Mystery Cardigan Completed!

This lovely yellow cardigan stood out in the Japanese Sewing Book  “Les couleurs francaises” but the sewing pattern for it didn’t come with the book. I used to call it the Mystery Cardigan. When I really needed to make it as part of my Holiday Wardrobe Project, I made modifications to the sewing pattern of project m (below) to create a long green cardigan.

Instead of woven fabric which I believe the book suggested or cotton jersey (I couldn’t read the rest of the Japanese words but I recognized ‘cotton’), I used a very stretchy knit fabric which felt and looked like what you would usually find in RTW cardigans. I needed this to keep me warm and am happy I finally used this fabric. When my mum saw the fabric, she told me “That’s gonna be difficult to sew.” At the end of the project, I gave mum an update “It wasn’t that difficult to sew, it was horrifying to cut!’. Compared to what I now think is a lycra blend knit fabric used for my Melissa dress, this knit fabric was not difficult to sew. However, cutting it was a nightmare because the ends kept rolling, making it almost impossible to match the selvages. I just hoped I got the grain lines right!

The ruffles at the bottom of the cardigan worked well and looked lovely but those attached to the sleeves didn’t. Somehow, they turned out too short after I gathered them for the sleeves. I think it might be due to the direction of the stretch of the fabric so this might not be an issue if you use woven fabric. Unfortunately for me I used up all the green fabric and did not have any extras to redo them. Do you think a thin elastic sewn just above the gathered fabric would ruffle them up or should I just leave them alone? I am happy to hear any suggestion on how to improve the lack of ruffles situation.

I made a very long belt, as you can see and that turned out to be really interesting to  play around with. I got to tie my cardigan in so many ways! I didn’t plan for that to happen and only realized its potential when putting the belt on for the photographs. When I wore it this way, it created a cross knot at the back. I love it!

To create the Mystery Cardigan, I cut the paper pieces of project m and put them against myself, I then used the measuring tape to determine how much I needed to lengthen the front and back pieces.  Mine was lengthened by approximately 17″.  I only lengthened the sleeves by 3″ but the very stretchy knit and the weight of the ruffles pulled it down, making it look even longer. I created my belt from my leftover fabric but if you want one exactly like the photo, you can follow the one from project x, 185cm by 5cm before adding on the seam allowances. Oh! I also drafted  smaller pattern pieces for the shorter ruffles at the sleeves. There is supposed to two layers of ruffles at the bottom of the cardigan but I left that out, opting for only one row of ruffles.

Have a fruitful sewing week everyone!

Holiday Wardrobe Project

I am planning a simple holiday wardrobe for my trip to Shanghai in October. Yes! Shanghai!  Can you imagine me going crazy at the fabric markets!!! I am going nuts just thinking about it LOL! If you have shopped there, I welcome tips, recommendations and any information :)

From now till end September, I wanna sew a few essential pieces to squeeze into a luggage I am sharing with my hubby and kids. With kids around, we always try to travel as light as possible.

I figured layering is the way to go. The weather has become temperamental. It was just 40 degrees Celsius (typically, it should be 30) in Shanghai a few days ago and by past years’ records, typical weather in October should be 15 to 22 degrees Celsius. My plan is to sew my first fall coat, first cardigan, first pair of jeans and to create a few coordinating knit pieces to bring along. At the same time, I am hoping that all these pieces will be versatile enough to be wore back home.

1) My first coat

I am gonna tackle the coat first. I have the Butterick 5295 sewing pattern but I am constrained by my stash busting effort to sew this-Insufficient yardage. Major major bummer! So, this pattern has got to wait.

I considered some coat sewing patterns on burdastyle where I chanced upon my dream coat named Alden.

This looks so retro. I love the back details! But alas, I still have a fabric constrain issue. I relooked at my stash and reluctantly let this go. It shall be made for my next fall holiday. It has been raining so much in Singapore, I just might get to wear this here if I use a waterproof material.  I convinced myself that Alden has got to wait. Stash busting is my priority at this point. That’s when I met Esther and got totally inspired by this lovely cosy version made of woven and knit fabric by Kitzler. I checked the yardage required and am a happy woman! By mixing knit and woven, i have enough to get this going! What an ingenious idea! Thank you Kitzler!

2) My first cardigan

I fell in love with this long cardi from Japanese sewing book ‘Les couleurs francaises’ but never thought I would actually make it.

The good news-I have the fabric for this in green! The bad news- the pattern is not provided. But, they did provide pattern for a shorter similar version (image below) and the sew gutsy in me said I’m not gonna let the lack of pattern get the better of me. I shall modify this to create a slightly longer cardi.

3) My first jeans

I am still tossed between making jeans from Wendy Mullin’s Sew U pants pattern and a high-waisted pair from burdastyle’s bella pattern. Afterall, the shorts version is so comfortable. The only certainty is I’m making this pair of jeans out of the only denim fabric in my stash, in Indigo.

Here’s what bella jeans look like. I love this pair by the Cupcake Goddess.

But, I am equally smitten with this Sew U pair by Le Printemps Jolie

What do you think? Bella or Sew U jeans?

4) Twinkle Sew Tops

These two tops from Wenlan Chia’s Twinkle Sew caught my eyes when I was going through my sewing patterns and I hope to create them in cotton jersey fabric from my stash. I have heard issues with printing out the CD Rom patterns but would still love to give them a try.

This project is going to be challenging. I have only sewn knit fabric twice.  Knit fabric. First Jeans. First Coat, First Cardigan. I’m ready.

Echino Grassy Plain Dress

The dress that got me interested in Japanese Sewing Books is this purple scarf dress featured on the cover of ‘Les couleurs francaises’. It is also my reward dress for completing the target I set for myself in my Japanese Sewing Book challenge. I used my precious Echino Grassy Plain fabric which I thought was so appropriate for the design. The fabric was in my untouchable stash but I am glad it has turned into this dress!

The dress is Project C from ‘Les couleurs francaises’. It is relatively easy to make with many detailed diagrams. I used the pattern for size M, the shoulders fitted well but it was huge on the sides so I took them in quite a bit. The original design had a tie scarf collar. To make the most of this outfit, I decided to make some modifications and made the collar and scarf separately.  Here you see the dress with a collar I drafted myself. I wanted a collar that would look hidden when I wanted to wear it with the scarf.

Here’s the version with scarf which looks similar to the photo in the book.

And here I wear it slightly differently. I love the idea of a separate scarf, it is so versatile and you can wear it in so many ways, even with other outfits!

The scarf could also be used to drape a crowl neckline.

Or as a head scarf :) I actually like this boho look quite a lot.

I love this Echino fabric! I tried my best to match the print on the side seams but it was not possible given that the print was wavy.

I hope you like my reward dress :) I love it and can’t stop looking at it! I can’t wait for my princess to grow to be 100cm, that way we can wear matching dresses like the ones in the book! TGIF, have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Goldilocks Bow Blouse w

I have expressed a couple of times my desire to sew a bow blouse from burdastyle’s Ute sewing pattern. When I bought the Japanese sewing book ‘Les couleurs francaises’ and saw project W (below), I immediately checked out the yardage requirement and was pleased that it only took 2 meters of fabric (Ute required 3 yards!) to create. Hence, I changed my mind.

The blouse used a fabric with scalloped edge and I happened to have a metre of that in my stash. That was not sufficient but after studying the pattern, I realised I could still use the scallop edge fabric if I were to combine it with some matching off white cotton linen and use the latter for the bow collar, the sleeves and the back of the blouse.  That was exactly what I did.

Here’s a close up view of the scallop edge and you can see why this blouse is named goldilocks. This lovely cotton linen fabric from Kokka depicts the story of Goldilocks & the three bears.  I love border print fabrics like this one, which makes the blouse look so unique and fresh.

This blouse was a little more complicated to make than the last but still the diagrams were a dream to work with and I managed to cut the fabric and sew the blouse in a day.  I just realised while posting this blog that the model in the book tied her bow much lower. I will give that look a try when I wear this out next time.

Like the last blouse, this one had quite a lot of ease. Again, I cut a size 11 but this time, I didn’t take  in the side seams as I thought it looked fine and rather tunic like. A very relaxed Japanese design. It’s definitely growing on me :)

Floral Blouse i

Today I made my first blouse from a Japanese sewing book, ‘Les couleurs francaises’. As I have never tried a Japanese pattern, I thought I better start with an easier project. The 26 projects in this book are identified by the English alphabet and I chose project i as it didn’t look too difficult and more importantly, required the least fabric.

This is the picture of project i from the book.

The pattern consisted of a front yoke, front bodice, a back piece and tie straps for the left sleeve. You could also cut your own bias tape but I used commercial ones.

I made my version using the above light weight Japanese floral fabric from Yuwa and here it is:

I find that having used the Built By Wendy Dresses book helped me in drafting from Japanese patterns. I am already used to tracing the pattern onto my own pattern paper. The only difference was, on Wendy’s book it was obvious where the patterns were, for Japanese sewing patterns, you have to do a search on these papers containing overlapping patterns for various projects. Looking at this did intimidated me a little at the beginning but at the end of the project, I will say it was not too bad :)  What an innovative way to save trees too!

Similarly, I am used to adding my own seam allowances. Besides the standard 1.5cm allowance, this project called for 0.5cm allowances for the neckline and armholes and 3cm for the hem. I think I have been a little bit spoilt by how fitting the colette pattern dresses and the Sabrina dress were. I found the blouse had way too much ease at the side seams and probably it was meant to be as I noticed from the project photograph. I did take in the seams to make it more of what I would normally wear. Somehow, more ease looked sloppy on me though it looked gorgeous on the model. I made a size 11 which is medium for Japanese sizes since I normally wear M for dresses from Muji. For a more personal touch, I added a red hand dyed vintage doily I got from this seller on etsy and a vintage green button just before the tie strap.

I soon realized the language barrier was not an issue. While the steps in the pattern book were written in Japanese, there was always a main diagram, like the one below, which showed me the sequence for sewing the project and was a tremendous help. There were also very clear and detailed diagrams for more complicated steps.

Thank God for diagrams as these completely put me at ease and I was able to complete this blouse in approximately four hours. Pretty gratifying!!!

Strange reminder & new theme

How often do you want to do something but keep forgetting due to all that distractions in life? I am convinced some reminders are heaven sent! I was driving home after sending my princess to school last week when I stopped at the traffic light. Suddenly I noticed some letters on a delivery track in front of me.

They are on the right door panel and I enlarged it for easy viewing here.

Okay. All right. I’ve heard you loud and clear darling fabrics. I would give you a good cleaning so you would be all ready for the new sewing theme. Here you are, some of you look pretty and clean now, all washed up for some tender ironing. I still need to work on a few of you. Nonetheless, my heartbeat races just by looking at all of you and yes, I am smiling…joyfully!

I am finally using a Nani Iro double gauze (far right bottom in photo)! Yay!

My new challenge?  I will be tackling a new frontier. Japanese sewing books. I’m terrified and excited at the same time. I have to do some research on this not only because it is a brand new area but I can’t read Japanese. The Moving Hands blog which highlighted Japanese sewing and pattern terms was a great help. At least it helped me understand the notions I required and gave me hope, an added sense of confidence that I can conquer the pattern. I have only two Japanese sewing books at the moment, ‘Les couleurs francaises’ and ‘Feminine Wardrobe’. So, I will be working on projects from these first.

While researching the topic, I also chanced upon a french blog. Another language I wished I knew. The Japan Couture Addicts blog is marvelous. It showcases finished works from Japanese Sewing Books and these are categorized by the books! I found the ‘Les couleurs francaises’ showcase here and the ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ one here.  Here are my favorites!

Dress by Made By Night

Blouse by Bulle de Gum

Blouse by Le Tricomonde de Sophie

Dress by PHISSO

I am inspired :) I feel fully charged and ready to take on the challenge! If my first few attempts are successful, this theme may stretch beyond two weeks as there are just so many cute blouses and dresses in the books!

Japanese Sewing Books

My family went downtown today to run some errands and while at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City), I picked up two Japanese sewing books I couldn’t resist.  This is my first time buying Japanese sewing books though I have been checking them out on etsy.

The first book entitled ‘Les couleurs francaises’ is  a japanese sewing book for mum/daughter outfits (ISBN  9784579112791) which I mentioned here. It is by Yoshiko Tsukiori, who also authored ‘Retrospective is Stylish’, a sewing book I have been trying to get a copy of only to discover that it is out of print. The second book ‘Feminine  Wardrobe’ (ISBN 9784579112906) by Jinko Matsumoto is themed around town, party and resort wear for ladies. I didn’t expect the bookshop here to carry  so many of these books and even the very recent ones! When I realized that they were actually cheaper than on etsy, I went straight to the cashier. I saved around US$7 per book from shipping! Yay! More importantly, I get to browse through the books before buying.

These were the photos that induced me to decide on these two books. The outfits I am so tempted to sew from ‘Les couleurs francaises’ include these dresses featured on the book’s cover,

this blouse and pants ensemble,

these matching blouses for mum & daughter,

Oh! Did I also mention that there are a total of 26 outfits you can create from the full scale patterns and instructions? Though all the text are in Japanese, the illustrations are pretty detailed. Similarly, there are 19 outfits to create in ‘Feminine Wardrobe’, including, this sweet blouse,

this winged sleeve dress,

this one-sided ribbon camisole,

and this ribbon collar blouse (the ribbon can be tied front or back).

Great outfits for summer, don’t you think? Have a great weekend everyone!