samedi 29 janvier 2011

Old friends are best

Hey there! How's your weekend? Here it's been raining heavily for 3 days in a row so I'm going to stay at home, which means more sewing time :) As a matter of fact I've got a new top to show you! I used cotton lawn from my stash (by the way, January is almost over and I'm glad that I haven't bought any fabric this month! I've decided that I'm not going to the fabric shop until March), one of my treasured fabrics, a print called "Tuileries Gardens 1930" that I bought in 2009. I fell in love with this fabric the second I saw it and I really waited for the right project to use it. Not sure why but I wanted a round front yoke for it so at first I thought of making a top using a gorgeous Advance vintage pattern from which I had previously sewn 2 great blouses, but the bodice is cut in the bias and I don't think it would have worked well with the print. So I turned to a trusted Japanese pattern, quickly drafted some 3/4 sleeves, added a little piping to bring out the details and here we are:

That "b**** please" side-eye goes to my cat Bibi who was acting the fool because of the storm.

I can't get enough of this pattern, it's so sweet! The original version is a sleeveless, dress-length version but it's so easy to alter, I wonder how I'm going to make it next time^^. I have a serious remnant from this fabric and already another project with it, I'll tell you more soon. See you!

lundi 17 janvier 2011

Today's top

Hello! How was your weekend? I went to my friend Marie's birthday on Saturday -I'm a bad person, I kept the bag!- so I made myself a quick top for the occasion. I found the pattern in my Sacred Book and used some cotton from my stash. As the purple leopard print is quite busy you can't see but there are pleats in the front, an inverted pleat in the back and I've added 2 small bows at the end of each sleeve. Here's the top as featured in the magazine:

And here's my version:

It took about 2 hours to be traced, cut and sewn and I finally got to use this damn fabric! I bought it on a whim but the more I watched it the least I could see what to do with it. Well now I'm quite happy with it, I've worn the top to the party and at work and it's such a nice and comfy design! It's the third top I've made from this magazine and they have all turned out great, I can't wait to sew more^^ See you!

jeudi 13 janvier 2011

Long blue shirt

Hello friends, how are you? I'm continuing to explore my new Female magazine, this time I've sewn a long shirt using a piece of a huge old cotton bedsheet I've found while cleaning my place^^. It's my favourite shade of blue, forget-me-not or "myosotis" in French, I was so glad to come across it! I have like 2 meters left so expect to see more garments made in this fabric :) I chose this design because of its many nice features: the front pintucks, the pointy button tab, the back inverted pleat with a yoke extending to the shoulders, the pleats at the wrist and the buttoned cuffs. It may sound like a lot of work but it went together very easily -as usual with Japanese patterns- the only step I changed is the wrists' slits that were supposed to be finished with a tab and that I replaced with a classic facing. I've just realised that I kept my sleeves rolled up today so you won't see this detail in the pics!

Still determined to bust as many hoarded fabrics as my heart will stand, I've also made a bag using some beautiful cotton bought in Nippori in 2007. I found the pattern in the same magazine as the shirt and I lined the bag with a remnant of camel twill.

You can't really tell from this picture but all the flowers are outlined with a golden thread, sigh

I may give it to my friend Marie for her birthday on Saturday since she's fond of Asian stuff and I'm sure she'd love the print, I'll see if I can part with it!
See you!

mardi 11 janvier 2011

Answers to your questions on Japanese sewing

Hello! First, thank you for your positive feedback on my previous post, I'm glad you liked the top^^! Okay I chose to answer some of your questions here because I think it might be helpful for other readers as well.
Where can you buy Japanese sewing books/magazines? My favourite seller is Pomadour 24 on ebay with her shop Simply Pretty Japanese Beads Books. Megumi has the latest publications as well as some rare books, not only for women clothes but also for kids and she has an excellent selction of crafts books! I have also ordered from in English with satisfying results :) You can also try Yesasia, Fujisan and some Etsy shops.
Are the instructions in English? I have dozens of these books from various publishers and so far I haven't found any written in English. I know they have translated a few ones to French so maybe they will publish English versions in the future. About finding pattern pieces on the sheet don't worry, designs bear a code like C3 or simply a number and so do the corresponding pieces :)
Are there any seam allowances? No, you'll have to add your allowances!
If you have any other questions regarding Japanese sewing please ask, I'll answer here. See you!

dimanche 9 janvier 2011

Japanese sewing: a step by step demonstration

Hello friends, I hope you're having a nice weekend! Mine's been quite busy but I managed to save a little time for this post which may be, well, long and picture heavy so proceed with caution^^. So, if you've followed this blog you've noticed my passion for sewing from Japanese magazines or books. I often get asked how this is possible since I can't read Japanese. Well, I've said it before and I'll repeat it here, you really don't need to read this language to be able to make the garments, and I'll prove it with today's project: my New Year's eve party top.

Obviously you must possess a Japanese sewing magazine or book to start with, the one I used here is:

My top is derived from the cover dress, I had already made a version -with the bow this time- out of chambray (click on the tag "Japanese patterns" on the right and you'll find it) and I had liked it a lot so I wanted to sew it again. Once you have chosen your design, unfold the pattern sheet at the end of the book, find the pieces you need (here they are named after the model) and trace them in your size. To chose the correct size use this board in the book:

In the left column you can see "bust", "waist", "hips" and "height" and the corresponding measures in the other columns, from sizes S to LL.
Now go to the page with the instructions to sew your top. There you'll find a diagram with numbers that correspond to the order in which you should sew the garment:

1. Make the front and back pleats:

2. Skipped because I didn't want the front bow.
3. Sew the side seams:

4. Make the sleeves' pleats...:

...and sew the sleeves' side seams:

5. Attach the sleeves to the bodice:

6. Prepare the neck facing and attach it to the top:

You're done! Now you will hem the bottom and the sleeves -I finished the latter with self-made bias to encase an elastic.
There are written instructions at the top of the page but I didn't even look at them, the diagrams are efficient enough :) Of course it's easier if you can recognize a few kanjis to make the difference between the front and the back or the right and wrong sides of the fabric so here's a link to a summary of useful Japanese sewing terms translated.
I hope this will encourage you to try Japanese patterns! See you!

jeudi 6 janvier 2011

2011, year of stash busting!

Hello everyone, I wish you a happy and creative new year! So, I've seen on some blogs that quite a good number of you started 2011 as I did, ie with a giant home cleaning/tidying session :) As all my sewing stuff was scattered in different containers accross the house I bought a cupboard for my fabrics and sewing books/patterns and OMG that was a revelation! I have too much fabric and far too many patterns. I've realised that I'm hoarding the best material, waiting for the perfect project thus procrastinating to the max and letting it go to waste while I go almost every week to the shop to buy silly cotton stuff that I obviously don't need! Alright, look at this:

On the top shelf, mainly packed in plastic bags you have 10 pieces of crazy beautiful Japanese cotton fabric that are just begging to be used :( There are also dozens of repro fabrics, blended or cotton that I've had for years up there, around 80 pieces of really nice and useful fabrics on the second and third shelves and lots of remnants on the fourth one. They don't appear in the picture but there are sewing books and magazines on the bottom shelf AND a huge box of 70 vintage and contemporary patterns above the cupboard. I felt seriously dumb when I realised that I've kept on buying patterns and fabrics all along 2010 whereas I already had all these! It's not very pleasant to admit but I think this accumulation is a way of making up for a serious lack of inspiration. I think of Zoe's striking vintage dress, Nette's adorable sweater outfit or Ophelia's dream of a bow dress and tell myself I really need to think before sewing. As a consequence I've decided to stick to what I have and sew this year's projects using only my stash. I'll keep on buying Japanese and Burdastyle magazines however but that's because I know I'll actually use them. No more vintage patterns for I've sewn quite a few dresses from them that I have worn once or never :( No more contemporary patterns either for they rarely fit me and are too much of a hassle to alter.
Anyway, all this blabla leads us to the first creation born from these good resolutions: it's a simple Japanese top made with slightly blended cotton bought in Nippori during my latest trip there. It's a simple design but it's exactly the sort of clothes I wear on a daily basis, it's not figure hugging but not too loose, it has sleeves and a modest neckline so I can wear it to work and it goes well with my usual jeans/heels combo.

The pattern comes from my favourite Female issue so far, this magazine is a dream if you like feminine yet easy to make tops! Actually I've noticed that the best designs are often featured in the Spring issue of Japanese magazines, which is the case with this one. I'm planning on making every single garment in it^^ and a bag or two! See you soon!