Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simplicity 2459 - Dress and Bodysuit - Part 1

The Dress

I bought this pattern about two years ago when my daughter was still a baby.  Unfortunately, by the time I got around to sewing it she was too big.

Thankfully, my sister now has a gorgeous baby girl so the pattern won't go to waste. Hooray!

Isn't that frilly dress sweet?

As always, I went to before starting the project to see what the other reviewers thought.  One lady said that it was very heavy due to the large amount of eyelet lace so I decided to go off piste and use something a bit lighter - some white georgette combined with blue gingham. 

As the name suggests, the pattern really is simple and the instructions are easy to understand. We start off with the straps (chopsticks really come in handy for pushing out the corners!)

The only thing I don't really like about Simplicity patterns is they don't include many finishing touches.  I topstitched both the straps and bodice 'cos that's how I roll.

Here is the bodice back with the straps attached.

Next comes the most labour-intensive bit - the ruffles.  For the gingham ruffles, I used my new toy; a narrow hemmer foot.

 It took a little while and quite a few scraps to figure out how to use it but once I did, wow!  No ironing necessary.  This is my new favourite presser foot.

There is one thing I hate almost as much as ironing - gathering.  I decided to be sneaky and use the differential feed on my overlocker to do the gathers.  So far, so good.

 Next, the georgette ruffles.
 First, a lovely rolled hem on the bottom edge of each ruffle.

 Then some gathering on the top edges.

I used my overlocker to save time on making the ruffles but the gingham ruffles ended up too loose and the georgette ruffles were too tight.  I guess I need to work on tweaking the overlocker settings to get them just right.  With some persuasion (gently stretching the georgette and gathering the gingham again) everything worked out.

This is the skirt section with the ruffles attached.  The georgette ruffles were a bit shorter than expected.  I thought the hem and seam allowances would be enough to compensate for the length of the eyelet lace but I was wrong.  If I sewed this dress again, I would add around 2 cm to the bottom of the georgette ruffles to make everything match up.

Here is the skirt attached to the bodice.  The pattern calls for two buttons for the straps and two buttons on each side of the bodice.  Based on my experience as mother to extremely wiggly little girl, I decided to use snaps on the sides instead of buttons.  There is no way a baby is going to stay still while you try and do up six buttons!

Finally, add some bows on the front and we are done!

From the front:

And the back:

Next up: The Bodysuit

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sewing a Yukata - Part 4

Sleeves and Finishing Touches

We're almost done!

First, we need to sew the side seams and then hem the bottom.  One of the things I like about this pattern book is that it doesn't take short-cuts.  There are lots of finishing touches like the corner below that take a bit of time but are well worth the effort.

 It is looking more like a yukata, now.  All we need now is the sleeves and the ties.

The outside edges of the sleeves are hemmed and finished with some more French seams.

And now the sleeve needs to be attached to the body of the yukata.

Attaching the sleeves is a two-step process.  First, the sleeves need to be attached at the top of the shoulder between the two 袖つけ止まり [sode tsuke-domari - sleeve attachment points].  We then need to sew the remaining seams in order to make the characteristic vents under the arms.

This is a close-up of the sleeve where it attaches to the body.  I can't really explain it very well but you need to sew up the side seam, do a U-turn, sew around the inner edge of the sleeve, do another U-turn and sew down the other side seam.  This creates the vents on both sides where the ties pass through.  Now the sleeves are on, hooray!

Next is the tricky bit - 腰上げ [koshiage - waist tuck].  The body of the yukata needs to be folded up so that the yukata is just the right length.  For adults, this is done with ties.  Children tend to be rather wiggly creatures so it's easier to sew the tuck in place so it only takes five minutes to put the yukata on.  I measured the height of my daughter from the nape of her neck down to her ankle and adjusted the yukata to fit.  It was a fairly fiddly process involving pegs and pins and some simple maths (not my strong point!)

Next, we add the ties as indicated on the collar pattern piece and......we are done!

And from the back...
You can see I have added a soft silk 兵児帯 [heko-obi] which are great for kids' yukata.

Thanks for joining me on my yukata sewing journey!

And just for fun, here's a yukata for Popo-chan made out of fabric scraps.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sewing a Yukata - Part 3

Back Seam and Collar

The back seam sounds difficult but is actually very simple.  We'll be doing something called 袋縫い [fukuro-nui] - otherwise known as a French seam.  First, pin the wrong sides together and sew 5 mm away from the edge.  Then, flatten out the seam allowances with an iron (Looks fiddly?  It was.).

Turn it over to the other side, fold along the seam you just made and sew 1 cm away from the edge. Et voila - we have a French seam.

Up next is the difficult bit - the collar  First we need to stay-stitch [捨てミシン - sute-mishin] around the neck opening and down to the end of the collar section on both sides.  Snip the curves so that the whole neckline can be sewn in a straight line.

 Now we move on to the collar.  Open up and fold like bias tape as shown below and affix fusible webbing [両面接着テープ - ryomen setchaku teepu] to both edges.  This is the first time I have ever used fusible webbing.  Wish me luck!

Iron along the top edge of the collar and attach it to the body of the yukata, making sure that the edge of the collar overlaps the stay stitching by 2-3 mm.  Then sew along the stay stitching to attach the collar to the body.

Halfway through stitching, the needle sounded like it was going through more layers of fabric than necessary.  Sure enough, the other edge of the collar had become caught up in the sewing. and I had to get out my unpicker.  Thank goodness it was only 20 cm or so!

Once that is done, fold the collar back over and use the stay stitching as a guide to fuse the other side of the collar to the wrong side of the body.  Fusible webbing is my new best friend. The results were really professional.

The next instruction was "Handstitch the collar into place."  Aargh! There's about a metre and a half of collar!  Oh well, if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right.  The book does include an option to do this step on the machine but, knowing me, I would probably mess that bit up.

My lovely *hand-stitched* collar is below.

Next: Sleeves, Ties and Finishing

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sewing a Yukata - Part 2

The Sewing Begins!

OK, I know I promised there would be sewing in this installment, but first, we have to do some ironing...lots of it.

The collar needs to be folded into quarters, as do the ties.  The collar is folded over three times with one raw edge remaining [四つ巻き折り - yottsu maki-ori] while the raw edges of the ties need to be folded into the middle like bias tape [四つ折り - yottsu-ori].

Next, we need to make a tuck in the おくみ [okumi - front panel].  (My dictionary has gusset for okumi but that sounds like it belongs on a pair of pantyhose.)  We also need to press double fold hems [完全三つ折り - kanzen mittsu-ori] on the front edges of the front panels.

Now everything is pressed and ready to go!

Next up, is the 肩あげ [kata-age - shoulder tucks].  Sew the shoulders where marked approximately 2 cm from the folded edge.

See?  Doesn't that look lovely.  This is the left shoulder so the neck is on the left of the picture and the sleeve is on the right.

The next step is sewing tucks in the front panels and sewing the double fold hems.  The tucks aren't really necessary but they are another way of mimicking the traditional narrow fabric.  Below, you can see the front panels from the front and reverse of the fabric.

The best bit about this part was the loooooong seams.  I was really able to put my sewing machine through its paces!  Vroom!

Next: Back Seam and Collar

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sewing a Yukata - Part 1

How to Sew a Yukata

 Alright then, let's make a yukata!

If you don't already know, a yukata is a light summer kimono often worn at summer festivals and fireworks displays.  I found some gorgeous fabric and decided to make one for my daughter this year.  I will be using this book:

 It's called クライムキのキッズじんべいとゆかた+ベビー  (Kurai Muki's Kids' Jinbei and Yukata + Baby) and it's a great resource with step-by-step photos and simple explanations.  The thing is, it's only available in Japanese.  In this series of posts, I will go through the process of making a yukata using this book with some commentary and explanations of the Japanese terms.  If you want to skip to the sewing part, see Part 2.

I will be making the 100 cm size and that requires 3 metres of fabric...yikes!

Now technically, I don't really need to make a yukata for my daughter.  There are plenty of lovely yukata in the shops but they are often pink, black, or a combination of the two. Some of the designs 'in fashion' this year are absolutely awful (see below.)

Since I am not keen on my daughter looking like an AKB reject, I have decided that a DIY yukata is the solution!  I found the fabric below online (on sale - woo hoo!) and couldn't resist!

I loved the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle when I was a kid and my daughter loves it, too.  She makes me read the Japanese version, then the English version, then the Japanese version get the idea.  It is also big at her daycare - they read the book and sing the song every day. Yes, there is a song.  It's basically the text of the book set to a music with a mid '70s Gilbert O'Sullivan vibe.  Hungry again, naturally.

Fun fact: The English and Japanese versions of the book are slightly different.  In the Japanese version, one of the strawberries is upside-down and the caterpillar cries when it gets a stomachache.  It cries.

Now on to the pattern tracing.  I got out my trusty tracing paper [ハトロン紙 hatoron-shi] and got to work.  There are just five trace:

前身頃 - mae migoro - front
後ろ身頃 - ushiro migoro - back
衿 - eri - collar
袖 - sode - sleeve
ひも - himo - tie

Once that is done, we need to add the seam allowances [縫い代 nuishiro].  The curved dressmaker's rule (also by Kurai Muki) is indispensable for this part of the process.  It has saved my sanity many times when adding seam allowances to patterns from other companies such as Ottobre.  It's also a good idea to place some weights on top of the paper when you are tracing - a water bottle did the trick for me.

The book has a very easy-to-read chart on page 33 showing which seam allowances go where.   After taking a good look at the chart, I realised that the pieces with half-circles on them needed to be mirrored (doubled) so I cut out copies of the sleeve, collar and tie and taped them into place, matching up the half-circles.  I also sticky-taped the front to the back at the shoulder so it was in one piece.

So the seam allowances have been added, the pieces have been taped together and we are ready to cut!

OK, I admit it, I changed the cutting layout.  Do you see the big pink quasi-Siberian expanse of nothing below?  Well, I didn't like it either.  Instead of wasting half a metre of fabric, I moved the sleeves down to the left-hand side.  You can probably get away with it for the 90 and 100 sizes but nothing larger than that.  The layout in the book is designed to make use of the selvedge but I'd rather overlock that bit than have a bunch of oddly shaped scraps.  Now I have enough fabric to make a cute summer blouse.  Hooray!

To someone used to western-style sewing, the construction of the yukata may seem a bit strange - there is no shoulder seam and everything is cut in one thin, narrow strip.  There is a reason for that - traditional kimono/yukata fabric is only around 36 cm wide.  Cutting 110 cm width fabric in this way makes the final product look more authentic.

Next up: we sew!