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  • HOWDY.

    Thanks for stopping by sweetfrenchtoast!

    I'm Sabrina, and I love to make pretty things, visit inspiring places, eat really good food, and take lots of photos along the way. Though I live with my husband in Atlanta, GA, I consider the world my home, and I can't wait to see more of it.

sewing to-do list: a hanbok for mom

traditional Korean hanboks

A few years ago, RH, my mom and I went to Seoul, Korea, for my uncle’s 70th birthday party. This is a photo of my uncle and his pretty family. The beautiful, colorful gowns my aunt and cousins are wearing are hanboks, or traditional Korean dresses.

Hanboks are worn for special occasions, and my mom has wanted to buy one to wear for Korean Thanksgiving and other cultural holidays. For Christmas, I gave her one! Actually, I gave her a future hanbok, as I told her I would sew her a custom dress in the colors of her choice.

I’ve bought the fabric for her dress: a pink satin for the jeogori, or jacket, and a navy blue taffeta for the skirt, called the chima. I decided to use the Folkwear #141 pattern after searching high and low for the Simplicity version to no avail.

I’m excited to make this for my mom soon, but I have a bit of a reprieve since there aren’t any hanbok-wearing occasions coming up. I’m glad that I’ll be able to take my time with the project and not rush it! I’ve traced the pattern onto Swedish tracing paper and cut out almost all of the fabric pieces. That took much longer than I expected it to, but I’m trying to be extra careful so the final product gets the Mom seal of approval.:)

Do you have any special sewing projects on your to-do list?

March 29, 2013 - 12:58 pm

Diane @ Vintage Zest - How neat! My cousin got married to a Korean guy a number of years ago, and she wore a traditional gown to honor her in-laws’ heritage. It was so intricate and colorful!

No special projects planned yet, but hopefully soon!

March 29, 2013 - 11:27 pm

sabrina - You have your wonderful trip to plan for! No time for special projects! :)

stitch once, rip twice: a sewing group for the rest of us

My lovely blog friend Diane of Diane’s Vintage Zest recently had the brilliant idea to start a group for the rest of us—you know, those of us who haven’t been sewing for years and still probably rip a few several seams out with every project we tackle. Some of us haven’t made pants yet. Heck, I still haven’t sewn a buttonhole yet!

Allow me to introduce you to…

Stitch Once, Rip Twice

Do you like the logo?:)

As Diane says in her post announcing the group:

The idea is to pick a project (same pattern, similar trend) and share our individual results (and problems along the way). Also, sometimes we all need motivation, and having a virtual group will help to make sure projects don’t sit for too long!

Sounds like fun, huh?

Our first challenge is to make something inspired by the spring 2013 trend of black and white.

The Black and White Challenge

Haven’t heard about the black and white trend yet? Check out this striking Pinterest board by Laura Elkeslassy.

black and white Pinterest board

I’ve been thinking long and hard about exactly what I want to do for this challenge, but I haven’t made a decision yet. One of my goals is to use both fabric and patterns that I already own, since I’m trying to use more fabric than I buy this year.

I won’t be able to start on my black and white project for a little while as I’m just getting started on a very special sewing project for my mom. I’ll have more to share on that very soon!

If you’re into sewing and would like a little sewcial support (tee hee), check out Diane’s post for info on how to join our little group!

calligraphy stamps from kathryn murray

One of my favorite creative outlets involves paper and making pretty stationery out of it. Years ago, I started a line of hand-assembled photo notecards made out of recycled papers and some of my flower photos. More recently, I’ve learned to letterpress on a giant old Chandler & Price platen press, and for those times I can’t get my local printmakers studio, I have a tiny little L letterpress for home projects like this:

notecard with lined envelope

One of my favorite sites for inspiration is Oh So Beautiful Paper. Besides featuring a range of gorgeous paper projects from business cards to wedding invitations, Oh So Beautiful Paper is also “dedicated to the lost art of handwritten correspondence in everyday life.”

When editor Nole recently posted a giveaway for a set of calligraphy stamps by Kathryn Murray, I jumped at the chance to enter. Lucky me…I won! I received my “S” initial stamp and custom-inked return address stamp, along with some blank notecards and envelopes and an ink pad, and happily began stamping away.

calligraphy stamps by Kathryn Murray

These stamps are brilliant because they are clear! You can see everything which allows you to line them up perfectly. Crooked stamping, begone!

calligraphy stamp by Kathryn Murray

And oh—Kathryn didn’t send me an address stamp with weird blanks spots in it. I’ve Photoshopped my address for a false sense of security. This is the internet, after all.

calligraphy stamp by Kathryn Murray

Thank you so much to Kathryn for her lovely gift and to Nole at Oh So Beautiful Paper for hosting the giveaway. I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of the beautiful stamps!

March 13, 2013 - 9:49 am

Victoria - This is so awesome! I’ve been papercrafting for a couple of years now, and I would love to get into some letterpressing. I have an embossing machine that my mom got me for Christmas, and I know there is so much more I can do with it. Thanks for sharing!!

March 13, 2013 - 10:42 am

Diane @ Vintage Zest - This is a dangerous post for me to read! I also have a tiny embossing machine that my boyfriend got me for the previous holidays. This letterpress looks waaay tempting though! Before sewing got a hold of me, I was at Michael’s every day looking at the paper crafts aisle. I made a deal with myself that I can have only one obsession, and sewing is it for now. Maybe one day when my wedding invites need to be made, I’ll give it a try. You don’t mind designing/making a couple hundred, right? Facebook group discount? :)

March 14, 2013 - 8:19 am

sabrina - Victoria, you should give letterpressing a shot! It’s not that complicated, and it’s really rewarding to create something so luxurious so cheaply at home.

Diane, I learned how to letterpress before my wedding so I could make my invites! It was a great experience and now I’m hooked. :)

seamstress, sewist, stitcher or sewer…and helping someone in need

In the year that I’ve been sewing, I’ve always hesitated before choosing a word to describe myself as someone who sews. I see “sewist” used a lot, but there’s something about that word that simply sounds strange to me. It just doesn’t feel right. But neither do “seamstress” or “sewer.” And “stitcher”? For some reason, that makes me think of a serial killer…like Jack the Ripper!

There are definitely differing opinions on the topic (here’s one—and here’s another), but to me, the jury is still out. So I hope you’ll cut me some slack if you notice me using the terms interchangeably, or perhaps even making up my own sometime.:)

I am sure of one thing: I am grateful to have the means to pursue hobbies like sewing. My complaints about lacking a dedicated craft room and not being able to visit Mood Fabrics in person often enough are classic #firstworldproblems.

Last year, I made my first microloan via Kiva, to a farmer in Cambodia who used her loan to buy a cow, maintain her rice field, and buy stock of merchandise to sustain her selling business. After that loan was successfully repaid, I decided to fund a microloan to a seamstress named Maria Julia in El Salvador.

Kiva says this about Maria Julia:

For several years, Julia has been earning her income by manufacturing skirts, shirts and dresses. She lives with her 4 children, 2 of whom still depend on her because they are studying (ages 22 and 20). Since she started working with Integral loans, her small business has improved; it now has an additional sewing machine and she has hired a person on a commission basis, paid per piece of clothing, so she can meet the demands of her customers, who order from her due to her quality work. She is asking for this loan to purchase more fabric in order to manufacture garments to offer to her customers.

I love the thought of taking a small amount of money—something I would easily spend on a fabric shopping spree—to support someone who sews to support herself and her family. Perhaps if I’m successful in accomplishing my sewing goal to use more fabric than I buy, I can support a few more seamstresses in need this year.

If you’d like to see what microlending is for yourself, you can make a $25 loan for free on Kiva. That’s an offer you simply can’t refuse.:)

March 12, 2013 - 10:33 pm

Diane @ Vintage Zest - What a wonderful gift! It’s very easy to be a selfish seamstress, but this is by definition selfless. Thanks for sharing. :)

March 13, 2013 - 7:49 am

sabrina - Thanks, Diane! It feels great to help!

handmade: fleece hoodie

Back in January, I developed five sewing goals for 2013. I’m excited to share that I can cross one off my list!


I sewed something with knits. Hooray!

I’m enrolled in Meg McElwee’s Sewing With Knits course on Craftsy, and I recently tackled the first project: a fleece hoodie. I wore it on a trip RH and I took to the North Georgia mountains after Valentine’s Day.

blue fleece hoodie from Craftsy class

This photo was taken during a hike at Fort Mountain State Park. Do you see the heart carved into the tower?

heart at Fort Mountain

A park ranger told us that it was carved by the romantic stone worker who was madly in love with a woman he ended up marrying after proposing to her at the tower. They were married for 59 years!

We stayed at the cutest bed and breakfast and spent a lot of time in the common area, called the Council Room, drinking tea, reading and playing Words With Friends.

the Council Room at The Overlook Inn

The Council Room was bordered by bookshelf after bookshelf of hardbacks arranged by color. I particularly liked the blue books—especially because they matched my new hoodie!

books at The Overlook Inn

Sabrina at Fort Mountain

I’m so happy to have conquered my fear of sewing with knits! I’m really happy with my hoodie, although I still want to add a pocket to the front. The next project in the course is a feminine t-shirt, and I’m looking forward to tackling that one soon…and eventually graduating to the final project, a comfy surplice dress.

I realize that now that there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to sewing knits. It’s just like anything else that’s new to me: I just need to dive in, make my mistakes, and learn from them.

For you creative types, hobbyists, and makers, do you have any creative fears?

February 27, 2013 - 11:23 am

Diane @ Vintage Zest - I’m totally fearful of making items for other people. If I make a mistake on something for myself, I’m critical but eventually accept it. With other people, I’m a total basketcase when I hand over a gift. I always think I’m going to get the “Oh, it’s so pretty…” line, with a confused look on their faces.

March 2, 2013 - 11:48 pm

Rachel - sewing any of the following: pants, buttonholes, stretchy fabric, lining. If I was brave like you were with knits I would challenge myself, but I’m going to conquer my lesser fears (sleeves and zippers) first! looking forward to seeing your t-shirt.