I'm totally hooked on Japanese craft books, I can't get enough of them. I'm sure it's probably impossible to get enough of them given there are literally hundreds out there with more published nearly every month. But all the same, I do own too many.
Up till now I've made a few skirts and a couple of dresses for my little friend and they've turned out brilliantly. Of course, little girls have a distinct lack of chest and hips which means sewing for them is a dream, but I've never managed to pluck up the courage to do anything for myself from one of these books. There are several reasons for this :
1. Way, way too nervous to cut from my fabric stash, what if I messed up?
2. I'm not an experienced seamstress and therefore haven't yet mastered the art of alteration (Japanese ladies are obviously smaller than we English gels).
3. Can't speak or read a single word of Japanese. Hmmmm!
I'm not too sure why the sudden change of heart. It could be because I decided what an idiot, what's the point of having fabric sitting in a cupboard, never to be used. What's the point of buying these books never to attempt anything?; It could be to do with the glass of wine I'd consumed not so long beforehand; or it could possibly be that I found some black linen from Ikea that would be so easy and so cheap to replace should the inevitable happen? Yes, I think it was all three. So after weeks of sifting though the books looking for a good starter project, I hit upon this one, Sewing Talk by Machiko Kayaki, in which one of the sizes catered for happens to have measurements that, wait for it, perfectly match mine. That is surely a sign? One other thing, fabric required? 2.1m. Fabric owned? 2.2m. Another sign, another. Yessss!
The dress I made was pattern C, a simple sleeveless shift and slightly elasticated around the neckline and arms.
Sewing from Japanese patterns isn't actually as scary as you may think as they provide very good illustrations and by flicking through the other patterns in the book, and with the help of an English sewing manual, you can normally figure out how to piece the jigsaw together. Most books provide full sized pattern sheets so you only need trace over them to create your own pattern.
I added an extra 5cm to the length of my dress to compensate for the extra height.
If you're at all interested in searching out more Japanese sewing books, then make Japan Couture Addicts your first port of call. It's a French site (can be translated) where a huge number of makes have been posted alongside the relevant book. Brilliant.
There are some fabulous knitting and crochet books on offer too but for those, I'm thinking I should learn some Japanese!