I wrote a quick guide to start sewing from Japanese sewing books, and a list of Japanese sewing vocabularies ("vocabulary" is such a hard word to pronounce for a Japanese!). I am hoping that these might help people who are intimidated by books full of foreign language, or when diagrams alone are not clear enough to explain sewing processes.
Although nowadays, I mostly sew from new and vintage printed tissue patterns, my Japanese sewing books and I go way back. Ever since I started sewing my own clothes in 5th grade, I've been collecting (or buying and not being able to throw away) sewing books, and part of my beloved sewing library moved with me when I came to America.
If you are interested in sewing from Japanese sewing books, or you already own them but puzzled by their sewing instructions, these pages might be worth a look (I hope!). Also, I'd love to hear about any questions and comments you might have about Japanese sewing books!
Hover over "sewing" in the menu bar right under the blog title at the top to show links to these pages, or you can click these links here:
I made a pair of leggings for my daughter using a pair I bought for myself.
The original pair had some problem I could not live with, but I loved its fabric so much that I decided to keep them to use as material for another pair for my daughter.
I bought the pair of leggings from a nearby drugstore. They were folded and wrapped in a cardboard band, so I could not see the whole deal before I bought them. The second I opened the package at home, the problem was obvious--- terrible pattern matching!! The big borders did not match at all---or rather, it was as if the person was trying to connect a snowflake border to a dot border on purpose.
The fabric had the really cute pattern and warm, furry backside, so I thought it was worth remaking it to something else. So I just made a smaller pair of leggings, this time trying to match the borders as much as possible. I was so focused on matching borders horizontally, and I actually forgot about matching the snowflake patterns in the center front and back.
luckily, the center front doesn't look THAT bad---though of course, not anything close to acceptable if I was actually trying to match... (and the center back is worse.) But what's done is done, and the problem areas were mostly hidden anyway when my daughter dresses up in her whole winter gear.
Fabric: poly knit with furry back
Pattern: from a Japanese sewing book: "Mainichi kiru onnanokofuku" by Yuuki Katagai
Pattern modification: since the fabric was thick, I used one size bigger and shortened the legs.
Last year was a slow year for my sewing and creativity. Partially (ok, maybe a big part), it was because I was taking care of a one year old baby for the first time.
However, the biggest reason is that I felt guilty about creating more "things" when I already had so many.
I know it's such a cliche for a new parent to suddenly become all environmental -conscious for the sake of next generation (= her own kid) , but that's totally how I was and am now.
Apparently, donating old clothes does more harm than good in some cases.
I decided to use old clothes as waste cloth and salvage notions as much as possible...
I watched this great documentary film "The True Cost" (you can watch official trailer on Youtube here), and I passionately recommend everyone to do the same. It's about (I think) the raise of fast fashion and the burden that's forced upon environment and people in production (often in the third world countries). It opened my eyes to something we all knew in the back of our heads but ignored so we could keep enjoying cheap, disposable fashion... for what cost??
I pledged to myself that I wasn't going to buy from fast fashion retailers which exploit worker's rights and do harm to environment. I tried to up-cycle my and my husband's clothes to make baby clothes. I wasn't going to buy any new items for myself unless I really, really need them ---then I broke down and bought some cute t-shirts for my daughter from one of those evil retailers. (She looked really cute in them, and sometimes you don't have time to whip up t-shirts...excuses excuses......)
So my attempt to be a really good, environmentally conscious consumer was failing. And there was my "stash".
Is sewing up a clothing item after another any better?? Probably. It doesn't involve deprived, underaged stitchers in dark buildings with no windows. But I don't know where my fabric comes from. Chances are that there are many many dark, windowless buildings that produce yards and yards of fabric for $2. Isn't compulsively sewing up things that I don't wear many times the same as an irrational shopping habit in principle??
When you shop, you can really look at the fit, fabric, design, and how they all come together in the final product. The problem is that it's hard to find something that's exactly what you want. But when you sew, unless you are really experienced in both sewing and designing, it's again difficult to end up with the final product that's exactly what you envisioned.
I have been considering pros and cons of these different options, and yet not come to a conclusion. This is the reason for my sewing rut that lasted for more than a year now.
But the truth is, lately I really miss sewing. Sewing and creating is directly connected to joy I feel in life, much like meditation for me. So maybe for now, I settle for a median approach: Consider purchases before actually buying. Carefully plan and take time to sew something I'll really love. Take care of things I already own. Try to buy from small local businesses as much as possible.
So in other words, I just settled for some common sense stuff after much ado of thinking and rambling to my husband... (Poor guy. But that's what husbands are for, right?)
"The True Cost" というドキュメンタリー映画を観て、ファストファッションの陰で汚染された環境や、人権侵害問題などについて考えるようになりました。(オフィシャルのトレーラーはこちらで見れます）
I have twin baby nephews who are 2 months younger than my daughter. I needed gifts which I can send to Japan via airmail without going bankrupt. After thinking about it for a while, I ended up making something my daughter wears daily and I consider to be some of the most useful pieces of clothing I made for her: turtleneck shirts.
Fabric: yellow organic cotton knit from fabric.com
Pattern: from a Japanese sewing book: "Mainichi kiru onnanokofuku" by Yuuki Katagai
Pattern modification: the book suggests to just turn and stitch down the sleeve hem, but I did mock-bands to finish with serger.
I used fusible web to baste the hem, and then used twin needle.
I'm not sure if boys are naturally drawn to tractors or just giving in to the society's expectation, but my nephews are obsessed with them. So naturally, I added iron-on tractors.
Lately, I'm all about efficiency and short-cuts when it comes to cooking. Ever since giving birth to my daughter, we just don't have the kind of time we used to have (those friends who'd told us that kids would change EVERYTHING were right all along).
そんな時見つけたオンラインクラス"Artisan Bread in Minutes" by Zoe Francois from Craftsy.com。材料を大きな容器に入れて混ぜ、２時間発酵させてあとは冷蔵庫で保存！あとは焼きたい時に焼きたい分だけ取り出して焼く・・・というもの。
This is the exciting time for sewists around the world! Zoe of "So Zo... What do you know?" blog is hosting another Me-Made May event.
This is the forth time for me to take part in Me-Made-May, although my last two year's challenges were cut short (during MMM14, I found out I was pregnant and got a bad case of morning sickness, and last year we had a family emergency). With my husband working in education, May is also our time to travel and visit families in two different continents.
My pledge is to wear at least one me-made item everyday, and also to go outside in it everyday!
This is a challenge for someone who spent most of winter at home wearing PJ's.
I finally finished this pink wool-blend jacket which I started last year for my mother.
The pattern is McCall's 7288. I picked this pattern because it has multiple cup-size options. My mother has difficulty finding jackets or shirts that fit because she is full-busted.
I completely changed the back; She liked a photo from my Pinterest page, which I believe is of one of Anthropology's cardigans. So I mimicked the style lines from the photo. I think it turned out pretty good... I had to make several mock ups to fiddle with the proportions (my mom is quite short).
I cut out simple sleeve-heads from left-over fleece fabric. No shoulder pads, but I think even just the sleeve-heads give nice shapes to the shoulder area.
Buttonholes were challenging because the fabric had stretch, and I also used stretchy tricot lining to keep the garment soft. Probably bound-button holes would've been easier----but I like to add button & buttonholes after the whole garment is made up, deciding their sizes and placements at the very end.
Benberg lining... should've added more ease, or should've used stretchy lining....???
One thing I disliked about the pattern is the sleeves. I feel like they hang funny... if I make the jacket again in the future, I'd draft up two-part sleeves.
In Theatre, I was taught that putting labels in before the garment is finished is a bad luck. Is there anything like that in fashion??
I've made several baby's footed pants so far. They are great to layer over bodysuits. I tried 4 different patterns for footed baby pants, and my favorite is this one.
The reasons why I like this pattern over others are:
So in short, the pant part is really simple, and it has nice elastic casings around the ankle which is a must to actually keep the baby's feet in the "foot pockets".
One change I made was to make the back of the pants longer than front by 1". This made sense because at the time our daughter was mostly sitting down.
These were great and our daughter wore them all the time!
Now that she started walking and needs real shoes, regular pants & socks combo makes more sense. So I had to (sadly) retire these cuties...
A couple years ago, I saw plastic canvases that were pre-shaped to make a small purse in a craft store, thought they were kind of interesting and decided to give it a try. I never used plastic canvases before, so I just winged it...
This is actually my second try. I didn't think about a closure when I started on the first one, and ended up using a toggle. While the toggle looked pretty cute, opening and closing was a pain. So, I planned ahead for the second one so that I could use a turn-lock.
I lined the entire purse with a piece of fleece that I had on hand... just glued it to the wrong side of plastic canvas after stitching the design on.
Back of the purse...
Also, I stitched on D-rings on the sides to attach the strap (from another purse).
Here are some in-process photos..
I finished knitting a cardigan for my daughter. Was it worth it?? We'll see.... but it sure is cute! Maybe it was worth it becuase just looking at it makes me smile...
The pattern is 'Comfrey' Pram Suit from Vintage Knits for Babies by Rita Taylor, and the yarn is 100% cotton and my husband's souvenir from his home country. I believe I specifically asked for "neutral color" yarns, and he said he understood what that meant... Nevertheless, I'm glad he chose this color, because it really suits our daughter.
This Cardigan is getting a lot more wear than I expected. Since the yarn is 100% cotton, our daughter loves wearing it. I initially thought the collar would bother her, but it is on the contrary. the collar looks really cute and doubles as a protector from tags on outer layers, seat belts, or any kind of shoulder straps babies are to wear anywhere they go.
When attaching the buttons, I experimented with some technique I saw on Pinterest (where else?). I couldn't find any tutorials, but it looked quite self-explanatory, so I winged it. How I did it;
I consider myself an intermediate knitter, having completed several "big projects" like men and women's sweaters (but not complicated designs), and I think this baby cardigan was a pretty easy project. The texture is lovely, but is a surprisingly easy pattern of knit & purl repeats.
The only thing I would change about this cardigan is the actual buttons. The color matched perfectly and that's why I bought these , but they were tad too small and thin. Now that the button holes are stretched out as almost always happens to knitted button holes, I'm constantly re-buttoning the front of her cardigan. I'm now contemplating if it's worth going to a store, looking for new buttons, and actually changing them, as our daughter rapidly grows out of it...