Self Drafted Postmark Skirt & “Stylish Skirt” Giveaway

When I said “Yes!” to reviewing “Stylish Skirts”, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought this was a typical Japanese sewing book but it wasn’t. I though there were patterns I could refer to.  I couldn’t find … Continue reading

Linen Bamboo Blouse & “Basic Black” Giveaway

Just before our vacation, I received  two Japanese sewing books from Tuttle Publishing that has recently been translated to English for review. “Basic Black: 25 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe” by Sato Watanabe was one of them. When I got … Continue reading

Ahoy! Cape Vest

Here’s a photo of Project 2: Gathered drape cape vest from the Japanese sewing book, ‘Drape drape’. When I saw the photo, I loved the design and thought it shouldn’t be too difficult to sew. Well, now that I’ve done it, I’ll have to say this is the most challenging project I have done from a Japanese sewing book. Having said that, this is only the third Japanese sewing book I’ve worked on 🙂 I’ll consider this an intermediate level project and pins were my best friend. The cape, the sides with a draped bottom portion and armholes have to be sandwiched and sewn between the centre front/back and their facings.  So patience and lots of checking are essential. Thank goodness the diagrams were super clear so there was no issues there. After all that hard work, I am truly happy with the results. I love the drape of the cape and the sides.

I chose to do a L size as I wanted to use this for layering. The Ahoy! Cape Vest was made using a combination of navy blue and navy/white stripe cotton jersey fabric from my stash and big red buttons to add some nautical charm. It turned out to be a pretty interesting piece of garment. I’m impressed with the designer as this pattern though it looks simple, is very well thought out. I just love how the bottom drape hugs my hips and how the front centre portion curves with the body. It’s amazing!

Here’s a peek at the back. There are four centre back pieces joined by a fifth piece across them (I used navy blue for the piece across as I thought it would be more interesting and flattering). The back facing is identical. I tried my best to match the stripes on the piece and is happy with how it turned out.
Just a word of caution. There are two Projects 2 in the book so look for its Japanese name when tracing the pattern pieces. The first piece I traced look funny cos’ it was for drape pants!

Ahoy! I’m happy! It’s perfect for my holiday next month!

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!

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.

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!