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!