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Living (and Stitching) In the Moment

Author Sanae Ishida lives in North Seattle with her husband and fourth-grade daughter. When she was in the throes of publishing her first book, a children’s story called Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl, she was already working on her second book; a sewing book for adults.

Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well (Sasquatch Books) is part sewing tutorial for rank beginners, part comprehensive supply conversation, part projects with variations to please the more experienced needle enthusiasts, and —  the stitching that holds it all together — part memoir.  

Sanae is far from a master seamstress with years of experience; her sewing ability blossomed three years ago, when a chronic illness and abrupt exit from corporate America threw her into a tailspin and an identity crisis. What followed was a complete lifestyle change, allowing her to explore a creativity that had been buried by previous responsibilities. 

Sewing, unlike so many things in our modern, fast-paced world, requires commitment and undivided attention, says Sanae. It lends itself to mindfulness and a slower speed. It forces patience and practice. It requires an acceptance of imperfections, which can be difficult in a world so enamored with Pinterest and Photoshop.  Yet it’s the very act of being present in the moment and casting aside preconceived notions of perfection that brings satisfaction and contentment. As a bonus, sewing provides tangible proof of success, something we don’t get in many other aspects of life. 

“If I can do this, so can you,” Sanae said confidently at her book launch to a customer who expressed doubt in her own sewing abilities. She’s right. Don’t let the beautiful images (mostly photographed by Sanae), soothing Japanese aesthetic and elegant prose scare you. She takes you through each pattern (averaging 10 to 12 steps) with simple sketches, fabric recommendations and easy-to-understand instructions. Know that you’ll have to become good friends with a seam ripper, and be OK with that. While sewing a pattern, confidence will emerge on the other side of the presser foot. That, Sanae assures, will bring you sewing happiness. 

Try Sanae’s simple and sweet sachet project, exclusively for Seattle’s Child; seattleschild.com/A-Mothers-Day-Gift-Kids-Can-Make-Lavender-Sachet/

Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl: seattleschild.com/Little-kunoichi-the-ninja-girl-sanae-ichida-interview/

For more projects, musings, artwork and haiku, check out Sanae’s blog at sanaeishida.com

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