Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Japanese Pattern Books

Since it seems like most of the patterns I make these days are from Japanese pattern books, I thought I'd do a little post about some basics for using these great resources! Many of you have heard me proclaim in class how stylish and well-designed these patterns tend to be, and with a little patternmaking skill you - yes, you! - can partake in the wonderfulness. I'd recommend starting with a very simple pattern, possibly similar to a pattern you have already sewn - the trick here is that all the sewing instructions are in Japanese. The pictures are fantastic for the most part, though, so any seamster intermediate and up can generally figure out what's going on. A reference book like the "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing" is also a great thing to have when you start winging it a bit! Overall, the fit is certainly curvier than one would expect, with bust darts and curved side seams - and it is also pretty roomy. For my own body shape - slim shoulders but a larger bust - the fit at the shoulder and sleeve parts of the pattern is unsurpassed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Wardrobe Planning!

As a sewing teacher, there is a lot of pressure on me to 'represent' - to wear clothes that I have made myself. It's a bit embarrassing to have someone say 'Oh, that's so cute, did you make it?' and I have to say 'No - I got it at Anthropologie'. Not that there's anything wrong with shopping! But since I have been sewing and fitting for so long, I tend to get frustrated with how expensive and badly made commercial clothing is (no matter how high end) - and I REALLY don't want to support the sweat-shop economy.

Sometimes it's super difficult to fit sewing into my schedule (which is a little counter to why I opened up a fabric store) so I decided to not only sew some key garments for this fall season, but to take you all through the process of how I decide on patterns, fabric, and construction changes. It's going to be a fun ride!

Normally, I am either inspired by fabric or by a pattern to sew - this time I actually sat down and made a list of things I need! I listed the details (as much as I could think of them) and any ideas for fabrics that might make it all cohesive. 

1. I need a lightweight coat. Hip length, 3/4 length sleeves, pockets, a hood or a collar, possibly a suit collar or a v-neck of some sort. Linen/cotton or cotton canvas. Unlined. I won't lie - I really want to make this out of one of the Jinzenji fabrics! Here are the patterns I'm looking at:

Ottobre Spring / Summer 2008

Indygo Junction Retro Raglan #IJ764

Daily Sewing Book (Japanese) - Coverall

Natural Sewing Book (Japanese) - coat

2. I need a few knit toppers that I can throw on over tees or shorter sleeves. It's still warm during the day, but by the time I'm done teaching in the evening it's chilly!

Kwik Sew, View A - Simpliciy, View A as well!

3. I need a fancy dress to attend a friend's wedding next month. I love Colette's retro Macaron pattern, and am considering using chocolate brown Radiance for the top and band, with either Nani Iro's Colorful Pocho - Evergreen or her Fuccra Rakuen - Peach. I'd like to be dressy, but of course comfortable and rather subtle. These are such pretty fall colors!

Macaron by Colette

Radiance / Espresso and Colorful Pocho / Evergreen

Radiance / Espresso and Fuccra Rakuen / Peach

4. I need PANTS. Smooth fitting, medium leg, pockets, full length. Linen or lightweight wool. I adore the top of these pants but would definitely slim the leg down a bit. More straight, less flare.

Ottobre Spring / Summer 2008

5. Some more long sleeve blouses would be lovely. Christine says my look is definitely 'urban peasant' and these patterns certainly fit the mold! We have some incredible lawns in stock and I especially want to use this fabric for one of them:

Stylish Dress Book (Japanese)

Stylish Dress Book (Japanese)

New Look #6851

6. I'm in love with this idea - and we have a super-cute border print double gauze by Kayo Horaguchi in stock! 

Merry -Go-Round

7. There is always time for CUTE DRESSES!

Burda #7739

Heart Warming Life (Japanese)

Heart Warming Life (Japanese)

Heart Warming Life (Japanese)

So that is a good overview of what is coming up. I'm going to be working on the blouses, the coat and the dress for the wedding first, so join us in a few days to see what I come up with!