Friday, 27 September 2013

Raspberry capri

Recently, I finished a pair of capri pants. This project came out of my pattern-making lessons with Ayumi-sensei. Trousers are a tricky garment and I wanted to make them one more time under the guidance of experienced pattern-maker/seamstress.

The medium-weight fabric from my stash (YAY!), used for this garment is a mix of wool, nylon and polyester. I added tiny Liberty patches to the visible pocket side. But I am not quite sure whether it looks like I forgot to take off my pyjama bottoms or if this tiny pattern adds some interest to the trousers. What do you recon?

For this self photoshoot I have another story to share. This time I went to a parking lot of a delivery company. I see it every day on my way to and from work and it struck me that most of the time it was empty. I had positioned my tripod at the very end of the parking lot in front of a brick wall when, five minutes later, a mini-van tried to park at the exact place where I was taking photos! Unfortunately, the driver could not put the car anywhere else because each car was assigned a particular place... SIGH

Autumn in Tokyo is very short: one can enjoy the beautiful autumnal weather hardly 6-7 weeks, and it can also be quite changeable. Only last weekend it was +30C, but since Tuesday we have had rains and grey clouds covering the sky most of the time. When sewing my trousers, I was anticipating such gloomy days and so decided to pick bright fabric. In the past, I owned a pair of raspberry cords and when people saw me wearing them they smiled. Isn't it great to make the weather with garments you wear?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Body shapes and What to wear to look great!

So last time I talked about colours; today I'll dive into the world of body silhouettes. Some people identify up to eight body shapes. I'll talk about five.  It's great to know what suits your body type in order to look a knock-out. You'll also understand why pretty dresses from Japanese sewing books don't suit all of us.

P.S.Please bear with my drawings, I was tired after a six-hour karaoke session with friends which ended at 5.00am ;)

Inverted trianglekeystone or Y-shaped body type 

This body type is common amongst sportswomen or opera singers. Features particular to this type:
  • wide shoulders, narrow hips
  • upper body is often shorter than the lower body
  • sometimes the waist is wide, but not very prominent
  • when gaining weight, the excess masse is concentrated at the bust, arms, belly and back area
The most important thing for Inverted Triangles is not to accentuate the shoulder area. Minimum details on shoulder lines, keep is simple!

What to avoid:
  • big collars, cleavages
  • ruffles
  • decorative elements and pockets at bust level
  • long skirts and sleeves
  • narrow silhouettes which might accentuate the imbalance between the upper and lower body
  • double-breasted jackets
  • curved accessories

What to wear:
  • details below the waist like pockets, pleats, dropped waist, peplums
  • V-necks
  • raglan sleeves
  • diagonal designs
  • dark colours on the upper body

Jackets: simple cut, without any decorative elements or shoulder pads.
Tops: simple cuts
Trousers: any cut, but especially breeches
Dresses: A-line dresses, shirt-dresses with decorative elements at the hem
Coast: straight lines, flared at the bottom
Swimwear: preferably two-pieces. For a one-piece swimsuit, choose one with details on the hips. 

Triangle, teadrop, pear or A-shaped body type 

Triangles are defined by narrow shoulders and a small bust extending to a much wider hips. You'd want to elongate your legs and visually look like Hourglass . Particular features of Triangles:
  • upper body looks more elegant than the lower body
  • sometimes the waist is lower than in other types because the t
  • triangle's torso is usually longer than their legs
  • when putting on weight, the excess  stays on the lower area (hips, buttocks, sides)
  • when putting on weight, the proportional difference between the shoulders and hips increases, and you have to consider how to diminish this imbalance visually
  • posture is very important for your figure type: if you keep your back straight, the imbalance between the upper and lower body is less visible
What to avoid:
  • baggy clothes because they will make you look heavier and bigger than you are
  • clothes that cling to your body too much. When wearing tights garments, the difference between the upper and lower body will be more accentuated
  • any detail which is located on the widest part of hips, thus making your hips visually bigger (peplum, belts, ornamental finished, obvious seams and prints)
  • rigid and non-draped fabric
  • tulip skirts
  • raglan or halters
  • skirts or trousers with in-seam pockets
  • jeans (too many pockets)

What to wear:
  • details at the neckline and shoulders
  • scarves, contrasting trims
  • wide collars
  • dark colours on the lower body and lighter on the top
  • shoulder pads
  • jackets and tops should stop either just above or below the widest hip area
  • longer skirts
Garment suggestions:

Jackets:  with buttons and pockets, double-breasted
Tops: bright, with horizontal stripes
Skirts: simple lines, long flared, gored, skirts cut on bias
Trousers: unicolor, with side fastener, slightly flared at hemline, if you have longer legs consider also wide trousers 
Dresses: cut at the waistline
Coats: straight shoulders, big collars
Swimwear: many details on on the upper body. Avoid swimsuits with big openings at the widest hip area

Hourglass body type

Considered a classical type, hourglass cal also be quite problematic, especially if your are a lucky owner of significant breasts. Your dressing goal would be to show off your curves. Hourglass type's distinctive features are:
  • equal width of shoulders and hips with a prominent waist
  • visually,  the upper and lower body appear proportional
  • when gaining weight, the hourglass keeps excess on hips and bust
  • regardless the weight, waist remains quite accented
What to avoid:
  • shapeless garments, including untucked tops (remember Japanese sewing books? That's why most of their garments don't fit!)
  • very tight garments, including jeans and trousers
  • very pronounced prints (strips, squares, geometrical ornaments)
  • boat necklines, unless your bust is very small
  • heavy and bulky fabric
  • garments with volume at shoulders and hips

What to wear:
  • shirtwaist dresses
  • tailored jackets
  • straight skirts
  • pair full skirts with close fitting tops
  • contrasting colours to show off your shape
  • details should be of equal interest on top and bottom to keep balance
  • vertical lines

Jackets: fitted
Tops: fitted, wrapped
Skirts: straight, gored, long flared at the hem,  gored or cut on bias
Trousers: any type with a waistband
Dresses: any type fitted or with a waistband
Coats: fitted or with a waistband
Swimwear: any type

Oval or apple body type

Compared to other body types, Apples are the most disproportionate type, however throughout history Apples were often inspirations for artists such as Rubens. Your main goal is to emphasize your legs and cleavage. Distinguishing features of the Apple type are:
  • the middle section of the body is the most prominent
  • the width of the shoulders and hips is the same
  • when gaining weight, the excess stays on the belly and hips
  • they are distinguished by their thin legs and lean hips and buttocks

What to avoid:
  • tight clothes
  • mini-skirts
  • narrow skirts and blouses
  • big prints
  • bright colours or shine at the waist
  • garments wider than your waist
What to wear:
  • garments that draw attention to your legs and cleavage
  • use vertical or diagonal details at the body's vertical center
  • draw attention to your shoulder and hips by adding interest with volume (gathers, pleats, ruffles, shoulder pads)
  • flared skirts
  • three-quarter length or short sleeves

Jackets: fitted at the waist with shoulder pads
Tops: flowing tops from sheer, light, transparent fabrics
Skirts: long, narrow skirts, skirts with a vent, high-waisted skirts, knee-length skirts narrowing toward the hem
Trousers: straight or narrow cut, cigarette trousers
Dresses: cut on the waist, not very fitted but flowing, assymetric dresses
Coats: straight or cut at the waist
Swimwear: one-piece with details at the waist line

Rectangle, H-shape or column body type

With shoulders and hips being the same width, there is no clear waist line. Because of this you should not accentuate on your waist, but rather on the neck/shoulder area and hips.  The distinguished features of Rectangles are :

  • the waist is not visible, straight hips
  • Rectangles tend to gain weight more easily than other body types
  • usually very small breast

What to avoid:
  • baggy and shapeless clothes
  • narrow or low waist skirts and trousers
  • tight belts and waistbands
  • wide garments with elasticated waistbands
  • dresses cut on a straight line below the knee
  • shoulder pads

What to wear:

  • garments with details on the bust and hip areas
  • horizontal lines, adding dimensions to your shape
  • contrasting colours on the top and bottom
  • trousers with full or flared legs and narrow waistbands
  • bright colours 
  • any detail accenting your bust and hips
Garment suggestions:

Jackets: unstructured, tailored jackets, preferably with one button or peplum
Tops: tunics, tops with a hem reaching mid-hip area, ruffles at the neckline, top with one shoulder
Skirts: trapeze, flared towards the hem, full, tulip skirts, tulle skirts
Trousers: straight or wide trousers, low-waisted; if you are thin, straight trousers with the leg narrowing towards the hem
Dresses: Empire waist dresses, trapeze-shaped dresses, bustiers or corset bodice (they'll lift the breasts, adding some volume), wrapped dresses 
Coats: half-fitted with or without belt, if choosing a double-breasted coat, make sure that the buttons are parallel and very close to each other
Swimwear: two-piece, bright colours, full bottoms , decorative waistband


I hope that this short overview will help you improve your wardrobe, but also help choosing the right pattern for the jacket sew-along. For instance, several of you have made remarks along the lines of "a boxy jacket is not for my". I have to tell you that the boxy jacket is not for me either. When working with my pattern I'll make it fitted.

Having said that, I've created five new Pinterest boards with clothing suggestions for each body type. You can see them by clicking "Garment suggestions" of each body type.

Are you aware of your body type and do you try to dress accordingly?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Four season theory and What colours suit you?

On Friday, Leisa talked about different fabric for the jacket and lining. So following on from that, I thought I would tackle the basics of colour and body shape. Not only are these subjects interesting for the sew-along, but any woman should be conscious of them when dressing day-to-day.

In this post, I'll talk about colour and the Four Season colour division. My next post will be dedicated to different body shapes.

To start with, a reminder of some basic notions of colours. The primary colours - yellow, blue and red - are a set of colours which can be combined to produce secondary colours but cannot be created through a mix of other colours.

Secondary colours are created by mixing the primary colours:

yellow + blue = green
blue+red = purple
yellow + red = orange

Complementary colours are those which produce  a neutral colour (white, grey or black) when combined in the right proportion. They also create the strongest contrast when placed next to each other, so they are opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Now you have probably asked yourselves a million times: which colours suit me? Whilst researching this post, I came to an interesting conclusion: any colour suits anybody, but you have to find the right hue.

When I studied in ESMOD two years ago, a few extracurricular lessons were dedicated to the colour theory. In one of the lessons, our teacher presented the Four Season approach to colour which I'd like to share with you.

The division by four seasons does not relate to your birth date, or temperature of each season but is based on a natural palette of each 'classical' calendar season. To go ahead with this test place yourself in front of the mirror using natural lighting and no make-up on. If you hair is dyed please cover it with a scarf of a neutral colour.

The winter type has either very light, pale or dark skin with olive skin with olive hue. No freckles. The eye colour is very rich, black deep-blue, bright-green, grey-blue, dark-brown, amber or emerald. Hair tends to be from black to dark brown. Your eyes and eyebrows are black or very dark brown. Lips are usually a cold pink colour. You tan easily and when you do, your skin becomes olive.

If you feel like this description matches your complexion, you can double-check your compatibility. To do so, take a piece of black fabric and hold it close to your face. If your eyes become more distinguished, your skin colour does not look faded and, looking at yourself in the mirror, your initial gaze is attracted to your face and not to the black fabric, then you are likely to be a winter type.

The spring type had very fair skin with an ivory, pink or bronze tone with a hint of gold. The eyes are usually bright: blue-turquoise, green or honey. Hair colour ranges from blond to dark-brown with some silver tint. The eyebrows and eyelashes are fair. Lips tend to be a bright pink colour. If you have freckles then they are golden rather than grey.You tan easily and your tan is usually golden-carrot tone.

To double check whether you are a spring type, hold a piece of apricot colour fabric near your face. If your skin looks fresh, your eyes brighten and you see that your cheeks are slightly blushed, then you are definitely a spring type.

The summer type as pink, transparent, sometimes almost blue skin. Eye colour is from hazel to grey, including blue-grey or green-grey.Your hair is golden to copper to ginger to dark-brown with an orange tint. The lips are very pale pink. If you have freckles, they are usually an ash-grey colour. You tend to tan easily and your skin becomes olive, without any ginger undertone.

To double-check your type, hold a piece of bright orange or very pale pink fabric. If one of the two makes your face and eyes stand out more then you are a summer type.

The autumn type's skin is pale-golden to bronze with a yellowish hue. The eyes are a deep, bright colour from coffee to intense blue. Hair is copper, honey to chestnut. Your lips are a salmon to coral colour. You don't usually tan well and burn very easily. The eyebrows and eyelashes are bright and very dense. You have many freckles and they are dark-golden to golden-brown.
To check whether you are an autumn type, hold a piece of red-brown (rust_ colour fabric next o your face. If you notice that your skin becomes more fresh and your freckles look "healthier" then you are an autumn type.

And now, the hues that suit your season




What season are you?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

History of the jacket

First of all, I wanted to thank you all for your excitement and interest in our sew-along. Your positivity had made us more confident in our plans :-)

Before the sew-along begins and you all prepare your fabric and pattern, Leisa and I decided to entertain you with some useful information which might be useful during the course of the sew-along.

I'd like to start with a little bit of history. Even if I read all the of the books and articles in the world, I wouldn't  be able to better tell the story of the jacket as those who are at the source of this classical garment. Enjoy!

Please don't be shy and join our Flickr group. Some photos of the fabrics and ideas for the jacket are popping-up (mostly mine ahem..). You can also have a look at my Facebook page where I regularly post updates on my jacket-related finds.

Next, Leisa is preparing a post about choosing the right fabric for the jacket. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Twitter chat in APAC

Hello fellow seamstresses from Japan and Asia Pacific! This Sunday I'll be helping Tilly from Tilly and the buttons coordinate fourth Sewing Social Twitter chat in our time zones!

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tokyo 2 - 3pm / Sydney 3 - 4pm / Auckland 4 - 5pm / Singapore 1 - 2pm

On Twitter using the hashtag #sewingsocial.
My Twitter name is @thewallinna if you want to follow me ready for kick off.
Tip: Tweetchat is a really useful platform for following hashtag threads such as this one without having to refresh the page or remember to add the hashtag yourself (it does that bit automatically).

What shall we talk about?
Previous Twitter chats have seemed to work well by focusing on a particular discussion topic, at least to get things going. How about we talk around the loose theme of Autumn/Fall sewing? Whether that means patterns you're planning to make, resolutions you'd like to keep, what you're looking forward to most about Autumn sewing... or whatever Autumn sewing means to you. But here, it's all head over hills because some people will be kicking off their Spring/Summer sewing! 

See you on Sunday with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine depending on your time zone ;) 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

LFJ sew-along: schedule and supplies!

If you are still excited about the sew-along, let me introduce you to the world of fabric and supplies for the jacket.

But before I start talking about supplies and patterns, I wanted to let you know that Leisa and I created quite a generous schedule so that you don't rush but rather take your time on each step and enjoy the process. We'll give you one month to choose the fabric and patterns.


October 7: Muslin

October 14: Cut the fashion fabric and lining

October 21: Quilting

October 28: Machine baste the jacket together & pin the sleeves

November 4: "
Real fitting", fixing problems before sewing the jacket together

November 11 - 18:
Sewing the lining

November 25 - December 9:

December 16:
Adding trims, chain and hooks

December 23:

December 30:
Skirt (optional)


For the jacket alone you'll need 2 - 2.5 yards (1.8 - 2.30 cm) of wool or wool bouclé and  1.5 - 2 yards (1.4 - 1.8 cm) of silk charmeuse or crêpe-de-Chine for the lining. If your fabric contains a repeat, you definitely need to buy more fabric to match your pattern. Also, don't forget that for this jacket we use quite generous seam allowances (during the course of the sew-along, you'll understand why). As a reference, for my previous class with Susan, I purchased 3 yards of fashion fabric and 4 yards of lining thinking about a jacket and skirt. Since I only made the jacket, I still have 1 yard of each left for the skirt, which will be plenty.


You'll also need:
  • a walking foot
  • hand sewing needles (you can get them from my Etsy shop)
  • shoulder pads (only if desired)
  • buttons 
  • hooks
  • trim (depending on your design, you might need anywhere between 5 to 11 yards (4.5 - 10 metres) of it
  • last, but not lest, a metal chain to create weight on the lower hem!


The "classical" variation of the jacket is collarless and includes a three-piece sleeve. A two-piece sleeve will also work for the jacket! So no panic! The only difference with the three-sleeve piece is that the latter allows for better vent placement.

During the sewing camp, Susan suggested to choose a pattern with princess seams which start from the shoulders. She recommended this type of pattern as being easier and more effective to quilt. Having said that, you are the one who'll be making it, so it's really up to you.

We've gathered a list of patterns from various companies and also pinned them to our Pinterest board, fully dedicated to the sew-along.

Pattern suggestions

Fabric resources 

If you live in NYC, then you are lucky because Goldberg Mendel sells the most exquisite fashion fabric directly from the runway! 

Otherwise, here's the list of online fabric shops. 

If you want to suggest your favorite online or off-line shop I am not aware of, pretty please share in comment and I'll add them to the general list!

To be continued...

Little French Jacket sew-along

In March, I attended a sewing camp led by Susan Khalje and learnt how to sew a classic French Jacket. Since then, I have worn the jacket most of the times when the weather has allowed it. Now, with the autumn approaching I've been itching to make another jacket. And since  my blog is receiving most of its traffic on the posts about the jacket, I decided to combine business with pleasure and launch a sew-along!

For my next jacket, I've got inspired by Karl's Little Black Jacket collection and so the name came out naturally: Little French Jacket.

Sew-alongs seems to be quite popular among modern seamstresses but at the same time it's a lot of responsibility. I felt nervous; I've finished only one jacket and was not 100% sure that I could do everything right. And so I reached out to Leisa from A Challenging Sew and asked if she wanted to help and run the sew-along together.  Leisa has probably made five or six jackets and is currently working on three jackets at the same time! Her knowledge and experience will be invaluable during the course of the sew-along. Then, I emailed Susan and told her about our venture. And guess what? Susan agreed to consult us along the way! How exciting it is?

The icing on the cake is that this sew-along will coincide with the release of Susan's French jacket lesson on DVD and a pattern of a classic jacket with a three-piece sleeve. She says that the pattern will be ready sometime in October and the DVD by the end of year.

Having purchased Susan's Craftsy class two years ago, I review some parts of it on a weekly basis, because it contains a tremendous amount of useful information. If you know this class, you can confirm! Listening to Susan talk, it's like sharing an apartment with her :) So I am really looking forward to her forthcoming release!

Nothing can replace a live lesson with an instructor helping you with the fitting and personal advice. But we will try, as much as we can, to help you make this classic garment from our different corners of the world.

My first jacket

Attention, ladies: the jacket will include many hours of manual labor!

I also promise that before we actually kick off the sew-along, both Leisa and i will entertain you with useful and interesting information about the jacket!

Please don't hesitate to spread the word! We'd like to see as many people joining in as possible! And, as in the custom these days, add our sew-along button to your blog ;)

Are you ready to embark with us on the adventure?

You can show that you participate in the sew-along by adding this little button to your blog


Monday, 2 September 2013

Lady by Tokyo in Aydan dress

Named patterns stole my heart from the moment I saw the launch announcement on Rachel's blog. They've managed to create an elaborate wardrobe with their first collection. And so, they made me stray away from my sewing list and start working on the Aydan dress :)

It was love from the first sight: a fitted princes seam dress with the intriguing collar. It is just perfect! As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew what fabric I wanted to use for it: two cuts of Japanese cotton which I purchased in Kyoto. By the way, if you like the print,  Rakuten sells it for international customers!

Although I desperately wanted to use this fabric, I knew from the very beginning: stripes are not good friends with princess seams and they are almost impossible to match. But after a few days of hesitation I said: "FUCK IT!" and sew it without matching. After all,  I am the designer and I'll do what I want with my fabric. If Issey Miyake came with a striped and unmatched garment everybody would say that he is a genius and a talent and blablabla. Why not me? :)

The crucial moment when I decided NOT to match the fabric
And here is the unmatched dress!

After some embarrassing experiences of taking self-photos, my choice for this photo-shoot was to take even more embarrassing photos. And so I went to Purikura! Basically, it's a crazy photo booth where you customize photos before they are printed. Moreover, these machines use some special super fancy software which evens your skin and makes it whiter but also automatically enlarges your eyes. So if you eyes are already big, you can imagine what happens ;)

All photo-booths have different themes and targeted audience: singe shots, girlfriends, boyfriends, girlfriend and boyfriend, romantic, friendship etc. For the occasion, I picked a single Lady by Tokyo photo booth!

How fancy it looks from the inside! 
During the photo-shoot, you see the suggested poses on the screen and then, on the count three, a photo is taken. I approached this photo-shoot very seriously though and did not want to rely entirely on hints from the Purikura.  And so I took some props with me: two lollipops and some old heart-shaped sunglasses.

Once I'd finished the photos, I went to a separate box where I had 4-5 minutes to customize my photos. Usually, they are designed for two people to work on photos simultaneously. In the middle, under the Lady by Tokyo banner you can see a music navigator which offers several song you can choose from during the artistic process!

I followed some of the suggested poses, but also improvised
The end result looks like this! In the editing box, you can also choose the combination of photos. Girls and boys here keeps these photos in their wallets or diaries. I, on the other hand, collect them for the future generations.

I really wanted to show you the close-ups of every picture! I added tons of hears and kisses and stuff :) More on the actual sewing process and the experience with the pattern I'll write in the following post.


I tried to look like a Bond girl

My eyes doubled in size! Thank you, Purikura!

By far, my favorite photo ;)

Here I didi my best to show the matched back panels!