mama whose curiosity knows no bounds

I fell in love when I saw this coat on the cover of a tailoring textbook in

So I asked my husband last summer to buy this book. I’ve always wanted a long coat. Especially the nasty winter last time. And longer version of this coat looked perfect.

This book comes with the actual size pattern. BUT I’m “super-sized” when Japanese pattern making is concerned.  My bust is 4″ bigger than the Large of the attached pattern.

However, kindly, this book comes with how to draft the pattern from scratch. First, we draft the “Bunka-style sloper”. 

In Japan, there are two major schools of pattern drafting -“Bunka-style” or “Dre-me (short for ‘dressmaking’)-style”. This book is published by the Bunka-style design. The sloper used is an old version, which use only bust and back length measurement to draft the sloper. The current version is a lot more complicated but that was not the version used in this book.

Ever a computer lover, and I had a good experience with some drawing software (Now defunct Micrografix Designer and Adobe illustrator), I wanted to draw on computer. But of course Adobe illustrator is way too expensive for just trying out drafting pattern. I found an iPad app, iDesign. This is a reasonably good app. It can have layers (big plus!), can export to jpeg or PDF or illustrator format. Although it didn’t have the sophistication of illustrator, it did the job. I successfully draw my sloper.


Then I had to to a rather complicated manipulation so I wanted to deal with front and back in separate file.

Only then I realized that iDesign’s maximum EXPORTABLE board size is smaller than the board I created. I think it’s a sort of bug that allowed me to create that big board I needed for sloper. And this app doesn’t allow me to hop between two separate files, copy and paste as we usually do on any apps on PC.  At this point, it really doesn’t make sense to keep going with this route. I might try getting the illustrator later on, though.

Then the next thing I tried was Microsoft Publisher, which I have used a lot for poster making. The problem with this is that I cannot tell where the printer splits the big drawing so I can place a registration marks for future matching. Besides, it doesn’t allow to make LAYERS. Layers are a MUST for any drawing software.

So until I learn the AutoCAD (I am lucky that I have access to free educational edition), I should stick with paper and pencil.  I have done that about 25 years ago, only my size has changed drastically.

I had a freezer paper taped to have enough space. Then I had to face the inevitable – my rulers are in INCHES, not in metric! Converting centimeters to inches are not too hard, thanks to the online unit converter. I also installed a fraction calculator app on my iPhone. This was great. The only problem is that I no longer have the ability to understand  22 175/192 inches is close enough in sixteenth (or eighth) of an inch.  I was very irritated that I don’t have that sense. It used to be automatic to find the nearest sixteenth. This is what ageing means. Sigh. Still, after a lots of hair-pulling, I managed to draw the real size sloper.

Since the actual drafting of the coat is in centimeters, I had a few options: buy all rulers in metric; or calculate very patiently; wait until I am fluent enough in AutoCAD.  I chose none. I chose BUYING A PATTERN. I need a coat for THIS winter. All forecasts say that this winter is as bad as the last one. I don’t want to survive in LL Bean parka, the warmest coat I have. It had been great until last, awful winter.

Thankfully, I found something that look good at Burda though it is tailored and therefore a bit difficult. Well, I’m ready for that challenge. I’ve taken enough Craftsy courses! And I can knit an accompanying infinit scarf.

I don’t know how Americans can design or draft a pattern. They must be a genius in fractions. Seriously, I hope Americans will adopt metric system soon that I can get all rulers in metric by default. I still hasn’t given up with that coat. So classy, isn’t it?  I might make in jacket length.





For the last 6 months or so, maybe since menopause, I felt more tired.  I blamed it for my lupus and menopause or age or stress. There are so many things to blame in my case.

I also noticed that I was constipated more often than before.  Again, I blamed for lack of activity and lack of fiber.  So I added Benefiber  to my menu and they helped indeed. And also I was keenly aware of my weight gain.  I’ve gained about 15 pounds since January and regardless of my diet or exercise, I couldn’t lose any more than 2 pounds or so and it comes back right away when I eat a bit more sweets. I felt bloated and felt my belly distended.  When I saw my gynecologist in September, I asked about these problems.  She told me that that must be a GI problem and I should ask my primary care physician because she was an expert when it comes to diet.  Well, if a veganism preacher makes a doctor a GI expert, yes.  Since I started seeing her, she’s been urging me to be a vegan.  She even shared her own story that how dairy products caused her headache and giving up all animal products cleared her of all pain.  Well, that’s an anecdote that I hates to hear.  I would be more open if there is a large study that vegan diet helps with pain. I’m a happy pescatarian.

Still, I like her and see her because she doesn’t blame ME for my pain.  She rightfully blames my illness, lupus and fibromyalgia, not my situation (that I have an autistic son recently placed in a group home).  And she prescribes medications accordingly for my insomnia and pain while other doctors back off immediately from prescribing any scheduled medications.  In short, she makes me feel my pain legitimate and not faking.

Even my current rheumatologist backs off from pain medication and she always seems to be afraid. As a result, she blames ME for faking the pain, asking for pills. Hell, no.  I do have pain.  Anyway, when I saw her, she ordered TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test along with other basic blood tests.  Thank goodness.

After some fiasco, my PCP, who practice locally, was able to get the test result, and she herself called me that my TSH was normal.  “Normal” that I don’t trust.  I asked value. She said I had 3.0 or something close.  Lightbulb moment in my head.  NOW I KNEW IT. IT WAS THYROID!  I told her that my former endocrinologist recommended to keep my TSH level between 1 and 2 as a post-total thyroidectomy patient.  I’ve been stable for years at 137 micrograms of Synthroid but somehow, maybe menopause or diet or whatever, tipped off the balance to hypothyroid side.  I asked to increase the dosage.  And she agreed.

But there was a problem.  She ordered “levothyroxicine 150 mcg” that is a generic form of Synthroid, thyroid hormone replacement.  Since I had a horrible experience with generic levothyroxicine in the past, I always asked for Dispense As Written prescription when it comes to Synthroid and paid exorbitant copay for my choice.  My mail order company caught the difference.  And they canceled the order, despite I had my PCP send a corrected prescription.  After that, I had to call again my PCP to prescribe a new DAW prescription.  It went through.  But it took so much wait, about a week, to arrive.  So I did what I shouldn’t.  I chopped an old Synthroid tablet into about eight pieces and took one on top of my regular dose.  If I did perfectly, it should equate 153 mcg of Synthroid. Close enough for a week of waiting period.

WOW. My bowel is suddenly happily moving.  I feel more energy!   But apparently, this causes my joint pain worse.  I really don’t know why.

So the moral of the story is that when you have multiple conditions causing the same or similar symptoms, you have to have all of them checked!

For now, I’m waiting to see if my weight would decrease to past level. I think it should if I don’t eat too much and fortunately, I don’t have much change in appetite. And I’m positive I can exercise more with current energy level.  Until then, my plan to measure myself and make fitting form has to wait.


I found this Craftsy sale opportunities and couldn’t resist sharing it.

I’m gonna buy this jacket fitting class, as her Jacket making techniques class was awesome.

But you need to hurry as this sale ends on November 9 midnight.

Happy crafting and learning!


lapped seam

I was making an Anna costume from Frozen for my friend’s daughter. The pattern has two inset corners and instruction says to reinforce the corner of the inside cut (e.g., skirt center front) reinforced and clip almost to the point, then sew to the point and pivot. Well, I tried but it really didn’t work.  I couldn’t get the sharp point that makes the dress princess-y.

For another corner, on yoke front pointing to the front bodice center, I tried a different method I found online. It worked pretty well, I think.

1) stitch the seam line of the front yoke point.

2) turn at the seam line of the point and press (well the steam holes was a bit dirty in my case…another reminder to use a press cloth).

3) apply basting tape along the seam allowance of the bodice center front.  I used Wonder Tape here. But the video used Steam-A-Seam 2 . For some reason, I can no longer find locally and I ran out of mine a couple projects ago. But Wonder Tape worked.

4) peel the covering tape and apply the yoke, machine seamed line. Then edge-stitched.

Now I got a nice-looking pointed seam!


Sabbath? no not really

For the last 3 months or so, I defined Sunday as my “rest day” as though it is a Sabbath. But in my case, it is merely “mental and physical health day”.

On Sunday I do nothing I have to do, I do something that I want to do –like blogging, or when I feel good enough, sewing. Most of the time, I spend the day in bed, just resting, doing nothing.

Now K is in group home, most Saturday I visit him, unless flare-up or other stuff interferes. Even if my husband drives for most of the time, and in cover myself with UPF50+ shawl, still 4 hours or ride is stressful to my body. That made it start my rest day habit. It allows me to recharge myself so I can go forward with the week ahead of me.

During weekdays I now have to wake up an hour earlier than before, thanks to S going to middle school that starts an hour early. I think this triggered the development of this habit.

Of course it needs cooperation of my family, and luckily, I have. I don’t cook – I often spend all day eating only cereals and my husband and my daughter enjoys meat dish – like bacon and spinach. And now S is old enough, I can ask her to prepare Monday’s lunch – or she will have “hot lunch” at the school – and she always opts for preparing one, even if that means that the lunch consists of three cookies, a cheese stick, and a cupful of fruit. Today she prepared cheese pasta with some vegetables and apparently ready to go.

I don’t do dishes – it’s always my husband’s job. I don’t do laundry, even if that means I have to do two loads on Monday.

This turns out to be quite a good arrangement.  Interestingly, no matter how much I sleep during Sunday, I can sleep through the night. So I just think I’m catching up, even though I usually sleep seven hours every day. I sometimes wish if I could do with less sleep but that was not the case. So I try to make the most out. 

I think many people with chronic illness can make use of this rest day.  It also helped me to say “no” on everything that happens on Sunday. 

When K was at home, Sunday used to be the toughest day of the week. He woke me up at around 8, asking for food. Then ask me to stay with everything he does, even though it means stimming and immerse himself in his world. Because I couldn’t take him to public place out of fear of meltdown, he demanded to go out for a ride. So I drove my neighbor, 30 minutes at a time, sometimes stopping by a gas station to buy his favorite junk food so he learns to stand in line and wait until I pay for the item before he opens the bag. We usually repeated it for 3-4 times a day. What a waste of gasoline! Then whenever he appears to enjoy himself, I sneaked out to do a week’s worth of grocery shopping. Prepare dinner and next days lunch, give K his sleep med, and had harder time making him fall asleep because I was too lazy to wake up as the same schedule.

As I write this, I wondered how I managed THAT.  Probably the sheer force of will/situation.  I realize how much I stressed myself. 

I’m finally learning how to rest myself. And I’m hoping that this will lead to better self for my family. But only they know if they are happier or not with me in bed all day.


Really tiny baby

I had to wait for 4 hours before I saw S again.  She was healthy but because of low birth weight, she had to be observed for 4 hours at the nursery.

In my hospital room was a roommate.  She was a 17 year old Latino girl who had an emergency C-section and spoke little English. Her baby boy was LOUD.  Interestingly, the night-shift nurses were all Filipinos.  When I had K in the same hospital, both night and day shifts are mostly white and some Asians, but somehow, the population shifted.  They were so hilarious.  Since they spoke no Spanish, to communicate with my roommate, they tried to make English word into something that sounds like Spanish.  It was not even close to Spanglish.  My belly hurt because of their hilarious but fruitless effort to communicate with the girl. They were much more caring and friendly than day-shift nurses, for whatever reason.  During the four-day stay in the hospital, I befriended with the night shift nurses.

One of the nurses pushed the cot cart and I immediately knew it was my girl. I got up though my belly hurt so much. This was the first time I looked at her carefully.  She was so tiny and so different from K, who was born at 41 weeks at 7 lbs. 6 oz.  She barely had any hair and her skin was scaly and red.  And most noticeably, she had no fat at all around her arms and legs.  I worried a little bit, since I’d never seen that tiny baby.  I held by myself.  She was weightless.  Still, she somehow made eye contact with me and filled me with happiness.

I asked the nurse for permission to breastfeed her.  I wasn’t sure my narcotics and anesthesia will affect my milk.  After the okay from the nurse, I tried.  But she was unable to latch on.  Well, K took a full week to master the art of suckling milk, so I didn’t worry at that time.  The next morning, however, a pediatrician on day-shift warned me that I had to give her a formula to prevent dehydration.  I didn’t want to, but she was so tiny and different from K, so I obeyed and gave a teaspoon or so of formula with a cup.  Lactation consultant was outraged.  “She was not dehydrated at all or at any risk!”  She noticed that my girl showed sign of hunger, so I tried again.  Success! She latched on and start suckling.  Now, just by remembering those moments, my breast starts to feel tender.  There is something special about breastfeeding that affected me a lot.  Some might say, “oxytocin”, and that’s probably it.

She lost a few ounces during the stay, which was pretty normal.  I started to practice walking and the nurse was really tough on training!  I had a horrible gas pain.  I didn’t know it was caused by gas but the nurse gave me a piece of Gas X and poof! The pain was gone.  During Gas X was working, I walked around and around the ward. During that exercise, I could hear the cry of my roommate’s baby.  I could hardly hear my girl’s: “whe, wheoie, hoe”–I’m trying to spell what I hear.  Unless I pay attention, I couldn’t hear her cry even though her cot was right next to me and my roommate’s was several feet away.

I had a normal recovery and left the hospital after 4 days.  I tried to maximize the stay I can because once I come back home, I knew I had to take care of K.  Except that wheelchair took so long to come (I waited well over an hour standing after all the paperwork was finished — they wouldn’t let me discharge without wheelchair — though I had to walk that much during the stay), I was discharged as a normal healthy patient.

I was anxious to know how K react with the baby.


It seems like that despite my more than enough weight gain, my little girl is not growing as much.  The perinatologist started to get concerned around 24 weeks and they ordered an additional ultrasound.

I’m sorry, I can’t forget the name of the ultrasound technician.  Really.  Because her name was “Elizabeth Taylor”!

She was effective and compassionate.  She told me that my baby is small, but other than that she was so confident that there is no abnormality.  I wasn’t so sure about that.

Anyway, since my baby was small at 10th percentile in size, she was labeled, “Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR)”.  The R-word didn’t feel offensive to me at that time, because this was such a technical diagnosis.  Still, she is so tiny so I need to visit the doctor more often than usual and have in-office ultrasound.

Other than being small, she was great.  I was sometimes emotional during that time because K was not performing well in preschool.  After his 3rd birthday, he was out of early intervention and started to go to a small preschool for children with special needs.  The teacher herself had a daughter with Down syndrome and staff were all awesome.  Among them, K looked the “normalest”.  After all, autism is hard to show unlike other disabilities.  Despite that appearance, K was the most delayed. I was still swinging back and forth between denial and acceptance.  After one performance at the end of school year, I was so devastated because he was the only one who didn’t understand instruction (sing and dance thingy) at all.

In terms of attachment, K was really good.  He was happy to be piggybacked on me at all time and even if I was pregnant, I didn’t have any issue with that.  My husband got a job at a university and we bought our first house (well, I have one experience during this period I need to let out, but I’ll write it later). Moving was postponed for one quarter because our baby was due mid July.  Everything was good.

Nothing dramatic really.  But at 37th week checkup, I was told that the baby is really really small, so she would thrive better out my womb.  I felt like an insult to my motherhood, but I had no choice.  She suggested to come the next day because she would be in the day-shift at the hospital.  I talked to my mentor/supervisor and K’s wonderful daycare provider, then the next morning, my husband and I headed to the hospital for induction.  Well, I seemed to have no chance for natural birth experience, but of course safe and artificial birth was way better than natural and devastated.

This time, the room was much smaller, but still LDR (labor, delivery and recovery) type room.  The nurse hooked me to I.V. and the resident physician checked my baby.

She was in breech!  The day before at the perinatologist’s office, she was in normal position. In hindsight, I remembered a big movement in my womb in the evening but I had no idea she was doing a flip.  She was a gymnast before being born. It was as though she didn’t want to get out.

Now induction must be on hold until perinatologist comes back to maneuver my baby to the normal position.  I checked in the hospital at around 9 a.m. and waited and waited.  The perinatologist wasn’t available until almost 6 p.m.  Before that, I was asked to have an epidural because manueuvering baby can be painful and epidural can make it more likely to succeed.  I followed.

“Today was not your day.” The doctor told me. “One emergency after another.” Then she told me that she would attempt three times to turn my baby and then if that doesn’t work, we hook off from epidural and wait until tomorrow or have a C-section.  Of course my baby didn’t turn.  Although at the end of 12 hour shift with many emergency C-sections, the doctor seemed energized.  “Do you want to have the baby today? I’m ready.” So the C-sections begun.  I remembered that my arms were so cold.

My husband was grossed out.  But as the doctor cut through my layers of tissues and placed the hands into my womb (You feel it), she called him to watch the birth.  He was scared but went anyway.  My little girl, already named S, was born from her buttocks.

After that everything went really quick.  She was suctioned, weighed, and Apgar score was checked (it was 8. One point less than K) in less than a minute.  The nurse pressed her to my chest so I can see her for a few seconds and she was whisked away to a nursery for observation.  She was indeed small. She was 4 lbs 13 oz. So she was considered “low-birth weight”.  I was later told that the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times.  I remembered thinking, if it were 100 years ago, both S and I would be dead.

I was taken to a two-person hospital room and I rested there.  My husband went home to pick up K (it was way past 7.  I can’t thank enough for the daycare provider!).  I needed to wait for 4 hours to see my girl.


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