Japanese Sewing Patterns

It’s been quite a week here with a lot happening behind the scenes. Kim Killion and I have been working together to rebrand the Bride Quest series. We have six new covers completed and she’s finishing up the POD wraps. Then we’ll have the two boxed set covers to finalize — and then I have a LOT of content to proof, format, and upload. It’ll be a little bit crazy, but the covers are so beautiful that it’s all worth it. The first peek at the new covers will be in my May newsletter, going out next week, then I’ll load them here on the site May 29th.

But it’s Fiber Friday and time to talk about textiles and colour—and the wonderful stress-busters that they are. I’ve embarked on a new adventure that I wanted to share. I’d heard a fair bit about Japanese sewing patterns and earlier this month, I decided to try some. Part of the impetus was that I nearly finished a garment from a US pattern company, tried it on, and discovered that the fit was weird. The scoop neckline has ripples on the back shoulder, not because my shoulders are weird but because the curve of the pattern piece is wrong. It’s even ripply on Nelly, my dressmaker’s dummy, whose shoulders are perfect. As this dress has a ton of tiny pleats that took forever to sew, I was a bit annoyed.

Time for a change in my approach! I ordered three books from Amazon: Simple Modern Sewing, Basic Black, and Feminine Wardrobe.

These pattern books come with sheets of patterns in the back, much like Burda magazine. You have to locate the pieces for the garment you want to make and trace them out in your size, then add seam allowances. We have a tempered glass coffee table so I cleared it off and set a desk lamp underneath it to trace the patterns. The sizes tend to be smaller—the largest size in Simple Modern Sewing is L for a 37″ bust—but when you have all the sizes shown together, it’s easy to extrapolate to the next larger one. I missed that the patterns are also for shorter people—until I made my test garment. I’m 5’5″ so am usually on the short end for American commercial patterns, but the back waist length was only 15.5″ in SMS instead of 16.25″. I wouldn’t have bothered adding it to a waistless garment, but my first test was the wrap top on the cover of SMS, and it looks best with those ties on the waistline.

What I like about these patterns is that the books show lots of variations. So, that wrap tunic on the cover also has the option of 3/4 sleeves, and is shown in a dress length, too. Once you have the basic pattern fitted, you can have some fun.

I had some bright sheeting in my stash that I bought in a $1/m sale just for making muslins, and cut into it for a test garment. I had to drop the darts, but the fixes were very easy. These designs have simple lines—in fact, I probably chose one of the only ones that I’d actually need to modify. (But I like that long linen wrap dress sooooo much.) Several bodices later, I have a very ugly test garment—it’s too orange to show you!—but it fits. Ha. Now the fun begins.

I’ll do the finishing on the test garment and probably just wear it around the house—sometimes we need a garment that can risk being ruined with some job or other! Then I’m going to cut a real top out of some really interesting cotton with a border pattern. It looks like this:cotton border print

And here’s a detail shot:

I’m not sure how I’ll be able to place the border pattern on the blouse, but I know it will look great.

Next up, I’m going to try the dress option with one of the linen fabrics in my stash.

Have you embarked on any craftsy adventures lately?

Sewing Success

I’m pretty excited about this.

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I was sewing again, and showed you some of the fabric I had cut out. There was this rayon print:
RayonPrintI cut out the short version of Vogue 8970.

Here’s my lovely assistant Nelly, showing it off.Vogue 8970 sewn by Deborah Cooke

It fits perfectly! I’m so happy with this dress. The fabric is a little sheer, so I’m going to cut out an underdress in black cotton voile. The skirt has a nice flare, which is tough to see since Nelly needs to work on her modelling skills.

My one trick was to baste the tucks and darts initially. I waited until I could try on the dress to check them, then adjusted them a bit before sewing them in. I decided to use black thread and flat-fell the seams because I thought it would look good – it does, but because the seams are curvy, it took longer than expected to get them sewn. The only thing was that I didn’t check the length before I cut – I always have to shorten dresses and never thought about checking it – and it’s a bit shorter than I’d like.

This may be my new go-to summer dress pattern. (For a long time, it was Vogue 1149.) I immediately cut out two more dresses from this pattern, both in the longer length. I finished the seam allowances differently on the one in the black rayon print. That extra 4″ of length is just perfect—here’s the second dress on lovely Nelly:

Vogue 8970 sewn by Deborah CookeI’ve already worn this one a few times.

The third is also cut longer and from a wonderful plum cotton print from the Victoria & Albert collection. I’ve been waiting for just the right pattern for it. Here it is – most of the birds are white but some are taupe:

purple cotton voile print

They had rayon dress weights on sale this past month, so I bought another crinkle rayon and will cut a fourth version of this dress.

A lot of dresses? Yes, but I love wearing dresses in the summertime. I’ll get a lot of wear out of these. I’ll wear this black one with a pullover sweater and boots in the fall, too.

The green dress also has mother-of-pearl buttons that I bought as an experiment. I was ordering charms for bookmarks from an online portal and saw the buttons—the bag of 100 buttons was less than $4, so I thought it worth a try. I love mother-of-pearl buttons and pay about $3 for a card of 3 buttons at the fabric store here. I was skeptical that the deal could be as good as it appeared to be, but the buttons came and they’re great. If I keep sewing, I might spring for the bag of 1000 buttons, which is $9 or something equally incredible.

I’m so happy to be sewing again. 🙂

Into every crafter’s paradise, though, some rain must fall. I’ve also been knitting on that grey pullover and got far enough down the body to string all the stitches on a length of wool and try it on. Here’s what it looks like:

Inspired by Bohus pullover knit by Deborah Cooke in Rowan Colourspun

I love the colours and the way the dark grey has some variation in it. My guess at the underarms was wrong, though, and it’s more snug through the bust than I’d like. So, I’ll be frogging back to add more stitches – and maybe move some from the sleeves to the body – then knitting down again. This is plain stockinette so it goes quickly. I’m not very discouraged about this, particularly as it looks so pretty. There’s still a lot of time to get it done in time to wear this winter.

What have you been crafting lately?