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!

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Hoodies X 3 (plus a PJ pants)

    I'm in the mood of sewing fleece hoodies now. Yes, here in hot and humid Singapore! I must be mad but they are so addictive. Especially when the fleece are sold at $6 per metre at Spotlights during the recent 40% sale.

    Recently I realised that my local Spotlight had increase the variety of fabric and there are more interesting print for knit and fleece. Look at all those prints and I can't resist to get some.  The fleece is super soft but i think those selling at $9 is of better quality, which I used for the diamond goodies and jellybean hoodies above.  The blue floral one is nice but not as soft.

    Okay, let's look that the hoodies individually.  The diamond hoodie is made from a pattern in one of my favourite Ottobre issue 4/2012.  If you want to sew jackets/hoodies, this issue is pack full with different designs.  I've used this pattern before to make the Alphine hoodie for my girl, called "Born to Run" but upgraded the size to 146 for my skinny 12 year old nephew.

    It is an unlined hoodie and I left out the drawstring and pockets. I use ribbing for the sleeve cuff and hem. Managed to find a matching colour from my stash.  I even have the right length separating zipper in white! Good to always stock up at Daiso once in a while : ) 

    I love the diamond print but the fleece is really very shifty.  I traced the pattern with the right side facing up so that I have better control of the layout and direction of the print. But it is not easy at times.  Thankfully, the fleece is very stretchy so little mistakes are hidden.  The hood is lined with single jersey.

    For my niece, I made her an unlined hoodie with big pockets, pattern also from the same issue #33. Roxy Royal hoodie jacket.  I remove the kangaroo pocket in the pattern and replace it with another pocket from #27 Funny Fox pattern.  I also lined the hood with jersey knit and use ribbings for the sleeve cuff, pocket edge and the joint between the hoodie lining and the bodice.

    The pocket pieces are sewn on top of the front panel and using flatlock stitch to stitch around the edge. But my machine didn't come with that so I decided to insert some pink ric arc between the pocket and main jacket and just zig zag the pockets down. It looks very cute and quite matching right? I'm extremely pleased with my foresight that I have just the perfect powder blue separating zipper in the right length.  I got them from Daiso again.

    My niece is quite petite so I use size 128 and had enough fabric left over to make a PJ pants for my sister! 

    The pattern is from a Japanese sewing magazine Female Autumn 2013 issue.

    I used size L and didn't include the hem ribbing as the size for Japanese pattern is for 165 but I'm only 160. The length is just nice and the fit is perfect! I'm surprise how comfy the pant is.


    The waistband fits nicely too with the elastic. I just measure my waist and cut the elastic band which i find is a better fit. I left 1" gap at the seams when I sew the waistband and use it to insert the elastic. This gap will be there after you completed the pants so that you can always adjust the elastic as you grow horizontally!

    Anyway, back to my hoodie.  The 3rd hoodie is for my mum.  I owe her one hand made garment. Since I've started sewing, I didn't have courage to sew anything for my mum. She is a sewist so I was afraid that my standard will not meet her expectation. But I'm glad that I can sew her a jacket for her coming oversea trip. 

    The pattern is from Ottobre Woman Autumn/Winter issue 5/2011 #6. Saturday Chilling hoodie. I use size 40 but took off some length since Ottobre is designed for height 164-172cm.  I also didn't use the recommended sleeve cuff but just use the main fabric and create a shorter length cuff.  I especially love the pockets which you can't really see from the busy print.  The pocket edge is bind with ribbing and it is quite roomy.

    I only bought 1 meter so didn't quite have enough for the whole hoodie so I use the ribbing for the sleeves.  I think it works better since the sleeves help to tone down the jacket with the busy print.  I'm super super happy that I managed to line the directional print on the front! I also run out of zipper of that length so I use snap buttons which I only had 6, so it was nerve racking and I was so scared of making mistakes.  You can hardly see the white snap buttons here. Most proud of the matching print across the front : )

    I cut the back piece on fold instead of 2 separate pieces to save my fabric.  To do that, I straighten the centre back seams (the original design has curve seam lines for better slim fit) so that I can cut on fold.  The jacket is also unlined and I bind the hood edge with ribbing as well.  I didn't even line the hood since the fleece is so soft and I didn't want to hide them away. The colourful print at the centre seams of the hood create an interesting feature at the back.

    So, here are my 3 hoodies.  I usually try to cut my patterns and fabric on one night and leave the sewing to another night so that my sewing will not be interrupted.  Cutting and tracing really take up a lot of time and energy. I usually lose steam after all the back bending ( I trace on the floor since I don't have such big table).

    I've just delivered the hoodies to them and I'm happy to see happy recipients of my gifts of love.  Sewing hoodies are so fun. It is so additive, believe me.  Now, if only I have time to sew one for my hubby and me : ) 

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    My Birthday Dress & Winner for the Giveaway

    I made a dress for myself in May.  To be specific, I made a Birthday Dress.  The pattern is from this Japanese book that I've used earlier to sew the mock two-piece dress.

    The pattern is a wrapped dress with gathered sleeves.  It is really a wrapped dress with ties and all.

    I used a soft linen in mint that I got from Spotlight during sale.  I've followed the instruction quite closely except instead of a elastic channel at the sleeves, I just zig zag a slim elastic band directly around the sleeve hem. I cut the elastic after taking measurement of my arm.

    I love the front cross wrapped and it looks very cute with the ties.  There are a total of 8 ties to secure them.  2 on the outside and the rest along the waistline and skirt sides.

    The sleeves are gathered around the sleeve head and attach to the arm sync.  I set the sleeves in flat as I find it easier to work with the elastic.

    This is the back view.  The skirts are gathered around the waist and attached to the bodice .

    Here I am, wearing my new dress.  Sorry for the blurry photo as I took it with my handphone.  I wore another slip inside as it was a bit sheer.

    Back view.  Love the shape of the dress.

    See how secure the ties are. It is really nice fit and I'm so happy with the dress. Light and airy.

    And, before I forget. Here's the 2 winners of the Giveaway. Pardon the blog break. I intend to post on 1 June but it's the school holiday here in Singapore and with the kids out of school, life is out of norm and busy.

    Anyway, congratulation to (drum roll..)

    Cindy and Stacey!

    You have just got yourself a new book. I will be contacting you soon, Stacey.  Cindy, please contact me at my email as you didn't leave down your email address.

    That's it folks! Thanks for following and joining in the giveaway.  At least your presence at this blog shows me that I'm not alone in my sewing journey. Hope we can meet up for a sewing get-together someday!