Tag Archives: sewing

For the Love of Crafting

It no secret that I love to craft. From knitting and crocheting to sewing and kid’s crafts, I enjoy everything about it: scouring Pinterest for ideas, shopping for materials, thinking of ways to make things with upcycled materials, designing and making something pretty and useful out of scraps… But most of all, I enjoy making things for other people. So several years ago, when friends asked me to make things for their kids or for other friends’ babies, the business side of jkwdesigns began. And it’s been lots of fun! I love that my clients love the things I make enough to refer me to their friends and trust my skills enough to request something vague and let me run with it.

When it comes to crafting, my favorite part–hands down–is the design process, so figuring out how to turn something like a cartoon character into a hat is what I love the most. From My Little Pony’s Princess Celestia to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and of course, this season’s favorite Queen Elsa and Princess Anna…

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Over the past couple years, I have truly been blessed with more business than I can handle. Usually, during the winter months, I am completely buried under piles of yarn, and my hands can’t knit and crochet fast enough to meet demand. And, sadly, I have come to a point where I feel a bit overwhelmed with my never-ending To-Do list, and although I still love to make things for people, as I forced myself to pick up the crochet hook after getting my kids settled into bed, I realized recently that something HUGE was missing in my crafting life. I no longer have time to just make things and give gifts to loved ones–which, for me, is the most rewarding part of crafting.

I craft for the love of the craft, but I also do it because I love to give gifts. Earlier this year, I started a Craft It Forward challenge to spread handmade love. And it’s the end of November. I’ve only managed to send out one gift. That’s not enough handmade love from me! I’ve also not had time to write and post the tutorials for the Transformers hats–I know MANY people are waiting for it! There are countless other patterns that I want to write–both for this blog and for my Etsy shop. I’ve been wanting to work on some new Star Wars themed decor for my boys’ bedroom. And now that my boys are in school, there are so many things I would like to do for their class and for their school. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for everything. So it’s time for me to make a change.

For the love of the craft, I have decided to stop making handmade items for purchase. I want to focus my work on design and pattern writing. I want to make gifts for friends and family. I want to dedicate some more time in the kitchen working on healthy and delicious meals for my family (we were doing so well during the first half the year, but with the boys starting school and hat orders coming in, it’s been a real challenge lately!). I want to sew some curtains for my daughter’s room. I also want to continue loving the craft and not feel overwhelmed by the list of items I have to finish for paying clients. I plan to complete the orders that I’ve already taken, then spend time making gifts for some very special people in my family’s lives and focus my time and energy on the craft and not the business. When it comes to the business side, my graphic design and event planning work with delightful. has been flourishing, and unlike knitting and crocheting, it doesn’t take hours and hours of work to produce a single item. Also, because my delightful. work is ALL about the design process, it’s been much more creatively fulfilling for me.

So, readers, stay tuned! New patterns and printables (both free and for purchase), lots of giveaways, recipes and more are on their way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Shopping for Craft Supplies at Dongdaemun Fabric Market

Living in Seoul, I miss the convenience of jumping in the car and driving to my local Michael’s, AC Moore or Joann’s. And I definitely miss having access to 40% off coupons! Shopping for crafting supplies in Korea is much more of an adventure than a convenience, but once you get the hang of it, Seoul offers a veritable treasure trove of supplies for craft-lovers.

Dongdaemun Fabric Market is a 5-level (6 including the basement level), 4 building maze of everything a knitter/crocheter/sewer/crafter could possibly need. And if you’ve never been before, prepare to be amazed and overwhelmed. The easiest way to get there is by subway–come out Exit 9 at the Dongdaemun subway station (NOT Dongdaemun Stadium!). As you come up the stairs, this is what you’ll see:


Walk straight to find the doors that lead into this building. And this is where the chaos begins! Generally speaking, the floors are laid out like this:

B1: sewing notions (zippers, velcro, needles, etc.), thread (for hand sewing, machine sewing as well as sergers), yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, embroidery, bedding, home decor fabric

1: lace, ribbon, home decor fabric, decorative patches, buttons

2: fabric, curtains, silk goods, hanbok fabric

3: fabric (B-dong is specifically known for cotton fabric, both woven and knit)

4: fabric

5: accessories, sewing notions, quilting fabric, quilting notions, ribbon, jewelry supplies, felt (sold as sheets as well as on rolls by the yard)

6: cafeteria and offices

7: offices

Shopping for Yarn

968815_552870511431649_777101494_nThe basement level of Dongdaemun Fabric Market is a mash-up of quilting and home decor fabric, sewing notions, knit/crochet notions and yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. Shopping for yarn in Korea can be both exhilarating as well as frustrating. At times, you’ll marvel at just how much variety is available, but sometimes, you’ll wonder how anyone can afford to knit anything!

The prices at Dongdaemun are hit or miss. Generally speaking, I’ve found that notions such as knitting needles and crochet hooks are on par with prices at Michael’s and AC Moore, but there is significantly more selection, and there are definitely brands you’ve probably never heard off. If you’re like me and like what you like–bamboo needles and Clover brand crochet hooks–then you’re probably better off ordering online from American retailers, but if you’re just getting started or don’t mind trying out new things, then you’ll find lots of great deals on things like knitting needles. Despite my reluctance to stray from my Clover Soft-Touch crochet hooks, I’ve found a great brand of crochet hooks called Tulip that make a size 6.5mm/O (not easy to find in non-plastic needles). Same goes for yarn winders and swifts. The pricing at Dongdaemun is very similar to what you’ll find in the U.S.

As for yarn, it all depends on what you like to work with. If you typically purchase yarn from places like AC Moore and Michael’s, and you especially love when certain brands are on sale, then the pricing at Dongdaemun may be more than what you’re used to. I love to work with Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s soft, comes in a variety of bright, beautiful colors, and it’s machine-washable. All great for making kids’ hats. When it comes to acrylic yarn, I’ve found that the brands that are sold at Dongdaemun are not as soft as Vanna’s Choice or Knit Picks Brava yarn, so I tend to stock up on these when there are sales online. However, if I have to have a very specific color and can’t rely on sample colors on the computer (such as when I worked on my son’s crazy Optimus Prime hat!), I go to Dongdaemun so I can see the colors firsthand. Also, at Dongdaemun, it’s difficult to tell the yarn’s weight and yardage since these things are not clearly labeled.

However, if you love luxury yarns and typically shop at your LYS, then you’ll find an amazing selection of fabulous fibers at great prices. I’ve purchased some wonderful wool blends that are amazingly soft and are wonderful to work with. Alpaca and alpaca blends are also quite popular at Dongdaemun and pricing is much better than what I used to pay at my LYS.

Keep in mind that for all yarns, you will pay significantly less if you purchase in bulk–an entire package of yarn (sometimes, 4, 6, or 10 skeins at a time). Single skeins of yarn are available at most vendors, but you’ll pay around 25-30% more per skein.

Also, if you have a yarn winder and swift at home, consider purchasing hanks of yarn. They are far more economical! The hanks are GIGANTIC, and when I wind them, I usually have to split the hank into 4-5 skeins.

Shopping for Fabric

944370_552870311431669_873485537_nFabric shopping at Dongdaemun is an absolutely amazing experience. The prices are–hands down–much better than what you’d get at places like Joann’s (even with a 40% off coupon!) or even fabric.com. You’ll find every kind of fabric imaginable at Dongdaemun, and they’ll even carry American name-brand/designer fabrics for a fraction of what it costs State-side.

Fabric is sold by the yard (orย ma, although if you say yards, everyone will know what you mean), and most vendors are very liberal with their cuts. There have been times when I’ve purchased 3 yards, come home and found that they’d actually given me close to 4 yards of fabric (win!). With so much competition (literally hundreds of fabric vendors under one roof), prices are set and you will not be able to haggle for better pricing. But really, at these prices, you don’t need to!

For me, when I go fabric shopping, I’ve found that it’s best to go with a list of things I need. With so much selection, it’s overwhelming to go without a plan of attack. You’ll either end up leaving with nothing or come home with a bunch of fabric that you had no idea you wanted. Either way, you end up feeling like Dongdaemun got the best of you!

Also, many vendors will have a stack of pre-cut fabric stacked in a box at the front of their stall. Often, these fabrics are available for VERY CHEAP. I’ve purchased wool suit fabric for 1,000KRW/yard and great stretch knit fabric (perfect for kids leggings) for 2,000KRW/yard.

There are a handful of vendors who do not want to sell small quantities of fabric. If you ever encounter this, simply move on. There are many, many others who will be happy to sell the same stuff to you.

Shopping for Crafting Supplies (ribbon, accessories, jewelry-making supplies)

5th floor. That is all.

Just kidding. But seriously, the 5th floor has seemingly endless rows of stalls for everything you could possibly need for making hair bows, headbands, jewelry, purses, embroidery, cell phone charms, dolls, and more.

Most of the vendors also make and sell their own products, so even if you’re not the crafty type, go to the 5th floor to shop for accessories. From super cute stuff for babies to elegant necklaces for mom, you’ll end up wanting to buy ALL. THE. THINGS.

Click here for a list of Dongdaemun vendors/stall numbers and what they sell

A couple weeks in review!

It’s been nearly a month since my last post–I have absolutely no idea how the time flew by so quickly! We’ve had a lot going on here at the jkwdesigns household. A leak in my daughter’s room that I reported to the landlord over a month ago turned into a massive mold infestation that I didn’t even know was there because apparently, silk wallpaper holds it all in. The wallpaper just looked like it had water damage, but when the contractor finally came over to deal with it, he ripped down the wallpaper and there was SO MUCH MOLD. I almost started crying, knowing that my baby girl had been sleeping in that room all this time. I took her to the pediatrician, and luckily, because we have no history of mold allergies in our family, the doctor said she was fine. However, with all this mold nonsense, we’ve temporarily had to move Princess Penelope’s crib to my sewing room–something neither of us have been happy about! ๐Ÿ˜‰ She doesn’t want to sleep there, and I don’t want her to sleep there! Haha… I’ve had to put my sewing machine in the guest bedroom, and at times, I’ve had to sneak into the sewing room for all the random things I need while working on a project. With Miss Penny Penny’s super-sensitive bat-hearing, it’s better to just not work on anything!

However, not working on stuff has not really been an option lately. I’ve had quite a few custom orders come my way the past few weeks, which is awesome. Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to…
I’ve worked on a few sets of the bow tie onesies–seems the ladies like bow ties on their little guys!
A baby shower gift set for a little Atlanta Falcon’s fan – blanket, bow tie onesie and bibs.
A crochet Captain America hat for a teeny tiny Avenger!
And every itty bitty Captain America needs a Big Brother Ironman!
I’m considering writing the pattern for the Ironman mask portion on the front (there are enough free hat patterns floating around the internet) if there’s enough interest. Leave a comment and let me know if you’d like me to post a free pattern!

And a little something for Mama!

I FINALLY got around to sewing something for myself, and I LOVE IT. ๐Ÿ™‚ For those of you who know me in “Real Life,” you know that I love skirts. I think that a good 80% of my closet is skirts and dresses. I think that at one point in my pre-baby life, I owned 19 black skirts. I remember joking with my husband that I needed one more to make it an even 20. He didn’t seem to understand that I was serious. Anyway, here’s a new addition to my wardrobe. It’s so stretchy and comfy. I’ll definitely be cranking out some more of these to wear throughout the summer. And the best part–it took ONE YARD of fabric (because I’m short. Really. Really. Short.) so this skirt cost about $5 to make. Woohoo!

I followed a tutorial that can be found at Cotton+Curls. A lovely blog with lots of DIY tutorials. Check it out!

Making my own sewing patterns

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get a sewing machine. I love it. And now, I want a serger. Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about making clothes. I remember back when I was about 10 or so, I used to draw all these ridiculous dresses and outfits I wanted to make. I should have studied fashion design.

I’ve figured out how to draw out my own patterns using clothes that currently fit my daughter. Everything I’ve made so far is pretty much limited to an 18 month size… But I figure I’ll work out 24 month size soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are the things I’ve made for Miss Penelope, all using repurposed/upcycled materials. Woohoo! I still haven’t made it to the fabric market as there’s absolutely no way I would be able to navigate the place with three kids in tow… Someday… But until then, I’m cutting up all the old t-shirts and bedsheets I can find!

Asymmetric pleated dress made from a t-shirt

2 layer dress with deep v-back made from a t-shirt and bedsheets

Bubble dress made from a t-shirt

Shift dress made from a pillowcase and an old skirt

Tunic made from a bedsheet and t-shirt scraps

Peplum Jacket Version 2.0

Last week’s peplum jacket for Miss Penelope didn’t quite work out according to plan. I’d hoped to put buttons on it, but when I cut the pieces, I didn’t account for that. Oh whoops… So I added a little piece of fabric on the front and used velcro to close it. It actually worked out pretty well. I also made the sleeves a smidge too narrow. So obviously, I had to try again. Too bad DH’s old khakis weren’t big enough for two jackets… But that’s okay because I’m apparently a hoarder who doesn’t throw anything away. I had an old Ikea couch cover that I should have tossed before we moved to Korea, but I’m definitely glad I didn’t. It’s a nice thick material–perfect for a jacket.

This jacket seriously kicked my ass. I tried pleats and darts for the first time. I hadn’t intended to try darts… But a bit of incorrect measurements on my part led me in that direction. I had to make the pleated peplum twice because the first time, I made it backwards. :-/ But when it was all done… I was quite pleased with the finished product! And now I can say I know how to do pleats and darts.ย 

I think I missed my calling…

As I’ve been getting to know my sewing machine better these last couple of months, I’ve come to the realization that I may have missed my calling as a baby clothes designer… Good thing I went to school for 10 years (post-high school) to get my PhD in Art History, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I tried my hand at another tutorial for a gorgeous dress I saw on Pinterest–that wonderful, evil, time-sucking, procrastination tool. The tutorial can be found on the Tidbits blog. I adore this dress. It’s beautiful. But reading through the tutorial, I was worried for a couple of reasons. A) I wasn’t sure if I could handle doing the sleeves, and since I’d done the edging on a tank dress before, I decided to make it a tank dress. B) She said that she used up 6 old t-shirts in the making of this dress. Because my sewing skills are still quite limited, I wasn’t sure if I was willing to risk RUINING 6 valuable t-shirts if I royally screwed this up. Despite these concerns, the ruffles on the back of this dress made me want to squeal with delight. So I had to try it. I decided to do just two colors–this way, I’d only be ruining 2 shirts.

I took a dress that I already had for Penny and made a pattern… And once I had the pieces cut out (which was way easier this time around), I got sewing. And I immediately got ahead of myself and sewed the front and back pieces of the skirt together before realizing that’s one of the last steps on the tutorial. Oh whoops… But I’d already cut up one t-shirt, and there wasn’t enough material to cut out another skirt. Plus, I’d already zigzag stitched the seam so it wasn’t like I could just rip out the straight stitches and sew the pieces back together later. I wouldn’t be able to sew the two triangular pieces onto the back of the dress… And after spending quite a bit of time staring at the pieces, trying to figure out what to do, I finally decided to just move forward. I’d figure it out later!

So I started making ruffles… Lots and lots of ruffles! Sewed the ruffles on, put the edging on the neckline and the armholes (are there more technical terms for these?), sewed the bodice onto the skirt… And I found that I love this version of the dress so much more than what I’d originally set out to make! This is much more my style than the original (thus, Penny’s style–haha!), and I just adore it.

Front of dress
Back of dress

ย It’s just the tiniest bit big on her, so it’ll be perfect once the weather warms up. Now, my only problem is is that Miss Penelope isn’t walking yet. I need her to walk on her own two feet so she can wear this dress and maximize the adorableness of it.

After I posted photos of this on my Instagram, a friend of mine emailed and asked if I could help her make a dress like this for her niece, so I scanned the pattern I made and emailed it to her. Until I can figure out how to put a PDF file up on my blog, feel free to email me and I’ll send you the pattern! It’s for an 18 month size dress. It includes a single piece for the top/bodice and the piece for the skirt (which you’ll have to cut 2 of–one for the front, one for the back). That’s it! I’ll get up a proper tutorial soon, with photos and all, but right now, I’m in the middle of working on Version 2 of a peplum jacket for Miss Penelope using an old Ikea couch cover! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s Version 1, made from a pair of her daddy’s old khakis.

I love it, but it fits her quite snug right now. I’m not even sure it’ll fit her once the weather warms up a bit more and she can actually wear it out of the house… Version 2 features both pleats AND darts. It’s been a major pain in the ass… But I’ve learned a lot and I’m almost done!

One step up

The past few days, I’ve decided to venture forth and try my hand at sewing something that required more skills and a bit more time than 40 minutes when the baby’s napping. A friend had recommended the Reversible Baby Pinafore pattern/tutorial, and amazingly, all the pattern pieces fit on a single pillowcase… So I figured, what the hell. If I screw up, it’s just a pillowcase, right?

I printed out the pattern pieces (the free pattern is for 6-12 month size, and Penny’s now wearing 12 month, but I figured that she can wear it as a top rather than at dress length), cut them up, lined them up and taped them… Then, I was at a complete loss. I tried cutting with the rotary cutter, but I screwed that all up. It was too hard to just cut the fabric. I found myself cutting the paper as well. Then, I tried scissors. And maybe I need to work on my scissor skills, but it kicked my butt. So after what felt like an eternity, I finally managed to get all the pieces cut. I swear, this process took longer than the actual sewing!

Once I started sewing the pieces together, it was very easy to follow the tutorial. I made a couple of mistakes, but they’re all on one side of the pinafore, and since it’s reversible and I used one fabric for both sides, Penny can just wear it on the side that doesn’t have issues. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I actually put Miss Penelope in a pair of white tights for the photos, but they were SO SMALL on her that the crotch was around her knees. :-/ Why does she keep growing so fast?!? It doesn’t help that all three of my kids are freakishly tall for their ages, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because I’ll all of 5’1″. DH is average height, but he does have some crazy tall relatives. Maybe that’s where the kids get it from.

Anyway, once I finished that, I jumped into the next project, which only took about 1.5 hours. I worked on it for about 30 minutes while the kids were napping yesterday, then I wrapped it up after they went to bed last night. How’s that for a day’s work? Hand sewing the braided neckline onto the dress took a bit longer, but since I didn’t need the sewing machine, DH and I were able to watch an episode of Homeland (we just started Season 2).

This tutorial is from Make It & Love It, and it’s about as simple as dress-making goes. I made it out of one of DH’s favorite shirts (that I won’t let him wear anymore because it looks terrible–washed too many times, all out of shape, stains, etc.), so he especially loves the finished product.

I’ve discovered these past few weeks that there are a million things around the house that I can cut up and repurpose. The frugal me LOVES this. On the other hand, I REALLY, REALLY want to get to the big fabric market here. I want to go so badly that I’m actually considering dragging all 3 kids there–on the subway and everything. Sigh…ย 

Until then, I suppose it’s just fabric scraps for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰