Thursday, May 14, 2015

She Wears The Pants - A Sewing Pattern Book Review

A more unusual Japanese pattern book has just been translated into English and published by Tuttle Books. 'She Wears the Pants' is a take on what has been called boyfriend style clothes.

 

It was originally published in 2010 with the Japanese title which translated as 'She Has a Mannish Style'. Despite being published 5 years ago, the patterns have a very current look, with a few classics also included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 20 varied patterns in this pattern book, including 7 blouses/tops, 4 jackets/coats/cardigan, 4 trousers/culottes, 2 dresses, one skirt and 2 accessories stole/long collar.

 
 
 

Some of the patterns, like the draped mini dress and the square top, follow the typical loose-fitting style of Japanese patterns. However, more fitted styles such as the tapered trousers and culottes above are also included.



 
The sizing is in the range from XS to L. XS corresponds approximately to US size 6, and size L corresponds to US size 14. Because the sizes are nested on the pattern sheets, it would be easy to size up one or two sizes while tracing a pattern.

This book also has an excellent centre section with pictures and tips on sewing with different types of fabrics and how to finish seams on different fabrics

As with many Japanese Pattern books, all the patterns are included on pull-out sheets in a pocket inside the back cover and patterns must be traced from these sheets.

Instructions for sewing up each pattern are listed in numbered steps, with numbers linked to those on the corresponding diagrams. Sometimes a particular step is described and illustrated only for an earlier pattern, but usually the page number is given if a step from a different pattern needs to be used.

Seam allowances are not included, but the fabric layout diagrams show the exact allowance that is needed for each pattern piece.

 
 

Some of the styles in the book would not suit my shape as I need my clothes to be a little fitted above my waist. Other styles are a little too 'edgy' for my taste. However what I found most impressive about this book was the inclusion of classic shirt and jacket patterns.

The fleece and striped long jackets as well as the dotted blouse are classic styles and include details like welt pockets, bound buttonholes, sleeve plackets and collar and under collar, which are thoroughly illustrated with clear detailed diagrams.

 
 
What make me love this book is the diagram on 'bagging a jacket'. This sewing technique is generally difficult to describe in words, and also difficult to demonstrate and photograph with an actual jacket, but this book provides a detailed, numbered line-drawing. I have quite a collection of Japanese language pattern books and English translations, and this is the first I noticed with this type of jacket diagram.
 
 
 

The pattern I had planned on sewing from this book is this draped mini dress, but life got in the way a little, so instead I chose to use part of another pattern.

 

 

 

My son wanted a costume for Cork Comic Expo which was held a few weeks ago in a local shopping centre, Mahon Point. The costume was a black cape and hat for 'V for Vendetta'. I had to draft the hat myself, but used a vintage pattern for the cape. However, the Cape pattern didn't include a collar, so I needed a well-designed curved collar pattern which would stand up well. I found No.18 Dotted Blouse had exactly what I needed and traced the collar and collar stand. The only change I needed to make was to increase the size of the lapels to provide the look that my son wanted.

(Pic source: Facebook Mahon Point)

 

I think he got the look!

 

 

 

(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been successfully sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Burda knit dress & using tiny ribbon pieces

 
All parents of school-going children should be prepared for the 'colour' days that happen in schools which are often for fundraising. There are red days to support county teams, blue days for autisim awareness, green days for our national Saint and last week we had a yellow day for cancer support. I don't normally sew for each colour day, but this time I was glad of the excuse to take a break from communion dress sewing.

This girls dress is from the current issue of Burdastyle magazine 4/15 no.136. Every month there are a few children's patterns in the magazine and I have always liked their sizing and fit. This dress was no different. I graded up a size to 134, just to allow for some growing room, but the dress would have still fit well.

 

 

 

It's an interesting design, with the neck facing applied to the outside. It is also clearly well-designed as the facing fit beautifully and I love how neatly the shoulder seams align. This would be straightforward on a woven fabric, but usually much more difficult on a knit fabric.

 
 
 
Though I used a stable knit fabric (not very stretchy) I didn't want the shoulders to get stretched with wear. The best way to do this is to stabilise the shoulder seams with interfacing which is hidden. I took a different approach by choosing to make the stabiliser more obvious and picked some janemeans stitched ribbon.
 
 
 

The green stitched ribbon is placed under the shoulder seam while it is being sewn, and a second line of stitching is sewn along the ribbon and seam edge. Once the ribbon and seam are pressed it forms a neat finish to the seam as well as preventing the shoulder seam from stretching and sagging. Of course this is also a perfect way to use those tiny pieces of beautiful ribbon leftover from bigger projects.

 
 
 

I altered the pattern by not including a back opening, and not adding neckline and pocket piping. The instructions recommended sewing the side seams and then inserting the sleeves but it was much quicker to sew each sleeve to it's armhole and the sew each sleeve seam and side seam all at once.

 
 
 

I just had a day to sew the dress so unusually didn't consult my daughter on the fabric and the pattern, but she was thrilled to have a yellow dress and got very involved (obviously, I suppose!) in picking out the fringe and neckline trims.

 

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Handmade Clothes for Girls: A Sewing Pattern Book Review

One of my favourite Japanese Sewing Book authors/pattern designers is Yuki Araki. I have 3 of her books in Japanese (one which was translated into French) and previously sewed from 2 of her pattern books here and here.

 

Recently one of her books 'Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls' (that I happened not to have in Japanese) has been translated into English. Tuttle Books sent me a copy to review.

 

 

 

 

Though I always love the pictures In Japanese pattern books, I usually have to skip straight to the pattern instructions as it is these diagrams and line drawings that I understand, despite the language barrier.

 

 

 

 

With this book it was a treat to finally be able to read Yuki Araki's words and understand her designing and sewing process. The patterns in the book are interspersed with little personal notes about sewing or her daughters, and being able to read and understand these added immensely to my enjoyment of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

Sew Sweet is a sewing pattern book with 22 patterns (as well as extra variations) for dresses, camisoles, blouses, bags, a hat, a jacket, shorts/leggings, skirts, and even two tops for women.

 

 

 

 

 

The layout of the book follows that of most Japanese pattern books. The pictures of the designs are at the front and the pattern instructions with clear, detailed diagrams are towards the back. The centre of the book includes general information or 'Sewing Notes' on sizing, tracing patterns, fabric layouts, marking and cutting, as well as sewing tips. There is also a picture tutorial for one of the patterns which includes details on how to construct a strip placket and stand-up collar.

 

 

The sizes in this pattern book are approximately from 18months to 6 years. (There's a very useful size chart on the finishedgarment blog which compares sizes across children's patterns, though Japanese patterns are not specifically included)

 

 

 

As part of my review of Sew Sweet, I sewed one of the patterns from the book, pattern 'C' which is a double-layered skirt with a waist casing and a ribbon casing. It is one of two patterns in the book that are not on the pattern sheets, and I was able to cut it out easily by marking the included measurements on the fabric. All the other patterns are easily identifiable on the pattern sheets and need to be traced.

 

 

To coordinate with the white/pink spotty fabric, I chose a chocolate and pink ribbon from janemeans. The ribbon casing is not sewn into the waistband on the inside which means the ribbon colour can be easily changed whenever the wearer wishes!

My daughter can't wait for warmer weather so that she can wear this, though it looks like she'll have to wait a few more months.

 

 

 

(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)

 

 

 

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Handmade Bags - A Pattern Book Review

Having sewn small bags from Japanese Pattern books previously, I was delighted when this new English translation of a book of bag patterns from Tuttle Publishing arrived.

Emiko Takahashi's book, Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics, has 25 individual full-sized patterns from which 60 bags can be sewn. There are easy patterns for tote bags, bags with zips and pockets, shopping basket bags, and purses with clasps.

 

 

 

 

The information in the book is very detailed, even including a section on the different types of interfacing and wadding to be used in each bag. All patterns have to be traced and are in both inches and centimetres. Seam allowances (all illustrated) have to be added when cutting.

 

 

 

 

There are various types of straps and handles shown, and 2 pages of sewing basics (sewing and hem stitches and seam finishes) are also presented. This book of bag patterns provides all the information needed for handstitching each bag.

 

I had a momentary lapse of reason when I considered handsewing a bag, but thankfully that passed quickly when I realised that the pattern instructions can be easily adapted to machine sewing!

 

 

 

 

The bag I picked to sew was the Reversible Full-circle Bag, mainly because there was a completely different use that I planned for it.

 

 

 

 

It is a lined circular bag with loops (or cord carriers) at intervals around the edges. The 16 individual loops are sewn from folded rectangles of fabric. As a change to the pattern I used lengths of red and green stitched ribbon from Jane Means. Using ribbon made sewing the bag much, much faster.

 

 

The final bag was sewn in a floral cotton fabric with a red satin contrast fabric from my stash. As the bag is reversible, either of these fabrics can be on the outside. The bag straps are from a length of cord with is threaded through the ribbon loops.

 

 

 

 

 

And the alternative use that I planned for it?

Well that caused many puzzled looks and hilarity when I told my family that it was a skirt for a tree, they really thought that it was a joke, until they saw it in place and they were very impressed!

I got the idea from similar patterns I have seen on the Internet. If made larger, this can be used as a floor mat and then gathered up to help tidy away toys, for example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book is designed for beginners which I would mostly agree with. There are no cutting layouts, and though they are not necessary for sewing the bags, they make layout and cutting a easier for anyone with little sewing experience. However 6 of the bags are illustrated in more detail with photo tutorials, and all the illustration have the usual excellent detail associated with Japanese sewing patterns.

There are more patterns that I plan on sewing from this book. One in particular is the purse pattern (lower left above) which includes instructions on how to use a purse frame. The clear illustrations make it look much easier than I thought it would be.

 

 

 

(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sleeping Beauty - A Costume for the Panto.

As Christmas (aka pantomime season) and my daughters birthday are close together, her godmother takes her to a pantomime in Cork, our nearest city. As part of this treat, my daughter likes to wear the costume of the main character. So in the past I've sewn an Alice dress, a Cinderella dress (not blogged), and this year it was Sleeping Beauty's turn.

 



Pink is the colour most associated with Aurora/Sleeping Beauty's dress, but in the film and books, she wears a different dress before she 'falls asleep'. Though my daughter hasn't quite left the 'pink phase'! she didn't take much convincing when I showed her pictures of the other dress worn by Aurora.
An online search for images of the dress, led me to pick View 2 of this vintage Advance pattern 5816 that I already had, because of its v-shaped bodice and skirt.
The main additions the skirt pattern needed was length, and extra fabric added to the centre front and centre back to create pleats. I also curved the top of the bodice at the front and back armholes and cut a centre front seam so that I could create a lace-up bodice.
The sleeves and upper bodice were adapted from Butterick 5890. I recently used this pattern for the Elsa Coronation dress which I sewed for Halloween. I had to draft the white collar myself using a flexible ruler, then measuring the neckline curve once I had sewn the shoulders of the front and back bodices. I've never drafted a collar before, so was surprised and pleased that it lay flat and looked so good.
 
 
 

 

 

 

The dress turned out exactly as we both imagined, especially the centre front which has eyelets and is laced up with narrow grosgrain ribbon.




The fabrics are all from Vibes and Scribes, a well-stocked fabric, wool and haberdashery shop in Cork that now delivers online. The top bodice is cream cotton jersey, the main bodice is a soft-textured black polyester, and the skirt is a medium-weight sateen which was the last piece on the bolt.

 

Though it seemed like I was cobbling together parts of patterns, and making up pieces and instructions as I went along, the dress worked and most importantly she was delighted with it.

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Girl's Winter Coat and a Craftsy Class Review


 

Most years, I sew a winters coat for my daughter. When Vogue pattern V9043 was released by the McCalls Pattern Company this year, I knew it was 'the one' for this winter.


 
 
Then, a little serendipity .... On Twitter Steffani Linceum, a tutor who blogs at Stitchcoach,was looking for a few people to review her Craftsy class on sewing the adult-sized version V9040 and I jumped at the chance. I watched all sections of the class almost back-to-back, and loved it.
Not doing things by half, I decided to use the class to help me sew my daughter's coat, before reviewing it.


The class 'Inside Vogue Patterns' covers everything about sewing a winter coat.
Basting interlining to the main fabric was a first for me and the teacher shows how to do this so that it won't bulge or bubble under the main fabric. I used a lightweight wool fabric for the interlining, though barely had enough for the front bodice pieces as evident in the picture below!

 
 

I added velvet piping in the pockets (this is only in the child's pattern, so I didn't have Steffani's calm teaching to guide me for this part!)

 



The lining is a pink cotton, and I added 2 extra inside pockets which are not on the child's pattern, but there is a pattern piece for one of the pockets included as part of the class.

 

The sleeve linings are white silk, to make the coat easier to put on and because I did the same for my Minoru jacket and love it.



 

The back hem was noticeably longer than the front when my daughter tried on the coat, so that needed a deeper hem than indicated in the pattern.

 

The collar of the child's coat is beautifully designed and in 2 pieces. It is different to the adult coat, so I also missed the teacher's help with this part, though it worked fine just using the pattern instructions.

 

Finding buttons in a matching colour was difficult. We considered a contrasting colour, but nothing seemed right. Our local fabric store owner recommended covering buttons in velvet. It worked perfectly, more so because the pile of the fabric hides the dents I made while pressing the button parts together!




 

My favourite parts of the coat are the addition of fun smaller buttons on the inside of the coat to strengthen the hold of the outer buttons - suggested by the class teacher. My other favourite part is the addition of an inside pocket with pleated janemeans ribbon over the opening. In the Craftsy class, Steffani calls this a Chinese Wedding Pocket, and used folded pieces of bias binding for the edge. My daughter loved the idea of this 'secret' pocket and being able to find it easily without looking, simply by touching the ribbon. It made her feel like a secret agent!






Of everything I've sewn, I'm very proud of the work that has gone into this coat. The class, with all the tutor's hints and tips, made such a difference, more that I could have imagined. Despite sewing coats before, the guidance of a sewist with experience has helped me sew a much better quality coat. The advice on grading seams, creating a sleeve head, using interlining, allowing for 'turn of cloth' and many more topics are covered, and in a very straightforward manner by the teacher, who evidently has often used all the techniques that she is demonstrating.
There are some more details about the class on the tutor's blog, and it is also worth checking the reviews on Craftsy.
Now, if I could only be brave enough to sew the adult-sized version for myself ...... maybe for next winter!
(I received the Craftsy class for free, sewed a coat using the teaching and techniques from the class and reviewed the class based on my experience)

 

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Details on Queen Elsa's Coronation Dress

In the film Frozen there is a lot of detailed Scandanavian, and in particular Norwegian, artwork known as rosemaling. This is most evident on Elsa's Coronation dress.





I considered a few options for decorating this dress, especially appliqué, or sewing on ribbon strips. However ironing appliqué on velvet would damage the pile, and sewing ribbon on a stretch fabric would be difficult and affect the drape of the dress. Initially, drawing the designs on the dress didn't seem the best idea. I looked at clips from the film again, and decided it was at least worth a try. I drew out the design on paper and drew it freehand on the velvet with fabric markers.








It really isn't perfect, but I think it worked much better than the other options and suited the fabric.







The dress is based on Butterick pattern 5980 View D (View B length) which I altered to add sleeves with v-shaped hems and narrowed the dress hem width. I chose this pattern because the seam lines reflected those of the dress in the film. All the inside seams are French seams, with the yoke sewn on the outside and covered with ribbon. 







The top part of the cape is based on the cape pattern from Oliver&S Little Things to Sew, dramatically shortened. The longer pleated part is based on my daughter's height. Her back width was tripled to allow enough fabric for the pleats.







I used organza ribbon for the orange accents on the dress, but used janemeans purple stitched ribbon for the inside  hem of the cape and used janemeans plum wired ribbon for the upper part. The decorations at the neckline on the black velvet were cut out from teal  wired janemeans ribbon.






There's not much more to add except that it's a total success and worth all the work .... you can almost guess the line of the song from the poses in these pictures. The dress induces bouts of random singing 'Let it go' with very demonstrative 'I'm free' while throwing off the cape! 
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