Week 32: Just Mending

This was not an exciting week for my sewing habit, I fear. I checked two items off my mending list, but I decided I’m going to use a fitting sloper to finish up my bodice sloper for now, and when I went to Joann earlier today they did not have the fitting sloper pattern that I could find. (My Joann is apparently very heavy on the Simplicity patterns rather than the other big 4, is that true elsewhere?)

I do have a couple of not terribly exciting pics of my mending.

My toe socks had just a little bit of a seam coming out. I decided to deal with it before it got worse.

All fixed up! Looks a little frankensteined since I did it from the right side, but it should be smooth against the foot where it matters.

Jonah helping with the photo taking
I’m not thrilled with how this came out based on how it looked in my head, but it was pretty frayed and hard to do the cute embroidery I was envisioning. At least it shouldn’t fray anymore!

I really need to do something to get my sewjo back – maybe a really simple pattern? Something I’ve made before so I won’t have as many fitting issues to annoy me? I’ll have to do some brainstorming. Meanwhile I’ve ordered the bodice sloper pattern from the interwebz so maybe it will arrive this week while I’m figuring out what I want to do. I haven’t even used a sewing machine since I got back! All that fabric and no motivation!

Week 31: Bodice Sloper (front)

It seems that drafting and doing a muslin for the bodice sloper was way too ambitious for a single week, haha. It might have been all right if I hadn’t run into issues with drafting, but of course I did, that’s what always happens with my measurements and drafting things.

I worked through the first sloper (using Suzy Furrer’s bodice sloper Craftsy class) and started running into problems as soon as I had to attach the side length to where it was supposed to hit the underarm. The side length I measured was way too long to hit the guide. I re-measured and reduced the length a bit, and then based on some comments I reduced it even more, but then when I got to the armhole (whose size is affected by the side length), the armhole was many inches too small.  I double-checked all my measurements, and they were fine.

A few days later when I’d recovered enough to think about drafting again, I started looking at pattern drafting software – the computer and I are good, old friends, and I almost always work better digitally. First I looked specifically at pattern drafting software, all of which are kind of expensive, but I figured if it will save me time and heartache, then it could be worth it. I finally downloaded the demo of Wild Ginger’s Pattern Master Boutique, which looks like excellent software, but wasn’t quite what I wanted. The pattern editor, which was closer to what I was looking for, was not intuitive to me. Finally I went to Inkscape, which I’ve looked at before for other drawing purposes but hadn’t been back to in awhile. I was pretty excited by just the grid options, which I’m pretty sure makes me a huge nerd.

inkscape grid
Doesn’t look like much but I literally squealed.
Basically you can set up multiple grids with different colors and different scales. I have two grids here, one is set up as a one-inch grid and the other is a 1/8th inch grid. Plus because you can snap to the grid, it makes a lot of calculations really easy. It was still a learning curve, but it was more similar to other art programs I’ve used, so it felt more intuitive.

Anyway, after another three hours of digital drafting this time, I wound up with a front bodice sloper that has exactly the same problems as my hand-drawn one. I was able to make a few alterations that helped a bit (I raised the shoulder point since I have pretty square shoulders, which gave me an extra inch or so) but I’m still not sure about it. If I can figure out how to line the pages up when I print it, I might try to muslin it anyway and make my alterations from there (I mean after I finish the back draft, I guess…) I’m also tempted to buy a fitting pattern and just fit something that is already pre-drafted.

inkscape front sloper
Turned the grid off for this one so it’s easier to see the lines.
Goals for next week:

I’m still not really sure what I want to do with the sloper so I think it’s on hold this week. In the meantime, my mending like is starting to pile up and I want to knock some of that out, so I think the major goal for this week will be that. 

The heat wave this past week meant that knitting was the last thing I was interested in doing – if it’s cooler this week, I’d like to actually work on those socks!

Week 30: Hemming and Instagram

It wasn’t a super productive week so far as actual output goes, but I did manage a few things!

First, I joined Instagram – I actually have never used Instagram, because I don’t normally take enough photos to make Instagram a viable social medium for me, but I started thinking it could be fun to have more process pictures there, and keep this space more for finished objects. (Today I’m just posting pictures I already put on Instagram, but I’d like to branch out more later.) My Instagram is here.

Secondly, I did indeed hem my yukata, and it’s my best blind hem yet, even with the fact that I started it off using a catch stitch (crossing the thread in an x shape) instead of a straight blind hem. Apparently the catch stitch is good for blind hemming knits, but the regular one is better for wovens? I’m actually glad, because it was seeming loopier than it should have been, and it laid much flatter when I switched stitches.

This is the right side of the above stitching, and you can’t see anything! I’m so pleased.

This wasn’t planned, necessarily, but I randomly decided it was finally time to put my skirt sloper pattern on poster board for future use. The remaining fitting problems I’ve had with the skirt I made from it are sewing and fabric problems, I’m pretty sure, rather than size. I’ll make another skirt from it here before too long just to double-check.

I also did some planning of my Belle wardrobe. I was watching Once Upon a Time before I went to Japan and I’m pretty inspired by most of Belle’s wardrobe. So I went trying to figure out what pieces I like the most and what their characteristics are, and I came up with a list:

  • Always emphasize the waistline – belts, seams, tucked in shirts
  • Ruffles/knots/interesting collar details draw attention to the neckline
  • Usually short sleeves or sleeveless
  • Textured fabrics: lace, quilting, houndstooth, etc

Keeping that in mind, I found a few patterns that I have already that I can use or tweak to give the impression I want. 

However! I’ve decided that I want to draft a bodice sloper before I make any more shirts – I’m excited to make skirts with my sloper to help fit, and I want to feel the same way about shirts!

Goals for next week:

  • Draft a bodice sloper 
  • First muslin for bodice sloper 
  • Knitting! Those socks aren’t gonna knit themselves. I don’t know how far I want to get, because I don’t want to burn out again, but I do want to make sure I do a little. 

Week 29: Japan Wrap Up

Ok so first things first I guess: I did get a tiny bit of knitting done on the train to Tokyo, so my final knitting for the trip looks like this:

Not as much progress as I would have thought for the amount of time I spent in transit, but I was really hoping to sleep during those long-ass flights so I didn’t want to get anything complicated out. (I still didn’t sleep, so I could have been knitting instead of trying to sleep. Oh well.)

The Harrison Shirt that I made last minute is pretty much the MVP of the trip (that and the spanx, which prevented really unpleasant chafing and which I now want like five pairs of). It didn’t show sweat at all, and it was very breathable and comfortable to wear, even with the slight pulling around the shoulders. The only problem I had was that my cross-body bags hit right at the button at the bust, and it kept coming undone while I was in public. I don’t think it will happen without the bags right there, but if it does I’ll have to figure out some solution, because I love that shirt and want to make more.

Now for my haul from Nippori Fabric Town!

I have three meters of the top fabric and four of the bottom. Both are about 44 inches wide. The bottom is for sure 100% cotton, and I think the top one is as well although it’s a much lighter cotton. I am thinking about a flowy long-sleeve shirt out of the top, and I bought the bottom one specifically to try to make a yukata for myself (although I did buy a yukata as well). I tried asking the shop owner if 4m would be enough, and he was like “I’m not sure how to make one, so I don’t know.” I figured if 4 yards is enough for a dress then 4 meters, which is slightly more, would probably be fine for a yukata, but we’ll see. I bought a book on making kimono by hand but I’m still trying to puzzle through the directions and figure out where the body width measurement comes into play so I can calculate if I have enough fabric. (Also I will probably make a muslin before I cut into my irreplaceable imported fabric.)

These two were in 2m pre-cut chunks, which is awesome – you can do a lot with 2m. I don’t know what I’m going to do with these but it’s going to be something awesome.

These two were in the remnants bucket outside a wholesale fashion fabric shop, and were about $12.00 each, for 2m at about 60″ wide. I really just want to make tailored jackets from them, but I’m not sure 2m is going to be quite enough. They look a lot like the material from the couture dressmaking Craftsy class that I loved, so it would be fun to really hardcore work the couture angle on these and make a set of nice coats if I can.
This is not really exciting to look at, I know, but it was extremely exciting to find in the bargain bin. It’s basically 4 1/2 yards of power net (2 2.25-yard chunks) that I got for ¥250 each, or about $4.00 total. Given that my normal source for power net is $30/yard, this was a STEAL.

Goals for next week:

  • Hem the yukata I bought (I had to get one for big and tall ladies, and I am big but not tall). I’ll probably do this by hand because I have bad luck with turned-under hems.
  • Figure out the next project! I’m not really sure whether I want to start a test muslin for my homemade yukata or if I want to start planning out my Once Upon a Time Belle wardrobe like I’d been thinking about before the trip.

Week 28: Japan part 2

Well I have done zero knitting since last week, but I did visit the Nishijin Textile Museum in Kyoto! They didn’t allow pictures in most of it, but allow me to regale you with some of what they did allow photos of:

Sorry that light reflection is bad, but y’all aren’t used to quality photos from me so I’m sure it’s fine. 😊

This was taken on the show floor and I’m still not clear on whether this was an acceptable photo to take or not, since I did see some “no pictures” signs but they seemed to be at particular stalls:

American ties need some work, is all I’m saying. These are so beautiful I almost bought one myself but I really could justify over $100 for an article of clothing I don’t wear regularly.

I bought stuff at the Textile Museum, of course! The small tapestry I got is boxed up nicely and will stay that way unless I get desperate for bag space and take it out to roll it up more tightly, but here are the other things I bought there, in a classy picture taken from my hostel cubby:

The six squares are coasters, and I decided to get an assortment instead of a set because I couldn’t decide which I liked the best, haha. Almost all of them have a secondary print on the back, too.

And then lastly, I can’t believe I forgot to post my very favorite things so far this trip: Boro from the Amuse Museum in Asakusa, and the summer kimono from the Tokyo National Museum!

Ridiculously beautiful kimono embroidery:


One of the best things about this museum is you could touch almost everything.

Honestly that Boro museum was so cool that looking at pictures makes me want to go back again, haha. I bought three different colors of sashiko thread and a sashiko coaster sampler kit, so I can practice my sashiko work when I get back to the states! (They’re buried somewhere deep in my luggage, but I promise I will take everything out next weekend and give a full photo accounting of my ridiculous craft purchasing overseas.)

Unfortunately, Atelier de nano iro is closed while I’m in Osaka, so I will have to rely on. Nippori Fabric Town for all my over-purchasing needs. Seriously, I’m not sure how I’m going to fit anything else in my luggage, but I’m not leaving without at least a yard or two of fabric!

Week 27: Japan part 1

I’m in Japan! (I hope I scheduled this right, since the mobile app apparently tries for local time, which is 16 hours ahead of when I want to post.) Here’s the capsule wardrobe I took with me:

I also brought my two handmade bras, an extra older bra, the handmade spanx, and a bunch of handmade socks. I thought maybe three bras was overkill but HOLY CRAP am I glad I brought them, since the humidity is so bad I want to rotate them every day. I hand-washed my underclothes today (since I didn’t want to machine wash the bras anyway, and also didn’t want to pay to do laundry), and am hoping they’ll dry by the time I leave tomorrow morning, otherwise things will be interesting.

As you might expect, I didn’t get a whole lot done this week as far as crafting goes. I thought there might be some time for knitting on the plane, but they turned off the main cabin lights for most of the flight and I couldn’t figure out how to turn my individual light on! Foiled by technology! I did manage to get started on a pair of socks, however, and made some additional progress on the Shinkansen to Nagano, when I wasn’t looking out the window. Someday I’ll master blind knitting, but I’m really not very good at it yet.

I also picked up a sewing book in the bookstore in Ueno Station, which is a Shinohara Tomoe sewing book. I didn’t know she had a particular clothing style, but I’m familiar with her musical style, which is quirky as hell. Her clothing style is apparently sort of 50’s vintage dresses, and I’m sure I’ll have to grade up almost every one of the patterns in here, but it’s a fun collection regardless.

In case you were wondering what Japanese sewing pattern instructions look like, they’re much less step-by-step than the Big 4 patterns and more with the pictures:

I’m planning to head to Nippori Fabric Town once I’m back on Tokyo (I didn’t want to go and then have to haul a ton of fabric with me for the rest of my trip), and I’m going to try to find the nani IRO atelier while I’m in Osaka. 

Week 26: Harrison Shirt

Happy halfway through the year week!

I leave for Japan on Tuesday, so I’m frantically trying to wrap up everything before then.

I did decide to go ahead and cut out the fabric behind the lace, which may have been a mistake. It’s fine when I’m standing, but when I lean over it pulls away from my chest a bit. Also it feels very fragile – this has become a hand-wash only bra for sure. (I usually machine wash and lay flat or hang to dry.) It looks very nice, though.

Here’s the weird fisheye dart I added:
It really looks like it needs topstitching, and actually the fabric on the back would probably stay in place better if I did that, too. I’ll have to do that by hand, to, though, so we’ll see how I feel after a few wearings. I was worried the dart would leave extra visible bulk but actually it looks much smoother with the dart added because of just how much excess fabric there was. It’s not perfect, but it’s wearable. I’m hopeful that my next one will be even closer to a perfect fit.

I made fantastic progress on the shirt, too! The only thing I have left to do is the buttonholes and the buttons, which I really hope go smoothly. I’m going to have to make a test buttonhole or two before I start so I don’t wreck everything with the final step.

I’m so pleased with the collar – it went together really smoothly (probably due to all the hand basting I did), and the stopstitching is pretty even. 

I really enjoyed this pattern – I’ll need to make a few fit tweaks for the next one I make, but there definitely will be a next one. I am also DEEPLY in love with this fabric – the seersucker is super easy to work with, and kind of sticks to itself so it doesn’t slide around while you’re working on it. It’s a nice change from the rayon. (I love the feel of the rayon but dang!)

The only official goal I have for next week is actually a goal for tomorrow – I gotta get those buttonholes and buttons sewn on pronto. But I’m bringing knitting needles and yarn with me, since I have a long flight and a whole lot of train rides ahead of me, and I’m planning to post as usual next week. I just… gotta figure out when to post so that it will come up at the normal time, haha.