Friday, 8 May 2015

Drape Drape dare

Hello my lovelies! Here's a question: where do you stand on Japanese patterns?




Unconsciously, I've always mentally divided the sewing world into those who sew from Japanese pattern books, and those who don't.  Part aesthetics, part practice - perhaps it's the styles, the construction, the sparse instructions and nested pattern sheets that turn you on or off - but wouldn't you agree, maybe, that we sewists tend to be on one side or the other?

Or maybe not. In any case: I had put myself in the camp of Those Who Don't.

And then Gillian dared me.




Sew something from a Japanese pattern book, she said. So I got myself down the library, got myself all the Japanese pattern books they had, and I did.




You know the punchline, right? Yes of course: I swapped sides.  Jumped right over that fence into the camp of Those Who Do.  Because look at that tunic there - it's clever, it's comfy and it's SO FREAKIN STYLISH I hardly recognise myself.




As it was my first go at this Japanese sewing lark, I went for the very easiest pattern in all the four books I borrowed.  It's the one-piece boatneck tunic from Drape Drape 3. I had seen it before on Jen, whose version is infinitely more exciting in aqua/turquoise lace - and when I turned the page and recognised those butterfly-ish batwing sleeves I knew this was the one to start with.  But it was only when I got down to it that I realised just how cool it is that this is all in one piece.

Seriously - ONE piece. When you think about it, it's actually a little but mindblowing as well as being seriously, utterly simple.  This is the full extent of the description and instructions:




After all, why waste your words? (Truly , I have crossed over completely - the more I think/write about this, the more I love it).  The book says you'll need 1m60 fabric, and you do - I had exactly 1m60 of this grey (probably poly) sweater knit, and this is how I cut it:




And look, below, it's just like the diagram! (The label in the back is slightly off-centre, because just think how easy it is to be precise about the centre back of a neckline with no seams, especially once you've picked it up and moved it a couple of times). 




The book says to simply wrap some binding over the neckline, but a) I didn't have enough fabric to cut it from the same stuff, and b) I wanted my binding to stretch around the neckline to draw it in slightly and hold it on my shoulders. I used a 1" strip of thin black viscose knit, 15% shorter than the neckline circumference, turned to the inside and topstitched. Two seams and three hems later - done!




Not only do I love this because it was quick, easy, successful and NEW (monkey brain!), I love it especially because this fabric is both lightweight and warm and the sleeves are exactly the right length for spring and I have therefore added the absolutely IDEAL tunic to my wardrobe for Me Made May. Which I'm doing properly for the first time and documenting on instagram, should you care to follow. I might do a round up here at the end.

So, what do you think? Are you already a fan of Japanese patterns, and if not, do you feel in any way tempted or won over?  I must admit that this has all been more fun than I expected, and I've earmarked 3-4 more things to make while I have those books out of the library. Yay for pushing the boundaries!

And while I'm at it, let's take a moment to say YAY for libraries too.  If you're lucky enough to be near one that stocks or will order sewing books, this is a brilliant way to try out new things or simply get your hands on patterns you wouldn't have been able to access otherwise.  And, well, ok... I have a confession.  This isn't actually the first time a library has lured me into experimenting with different sewing styles...




The above is what happened when I got bored and started browsing one time with the children. Before I knew it, I'd borrowed the book, traced it out and made two mini-humans. The kids named them Elizabeth and Sebastian, after their own middle names.

Sadly, an accident befell Sebastian shortly thereafter:




I literally had to dig him out for this photo from under the mending pile. Hereby naming and shaming myself into fixing his amputated limb sometime soon.




Have a wonderful weekend, dearests!


24 comments:

  1. Mother of ReinventionMay 08, 2015 2:10 pm

    What a wonderful top. I love how it looks so easy and yet it is super stylish. Not even started on my dare yet. :)

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  2. I love this! I would class myself as someone Who Does, but I never actually have! Think I need to actually acquire a book and follow through rather than just lusting after other peoples' makes....

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  3. Love it! Welcome to the 'other side' - you know where I live in this sewing divide! I have a whole book shelf of Japanese books now!

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  4. What a lovely sleeve shape! I love that they're rounded and not just a triangular like you see often.

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  5. I love Japanese patterns for the kids but not so much for myself. This sweater, however, I would make in All The Colours. Gorgeous!

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  6. Well done on the #sewingdare Jo! This looks great - and who knew it would be so easy! I have a couple of Japanese sewing books that I take out and admire from time to time, but I haven't had the courage to sew from one yet.
    PS: Those little humans are so cute!

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  7. What a great top. Some of the simplest designs are the best sometimes. I do love Japanese pattern books, but it's been such a long time since I've sewn from one. Thinking I should dig them out again now...

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  8. It looks fab and avante garde! I've toiled the asymmetric scoop top from drape drape 2, and like you was delighted by the ingenuity. It's rather rude and low, but I'm keen to make it up properly.... You've gotten me fired up!

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  9. English Girl at HomeMay 09, 2015 9:50 am

    Love it:) One pattern piece is very tempting, & my local library also has the Drape Drape books - yay for libraries!

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  10. Thanks! I was fed up with sewing for the kids so the dare was too tempting!

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  11. Hehe I know what you mean - sometimes you spend so much thought on a make, it feels like you've done it already when you haven't! Definitely go for it though, as you can see I think they're excellent!

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  12. Yay! I totally get it now!

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  13. Yes, the sleeve shape is the real star here! Such a lovely curve :-)

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  14. Yep, I'm tempted to make tons too! I've never tried kids' Japanese patterns actually, it's never occurred to me. Maybe I should have another look in the library!

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  15. Thanks Heather! Definitely do it - I think they're probably all less scary than the instructions can look! Though I haven't dared try anything complicated yet...

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  16. Ooh yes do! I bet you wear them fantastically well - simple but dramatic is definitely so you!

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  17. Haha yes some of the drapes are so deep aren't they! I'd love to see yours - that top pattern is lovely!

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  18. Yay for libraries indeed! And yes one pattern piece is a total winner :-)

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  19. Welcome to the dark side Jo! And I adore public libraries - they've introduced me to Alabama Chanin as well as all the Japanese Pattern Books, oh, and Gertie, and, and, and ....

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  20. Your top looks fantastic Jo: very flattering and what an easy sew!!
    I'm a convert and have made some very successful garments from Japanese books. Despite being a sewer for more than 40 years, the instructions have me stumped at times; however, if I mull over them for long enough, it all comes clear and I wonder how I could be so stupid. The necessary information is always there, it just has to be searched for and figured out!
    Many of the patterns would be great for novices, but the instructions aren't necessarily....

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  21. Yesssssssss! Team Japanese patterns! But then if you've looked at my blog you will already know my love. Seriously they become a blank slate for all your heart can imagine... or is that just me? It is their very simplicity that lends the ability to make them truly your own. Look at the line drawings, not so much the photographed item. This has become my secret and I'm yet to not love whatever I've made from my (many) books. I adore this on you, and I'm so glad you gave it a go :)

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  22. I would love to make myself all sorts of clever flowy draped and boxy Japanese patterns but know they would look utterly horrid on my body. The tall (taller than me at any rate) the slender, the shapely, the skinny-you all look wonderful in them. They'd be more tent like on me.

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  23. I LOVE it. I thought I'm a Who Doesn't, but now I need to see if my library carries these books! I *NEED* that top.

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  24. Oh no poor Sebastian! Reminds me of the traumatic day my doll's head fell off when I was about 8. My Mum took the doll to 'doll hospital' (in the kitchen) for an 'emergeny procedure' (glueing it back on) while I waited anxiously in the hall!

    The dolls and the top are amazing. I have a really nice Japanese book which I've only really dipped into - I made a muslin of a pattern once but didn't get further than that. I'm inspired to revisit it now!

    And yay for public libraries! :)

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