Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nani Iro Pajama Shorts

I have to admit, I am not much of a shorts person.  But after seeing Shorts on the Line, hosted by Rachael at Imagine Gnats for the last few years, I've been thinking it might be fun to try making some.



Now, these are pj's, so it's still baby steps--I'm not ready to try making shorts to be worn in public yet.  But as pajamas go, these are maybe the best I've ever had.  As a matter of fact, I made two pairs--one to try out the pattern before cutting into my Nani Iro double gauze (it's Pocho Adzuki Bean, a dark eggplant color--love it!)



The first pair is made from double gauze printed in Japan.  I love this fun print and I have bought it in several different colors!



I used the free Bias Trim Shorts pattern from Melly Sews, and since I was using a woven instead of a knit, I followed her instructions from this tutorial, where she makes a pair out of a satiny fabric.  Basically I slit the pattern pieces in the middle and added another half-inch of width to both pieces.  She says to add a quarter of an inch, but I'm slightly larger than the measurements she gives for the pattern so I bumped it up a little extra.  I also added about .75 inch to the length just for the heck of it.

Just what you want to see, right? A couple of pictures of my butt.
Maybe this is the real reason why I don't sew more pants...

I made both pairs exactly the same way--I was so pleased with how the first pair came out that I didn't change a thing for the Nani Iro pair!

In addition to changing the sizing slightly, I also used single fold bias tape instead of double fold.  This was mostly for practical reasons--the bias tape I wanted to use just happened to be single fold!  For the first pair, I had a package of vintage bias tape in exactly the right color, and it was a little bit silky, not a basic cotton kind.  Nice for pajamas, right?



And for the second pair, I knew I wanted to use the bias tape I found at my local 100 yen store, made from traditional Japanese print fabric.  Unfortunately, it only came in 1 meter packs, and I couldn't find more than 2 packs of any one print.  The pattern calls for 3 meters, but after making the first pair I thought I might be able to fudge it, since some of the bias tape ends up hidden on the inside when you sew the side seams together.



This worked great--I used exactly one meter on each side of the shorts, and was able to hide the unfinished edges on the inside.  As a matter of fact, I cut the back pattern pieces so that the exposed edge was on the selvage, so there weren't any raw edges to speak of.

Here is the front and back pieces for one side, sewn together and with bias tape attached.
You can see the white selvage edge where I ran out of bias tape.

Here's how the inside looks when you use single fold bias tape instead of double.

The Nani Iro double gauze I used was a great deal--I found two .6 meter cuts of it for 360 yen each (about $3) since there was a little bit of a print error.  I don't know if you can tell, but some of the dots have a tiny dot of the background color on them.  I think it looks fine!

Pre-sewing it all together
And I still have enough left to make a pair of shorts for Little Sister (although I'll have to find a different bias tape to use on hers.)  I'm actually hoping more of this bias tape will turn up, because I'd love to make a bias-trimmed tank top to go with these.

One final shot, to show how they look proportionally.  It felt weird to have a whole post with no pictures of my face!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Everyday Elsa

I have a confession to make--I am linking this dress up to this month's Project Run and Play, but I didn't make it specifically for that. Edited--I planned to link it up, but I was too late!  Just missed the collection. Boo.

As a matter of fact, I had been checking frequently to find out what June's pattern would be, and when I saw the Elsa pattern chosen by this month's host, Kiki from Kiki and Company, I laughed, because I had just finished an Elsa dress for Little Sister literally the day before.  I figured it was meant to be, even if I didn't use the actual pattern, so I'm linking up anyway! (uh...not so much meant to be after all.)

It still took me 3 weeks to get photos taken of it though, so I'm finally getting the blog post up.  And another confession--I started getting worried that I wouldn't get photos done at all, so when Little Sister chose this dress to wear on her first day of summer camp today, I told her we were going to take a few pics before school.

Luckily she was mostly game, and as a matter of fact she was inspired--she pulled the curtains back and told me we should use the white sheers and pretend it was snow!  We gave it a try, so these photos are her own idea.


The fabrics are knits from Girl Charlee that I brought with me when we moved to Japan.  The print on the white fabric has a slightly Scandinavian feel to me, so I thought it would be fun to make a casual dress that was inspired by Elsa.


The free Peep-Hem Dress pattern from Rock the Stitch was perfect for it--I just color-blocked the bodice (and did a lettuce hem on the top layer--something I've never tried before!)


I've had my eye on this free pattern for a long time, but it's finally a perfect fit for my 5-year-old, so the time was right!


I can see making this dress in lots of other fun fabric combinations--with the color blocked bodice, I could even see using wovens and keeping the top of the bodice in a knit.

The back--I just cut straight across to match up with the curved color blocking I did on the front of the bodice.
These particular knits from Girl Charlee are really light and soft, so even the two-layer skirt will be great for the hot summer weather.


I always love linking up to Project Run and Play, especially to see the other interpretations of the theme!  Take a look at this month's contributors here.

Also, take a look at this dress in action--perfect for our final visit to Tokyo Disneyland!  We made it there twice in our year in Tokyo, and really had great visits both times.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Double Gauze Dotty Skirt

This is one of those easy projects I've been meaning to do for a while, and finally got around to it.  Just in time, too--the weather is perfect for a breezy, comfy, fun, bright skirt!

Let's pretend that sign says "I love your skirt!"

This skirt has an exposed elastic waistband (here's a great tutorial on doing one from Dana of MADE), and the skirt is just a rectangle of some dreamy Japanese double-gauze (with pockets, of course!)



In case you want to make one JUST like mine, I'll give you some details:

1.  I had just over 2 meters of a border-print double gauze (like, 6 cm over), so I cut it lengthwise down the middle to put the print along the hem.  I had a tiny hem, first to use as little fabric as possible but also so I could remember what this fabric was later by keeping the selvage visible ;)

2.  I wanted 2 side seams, rather than one back seam, so that I could add pockets.  So I cut 2 rectangles that were each 103 cm wide (40.5 inches) and 20.5 inches long (since I had that tiny selvage hem--if you're doing a regular hem you will want to add a little length).  Oh, I guess it's relevant to know that my waist measurement is about 31", so the total width of the skirt was just about 2.5 times my waist measurement.  I wanted it to be full, since the double gauze is so soft and floaty!

Or maybe the sign says, "Parking for Awesome Skirts Only."


3.  I cut out four pocket pieces (I used a basic white muslin so I could save the rest of my double gauze) and attached them 2.5 inches down from the top of the skirt.  Here's a perfect free pocket pattern from See Kate Sew if you don't already have one you like!

Boo on my pattern matching!

4.  I sewed my side seams using french seams since double gauze frays quite a bit.  (Here's a french seam tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons.) Did you know you can sew a french seam even when you've added a pocket?  You just go right around it, and make sure to clip the curves when you turn it around to sew the second seam!  However you sew the side seams together, make sure to give it a good pressing before you continue.

5.  If I had a serger here in Japan, I would have serged the raw edges at the top of the skirt before attaching the elastic waist.  I don't, so instead I pressed the raw edges towards the outside of the skirt twice like I was doing a teeny tiny hem, except for turned to the outside of the skirt instead of the inside.  It doesn't really matter which way, but this way it's hidden under the elastic so you don't see it on the inside or the outside.

6.  Next, I gathered the top of the skirt so that it was just slightly bigger than my hip measurement.  I wanted it to easily slip on and off.  Dana from Made ALSO has a nice gathering tutorial if you need it--I admit to using the cheater method whenever I think I can get away with it! I like to gather the front and back separately, just because I get nervous gathering such a large amount all at once!  Once I have it to the width I want, I tie off my gathering threads then make sure the gathers are adjusted evenly.

7.  Time to attach the elastic!  The gathered top of your skirt should be a few inches wider than your elastic.  Now's the time to look at the tutorial from Dana on making the waistband and attaching the elastic!  Hers is an easy and nice-looking method--it's for a circle skirt but this one will work the same way.  But....

8.  Full disclosure--I did attach my elastic differently.  First of all, I started with the skirt inside out (with the gathers visible, laying on top of the elastic) so that I could make sure I had my gathers laying flat on the inside.  I did a wide zig-zag grabbing the gathered top of the skirt, about a half inch away from the edge of the elastic.  Second of all, I actually sewed the elastic twice.  After attaching the elastic, I turned the skirt right-side out and sewed the bottom edge of the elastic down with a tiny zig-zag.   Here's how my waistband looks, outside and in:

See the two zig-zag lines of stitching?



9.  Oh, you can see that I also covered the back seam on my elastic waistband with some bias tape.  Just for fun.  And then I don't need to put a tag in to find the back easily :)  If you do this, put it on before attaching the waistband to the skirt!

They had little one-meter packs of traditional Japanese print bias tape at the 100 yen store! I bought lots.



10.  I saved the hemming for last, so I could adjust the length if necessary.  I was using a border print, which gave me less leeway than usual on how much I can hem it, so I tried to be accurate with my cutting and it turned out right on.  I am 5'7", and depending on where I place the skirt on my waist it's just above knee or knee length.

With the elastic sitting below my belly-button.
I tried it at my natural waist but it just wasn't as flattering.

11.  I tried to find an online source for this fabric, but alas, I haven't had any luck.  This was a remnant I bought at Tomato, the awesome fabric store in Nippori, so just to rub it in I'll tell you that I paid 600 yen (less than $5) for 2 meters of it.

And now, I just want to wear this skirt all summer!  Or maybe I'll make a few more--I have been addicted to buying double gauze and this would be the perfect thing to make out of it :)

Oh, and one more thing...

Hey guys...guess what?  This skirt just won an award!

Yes, that IS how I really feel about it!
And from the skirtmaster herself, Audrey from Skirt Fixation!  This is so cool and unexpected.


I was awarded the Best Woven Skirt in her 2015 Spring Skirt awards.  Believe me, you have got to check out the winners in the other categories--so many great skirts!  I'm excited to check them out.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Me-Made May 2015 Wrap Up

I finished the rest of Me Made May without repeating my handmade clothes!  Before going into this I hadn't realized how much of my wardrobe is actually made by me.  And actually now that May is over I still have a few more things that I never wore during the month, but that I have worn since.  Not even including things that are for colder weather!

Here are the outfits I wore in the second half of the month (most pics from Instagram although some are pre-square-cropping so I can show you more of the proportions!)

May 17th:  I wore this dress out to tea at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku (where Lost in Translation was filmed, although we were on a different floor) with some lady friends of mine.  I haven't worn this dress much, because I struggled a lot with the fit when making it.  Let's just say this is the dress that taught me the importance of making a muslin, especially when the project has multiple darts, piping, a full lining, invisible zip, and fitted waistband--pretty much impossible to alter without taking the whole thing apart!  I blogged about it when I first made it, and I don't know if I'll ever wear it again.



May 18:  Foldover waist yoga skirt.  I made this one out of a thrifted t-shirt and I thought I was pretty ingenious to use the square neckline to make the topstitched pockets.


 May 19th:  Railroad-Stripe Milkmaid Skirt (from this Crafterhours tutorial) and a cardigan I made out of a hand-me-down wrap dress, with a RTW tank and scarf



May 20th:  This is a Sorbetto Top but with a reverse pleat (blogged here) and a Boyfriend Cardi in some fun 100 yen per meter double-sided knit, from the free iCandy Handmade pattern.  I wore it to the Dirty Dish Shop in Tokyo (pictured), an awesome ceramics warehouse where everything is 40% off of retail price!



May 21st:  This was the first new item I made for Me Made May--a sleeveless Washi dress with some bodice alterations that I blogged about here.  It's also my favorite item of the month, and the one I was most excited to wear again when the month was over.


I had to show you a better close-up of the fabric too, because I love it--it's a little crinkly so it has some stretch, and it's nice and airy for hot weather.  Plus it was only 100 yen per meter--can't beat that!  This dress cost me about $2 to make! 


I wore it for our trip to a Sumo match, one of our bucket list items before we move away from Japan! Near the stadium we happened across this giant yarn ball and I couldn't resist the photo op.


May 22nd:  This dress was my Easter dress a few years ago.  It was one of my first splurge fabrics--a silky feeling cotton that was an end-of-bolt cut from Mood.  I think it also marks the first time I actually paid money for a women's pattern!  It's the Gathered Sundress from Pattern Runway.  I didn't make a muslin for this dress so the fit isn't great, but it still gets a lot of wear due to the beautiful print and the roomy pockets!  I think it's about time to give this pattern another try, now that my technique has improved quite a bit.


May 23rd:  Another Washi Dress :)  I LOVE this one in the Melody Miller border print arrow fabric, but being my first Washi Dress I wasn't sure how long to make it, and because of the border print I couldn't shorten it as much as I wanted to when hemming.  Still a winner though!


May 24th:  This skirt is another Milkmaid Skirt, this time made from a thrifted nightgown.  I rarely wear it since it's white, but I did manage to get through the whole day without spilling on it so maybe I'm getting less clumsy!  Or maybe my kids are older now and don't wipe their hands and faces on me as much anymore.  In any case, I think I can bring this skirt into more regular rotation now.  In other news, I loved this t-shirt Merchant and Mills made for Uniqlo--it has a faux measuring tape draped around it!  Of course, it's in centimeters...


May 25th:  Another take on the Scoop Top from Skirt as Top's free pattern.   Hmm, I guess I never blogged about this one.  It uses some sheer woven fabric from a blouse I ordered online that was a terrible fit.  This month made me realize how often I like to make the same pattern over and over--I have three milkmaid skirts, three (at least!) scoop tops, several Washi's, plenty of Plantains, and so on.


May 26th:  The 2nd NEW item of the month!  I found this fun strawberry print jersey for 200 yen per meter, and it made a great sundress for Little Sister but I was a little afraid of it for myself.  But I liked it so much I had to give it a try!  I think the black and white stripe mellows it out enough to be at least somewhat appropriate for a grown-up--but it's still a little crazy!  The pattern is the free Fun Summer tee from iCandy Handmade, and I haven't had a chance to blog about it yet.


May 27th:  Another dress I never blogged about!  I made this one here in Tokyo out of thrifted fabric that I brought with me from home.  The bodice is based on the Sorbetto Tank pattern again, but I'm pretty sure I used the Milkmaid skirt dimensions to figure out the skirt.  It has an elastic waist with bias casing.  And pockets, because duh.


This is another fabric that deserves a closer look, because it's printed on top of thin stripes.  Pretty cool!


May 28th:  A basic RTW black tee with a simple elastic waist a-line skirt (with pockets, of course!).  I  like the ribbon detail on the hem--you can get a closer look on my blog post about this skirt.


May 29th:  What's that, another Washi?  This time with long sleeves!  I made the elastic slightly too tight in the ends of the sleeves on this dress, so I ripped them out in the morning before putting this dress on--now they might be a bit TOO loose?  Maybe I'll put in a bit more elastic and try again.  This was my 2nd Washi dress and since I made the first one too long I overcompensated on this one and made it too short--and of course, I did a visible hem facing so no easy way to lengthen it either.  Grr!  It seems I never blogged about this one, either!

Cool double-sided 100-yen-per-meter fabric!

May 30th:   I based this top off of iCandy Handmade's free cap-sleeve tee pattern.  At first I just cut the yoke straight across, but it felt like it needed more so I re-did it with the sweetheart shape and was so happy with how it came out.  The knit has a subtle stripe that coordinated really well with the slate-gray cotton lace.  And what do you know--this is another project I never blogged about!

Sorry about the blurry pic of the back--it's hard to know when you're in focus using a phone self-timer!

May 31st:  My final outfit of the month was my 100-yen-per-meter Bess Top from Imagine Gnats in this weird map print!  I was pretty surprised to find that I had enough items to get me through an entire month without repeats (and then some!)




And that's it!  You can see my outfits from the first half of Me Made May here.  This was my first year participating in earnest, and I'm pretty happy with the results--the most major of which is realizing that a lot of my favorite things to wear are actually things that I made myself.

I have a few more projects on my to-do list now, some inspired by the great looks I saw from other sewists on Instagram, and some coming from the realization that I have a few dresses in my closet that I wanted to wear all the time, and I only avoided since I was trying not to repeat myself.  That tells me I need to make those patterns a few more times!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sleeveless Washi Dress with simple mods

I made another Washi Dress from Made by Rae's great pattern!  When I posted it on instagram for Me Made May, I got a few comments about the proportions so I thought I'd share the modifications I made to the pattern to get this shape.


The original Washi pattern has an empire waistline.  I like it sometimes, but depending on the fabric that I'm using that cut can have a maternity look on me, especially since I have a long torso.  So the main modification I made to the pattern was to add a little length to the bottom of the front bodice.  I also tinkered with the neckline a bit, which I will show you below.


By extending the bodice just a little bit, the seam hits in a very flattering place--just above my natural waistline.  At the fold, your bodice should be 1.5" longer than the pattern.  Since the pattern curves a bit, the outer edge (side seam) of the bodice will be 1.25" longer than the pattern--just follow the curve of the original pattern.  What I actually did was cut a size small, but with a size XL length, which adds the amount of length above.

Forgot to get any pictures of the back though!
You have to remember to add those inches to the back panel of the dress as well, and move your shirring on the back down slightly.  I started my shirring about 1/2 inch lower than in the original pattern, and added one extra line of shirring at the bottom so that the shirring ends at the same spot as the bodice seam in front.

You don't have to adjust the bust darts--it really is just a simple matter of adding that little bit of length to the bodice.  The shirring in the back gives it a lovely fit.  If you go much longer than I did though, the torso portion of the bodice will start to pull and wrinkle.  I tried with a less forgiving fabric--I got a wrinkled bodice whenever I sat down.  If you want an even lower waistline you will probably have to make additional adjustments to the pattern.


This particular fabric that I used is slightly crinkly, so it has a little bit of stretch.  I usually make a medium in the Washi dress, using the same bodice adjustments described above, but this time I made a small to allow for the stretch.  I find it really comfortable and flattering--if you can find a woven with a bit of stretch, it works well to size down for a more fitted look!

A closer look at the fabric--another one of my 100-yen-per meter finds in Tokyo,
meaning this dress cost me about $2 to make.

For the neckline on this dress, I used the pattern neckline as a guide but cut it a bit lower and wider.  The depth of my neckline went right to the line of the signature "U" cutout in the Washi neckline, and then I curved it out beyond the pattern neckline but made sure the shoulder straps stayed the same width.  Here's a picture of how my adjusted neckline (the blue line) looks compared to the original pattern:


There you have it!  Hopefully these adjustments will give you some more options with the Washi!