Thursday, January 19, 2017


Happy new year, friends!
(three weeks late)

Be ye warned: I'm about to do a year-end roundup, in arrears.

I have to say that I'd never understood why bloggers do year-end roundups. I mean, it's exhausting to unearth one year's worth of photos and cram them all into a collage and then concoct new Nice Things to say about stuff I'd made myself and already bragged about months earlier. In the past, especially when the kids were very little, my reaction after looking back over the 12 months of any particular year is usually along the lines of "Oh, my word, I feel utterly wiped out just remembering how busy I was. Did I even sleep? Can a person feel sleep-deprived just thinking about how sleep-deprived they were?"

Then: 2016.

I think of 2016 as a bit of an off-year for me. There were a lot of transitions and growing up (some done by the kids and some by me) and coming to terms with being older and watching my parents get older and everyone navigate new things in their respective golden eras. Some of those things were silly e.g. I apparently reached some kind of storage ceiling with my blog photos on Googlesomething and had to find a new way to upload photos to Blogger without incurring even more storage deficits, but that resulted in doubling the number of steps and suddenly blogging became a pain so I ran away from it, shrieking. And then when our big camera was in the shop for weeks, I found that I didn't even miss it. Um - a blogger not missing her camera? Red flag! And immediately I was trapped in a cesspool of existential rumination: is it just the photos or is it blogging in general? And why do I blog, really? How much of my life is this blog? What does it mean if I don't want to talk about cardboard any more? Or take a photo of cardboard? Is it the photo, or the cardboard? 

At some point, fortunately, it crossed over into the ridiculous and there was much derisive self-mockery, which restored the peace and perspective, so it was all good.

But some of those things were less silly, like wanting to write more than wanting to sew. Or realizing my kids were old enough now that I could actually get an outside-the-house full-time job if I wanted to (whether I actually wanted to or not was not the issue; the point was that I could). Or feeling, for the first time, that I might need to be someone other than so-and-so's mother. Just the other day, for instance, I called the neighbor's house and introduced myself as my kid's mom. When the neighbors had known us for years already. 

I know, right? Somehow I was subconsciously stuck at that point in the past when I toted around car seats and diaper bags and introduced myself as "LiErAndIHaveThreeKids". I might as well have joined a MOMS group and written all four of our names on my name tag during the icebreaker sessions. 

After I was done parodying myself, however, I reflected that it was more likely than anything else my immigration status sneaking up with a swift kick to the behind. See, I came to stay in the US with a one-year-old and all my other identities in remission for the next eleven years as I figured out how to be responsible for a tiny human being in a country I barely knew. I needed to be Mother. I threw myself into being Mother. Now those other identities are coming out of hibernation and giving Mother a good run for her money. It's a hoot - I love rediscovering Old Me but reinvention takes time and energy and sometimes between the dinner prep and the swim team drop-offs and pick-ups, it just doesn't happen. And on particularly manic days, I torture myself further by feeling guilty about it. 

I sure wish I had more hours in a day (and a therapist to invite to the circus)! Is this just me or are there other slightly schizophrenic recovering One-Dimensional Mothers out there? If so, yoo hoo! Don't be shy. Bring your own nutella and join the party! 

But back to the year-end roundup: I know now why bloggers do it. Because sometimes an entire year goes by that isn't just crafting and sewalongs - there are sick kids and huge family changes and bad news and moving to new cities and we ask ourselves at the end of it, "Have I actually accomplished anything or was that just 365 days of fire-fighting and trying to find new normals?" And here's another weird thing: sometimes a year isn't bad per se. Sometimes no one dies and no one loses a job or lands themselves in prison. Sometimes a year is just full of little things that we didn't foresee, or little ways in which we forgot to take care of ourselves, or little choices we made by default because other things were more urgent or important on any particular day, week, month.

And right after the hubbub of Christmas is that small valley in our energy landscape in which we exhale and realize the year is almost over, and the kids are 12 whole months older, and What Just Happened?

Yeah. That was kind of my year.

So I looked back over my 2016 blog archives (thank the stars for my blog because without it, I wouldn't remember what I actually made) to see if I'd actually sewn anything this year, because I suspected that I might not have.

Imagine my surprise at what I'd found!

Apparently, I started and finished the Zip A Bag Tutorial Series. Booyah!

And sewed costumes!

And added to the Menagerie zoo!

And engineered parties!
Emily's Harry Potter Party - posts to come

And launched a sewing pattern!

And stocked the shop!

And made things with the kids!

Emoji pillows made by (L to R): Kate, Emily and Jenna

Cardboard Castle by Emily
Donuts by Kate
Mini Cardboard Oven by Kate
Cardboard Barbie Bunk Bed by Jenna

Patchwork Balls by Emily

And did the Kids' Craft Fair!

Slightly incredulous at what actually got done when I honestly felt like I'd been slacking off. The optimist in me said, "Wow. Way to go, girl!"

The pessimist in me said, "Now imagine how much more sleep-deprived you'd have been if you'd actually not been slacking off."

Shut up, pessimist. You are not welcome here.

I've also been writing. That isn't here on the blog because it isn't sewing-writing. Or cardboard-writing. Or any writing that is related to teaching or motherhood or crafting. I started this blog when the kids were small and I needed a creative outlet that included them in my world since, you know, that world invariably seemed to revolve around them anyway. Almost a decade later, that creative world has expanded to corners that are my own, and it's been a truckload of fun to make something -even if it's text on a page - just for me. It isn't ready to be shared with the world at large, but I am learning so much about the writing process that it's fun in and of itself. And I'm finally using all the stuff I learned in grad school and the hours of counseling (have you ever psychoanalyzed a fictional character? It's absolutely delicious.) Someday, if I publish a (non-craft) book, you guys can say you heard about it here first.

But what of 2017? Will I still sew? Will I still be here waxing lunatic about sewing and fabric and children and teaching you to do the same? 

Pffft. Of course! I might loathe editing photos and such, but I still love the making. 

And now, onward! January has run away with me in the form of major house projects but I have been assiduously working through the hundreds of Harry Potter Party photos (there are about 20 posts!!!!) and I will be ready to share them soon. Also I have a sudden craving to draft shorts, make small rabbits and sew duffle bags. So bring it, 2017, and be our new happy place. 

Monday, December 26, 2016



. . . also, Merry Christmas, everyone!

If only we'd gotten our act together enough to take a glowing family portrait. Alas, we did not.
No - wait - we did:

Anyway, about that Niffler. I did make him after all (and yes, he even has a pocket for jewelry). Here are some substandard creature-shots in horrendous lighting.

That aside, I would not say he is perfect. For instance, I didn't have black fur in the house and had to make him dark brown. His snout/bill/snuffly nose thing isn't amazingly precise. 

But Emily (who'd asked for him) was right - he is somewhat Menagerie-esque in shape, and for a single night's work of drafting this prototype, Emily was quite happy with him.

Speaking of things Harry Potterish, I am still editing the hundreds of photos of Emily's Harry Potter party in September. I shall post them soon!

Have a wonderful new year, all, and may it be rich in family, love, safety, health, hope, peace, and all the things that truly matter. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


This amused me today.

It's a blobfish -

Poor thing.

It is, however, the favorite animal of one of Emily's very good friends, so we made her a Menagerie Blobfish for her birthday. I've made a fish from the Menagerie base before, but Emily convinced me that it could be turned on its head/tail and be a fish in the backwards configuration, too. Well! It turns out she was right. It also turns out that it's the exact shape for other sea creatures, like the clownfish. And angler fish. And manatees. And fattish sperm whales. 

I love being surprised by how versatile Menagerie is! 

Emily, incidentally, has asked for a Niffler. Apparently, it's Menagerie-friendly, too, she claims. Do I have the time to squeeze one in by Christmas Eve? One hopes.

We're set for a busy week here in chez ikatbag, so in case I don't pop back here before the weekend, have a wonderful Christmas, everyone, and safe travels for those leaving town. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Once Upon A MidSummer Night

Not really Christmassy, but I found this series of photos in our photo library this week and wanted to share. The husband captured this from the yard, through the sewing window earlier this summer.  Initially, since they were all so similar, I was going to pick just one shot. But then I realized they were a story without words. 

Aw - making a gift for someone you love. 
Maybe it is about Christmas after all.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Time Warp bags in Shop

Hello friends!

I feel somewhat accomplished because I weighed and measured and listed some items in my etsy shop for you today. Remember the Zip A Bag series from some months ago?

I promised that I'd be putting some of the samples in the shop for you to adopt, and they are there now! Whoo! I shall miss them because they were fun to design and make and beautiful to behold in their completed state. But I can't use them all and I don't have space for them at home, so I'd rather they go to other people who will use them and love them.

Please note that not all the bag samples from the Zip A Bag series are listed. My children and I have called dibs on some of the samples, for sentimental reasons. But there are still quite a few to browse and fall in love with. Each of them is designed and drafted from scratch - some are inspired by pre-existent bags and the ubiquitous classic zippered pouches, but the finished items are all limited-edition, one-of-a-kind prototypes that I may never make again, just because.

I've also added a few items from my existing stock, and there are a few Port & Sort Tote hardware kits still available if you want to make some from the pattern for Christmas gifts. If anyone is interested in the Port & Sort Tote fabric+hardware kits, please send me an email to request them. I don't have the Thermaflec or ripstop nylon on hand but I can pick some up at the fabric store within a day or two, and I have enough zippers in all four colors (coral, orange, light blue, royal blue) to put together a custom kit for you, and I can give you an estimate on when they'll be ready.

A note about shipping: based on previous years' experience, items can be shipped overseas in time for the holidays if you order before the 10th? of December. Shipping domestically buys us an extra week, but do purchase early to be sure things get where you need them by Christmas.

Go here to begin shopping, and thank you for your support!