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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Japanese Sewing Books Obsession Part I: Yoshiko Tsukiori

The impetus for this blog really comes from my recent obsession with Japanese sewing books.  I'm not even sure how it started, but I bought the two Yoshiko Tsukiori books last fall and simultaneously, my lovely sister-in-law, Debbie, bought Shufu To Seikatsu Sha's Simple Modern Sewing and tucked it away for my 2013 Christmas present.  In other words, I've had fodder for months and months.

There's something about Japanese aesthetics that I find so compelling.  Maybe it's an elegance in the simplicity of the lines--nothing overtly sexy, but then something so sweet and subtle that it's just that much sexier.  Understated.  Granted, I have been asked a few times now if I'm pregnant when wearing my Japanese-inspired dresses.  But that could just be the quilting cotton that I've been using.  And that's going to change (see my last post).

So, I'm going to show what I've been creating just prior to starting this blog.  My first endeavor came from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book: Simple Smocks, Dresses, and Tops.
 A weekend, functional, in the garden and to the grocery store kind of a dress. . .
Can't you just imagine it with a 'wife-beater' (yes, I'm ashamed to use that term and yet I know that you know what I mean)?  Here's my rendition:

For my next one--because I'll definitely make this again--I'm thinking some front pockets might be very nice.  Think overalls.

My second attempt from this book was 'A'.
So sweet.  In fact, my mother has requested this one for her birthday--in the grey floral print I used on the piping on the Ikea Expedit cushion.  It turned out a bit poofy--likely due to quilting cotton--so I added a few tucks at the front and back bottom hem.
It works with skirts, slacks--totally work worthy.

And, finally, from this book, 'N'.  Yoshiko's. . .
Mine. . . a bit poofier, again quilting cotton. . . .
This one also works with a skinny belt when the mu-mu ness of it is just too much.  Although if you layer on a motorcycle jacket and some tough ankle boots, it's perfect as is.  I did find the sleeves were a bit snug, and I'll give that some extra thought if I make it again, but it could easily have been my fault. 

Now from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom,
I've so far only executed Stylish Dress 'T',
shown at the beginning of this blog at Truett's preschool art show and, from the front, below.  
I do so love this fabric!  Peapod

I found both of Yoshiko's books easy to work from.  Just get some tracing paper and a really good light; the hardest part is deciphering one pattern from another.  Beyond that, the directions are relatively simple.  Sizes are accurate. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Work In Progress: Lotta Jansdotter Meet Lisette Traveler Dress

It's taking shape. I'm loving Lisette's pattern instructions!  They're so clear and informative, with lots of helpful tips.

Currently, I'm in the phase of feeling like the dress will never be done while simultaneously feeling that if I only worked on it for a few more hours, it would be done, and I kind of want to wear it tomorrow.  Hmmm. . . maybe I need to number and define the phases of a sewing project at some point.  I'll call this particular phase the Hopeless/Wish I Had the Energy To Pull An All-Nighter Phase. . . or maybe I need to find a name that's a little more wieldy. . . . 
On another note, I've recently become aware that Some seamsters look down on quilting cotton for garment use.  (Thank you, Gertie, for hosting a discussion on the subject.)  It turns out that my quilting-cotton garments may be surreptitiously judged as 'Becky Home-Ecky'.  I'm torn between thinking that it's time to move on to some other types of fabrics and changing my name to Becky Home-Ecky.  Likely I will do both.  But the prints available are just sooooooo cute!  Maybe Lotta Jansdotter will start designing cotton voile and linen.  
[Now, clever readers, did anyone happen to notice that the fabric that was hanging on the wall in the Tova top pictures from the last post has been turned into a pillow on the couch in the above work-in-progress picture?]

Update from 5/18/14:  Here's the link to the finished product.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Wiksten Tova Top Re-Interpreted Yet Again

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It turns out that the Tova top, by Jenny Gordon of Iowa City, has been all the rage among the sewing bloggers for some time.  As a newcomer to the sewing blogs, I thought I oughta try my hand at it too.

I ordered the pattern about a month ago now but have been preoccupied with other projects, a visit from my mother, work, and, of course, my son, and wasn't sure what to do about fabric selection.  I've been so into Japanese floral prints of late, and the idea of doing the inset and sleeves, or placket and collar and bias tape, in complementary colors was somewhat appealing.  But then I came across this rendition using striped shirting fabric by Ashley at Mohr Studio and decided to copy her idea.  I found some very pretty sky blue/white striped light, light cotton on sale at Fabric Outlet (thanks for your patience while I shopped, Mom).

Unfortunately, there was only a yard and a third left of the fabric, but I figured I could stick with the top, instead of the dress version, and make short sleeves, even though the three-quarter length on the original are super cute.

Now, here's where I share the secret (or not, if you know me and pay any attention) that I'm one size on top (bust and shoulders) and a size larger on the bottom, (waist to hips).  I haven't had much in the way of formal clothing construction training, and am aware that there are more elegant ways to modify patterns, but I'm about to show my quick and dirty way of modifying my patterns so that my clothes fit well. 

I figure out--eyed it on this pattern but have been known to measure it out--where the bust is, where my waist will be and then draw a diagonal line between the two.  I recommend using your sloper to connect the two points, but I free-handed this one.  And, voila, a customized pattern.  I also usually add two inches to the length of a blouse and four inches to the length of a dress to acommodate my 5'9" frame, but ended up taking the extra length off again on this Tova blouse.  Better to shorten something that's too long than vice versa, in my opinion.

The pattern was relatively easy to follow.  Like Ashley at Mohr Studio, I cut the inset on the bias, for a little added interest.  I wish I had put some fusible interfacing on the back of the inset because it did stretch a bit and made it a little more challenging to match it to the collar.  In fact, the collar and placket could have used some fusible too.  I like a little more structure than my light cotton provided. 
And, of course, there were the shortened sleeves.  I started with a French sleeve as I had made one recently on a blouse I found in Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha, but then didn't quite like how much the sleeves were sticking out to the sides, so narrowed them under the arm--this time actually using my sloper.  Then added some bias tape.  Oh, yea, and I sewed the placket down.  I think that works better for a small-busted lady. Here 'tis.

Um, clearly this is weekend styling, but I'm sure I could dress it up for work too.  And I suppose if I made a longer one, it wouldn't need the long tank underneath when worn with leggings. . . but I kind of like the faux bandage mini look. . . . 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ikea Expedit Window Seat

Originally used to keep the multitude of toy trucks my son owns in a relatively contained space, I recently decided to use the low Ikea Expedit shelf in our living room for more seating.

As seems to be the case with most brilliant ideas, I am not the only one who has had it. . . just google 'Ikea Expedit cushion' (or let me do it for you), and you'll find all kinds of wonderful examples of this--some with DIY tutorials, or, if you're short on time or skills, there's an Etsy shop, Hearth and Home, where you can have a custom cushion made just for you at a very reasonable price.

I decided to DIY it with a piece of custom-cut foam and create my own slip cover with zipper (so it can be cleaned as needed.)  The foam is from, and, as luck would have it, it turns out that they're located in San Francisco, only two blocks from the flagship Soma Discount Fabric store; I was able to pick up my foam--avoiding delivery charges--and find some upholstery fabric in my color scheme all within two blocks!

When I got the foam and solid plum fabric home, I decided the cushion was going to need a little something to keep it from being boring and settled on adding piping in a fun floral print from Peapod Fabrics, my current favorite place.  This meant learning some new techniques--making continuous bias tape and then wrapping it around cotton cord.  So worth the effort! And now I want to make tons of bias tape and put it on everything--pillows, leaves of house plants, the cat, you name it.

Like all my successful sewing projects, the finished product is imperfect but just right.  (Ahem, yes, I meant to have pleats on only two corners. . . . )  I even had enough extra floral fabric for an accent pillow. 

One addition to this project, of which I am most proud, was putting a piece of Ikea STOPP anti slip rug underlay beneath the finished cushion.  Thatta way when your crazy three year old decides to jump up and down on the cushion or use it as a launching pad onto the carpet, he will not cause himself greater injury than necessary. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's Spring! A New Blog and a Fresh New Blouse

I'm suddenly finding myself massively obsessed with sewing and miraculously blessed with a three year old who can play by himself.  Meaning that Momma actually has time to manifest her sewing obsession.  And, now, inspired by other sewing bloggers*, I've decided to start my own sewing chronicle.

I've been mostly caught up in the Japanese sewing pattern books lately--Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Books and Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha (more on those in future posts)--but then I bought this gorgeous Liberty of London tana lawn fabric at Satin Moon Fabrics in the Inner Richmond the other day

and decided that I should make a simple top that would be office-worthy.  I had this Boden Ravello top in mind
and found a similar Burda pattern  (#106)

and at novice level!  Hey, I can manage novice, or so I thought until I accidentally cut out two backs instead of a front and a back.  Poo.  I had been hoping to get a scarf out of it too.  And as you probably know, Liberty of London does not come cheap.

Since I didn't have enough fabric to cut out a whole new front, I managed to make it work by inserting a cross-weave panel in the front of the shirt and turned one of the backs into two side front panels.  Maybe a skinny scarf out of the remnant?  We'll see. . . .

Meanwhile, I'm totally stoked about the final result.  I even frenched most of the seams, which made me feel like I maybe I actually know a little something about sewing.  Ta da!

Clearly, if I'm going to be blogging regularly, I'm going to have to enlist my husband to take photos.

I think this blouse would also work belted or tucked in just in front with a lower waisted skirt or pants or even jeans.  Great under jackets.  Versatile and easy. 

*My favorite sewing blogs and websites:  The Sew Convert, Tilly and the Buttons, Burda Style.  And I'm always on the lookout for more so please suggest away!