Monthly Archives: August 2009

Tropical Storm Krovanh


Tokyo getting whacked tomorrow- and I don’t have any machine thread! Note to self and other crafters in storm-prone areas: stock up on the basic essentials for those blustery “rainy days”.


Time Management for Crafters with Full-Time Job and Next to NO Space


I didn’t mean to post every day. Really, I didn’t.  I only wanted to do it once a week because I didn’t want to spend too much time on a blog when I have a million other things to do.  Ironically, this post is a reflection on time management, all the things I know a person in my situation should do, and my punishment for having failed so miserably at.

As you can see above, I am trying to craft something (with hopes of selling the finished products) on limited time and in limited space.  This month I have had two days off per week- I think that’s average for full time workers. Next month, I am giving myself three days off a week, because I can. Its one of the very few benefits that comes with my particular job.  I submit my schedule, and no one argues.  Anyway, these past two months, my free time for crafting has been precious, something I only realize when there is not much I can actually do about it (as in afterthought, or while I’m in the middle of a particularly slow lesson).

If you are into crafting but you have to work too, I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you. Here are some things that crossed my mind as I did the pre-lunch dishes today. By the way, I have to start getting ready for work in 20 minutes…

1. My small apartment is a mess.  I share the space with my husband, and since its so small, I have to admit that I feel a lot freer to move around and do my thing while he is at work. I don’t get much of anything done when he’s home.  So my first bit of advice- if your significant other/roommate is not collaborating with you on your crafting in a small space, arrange for time to be home while he/she is engaged elsewhere.  Probably clean it up before they get home. Because if you are like me, cleaning while someone else is, um, watching you clean is less than motivating for anything.  In fact, do all of the major weekly chores when you are alone, for the same reason.  My husband cooks and does laundry, that’s as far as his Japanese pride will let him stoop. I considered installing a bull-ring in his nose, but he has a thing against piercings, so beyond those two chores which he does only occasionally, I am responsible for the rest of it.  This week, I wish that I had tidied up the place and vacuumed (I always leave vacuuming for last) on Sunday night when I got home.  Then I wouldn’t have had to face it on my day off.  On my crafting day.  The day I had goals.

So my first bit of advice, clean on your workdays, don’t save it for your day off. And try to schedule your crafting messes for days when your roommate/other is not home. You’ll get more done and have more space to work in.

2. Pick one major cleaning project a week- like the bathroom, toilet, mopping (if your floors stay relatively clean anyway and you have no kids, once in a while is really all you need), washing blankets, organizing whatever, making a trip to the recycling and/or donation centers, cleaning out your trashcan, cleaning drains… you know.  At least one a week, but don’t schedule it all for one time (unless you believe in Spring/Fall Cleaning marathons).

3. Plan your menu and shopping times.  I was hungry for lunch both days of my weekend, but I had nothing I considered good for lunch.  I should have planned that.  So, when you go shopping, know thyself.  What are you gonna want to have for lunch? If you never tire of spaghetti, buy lots of sauce, buckets of it, and noodles, and frozen cheese.  For me, I love rice and pickles (not just cucumbers, pickles are a genre in Japan), and I had NO pickles this weekend. I was dying for any kind of vegetable too.  Rice and pickles is a quick no-brainer; a bit of cold tea and I can enjoy a quick satisfying low fat lunch of some nutritional value. Minimal dirty dishes, and I am back to my crafting in no time!  On a related note, have an idea of what you will have for dinner on your day off just as well as the days you work.  Really want to split your time between cooking something and making something?  Or have make yourself decent to go out because your husband (who only needs to put on some jeans as opposed to your having to completely change clothes, do hair, and maybe slap on some make-up) is in the middle of a quest…  Plan your menu and plan your shopping/going out time. Also, schedule time for cooking- know when to stop crafting so you can have food on the table before you or husband gets cranky.

4. Set yourself up.  I have not tried this yet, but I think it will help.  I have a comfy sofa where my laptop sits nearby, and any time I need a break I run to it and find myself killing nearly 30 minutes each time.  And I take a lot of breaks.  Why?  All my activity thus far has been done on the floor.  I have no real “space” for crafting, and I assure you I could easily fill up a whole room. Yet every time I decide to craft, I have to pull out a little floor table with my sewing machine, a floor chair, scoot the rug over, fetch a small iron and ironing board from another room, cloth from another…  And then I spend the next few hours hunched over my machine in a troll-like position so that I can use the foot pedal, digging madly through stuff strewn about the floor for a pen or some scissors.  Its not comfy and I take lots of breaks. No more!!  Starting next week, I am giving myself half the kitchen table.  A chair, a tall flat surface, good lighting, other chairs that can be converted to holding shelves.  All I need is an extension cord.  With this new arrangement, I can cut my breaks down and most likely work faster.

5. Last but not least, log your time. Especially if you plan on converting your craft into an income of any kind.  I have been hyperaware of the value of my time since I picked up sewing.  How much my time is worth at work (anyway, how much my employer is willing to pay for my time at work), and how much my free time is worth.  Honestly, free time, if you are employed, is priceless.  But if you plan to live off of what you would do in your free time anyway, its best you worked out the value of your time, and logged it properly.  This is helping me formulate pricing for my finished products. A lot goes into pricing, but one thing some people undervalue is the time they put into their work.  This includes time for shopping (even on the internet), research, development of the idea, preparing supplies (washing and drying and pressing and basting, oh my!), pinning, cutting, marketing (even online- this includes forums, blogs, Facebook, and reading any of the before mentioned), packaging, and the time you spend in line at the post office.  Company’s pay you for your time, and they keep track of it really well.  You and I should do the same.

Speaking of time lost on blogs….  over did it!  By 20 minutes…  better hurry.

As a New Blogger… and Pre-washing Fabric


Maybe WordPress is one of those great sites, you know, the kind that computer and net savvy people love so much because it looks good and has a ton of great features, and makes them feel good because only they can figure them out quickly enough to make their blogs really, really cool.  Or maybe I’m completely daft- the more likely of the two.  Anyway, I have been playing around and trying to check out other peoples blogs on the site, maybe make some friends.  I guess I’ll figure it out sooner or later.

So today is my Sunday- its actually Tuesday but tomorrow is the first day of my workweek.  Today I have lots to do- I have finished marking the pattern for the pajama pants, and I hope today to make a toile with some cotton I have left over from a Regency dress and chemise project I undertook recently.  Actually, what I did was, I broke a cardinal wedding rule and made my own dress.  I was bored! I had to plan a wedding in my hometown, from my little window to the world, my email, in Japan.  Its not easy on the nerves.  I really wanted to do wedding work myself, but I had to ask others to do things for me. Of course, they have their own lives to take care of and I hated asking, but it seemed to be the only way to get things done.  To help sooth my nerves, and save money (the cost of renting a dress for a day in Japan is the same as the full cost of buying one in the US- not exaggerating), I made my own dress.  I admit, that after that, I figured pajamas would be no problem!

Anyway, next week I am hoping to make my own pajama pants of linen, so this week, I am washing everything.  I am trying to be rough on it.  I want to be able to throw my pajamas in the wash and not worry about serious shrinkage or bleeding of color. I want other people to be able to do this too.  The problem is that in Japan, no one has hot water in their machines.  Weird, huh??  Its more costly than a cold wash, so instead of giving people the choice of what temperature to use, they only make them (and the hookups) for cold water wash!  Adding to the environmental inconvenience, most households have no space for a dryer, and dryers are not only rare, and relatively inefficient, they are really really expensive. So, my first time visiting here, on the train from the airport to the heart of the most expensive city to live in in this world, thinking people in Tokyo must be rich,  I was dumbfounded to see that so many people had their laundry hanging on their apartment patios to dry.  Well, now I know.

So, I am working up the courage and energy to take my ground fabric to the laundromat a few blocks away. The wash will still be cold, my neighbor told me. But they have dryers. And that is important for preshrinking!  Pajamas are no fun if you have to be careful with them.  So even though I am using linen, I am doing everything I can think of to make them just as wearable as cotton or (gulp) polyester.

Well, off I go!

The Sacrifice and Reverse Engineering of My Favorite Pajama Pants


I took a real dive deep beyond the point of no return, toward my pajama project this week.  I have been searching the internet for a good pattern for the bottom half of the pajamas I am making.  Nothing quite fit what I was looking for, I needed something nostalgic that did NOT have “an opening for convenience”.  Pajamas these days should be comfortable but not that comfortable!  Besides, sometimes I feel it is too much to ask to have things sent to Japan, and I would really like to get started sooner. So, I pulled out some old pajamas- some favorites.  I had two, but one had come apart and created its own “opening for convenience”. I thought that design must not be very good.  The other ones I had only stopped wearing because the drawstring openings were torn and the draws themselves seemed to have extra knots that were hindering quick untying…  Otherwise I loved both pairs!

So I let the second pair have it.  Whipped out my seam ripper, and took notes as I desconstructed them.  They were more beautifully made than I ever knew- all the seams were strong, and the draws reinforced (though I am rough on clothes!), with a very reserved use of elastic.  I was originally hoping to avoid any artificial materials, but I have realized that “everything in moderation” could be a better way of producing something.  Anyway, thats my excuse for refusing polyester or nylon in my creation yet allowing elastic.  Its also my justification for bath puffs.  I tried to make one out of natural net-like fabric and it was a total waste of soap.  Until I find something natural and truly superior in performance, nylon bath poufs have a home in my bath.  I digress.

It takes hours to rip something apart at the seams. Especially when the seams are really good ones.  Why not cut it? you may wonder.  Well, if I cut it I can’t get an accurate pattern out of it, can I?  Not that I am copying a pattern completely, mind  you! I am cutting it shorter and using other methods on the hem.  I did not go to design school and at the moment the internet is my teacher in pattern cutting.  Information is scarce and therefor I have gone the path of reverse engineering.  I have yet to find a top worthy of my idea, and still have designs to find or create to go on the pajamas.  Long way to go!

My lasagna is almost done.  Don’t give up! If I can figure this out, anyone can.  Maybe.

Hello world!


Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Who-hoo! Glad to be here! I can’t wait to get all set up!

I stumbled on WordPress by following links for advice to new Etsy sellers.  The other day, I almost pasted my little mugshot on Facebook, but was quickly reminded of faces that perhaps I would prefer to leave to memory.  It was quite traumatic and I had to shut off my computer, and was rewarded by not being able to sleep!  So, you won’t find me on Facebook just yet (sorry Aunt Amelia).

Or nor am I a Twit yet, though I would like to try it.  Its a little lonely on the train to my day job as an English teacher in Japan, and I either play my PSP to make the time go by faster, or let my eyes bounce around to watch people.  I see so many Twit-worthy moments ;-P.  It all loses its flavor by the time I get to my email account…  now I have a proper blog…  See, to become a Twit in Japan, I need an iPhone- I don’t believe the other phones in Japan support Twitter- and as it is, I hardly ever use the phone I have!

Anyway, the rest of my proper little blog will have to wait…  Weekends are the roughest, 12 hours to and from my own front door. I will really have to discipline myself to blog only on Mondays, though it will be hard!

So hello, and welcome to my little blog~