Before I announce the winner of the Basic Black giveaway, I just want to explain how that person was chosen. I went to random.org, which has a “True Random Number Generator.” There were 28 people who commented so I entered a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 28, hit “generate,” and it gave me number 7!
And the seventh person who commented is Laura, who said: “I don’t have any experience with Japanese sewing and would love to win this book to learn this art.”
So Laura – you are the lucky winner of Basic Black, published by Tuttle Publishing!
Just send me your mailing address and if you are not a U.S. resident, I’ll need your phone number, too so Tuttle Publishing can fill out the customs form.
Thank you everyone for commenting on my book review post! You can order the book on Amazon here (currently less than $11!) or search your indie bookstores for a copy.
Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe features dresses, blouses, tops, a couple of vests, as well as jackets and coats – all in various black fabrics. That’s quite a few garments to squeeze into one 64-page book and one large double-sided sheet of paper. Yep – all the photos and instructions are in this deceptively thin book, and all the patterns are on one large sheet of paper, folded and tucked into an envelope attached to the inside back cover. The author/designer, Sato Watanabe, studied at Bunko Fashion College in Japan. This English translation was released last year.
You can win your very own copy of Basic Black! This is my very first sewing book giveaway – courtesy of Tuttle Publishing, which contacted me last month about reviewing some of their recent or upcoming titles. I asked Brandon, their marketing guy, if they could send me a review copy of this book as well. (I was already making something from this book for the Japan Sew Along organized by Catrin, who hosted the sewalong at Tanoshii.) Details on how to enter are towards the end of this post. (Full disclosure: I am not getting compensated for this review – but I did get a free copy of the book.)
Like many other Japanese pattern books, the instructions are minimal but the diagrams are very informative with lots of little details, such as where to top stitch or place a dart. (See this post for the Basic Black diagrams of the A-line Block Skirt (pattern T) I made.) The book typically devotes two – at most three – pages of instructions and diagrams per pattern – and that’s it. One of the reasons this is possible is that none of the garments are lined and the designer assumes some sewing knowledge. For example, for the skirt I made the instructions didn’t say to press before top stitching. Clearly the designer assumes you will press as you sew. So don’t forget to warm up your iron and press those seams!
Another feature of Japanese pattern books is that many patterns will be on the same sheet of paper, with many overlapping lines. This means you must trace the pattern in your size onto tracing paper. You cannot cut it out or you will not be able to use the other patterns. Plus, you must add seam allowances to the patterns. If you trace the patterns as is, it will be at least one size too small and likely shorter than you’d like.
Yesterday in my post about the A-line Block Skirt from Basic Black, I mentioned that each garment is assigned a letter of the alphabet; thus it goes from A to Z.
As you can see here, the patterns can be rather messy to look at, overlapping lines and in this case, two different colors, too. But don’t be intimidated – if you use an erasable highlighter to go over the pattern lines, that will make it easier. Just pay close attention to the labels so you mark the correct lines. In this photo below, you can see that the same pattern piece is used for patterns A through J, which are all dresses, shirts, blouses, or jackets.
When you trace the patterns, pay attention to the diagrams in the book, which will indicate when your seam allowance is more than 1 cm or 3/8″. For example, at the hem, the cutting layout may tell you to add 1 1/4″ or 3 cm to the hem but all other seam allowances are 1 cm or 3/8″.
I suppose you could characterize some of the patterns as variations on previous pattern. As you flip through the book, you’ll see some of the same pattern pieces in a different garment but with some slight adjustments to length, necklines, or other details. It’s an elegant economical use of pattern pieces.
Here’s a back cover image I got via Amazon, which uses an image from the Japanese version of the book. The back cover is the same on English edition.
Clockwise from top left: Dress with Stitched Skirt (pattern S), Polka Dot Jacquard Dress (pattern N), Seersucker Shirt with Collar (pattern M), and Blocked Quilting Zip-up Jacket (pattern D).
The Dress with Stitched Skirt uses the same pattern as the skirt I made – but the waistline starts a bit lower and it’s shorter. Now that I’ve made my pattern adjustments to the skirt, I can easily make the dress. Yay! (You can read about my pattern adjustments here.)
As you flip through the book you’ll see some similarities are in the neckline or certain aspects of a dress or blouse but there’s still some variety in the patterns. This book features clothes that the Watanabe puts in one of three silhouette types:
Garments with darts and shaping seams
She groups each pattern in one of the three categories. This will help you determine which patterns to make. I like the more fitted garments but I really like that dress on the cover, which falls in the “loose” silhouette. I’m a little worried it may look like I’m wearing a shapeless bag but I do have some black seersucker that could work really well.
If you are concerned about sizing, this book actually provides useful finished measurements in inches and centimeters for the bust, waist, and hips for each of the different patterns in sizes XS, S, M, and L. This means that people who are XL and above will need to grade up. Finished measurements for size L for the skirt I made are waist: 29 1/2 inches/75 cm; hips: 42 1/8″/107 cm. The waist was perfect but I needed more ease in the hips. If I used a fabric with lycra, it may have been OK but I used cotton pique. I usually need to grade up in the hip area anyway so that was not a big deal. Note: This finished measurement for the waist and hips only applies to patterns S and T. The other patterns have different finished measurements.
You should measure the pattern pieces – as I was exhorted by EmSewCrazy of Tumbleweeds in the Wind, in my earlier post complaining about sizing. That will help you figure out what size is best for you. Note: The ease will be different according to the silhouette type of the pattern. (See my post Japanese Pattern Book Sizing.)
Besides the dress on the cover, I want to make the Whimsical Vest in Corduroy (pattern G). Though I’ll be making mine in some delicious black wool velvet and I think I want to line the bodice instead of finishing with bias tape. I think bias binding could get really thick and hard to sew through. This is a photo I took from the book. (The photo appears like this in the book – it’s not me cutting her off.)
The photos in the book feature garments in variations of black (solid black, polka dots, jacquard, seersucker, black lace, etc.), but you can certainly use any color you want. You don’t have to use black. The skirt I made, with its 16 panels, would be a great stashbuster. You could make each panel a different color if you want. I chose black because I really wanted a long black skirt.
MaciNic made a lovely polka dot blouse from Basic Black, blogged about it, and reviewed the book here.
I like some of the coats, blouses and shirts – though I’m not so sure about the loosely fitting dresses. It’s not a style that’s flattering for all figures, particularly mine. But at least I won’t need to grade up in the hips. 😉
All in all, Basic Black will make a good addition to your sewing library – and at just $11.87 (current price on Amazon), it’s a bargain. I’ve spent more than $20 on one indie pattern. So 26 patterns for less than $20 is quite a deal.
Here are a few more Basic Black things I like, such as Pattern B (excuse my iPhone photos):
Pattern S: This is the dress that uses the same skirt pattern pieces as the A-line Block Skirt I made.
Pattern Y – Cool coat!
If you’d like to enter the drawing for a copy of Basic Black, please comment below about your experience (if any) with Japanese sewing books and/or why you’d like a copy of this book.
This is open to everyone – regardless of location – because Tuttle will ship it to you! If you don’t want to enter the drawing and just want to comment, say “do not enter me” in your comment. You have until Tuesday, 17 March, 11:59 pm to comment. Then I will pick a winner via a random number generator and post the name of the winner on Wednesday, 18 March. If you are the winner and you live outside the United States, you’ll need to send me your mailing address and your phone number for customs. Good Luck!
Hi, I finally finished my Basic Black skirt for the Japan Sew Along! I began participating in the sew along (make something from a Japanese sewing pattern book) in early February but I didn’t complete it until this past weekend – unlike some of the other sew along participants who finished their garments in February, such as Sew Busy Lizzy who made TWO versions of a skirt from Stylish Skirts and MaciNic of The Somnolent Dachshund, who made some great tops – one from Basic Black and another from Drape Drape 2, which she blogged about here.
You can see many other Japan Sew Along projects on the blog Tanoshii, which is where Catrin is hosting the sewalong. Be sure to check out her post Japan Sew Along Finale I – to see the shirt she made with a fabulous fabric!
My sewalong project is the only skirt pattern in the Japanese sewing pattern book Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe (Tuttle Publishing). I was going to include my review of the book in this post but it was getting super long. So I’ll post the review tomorrow, along with a giveaway for the book! Yes, lucky me, in mid-February, Brandon, the publisher’s marketing guy, contacted me asking if I’d be interested in reviewing some of their recent or upcoming titles and even offered to send copies for me to give away at a Bay Area Sewists meetup! (I’m the organizer for the group.) Of course I was interested and asked if he could also send me a copy of Basic Black. (I was using a copy I checked out of the Berkeley Public Library.) Come back tomorrow to enter the drawing to win a copy of Basic Black. Don’t you love the dress on the cover?
In the book, each garment is assigned a letter of the alphabet so it goes (you guessed it) from A to Z. I made the A-line Block Skirt, pattern T. It is one of the more fitted patterns in the book; the others are what the designer describes as “loose” or “garments with darts and shaping seams.” This skirt is made up of 16 vertical panels – 8 for the front and 8 for the back – an invisible zipper on the side and the waist finished with self-made bias tape. As you’ll in the photos below, the top panels gradually curve in from hip to waist. No darts, tucks, or pleats. It’s a very clean elegant design.
I made size L, the largest size (the smallest is XS). You can read about the muslin and pattern adjustments in my WIP post on this skirt which also includes details on sizing and how this size is somewhat similar to the By Hand London Anna Dress – US size 12/UK size 16 or the size 44 Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt. However, the Basic Black skirt has much less ease at the hip and thigh area. I didn’t make any pattern adjustments to the hips of the Anna or Chardon I made.
Unfortunately, this skirt doesn’t look very interesting in the photos because you can’t see the details such as the 16 panels and the top stitching. But believe me, the details in this skirt are lovely. I’ve got some close-up photos below that show some of the detail. I’m sorry that my photo skills are just not up to photographing black – things are either over- or under-exposed. 🙁
The skirt features top stitching along each panel’s seams, except for the side seams. I admit the top stitching got pretty tedious but my stitch-in-the-ditch foot came in handy. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews) you may have seen some of my posts about it. The piece of paper on the left is one of my labels. I identified each panel on a small piece of paper and attached them with a safety-pin (front top center, front top side, back top center etc.).
Here’s a detail of the skirt panels with labels either on the front or back. I didn’t remove them until the back and front pieces were all sewn together. It would be really easy to lose track of them.
Here’s what the top stitching looks like. The photo isn’t great because it’s taken with my iPhone but I just couldn’t get the exposure right on my digital camera. (It kept wanting to shoot it as a night scene.) There’s top stitching on both sides of the seams. This is a detail of one side of the skirt with all eight panels attached.
Here’s a close-up I posted on Instagram. You can see the texture of the pique and the top stitching here. I should mention that this is my first time sewing pique. I wasn’t sure which was the right side. Luckily, Brooke of Custom Style pointed me in the right direction and even took a photo of her pique fabric and posted it on IG for me to see. The textured side is the right side. Thank you, Brooke!
I had eight of these “intersections” to match across seam lines – with a little help from my pins…
Here’s what the skirt looks like on the inside.
If you haven’t made anything from a Japanese sewing book, pay very close attention to the diagrams, particularly because the actual written instructions are often minimal and this book is no exception.
There are only six steps listed at the top of the page for this skirt and they are just one sentence each. The diagrams include a few more words and a lot of detail: cutting layout, seam allowances, which order you should sew the panels, where you install the zipper, and how to finish the waist and hem, etc. As you can see, in Step 1., you sew each top and bottom panel together. Then you sew each side panel to a center panel. The diagram tells you which pieces to sew first and where and when you sew the top stitching. Pretty succinct, eh?
I should mention that I first placed my pattern pieces right side up on my fabric, and then I noticed that the pattern pieces didn’t quite match the cutting layout in the book. But when I flipped my pattern pieces over and it did match. The book does NOT say to place your pattern pieces right side down. So I made a note in the margin. I don’t know how much it matters except that you use slightly less fabric by flipping the pattern pieces over, which gives you more fabric to cut the bias strips. There is no pattern piece for the bias strip. Just make sure you cut a length that’s long enough to go around the waist, plus seam allowance. Give yourself an extra inch or so – you can always trim the excess fabric. I had 55″ wide fabric so I only needed one piece of bias tape. I didn’t need to cut a second short piece.
[New edit,13 March 2015 – I forgot to mention this when I first wrote this post: The Center Back Top and Center Front Bottom pattern pieces are the only two pieces that have a grainline marked on them. That seemed odd when I traced the pattern pieces. But once I began to place my pattern pieces on the fabric, I realized that some of the pattern pieces were parallel to the selvage or the fold so it didn’t matter. This is another reason to pay very close attention to each diagram in the book.]
I picked this skirt because I wanted a wardrobe staple and I wanted to see if I could make a skirt that would fit well and not shift when I’m walking. My A-line RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts fit me in the hips but are loose at the waist so after I walk a block or so, the skirt slowly moves so that the side zipper usually ends up center front.
This skirt is simple to make but takes a bit of patience because of all the pressing and top stitching. Note: The instructions for this pattern do NOT mention pressing. I think the designer assumes you know this. I just mention it here as a gently reminder. Press after each seam you sew or your top stitching won’t look very good.
I unpicked a couple of seams because they didn’t line up. I also made my construction a little more complicated by adding a lining, which I machine-basted at the waist before adding the binding. Here’s the lining around the invisible zipper. I hand stitched the lining to the zipper tape. (See the zig zap stitch on the right? I didn’t notice that until halfway through before switching to a straight stitch. Oops. I was finishing some of my seams with a zig zag stitch but then I stopped because I figured the top stitching also helped finish the seams. There are no instructions about finishing seams. )
Then I attached the bias tape binding to the right side.
If I make the skirt again, I might consider eliminate the bias binding, adding seam allowance, and attaching a lining. Here’s what it looks like from the inside. You fold over the binding, top stitch through the layers just below the seam line, catching the binding on the other side. You can sort of see where my stitches went off the binding (to the right of the zipper). I think I’ll hand stitch that bit to the waist.
My adjustments to the Basic Black A-Line Block Skirt:
added 1 cm (3/8″) to hips and upper thigh to give me a little more ease
added a lining (see my WIP post for how I drafted a lining using my muslin)
added fusible black bias tape around invisible zipper to reinforce fabric
hemmed the skirt using hem facing tape instead folding it because I wanted it to be longer (I hemmed my Chardon skirts with hem tape, which you can see in this post.)
2 yards black cotton pique
2 yards black Bemberg lining
70/10 Schmetz needle
black all-purpose thread
9-inch black invisible zipper
hook and eye
3/8″ black fusible bias tape
black hem tape
My fashion fabric is from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics – using my birthday gift card from my husband. I picked this cotton pique because I really like the texture and I didn’t want the skirt to be a boring solid black skirt. My wardrobe really needed a long black skirt, which is why I picked this pattern. I got the lining on sale at Britex Fabrics.
Here are a few more photos of my finished skirt. You can sort of see the skirt panels and a hint of top stitching. It’s tricky to shoot black when you’re using a timer and focusing on a wall instead of yourself. (Yes, all photos were by me. Heheh.)
Back view… and in case you are wondering – those sandals are from Kenneth Cole. I got them last year in San Francisco. They zip up in the back!
You can see the top stitching here because I could actually focus on my skirt for this photo.
Thanks to Catrin for hosting the Japan Sew Along! I have more things I want to make from Basic Black, which you can read about tomorrow – and enter the giveaway for the book!
Hi, now that we’re nearly two months into 2015, have you given any thought to what you want to accomplish this year, not necessarily resolutions, but maybe goals or themes? I’m not really into resolutions but I like the idea of a word or theme for 2015. This has been in the back of my mind for a while, particularly since I got a mailing at the end of December from Flight Design Co., a branding and strategy company. I follow their art director Katrina McHugh on Instagram (@katrinamchugh), which I think is why they sent me the card. (I got an email in Dec., asking for my mailing address, telling me they would be sending me something fun. It was addressed to “CSews,” which is my IG handle.)
The mailer was a New Year’s greeting and thank you – a long rectangular piece of cardstock folded in three. When I unfolded it, it said “2015 is all about” and then there was a blank area to fill in, followed by an exclamation point. To the right of the exclamation point were the following instructions:
Think about what you want
Find a common theme
Choose a word or phrase
Write it down
Hang it on your wall
Take a picture
Make it happen
I didn’t want to make any New Year’s resolutions but I kept this card and let ideas percolate. And when I read a January post by the effervescent Leila of Three Dresses Project, about her word of the year (freedom), I thought, I need a word! But what word?
Well, it all came together this past weekend when I realized I forgot to bring the power cord for my sewing machine to a Sew Together meetup, an event I organized for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. (The idea was to have a meetup at Lacis in Berkeley (great upstairs classroom space!) and people could bring their sewing machines, patterns, etc. and sew, trace, cut, in the same space.) Luckily I live around the corner from Lacis. I needed to get some measurement forms for the group anyway, so I thought I could quickly pop home and get the two things and be back in a few minutes.
Well, I couldn’t find the power cord. I had brought my secondary machine – my lighter, plastic Kenmore to the meetup. I don’t use it much these days,which is partly why I couldn’t find the darn power cord. But the real reason, which I finally had to face, was that my sewing area, essentially our dining table, was waaaay overdue for a cleanup – as my husband had been complaining about to me for weeks. (My main machine is now a used Bernina I got last year, which I haven’t blogged about. It’s a mechanical one, no fancy electronics.)
I knew the machine’s power cord was somewhere around the table but I couldn’t figure out where it was. We’ve got boxes stored under it, my various sewing carts are on one side of the table, and my husband’s book cases line the walls around the room. So things are rather crowded. You can see my carts in this post on sewing organization. (Yeah, my drawers are organized but that didn’t help me when my work space was a mess!)
After about 10 minutes of searching, I realized it was taking too long and I wanted to get going on that muslin! Lucky for me, I also knew one member, Hillary, brought a machine she was willing to let others use – as were other generous members. So I returned to the meetup – sans power cord – and took Hillary up on her offer. Thanks to Hillary, I was able to put together most of the pieces of my muslin – a 16-section (8 panels each for the front and back) A-line skirt from Basic Black, which I’m working on for the Japan Sew Along, organized by Tanoshii (hashtag #2015JSA).
Here are a few photos of the meetup.
When I got home, I started going through the disorganized mess on and around the dining table (in case you’re wondering, we usually eat on a table in the living room – such is cozy apartment living). I’m too embarrassed to show a photo of the mess so I just took a photo of a few of the random things I discovered during my cleanup – that’s the photo above, clockwise from the left:
a receipt from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics from December 2014,
the pocket pattern piece for my Chardon (gee, how did I not put that away with all the other pattern pieces?),
an “O” I embroidered for a drawstring bag I’m making for one of my nieces,
leftover bias tape from my Trench, a summer stashbust project,
a pink erasable highlighter (I was wondering where that went, rolled under the table),
clothes pin, and
small polka dot drawstring bag I made.
Whew! And I found the power cord!! It was in a bag sitting on a tall chair near the kitchen island, which is right next to our dining table. Sheesh. I decided to put my Kenmore machine AND power cord away in our small storage area. More table space!
So I decided I needed two words for 2015 – because one without the other wasn’t going to work.
Yes, creativity and discipline! Because if you don’t have discipline you may not finish anything, not matter how creative you are or how many ideas are in the hopper. My husband Kofi is always saying how important discipline is and he’s right. I know if I’m not more disciplined about carving out time to sew/trace/cut, even if it’s only 30 minutes, a day, it will take me a really long time to complete anything. And if I’m not disciplined about putting things away, I’ll waste time hunting for things – not to mention drive my husband crazy – when I could be sewing or doing something else. I can only sew after I get home from work or on weekends, which means I don’t have a lot of free time.
Meanwhile, I’m going to stick this on the wall. Now all that’s left of the instructions are: build community, make it happen, and CELEBRATE!
What’s your sewing space like? Do you have a dedicated area or is it shared space – as in someone else uses the space, so you need to clean up all the time? Do you put things away or can you just leave everything out? If you have any tips, please share! Do you have a theme or word for 2015?
I’m participating in this year’s Japan Sew Along, which I wrote about earlier this month here. In that post, I expressed frustration at the sizing of Japanese pattern books. Based on the measurements in the Stylish Dress Book, it seemed to me that size L would be too small for me because I’m 5′ 8″ (1.73 M). But then I got an interesting comment on that post, which made me think I need to reexamine my assumptions of Japanese pattern book sizing. EmSewCrazy said:
I have sewn a couple things from Japanese sewing books. I’m 5′ 10″ and have a 37″ bust. The biggest thing I can say is MEASURE THE PATTERN!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. They tend to wear their patterns with much more ease than we do and not being so “ethereal” we look like we’re wearing tents. So making the L size often works for me I just have less style ease than the pattern intended but I prefer that. The last dress I made in a woven that had sleeves so the broad shoulders came into play, ended up working well when I took a smaller tuck than the pattern called for and added a bit extra seam allowance in the shoulder area.
With knits I cut the large with no seam allowances and it ends up working well with the stretch of the fabric.
I have to add length in the appropriate areas but I have to do that regardless of what pattern company I’m using. The exception is if I want it to turn out as a tunic top instead of a dress. Then the length is pretty close for me.
… I just love Japanese patterns and I feel they get a bad rap because of sizing when if you do the flat pattern measuring there is enough room for us “bigger” women in them.
Her comment made me realize that I need to measure the actual pattern pieces and see how much ease there is. Maybe I jumped the gun in my 2013 post on Everyday Dresses, in which I complained that size L was too small for me.
So it turns out EmSewCrazy is correct about ease. I looked at the measurements for a shift dress in the Stylish Dress book, doing a rough approximation of where the bust, waist and hip would be and here’s what I got for size L:
Bust – 40.5 inches
Waist – 41.5 inches
Hips – 45.5 inches
My bust is 38 inches, waist 31.5 inches, hips 43 inches. So depending on how much ease I want, I don’t really need to add much to a size L. Also, I have a small bust, which is a benefit for working with Japanese patterns.
Thus size L may indeed be fit you quite well. Of course, it’s much easier to figure out fit when books give you finished measurements. The book Basic Black by Sato Watanabe does provide finished measurements. Some of the garments are fitted and some are designed to fit more loosely. She provides measurements for the different designs.
I just checked this book out from my local library. I really like the skirts and dresses in it. I do wear black a lot – though I think any of the patterns in the book can be made with any colors or prints you want. No need to limit yourself to one color!
Now I can’t decide which pattern book to use: Stylish Dress Book, Pocchari Girl’s Sewing Book, Basic Black? I think my fabric options will help me decide. It was my birthday last week and one of my presents from my husband was a gift card to my local fabric store Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics. I went shopping last weekend and here’s what I got – a black cotton pique, a textured wool velvet, and this pretty cotton lawn print.
I was thinking I could use the pique to make this A-line skirt in Basic Black. I like the panels in it.
The wool velvet could make a really nice version of this vest in Basic Black. The book recommends making it in corduroy. Sorry for the odd cropping but the book doesn’t show the full vest – just these partial shots.
The cotton lawn could be one of the shift dresses in the Stylish Dress Book. Oh, and I just got a black cotton/linen remnant from Britex Fabrics today for about $20. The store is having a 30 percent off sale next Monday (President’s Day holiday). I didn’t want to wait until then because it’ll likely be gone by the time I get there. There aren’t too many linen remnants available.
I’m thinking I want to use the fabrics I just bought and make all those garments I mentioned above. If you’ve made anything from Basic Black or Stylish Dress Book, please let me know!