The “3 Red Cats” Dress

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This is most likely my last sewing project for the year. It’s called the “3 Red Cats” Dress as there are 3 colored cats on this dress sewed using a Victoria Beckham Silk de Chine fabric filled with white cats.  I’m afraid you’ll only get to see one of these precious kitties as I only have 3 shots of the dress taken with my iphone while on staycation at my favorite hotel in Singapore over the weekend. One of the other red cats can be found on the back skirt piece.  My son and hubby were tricked as they thought there were only 2 red cats.  Truth is the third was hidden in the belt. *muahahaha*

It’s the school holidays and I have been so busy after coming back from our South Korean family vacation that it was tough finding time to sew. Which is why it was pretty satisfying to discover that I still managed to complete two projects this month. The first was a bigger challenging project because it was really time consuming and had quite a lot of hand basting involved. The second was, in contrast, a fast and gratifying sew. It was this dress, which I started on Friday night and wore for my staycation on Saturday. Hubby fell asleep while I was still sewing the bodice. He was in shock when he saw the finished dress hung next to him when he woke up the next morning. And oh yes! I managed to sleep before the clock struck twelve.

I am totally in love with Silk de Chine! Not only do they feel buttery and light weight, they make any garment look ridiculously feminine, soft and flowy.  I’ve also tried and tested them on two of my most important criterions. 1) They are weather friendly even for humid Singapore and 2) They do not need drycleaning. What I normally do is to wash the fabric in a detergent for delicate fabric and soak it in a mixture of water and hair conditioner before rinsing it one more time. I think the hair conditioner rinse makes all the difference and softens the silk again.

3 red cats dress

This simple and very demure pattern came from Rin Gomura-Elkan’s “Easy Japanese Sewing Patterns”, a set of pdf sewing patterns accompanying her ebook “How to sew Japanese Sewing Patterns”, a step-by-step guide for sewists interested in sewing from Japanese sewing books.

It’s no secret that I love Japanese sewing books.  In fact, some of my favorite sewing projects were from them. Unfortunately, I find myself sewing with them less often now due to family commitment. While most projects are fast to sew, they do take more effort from me to trace, decipher and off course, there is always the potential fear of mistakes from misinterpretation.

One feature of the ebook, which I found particularly helpful, was the translation lists for Japanese sewing tools, sewing terms, fabric types and pattern pieces in Romaji and English. I don’t read Japanese but I can read Chinese, which is similar to Japanese’s Kanji (though the meanings are not always the same). That helps me a lot in identifying the front and back pieces or even specific pattern pieces. After reading Rin’s ebook, I can now tell the right from wrong side, recognize the Japanese words for bias tape, facings, zipper, buttons, hook & eye, interfacings and pocket. I can also tell the difference between stitch, gather and blindstitch…ha…the book is genius! I feel clever already! I had to guess all these previously but now, I feel enabled!

Feeling absolutely inspired after reading the ebook, I chose to sew Rin’s pleated dress.  It was a breeze to sew and with Rin’s hand-holding, a very reassuring and relaxing experience. The temptation was to resist reading the English instructions and only using it for confirmation. No hair pulling moments at all. Yeah!

I would recommend the ebook to sewist of all levels who do not know Japanese. It will always be a good source of reference while sewing with Japanese sewing patterns or books. For the sewing patterns, they are rated easy and suitable for beginners.

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Japanese Sewing Books tend to have sizes in S, M and L. I would usually go for M size, simply because I tried that and it seemed to work.  After reading the book, I now know that M is almost the right size. Almost. It’s for bust 31-34, 25-28 waist, 34-37 hips. That sounded like Adey size. But, it’s for ladies with a height of 157-163cm. I’m 167.5cm which meant I have to lengthen not just the bodice since I’m long waisted but also probably for the skirt section. Now that I think back on the projects I’ve done, majority of them might have worked even better if I had lengthened them.

For the “3 Red Cats” dress, I lengthen the bodice by 5cm and skirt by 10cm. I followed the instructions but intentionally let the white bias at the neckline peek out a little. It adds a little contrast and works almost like piping except that it’s flat. There are 4 pleats which provides shaping at the neckline, an elastic casing at the waistline and a tie belt. A very relaxed and casual dress style.

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Rin’s ebook and sewing patterns are available here and the 10% discount code CONVERTSEWING14 can be used till 31 January 2014. You can also find Rin’s free sewing patterns here on her blog Sew In Love.

If you or a friend you know have always wanted to give Japanese Sewing Books a try but has been procrastinating, this ebook would make a useful and lovely Christmas present.

Here’s wishing you & your family a very blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Happy festive sewing everyone!

20 thoughts on “The “3 Red Cats” Dress

  1. I always love a “stealth” element to a hand-made garment, so I *adore* that you have a secret red cat! The dress really suits you.

  2. OMG I love it! the fabric is adorable and the dress looks great on you. thanks for the ebook reference too! I have people asking me all the time about how to use these books and that is a great reference. Happy holidays to you!

  3. This dress is beautiful, and I’m suddenly very keen to get my hands on this pattern. By the way, which hotel is that in the pictures. We are heading to Singapore soon, and that looks beautiful.

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