What are you working on? Projects for summer and fall? Now that summer solstice has come and gone, I feel pressure to get going on the summer clothes. One good thing about living in California is that it stays warm through September, even in the Bay Area, where the weather is a lot cooler than Southern California – so I’ll be OK even if I don’t finish my summer sewing projects by the end of August.
I’ve just finished making another Deer and Doe Chardon skirt – this time out of some heavyweight linen fabric. Here’s a sneak peek of the main skirt fabric, which I got at Britex Fabrics and my side pocket:
Hopefully, I’ll be able to take photos of it in the couple of days so you can see the finished version with the red linen contrast band. This is my fourth Chardon skirt. (Here are the links to my first Chardon, my second one with a black contrast band, and my maxi version.)
I already got some black seersucker fabric. It’s a perfect project for the Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Handmade by Heather B! It starts on July 1 and continues to August 31 – plenty of time to finish it! Thanks, Heather!
The other dress is one I thought I would make for the Japan Sew Along (hosted by Tanoshii) but I was only able to complete one garment, the A-line Block Skirt (from Basic Black) by the end of the sewalong. This is the pattern…
… and here’s the pretty purple cotton voile fabric I got for the dress:
Oh, and let’s not forget tops! I cut out my mock-up of the Asymmetical Top from Drape Drape 2, which I’ve been meaning to make ever since I saw a couple of MaciNic’s versions on her blog The Somnolent Dachshund. I cut a straight size L/XL. I’m using a drapey rayon knit so we’ll see how well it fits. My guess is that it will be tight in the hips. The top was a bit of a pain to cut out because it is one huge pattern piece. So I had to lay it out on the floor. It’s waiting to be sewed.
And way back in December I cut out a mock-up of the Renfrew top, Sewaholic’s best-selling and versatile knit top. It got pushed to the bottom of the project queue when I started making my Chardon skirts, Japanese sewing patterns, and my Spring for Cotton dress. I need to sew this up as well.
I also bought my first Blueprints for Sewing pattern – the A-frame skirt, which looks like a great stashbuster. Just think of the color blocking possibilities!
The drawing is unique – rather rustic but don’t be put off by it, the design is rather elegant with two options – an A-line and a pencil skirt. And the pocket detail is quite lovely. You can see more versions of it on Blueprint’s blog.
Another pattern I got earlier this month is the Flutter Blouse by Papercut Patterns. I like the floaty sleeves. You could make it tunic length and wear it as a dress (check out SewBusyLizzy’s version here). I don’t know if I would make it tunic length – like SewBusyLizzy I worry about it looking like a sack. My hips are rather wide so I don’t think that will be flattering on my figure. It will be fine as a blouse though.
I love the packaging on Papercut Patterns!
There are other indie patterns on my to-do list as well – Deer & Doe’s Bruyère Shirt, maybe another By Hand London Anna Dress for the International Anna Party (I’ve made two so far – one with a border print and a color blocked version), and Sewaholic’s Granville Shirt. What’s on your sewing list?
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!
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!
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.
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.)
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.
I’m assuming the shoulders will fit. We’ll see…
Have you made anything from a Japanese sewing book? How was the fit?
A few weeks ago I realized that I don’t have any everyday dresses in my wardrobe. Not one. I have everyday skirts but no everyday dresses. Yep. I’m more of a separates kinda gal so that’s part of the reason. And I guess the other reason is my attitude toward dresses. I guess I think of them as being something that you don’t wear everyday.
The five dresses I own only get worn a couple of times a year or not even that. They include a vintage black dress that I got years ago; the dress I wore as a bridesmaid to a wedding; two dresses I made from vintage Vogue patterns, and the dress I made for my BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest entry earlier this year (I was a finalist but didn’t win). I usually end up wearing a vintage hat with these outfits and even a crinoline with the one I made for the sewing contest – not exactly everyday wear but I do wear them to work when I’m in the mood and the weather is warm enough in San Francisco.
So when I heard about Christine Haynes‘s Emery Dress and the Red Velvet Dress by Cake Patterns – I had to take a closer look. At first I thought the Emery Dress was a touch too girly for me – I think the bow made me hesitate. But then I saw the striped Emery Dress by Devon of Miss Make blog and it convinced me that I should get the pattern. She cut the collar on the bias and it looks fabulous, doesn’t it? She kindly let me repost this photo from her blog post Emery Dress Pattern.
The Emery Dress Sewalong has just started but Christine is only on fabric and notions. Muslin sewing starts on Oct. 30. You can view the schedule here. I think you could still join in on it if you order the pattern right away. In November Christine will focus on bust adjustments – small and full. I’m looking forward to that!
The Red Velvet Sewalong starts on November 11! So there’s still time to participate.It’ll be a series of ten sessions over two weeks. I participated in the Cake Patterns Hummingbird Sewalong earlier this year, which was a lot of fun. So far I’ve made three Hummingbird tops, which you can see here.
And last but not least, today my copy of Clothing for Everyday: Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori arrived! I pre-ordered it on Amazon.
This is the English translation published by Laurence King. There are dresses, tops, jackets, and pants in this book – a total of 26 garments – according to the book flap. There are plenty of photos in the book – slender, winsome, and unsmiling Japanese models, which probably means grading the pattern up a bit for me. The pattern is sized for XS, S, M, and L. No XL folks.
The dimensions for large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hips. Based on that, I’m more of an XL in the hips and height. Oh, and the pattern gives the same height for all four sizes – 63″ (160 cm), which must be a mistake. 63″ is 5′ 3″. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ so who knows what the height measurement means.
I’m looking forward to adding everyday dresses to my wardrobe. Have you made any dresses that fall into the everyday category? What patterns have you liked? Have you made anything from Japanese pattern books? What was your sizing experience like?
And do let me know if you’re participating in the Emery Dress Sewalong or the Red Velvet Sewalong. I’d love to see what your version looks like!