Nani Iro Tunic

While I was away from my sewing machine, my husband and I managed to catch three movies (Inception, Salt and Eclipse), get our hair trimmed at the salon and enjoy a couple massage. We even brought the kids to the beach, the park and went swimming together. Couple and family time have been great but it has been almost a week since I last had my sewing machine plugged in. I was very much looking forward to creating again. However, I must admit that when this day came, it was not easy getting my sewing groove back.

It took some effort to pull myself away from my Macbook and to get into the fabric cutting mode this morning. And after I changed the machine needle, the machine threader was not working properly so I’ve been relying on my eyes to do the threading the entire day which became rather exhausting.  I never knew how much I have taken the threader for granted. *sigh*.

Anyways, I am happy that at the end of the session, I completed my first project of the week and my final project from the Japanese Sewing Book ‘Feminine wardrobe’. That means, I get to make my Echino dress! Yipee!

Here’s me sporting a new tan and my Nani Iro Tunic. I love this Double Gauze fabric I got from Fabric Tales Japan. It is too gorgeous! I was crazy enough to leave the collection and designer names on one of the sleeves!

I knew I wanted to make a tunic with this fabric when I bought it but I have not tried Japanese sewing books then. The fabric print is very serene and reminded me of watercolor paintings. I wanted to use a pattern that is different yet simple. I’m very glad I waited and finally used this Japanese pattern and adapted it for a tunic.

This is the original photo from the book and the dress pattern which I adapted.

The pattern is C3 from the book and I used the bodice pieces from C2 as they were essentially the same pieces, only shorter. I didn’t use elastic for the sleeves as I thought that would be too puffy for my liking. I used french seams for the inside of sleeves so they looked neat even from outside. I love the front yoke and the pleats on the front bodice, back bodice and sleeves.

I love this tunic. It is super comfy and perfect for summer! Think I am getting the groove back.

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A Day in Paris Cami

I am missing Paris. The people watching cafes, Berthillon ice cream, colorful carousels, fountains, museums and beautiful gardens.  Blame it on this camisole named A Day in Paris.

The camisole is based on the F3 pattern from Japanese sewing book ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ (Photo below).

The border print fabric is from Kokka’s Trefle Collection and the baby pink polka dot Japanese fabric is from Malin Textile in Chinatown. Here are some close up photos of the border print which depict elements of the Parisian lifestyle. Below the graphics is a row of common French phrases.

I cut a medium and added white lace to the ruffle piece. Having done the refashioned ruffle blouse, this is indeed an easy blouse to sew. There were 2 pieces (front yoke and front bodice) which were cut from the pattern, while the rest had to be drawn and cut. I also hand stitched three matching buttons as embellishment at the edge of the tie ribbon which is an adorable addition to the simple blouse.

The back yoke with two rows of elastic was pretty cute too.  Je l’aime!

Safari Dress

My first dress from a Japanese Pattern Book and part of my personal challenge to complete three more projects from ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ by Jinko Matsumoto. Meet the Safari Dress.

I must say this was a much better experience than making the refashioned ruffle blouse. Yes! They included some detailed diagrams for this project and all pattern pieces were on the pattern sheet! I used black poplin and a white tiger stripe fabric from Jennifer Paganelli’s Flower Power Collection. Actually, this is my first animal print dress and I liked that it does look feminine but not wild.

I lengthened the ruffle sleeves by 4 inches for more arm coverage and also made the side hems longer than the front and back which I thought added cuteness to the attire.

This is a very roomy dress but I decided not to take in the seams. Now I understand why all these dresses from the book didn’t need any zippers on them. This one does have two buttons behind though.

Here’s a photo of the original design from the book, in a much more demure color scheme.

One down and two to go!

Sew Gutsy!!!

I wore my Goldilocks Bow Blouse out yesterday and absolutely loved it! It was comfortable, roomy and oh so simple, so clean! This time I wore it without the bow and just tied the ribbons loosely which was lovely too. I adore this blouse so much, I want to make another one!

Since I completed my last project, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about sewing from Japanese sewing books.  The truth is I love the blouses I have made so far. I know I said in my last post that I didn’t think I’ll be doing another project from ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ soon because it wasn’t easy to decipher and detailed diagrams were missing but I simply didn’t feel happy not completing the outfits which attracted me to the book in the first place.  The last thing I want to be is a sew coward. I loved the Sew Convert who went by her gut feel, sometimes even blind gut feel. That’s what the adventures of sewing should be. Learning through challenges and ones own mistakes. I want to push myself beyond this language barrier and try again. I want to fight a good fight and get my gutsy sew personality back!

I must thank many of you for all your encouraging words, tips and willingness to share. I appreciate and love the sewing/ blogging community and can’t imagine sewing without you all! A special thank you to Geraly, who helped unravelled the ‘mystery’ of where I could find the ‘missing’ dimension for the self drafted back yoke from ‘Feminine Wardrobe’. I felt motivated simply knowing that someone else is working on outfits from the same book, shares the same passion and is willing to point me in the right direction when I am lost. Thank you so much!

So, I have decided not to give up so easily and I am going to commit myself to create not one but three more outfits from ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ before starting on a new theme. If I succeed (here I dangle a huge yummy carrot to myself), I will get to use one of the echino fabrics in my ‘untouchable’ bundle to sew a dress from ‘Les couleurs francaises’! Yes, I have a bundle of fabrics which I can’t bear to use for any project (don’t you?) so it will be quite an attractive reward for me.

Here’s the list of outfits for this challenge:

1) A dress

2) A cami

3) A tunic version of this dress

Just my little challenge to complete by mid August! Sew Gutsy!!!

Refashioned Ruffle Blouse

I saw this ruffle dress in ‘Feminine Wardrobe’ and thought it could look really cute as a blouse. The design was part of the resort collection of the book- casual and relaxed.

The execution, however, was not as pleasant an experience. As I started deciphering the sewing instructions for this garment, I discovered that not all Japanese sewing books were made equal. The super-duper clear diagrams I love in ‘Les couleurs francaises’ were clearly missing in ‘Feminine Wardrobe’. There was still an overall diagram which told me the sequence to sew but the detailed diagrams were absent.  The pattern made me confused for 20 minutes as  I could only find the front yoke and the front bodice. After several futile attempts, I was seeing stars and getting frustrated as I could not identify the rest of the pattern pieces.  How hard can that be? Well, after going through every detail I could possibly decipher, I almost gave up. But, I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I were to give up either so I took another look at the instructions and wondered what the numbers (pictured below) meant.

It finally dawn on silly me that I had to measure and draw the remaining pieces myself!  The measurements are shown WW. XX. YY. ZZ. next to the missing pieces according to sizes S.M.L and XL. As I went for the medium, I followed the XX measurements. The seam allowances also varied in this sewing book, some were 0.7cm, others 1.5cm as shown in the same picture above.

The missing pattern pieces were all rectangles to be fair so drawing them was not that difficult but to my dismay, one of the measurements for the back yoke was not printed in the book! I had to rely on guess work and by then, I honestly wasn’t too pleased.

I started getting concerned if I could complete the blouse given my increasing inconfidence in this pattern or rather my ability to execute it. So, instead of using fabric from my stash, I decided to use some older materials. An old ‘Mango’ skirt I used to wear a decade ago- I kept it as I liked the fabric, a couple of cotton fabric from my scrap basket and some denim from a pair of jeans I shortened a few months back. Yes, I collected everything I thought could be used for making clothes 😛

The pink polka dot scrap (You might remember it from the belt for this dress) was used for the front and back yokes, both layers of the old skirt for the bodice as they were both rather sheer, Anna Maria Horner’s cotton voile (You might remember it from this blouse) for the ruffles. Cotton voile I thought was perfect for ruffles as I didn’t want them to be too bulky. Both the right and reverse sides of the voile were used for some variation on the ruffles. The ruffles with white dots are the reverse side. Finally, the denim was used for the shoulder straps. I am rather pleased with the outcome but it will be a long while before I attempt another project from this book.

I tried the blouse on with a tee (like the book’s version) and without and preferred the latter. What about you?

I love the flow of the soft fabrics and the contrast of the denim on the strap. The denim seemed to have neutralized how girly the ruffles were which was what I preferred. It also made the blouse more casual. This is a better outcome than I expected after all that issues with the pattern.

The good thing is through this exercise I have a much better understanding of how the Japanese sewing books work and that will definitely help me in my selection at the bookstore in future. I still think Japanese patterns and designs are inspiring and unique so I do not want to give up on them just because of one book. And in retrospect, I am glad I started with ‘Les couleurs francaises’. Otherwise, there would be a better chance that I might have been completely put off Japanese sewing books. Phew!

I hope you like my first refashioned item. My mum didn’t (and I’m sure it has to do with the denim strap) but I told myself so long as I did LOL.

Enjoy your weekend!

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!