Japanese Recovery Clothes

I am having some surgery in a short time and need some comfy clothes to wear during my recooperation. I figured why not try to be a bit stylish! My range of motion in my arms will be limited for a while, so I wanted to make some button-front garments to avoid to need to raise my arms overhead. I looked through my stash of patterns and two designs in my Japanese pattern books fit the bill the best. Cute, loose, and button-front.

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I wasn’t going to use this photo because I didn’t think this view looked flattering. I didn’t want to torture my husband to do a retake. But more importantly, I realized that this garment for me is about comfort and cover-up, and it is both of those things. So forget the perfectly staged photo!

 

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve become quite a fan of the Japanese patterns in the past year or so. Now I’m even more entrenched! The first one is Tunic with Tie Belt – 8b from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu to Seikatsu Sha.

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The second one is Button-up Blouse D from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

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The fabric I used for the Tunic is from Mood in Los Angeles. I purchased it for another project a few months ago, but felt it lent itself well to this pattern. It is a light weight cotton and was $10 per yard. I paid for three yards, but really ended up with nearly four! They’re always generous. Thank you Mood!

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This tunic has 15 buttons! 13 down the front and one on each cuff.

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The cuff opening is made with a slash, covered with a narrow binding.

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The back has this cool loop detail. I think this garment was originally designed as a work shirt/cover up and the loop allowed the wearer to hang it on a hook in the studio.

Fabric I used for the Blouse is from The Fabric Store, also in Los Angeles, only five blocks from Mood. How lucky am I? This fabric, also intended for another project, was $10 per yard, but I hit a 30% sale. And like Mood, The Fabric Store is always generous. I paid for 1.5 yards, but ended up with close to two yards, and this fabric was nearly 60″ wide. Plenty for this blouse. I recently noticed from the print on the selvage, that this fabric is from Japan.

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For the cuff and the neck binding, I first sewed the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I folded it in and top stitched it to the right side. You can avoid hand sewing with this technique.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

Tunic from Simple Modern Sewing:

1. This is my third project from this book, and continue to be impressed with the well drafted patterns.

2. The sizes in this book range from XS to L, bust 32 1/4″ t0 37.” I made a Medium and because of the loose fit of this pattern, I probably could have made a Small or even Extra Small and it wouldn’t have made much difference. I think it would be safe that if you fall  somewhat outside the Large measurements, you could still wear this pattern.

3. I was actually aiming to make a 7/8 length sleeve (just above the wrist) so I cut off about 2 inches before adding the cuff. It wasn’t quite enough, so I would probably take off another inch to acheive this style.

4. Here are the instructions. Typical for these Japanese patterns books. Sufficient if you have a background in the required techniques. Otherwise they are insufficient for a beginner as stand alone instructions.

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Button-up Blouse from Stylish Dress Book, Wear with Freedom:

1. This is also my third project from this book, and same as above, am continue impressed with the drafting.

2. The sizes in this book range from 6 to 16, bust 30 3/4″ to 40 1/4.” I made a size 10, and same as the tunic, I could have made a smaller size because of the very loose fit. So same conclusion, with this pattern, if you are larger than a size 16, you could probably still wear this pattern.

3. I did not make any changes to this pattern, and sewed it exactly as shown. (Actually, I did add a 1/4″ to the width of the bias binding. I was afraid it could fray or stretch and end up too narrow. I am of the philosophy that you can always trim off, but you can’t add on.)

4. If I were to make another one, I would probably use a lighter cotton weight with a softer hand.

5. Here are the instructions. Same comments as above. You are directed to another page for cuffs and buttonholes.

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I really like both of these garments, and I know I will continue to wear them after my recovery is complete. What about you, have you made garments to help you or someone else through a physical limitation?

 

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My pants are the Owyn Pants from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style.

 

 

 

 

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The Factory Dress

It’s still blazing outside, and I’ll be starting my part-time teaching job in less than two weeks. Therefore I was very motivated to sew up some practical work wear that can take me from end-of-summer through fall. The Factory Dress by Merchant and Mills fits the bill perfectly.

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I have coveted the Merchant and Mills patterns since discovering them some time ago. When I calculated that it would cost me approximately $46 to purchase a pattern directly from the UK based company, I figured I would never own one. When I learned that I could purchase one domestically through Fancy Tiger Crafts, I took the plunge. I still paid $20 + $7.95 shipping, much more than I normally pay for patterns. I do splurge very once and a while to sample patterns outside the Big Four. The Factory Dress is “inspired by working women, with a dash of the Twenties.” I found the notion of elevating a working class uniform to something more sophicated intriging.

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The fabric I used is once again from The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I hit their summer sale and scored this beautiful linen for $12 per yard. I purchased three yards, but could have done with a little less. Might I add, the sweet employees always measure the yardage very generously. I prewashed it in the machine “at my own risk” and also partially dried it in the dryer. I wanted to soften it a bit and give it a slight laundered linen look.

I accidently put the pocket on the wrong side. I think I make mistakes like this because I'm left-handed.

I accidently put the pocket on the wrong side. I think I make mistakes like this because I’m left-handed.

I top-stitched around the collar by hand.

I top-stitched around the collar by hand.

Inside peek - I serged all the seams. It has side seam pockets.

Inside peek – I serged all the seams and did a hand hem on the sleeves and bottom. It has side seam pockets.

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Gosh, that morning sun is bright.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The pattern ranges from size 8 to 18. I cut a straight size 10, even though, according to the chart my bust is a size 12 and my waist and hips are a size 14. I read other reviews, looks at images of the dress online, and also notice how loose fitting the dress is on the model on the pattern envelope. I “get” the loose fitting style aesthetic, but what also know to be true is that style only looks flattering on very slim people. I was aimming for comfortable wearing ease, and the size 10 turned out perfect. I made no adjustments.

2. This is a well drafted pattern. The paper the pieces are printed on is like a lightweight brown bag with a smooth, shiney backing. The directions, printed on heavyweight paper, are done in vintage graphics and hand illustrations.

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I must confess, I really only looked at the illustrations while sewing. I suspect that the written instructions are probably not quite adequate for a beginning seamstress. But I’m done nit picking pattern instructions, because I certainly wouldn’t want to write them and my hat’s off to anyone who does.

3. When wearing, there is a marked difference between the distance from the hem to the ground in the back and the front. It scoops up in the front and dips in the back. It could just be me, but I don’t completely think so. I did not engage my husband to mark the hem with my old fashion hem gauge, but I did a gradual trim before hemming, making the back 5/8″ shorter. I realize many people don’t notice or care when hems aren’t parallel to the floor, but it’s one of my pet peeves. I can thank my mother for that.

I really had no issues sewing up this dress. I can’t wait to wear it and honor those hard working women of the past!

What are your pattern buying habits? Are there patterns you have been eyeing, but cost is preventing you from buying? Do you have a price limit just on principle?

Thanks for reading my post! Cheers, Lori

The Global Warming Jacket

Can a gal have too many cardigans? Maybe, maybe not. But I do get tired of grabbing one day after day, especially when that’s all we to need to keep ourselves warm for most of our fall and winter days in here in inland SoCal. As an alternative to a cardie, I made a lightweight, unlined jacket for Fresh Make #20.DSC_0598DSC_0576DSC_0590 The pattern I used is Butterick 5617. I bought it several months ago at JoAnn’s on sale for $1.40. I was drawn to this pattern because of it’s loose fit and hip length, a style that is usually flattering on me. I named it the Global Warming Jacket because, like I already mentioned, cold days here in Southern California seem to be getting fewer and farther between. The El Ninos they kept predicting never come. If I spend my time making a jacket, I want to actually get lots of wear out of it.

I made view C/D.

I made view C/D so I can wear the sleeves long or rolled up.

I purchased the fabric at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. It is a medium weight twill linen, and unbeknownst to me when I bought it, it’s stretchy – quite stretchy, in fact. I have never encountered linen with Lycra. The pattern required 1 3/4 yards. I thought I was paying $12 per yard, but when the sales clerk rang me up, the total including tax came to $13.73. It turns out the fabric was 40% off that day! This was one inexpensive linen jacket. At my own risk, I pre-washed the fabric in the washing machine in cold water and hung dry.

I love to dye fabrics as much as I love to sew. I couldn't resist putting some hand-dyed covered buttons on this jacket.

I love to dye fabrics as much as I love to sew. I couldn’t resist putting some hand-dyed covered buttons on this jacket.

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The back has four separate pieces which create a nice fit and style.

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The collar consists of an under-collar piece and a separate band.

The collar consists of an under-collar piece and a separate band.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I cut out size 12 with no alterations. I was more concerned that it fit well on top than it being a little snug through the hips. I imagine it being worn unbuttoned most of the time anyway. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m a 16/18 on my bottom half.)

2. This stretchy Lycra is interesting to work with. It can stretch out while sewing, but just as easily steams back into shape. I had to hand baste close to where I was going to machine top stitch to prevent the top layer of fabric from pulling and creating puckers. Also, the fabric snagged fairly easily.

3. The illustrations of the collar on views B,C and D are inaccurate. The corners are rounded, and it is attached to a neckband. If you look closely, the line illustration at the beginning of the instructions shows this more accurately. I actually love the rounded collar, so I’m not complaining.

4. Twice I sewed the top of the pockets on the wrong place on the front panels. I didn’t match the correct snips together. I was worried there would be permanent marks on the fabric where I took the stitches out. Luckily where weren’t.

I love this jacket. The stretch in the linen makes it as comfortable as any cardie. There will be lots of days this fall, winter and spring that I will be wearing it!

Thanks for reading this post. As always, I welcome your comments. Any plans for making some outerwear this fall or winter? 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

Anima Pants

I’m not back to selfish sewing yet. I stumbled upon a competition using New Zealand indie company, Papercut Patterns “Anima Pant.” So Hanna wins out again with this modern, sport pant for Fresh Make #14.

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This is my second indie pattern (I made the Moneta dress on my previous post.) I was convinced to purchase Papercut’s Anima Pant when they were offering 20% off the $25 price, plus free shipping (all the way from New Zealand!). And I have to say it arrived sooner than I expected. It comes packaged in a nifty cardboard, hanging envelope.
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The pattern comes with different length options.

The pattern comes with different length options.

The competition is co-sponsored by The Fabric Store. Their only U.S. location is only La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Lucky us! A great excuse for Hanna and I to go into the city, and also stop in for a delicious drink and yummy goodie directly across the street at The Sycamore Kitchen. Hanna had free reign in the fabric selection. I always like to see what my art student daughter will choose. The fabric is a beautiful, drapey, single knit jersey. I regret to say that I’m not sure of the fiber content. It looks and feels like a cotton/rayon blend. I pre-shrunk it in the washer and dryer, and it came out beautifully. We bought 1 1/2 yards at $12 per yard. Hanna also chose a waffle ribbed knit for a contrasting waistband.

Fabric in hand in La Brea Avenue.

Fabric in hand on La Brea Avenue.

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The waistband is made with 2″ wide elastic and a drawstring. My buttonholes did not end up in the middle of the waistband, so I put an extra row of shirring at the top, different from the pattern instructions.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

The pants have 4" cuffs at the leg bottom.

The pants have 4″ cuffs at the leg bottom.

Back side.

Back side.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern comes in sizes XXS to XL. For Hanna, I cut between a XS and S, and it fit perfectly. Her hips are about 37 1/2″. The rise on the waist/crotch was also perfect for her, not too low, not too high. (I have to say that it is definitely styled to flatter a young, fit gal. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At this point in my life, the most effective way, even more so than watching what I eat, to avoid a “muffin top”, is to wear my pants at my waist!)

2. Besides cutting in-between sizes, the only adjustment I made to the pattern was on the leg length. Hanna’s legs are on the shorter side, so I took off 2″ with a pattern adjustment before cutting out the fabric, and another inch at the bottom once she tried them on before attaching the cuffs.

3. I wrote quite a bit about pattern instructions on my last post about the Moneta Dress, so I won’t repeat a lot of my comments here, except that I feel the same way about this pattern’s instructions. It has a fun graphic presentation printed on brown paper bag like paper. But again, just like on the Colette pattern, and many of the big 4 patterns, the details just aren’t there for the novice sewist.

4. The waffle knit ribbing that Hanna chose for the waistband actually did not end up being a practical choice when it came to sewing with the elastic. The fabric was super stretchy and was difficult to attach the 2″ elastic to it without getting a lot of puckers on the back side. (I finally told myself – Who cares? – no one will see the inside. And it certainly doesn’t matter to Hanna.)

5. I have to say again that this a fabulous, modern, fresh, knit pant pattern. It drapes perfectly on Hanna. The leg width is perfect too. I know for a fact that Hanna will be wearing these pants a lot when she returns to her college campus this fall.

Thanks again for reading my post! Happy sewing! Lori

The Instead Top

Several years ago I made a resolution not to buy any more plain T-shirts. My casual tops must either have a print or interesting design feature. I did this to keep myself from being too boring. These tops however must be as comfortable and easy to wear as a T-shirt. Fresh Make #5 falls into this category. You can never have too many cute grab-and-go tops.

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The Pattern I used is Butterick 5356 which I purchased at JoAnn’s for $1.40 as part of a 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. I have named the pattern The Instead Top because you can grab it instead of a T-shirt. What attracted me to this pattern was the loose fit and the peplum style sleeves on view D. I love a loose fitting top because it’s flattering and forgiving to whatever you got going on underneath!

I made view D.

I made view D.

I purchased the fabric at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I was thrilled when I learned of the opening of this shop, a new location, and first in the U.S., for this Austrailian company. I didn’t know what to expect and was not disappointed to when I found a beautiful selection of high quality natural fiber textiles at reasonable prices. I bought 1 1/4 yard of cotton knit at $12 per yard for this project. The feel of this fabric is smooth and soft, very light weight and luxorous for a cotton knit.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern is labeled “FAST & EASY.” While the pattern does avoid a set-in sleeve, it is a “knits only” pattern, has gathers, and a curved seam. None of these features should be a deal breaker, but would be best done with some guidance for a beginning sewist who has yet to do these techniques.

2. I thought size wouldn’t matter too much – because it was a loose fitting top. I cut a medium (12-14), and I should have cut a small (8-10). I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that there is a large difference in numbers between my bottom and top half. I did not like how the sleeve hung on me after attaching the ruffle, so I decided to take it off, take in the seam in the underarm area about an inch, and then re-attach.

3. This fabric was 54″ instead of 60″. The patterns always give yardage amounts for 60″ and usually if the fabric is a bit narrower it doesn’t matter. In this case I was unable to fit the full length of the sleeve ruffle pattern piece on the fabric and had to settle for a ruffle that was less full. I would have liked the 3 or 4 inches I had to leave off the diameter of the ruffle.

4. Don’t cut yourself in half at your widest part. One of the beauties of making your own clothes in you can adjust them to flatter you the best way possible. I turned the hem up 4″ instead of the 1 1/4″ allowed on the pattern. My widest part is my thighs and my legs are relately short, so I like my tops to end somewhere around the upper part of my hips.

Overall I am happy with my Instead top. However, if I were to make it again, I think I would make a size Small.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments. Lori