Japanese Dress Y

I have now become a big fan of Japanese pattern books. I bought my first book, Simple Modern Sewing, on sale, with a gift card, and as a skeptic. After two big wins from that book, I was compelled to buy another one, Stylish Dress Book, Wear with Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori. For Fresh Make #27 I chose a loose fitting, easy wear dress. Perfect for the hot summer that’s just around the corner.
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While the decision wasn’t easy from the 26 patterns, I chose Dress Y. Mainly because I wanted a pattern that combined two fabrics, and also the construction didn’t look to fussy.

This book has 26 adorable patterns to choose from.

This book has 26 adorable patterns to choose from.

Here's Dress Y. Those are the complete instructions! More on that later.

Here’s Dress Y. Those are the complete instructions! More on that later.

The fabrics I used are from Amy Butler’s Glow Collection, Maze Voile in Grass and Jolie Voile in Grass. I purchased them online at Hawthorne Threads for $13.50 per yard. I needed a total of three yards. I have been coveting the cotton voiles that have recently become a part of designer collections that traditionally have only included quilting weight fabrics. There’s no turning back once you start making blouses and dress with voiles and lawn cottons – so light weight and luxurious.
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The neck trim is attached by sewing right and wrong side together at the neck edge so the seam allowances are tucked inside, and there is no need for a facing.

The neck trim is attached by sewing right and wrong side together at the neck edge so the seam allowances are enclosed inside when you fold the trim over to the front, and there is no need for a facing.

The pattern called for a single layer yoke with a bias tape trim at the top. I  made a double layer for a facing instead.

Here’s the inside. The pattern called for a single layer yoke with a bias tape trim at the top. I made a double layer for a facing instead.

The hem band is a single layer. I did a 1 1/4

The hem band is a single layer. I did a 1 1/4″ machine blind hem.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern size range is from 6 to 16. Obiviously this is a very loose fitting design and the bust is the main measurement needed to gage your size. I cut a 12 with no alterations.

2. The width throughout the bodice and where it meets the skirt is wider than it appears in the photograph on the very skinny model in the book. It almost A-lines from the armhole. I am considering this a surprise design feature (I didn’t study the pattern pieces), rather than a misfit, because the shoulders and neckline are perfect. I feel it might not be the most flattering thing, especially from a side view, for me to have all that width floating around me.

3. Ok, after making three Japanese patterns, there is no denying they are well drafted. And also fit well, at least for a relatively narrow size range. BUT, the instructions are inadequate. (Enlarge the photo of the book above.) Beginner beware! Stay away. I because of my sewing experience, I can make a basic dress without instructions, but I try to look at what is presented from a beginner standpoint. I definitely would not attempt one of these patterns without a body of sewing knowledge.

4. I would like to question one method in the instructions. They show laying the garment out flat and sewing the sleeve in before the side seams. I usually save this technique for knits and/or sleeve caps with a straighter curve. The sleeve cap in Dress Y has a fairly high curve and I think would ease in better insetting it after the side seams are sewn. At least that’s what I did, and it work well.

Overall, despite the slightly tent-like sillouette, I love this dress. The fabric is soft, smooth and lighter than air. Dress Y like a pair of shoes that are super comfortable the first time you try them on – I know I’ll reach for it over and over again.

Have you tried any Japanese patterns? Which ones? Are you a skeptic or fan?
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Japanese Wraparound Dress

This is my one year anniversary of Sewing Myself Stylish. Have I sewn myself stylish yet? I would say not, but I’ve learned many things and had a lot of fun. Bit by bit, I will share my insights of sewing for myself again as well as my observations of the online sewing community and social media from the perspective of an “older” gal. But for now, I would just like to share with you Fresh Make #22, a comfy, versatile dress that I could wear a number places.DSC_0519DSC_0523DSC_0541 I did my occasional veer of the Big Four path for this one and used a pattern from the book “Simple Modern Sewing” by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha ($24.95). I am normally not compelled to buy these kinds of books because I am leery of the actual pattern drafting and fit of an unproven designer or company. BUT, my husband gave me a gift card for Interweave, so I took the opportunity to purchase this book which had not made it’s way to the 75% off section yet.

DSC_0546 I was immediately attracted to the Wraparound Dress with Three-Quarter-Length Sleeves. It looks like a dress I might have worn in college in the 80’s, or wear now, as a teacher dress.

DSC_0552The directions in the book are minimal. I wouldn’t recommend sewing patterns from this book unless you had basic knowledge of dress construction and/or weren’t planning to rely solely on what was provided in the book.

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The fabric I chose is kind of a textured chambray cotton from Michael Levine’s in DTLA. It’s about 58″ wide, and I purchased 3 yards at $15.00 per yard. It appeared to be a high quality cotton and was lovely to sew with. I like this fabric because it’s a basic with a bit of a twist.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. Obviously for this pattern, the most crucial measurement for determining your size is the bust. I am spot on for the Medium with a bust measurement of 35 1/2″. I cut the Medium and the dress fit me very well. So, here’s a word of warning to larger busted gals- Large is the biggest size with a bust measurement of 37″.

2. On me, the point of the dart is about an 1″ too high. If I make this again, I will reposition it. Fortunately the style is such that it’s not that noticeable. Also the texture and pattern in the fabric help mask this as well.

3. I am pleased with the accuracy of this pattern. It sewed up just like it was portrayed in the photo. I realize this is a classic Japanese pattern, and obviously the author of this book had access to a well drafted one. I am planning to try other patterns in the book. I already have a fabulous linen fabric for a skirt.

4. When tracing off this pattern from the master sheet, you need to be up for figuring out which lines go to which pieces as several pieces are overlaid on each other.DSC_0554

I love this dress, my first project of the new year. It couldn’t be more comfortable. I intend to wear it with different tank tops or t-shirts underneath for a pop of color. Thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments. Cheers! Lori

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The Teacher Dress

I found myself unexpectedly with a new “day” job at the end of the summer. I’m now teaching middle school math at a small private school. Even though it’s only for three hours each morning, I still want to look the part. So I made myself a simple, day dress appropriate for teaching for Fresh Make #19.DSC_0584DSC_0587DSC_0605 The pattern I choose is Vogue 8764. I already had the fabric and when I spotted this pattern, I knew it was the one. I waited a few weeks for the $4.99 Vogue pattern sale at JoAnn’s to purchase it. I have named it The Teacher Dress because it is an updated version of those full gathered dresses and jumpers of the early 90’s that my peers and I referred to as “teacher dresses.”

I made view A.

I made view A.

The fabric which I purchased online at Hawthorne Threads is a woven quilting weight cotton from the “Serafina” collection by Alice Kennedy. I got one yard of the red and two yards of the grey, both a $9.95 per yard. I had purchased the fabric a few months ago, in the middle of summer, with the intention of making another Sunshine Jumper. But summer escaped me without sewing it up, and I decided a short sleeved dress would serve me better in the fall.

I did a 1 1/4" hand hem.

I did a 1 1/4″ hand hem.

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I just put a regular ol’ zipper in.

The pattern actually gives instructions for a fully lined dress. I did not want the added weight of a lining with my cotton dress. So I just put a facing on the neckline, and for this, I had to make my own front and back facing pattern pieces.DSC_0587DSC_0579
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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled as “very easy” and for a Vogue pattern, it probably is. There really nothing beyond basic techniques such as darts, a zipper, set-in sleeves, and, in my case, a facing. I would not, however, recommend this pattern for a beginning seamstress who is working independently.

2. I cut a size 14 on the top and graded to a 16 on the bottom. In all honesty, the bodice is still a bit big, and I could still use a tad room through belly and hips. I guess I just have to face the fact that with a semi-fitted dress, I am at least two sizes different on top and bottom. I actually do know this, but I think I’m trying to keep the original proportions of the design as illustrated. But, hey, if it’s not right for your body, don’t buy the pattern, or be happy with a change in silhouette. Right?

3. Unlike the instructions, I did a hand hem on both the bottom and sleeve. I added about 1″ to the bottom before cutting the pattern pieces to make sure I would have enough length to hit me mid-knee with a 1 1/4″ hem.

Overall, I am very happy with my new teacher dress. I wore it to school yesterday, got a compliment from one of my fashion forward 5th graders! I just love it when young people compliment someone who is even older than their mom!

Thanks for reading this post. I your welcome your comment and questions. Cheers! Lori

The Jennifer Dress

As soon as I saw this pattern while shopping a Butterick pattern sale at JoAnn’s several months ago, I knew I wanted to make this for my sister-in-law who loves that 50’s retro vibe. So I am once again sewing someone else stylish for Fresh Make #18.DSC_0551DSC_0546DSC_0554
The pattern I used is Butterick 5982. I basically made a sleeveless version of view C. As mentioned above, I bought the pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I named it the Jennifer Dress after my sister-in-law.DSC_0574
The fabric is a soft, smooth lawn cotton we purchased at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. My photos unfortunately do not do this fabric justice. It’s a calico like print of rich blue colored flowers set on a creamy white background, and it’s looks beautiful against Jennifer’s sun kissed skin.

One of the design details I really like about this pattern, along with that adorable bow, is the flat center skirt front. The gathers go up to an inverted pleat on both sides and then it’s flat for about 6″ in the middle. A flattering element for those of us whose waists and bellies aren’t what they used to be. (No, Jennifer, I’m not talking about you! I’m sure you would look good with gathers around the whole waist. I’m just speaking in general.)

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer's house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer’s house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

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back view

back view

The bodice is fully lined in a white cotton. I did some “slow sewing” as I attached the lining by hand along the zipper and waist. I also did a hand hem after machine sewing hem tape on the bottom edge.
You might notice some picking at the neckline. You can read about that below if you're interested.

You might notice some puckering at the neckline. You can read about that below if you’re interested.

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. It is always a joy for me to sew for others. The drawback is coordinating fittings or sacrificing a few when that person does not live that close to me. On the first fitting, before I applied the lining or did any finish work, the neckline layed flat on Jennifer. On the second fitting, it pooched out as if the fabric was stretched when I attached the lining at the neckline. I was flummoxed and the truth is it didn’t matter how it happened, I needed to find way to fix it. I was not up for ripping out the lining and re-doing the whole bodice. I had not yet attached the lining at the waist, I decided to run some rows of basing stitches on the lining layer only, close to the neck edge and ease in the extra width. You can see this in the photo of the dress inside. It’s not a proud sewing moment for me, but a reasonable solution. Jennifer was fine with it.

2. It’s a bit confusing as to how the bodice is supposed to fit on this pattern. Of course, the beauty of sewing is you can make it fit however you want. I just want to point out that the photo of the orange dress on the envelope front has a semi-fitted bodice, and the illustrations look close-fitted. Additionally the description on the back of the pattern says “close-fitting.” Jennifer’s bodice fits like the photo, which is a good thing because she doesn’t care for form-fitting clothes.

3. The pattern is labeled EASY. It might be easy for this style of dress, but would say it does required some intermediate sewing skills. At least some experience with gathers, zippers, facings and linings.

4. Jennifer wanted the dress to hit below her knees, so I added 5″ to the skirt bottom when cutting out the fabric. It was just enough for a 2″ hem.

I think Jennifer loves her new dress. When she put the finished dress on for our photo shoot, she didn’t want to take it off. But she did because she wanted to keep it nice to wear on the first day of school. She’s a third grade teacher.

Thanks again for reading my blog. I welcome your comments about this dress or your experiences sewing for others. Cheers, Lori

The Traveler Dress

Since starting this blog, I have rediscovered the joy of wearing dresses, I mean everyday, grab-n-go dresses, especially for hot summer weather. Even though we’re in the dog days of summer here in inland So Cal, I’ve started to turn my sewing thoughts to fall. So for Fresh Make #15 I have made a transition dress, one take will take me from end of summer onto fall.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

DSC_0443DSC_0462 The pattern I chose is Simplicity 2246. This is part of the “lisette” collection, which I think is Simplicity’s attempt to appeal to the young, hip, indie sewist. Like all the indie patterns, they have even given it a name, Traveler Dress. (I didn’t have to make one up this time.) It’s an adorable shirt dress with lots of options to “make it your own.” I purchased my pattern at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1 several months ago during one of their 5 for $5 Simplicity pattern sales.

I made View A, leaving off the hips pockets (I do not need to bring emphasis to that area of my body!). I also made the cap sleeve in View C because just looking at longer sleeves in the middle of summer makes me sweat.2246 The fabric I used is from an awesome chambray collection by Andover Fabrics. I purchased 2  1/2 yards of Chambray in Bluegrass and 1/2 yards of Chambray in Tailor at $9.25 per yard from Hawthorne Threads, my favorite online fabric store.DSC_0440 You can’t go wrong with a basic shirtdress but I couldn’t resist putting my own little twist by using a different color for the sleeve. I had seen some denim blouses and dresses that had different shades of denims on the sleeves on Pinterest, so I was hoping to be a little trendy. Maybe not. Oh, who cares, I really like it. DSC_0448

I am a big proponent of blind hme on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I'm not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible like here.

I am a big advocate of blind hems on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I am not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible, like here.

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LET’S BE HONEST;
1. This pattern, unlike most, does not have a difficulty rating. A shirt dress is never an appropriate project for a novice, but I have to say for a shirt dress, this pattern is “easy.” The collar does not have a separate neckband which simplifies construction, however it does sacrifice a more tailored look. Maybe you care, maybe you don’t. The instructions are typical of a big 4 pattern, only additionally there are “lisette tips” which I actually thought could be helpful for a new sewist.

2. I graded between a size 12 at the bodice to a size 14 on the bottom. As I always do, I measured the actually pattern pieces at key spots with a tape measure and then put the tape measure around me at the same spot. Then, I decide if I like that amount of wearing ease, and determine what size (or sizes) I cut from there. If you spend time doing this you should get fairly good fitting results. I’m saying this because I have to get something off my chest…I have noticed with the online sewing community, it seems to have become standard practice to make “muslins” for regular garments. That seems unappealing and time consuming to me. I just think careful measuring of the paper pattern can allow you to skip this step. To each her own, if you like making muslins, don’t let me stop you.

3. I am very happy with the cut and fit of this pattern. The slight A-line makes it possible to flatter those of us with a bit of a pear shape. The only change I would make is to the circumference of the sleeve band. I measured my upper arm and added an 1″ to the band, but I would actually add yet another 1″. It’s comfortable when my arms are at my side, but the range of motion is limited because there is no “give” in the fabric.

4. Overall, there were no surprises or oddities with pattern and I would definitely recommend it to an intermediate sewist.

Thanks for reading this post. What will you make to help you comfortably transition into fall?

Sunny Day Beach Dress

Without a doubt summer is here in Southern California for the next four months. I know I’ll want to be throwing on clothes that are cool and easy. Fresh Make #11 is one of many sleeveless dresses I’ll be making this summer. DSC_0294 DSC_0291DSC_0298 The pattern I choose was Sunny Day Beach Dress from the Sew Daily pattern store. When I received an email announcing 40% off their PDF patterns, I took a peek and this adorable dress caught my eye. I have not been particularly interested in trying a PDF pattern, but to keep myself well-rounded I decided to give this one a try. The sale price was $3.60.

Sunny Day Beach Dress by Katrin Vorbeck from Sew Daily pattern store

Sunny Day Beach Dress by Katrin Vorbeck from Sew Daily pattern store

The fabric I used is from Andover Fabric’s “Moon Flowers” collection by Jesus Cruz. I am excited to showcase this fabric as Jesus is a local artist in my community. His fabric can be found at many independent fabric stores. Because I knew exactly what I wanted, I ordered mine at Michael Levine’s online store. Michael Levine’s is much more fun to visit in person, but sometimes convenience wins over adventure.

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The armholes are finished with a self-made bias tape.

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The neck yoke is one piece with a seam in the back.

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The hem band is faced on the inside.

The hem band is faced on the inside.

I understitched the hem facing at the bottom to keep the seam rolled to the inside.

I understitched the hem facing at the bottom to keep the seam rolled to the inside.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. After using my first PDF pattern, I’m not a big fan. In the future, I will only purchase a PDF pattern if it is a unique design that I love and it is not available in a paper format. I have no problem with, and rather enjoy, leafing through pattern books at fabric stores (OK, maybe I’m showing my age!) Also, I do not mind waiting a few days for a purchase to come in the mail; I have plenty of other projects I can work on in the meantime. Let me state, however, that I do understand one of the purposes of a PDF – it is a cost effective way for an entrepreneurial designer/sewist to sell a pattern. I think it is awesome that the internet provides this opportunity for enterprising individuals.

2. General thoughts on written instructions: Instructions that include illustrations from the established patterns companies are difficult enough to understand. I found the instructions accompanying the Sunny Beach Day Dress hard to decipher especially because there were no illustrations accompanying the text. I know I am at an advantage when I tackle a pattern because I can draw on my 40 years of experience and figure out what I need to do. While this dress is fairly simple, I’m pretty certain that a beginning sewist would have a problem sewing this pattern independently, especially the neck yoke.

3. I made one pattern adjustment. During my first try-on, the top of the back neck yoke stuck out from the base of my neck. I narrowed it a total of 1″ at the top, grading down to the original seam at the bottom. This created a slight V-shape on the back yoke as you can see in the photos. If I were to make this again, I would probably redraw the pattern a bit to make a nice curve.

4. The instructions called for 2 single-sided self-made bias tapes sewn together, outside and inside, to finish the armholes. I decided to make 1 double-folded tape instead. (You can ask me more about this if you are interested in making this dress.) The armholes turn out a little high into the armpit. I couldn’t determine for certain if this was because I changed the method or not. Neverthless, next time, I would trim out 1/2″ before from the armholes before applying the bias tape.

I love my Sunny Day Beach Dress, and I think Jesus Cruz’s Moon Flowers is the perfect fabric for it!

Thank you for reading this post, and please, ask me questions about the construction. I would love to help you if you decide to make this dress. Best, Lori

The Sunshine Jumper

I am keeping true to my declaration of wearing more dresses and skirts, and less jean shorts and capris for spring and summer. I’m building my collection of warm weather clothing with a versatile sleeveless dress for Fresh Make #8.
DSC_0174 The pattern I choose is Butterick 5781. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1.40 as part of their 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. This style of dress seems to have made a bit of a comeback, and it’s been years and years since I made a dress comfy dress like this for myself. I named it the Sunshine Jumper because, while it’s a sundress, it can also be worned with a t-shirt underneath. DSC_0184 I purchased the fabric from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. The prints are by Lotta Jansdotter, specifically, Blomster in Coral from the Mormor collection and Ruta in White from the Sylvia collection. The fabric is quilting weight, 100% cotton, perfect for this dress. The fabric was $9.25 per yard, and I needed about 1 yard for the bodice and 2 yards for the skirt. I also lined the bodice with 1 yard of white cotton from JoAnn’s.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

I’m not sure a have the perfect shoes for this dress. I think I might need to go shopping! I’m modeling it with two different types of sandals to show the versatility of the dress. DSC_0166DSC_0172

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

DSC_0161 The bodice is fully lined and all the seams are overlocked. The hand-sewn hem is 2″ wide.DSC_0165

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The Butterick pattern is labeled Easy. In reality, it is easy for an experienced sewer. There are quite a few techniques that wouldn’t be easy if you were doing them for the first time such as facings, zipper, pleats, and princess seams. Overall there are no surprises or odd features to this pattern.

2. There’s no other way of saying it – I am small busted. The advantage for me of constructing my own garments is I can balance out my portions by custom fitting. With this pattern, I was going for more of a semi-fitted bodice, rather than a fitted one because I felt like a fitted bodice would emphasize the discrepancy in size between my top and bottom half, especially with a full skirt. This pattern had different bodice pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups. Of course I used the A/B pattern piece and still took it in at the bust after my first try-on. I took it in again at the side seams after my second try-on. I eventually achieved the fit I wanted.

3. I LOVE the pleats on the skirt. I was hesitant to make a dress with a full skirt because my extra inches through my mid-section. But these pleats lay completely flat with no extra poof where you don’t need it. I’m still staying away from gathers, but yes, I can do pleats!

4. I wanted my hemline to be between view A and C, so I added a few inches onto the skirt A length pattern piece before cutting out the fabric. I like my hem to hit right below the knee cap at the narrowist part of the leg above the calf. That’s where it most flattering because you’re showing off your curves rather than cutting your leg off at a wider part.

Overall, I love my Sunshine Jumper and plan on wearing it a whole lot this summer and spring. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments. Lori