I had the urge to stretch myself creatively. I wanted to get away from the mechanical hum of the sewing machine and thread a needle, slip on my thimble. Coincidentally, my youngest niece had a birthday back in December -on the 25th!- which is a good day to not meet one's sewing deadline because I knew Santa would prevail, and my gift could be a little late. Her older sister got a purse too, earlier last year in preparation for their trip abroad, and now it's the younger sister's turn to receive something she can hold stuff in.
The last time I spoke with my youngest niece, she said she was getting into Japanese anime. Since then, my kids have discovered Studio Ghibli and the genius of Hayao Miyazaki, so I thought I would try an applique of the sweetest character of all time, Totoro. I also wanted this project to be consistent with Zakka style (do Google that, it's neet to read about in detail) which includes the use of linen and hand stitching. My favorite description is from Wikipedia, "Cute, corny and kitschy is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, and laden with subtext."
Tanjoubi omedetou! (Happy Birthday in Japanese)