Finished: My Skirt from ‘Basic Black’

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.

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanbe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

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?

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

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. 🙁

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japanese sewing patern book - csews.com

Construction Details

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.).

Stitch in the ditch foot - top stitching - csews.com

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.

Skirt panels - Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

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.

Top stitching detail - skirt - csews.com

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!

Top stitching detail - csews.com

I had eight of these “intersections” to match across seam lines – with a little help from my pins…

Pinning skirt panel seams - csews.com

Here’s what the skirt looks like on the inside.

Skirt from Basic Black - csews.com

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?

Basic Black - skirt instructions - diagram - csews.com

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.

A-line block skirt - Basic Black - cutting layout - csews.com

[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. )

Skirt lining detail - csews.com

Then I attached the bias tape binding to the right side.

Bias binding at waist - csews.com

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.

Lining - zipper - csews.com

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.)

Materials

  • 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.)

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

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!

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

You can see the top stitching here because I could actually focus on my skirt for this photo.

Skirt from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - Japan Sew Along - csews.com

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!

Happy Sewing!

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WIP – Basic Black A-Line Block Skirt

Hi, as you might know, some people (including me) are participating in the Japan Sew Along – hosted by Tanoshii (#2015jsa). It started towards the end of January and I’ve already seen some completed garments, which you can check on the sew along’s 16 February post. I’ve only gotten as far as making one muslin test garment. Over the past couple of weeks, my WIP  (work-in-progress) has been the A-line Block Skirt from the Japanese sewing pattern book Basic Black  by Sato Watanabe.

I do wear black a lot and I really need a longer black skirt. I only have one other black skirt – a knee-length RTW (ready-to-wear) circle skirt.

I traced size L – the largest size – the skirt (pattern T in the book). There is no XL in this book. (For more on sizing, see my post Japanese Pattern Book Sizing.)

For the A-line skirt, essentially a skirt that’s been divided into 16 rectangular panels (8 for the front and 8 for the back), I traced the 8 pattern pieces. When I measured the pattern pieces at the waist (not including the seam allowances), and added them up, I got about 31.5 inches (about 80 cm). So I knew the waist would fit but I wasn’t sure the hips would fit because I usually need to grade up a size in that area.

Basic Black’s Sizing vs. Indie Patterns

For comparison’s sake – I’d say size L for this skirt was similar to size 44 of my Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – but with less ease in the hips. The Chardon skirt has pleats so lots of ease there!

If you’ve made a By Hand London pattern, I’d say the skirt was similar to the first of the Anna Dress. I made US size 12/UK size 16. The Anna Dress has a seven-panel A-line skirt. (You can see the two I made here: Red Anna Dress and The Anna Dress.)

My Muslin of the A-Line Block Skirt

I folded my test fabric in half and pinned my pattern pieces to the fabric (a white cotton Ikea curtain I got at Goodwill, a charity shop, for $2). After I cut my fabric, I had a total of 16 pattern pieces. I used my erasable Pilot Frixion pen to label each pattern piece so I would remember which piece went where: top center front, top side front, top center back, bottom center back, etc. It erases via heat – so a hot iron will make my scribbles disappear.

A-Line Block Skirt - muslin - Japan Sew Along- csews.com

There are many pattern pieces so I recommend labeling them. Then you can sew them from top to bottom and left to right. I matched and pinned the top and bottom pieces together, following the numbered diagrams in the book.

Skirt instructions - Basic Black - A-line block skirt

Then I tried on my muslin. It fit at the waist but there was very little ease at the hips. This was not a surprise. I posted this image on Instagram.

Waist fits but a tad snug at hips. A-line skirt from Basic Black #2015jsa

A photo posted by C Sews (@csews) on

Then I needed to figure out how much ease to add. So I went to my closet and pulled out one of my favorite A-line bias cut skirts, a linen silk blend. Then I put my muslin on top of that skirt.

A-line skirt - ease at hips - csews.com

I decided to add a centimeter (3/8″) to the Top Side Front and Top Side Back pattern pieces. The skirt I’m making doesn’t get as wide as my RTW one. I wanted to keep the look of the Basic Black pattern.

Comparing hip widths - csews.com

To figure out where this 1 cm would begin and end, I put on my muslin and made two marks along the side seams: One mark about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) from the waist and then another mark (near the pen) where the skirt didn’t need more ease.

Skirt ease at hips - csews.com

Here’s one of the side pattern pieces I adjusted. I taped a piece of tracing paper to the side, then used my French curve to gradually add 1 cm to the hip area. The increase starts near the tomato. Once I got to 1 cm. I just extended the line straight down. I also added 1 cm to the Bottom Side pattern piece to preserve the  A-line design of the skirt. If I didn’t do then, then I would have had a side seam that just curved out at the hips and then got narrower, like a modified tulip skirt or something.

Pattern adjustment - Basic Black - csews.com

Add a Lining?
The pattern calls for finishing the waist with bias tape. I’m going to make the skirt from a medium-weight cotton pique and there are a lot of seams in the skirt. Maybe it will be more comfortable with a lining. Here’s what it looks like on the inside (all of these seams are supposed to be top stitched):

Muslin seams - A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

However, there is no lining pattern so I needed to draft one. I couldn’t use the skirt pattern pieces because there were too many pieces.

I took my muslin, folded it in half, traced it and added a seam allowance on the side. That sounds simple but it was a bit tricky because my muslin was a heavy-weight fabric and it turns out that folding it in half wasn’t too accurate.

Tracing lining for A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

I wasn’t sure if my seam allowance was correct so I put the skirt on top of the muslin and I could see that I needed to add more. Plus I needed to add more ease to the hips. I taped a long strip of tracing paper along the side, and added the ease (see hip area just below the tomato).

Adding ease to lining

I did the same thing for the other side. Then I cut my lining fabric, black bemberg. After I cut the lining, I put it on top of my muslin to see if it was the right size. Somehow I added too much seam allowance at the waist, so I made the lining a little smaller there. Then I had to add seam allowance at the hips and the rest of the side seam. I’m glad I checked or I would have had a problem like I did with the skirt lining I drafted for my maxi Chardon skirt.

It took me half of my Saturday afternoon to get it right. I didn’t think it would take that long. Maybe it would have been faster to draft part of it using the Top Side and Bottom Side pattern pieces. Then I could have used my French curve to draft the rest of the waist, etc.

Have you drafted a lining for anything you’ve made? What garment was it and how did it work out?

Hopefully I can start sewing my fashion fabric for this skirt! I decided not to make another muslin and just go ahead and cut my fabric – a medium-weight solid black cotton pique.  I’m really looking forward to finishing this skirt!

Happy Sewing!

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My Theme for 2015

Random stuff discovered - csews.com

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:

  1. Think about what you want
  2. Find a common theme
  3. Choose a word or phrase
  4. Write it down
  5. Hang it on your wall
  6. Take a picture
  7. Share it
  8. Build community
  9. Make it happen
  10. Celebrate!

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.

Sew Together 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,
  • a receipt from Britex Fabrics from July(!) 2014,
  • testing stitches on the stretch twill fabric I used in my first Chardon Skirt,
  • the formerly missing lid to a box of pins,
  • 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.

Creativity and discipline- Flight Design - csews.com

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?

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Japanese Pattern Book Sizing

Stylish dress book - Japanese sewing patterns - csews.com

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.

Fabric - cottons and wool - csews.com

I was thinking I could use the pique to make this A-line skirt in Basic Black. I like the panels in it.

A-line Block Skirt - Basic Black - csews.com

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.

Whimsical vest - Basic Black by Sato Watanabe - csews.com

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!

What are you making now?

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Japan Sew Along 2015

Japanese sewing books - csews.com

I was on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw that @Sewbusylizzy (of the blog Sew Busy Lizzy) had regrammed an image from @stoffbuero about her Japan Sew Along, which just began. When I saw it, I thought, should I participate or not? I’ve got these four Japanese pattern books in my collection but only made one thing (not blogged) – from Shape Shape – and it was too small. It was my first Japanese pattern book and I forgot to add seam allowance and size L was too small anyway.

The blog Tanoshii features Japanese sewing books, at least from what I can tell. She blogs in German and hosted a Japan Sew Along last year as well. I didn’t know about that one. Her schedule for the Japan Sew Along are in German, followed by English translations posted in italics. You just have to scroll down to find the English. (The hashtag is #2015jsa.)

In 2013 I bought the Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear because I wanted to make some everyday dresses BUT I didn’t realize until after I bought it that size large was more like a medium. The dimensions for Large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hip.  And there was no XL. Too bad. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon because I was seduced by the photos. But who was I kidding? I have broad shoulders and at 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) I’m much taller than the average Japanese woman. So I haven’t made anything from that book yet.

I bought it because I wanted to make some “everyday” dresses because it seemed as if the dresses I was making were more for work or fancy occasions. In fact, I wrote a post back then about my desire for Everyday Dresses but since then I’ve only made one dress that really seems to fit that description – my Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress.

Before I saw Lizzy’s regram, I just happened to get a comment from Nobu Murakawa, an Etsy seller in Japan (JapanLovelyCrafts) who sells fabric, Japanese sewing pattern books, and craft supplies. She read my 2013 post about the Stylish Dress BookHips, “Husky” Girls, and Japanese Sewing Patterns, and commented:

I have read your blog. I am also a husky girl of weight 70+ . Why don’t you try one of these Japanese sewing books that helped me a lot to sew cute dresses for me.

She provided a link to a Japanese sewing book with larger patterns; it was described like this:

Large Size Clothing – Japanese Easy Sewing Pattern Book – Chubby Woman Dress Clothes – Blouse, Shirt, Tunic, Pants, Tops, Coat

OK – I admit the “Chubby Woman” description gave me pause but I thought it might actually be easier to grade down and do an SBA (small bust adjustment) than to grade up on the other pattern books.

In case you’re wondering what “pocchari” means, well, I looked it up. Apparently it’s Japanese slang for “chubby” but in a positive sense;  it’s also a fashion trend in Japan that’s more about celebrating a full figure rather than hiding it or being ashamed of it. So pocchari fashion is bold and colorful. You can read more about it in this Guardian article “Japan’s pocchari trend celebrates chubby women.”

I weigh more than 70 kilos (150 lbs.), but I’m not petite in height so I’m not exactly “pocchari” though I do have many days when I feel like I am!

I decided to take a chance and order the book ($25.50 + $8.50 for shipping) and it arrived last Thursday, less than two weeks later. (The seller graciously upgraded me on shipping at her expense, so it would arrive earlier than the usual 2-3 weeks for economy air. Thank you!). It was very carefully packed in a plastic bag and bubble wrap, plus she included a cute note along with a packet of Hello Kitty tissues. It was her only copy, which is why I didn’t include her link. (If you want to order it, I found a used copy on Amazon for $28.99 + $3.99 shipping.)

Pocchari girl's sewing book

I don’t usually order books from overseas because of the shipping costs. I tend to be a bargain shopper for sewing books getting them at used bookstores or on sale at Amazon. Of the books in the photo at the top of this post – the one on the far left was a $5 discovery at the San Francisco Public Library book store (proceeds go to the library), Shape Shape and The Stylish Dress books were discounted Amazon purchases, and Pattern Magic 2 about $10 at Half Price Books.

I’m thinking of making this blouse from the Pocchari book. I hope it doesn’t look like a tent on me. I’ll definitely have to make a muslin and do a major SBA. This could be fun in a knit fabric. Nearly all of the book is in Japanese so I have no idea what the recommended fabrics are. The only English text you’ll find is on the front and back covers and on the pages where the garments are photographed. Everything else is in Japanese. Maybe I’ll make a trip to Japantown in San Francisco to see if someone at Kinokuniya bookstore can translate for me.

Japan Sew Along - pocchari top - csews.com

I’m assuming the shoulders will fit. We’ll see…

Japan Sew Along

Have you made anything from a Japanese sewing book? How was the fit?

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