A Tencel Denim Japanese Jumpsuit? Onesie?

Or that time I channeled my inner denim-clad Gumby

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit – just mucking around on Photoshop app on my phone one night – better (unfiltered – perhaps not better!) images follow!

I’ve missed just sewing things for the heck of it. Like so many of us, I am very time poor so I had tried to sew sensible/practical stuff to make the most economical of my time spent sewing.

Turns out, for me, that’s a bit of an inspiration killer. So I’ve decided to revert to my former sewing self and sew the things that tickle my fancy or intrigue me. In all honesty I tend to wear my slightly off-kilter garments the most. Plus I sew because it relaxes me, my yoga is sewing. I make no apologies for that.

And lately it was this that intrigued me. Japanese pattern books are back!

Japanese sewing book

I fell in love with this book a few visits ago to Kinokunya (Sydney) and last time I visited, it was still there. So I decided it was meant to be.

Contents of the book - there are up to two variations on every main pattern.

Contents of the book – there are up to two variations on every main pattern.

And while there are several very sensible and more practical patterns in this book, the pinstripe jumpsuit captured my interest. So I decided to fly with the idea.

Pinstripe office onesie!

Pinstripe office onesie!

Pattern tracing took me a night, however the alterations and procrastination took me at least another two weeks. Not because they were complicated but I did try to talk myself out of this odd outfit choice and procrastinated over the pattern changes.

Tracing

My favourite thing to trace my patterns with is a product called ‘Trace & Toile’ from Spotlight (Australia). At $20 a 10 metre roll, it is expensive. I wait for a sale and purchase several rolls at $10. I don’t sew as much as I used to, the upside to this is that a roll will see me through many patterns.

Trace & Toile

Trace & Toile

While it has it faults – pen rubs off a little, heavier to see through – I love the fact I can baste my pattern pieces together to get an idea of fit. This product gives me a better idea than I seem to achieve with tissue paper fitting – and saves me the trials and tribulations (and precious time) a fabric toile can take. It doesn’t replace a fabric toile but if you don’t think you need drastic alterations you can quickly see if more length etc is needed. Long basting stitches slide out easily and I can cut the pattern pieces and sew in strips to lengthen a pattern or fold//sew shortening tucks to modify a pattern. These modifications become a permanent sewn-in element of my finished pattern which I then make the garment from.

Minor Modifications

These Japanese patterns are drafted for someone only slightly taller than me. As mentioned on previous posts, I am proportionally long through the torso and jumpsuits make pattern modifications a necessity as no-one wants to wear – or see – a jumpsuit wedgie!

Book size chart

Book size chart

I added 1 1/2 inches to the crotch depth, this was intentionally longer than needed as I wanted a casual, very loose jumpsuit to wear during summer. I added 1 inch to the bodice – however found this made the waist too low and I removed it, I might even shorten the bodice if I was to make it again. I should have added some length to the legs as well – I turned the hems up with bias binding as the unfinished length was close to perfect.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit – front view. Note to self: stand up straight!

I added belt loops and a self-fabric belt. I prefer to wear this looped through the belt keepers and then tied at the back, rather than wrapping it around the front. It created a bit of shape without being pulled in against my waist. Very loose and easy to wear.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit. Proof that I happily share my beach photos with everyone! I have no shame. Windy afternoon as well – less an ideal for photos but such is life.

I would probably insert an invisible zip in the side seams if I was to make it again. It’s a little wriggle to pull it up and over my hips (note to self, not too many yummy Christmas indulgences this year) – a zipper would help.

I do need to wear a singlet or tshirt under it – however I like the overall/jumpsuit mix, one of the things that attracted me to it.

This is made from tencel denim from ‘the stash’ purchased from a bargain table for the grand sum of $5 a metre… or maybe it was $4 a metre. I also squeezed another Tessuti Sadie Slip dress out of this, similar to this dress I blogged over a year ago – which I love!

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Agreed. This jumpsuit is a slight crazy garment. I wore it all day today – the best way to assess a garment’s suitability to your lifestyle is to put it ‘through its paces’. It passed the lifestyle test with flying colours. I love it. It’s a bit oddball but quite unique – and exceptionally comfortable. I am also confident I will not be bumping into any other denim-clad Gumby wannabes in the downtown Port Macquarie. So it’s a win-win for me.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit. I don’t wear it with the belt tied at the front. Too wrinkly, too obvious. I prefer the belt to just pull it in a little at the back. Mad crazy hair – completely natural!

See it in action? Visit Instagram!

Photographed terribly in the late afternoon sunset last weekend, too much glare and the tencel looks shiny. The Instagram images (or Boomerangs) are much more true to the actual garment and you can see me wiggling in an action shot… life is too short to be too serious… and let’s be honest, I don’t pretend to be a high fashion model!

This isn’t going to be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ – however it’s mine. I appreciate some will hate it. If we all sewed, liked and wore the same style… well… that wouldn’t be terribly interesting would it?

The thought of wearing a pinstripe onesie to work is still very appealing…

Pattern: No.5 from untranslated Japanese pattern book which loosely translates as “7 Basic dresses” – this jumpsuit also includes as a jumper dress option. ISBN 978-4-579-11570-9
Fabric: Tencel polka dot denim, Spotlight Australia

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Stylish Party Dresses – and my boho Drape Top

… or what to wear when you aren’t wearing a party dress…

I had already purchased the Japanese version of this book Stylish Party Dresses, traced this top & had it on my lengthy list of books in my personal collection to review (which is becoming embarassingly extensive!). When Tuttle Publishing contacted me with an English copy to review and offered to provide a giveaway copy (giveaway now closed), it made sense to accept. I had struggled with the Japanese version of the pattern sheet and I was delighted to get my hands on an English version as I liked many of the patterns.

Drape Top i from Stylish Party Dresses

Hey Lizzy – where’s the party dress? Or even a stylish dress? Slightly windy day on the beach so it’s being blown about a bit.

With this book I was immediately drawn to the tops, jackets and cape-sleeved bolero. I liked a couple of the dresses but it was the possibilities of the other items that drew me in and lead me to compulsively purchase the Japanese version months and months ago.

THE TOP

I was tempted to sew this top in silk… I think it would make a luxe top with skinny jeans or cigarette pants or a pencil skirt… however I opted to stick with the spirit of the book and found a budget-friendly fabric. I purchased this woven rayon, on sale, at Spotlight. It’s a lovely mosiac, stained-glass style print.

It's quite modest and conservative at the front.

It’s quite modest and conservative at the front.

Where I didn’t stick to the spirit of the book is the ‘party dresses’ theme. I thought it would be interesting to look beyond how the designs are presented and find new ways to wear them. In the book this top is paired with a loose mini or maxi skirt.

This top has a front yoke with a couple of sets of gathers above the bust, the sleeves are full and wrist length. from the front, the top is quite conservative and modest.

The body is very flared and the back drapes beautifully – yes ‘drapes’, of course I was going to love this! It’s a ‘business at the front and party at the back’ top. The back opening is wide/low and I had to tug my back bra strap down for the photos. I’d be tempted to raise the back ‘v’ a little next time as I hate fiddling with clothing that I am wearing. The tie across the shoulders does help keep the top in place and is a nice decorative finish.

Construction details: I cut out two yoke pieces and burritoed (self-lined) the front yoke – to increase the neatness of the internal finish. I used French seams on the sleeves, back and side seams – when the fabric is lightweight, I love French seams. The neckline and back opening is finished with self bias-binding. The back tie I made from self fabric – sewing a long thin tube and turning it right-side out with a bobby pin. I knotted the ends of the ties.

top - flat

The pattern matching isn’t so great at the back… however the draping of the back conceals this centre back seam when I’m wearing it

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke....

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke….

Sizing: I fell into the 6 size range but chose to make up size 4 – and as you can see, there is plenty of ease!

THE BOOK

It’s no secret I love Japanese pattern books. I have a considerable collection! Last year I fell in love with the unique designs of Drape Drape (I have a genuine urge to make some more at the moment)… and now I have come to love some of their ‘everyday’ clothing books as the minimalist designs, loose fit and sizing suit my build and lifestyle. I know this isn’t the experience for everyone… however it works for me.

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

As I mentioned, I own the untranslated version of this book – in fact I purchased it because I fell in love with the top I’ve made for this post. The Japanese book version is just beautiful, it’s a larger format and has a different cover and is called ‘Formal and Little Black Dress‘. Even my non-sewing friends comment about the beauty of Japanese sewing books, they are often beautifully shot and have an eye-catching serene aesthetic.

This book offers 26 dresses and separates which seems to represent excellent value for the cost of the book.

THE DESIGNS

Some of the design details are obscured by the printed fabrics and photography. However if you flick to the instructions section of this book, every set of design instructions provides a line drawing which is excellent way to determine the design features.

I’m drawn to the jacket, cape and tops in this book. I wear a lot of dresses, mainly to work, however I do love to create tops & jackets to wear with jeans as that’s my out-of-work uniform. It’s quite easy to look beyond the styling of Stylish Party Dresses and see that many of these items can be worn casually or paired with pencil skirts, jeans and the like.

I haven’t photographed every design – please see English Girl at Home for additional design images and Top Notch who has also reviewed this book.

Designs a and b from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing.

A tulle skirted and a lace overlay dress… now THAT’S a party dress!

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

I love this little lace jacket.

I love this little lace jacket.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist - this could be for you.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist – this could be for you.

The top I fell in love with - in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

The top I fell in love with – in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

I think I just like that lace fabric... but as for the red... I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind...

I think I just like that lace fabric… but as for the red… I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind…

I love the little blouse 'design n'. A simple wearable everyday design

I love the little blouse ‘design n’, I’ve already traced it and have some flamingo rayon waiting for it. A simple wearable everyday design

Jumpsuit for the brave!

Jumpsuit for the brave!

I like this chiffon mini dress - but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I like this chiffon mini dress – but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I do love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

I love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

Sorry bad shot - this jacket as a frotn frill - impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It's simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.

Sorry bad shot – this jacket as a front frill – impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It’s simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.

SIZING

Yes. Japanese sizing range is smaller than our traditional ‘Western’ sizing. That said I’ve got a few Japanese books (I Am Cute Dresses as an example) that don’t cater for my measurements, they are too large for me, so don’t dismiss Japanese books without some investigation. I’m not saying these books will suit everyone however if you are falling just outside the size range – you might be surprised.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.

THE PATTERN SHEET

You will need to trace. The patterns are overlapped and printed in a single colour but not a mess of lines so it’s not too tedious.

the pattern sheet

the pattern sheet

Tracing the pattern was more challenging as the pieces were located across two sheets, the markings are slightly different to western pattern markings and these patterns share many pattern pieces – with different lines for armholes, lengths and necklines. I re-traced it in the English version – and while it is MUCH easier, it does require concentration to ensure you have chosen the right line. I traced the back and front piece twice… I was tired and rushing the first time and didn’t trace the pieces at the more flared line.

There are two pattern sheets (double sided) and these are contained in an envelope in the back of the book.

THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are brief but clear and accompanied bynumbering, garment line drawings and illustrations. People with sewing experience will find these instructions brief but adequate. It might be challenging for a beginner – but you don’t know what you don’t know at that stage – Google is always most helpful in this regard!

Stylish Party Dresses - typical instructions.

Stylish Party Dresses – typical instructions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I like it. Clearly. I liked it enough to purchase an untranslated version, I excitedly spammed -instagrammed many of the images when I purchased the Japanese book. I’m delighted to have the English version as I’m going to make up some more of these patterns as I do love the simplicity for everyday wear.

I haven’t tested every pattern or proof read every line of the instructions – the book would be out-of-print before I finished! However overall the quality appears to be the standard I’ve come to expect from a Tuttle Publishing book.

The patterns in this book are very simple – and it sells itself as that ‘easy and inexpensive sew-it-yourself dresses for that special occasion’. You could use cheaper fabrics… you could use silks, linens and fancy fabrics – and many of these minimalist designs would shine in luxe fabrics. Either way, you can interpret these patterns to suit your own style and life – or party for that matter.

Some of the language and symbols are slightly different to some of the other Big 4 or indie patterns on the market – however it just takes a little time to adjust to a slightly different approach. I would expect this from any new/different pattern company.

With 26 dresses, tops, jackets and skirts provided in Stylish Party Dresses, I think this book does represent good value for your spend if the designs appeal and suit you.

GIVEAWAY

Let me know if you would like to be included in the giveaway draw in the comments below. Note this is open to anyone in the world and will be chosen via http://www.random.org. Giveaway closes Tuesday 3 November at 5pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time). GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.

I received two copies and provided one of these copies to the Brisbane Frocktails event (on 31 October 2015) as a lucky door prize.

Pattern: Drape Top (i) from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing
Fabric: Rayon, from Spotlight, $9 a metre, used approximately 1.8m (135cm wide)

top - side

I’ve worn this all day – I feel very ‘boho beach chic’ in it and it’s perfect on a warm sunny day. #winner

I’m running well behind schedule on everything at the moment, it’s the story of 2015, such is life. Right now, my back is being a drama queen. I’m limited to sewing simple makes which don’t require hours of cutting or sitting at the machine as my back locks up. I’ve put back my Mood Fabrics Network make as I need to rest my back a little more. I should be good within a week and after perhaps one more torturous but necessary physiotherapist visit.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this pattern for review purposes.
All opinions my own. No affiliate links in this post.

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

Book Review: Sewing For Your Girls

When Tuttle Publishing sent me the much-anticipated She Wears The Pants to review, they also sent a copy of Sewing For Your Girls. Talk about different ends of the spectrum! Today I’m blogging about the Girls book a the little blouse I made from the book.

Giselle blouse 3

THE BOOK

I must say this book surprised me. Japanese pattern books are famed for their scanty sewing instructions and daunting pattern sheets! Sewing for your girls is not one of ‘those’ books.

Sewing For Your Girls published by Tuttle Publishing

There are seven relatively simple patterns – along with a variation on each basic pattern (oops sorry – forgot to take a photo of one, it’s No.1 an A-line smock… and it’s nearly 10pm now). You can click on the images below to enlarge them.

It has by far the most comprehensive sewing instructions I’ve seen in a Japanese sewing book in a long time. I learnt a few new tricks – I love that! Nothing of rocket science proportions but little clever things that just make life easier.

A typical pattern instruction page... the instructions are brief but point to the more detailed techniques section of the book which contain LOTS of photos!

A typical pattern instruction page… the instructions are brief but point to the more detailed techniques section of the book which contain LOTS of photos!

The book includes a guide for no less than 70 dressmaking and basic sewing techniques. Each of theses are accompanied by step-by-step photos. In fact some techniques are extensively demonstrated…. for example when I attached the collar to this shirt, the book provided a 20-step guide, each step was paired with a photograph.

This is the 'how to attach a collar' technique section of the book - it's very detailed!

This is the ‘how to attach a collar’ technique section of the book – it’s very detailed!

The pattern sheet has some over-lapping and it’s printed in one colour. However, it is not overcrowded and tracing is quite straightforward. You just need to remember to add seam allowances!

The pattern sheet is not as crowded as other Japanese books I have used - and much, much easier than a Burda sheet!

The pattern sheet is not as crowded as other Japanese books I have used – and much, much easier than a Burda sheet!

I prefer to sewing something from a book when I’m talking to you about it. I think it’s integral to the experience of a sewing book when the book is primarily about patterns. That said, I don’t claim to have sewn every pattern or read the book or pattern in ‘editing’ terms. With translated books or measurements converted between metric & imperial there are often slip-ups just be conscious you need to exert a level of awareness – I often double check everything. Just.in.case.

Everyone asks about Japanese sizing, so here is the chart for your reference.

Sewing For Your Girls published by Tuttle Publishing

Sizing chart: Sewing For Your Girls

THE BLOUSE

Cute. I love this little blouse. It was utterly delightful to sew. Giselle wasn’t keen for photos – fair enough, she had surfing to do. So today’s post has a blouse minus the body.

I absolutely loved making this blouse, a real joy. Better still, she loves it.

I absolutely loved making this blouse, a real joy. Better still, she loves it.

NEW TRICKS

What did I learn? Frills have been few & far between on my blog… so these little bias cut frills were new to me. Rather than running a gathering stitch up the centre of the frill, I ran a gathering stitch up either side of the centre.

A simple and neat way to create perfect little frills.

A simple and neat way to create perfect little frills.

I also learnt to run a line of gathering stitches around the seam allowance of a Peter Pan collar curve, gently gather the seam allowance up so the allowance curves over into the collar itself, a light press, trim off the excess seam allowance (and gathering stitches) and then turn the collar right side out… perfect collar curves!

THOUGHTS

This book was quite different to what I expected – far more detailed instructions and construction photographs than I have found in other Japanese sewing books.

The clothes are simple but I often preferred to dress my girls in simple, play-friendly clothes when they were little. Many of these patterns would be perfect for sweet floral and kooky lawns, voiles, linens and poplins. Let the fabric sing and the child play unfettered by fussy clothes I say!

THANK YOU
A big thank you to Colette of Colette’s Sewing Stuff for bringing this sweet fabric to the March Brisbane meet-up. And a thank you to the ever-lovely Vicki-Kate of Vicki-Kate Makes for sending me a sweet little gift package a few months ago which included these perfect little buttons!

THE DETAILS
Pattern: Basic Pattern #7 from Sewing For Your Girls, published by Tuttle Publishing
Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links in this post.
Fabric: from the march Brisbane High Tea, donated by Colette
Buttons: from Vicki Kate Makes

THE WEARER
This is the blouse recipient, my dear little crazy poppet Giselle Violet. A fuzzy iPhone snap taken one night… one of those sweet little moments in life. She’s in her school uniform and wearing a much-loved beanie crocheted by the boss at work!

Giselle Violet

Giselle Violet

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

 

Ahoy! She Wears The Pants (again)… No 4 Top with Epaulettes

I’ve been wondering… how many t-shirts patterns does one need to own? For me it was at least one more when I spotted this one in She Wears The Pants

Just a quick post today. I’ve got four posts in the wings… some posts take longer to write than others – however a simple jersey top doesn’t require much chatter or links. It was a very bright winter day – so forgive the harsh shadows and enjoy my winter’s day!

She wears the pants - jersey top 1

Yes, another make from She Wears The Pants (book review here – giveaway closed).

This is my third make from this book, so far I’ve made the Gathered Blouse and the Square Top. I really like this book, it’s very much my style… although apparently I can be somewhat bossy (I like to think of it as assertive) so maybe the title appeals to me as well LOL. It’s been a welcome addition to my sewing library – thank you Tuttle Publishing!

I scooped up a remanent of striped cotton jersey at Spotlight recently and immediately thought of this top. I had loved the softer blue stripe in this fabric for some time… however had not purchased it as it has little stretch and drape. When I picked it up again, I thought of this pattern and thought that the fabric having less drape/stretch would make it perfect for accentuating the slight bell shape of the sleeves and body of this top.

Back view: She Wears the Pants - No 4 Top with Epaulettes.

Back view: She Wears the Pants – No 4 Top with Epaulettes.

I stripe matched as best as I could, the side seams and shoulders (covered by epaulettes LOL so no point but I did it anyway) are great – the sleeves into the body not so much. The stripes are printed, not woven into the knit.

She Wears the Pants - No 4 Top with Epaulettes

No 4 Top with Epaulettes. Neckline facing, button and epaulettes

The epaulets are simple to make and you just baste them onto the shoulders before you set the sleeves in. I thought about omitting the epaulettes then decided they would tie in well with the nautical, quirky shape of the top. I like them.

I love the neckline finish. It has a facing instead of a binding. I know some people loathe facings but I really like the finish on this top. The neckline sits beautifully (it is understitched as well). I like how the facing is stitched down around the outer edge, it is a nice finishing touch.

Thoughts…

Yes, it’s another t-shirt pattern and there are a lot out there. I do like the shape of this one. I think the boat neckline and the slight flare in the sleeves/body are really sweet.

I like the sleeve length, I tend to shove or roll up longer sleeves – this length is perfect for me.

I think I love the fit of some Japanese patterns across my shoulders and upper bust – and the easy fit through the body.

I cut the body at the longest length as I tend to wear low-waisted garments but hate belly flashing. The ancient 3/4 jeans in these pictures are particularly low cut – and I should toss them… but I love the leg length for a beach walk so I keep them.

Other than the hems & epaulettes, I constructed this top using my overlocker. I serged lightweight hem fusing onto the hem edges, turned the hem allowamces to the inside, pressed and finished with two rows of stitching on my machine.

Please note the sizing of this book definitely is on the smaller scale. Japanese patterns often have a lot of ease but you need to take this into account when considering purchasing this book. I cut a size XS and a body length of Large (my sizing hovers between XS & S and my height makes me a slightly taller than a Medium in this book’s sizing chart – which you can find in this post.).

Pattern: She Wears The Pants, No 4 Top with Epaulettes.
Fabric: Combed Cotton Jersey, Spotlight Australia (about $9 for the piece)

Also see: CSews, Very Kerry Berry

It’s winter here – but you would not have guessed it today. The weather was magic.

Bonus Banjo Photo Bomb

because no beach photo is complete without my dear old hound.

… because no beach photo is complete without my dear old hound.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own – I just keep sewing garments from the book because I like it so much!
No affiliate links in this post.

She Wears The Pants - published by Tuttle Publishing

My top is the make on the cover – note the pants are not included in the book’s patterns.

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

 

Square Top (2 ways) from She Wears The Pants

In complete contrast to my Gathered Blouse with its multitude of construction details, today I have much simpler garment from She Wears The Pants. I thought this garment was an interesting comparison.

The Square Top

The Square Top

The Square Top

This is a linen knit from The Fabric Store in Brisbane, last piece on the roll, purchased when I was in Brissy in March. I loved the vivid colour (there is no such thing as too much blue in my opinion) and had always been curious about how linen knit would work as a garment. As soon as I saw the Square Top, I imagined it in a slightly more textured knit, linen knit seemed the perfect choice…

I had read a bit about mischievous behaviour of linen knit so did some research. Some sites recommend ‘dry clean only’, other sites suggested that this could be carefully washed at home. I have this personal philosophy that any fabric or garment must be subjected to my ‘my lifestyle test’. It’s a rather simple test: if it’s not going to survive my washing machine, it’s probably not going to survive my lifestyle. Fact. There are some exceptions to the rules, evening wear and hand-knitted garments – but most garments will only be in regular rotation if I can easily wash and wear them.

So I washed it in a lingerie bag in my machine, using a gentle cycle, wool wash etc. It shrank and distorted *sad face*. This was followed by a slight panic attack as linen knit is not cheap. Fortunately as it dried it on a rack, I gently coerced it back into shape and all seemed well. Then I didn’t have quite enough fabric… *horrified face* so some of the pieces, armbands and neckbands from memory, are not cut on a grain as directed, rather across it. Given the excessive ease in this top, I’m not losing sleep over it.

Square Top - back view

Square Top – back view. Due to the view of the rectangle bosy, it drapes into an uneven hemline. A nice change from the ‘high-low front-back’ shape

I didn’t interface the neckband and I really should have – the instructions tell you to. That’s a complete DOH! moment by me #idiot. I thought it might create too much structure in the neckband and I really wanted the top to ‘droop’. That’s been achieved but due to the weight of the fabric, the buttons were distorting the buttonholes at the shoulders so I’ve sewn across the neckband near the shoulders so the buttons are not bearing all the weight of the garment.

I haven’t cut the all buttonholes open along the neckline as I felt it would look messy.

Square Top from She Wears the Pants

Square Top, worn as a shrug, from She Wears the Pants. I’m just not this cool. Fact.

I rather like this top when you wear it as a shrug. I’m not a massive fan of how it’s worn in the book, the armbands look like you have lost two arms or suffered from a serious wardrobe malfunction while getting dressed.

Square top as a shrug

Square top as a shrug

To achieve this look, I simply left my arms in the armbands and pull the top back over my head. The lower band becomes the outer band of the shrug if that makes sense.

I’m thinking about cutting all the buttonholes as I would love to do them up so the back of the shrug has a neat row of buttons along the back – it’s a rather cool design feature. Then again the peekaboo back is also rather fun if you wear a contrast coloured tank underneath. I suspect I’m a button-up girl.

These photos were taken on a very windy morning and the photos were taken inbetween wind gusts. The back looks a little like a sail!

Square Top as a shrug - back

Square Top as a shrug – back

I find the name ‘Square Top’ rather amusing as the body shape is more of a ginormous rectangle. Maybe if I made it in yellow, I might look like droopy Sponge Bob Square Pants. As yellow isn’t really my colour, we will never know.

Square Top from She Wears the Pants

Square Top from She Wears the Pants: line art

Seriously, I can’t write much about a massive fabric rectangle with armholes and feature buttons. It’s a fun and easy-to-sew garment. It’s quirky and can be worn a few different ways. It’s fun. Chose your fabric wisely, I think too much slinkiness and could transform into a massive puddle of fabric with buttons weighing it down – too much structure and it becomes rather boxy.

What do you think? Too big?? Too funky?? Versatile??

Pattern: Square Top from She Wears The Pants, from Tuttle Publishing
Fabric: linen knit from The Fabric Store, Brisbane
Also see: Handmade by Carolyn | Top Notch

There’s a giveaway for this book on this post… along with a book review and the Gathered Blouse.

Side view - Square top, She Wears The Pants

Side view – I do like the button feature.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links on this post.

‘She Wears the Pants’ a review, a blouse and a giveaway

I’m not a country girl… it really gets up Willy’s nose…

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Given my current fascination with Japanese pattern books, when Tuttle Publishing contacted me about reviewing a couple of their titles, it was an irresistible offer. I received She Wears the Pants (released this month) and Sewing For Your Girls (I will review this soon – I have a backlog of projects!).

She Wears The Pants - published by Tuttle Publishing

THE BOOK

The garments: This book does have a range of garments – from mini dresses to tshirts, shirts and jackets, pants and culottes. Yes, I was incredibly tempted to make that draped mini dress but I’ve got three draped dresses – my wardrobe needs other types of garments! I really like the range and style of these garments.

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

This book had been around for some time before being translated. Several of the garments have been made Top Notch (velour top, draped cardigan, draped dress, square top) & Handmade by Carolyn (tapered trousers, square top); and Meggipeg (Gathered Blouse).

Not all of the garments pictured are patterns in the book, ie the tank with the short/culottes pictured above or the pants with the mustard top pictured below.

There is one knitted garment in this book – a belt stole. There are some tippets – one of these is pictured below.

She Wears the Pants - back cover

She Wears the Pants – back cover

There is an excellent review of this book and more images on Japanese Sewing Books.

Photography: I might be precious but I did find some of the photography a little bewildering. The images are very dark and this is exacerbated by the matt stock they are printed on. Some of the garment details are very hard to see in the photographs. It seems to me that these images are more about projecting a mood, intended as ‘fashion’ or ‘inspiration’. The construction section of the book has line drawings that provide the design details. I love line drawings.

She Wears the Pants - example diagram

She Wears the Pants – example diagram

Instructions: The instructions are brief. There are some general instructions. In some cases, such as sewing on a collar, it is outlined once in a projects and then other projects simply refer back to those earlier instructions. Having some knowledge of garment construction is helpful. Like many Japanese pattern books, diagrams form a large part of the instructions. I don’t mind this – I find it interesting to puzzle through a project and think about how the project has been constructed and the other approaches I could take.

Sizing: Japanese sizing is small. I fit into the Small category & Medium height. While Japanese sizing puts some off I would say that they often allow A LOT of ease, in some cases much more than you might expect. Csews wrote about it in this February blog post.  My second make from this book swims on me. It’s meant to but it could fit most sizes.

 
Title: I find the translation of this title odd. To me, ‘she wears the pants’ means something completely different to ‘she’s got mannish style’. To me ‘she wears the pants’ means that in a relationship the ‘she’ wearing the pants is in control, the dominant partner/personality or the boss of the relationship. To me, having ‘mannish style’ simply means a girl dressing in a ‘tomboy/masculine’ style. Handmade by Carolyn mentioned the translation of titles on her blog recently, in particular talking about this new title and her preference for the Japanese title. I don’t mind either way but I do interpret the new title as meaning something completely different to the original title. That said, it doesn’t impact on the contents of the book!

She Wears the Pants - pattern sheet

She Wears the Pants – pattern sheet

Pattern sheet: There are two double-sided pattern sheets. They are printed in a single colour and while the print is quite clear, the sheets are quite ‘busy’ and it took me quite a while to find one piece! Each sheet does have a list of the patterns on it, and the pattern pieces you are looking for – which is very helpful. Most of the pieces are listed around the edge of the pattern sheet with a line going from the text at the edge to the pattern piece… not always! There are some lurking in the middle of the pattern sheet swamp and you may need some patience to hunt them down.
When confronted by a busy pattern sheet, I find each piece and trace around it with my fingers. This might sound odd but when I am tracing a piece I have a general idea of the shape of the pattern piece and don’t make many mistakes.

Seam allowances: This book does not include seam allowances. The layout diagrams indicate how much allowance you should add as this can vary from the hem to the side seams etc. I don’t always add the recommended allowance, I tend to add what I prefer to work with in different areas of the garment – which just comes with experience.

Different approaches: I do think that with any translated book that you need to really think every step through. Not only may there be some issues with meaning and possibly conversion of measurements between metric and imperial, I think that there are many ways to approach garment construction and you need to be mindful of that when sewing outside your ‘usual’ patterns and books.

 

THE GATHERED BLOUSE

I love clothing that was a touch of quirkiness without being too odd. The Gathered Blouse ticked that box for me.

Gathered Blouse - while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned... that's how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

This blouse has a very full back, is quite cropped at the front with a slightly longer back. The collar is rounded and the front pockets are slightly angled. The shoulders are dropped and sleeves arejust below elbow (on me anyway), quite full with pleats at the cuff with a simple finished slit  and button cuff closure. The combination of a ‘mannish’ shirt with some soft feminine features was interesting to me. Funnily enough the detail the pattern is named for is not photographed in the book – the gathered back. Unfortunately my shirt got creased in the car – but you can see how full the back of the blouse really is.

Sorry - shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

Sorry – shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

I have always steered clear of patterns without seam allowances for shirts as the accuracy required for creating a good button band, collar band and collar scared me. As I was working with this pattern that had not seam allowances I decided to re-think my former shirt making techniques and took a different approach.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped – strong breeze is blowing. Oops, thought I had ironed this to death but must have missed that last bit of hem!

I decided to use sew-in interfacing rather than fusible for the first time – which has given the collar some lovely structure and I’m quite taken with it now. I traced these pieces directly onto the sew-in interfacing – without the seam allowances. I then added the allowances as I cut out. I then used a fabric glue stick to attach the interfacing to the collar, band etc. This provided me with the exact sewing line and everything went together perfectly… I think I’m sold on this method!

I can't see myself every wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog.

I can’t see myself ever wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog picture. I know, I spoil you and make a goose of myself far too often.

For some reason I imagined this blouse in a chambray fabric with jeans – a bit of a take on the country girl that I’ve never been. I might have spent two years at boarding school in the country but I was a ‘fish out of water’. That’s a whole other story and not for here in the middle of a sewing blog 🙂

 

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE…

I’ve made two things from this book – I’ll post the other shortly!

 

GIVEAWAY

I had already pre-ordered this book before Tuttle contacted me so I’m giving this one away. Leave a comment below to be included in the draw.

The draw closes on Sunday 17 May at 6pm (my time EST Sydney/Australia). Open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Pattern: Gathered Blouse from She Wears The Pants (English version), published by Tuttle Publishing.

Fabric: it’s a mystery fabric (seems to be a chambery, fine linen type fabric) from The Make It Fabrics in Logan, Brisbane. This place is a rather unexpected treasure trove, a tip off from blogless Alison (thank you thank you!). Busy Lizzie was the most obliging chauffeur on a recent trip to Brissie – mwah. Finished with matt metal buttons from Lincraft.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links on this post.

Stylish Skirts – a review and a skirt (or two)

Last post I mentioned the Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii which I discovered on Instagram. I’ve got a rather healthy collection of Japanese sewing books, in fact they outnumber all my other sewing books, I haven’t blogged my collection as I like to sew from things from them first – I’m a ‘proof is in the pudding’ girl. So I decided to try Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-to-sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure.

Warning: I’ve included many pictures so you get a good overview of what to expect with this book.

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

I’ve seen this book reviewed a few times but there are only a few skirts floating about on the Internet that I could find. I’m sure there are more but there is only so much time I have to hunting down slightly obscure things on the Internet!

This book is interesting because unlike many sewing books there are no pattern sheets. Each skirt ‘pattern’ is a simple diagram showing you how to draft the pattern – or in some cases a cutting layout diagram with the pieces and measurements marked in inches (centimetres in brackets). I really like this aspect of the book.

Unless you are absolutely not-a-skirt-wearer, I think many people would find something to appeal or suit their style in this book. Many of the skirts are composed of panels drafted on waist and hip measurements so the sizing is up to the drafter. The simple skirts (such as gathered skirts) could be made smaller or larger quite simply – more or less fabric for the panels or waistband. There are 23 skirts in total. I’m sharing a few below.

Warning: you need to add seam and hem allowances to the measurements provided, the instructions are brief and the drafting diagrams may take some puzzling out. There are plenty of diagrams to help you along.

You probably don’t need this book to draft some of the most basic skirts… however some of the other skirts are more complex… or quirky…

The book content pictures not fabulous – taken earlier tonight while sitting on my bed using the iPhone (eating chocolate slice) – but I think you get the idea. I often find the line diagrams are very helpful, particularly as I don’t think you can see the interesting design lines for some of these skirts.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those 'snail' panels.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those ‘snail’ panels.

A beautiful gored lace skirt

A beautiful gored lace skirt

a draped skirt... yes my weakness!

a draped skirt… yes my weakness!

All of these skirts are quite simple yet there is attention to detail and an appealing timeless simplicity to them.

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

I think the skirt on the left is a classic... however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

I think the skirt on the left is a classic… however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

Personal Thoughts on Stylish Skirts: I do like this book. It’s a little different to the rest of my Japanese book collections. The skirts range from simple through to more quirky. I will be sewing more, it’s a timeless collection of skirt patterns.

I chose a simple, irregular tiered (rather than the traditional three-tiered) boho skirt, the gathered tiers are broken or staggered.

As I was working with a number of rectangles, I drew a diagram with each panel marked with the finished measurements. I also pinned a little piece of paper so I knew which rectangle belonged where to minimise confusion when sewing the pieces together.

sewing notes to keep me on track

sewing notes to keep me on track

The skirt is very simple, composed of a front and back panel and two identical side panels. Each panel is broken into a top and bottom piece. You simply gather the bottom pieces attach them to their respective top pieces to make a panel. The panels are attached to form a tube and you attach the waistband.

A line drawing of the skirt

A line drawing of the skirt

The waistband has three channels, elastic on the top and bottom channel and they central channel with a drawstring. I’ve never been a fan of thick elastic waistbands but I think the two pieces of thinner elastic and a drawstring is very comfortable to wear. I also think the waistband is quite pretty with the three gathered rows. Once you finish the waistband you hem the skirt… And you wear it for the whole weekend… at least that is what I did!

NAVY BRODERIE ANGLAISE

My first effort was in a simple navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight. It’s a little crisp but you can clearly see the panels and gathers.

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front 2 beach

it was very hot and very very windy – somehow this was snapped between gusts of wind!

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy side 2 beach

Side view

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front outside

This is after the beach – later in the afternoon, post housework and other exciting events in my daily life. My arms are always in motion it seems – either to put on/take off/adjust sunnies – a habit hard to shake if you spend a lot of time outdoors I guess.

 

the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

back view: the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

VINTAGE FLORAL

This one is quite different, a vintage rayon (I think) from a Lifeline charity shop, I paid just $3 for 4 metres. It was quite narrow, less than a metre wide. The gathers and design details are less obvious but it’s a pretty skirt and flows beautifully as I walk. Cotton lace from the stash.

Stylish Skirts - tiered floral side beach

I think I'm mid-sunglasses installation here so let's just look at the skirt :-)

I think I’m mid-sunglasses installation here so let’s just look at the skirt 🙂

Construction notes: I gathered the lower panels using two rows of stitching. I ironed the gathers flat once I had them even – I find sewing over the gathers produces a new even result this way. I overlocked all the seams together after I sewing the panels together using my sewing machine. I used lacing cord (it has some stretch) as my drawstring rather than making a self cord. This skirt is not rocket science, it’s very easy… but very comfortable and easy to wear for casual days.

I do like these skirts. They aren’t fancy or couture makes by any stretch of the imagination however I love maxi skirts… long, loose, soft skirts that I can tuck my feet under and curl up in. These will be worn a lot. Boho-style clothes and I are good wardrobe buddies. It’s one of those styles I always feel at home and relaxed in.

BOOK: Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-To-Sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure by Sato Watanabe
FABRIC: navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight (purchased at the recent 30% off fabric sale) and vintage floral fabric.
NECKLACE: from Mrs Peterson Pottery… love this one…
(note: all purchased by me)

Mrs Peterson's Pottery necklace

Mrs Peterson’s Pottery necklace