the train, you just purchase a Suica Card at a ticket vending machine and load it with as much money as you think you'll need. Then every time you ride the train, you just tap your Suica card at the fare gate to gain access into the station area, then tap again as you exit, and the system will deduct the appropriate fare.

If you don't have enough money on your Suica card, then when you try to exit, the fare gate will blink red and then you have to find a ticket vending machine in the station and load more money on it.

The website The Japan Guy has a great post about how to purchase a Suica card with photos of the fare vending machine screens. Every machine we used had a button for "english" so you don't need to know Japanese in order to use it. The English translations didn't always make complete sense, but you always have the option to cancel at any moment in case you need to start over.

The Suica card can be used on the all subway lines and JR lines (Yamanote Line that circles around Tokyo and the Yokosuke Line that takes you to Kamakura), so it's a really easy way to ride the train without worrying about buying one ticket for the exact fare for one train ride. You'll likely be taking multiple train rides throughout the day so just tapping your Suica card is super easy.

Additionally, you can also use your Suica card at regular vending machines to purchase drinks! You may also be able to use it at convenience stores, but I can't remember.

4. Tokyo Subway vs. Toiei Subway: Just Buy the Combined One-Day Pass
If you look at a subway or train map for Tokyo, chances are the map will include both the lines from the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway, which are two different agencies.


I did not realize this until I tried to buy a one-day Subway pass. As of Spring 2015, the fares for one-day tickets are as follows:


Sure, it may be possible to ride just one line for the day and save 300-400 yen, but it is so much easier to buy the combined subway pass that allows you unlimited rides for both train lines for one day. The one-day pass is separate from your Suica card. You'll get a paper ticket that you have to insert into the fare gate every time you enter and exit.

Fares on the subways range from 160-220 yen per ride so at 1,000 yen per one-day combined subway ticket, if you plan on taking 4-5 rides, you'll break even. We bought a one-day combined pass twice because a couple days we were riding all over Tokyo.

Remember, the Tokyo Subway and Toei Subway Trains are separate from the JR lines (the Yamanote Line in particular). Whenever we had a one-day subway pass, we only took the subway lines. It was pretty easy to access Tokyo by only the subway lines in case you want to save a couple hundred yen by avoiding the JR Train on days you buy a one-day subway pass.

5. Need Help? Find the Green Window (Midori No Madoguchi)

We never actually went to the green window, but my mom kept telling me to go to the green window if we ever needed help. The only problem is, the one time I did need help (the first night we arrived and I couldn't find the right ticket vending machine to get a Suica card), the window was closed. We ended up walking around Tokyo Station until we found the right ticket machine. So, as long as you need help during normal business hours, just look for the green window if you're desperately in need of help.

7. Have Fun!
Riding the train in Tokyo is so much fun! If you get lost, who cares, just get on the next train! Everything is generally really easy to use. The lines are all color coded so you'll eventually get used to just looking for colors. (The JR Yamanote line is designated on signs in neon green.) If you think you did something wrong, then just find someone who works there and ask for help. Chances are someone else has made that mistake too and you're not the only one so don't feel embarrassed.
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5/17/2015

My First Garden

I don't like house plants. I don't like gardening. I've never cared for tending to anything plant-like except for basil plants. Although I usually end up letting them die and then I buy another one. I don't have a green thumb that apparently the rest of my family has.

But the other day I thought, "I should plant some succulents." No idea why I suddenly had the drive to clean out this small sliver of dirt in my front patio that has been collecting leaves and berries for the past 1.5 years. The previous tenants/owners left behind some disposable planters and hideous-to-me garden decorations that I have been too lazy to throw out. Here's a before shot of the area.

Before....So Sad

Now, I've never liked succulents or cacti. I've always thought they were ugly. I never understood why people willingly planted them in their yards. But lately I've been starting to see the appeal. Perhaps it's because my state has been in a drought for several years and you'd be hard pressed to go a couple days without hearing something about water restrictions and which cities are wasting the most water (*cough*Beverly Hills*cough*). Drought resistant landscaping. It's a hot thing nowadays. The next trend everyone is jumping on since gluten-free.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting drought-resistant for low-maintenance. Regardless, the idea had been self-planted in my head and I couldn't get it out. I measured my plot of land (5' long x 8" wide) and searched for succulents at Home Depot. I only had succulents on my mind, but then these tiny cacti with glorious bright-colored "things" on them caught my eye. I HAD TO HAVE THEM TOO! So tiny and cute!

I wasn't loving the price tag on all of these suckers ($2.50-$4 each), but I sucked it up. I could have gone for the 6-pack of mixed succulents, which were pretty inexpensive, but some of the succulents in that variety pack were "ground cover", which I truly think just looks like weeds. No, thank you.

My First Garden - Succulent

I thought I would have an easy task of throwing out the old planters, raking the leaves, loosening the soil, and planting the succulents. BWAHahahahaha. What the eff was I thinking? Of course everything had to be 10x more difficult than expected.

Those planters had roots growing out of or into them so they were quite literally attached to the dirt under the planters. I couldn't tell where the roots originated and some looked like they were coming from the neighbor's side. I couldn't believe how many roots were in that small sliver of dirt. What I thought was going to take maybe 30 minutes ended up taking at least 3 hours spread over two evenings.

I eventually got tired of digging down deep looking for the end of all these roots, so I just cut them. I was feeling lazy. I wanted a quick fix. My husband saw me cut some of the roots and chimed in, "you know you're not supposed to do that." YEAH, I KNOW!! THANKS FOR THE ADVICE!!!

My First Garden

So yeah......everything looks nice and curated on the surface, but deep down, I wonder how long it'll take for those mystery roots to grow back and ruin my now beloved succulents and cacti. But look at those tiny plants! How did I ever hate them so much???

So I actually have NO idea what I'm doing and whether these succulents will survive. Feel free to chime in with tips if you've ever taken care of succulents.
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5/12/2015

Despite not hitting up any fabric stores during my trip to Tokyo I did manage to visit Itoya*, a lovely stationery store. Looking back, I am bit confused why Itoya was so high up on my list of 'must-see' while fabric stores were so low on my list. I have no explanation for it.

When I was planning my trip, my mom kept telling me to visit Ginza, especially on a Sunday for the crowds, and my Dad chimed in that his favorite pen store is in Ginza. I don't think my dad and I have ever officially discussed our love of pens, but as I reflect back on my life I now see we have a similar interest in writing instruments.

Itoya is located very close to the main hot spots in Ginza (here's a link to Google Maps) so it wasn't like we had to go out of our way. My husband wasn't exactly jumping at the chance to visit a stationery store. I'm sure he asked more than once whether I could get the same things back home. I dunno, husband. Do you know of a 5 storied stationery store?????


Itoya Floor Map

Ohhh yeah, Itoya is 5 floors of stationery heaven. My dad completely failed to mention this fact, so I was in for a wonderful surprise. Now, one floor is dedicated to wedding stuff (invitations, favors), but the other 4 floors were awesome!

My favorite floor was the one with all the pens. Now sure, you can buy pens at any ol' store and there are specialty stationery stores scattered around LA, but Itoya had a huge selection of pens (ballpoint, jelly, roller, brush, fancy, tiny ones, big ones, fountain pens, etc.). While I do buy a variety of pens from JetPens.com every now and then (and I saw those pens at Itoya), I can't sample them before I buy them, which is key to ensure I'll actually like them! I don't know about you, but writing with a good pen can definitely make my day. Below are some photos of everything I purchased.


Itoya Swag

I only bought 1 mechanical pencil, 3 pens, and 2 brush pens, but only because I didn't really want to spend my whole paycheck on a bucket full of pens. One of the pens that I bought (which isn't shown in the above photo because I took it to work) is a gel pen, but is completely erasable (here's a link to it on JetPens). It's the BEST erasable pen I've ever used.

Pretty Things from Itoya

I was also enamored by all the kawaii stickers and accessories. I also got some silly stuff too, like the metal penholder with a cat on it. I'm still a little confused on how to use it, but who the eff cares, it's adorable! I think you're supposed to clip it onto a notebook so you have an instant penholder.

Cat Penholder from Itoya

The large black cats in the first swag photo are wall stickers, which my husband was *this* close to nixing. He said the stickers "did not go with our home decor". My husband finally agreed that I could get one for my sewing room that was representative of our cat so I picked the one with the cat spritely walking from the light switch. My cat has a tendency to open doors and bust on in as if to say, "what up bitches!", so that one reminded me of him. The one with two cats is actually for my brother and SIL because they have two cats.

If I hadn't already pre-ordered the Get to Work Book, I would have bought a planner. I assume you could have even made your own customized one because there were all sorts of refills available. Even in the digital age and my desire to have less and less stuff, I still love a good planner with actual pages that I can write in and clearly flip through. In anticipation of getting the Get to WorkBook, I purchased those tiny stickers.

I definitely showed some self-restraint while browsing through Itoya. One of the floors had pen pouches, bags, and portfolios, all of which were so tempting...and expensive. Gahhhh, it was all so wonderful.

*I went to the website while writing this post and discovered Itoya is opening a store in June with 12 floors!!! TWELVE!!! I HAVE TO GO BACK!
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5/07/2015

Gate to Meiji Shrine

When I finally decided to start planning my trip to Hong Kong there was no way in hell I was going to fly all the way over there and not stop in Tokyo. Even though I've already been to Japan, I was a mere 9 years old. I remember loving it and I've always wanted to go back as an adult; I'm surprised it's taken me this long.

While I would have loved to have traveled to other cities in Japan, we just didn't have that much time (as we also had New Orleans to get to at the tail end of our trip). I knew there was so much to see in Tokyo that I didn't mind at all not being able to ride the Shinkansen or visit Kyoto or see Mt. Fuji. Tokyo is like Paris. You can stay there for weeks, have your days filled with sightseeing and eating, and still not see everything.

Just like with my recap of our visit to Hong Kong, here's a quick recap of what we did in Tokyo.

Day 1 - Sunday Living

Shibuya Crossing
My parents suggested we hit up certain places on Sunday because that's when we would see the most crowds and have the best experience. They were totally right and I'm glad I listened to them. If you're in Tokyo on a Sunday, then I highly suggest going to Shibuya and Ginza.

Day 2 - Why is Everything Closed on Monday?
Most of the museums, shrines, and temples are closed on Monday so our sightseeing was planned primarily on what would be open. It lightly rained most of the day and then absolutely poured in the evening just as we were deciding where to get dinner. We got drenched walking to a restaurant only to discover it's closed on Monday! My husband was so defeated that we ended up eating at the restaurant connected to our hotel (Celestine Tokyo Hotel). It was probably one of the most expensive meals we had and had the smallest portions. The food at least tasted good, but I wouldn't recommend eating there.

Day 3 - Sushi, Ramen, Beer, Burgers 

Yetis Beer Museum

Day 4 - Kamakura
Train from Kamakura

You can take the train straight from Tokyo to Kamakura, but my dad suggested getting off at Kita-Kamakura and walking down a path towards Kamakura (see above photo). Glad I listened to my dad because it was a really nice walk and there were several temples you could visit. We only stopped by Kenchoji Temple, which I think is one of the bigger ones. I also read online that you can hike from Kamakura to the Buddha instead of taking the train, but I wasn't interested in doing that much walking, but it's an option for those interested.

I originally planned on stopping by some fabric stores, particularly Yuzawaya, and I even brought a spare lightweight bag in case I needed to carry stuff home, but for some reason I just wasn't feeling it. I think part of the reason is that I felt like I was dragging my husband all over Tokyo (we walked a ton this trip and I know he was exhausted everyday) and I also didn't want him to be bored waiting for me as I shopped for fabric. Since we didn't rent a phone or buy a sim card we could only use our phones on wi-fi (pretty much only at the hotel) so we didn't want to be separated in the city.

Ginza

I also think I was just mentally exhausted. The thought of browsing fabric and having to make decisions on what to buy and what not to buy and what would I make with the fabric and am I just buying it because it's kawaii and then hoard it or would I actually use it was just too overwhelming for me. Although, after seeing Jenny's recaps of fabric shopping, I slightly regret not at least going into the stores, especially Bunka, but my mind just wasn't into it at the time. I DEFINITELY want to go back to Japan so it's not like I'll never have the opportunity again. My parents are going in June and I half jokingly told my husband I should cut out of work unpaid for several days and join my parents on the trip. It's seriously so tempting to do.

I'm going to write a couple posts with more details of certain things we did in Tokyo, including train travel, shopping, and eating. Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to read about and I'll write about it. If you're interested, I have a lot more photos on my Flickr account. Have you been to Tokyo??? What were your favorite things to do or see??
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5/05/2015

Street Crossing

My husband and I recently went on a 2 week vacation and ermagherd it was amazing. I used to work with someone who, every year, would save all of his vacation days during the year and then go on an epic 3-4 week vacation traveling to several countries. We were all envious, wishing we could do the same. Well, we could have done the same, but we chose not to do it because it wasn't a priority for any of us. Now that I'm back from one of the longest vacations I've ever been on in my adult life, I want to do it again. I want to make traveling outside the States a priority. One perk at my job is that I get approximately 20 vacation days/year. However, I accrue them every paycheck, so right now I'm hovering around 0 hours. So many paydays to go...

View from Victoria Peak

We were in Hong Kong for 5 days and 4 nights, although only 3 full days as the other 2 were mostly occupied with traveling. We took a flight from LAX, connected in San Francisco, and then embarked on a 14 hour flight. It's crazy how much time traveling takes up, but it's all worth it. Totally worth it. Although, to be honest, by Hour 9 or 10 I was totally done with the flight.

In case you're thinking of visiting Hong Kong and are wondering what to do, here's a super quick recap, a sample whirlwind itinerary, for a short stay in Hong Kong that hits a lot of the main tourist attractions.

Day 1: Explore, Explore, Explore

"Osama Tony's"...or at least I think that's the restaurant name.

Notes on Day 1: we walked or took the train everywhere this day. I have a fitbit, which I'm convinced under-counts my steps. On Day 1, my FitBit registered 11.5 miles of walking. My husband wanted to kill me. I wanted to celebrate my highest step count!

Day 2: Buddha Time


Cable Car Skyrail


Day 3: Peak View


Victoria Peak Tram Car
  • Breakfast at BlissHIVE (excellent coffee and waffle)
  • Victoria Peak (took the tram to the top and rode the bus down)
  • Lunch at Din Tai Fung
  • Rest at hotel
  • Sam's Tailor for second fitting
  • Massage (foot for me, body for my husband)
  • Sam's Tailor to pick up completed suit
  • Dinner at Ho Lee Fook (long wait, but delicious!) in Central with friends

Be Courteous

There are other sights I thought about doing, but we probably would have been rushed. One of those things was taking a ferry to Lamma Island and walking around the island and eating seafood at a local restaurant. My friend recommended doing this because Lamma Island doesn't have any cars so it's supposedly really nice and serene. I was hesitant to do it because I wasn't sure how long it would take and whether we'd have time to see other things that were higher on my priority list. Other than Lamma Island, I think we did everything I was hoping to do.

One thing I wish I had done in advance was research more restaurants. My guidebook had some suggestions, but one of the places had relocated so it wasn't at the address listed in the book. The Japanese place it recommended was ok. We only went there because we were absolutely exhausted that day and my husband was on the verge of a meltdown if I didn't find a restaurant STAT.

Dogs of Ngong Ping Village

While I'm not a total Type A person that has to have everything planned out exactly (I'm sure you're laughing after seeing our sight-seeing itinerary), I wish I had more food options planned in advance because a lot of restaurants, especially near our hotel, had the display name and/or menus all in Chinese so it was difficult to tell at first glance if we would like it.

Our friends took us a to a fantastic restaurant, Ho Lee Fook, and that was the type of food I wished we had found more of. Osama Tony was really good and I found that place after doing a quick online search for dumpling restaurants when we were waiting to board our flight (last minute planning....).

I have a couple more photos in my Hong Kong album on Flickr in case you're interested. Have you been to Hong Kong? What were your favorite things to do?
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2/27/2015

I once mentioned something about the Wall Street Journal to my husband and he asked if I wanted a subscription to it. "Oh Gawd No!" I exclaimed. He knows I'm a bit of a personal finance nerd, but I don't read the Wall Street Journal for finance, investing, and other money tips and news. I love clicking over to the WSJ website for the complete opposite reason: to find obscure articles that don't have much related to Wall Street at all.

Not many {fun} articles are available to non-subscribers, so usually the pickings are slim. But this week there was an article about Marie Kondo, a Japanese lady who is apparently the Queen of Organization. I had never heard of her before and the further I got into the article, the more I felt like I was missing out on a recent trend. Organizing. De-cluttering. Tidying Up. Something I always want to do, but never really get around to doing for excuses A through Z.

Check out the article because it's pretty inspiring, even if your home is in decent shape. I'm sure you have a clothes drawer, bathroom cabinet, or kitchen pantry that could use some de-cluttering.

There are a couple gifs in the article of her folding clothes (socks and a sweater) that made me laugh out loud. I literally LOL'd at my desk. Why? Because that's how I fold my socks and sweater!!! And where did I learn such OCD behavior? FROM MY JAPANESE MOTHER! Hahahahaha!

So now I wonder....is this type of organization typical of Japanese women? Marie is a couple years younger than myself, so she may have a mother about my own mom's age. Did she learn these tricks from her mother? I forwarded the article to my mom and she mentioned that she learned how to fold clothes to match the size of the drawer. And that her mother and father were always neat and tidy and that her mother always told her not to put clothes on the floor.

I'm not saying my childhood house was free of any clutter, but my mom always folded our clothes a certain way (including underwear and socks!) and I still do it the same way too. Towels also get folded. First folded lengthwise in thirds, then folded either in thirds again or half depending on the length and where they are stored.

I'm going off on a tangent, revealing too much of my slight OCD tendencies. Oh gosh, how embarrassing. Let's get back on track to implementing the Kondo Way of Organizing.

Given that we're set to have a rainy weekend here in LA, I have decided to tackle a couple drawers and closets that I know need to be de-cluttered. Marie Kondo's main tip for organizing is looking at each item and asking yourself "Does this spark joy?" and if it doesn't? Throw them shits out!

So that will be my mantra as I clean out my make-up stash and huge storage bin in my second bedroom/sewing room closet.

Do you have any special tips for organizing? Or for motivating yourself to organize and/or de-clutter?
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2/19/2015

In sticking with my 2015 goals, I decided to get more edumacation by signing up for a Letterpress class!! I've had my eye on this class for at least a year. I first became interested in letterpress when I was planning my wedding and saw all those beautiful letterpress invitations. Sadly, I couldn't justify spending that much money on wedding invitations so I never got them. But my fascination with letterpress never waned and I always wanted to learn how to do it.

The class I signed up for is through the Otis Design School and is a 10-week program. I feel like such an impostor for taking a class there because I am so not an artist. We recently had our first class and it was so much fun. I feel like a total weanie for admitting that I was worried about being too tired (it's from 7-10pm, but only one day a week). I should have known that night classes you choose to take for fun are way more enjoyable than those you're forced to take for school.

So what did we learn in Week 1? We learned a bit about safety, terminology, and worked on our first project: printing our names!

Letterpress Week 1


We started with a clamping tool and spelled out our names using 8pt letters, which by the way are fucking tiny! Thank goodness I'm near-sighted. A poor gal in my class isn't and she didn't have her glasses so I think she had a difficult time making sure she was selecting the right letters.

I decided to center justify my name, which was more difficult that I was anticipating. Getting those spacers equally divided on both sides of the letters were driving me nuts. We learned that a single space is called an "em", half of an em is an "en". A third of an em is called "3 to the em", a fourth of an em is called "4 to the em", and so on for 5 and 6.

As someone with a math-based degree, this kinda irked me.....I mean, hello, 4 to the em? That sounds so wrong. But, as my instructor corrected me {hell yeah, I got corrected! lol!} she mentioned that she would just like for us to use the proper terminology, and I get that. So "4 to the em" it is!

After our letters were properly spaced, we proofed our  names.

It literally looked like text in a book. Nothing glamorous.

But omigod, we were all so fucking enamored! We all reacted like we made an amazing work of art. It was kinda hilarious, but adorable.

Then we learned how to properly keep track of our projects and store everything.

I'm so glad we made something in the first class, even if it was just our names. There's something so satisfying with just making shit. It gets you really excited about all the possibilities and makes you feel like you're really learning how to do something.

We'll eventually be doing a group project that will involve letterpress with just one word, a phrase, and also a design, which we will carve out of a rubber block of some sort {I forget the name of it}. Then we'll finish the course with a final personal project. I'm a bit bummed that I'll be missing the final two classes, but I think we can sign up for lab sessions on the weekend {for free I think....} so hopefully I can finish everything and learn as much as possible!

Apparently Otis also offers a digital letterpress class, which I'm already thinking of taking next "semester", if it's available, I'm available, and I can justify spending that much on an art class again.
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2/16/2015

I was thrilled {{THRILLED!!}} to be asked to test the latest Closet Case Files Pattern, the Carolyn Pajamas.

{CCF Carolyn PJs} Front


Not gonna lie, I was totally thrown off by pajamas. When Heather Lou had hinted on her blog that several patterns were in development I did not expect pajamas at all. But who doesn't want cute and coordinated pajamas? {and sexy, if you go that route} I don't think I've had coordinated pajamas since I was a kid so this pattern definitely filled a wardrobe hole, something I had been thinking of making ever since seeing Peneloping's cat pajamas.

Just be aware that this review is of the pattern tester version. There have been several changes, including sizing, in the final version, but I wanted to post about the tester version because I'm so happy with how it turned out.

The pattern is available as a pdf, which of course involves printing, cutting, taping.....lots and lots and lots of it. Not gonna lie. There is a fucking shitload of paper in this pattern, especially if you make the long sleeve top and long pants. I know some of you are adamantly against pdf assembly, but I don't think it's too bad if you just set yourself up in front of a good show (may I recommend a Law & Order marathon) and take it one to two rows at a time. Honestly, you don't have to assemble the whole damn thing at once. Usually after a couple rows you'll see if you can cut out a piece or two. It's much more manageable if you cut away pieces while you assemble the rows.

Anyway, off my pdf assembly soap box.....I cut a size 2 for both the tops and bottoms. The finished measurements for the tester showed quite a bit of ease in the bodice and I didn't want to be swimming in my top. However, I foolishly forgot to check the bottoms measurements, which was a huge mistake. So don't forget to check both your bust and hip measurement to make sure you're making the correct size for the top and bottom.

Pants
If you've made the Sewaholic Tofino PJs, then you'll find these easier to construct. I'm not sure why these patterns are constructed differently (and I'm too lazy to compare the patterns), but the Carolyn PJ pants construction seemed really straightforward in comparison.

{CCF Carolyn PJs} Back


I gave Heather two subjective comments regarding the pants.
1) I found the tester version to be slim in the pants, but apparently most testers thought they were too big. Part of the difference could be I made the wrong size and part of it is maybe because I like my PJ pants to be on the baggier side. {I'm swimming in my Tofino PJ pants, but I kinda like it!}

Heather did make changes in sizing for the final version, so I would strongly recommend you check the final measurements and do a quick check of the pattern pieces based on your widest measurement {for me, my hips, around the fullest part of my booty, are the widest}.

2) the cuffs were deep, which I think looked odd on my short self. I like them better folded in half (see above photo). I think Heather decreased the size of the cuffs on the final version, but if you're shorty like me, just take that into consideration.

I really like the pockets that are included in the pants.During the holidays I practically lived in my Tofino pajama pants and, I kid you not, I kept trying to put my hands in pockets! And every time I did, I was so disappointed I didn't have any. It's like Heather Lou was reading my mind. You can't tell in any of the photos, but I matched stripes along the pockets! **total nerd over here**

Top
I gave Heather one comment regarding the pocket construction, which seems silly because it's just a pocket. But a couple of my mens button-up shirt patterns use a different folding/construction method, which makes for a clean finish on the upper edges. Also, the original placement of the pocket is much too low on me. That was the first thing my husband noticed when I showed him my fancy PJs. He was insistent that I need to rip it out and move it higher, but I'm just too lazy to do it.

{CCF Carolyn PJs} Front Up Close


The collar construction is a bit fiddly, which is noted in the instructions. I definitely read through this part several times before stitching anything. Make sure you mark all notches and circles. Usually I don't bother with them, but I marked them when I cut out the pieces and I'm glad I did.

I opted not to interface the entire facing because the fabric I used is medium-weight and I was worried the facing would make it too thick and stiff. {I interfaced the collar, but wish I hadn't. Just use your best judgment depending on the thickness of your fabric.} If you decide to leave out the interfacing too, then I would recommend to at least interface the buttonhole areas, which I did.

The sleeves in the tester were too slim for my huge guns. My arms are apparently not proportional to the rest of my body and I always have issues in RTW jackets. I cut a straight 2 in a muslin (the only thing I muslined), and sure enough it was too slim even with a 3/8" seam allowance. I made a whole host of modifications of the size 2 pattern to fit my arms. Whenever I make anything with sleeves I always check the bicep circumference, elbow circumference, and shoulder to wrist length and compare them to my measurements. I usually have to modify a lot on sleeve patterns so this wasn't atypical. You guys, seriously, can i haz Michelle Obama's arms????

Overall Fit
Remember that Heather Lou drafts for her height, 5'-8", so if you're severely vertically challenged like yours truly, then you'll need to do some major shortening. I shortened the bodice by 3" at the waist and the pants by 4" at the knee.

Overall Impression
I think this pattern is well drafted and I didn't have any issues with construction. I know some people may be thrown off for paying indie designer prices for a pajamas pattern, but I think it's worth it. I know I had reservations at first for paying for the Sewaholic Tofino pattern, but I've made that pattern more than any other pattern in my stash so it was definitely worth it.

{CCF Carolyn PJs} Side


Also if you have the Tofino and don't think you need this one, just know that they are completely different in terms of style and fit. The Tofino is all about super loose, tons of ease, "gimme-all-the-fucking-candy-and-that-tub-of-ice-cream" kind of pattern. The Carolyn is much slimmer fitting and makes you feel dressed up in a coordinated set of pajamas. Good thing I don't work from home or else I would never change because I would already feel like I'm wearing something presentable (to those invisible clients and colleagues).

And it can totally be upped in the sexiness factor if made out of a lovely silk charmeuse, which I was tempted to do for the tester, but I needed fabric right away so I settled with whatever I could find at the FIDM Scholarship Store, which is a medium-weight cotton with a slight stretch and I got it for $2/yard!! Love it when I score bargains.

It was great working with Heather and I hope my notes were useful to her and you. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!
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2/10/2015

Don't forget sewing peeps, there will be an LA-area Sewist meet-up this month!! Come join us to view awesome costumes, meet fellow sewists, and shop for fabric together!

When: Saturday, February 21st at 11:45am**
Where: Hollywood Costume Exhibit (afterwards at Mood for fabric shopping)
6067 Wilshire Blvd, LA 90036
(the Wilshire May Company Building on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax)

Exhibition Ticket: $20 for adult ticket
Purchase tickets using this link.

I apologize for the short notice, but hopefully you read about it on Instagram or on some of the sewing bloggers' websites {Marrie of Purls and Pleats, Kathy of The Nerdy Seamstress, and Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy}. This is a super informal, casual get-together. I had so much at the last meet-up in June that I really wanted to have another one and meet more amazing sewists, but I'm not so into planning large events, hence the non-polished meet-up announcement (and lack of organized lunch, which Erin did an amazing job of planning).

*Please note, tickets for the exhibition are timed every 15 minutes. I bought a ticket for Noon (12pm) and the website asks you to arrive 15 minutes early. I'm not sure how many tickets are available for each time slot, but it is highly encouraged you purchase your ticket in advance. The next time slot is 12:15pm, so if we can't all go in together, hopefully we won't be separated by too much time.

Here is a map of the area and parking info.

Please pass along this info to anyone who may be interested. There are a lot of sewing bloggers/enthusiasts in the LA area and I only know of a very small percentage of them so I'm counting on word of mouth to let people know about it.

Also, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know if you're thinking of coming so I know who to look out for and expect. You can leave a comment or email me at kaorumarie.blog at gmail [dot] com.

Hope to see you there!
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1/30/2015

I've made two garments this month and I thought I was on a roll....and then I just lost all desire to sew. I have a couple unfinished projects that need a wee bit of attention before they're completed, but neither of those things have sounded appealing lately. I have a couple muslins laying around somewhere that could be dusted off, tweaked, and ready to become actual garments, but those seem like a lot of work. Nothing sounds appealing!

You know what did sound appealing this past weekend? Sitting on the couch and consuming the entire Season 4 of Homeland. It was amazing.

I've only completed Week 1 of the Wardrobe Architect, which was kind of a mind fuck since I'm not good at handling my own self criticism {why are we so hard on ourselves?}. But it felt good to get some of that crap out of my head and on paper.

The weird thing about having a pared down list of goals is that I don't know what to sew. I've been thinking of my {relatively} small fabric stash and trying to find projects to sew with them. I don't like the idea of hoarding fabric and I always feel guilty when I buy fabric knowing I have some at home.

With the absence of a list of sewing goals, my opposition to hoarding fabric, and an upcoming trip to Mood planned (for the LA Sewist Meet-up!!! I just bought my ticket to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit), my mini plan is to find patterns for my fabric stash.



Merino Wool
I bought at least 2 yards of this merino wool at the last LA Sewist Meet-up in June 2014. It looks red-dish in the photo, but it's more of a deep berry/fuchsia color. There is SO MUCH of it! I bought it with intentions of making a dress, but when I got home I came to my senses and realized I would never be comfortable wearing a dress this color. I'm also concerned about the fabric "growing" due to its weight. Instead, I want to make McCall's 6513, a knit cross over top that Beth of SunnyGal Studio has made several times. I tried making View C last year and it turned out horribly for several reasons. But I like the pattern in theory and I think in the right fabric with some pattern modifications, it'll turn into a basic wardrobe piece. I'll definitely have leftover fabric, so I'm thinking of a scooped cowl neck Renfrew.

Swallows Knit
I bought 2 yards of this knit from Fabric.com because I saw a bunch of people post photos of the exact or similar fabric on IG and I just had to have it too. {I don't see the exact fabric on Fabric.com, but if you search 'swallows' you'll see similar stuff.} I thought about making a Moneta, but instead it'll mostly likely just be an "inspired by Moneta" dress. I'm thinking of the draped neckline bodice from Simplicity 2145 with a simple skirt, kind of like the skirt part of the Lady Skater dress, which I don't have so I'll have to figure it out on my own....shouldn't be too difficult, right??? *famous last words* I'm a little concerned that this dress could end up looking twee, so hopefully that doesn't happen.

Simple Black Knit Top with Polka Dot Chiffon Contrast
I also bought a simple black knit from Fabric.com with the hope of recreating a RTW silk jersey blouse I ruined after washing it one too many times. I bought the fabric without getting a swatch and, as I expected, I don't love the way it feels. I loved, loved, loved this RTW blouse, so at least I'll get some practice remaking it with this knit fabric.

White Corduroy Victoria Blazer
I don't know what I was thinking when I bought 3 yards of this WHITE fine wale corduroy. An 80s fog must have stormed over me because, my goodness, what was I thinking. I've never made a By Hand London pattern before, so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of fitting. Since I obviously don't give a shit about this fabric, it'll make a good muslin for a jacket.

I think four projects in a month is a good starting point for my destash. I don't anticipate buying that much fabric at Mood since I'm usually drawn to their more expensive stuff and I don't want to go overboard with my spending. I definitely want to buy some shirting fabric for my husband and myself and possibly some thick ponte for a work dress. I also want to make pants this years so maybe I'll add twill or suiting to the shopping list.



I'm also trying to do something with my scraps from past quilting projects. I loved Erin's idea of making a scrap quilt....from scraps! I had two small ziploc  bags in my fabric drawer, one filled with random sized scraps and the other filled with small squares. I quickly chain-stitched the small squares together just so I could get started on this project. I definitely don't have enough little scraps to make a quilt, but I have bigger pieces laying around somewhere. I don't have any plans yet for a design. For once I just want to piece them randomly and see where it leads me. I imagine this may be a year-long project!

Do you have any plans to destash this year? I've never made a point to do it in the past, but I think it's time I start.
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