I’m a fangirl for all things Japanese, so mixed with my new love for sewing it’s a pretty dreamy combination. We all know about the cute Japanese sewing books that are around now: I have a few on my wishlist but haven’t been tempted enough by the patterns to buy any. But when I saw this Japanese sewing magazine on Tomatoes & Jasmine I knew I had to have it. I wanted to make three or four things just from her sneak preview of a few pages! Luckily Karen sells it in her Etsy shop, so just a week or so later it was in my hands.
I was absolutely not disappointed by my purchase. The magazine is lovely to browse with 4 or 5 featurettes around different themes: autumn trends, Liberty florals, coats, lingerie etc. There are at least three dresses I want to make immediately and plenty more patterns for the future too – tapered pants, jackets, a cool circle cardigan.
I was planning to use the magazine mainly for inspiration assuming I’d not be able to make head nor tail of the directions, but actually I was delighted to find that the patterns all have thorough and clear diagrams – some even have photo tutorials. I made use of the excellent translation chart on Japanese sewing books and a chart kindly sent to me by Kate, and with a combination of the two I’m able to decipher enough to get by.
Full size pattens are included for most garments on tear-out sheets. (I think for some patterns you need to draft your own based on small scale diagrams in the mag.) The pieces are so clearly labelled that tracing off is pretty idiot-proof – much easier than Burda any rate! Obviously sizing was a concern with the Japanese being notoriously tinier than the average Western shape, but happily most of the patterns I’m interested in are either oversized or elasticised at the waist so it’s not a problem.
For my first make I went for something simple to test the sizing and translations: a gathered-waist frock, given interest by sweet frilled sleeves and a keyhole opening at the back neck (you can see it in navy dots and pink floral in the spreads above).
I lurve this crepe fabric: it was a bargain from my trip to Abakhan in Manchester, though there wasn’t quite enough for this pattern so there’s a cheeky seam up the back. Despite looking summery, this guy will definitely transition into autumn with a cardi and tights, too, especially since…
… it’s fully lined! The pattern only called for an upper bodice lining/facing, but I thought it’d be a nicer finish fully lined. It was my first time doing that and was well worth the minimal extra time and effort: it feels lovely to wear and looks so smart. The pattern uses the fun ‘sausage roll’ method outlined here to join it all up nice and seamlessly. I’d practised the technique before with a failed project so it went smoothly, just a bit of an extra challenge keeping the frills out the way as I stitched the armholes closed. I did not enclose the waist elastic since there’s a lot of fabric there already and I felt it added bulk.
I edged the frills with a serged rolled hem to keep it light and neat from both sides. Together with the rather poofy gathered skirt they give the frock a bit of a kiddies-birthday-dress vibe which is not my usual thing but I do think it’s cute and wearable, especially belted.
I cut size LL (the patterns run S-M-L-LL) to be on the safe side, but think the M would actually have been better as it’s a bit too big all over, especially across the upper chest. Good to know for next time.
Totes inspired by the model’s poses in the magazine! In summary, I’m really pleased with my first foray into Japanese patterns and this definitely won’t be the last thing I make from this magazine.