Named Asaka Kimono

To be perfectly fair, I only have myself to blame for the fury that I felt when preparing to sew this pattern. I’m usually more than happy taping together PDF’s but on this occasion I decided to treat myself to the paper copy. I should have read the online product description better, but I didn’t. I read blog reviews that recommended shelling out for the paper copy rather than the PDF, the catch being that those bloggers didn’t sew from the paper copy. They sewed from the PDF. They probably had no idea that the paper pattern is overlapped on one piece of paper (like a Japanese sewing pattern) and has no seam allowances either.

So my paper copy arrived by mail and I put it aside in great excitement, only to open it up on the night I wanted to get started. If I’d wanted to spend an evening on my hands and knees tracing lines and measuring allowances, I would have drafted the pattern myself or modified an existing pattern that I already owned. I already have a good number of patterns and rarely buy a new one. The whole point of buying a new pattern on this occasion (and a paper copy at that) was to be lazy.

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It was an easy sew in the end. The pattern is rated average. I’d venture to call it “easy” if you make it in a woven cotton. Silk would up the ante a little. And my Asaka kimono did turn out to be pretty awesome. The fit is spot on. I lengthened the body by one inch but didn’t change the sleeves. I had just enough fabric to make this work. My waist tie has about 16 separate seams because I was a little short on fabric, but I’m not bothered. The collar on it is lovely too.

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As gorgeous as it is, this robe will be a morning cover up for me, to wear after showers and while sipping my tea. The fabric is a very lightweight cotton which is soft and washable. The sleeve design is fabulous and functional. The front slit means that those long hems won’t be dripping into my tea. It is exactly what I needed in my wardrobe.

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I really do love the overall design of this robe. I can see myself using it again in the future to make a silk version for a formal occasion, but with a longer waist tie that can be looped into a bow. And after all the ranting, I’d still recommend it.

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At the end of the day, I’m glad that I made it. Am I glad that I purchased the paper pattern? No. Would I have bought it knowing what I know today? No. Would I recommend purchasing the PDF version? Yes!

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More luxe loungewear

I made this set using a gorgeous, loose weave, rayon knit. I tried to keep the style extremely simple because the fabric was a little annoying to work with. The raw edges stretched out and unravelled just to look at them. The seams also stretched easily when stitching or overlocking and it took me a while to get the tension right to avoid wavy seam syndrome. I’m not too bothered though. This was always intended to be a comfy, at-home, lounge-around set, and nothing more.

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The top is very loosely based on the Simplicity 1366 pattern. It’s been a magically morphing design for me. I think I may have dropped the shoulders and widened the sleeves. I also lengthened the arms, modified the bodice length and neckline, added a (loose) turtleneck, and a waistband. Some of these changes were made for this top, and some have been made in the past. I’ve lost track.

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Both the leather pants and the shorts were based on V8909. I made the leather pants about three years ago now. I refashioned them more recently to have wider, and longer trouser-style legs, but they are otherwise, very much a reflection of the original pattern. The shorts are a summation of all the fit-changes I’ve made over the past few years, including a lower waist height, and improved crotch curve and length. I also omitted the faux fly and pockets, and shortened them significantly and added hembands.

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White linen pinafore and Vogue 1347: DIY (a sort of tutorial)

So I stumbled across this amazingly simple, yet stunning white top on The Man Repeller the other week. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I decided to make it! I made the linen pants too, Chado Ralph Rucci V1347, modified for use as pyjamas, post photo shoot. But I’m not here to talk about them, other than to say they are a fabulous, wide leg, elastic waist pant if that’s what you are after. I’ve made them before. They make the best PJ pants ever, especially in linen. Like my last version, I simply skipped the pockets and the lining, and cropped them A LOT.

I’m also not going to talk much about the fabric, other than to say that I won’t be buying this particular linen again. It’s Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in white from Fabric.com. It’s ok. Their service was great and the description reasonable. But I have to say that I was still quite disappointed when it landed on my doorstep. It is lighter than I expected and blended with rayon (how did I miss that?). Personally, it isn’t really of a quality I would be happy to use for outerwear, but lining it certainly helps. I should also say that I think I’ve been incredibly spoilt for quality with the linens I’ve used in the past, mostly from Tessuti Fabrics and sometimes from The Fabric Store. Linen is a very tricky fabric to purchase, especially unseen, because of the vast differences between one type and the next. You really do need to see it and feel it in person.

 
 
But let’s get back to this top and talk about how it can be made. My brain doesn’t picture pattern pieces well right off the bat. For new-to-me or unusual designs, I need to drape calico onto my dressmaker’s dummy to better understand the shape of the pieces and for my head to figure out how they will come together. Then I take my rough marked calico to the floor or the cutting mat, to modify and make further adjustments from there.
I began creating this top by draping it. I knew the design was going to be simple, but it was even more basic than I could imagine. So basic, in fact, that I was also able to work backwards on the design, to show you how it can be done even easier. Forget about draping! All you need is a basic T-shirt, woven or stable knit (without darts), to use as a template. Grainline’s Scout Tee also comes to mind as a suitable pattern that you could modify. To give you an idea of fit, you can see me wearing the T-shirt I used here.
I’m going to explain the pattern pieces in this post. I’m pretty sure most of you will be able to put the top together with just this. But if you need more instructions, just let me know. I’m planning another top already so I can photograph it through the construction stages next time if I get enough interest.
The top itself consists of three main pattern pieces: the front bodice, the side drapes, and the straps. You can probably already see how you would put it together.
Front bodice: cut 2 on the fold (one piece is the lining)
Sides: Cut 2
Straps: cut 4
So to work out your measurements, start with a basic T-shirt. Lay it nice and flat with the front facing up. You’ll need some tracing paper and long piece of calico.
Lay the tracing paper on top of the T-shirt. You need to trace around half of the front piece. I forgot to photograph this stage, but you can easily see what I did below. Mark the CF, the neckline, the armscye, and the side seam. Also mark the length, as this can be useful in identifying where you want your new top to sit.
I’ve laid my finished pattern piece on top so you can see how I modified my original lines. How you change yours is entirely up to you. I would recommend doing the following:
  • add a seam allowance to your shoulder seam (see how my pattern piece extends over the top)
  • keep the side seam line where it is (don’t add a seam allowance, you are just using it as a guide
  • lift the underarm seam (bottom of the armscye) by 1-2inches, depending on how your original T-shirt fit. Mine was quite loose to begin with.
  • re-draft the neckline and shoulder seams to fit the shape you want. It doesn’t matter how wide or narrow you want those shoulder seams to be either.

 

You can see how the entire pattern piece looks below before you add a side seam. You can also see where my pieces have been basted together.


Use the side seam you marked from your T-shirt (purple dots) as a guide to measure your new seam from. In my finished top, my side seam was cut parallel and 6″ from the original side seam.

Cutting it straight like this means that your new side seam will hang on a diagonal when you are wearing the top. I don’t mind the angular look of this, but I’d prefer my side seam to hang straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground, so I’ve drawn a new side seam for my next version. It will be about 4″ from the original line and run on a diagonal (marked in black).

It’s not essential that you mark your side seam in exactly the same place as me. The nature of the top is that it drapes and the fit is pretty flexible. But as a guide, if you are bigger than me, you may want to increase the distance to your new side seam a little, and if you are smaller, then perhaps narrow that distance a little. Also keep this in mind for when you draw up the side pieces and straps. FYI my bust measure is 35″ and my waist is 27″. I am 5″10 or 178cm tall.

 
The next step is to decide on how long you want the top. Mine was 22″ in length along the side seam including a 1″ hem. This measurement determines how low the top will sit in the front.
The side pieces simply extend straight out from the front bodice. You could just make this a big rectangle. I sloped my top edge up a little so it finished 2″ higher at the far end. My side pieces are about 34″ in length. How long you make this piece will depend on how long you want it to drape down at the back.
Finally, to draft your shoulder straps, just line them up with your bodice shoulder seams to determine the width. They can be as long or as short as you want them to be.

I made mine about 20″ in length. The seam allowance I used in making this top was 5/8″.

I sewed the bottom of my shoulder straps straight onto the top but you could attach yours with buttons. You could also close the back seam up if you want, by overlapping it, or sewing a seam down the middle. I might try doing this next time to make a dress out of the pattern instead.

Dressing gown for Miss Six

So after a little bit of wardrobe shuffling in preparation for Autumn, it became apparent that Miss Six needed a new dressing gown. I must have been particularly kind at the time because I promised to make her one, and that she could even choose the fabric herself. I’d seen a good range of novelty fleece at Jo-ann so we headed there together and came home with turquoise butterflies. It’s not really my cup of tea, but a shade better than the psychadellic tie dye she locked her eyes on first.

 

I used B4322 and made it up in a size 7. My only change was to cut a good 4″ off the arm length. I should also mention that I ignored the construction details as soon as they started to insist upon slipstitching every inside nook and cranny. Seriously! I’m certainly not averse to a bit of handstitching but you won’t catch me handsewing a kid’s dressing gown, especially the entire length of the facing in that long collar! The finished robe is long on Miss Six and quite roomy, but not uncomfortably so. She’s very happy with it and I’m happy knowing that she will be warm and cosy when the weather eventually cools off. 

Sewing with scraps

I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting fabric, any type of fabric. There are two wars I am constantly waging in my house. One is getting through the washing pile (in this grubby house of five), and the other is keeping my sewing scrap pile low. I consider it a personal challenge. I’m the gamer of laundry and remnants, topping the leader board if I’ve cleared the laundry by school pick up or beat down that scrap stash by several inches.


I’m lucky to have three small girls to sew clothes for. And with the hot weather, all three of them were in need of cool summer pyjamas. They prefer night dresses so I promised them one each. I was able to use up my last little pieces of Jaywalk, white ponte, modal, Elsa, rayon, and jersey prints to make these nighties. They are bit mismatched but loose and comfy, and swishy enough to make little girls smile.

 

I used a self drafted pattern I’d used before. It’s not great but it suits night dresses perfectly. Miss Two’s dress was modified from a basic top block. The nighties are a hit, and I’m pretty pleased with the current state of my scrap pile. Admittedly, it is only a three month collection, but I’m still pretty happy that it is still contained within the basket. What do you do with your sewing scraps?






Happy birthday has finally arrived

And it’s a high five for me, who has scored a perfect ten on fit. Yes, birthdays are all about me and seeing my creations finally being worn. If you can remember, I made hubby some Lisa Ho boxers and a gorgeous modal Henley a few months ago. I am ever so proud of myself for refraining from gifting them before today.

My reluctant model permitted me to take a few photos (even though it was barely 6am and he had only just woken up). And yes, he did comment on the gorgeous fabrics. I will definitely be making these for him again. The modal works pretty well in this size for the Henley, but if I use a sturdier or less stretchy fabric, I think I will have to go up a size, particularly in the arm width (yes hubby, to accommodate those massive guns).

 

 
Thanks Nick for the photos. You are a natural! x
 

Another swishy nightie dress

Ok, so this little girl really does not need another night dress but what else was I to do with the remnants of my playsuit? I had to piece the back together in two small sections but you can barely see this due to the pattern.

 
 

The design is my own, basically a sleeveless and slightly shorter version of the other nightie I made for her this Spring. I’m planning to make a Little Truck Stop Top for Miss Five with the last little bits of this fabric so I thought I’d have a go at the interesting sleeve binding feature you see on this top. At first, I wasn’t sure what I did wrong because I simply couldn’t get the fabric to ‘roll’ the correct way. But now I realise that some fabrics just prefer to roll a certain way and I should have just attached it to the other side of the binding fabric instead.


Miss nearly-Four is now completely sorted for the hot summer nights ahead and putting on pyjamas is now a thing of great excitement for her each night. High five for Mummy making bath times a breeze and adding the swish factor to Miss nearly-Four’s nightwear!  

 
 

The surprise pyjamas

A few months ago I purchased some novelty fabric from Tessuti Fabrics. It normally isn’t my style to purchase fabric speckled with pictures of animals and trees, but then I don’t usually see a lot of novelty fabric at my favourite shop either. And this fabric was particularly soft and sweet, just crying out to be made into some fun Christmas PJs or tops.

Now, I also have a middle sized ‘ballerina’ that that wears out my negotiation skills at bath time. Every single evening, she gets upset at having to take off her daytime dress in order to put on her pyjamas (shorts and t-shirt). Some nights I can’t be bothered battling and let her put a skirt back on over her pyjamas anyway. So last night, after yet another battle and everyone was finally snuggled into bed, I set to work whipping up a nightie for my girliest of girls. To be honest, having recently done a few bigger projects, I also just wanted to make something quick and easy that I could get a bit of immediate satisfaction from. 

And this is it! It is a little big for her but I definitely didn’t want it to be too small and I needed it to be long since she never stays covered by her sheets at night. This is also one little girl who is not bothered by extra swish or ruffles. I left the edges unfinished because the fabric is so soft and pretty rolling up.

 
 
When I finished the nightie, I snuck upstairs and put it on her while she was sleeping. She smiled with her eyes closed but didn’t wake up.

 
Someone was pretty chuffed coming down the stairs this morning (with her handbag of course!).

 
She loves her new nightie and was super excited about the surprise of waking up in a princess dress! Lucky hubby is away. This Mummy gets way too much delight from spoiling her girls.