Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back to Paris!


For the third time this summer, I am packing to go away. This time, the destination is Paris. It has always been a love-hate relationship. Loving and fighting, singing and crying, we spent seven years together. I came to Paris from a foreign country, young and naive enough to still believe that all people are kind creatures.

I could easily write a book about my adventures and misadventures in Paris (just have to brush up my English or write it in French and translate).But if it weren't for the ups and downs I experienced in the French capital, I would have never become who I am today.

The aim of this post is not to tell you about my life, but what I'll be doing in Paris!

The main reason for my trip is a friend's wedding. In fact, the wedding will take place in Belgium. I am looking forward to the picturesque Flemish country-side! The dress which I am currently working on to wear to the wedding is almost finished!

But the wedding also gave me an excuse to stay in Paris more to learn tambour beading! Crochet embroidery has fascinated me for a while, but as with bra-making , I was scared that I would not be good enough at something so technically precise. After a few weeks of contemplation, I have decided to go for it!


My first idea was to sign-up for a few master classes at Lesage, the mecca of tambour embroidery. But it is, like most of the schools in France, closed for the summer holidays. Thank God for Google! The search pages introduced me to this amazing crafter, Véronique Richard. From what I had read on her site and her blog, she seemed a passionate artist and a lovely woman. So I emailed her and asked if she would be available for some intensive private lessons. And to my great surprise she answered positively! Can you believe, she's been kind enough to buy me all the equipment necessary for a beginner! Of course, I don't expect to become anywhere near as good as the great artists who create couture gowns for the catwalk défilés, but I would like to master some of the tambour beading techniques enough to incorporate them in my future garments. EXCITEDDDDDD!

I'll post more details about my lessons and share the results with you after my return in Tokyo, in the beginning of September. 
Do you also do embroidery? Have you tried tambour beading before? Would you be interested to know more about this style of embroidery?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shabby chic

Yesterday I went to see an exhibition of Japanese shabby textile. That's exactly what boro means - shabby. Boro was made of scraps of hemp fabric and worn mainly by peasants during Edo to Meiji periods in Japan. Imagine women keeping every scrap of fabric to make clothes and pass them to another generation?! Not a tiny bit of hemp was wasted; everything was good for a garment. That's the story of Boro; regular clothes from very poor Japanese families are today considered to be a form of art and national treasures.




Possession of scraps of fabric provided one's social status and wealth. Women who had over thousand scraps were the subject of great envy. Only last week I threw away ... how many... a hundred scraps maybe? 

The coat pictured below fulfilled the role of a blanket. An entire family would cover themselves during the night. People used to sleep naked not only because they had nothing to wear, but also to form a kind of human "radiator", drawing on each other's body temperatures to keep everybody warm. Considering the size of Japanese people 200-300 years ago, three or even four family members could easily be covered by these donja. The sleeping coat was literally keeping people together: people would not fight with each other knowing that they would spend a night hugging each other. In a way, I find this idea very cute!


Donja - sleeping coat


Even Japanese traditional shoes, tabi, were made with scraps of fabric. 



This rare piece is in fact female underwear. Women, often ashamed of keeping such an intimate item  for too long, often disposed of them instead of passing them down to the next generation. The top part of the underwear is made from very simple and plain fabric. Women tried to save the most beautiful piece of fabric for the bottom part, because it would be seen under their kimonos.


More sexy underwear!


These cute quilted pieces are diapers. Unlike the underwear, they would have been used for many babies Would you like to wash diapers by hand in cold water?!


 Guests were treated with great respect and the hosts spared the most beautiful donja for their guests.

Children's boro




People visiting the exhibition were allowed to touch the clothes. I took a close-up shot of this pair of trousers. Look at those stitches! Don't they remind you of something?


Exactly! The prick stitch and the catch stitch! Japanese women knew something of couture sewing!

The older generation in Japan often say "Mottainai!" which means "Too good (to be thrown away)." After I left the exhibition, I thought about how many things which were still good to use I have thrown away; how many useless things I have bought, and how many scraps of fabric have I wasted?

What's the most innovative recycled garment you've seen?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quick project: Summer top

I'm blaming the summer heat for working on simple projects! But I promise, two more complex garments are waiting in my sewing room: the Starlet Jacket and a silk maxi dress

Yet more garments from the Japanese sewing book かんたん,かわいい.まっすぐソーイング (Easy, cute. Sewing in a straight line).  


I used a piece of silk bought at Marché St.Pierre in Paris five years ago. It was about time to transform it into something wearable. One hour and the top was done! All the lines were indeed straight ;) 





After work - a nice reward in the form of a Vietnamese sandwich and 333 beer ;). This cute creature is a mascot of the sandwich shop.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Adventures in lingerie-making

This Bra Kit for Pin-Up girls and pattern from ELingeriA had been sitting on my shelf more then a year but I had not touched it until yesterday. When it first arrived, I was afraid - what if I fail?

Since then, many bloggers have shared their success with this pattern, but the one who motivated me most of all was verypurpleperson. Reading about every new lingerie set she made gave me faith that I could do it too. And I did!!!

Fabric: Lycra mix (not sure what proportions) 
Time spent: 6 hours 
Size: 34A
Cost: €40.34€21 the kit (now it's €25!!) + €11.34 the pattern  (now €13.50)€8 shipping fee
Modification: none



The size was not a big surprise for me: depending on the brand, I usually wear either 32B or 34A. Before I cut the fabric, I made two muslins. The 32B muslin was a bit big at the sides but the 34A fit perfectly. For this particular model, you can choose to use the underwires or not; I went for the second option. For my first attempt, I am pretty satisfied with the results. There are only a few tiny details that I would've done differently, and the next opportunity will present itself very soon. I feel so motivated to make more lingerie!

What I did not like about the bra is the absence of cups and the picot lace. Usually, my bras are fairly simple; no bells and whistles (no lace, no trim), but I especially don't like it when my nipples show. If they do, I'd rather not wear any bra at all. Too prudish? But as part of my feminine fashion challenge, I'll buy more lace and make a couple more "feminine" lingerie sets. What do you think?

My overall experience of using this pattern and bra kit was amazing! If a dummy like me could understand the instructions then anybody can! For sewing this fabric, I used a regular polyester thread and a universal needle 80/11.

I also found this web page with a list of bra-making online shops and supplies. Don't hesitate for so long like me! Order a pattern and some fabric and make your bra!






Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Starlet Jacket: Beginning

Random picture from the local flower shop
Last week, I started working on the Starlet Jacket from Gertie's Craftsy online course as practice for the jackets I will be making in my patternmaking lessons in September. The biggest challenge I face at ESMOD is to follow the class in Japanese. Quite often I don't know the words or expressions to ask questions or to even have a decent conversation with the teacher. So when I saw this course on Craftsy, I immediately purchased it thinking that the information from the course would help me to tackle the jacket challenge in the classroom

The first problem occurred when I was cutting the pattern; it did not look right. Leaving the pattern on the floor, I rushed to check what others were saying about the pattern online. And indeed, at least two of them (K-line & SewWell) reported that some of the pattern pieces had been mismatched! Luckily, the scraps from the pattern were lying on the floor and I re-attached the pieces #2 & #15 and cut them again.

According to the sizing, I should be a 4. But what you see below is at least one size bigger. Gertie was overly generous with the sizing.


The next muslin I made in size 2 (sorry, no photo) - this time the jacket fits but needs some tweaking at the armscye. To be continued.