Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Lost in translation

My two Japanese sewing books - Les Couleurs Francais and Girls' Style Handbook - have been wonderfully soothing bedtime reading for a long time, without generating any actual sewing (apart from the abortive knit fabric moment a few months back) but at last their time has come. I took the books - along with plenty of tracing paper and some of my favourite hoarded fabric - on holiday this year, and came home ready to sew.

I don't speak Japanese, but the diagrams are so clear that that really wasn't an issue. Adding the seam allowances was fine as well: familiar from using European patterns, and no problem as long as I kept concentrating (lapses in concentration lead to all sorts of angst, like ectopic seam allowances added to fold lines). The sizing was unfamiliar, but as my daughter isn't quite big enough for either book I just traced the smallest option, and will wait for her to grow if needs be, so no problems there.

No, the challenge for me was quite different, and to do with a whole, subtly different, style of sewing in the books: edges bound with (lots and lots of) bias tape, extending to form ties and fastenings; facings rather than linings; triangular inserts around sleeves and necklines, which I'll have to try sometime soon.

I only realised it was an issue when my first top was almost finished - this is pattern L, by the way, from Girls' Style Book ISBN 978-4-579-11181-7. I had swapped the bound neck edges for a yoke lining, and consequently had to add a button-loop and button instead of ties at the back of the neck.

And I used a technique from the Oliver + S Ice-cream dress, where the front and back pieces are attached to the lining pieces of the yoke, then the yoke front and back are edge-stitched for a neat finish.

Even the final photograph has been inadvertently translated back into my comfort zone: I tried to do a Japanese-style picture against a plain wall, but my camera couldn't cope with the busy Liberty floral against the white, and I had to revert to my fail-safe photo spot on the garden table.

I'm delighted with outcome, even after a bit of adaptation! Now to iron a furlong or two of bias tape for a more authentic take on the pattern next time...


  1. I love this blouse but I cannot get excited about metres of bias.
    I do enjoy looking at the piccies in my lovely Japanese sewing book.

    Its ever so sweet!

  2. Gostei muito do seu blog já estou te seguindo abraços.

  3. Obrigado! E viva o google translate!

    And thanks also, Nicole and Cindy. The bias tape may stand in the way of another one...