Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review - Sew Sweet, Handmade clothes for girls

I got another Japanese book review here today.  The kind people at Tuttle publishing has sent me this English translated Japanese sewing book last month.  Finally, I can sit down to do a proper review of the book.

This book is by Yuki Araki (荒木由紀), one of my favourite author.  I've got 2 of her books: きちんと可愛い女の子服 (which goes up to size 160!) and ほんのりsweet 女の子の服 (up to  size 140).  Both of these books are in Japanese and I really love the fabric and style in her books.  The author loves to add in her personal notes and comments for each design which I sometimes find it hard to interpret in the Japanese version since my Japanese skills is just basic. So, I'm glad to have this english translated version that gives me insight to her design and style.

This sewing book is for size 90 to 120.  In Japanese sewing book, they usually take reference to the child height as a guide to choose the size.  My youngest is at size 110 but her height is 120 so I use 110 bodice and added in the length.

The book covers 22 dresses, skirts, pants and tops. All very sweet and cute. They even include 2 blouse pattern for mom.

She loves to use floral print and sweet colour combination that I think works really well for sweet girl look. The book also include a pattern for a hat and bags.  

Here is the summary page of all the patterns included, categorised into Dress (4), Camisoles (2), front button blouses & Outer wear (4), hat (1), bag (1), shirts & blouses (3), pants (3), skirts (4) and mom's items (2).

All the patterns are in thick paper and folded nicely into an envelope pocket at the back of the book cover.

Before you start sewing, the book include some sewing notes and techniques and how to read the symbols in the book.

Please note that all Japanese sewing book has no seam allowance included in the pattern pieces so you need to trace your own before you start cutting!  Usually it is 1cm for all except the hem (2 or 3cm) or if the edge is bias bind then there is zero seam allowance. So take note of the required seam allowance on each cutting diagrams.

As I don't have the Japanese version of this book, I can't compare how different this is with the original book.  For most Japanese version, usually there is one big diagram on the sewing step and then cutting layout.  But in the English version, they have a separate diagram for each step.  So it makes it really clear  on how follow the sewing instruction. I really love the diagrams in the Japanese sewing book as it is really clear and each small steps are also labelled and index for easy reference.

There is one photographed step by step for pattern on Sleeveless dress which illustrate how this is done on actual fabric. I find this one useful as they give a full illustration on how to sew a shirt placket and stand collar.

My girl has picked out the floral skirt so I'll be sewing up for her next month.  This is a really useful book and I think will make an ideal Christmas present for any home sewist.  You can find this at the big bookstore like Kinokuniya or at Amazon.  

I hope Tuttle publishing can continue to translate Japanese sewing book so that more sewist can enjoy them.  Personally I hope that they can translate this book "Girls at a Recital!" by Kawai Kimiko (hint hint!).  I've used this book last year for my girl and for this year's recital I also use their patterns and the looks are gorgeous.  I'll share more in the next post!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Elsa

I've tried to resist and resist...but one year later, I finally sew an Elsa costume for my girl.  The pattern is self drafted for my 4 year old.

Here it is. All sparkly and princessy.  I bought all the fabric from Arab Street.  I think all in, I spent less than $30, including the crystal snowflake motif that I iron on the skirt and cape.  Here are the detailed photos.

The back view with the cape attached to the back bodice.  The cape is actually one piece organza which I slit open 5" gap to allow more room to slip in the dress.

Look at the snowflake crystals on the cape! so pretty.

I've document some notes below on how i sew the dress for my future reference.  I use 4 types of fabric:
  • white chiffon 1/2 yard
  • bluish green fabric with sequins 1/4 yard
  • satin in turquoise colour 2 yard
  • bluish green organza 1 yard

I used chiffon which I did french seams since it frays like crazy and the white is too transparent. It was my first time doing french seams and I pondered a lot on the sequence of sewing. I sew the chiffon bodice first and then attach the sequin bodice on top.  The sequin bodice is very flimsy so I baste it on the turquoise satin first before attaching. I did the same for the back sequin bodice.

I added a belt as I realised that I cut my bodice too short!

I decided to just use the full width of my organza and cut the required length from the sequin bodice to the hem of the skirt.  Since I use the full width with the selvage, there is no need to treat the side seams. But I did use lighter to burn the edge for the top and bottom so that it will not fray. See the wavy curves where the fire burnt.

I did a 6" slit in the middle of the cape to allow more room for my girl to unzip her dress. To prevent fraying, I use satin stitch to go over the edges, placing interfacing below my stitch to reinforce the stitch. Then I just cut off the excess after sewing.

Next, I gathered the top edge of the organza and pin it to the sequin bodice, making sure I overlap the front by 5" on both sides. The red clover clip is where the middle slit is. Sew the cape to the bodice/belt but don't sew over the slit.

Here's how the cape looks in front. The cape was sewn to the sequin bodice before attaching to the chiffon bodice. Then I gathered the skirts and attached to the bodice. Insert zipper and its done.

I thought the skirt needs some sparks so I iron on some snowflake crystals on the front skirt as well as the cape.  It was really easy. Bought all the iron on at the shop at Arab street too. I think for the big ones it was 4 for $7 while the 10 small ones was $6 I think.

The crystal came all nicely position which you will peel off the paper backing and place the sticky side on the fabric.

Then you place an ironing cloth over it and iron on high heat for like 10 seconds. You can try peeling at 5-8 seconds to see if all are stick on. If not, iron over again. Peel off the sticky paper when done.

All is worth it when I see her smiles : )

Monday, September 1, 2014

City Gym Shorts - S, M, L

Has it been 3 months since I've been away!?? Time flies.. the thing is, I lose my sewing mojo...

Tutoring a Primary 3 kid add with Term 3 examinations mean zero sewing time for me. I hardly could find the energy to sew. But the good news is, something caught my eyes and I just can't resist the temptation.  It's the City Gym Shorts by Purl Bee.

It was seriously so cute. I'm also not a gym person but I can't resist these cut shorts. They do as lounge shorts for me and it only needs so little fabric to make one.  I have lots of fat quarters laying around and these are just the right project to use them.

For my kids, I use the waist measurements to determine the size. For mine I use my hip measurements and just adjust the elastic bands since I don't like my shorts to be too tight or short. It worked out fine.

This one is for my 4 year old, using the 6-7 year old size since that correspond to her waist.  She is a cubby girl.  I use the Narwhal in Bloom from Sarah Jane's Out to Sea fabric collection, at the front and match with a lilac cotton I've in my stash. I also use the Narwhal for the waistband but I got it upside down! oops.

The instruction is super clear. I attached the binding the traditional way as I'm not so confident that I can catch all the raw edges one go.  I think the making of the bias tapes is the longest process but the final product is worth it! I just watch korean drama as I iron them into the fold.

Next up, is for my 9 year old which I use the 11 year old measurements. She picked the dog fabric herself. I got these at a sale at Spotlight for $4/metre, thinking of gifting them to my girl as she is learning to sew. The blue cotton is from my stash, left over from my Iris shorts project.

I change the way I sew the waistband because I don't like to leave the gap on the right side for the elastic band. Instead, I left a gap in the wrong side of the waistband when I sew it to the shorts. Then, when I turn over and sew on the right side, i just make sure that I don't accidentally sew up the gap behind. After I insert the elastic, I then sew up the gap. It looks neater on the outside.

Lastly, I sew one for myself. I'm so happy that Purl Bee had one in woman size.  I used Sarah Jane's Summer Ride from her Wee Wander range.  It was gorgeous! I was hesitant to cut it up at first and had plans to make a dress or a bag but I'm not sure if I will dare to wear this bright dress so a short it is!

There is quite a bit of ease in the pattern cause when I choose my hip size, it was very loose fitting and the waistband measurement was 35"! So, I adjusted elastic band size. I think the loose fitting suits me but if you like to be more close fitting, do check against the paper pattern before you cut into your precious fabric.

All in all, I really enjoyed sewing these shorts. If you use store bought bias tapes, I would say it is a super quick sew.  I got order from my sisters so back to sewing again. I think I get the most satisfaction from sewing for people who appreciate handmade items!