I thought it might be fun to start a new series here about what’s in my sewing library. I have so many sewing books that I just love and so many interesting items that I think you might find interesting too. I hope it will broaden your sewing horizons just a little and give you some ideas for trying out new things that maybe you didn’t know about before. To start this series, and since I’m working on a certain someone’s coat from a Japanese book, I thought I would share some Japanese craft books with you. I thought it might be more exciting to go through them one by one because these truly are luscious little books. So let’s begin.
What are Japanese craft books? They are wonderful little books that contain anything from clothing to crafts to knitting and crochet photos, illustrations, instructions and patterns. The ones that I’m familiar with dedicate an entire book to one type of craft. For example, with Japanese craft books that are dedicated to sewing clothing all the photos in the book will be of something you can make. The instructions are usually located at the back of the book along with line drawings and the patterns are just like the patterns in a BurdaStyle magazine – they are all nested on top of each other on one big page meaning that you have to trace them off and usually add seam allowances in order to use them. There’s usually something like 20 patterns in each book and all of the instructions are in japanese. For those of us that don’t speak japanese though, the illustrations are magnificent. Very clear and very easy to follow for someone who is well acquainted with sewing.
I think one of the most interesting parts about these books is that the book is also dedicated to a certain style of clothing. I have a book on skirts, one on women’s clothing, one on men’s coats (same one that I’m using for my hub’s coat), etc. Today I wanted to share my book on handbags. I never even make handbags, but when I first picked up this particular pattern book, the bags just made my mouth water. Sometimes I get really itchy for a crafty like project and these types of books are wonderful to turn to for that. I love how the Japanese can take something like a handbag and make it look so elegant and refreshing.
Aren’t these just wonderful? I also wanted to give you my favorite resource for getting these pattern books. This Etsy shop here is marvelous and they provide excellent service and they always have great stock on a lot of these books. Go have a gander and enjoy yourself!
I thought I would give you all a sneaky peak of what’s happening with the coat these days. It’s pretty crazy that I’ve made it thus far, well I think its pretty crazy. Do you ever find yourself making something that you never really thought you would make? I don’t know why, but that’s kind of how I feel about this coat. Not in a bad way or anything, just thinking out loud a bit. Anyway, after several rounds of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Groundhog Day, Lord of the Rings Trilogy and North & South I have a shell constructed (and yes, I totally watch movies when I’m sewing).
This coat has not been without its trials either. The bad first. Even after two muslins, this coat was a little tight in the hip area after putting the shell together without the sleeves. I was horrified. Yes. Horrified! Then I slept on it and I thought that the true test of my diligence in sewing is how I go about fixing problems like this. So, I inserted two inch wide panels in the princess seams in the back. Inserted them godet style at that. Oddly enough, I like it even better than the original and so does the mister. We both agreed that the panels add visual interest and you would never really realize that this was a mistake per se but more of a design element.
That shoulder overlay piece nearly put me in my grave. Of course I didn’t add this piece when I was supposed to – when it would have been easier to apply. Instead, it was added after I had attached the sleeves and sewn in the side back seams. So I stitched the thing on by hand. Oh my gosh! It took me the entire extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring to get through. Then of course, the front parts weren’t level so I went about unpicking and doing part of it again.
There are several points on which I differed from the original pattern too. Firstly, I ditched the patch pockets for welt ones instead. There are other coats in the book that have welt pockets so I just stole a pocket from one of them and set to work deciphering the craziness that was the welt pocket. Sheesh. I ended up just picking the parts that I felt were necessary for normal welt pockets and then applying them to the coat. They worked out pretty well I think.
I also added in a zipper to the center front. I actually have an old Gap toggle coat that has this very thing and I’ve loved that coat! Not only do I love the toggle part, but there’s a zipper to keep out the extra cold Utah weather. So I thought it would be a great option for the mister’s coat too. The zipper does not extend all the way down the center front, but instead just to a point where it would be easy to zip it up – about 23 inches. The bottom part is left free hanging so that the wearer has room to walk – ha ha!
I’m also lining the entire coat too and so I lined the hood and added a string just in case Mr. S needed extra protection from the cold and/or snowy weather. I have yet to put on the toggles, the next step actually, but I was getting a little giddy that I was a little more than halfway through this project and really wanted to snap some photos and show you all.
On the crafty monogamy front, I did actually put this project aside one night and whipped up a muslin for these pants. I couldn’t help it. I was feeling just a little burned out on the coat, so I thought to rejuvenate my vigor I would stitch something else for a night. I’m going to make one more muslin for the pants before I whip them out in a wool stripe number, but I have to say that these pants are incredibly well drafted. I’ve read around the interwebs that Burda pant patterns are drafted well, but I had my doubts (especially as those BurdaStyle envelope patterns seem to now be owned by Simplicity?). I mean, how does one really improve on a pant pattern draft? The thing I noticed right away was that there wasn’t excess pooling of fabric going on in the front crotch area – I always have that problem with Simplicity and McCalls/Vogue/Butterick and have yet to really understand how to get rid of it. I also noticed that the large inner thigh adjustment that I always have to make is not a problem on this pair. Seriously incredible! I’m very very excited to try a few more of the Burda pants patterns now!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We did! Even got a new camera on Black Friday – and it has video capability! Hip Hip Hooray! Oh I’ve got some fun stuff up the sleeve for you guys! Yay!
As the year is starting to wind down and we’re right upon Thanksgiving here in the U.S. I just have to spill my guts a little bit. I usually don’t do holiday posts, but I’ve been feeling compelled to say somethings and what better time than the holiday season? 2012 has been a very big year for me. I can’t believe how marvelously my shop is doing – all thanks to you, my wonderful readers and partners in sewing crimes! You have no idea how much it means to me that you read my blog and purchase items from my shop (and yes, I’m tearing up just a little bit thinking about it too). Thank you so much! My life is so enriched by the community I feel here and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that and wish you all a very happy holiday season ahead with much joy and hope and love! You are all true kindred spirits and I can only hope that I get to meet each and every one of you one day.
This brings me to gratitude point #2 which is to say, that I owe so much to my man. I don’t talk about him enough, but Shawn (my husband) is my right hand man. If it weren’t for him I would not be able to have done any of the things I’ve done in the past few years. He’s worked a full-time crummy job for a really long time and he’s done it not only to keep us afloat but, to give me a little push in the direction of my dreams. He truly believes in me and he puts up with my antics and craziness and still, he even loves me. This year, we both decided that he should go back to school, which he started this fall. Yet, he still works his crummy job part-time whilst cramming in school full-time. He’s had a pretty rough go this first semester back, but all in all, he’s done some pretty incredible stuff all the while helping keep me, my small business and my spirits afloat. He totally deserves a coat! A huge chunk of gratitude and my heart go out to him this year – gosh I love him so! Gush, gush!
May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving (if indeed, you celebrate and if not, a very Merry Holiday season ahead)! Health, happiness and the opportunity to be surrounded by those you love be yours!
Lauren, I totally stole your slogan here. The outpouring of “one project at a time” love really rocked my world last week. It’s true, I’ve been feeling….overwhelmed and oddly enough, after I had posted that last week and finally just let it out, I felt better. So much better. That’s kind of the way it goes right? Writer’s/sewer’s block and all.
I was really taken with what y’all had to say too and I thought it would be great to bring to life your comments by posting this follow up post. This might be especially useful if you too, have been suffering from some sewing burn out and/or you just don’t know where to start because you have so many projects you could start….This idea of crafty monogamy – working on only one project at a time as stated by Lauren – is a really good way to get the most productivity out of your sewing, I think.
First and foremost, “Sewing should be fun and not stressful!” Miss Crayola Creepy said this. Isn’t that the truth? Sewing can be such an enjoyable process. I admit, I love the scheming part the best, but I do so love all the in betweens too. I love the moment you take the first cut into your fashion fabric and the way the scissors glide through the cloth. I also love the finishing – hemming, handstitching, making buttonholes and the like. What’s more I adore wearing the finished item. Always makes me happy to put it on and see it all done and then go to my closet and pair it with garments I already have.
Katherine had an awesome idea and one that would be really enjoyable to employ. Creating little bags of projects that have the fabric, pattern and all the notions and supplies collected and all put together so that you’re ready to sew it all up. This idea feeds my organizational side too and would probably be very handy when planning out a wardrobe for a new season. Carolyn also had a wonderful tidbit of advice to go along with this and that was to keep a notebook handy for scheming projects. Write down your thoughts for future fabric use, color scheme and possibly pattern numbers or ideas for patterns you’ve made and want to alter. It’s handy to sketch out your plan and staple fabric swatches next to your sketch. This gives you freedom from dwelling on and being consumed by future projects – something I have a problem with. Instead you can just write down your idea and then keep going with your current project. Brilliant!
“Working on 5 projects at a time does not get them done faster, instead it usually means that nothing gets done.” Amen lisa g. I’m embracing this one project at a time notion and I’m really loving it. I’ve got my man’s winter coat on a roll! Lisa also had the brilliant idea of creating a project task list – seriously this is like genius! Its so nice to organize your time in the sewing room with a task list and it can show you how long this specific project will take. I think it makes the project look and feel not quite so daunting if you’ve got a really big complicated project on your hands.
Several of you chimed in by saying that its really helpful to restrict yourself and make yourself work on one project at a time by not allowing yourself to buy anything new or start anything new until one thing is finished. Buying something new is something I need to work on bit by bit, but in the meantime, I definitely want to incorporate the don’t start anything new until one thing is finished part. In addition to this though, a few of you stated that with really long projects, its great to break it up with an easy peasy project, like a t-shirt. I’ve actually been thinking about this and have fabric and thread for another cowl necked Renfrew whilst I’m working away on my man’s winter coat. I’m looking forward to just breaking the pace a bit with something different that’s not really time consuming and is really gratifying and easy to bang out. A really really great idea!
On UFO piles – This is definitely an area I need to work on, but I have to admit to myself that I can’t just work on that pile alone. Some of those garments are for a different season than the one I’m in now and so I think for me, when it comes to organizing this section of my sewing room, it will be in order of season first and then by something that theperfectnose said which is to organize your UFO pile by the amount of work a project needs to get finished and putting those with the least amount of work at the top of the pile. Fabulous idea! Stef also said that she goes through her UFO pile and decides on their fate very quickly. How likely is it that you will finish that blouse that’s been languishing at the bottom of the pile for years? Maybe you should either come to terms with getting rid of it or cut it up and use it for something else. I totally need to do that.
Last but not least, organization can spawn creativity, movement and the desire to finish what you’ve started and you all even told me so! One of the most important elements here is keeping a clean workspace whether that’s by cleaning up your mess before you’re done for the day or by cleaning it up before you get started, the idea is to just clean it all up so that you can focus your attention on the project you’re working on at the moment. Organize your sewing room and put things in their proper place where you’ll know you’ll find them again. Its no fun searching for that one little tool you need for over an hour because your place is such a mess and nothing can be found! Ask me how I know!
Oh goodness readers! Thank you so much for your wonderful ideas, comments, suggestions and the time you took to post about my previous post. It was wonderful and I feel so much better! I feel great! Gosh, y’all know how to make a girl feel like a million. Here’s to more organized, efficient but creative sewing. Here’s to one project at a time!
This is a public service announcement. Mrs. Sunni Standing, proprietress of A Fashionable Stitch, is officially burned out. Burnt to a crisp. Charred.
This fall has been one of the most grueling seasons of my life. Have you ever had that feeling where you dread the next phone call, or your email tells you “You’ve got mail!” and you cringe or if one more person asks you to do one more thing you’re going to fall in a heap right there in front of them and start crying because you absolutely do not have the ability or willpower to say no? OK, Okay I’m exaggerating, but only by a little bit. Ha ha! This week, I walked into my sewing room and just had to let you have a peak. It’s disastrous.
Friends, I can’t work in disaster. Well, actually I can, but I have a very hard time with it. I hate being disorganized. I hate feeling like my time is always running out and I hate coming home and feeling so “ugh….” when I look into my sewing room. How about you? Anyway, the funny thing is, this is actually a confession, prompted by none other than Jen at Grainline.
I, Sunni Standing, love to start projects and not actually finish them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE starting/scheming sewing projects. In fact, all this crap all over my sewing room is evidence of project scheming and no follow through. Its a big reason I’m feeling a little burned out these days. Since September, I’ve schemed and started thinking about, pulling out/purchasing fabric and patterns for:
a Chanel sweater jacket knock off
20 two seam tops, all with differing variations
More Renfrew t-shirts
an aqua wool circle skirt
a chartreuse wool pencil skirt
2 Liberty of London button-up shirts with snaps
a coat or two
a grey pencil skirt and another plaid pencil skirt
pinstripe cropped pants
black stretch cropped pants
the Anise & Juniper
a knit jacket & a regular jacket (fabric still to be determined)
This is only to name a few because there are more and I just can’t quite remember all of them right now. Ha ha ha! Some of these projects are actually cut and half done and sitting in a half done pile along with several other projects – my UFO’s. The even sadder part: I kept thinking that the only reason I wasn’t getting anything done – on top of a very full schedule – was because I didn’t have time. But the reason I didn’t have any time was because all I kept doing was scheming about new projects and creating a huge mess in my sewing room that looked really overwhelming. So after I took these photos, I set about putting everything into its place. I put all of my sewing patterns away – all of them! Now I know where all of them are! Yay! I put all fabric away. I did some much needed cleaning up and a bit of reorganization. I also decided something.
It’s time I embrace working on only one project at a time. Weird thing is, its actually liberating and surprisingly, it really works. Yesterday I got some much needed work on the Mister’s winter coat done. More to come on that front, but there’s a photo of the proof above. A really funny thing occurred to me too – this is the whole reason why I instituted the Everyday Wardrobe idea! The Game Plan is about this very thing – not overwhelming yourself with too many projects at one time. Pick one sewing project that goes with one article of clothing in your closet to work on. Crazy right?
So, are you a project schemer or a project finisher? Do you have a problem of working on or scheming up too many projects at one time? Does your sewing room/corner resemble mine?
Keep calm, organize and sew on!