Sunday, 23 June 2013

Purple & Pink sundress

For the last two weeks Tokyo has been crying because of the rainy season, and only in the past couple of days did we have some sun and no raindrops were falling on my head. The rainy season is my least favorite time of the year in Japan, bringing with it smelly public transport, grumpy looks and a high humidity leve. All in all, it does not inspire you to wear something pretty. But today, because the sun was trying to shine, I bring you my new flowery summer dress!

This dress comes from the March Burda issue, the most interesting of 2013 thus far in my opinion. I have been craving to make this dress since I saw it in the preview!

Looking at other projects based on this pattern that I found on the Internet, some people decided to keep the back completely open and some opted for a closed back, but I chose something in the middle. To avoid feeling completely naked, I drafted a princess seam back. Having worn my tweed bustier, a few times, I have decided to keep on sewing garments with an open back and shoulders to try to overcome my complex of not-so-perfect-posture. But actually I've noticed that wearing my bustier I control my posture better.

Both the dress and the lining are made of silk habutai that I purchased at Tomato (Nippori Textile Town) three years ago. The project is 50% sewn by hand due to the delicate nature of the fabric. On no account did I want to distort the seams or giving the fabric too much stress by machine sewing.

As a rule of thumb, I always attach strips of silk organza to the neckline, armholes and zipper. The stays reinforce the fabric and prevent it from stretching.

Another sewing technique, which constantly comes in handy, is prick stitching. For this dress I used prick stitches to attach the zip and under-stitch the lining to the fashion fabric around the neckline and armholes.

Prick stitches view of the  back of the zipper
My fabric is so delicate that even prick stitches left some little traces. You can see it from the pictures below. Luckily, they are not visible when you look from a distance.
Lapped zipper + tiny prick stitches
It took me 1.5 hours to hand-sew the hem!  The hem is nice and wide and, the most importantly, you can't see the stitches! Yay!

And last but not least, are the cups! At first, I sandwiched them between the lining and fashion fabric, but when I put the dress on, you could see the cups from the front. My seam-ripper, which was calmly sitting inside a sewing box, was called into action! Then, I attached the cups to the lining from the inside. It does not show through, nor does it feel uncomfortable. I like it!

Another challenge for this project was taking photos! Since my other half has moved to London already for the last couple of weeks, I found myself without a photographer. I had to buy a tripod and became my own paparazzi, taking lots of silly pictures.

The pictures for this post were taken at the parking lot near my house. It took me some time to get used to setting up the tripod and then running in front of the camera. I guess the passers-by were quite entertained :)

This tripod was a bargain on, they have some sort of promotion for this model, SLIK F740. Instead of $125 I paid only $30! Besides having everything I need to take photos, this tripod is super light! If I wanted to, I could put it in my hand-bag! :) (Maybe not!)

Do you have somebody to take your photos? If you take photos of yourself, what are the tips you would share with me for my next "photo shoot"?

Saturday, 15 June 2013

De-stashing! Flash sale on my Etsy shop!

Originally, I started my Etsy shop to re-sell amazing Japanese sewing notions. But, when preparing for the big move, I have decided to de-stach and put some of the fabric on sale.

All of the textiles are made in Japan. Most of the fabric was used to create bags and pouches for me and my friends (there are never enough pouches, right?).

In the following weeks I might put on sale more fabric.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

How to quickly assemble your muslin

Not only I am the slowest seamstress in the world, I am also the slowest blogger.

For the last three weeks I've been so engrossed in pattern-making that I do not have enough time to breath!  I am constantly learning new things, one of which is the subject of today's post.  But first, here is a little back story. If you are not interested in it, feel free to skip and read the tutorial.

Guess who is the teacher ;)
When I moved to Tokyo three years ago, adapting to a new culture and learning a new language turned out not challenging enough, so I decided to sign up for the evening patternmaking certification at ESMOD Tokyo.  With some very basic knowledge of Japanese language and lots of enthousiasm to learn about dart manipulation and sleeves construction, I started to attend lessons taught by Ayumi-sensei.

She was perfect, patient with our group and me in particular, trying to understand my gibberish Japanese and giving to the class all that she new! I loved every single lesson and, after a while, did not feel guilty about my basic Japanese proficiency  At the end of the day, patternmaking is all about geometry and logic, and the language barrier was not an issue.

Then the first year at ESMOD came to its end and I had to say goodbye to Ayumi-sensei. Of course, we met from time to time for a cup of coffee or lunch, and all our conversations ended up being patternmaking and sewing.

When my move to London became decided, I realized that I would be missing out if I didn't use the opportunity to learn more from Ayumi-sensei. So I asked her to give me private lessons, and she kindly agreed!

The initial plan includes the creation of my slopers for bodice, skirt, trousers with variations of sleeves and collars.

For my first lesson,  I drafted and assembled the bodice and skirt using the thread-tracing method I learnt from Susan Khalje. The method is good and pretty logical. But on the day of my first lesson I had to re-draft and re-sew three muslins each for bodice and skirt: six in total. You can imagine that thread-tracing all of them would take forever. However Ayumi-sensei showed me a really cool and quick method of assembling a muslin, used in the industrial sewing, which I wanted to share with you.

How to quickly assemble your muslin

In order to quickly sew darts, you need to create creases with an iron and then topstitch them together.

1. Crease a dart from the centre towards the side seam.  

2. Ensure that your iron is nice and hot to create neat creases. Use steam.

3. Topstitch your dart using rather long stitch length to make the ripping part easier. I use 3mm.

4. And voilĂ ! Your dart is sewn together and your garment is ready for the first fitting! (There will be more than one!)

This is how my bodice looked after the first fitting. Black lines are the areas for improvement ;)

5. If your garment does not require many changes, rip the seams, make adjustments to the garments and re-sew together. If, on the contrary, there are a lot of adjustments to make, it’s better to re-draft a new pattern and start sewing from scratch

When you deal with a diamond-shaped dart like the one pictured above, make a cut in the middle. The fabric will become more flexible and easy to manipulate.

Side seam, waist

Sew the front and back of the .bodice (or different parts of your garment) using exactly the same method: crease one side and top-stitch it to the other side. Don't forget to make cuts along curved lines.

Since learning this method, I have probably put together 10 or 12 more muslins with incredible speed! Now, depending on the situation, I will either use this method or the thread-tracing one.

I hope that this post was useful and you will try this approach to muslin assembly. If, for whatever reason, the tutorial was not clear enough, I can try to shoot a video.

How do you assemble your muslin?