You are browsing the archive for 2011 September.


September 26, 2011 in Life

5 years ago on this day, we moved in together. 3 years ago on this day, we married at Hakone Gardens.

Today, we’ve been married 3 years and decided to have a baby somewhere along the line.

Here’s to many more years of love, laughter and happiness!

Japanese Sewing And Pattern Book From Showa 17 (1942) for Yofuku (Western Clothing)

September 11, 2011 in Books, Sewing, Vintage Patterns, Wonderful Finds

I collect antique kimono sewing books, ranging from Taisho (1912) all the way through to Early-Mid Showa (1950-1960). While I can barely read Japanese, and most certainly can’t read older Japanese text, I love collecting these books for the illustrations and photographs. They are true snapshots of the fashions at the times. Also, most books – the measurements are in centimetres, so while I may not be able to read the directions, having grown up with metric measurements in Australia, I can understand to a degree what the diagrams are explaining, and therefore sew from them.

One day while hunting around for more, I stumbled upon a gem of a find – a sewing book from Showa 17 (1942) for yofuku (Western clothing)! I’ve never seen one of these before in my many years of browsing Japanese online auctions, so I was rather excited.

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for around 4 years now and I think it’s about time to dust it off, scan it in and let it live a new life inspiring those online.


Information about the book:

This book essentially instructs how to create an entire women’s wardrobe, including:

    Undergarments and corsets

This book is in Japanese, but the really wonderful part is that for each outfit – it shows the pattern pieces that need to be drafted very clearly marked in centimetres and with grain lines showing – and gives sample pattern layouts on fabric. The measurements given are average, I assume, as the beginning of the book shows how to take your measurements and create your own sloper. This means for those experienced seamstress and drafters, you should be able to easily adjust the given measurements to yours.

If you’ve been sewing for quite some time – especially with vintage patterns and feel very comfortable with drafting, I think you’ll be able to easily work from this book without needing to read Japanese. If you’re a beginner sewer – I certainly don’t want to discourage you from attempting any of these wonderful outfits but I do highly recommend reading and studying sewing literature and pattern instructions from around the same time in English to get a feel for the natural steps of garment construction.

This book is a large book – 400+ pages and will most likely take me a good week or so find the time to sit down and scan it, so I will share it in installments by uploading the images to a Flickr set. Once I’ve scanned the entire book – I’ll create a PDF of the full book available for download.

Anyhow – enough typing, let’s look at the illustrations of the outfits! Be sure to click on the images to view a larger size.

And as a teaser, here’s an example of the pattern drafting and fabric layout (oops, I realize I chose a slightly complicated example!):

If you make any of the pieces from this book, please let me know about your experience and share photos!

Likewise – if you’re an experienced pattern drafter/seamstress (Japanese or not)  and would like to work with me on an open source project of converting the pattern pieces to English and providing English instructions and steps, free for all, please do let me know!

Last, but not least. For those concerned about copyright infringement, Japanese copyright law puts this book in the Public Domain, therefore it’s perfectly fine for me to share the book in its entirety with you. While the scan copyrights are mine, you are more than welcome to share this, repost scans, etc with anyone providing it’s done in a not for profit capacity. All that I ask is that you kindly give credit back to me.

A Box Is A Sick Momma’s Best Friend

September 10, 2011 in Life

Unfortunately this week I had my first real experience with being one very sick stay at home mom.

Lily had been a little sniffley since Monday. But that’s OK! Lots of milkies (Lily’s word for nursing) and making a snuggle box with pillows and Fraggles kept her comfortable and happy.

Since Lily’s birth, I’ve been pretty lucky in managing to avoid most bugs going around – that was until Thursday night.

I woke up around 2:30am with THE CRUD. But not just THE CRUD – but also what I suspect was a sudden onset of masitits – quite possibly triggered by THE CRUD. Not fun! I immediately did everything I could to try to resolve it and thankfully by mid Friday morning things had returned somewhat normal – well, except for the original crud thing.

So, that meant all day Friday I tried to rest…which is virtually impossible with a toddler, especially one who decided the day Momma is really sick is the day not to take a nap. So, I did the next best thing and set up her snuggle box again. I laid on the couch, Lily laid in her snuggle box. We shared a blanket. And watched The Muppets.

I feel a little better today – unfortunately not enough to go to a local estate sale that looked rather promising or to start work on a blouse and skirt I’ve planned or to pack up and prepare for shipping 150kg worth of obi but at least better enough that I can walk around the house without feeling like I’m going to pass out, and that’s always a good thing, right?

Haori Refashioned To Paper Bag Waist Skirt

September 5, 2011 in Refashion, Sewing, Uncategorized

Since the beginning of my kimono obsession I’ve not only collected kimono for wearing traditionally, but also kimono too damaged to wear as is, along with salvaged kimono fabric.

I could talk (type?) forever about my love of kimono fabric, but, I’ll save that for another time. Today, my post is about finally diving into my embarrassingly enormous stockpile of kimono fabric to make Western clothing (the Japanese term: yofuku).

Kimono fabric presents a rather unique issue in repurposing for Western clothing – it’s so narrow! A traditional bolt of kimono fabric (tanmono) is around 11 to 12 metres long, but wait for it…only 14 inches (average) wide!

The width varies greatly (well what I consider greatly in terms of sewing), depending on what era you are using kimono from. I’ve found anything Meiji era (1868 to 1912) and earlier – the average width tends to be around 12 inches. Taishō period (1912 to 1926) and early Shōwa (1926 to 1989) 12 to 14 inches and then in late Shōwa to Heisei (1989 to current) 14+ inches.

Of course, with my passion being the Greater Taisho Era (1910 to 1930) – I’m normally working with pieces that are anywhere from 12 to 14 inches wide.

This means you need to look for patterns where the pieces are no wider than 14 inches – OR – you feel comfortable in that piecing together two 14 inch widths with a seam won’t be detrimental to the final outcome of the garment.

I’m no stranger to sewing with kimono fabric – for many years I ran my small business, PuchiMaiko, making kanzashi, bags and other accessories. However, I’ve never made an actual full garment (although, I have made kimono!) So I decided for my first Western garment to make something relatively simple – to get back into the flow of making clothing (it’s been a good 8 years since I last sewed myself some clothes. Eeek!)

Being a recent convert to Pinterest – I saw a skirt called the Paper Bag Waist Skirt constantly re posted. I decided to check it out and voila! I realized it was the perfect skirt to jump back into sewing with. Extremely simple construction – with a shape that can only enhance the beauty kimono fabric.

I knew immediately which fabric I was going to use. Several years ago, I purchased a large lot of fabric from Meiji and Taisho era – and in that bundle were a few bolts that appeared to be complete. When I unwound them, I realized they had previously been sewn as kimono and haori (kimono jacket), but were meticulously unpicked and re sewn into bolt form (the beauty of kimono construction – only minimal cuts are made to the fabric and excess fabric is sewn into the seams – never, ever cut off, so you can essentially unpick a kimono completely and resew it back into the original 12 metres). I was originally going to sew them back into kimono and haori – until I realized I was missing the collar piece from the kimono – and a sleeve from the haori. Alas! To my yofuku sewing pile they went!

The fabric I decided upon was the haori fabric from very early Shōwa. It is a gorgeous dark brownish black base fabric with dusty pink pinstripes running vertical. Scattered over the top were gorgeously woven red flowers and kiri (paulownia) in a diamond shape pattern. It was a very lovely medium weight silk that I felt would hold up well as a skirt.

It took me considerably longer than I liked to sew. Not due to difficulty – it’s an exceptionally easy skirt, but due to an 19 month old baby/toddler who did not like my attention diverted from her in any shape or form. However, this morning…success! My skirt was finished!

I have to say I’m very pleased with how this skirt turned out. I did mess up on the positioning of the belt loops, so I had to unpick and reposition them – but aside from that small issue, I’m thrilled. It turned out exactly as I envisioned and is unbelievably comfortable to wear. What I particularly love about it though is that it has the potential to be dressed up or down. Wear it with flats and a self fabric belt for a more casual look – and heels and a fancy belt for something dressier.

I’m most certainly going to make another one of these skirts again and I found the tutorial I followed was very helpful. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of skirt.

Estate Sale Goodies

September 4, 2011 in Wonderful Finds

I’ve been slowly stockpiling up on vintage sewing patterns as I’ve been gradually returning to sewing, purchasing them from Ebay and Etsy. However, I wondered if there might be another avenue of finding them slightly cheaper. I haven’t had much luck with the thrift stores around my area – they rarely have patterns and if they do, they are usual of rather hideous garments from the 80s or early 90s that no one wants.

After hunting around on Google, I saw Sew, Mama, Sew mention on her blog about going to estate sales. Gosh! Why didn’t I think of that earlier? Following her advice, I fired up Craigslist and did a search using the keywords she mentioned. What luck! There was an estate sale nearby with vintage patterns and sewing notions. The only problem…I did this search on Saturday night, the sale had already been going on for a day.

Arian and I decided we’d give it a go anyhow and woke up early Sunday morning to arrive when it opened. As I suspected (and had explained to Arian on the drive over) – the vintage patterns were already snapped up the day before – but there were still many vintage notions left. Nothing terribly exciting – bindings, elastics, etc – but these are always very useful to have on hand.

As I walked out of the sewing room into the bedroom – I immediately noticed a large pile of vintage hand embroidered linens on the bed. They were absolutely beautiful – this lady was truly talented. There were a number of them with bird motifs – which I absolutely adore. I had to have them. The two pillow cases on the bottom row – I have plans to turn into a Spring/Summer dress for Lily for next year.

Right before I left – I noticed a bag of vintage beaded jewelry along with some lovely scarves. You can never have too much jewellery or scarves in my opinion! Some of the necklaces I like as is, others I’m going to use the beads for new necklaces.

So while I didn’t score any vintage patterns, I did walk away very happy with what I did find. I also learnt an important lesson. Hunt for estate sales on Craigslist on Friday night rather than Saturday!


P.S. I should mention that my husband was rather chuffed to walk out with a framed portrait of Chuck Norris for all of $1! One Buck Chuck! While we certainly don’t agree with Mr. Norris’s political and religious views, we’re always amused by the Chuck memes around….and it was just rather bizarre to find it in the house of a little old lady who collected cows and thimbles and did such wonderful embroidery!