Monday 18 February 2019

Sew Japanese in January - my turn

Having made a few Japanese pattern garments for A during January, I saw the invitation from Blogless Anna and Crafty Jane for a social end of the month catch up.

Of course, I felt the need to make something for me, and I knew I wanted a pair of culottes in the leftover linen. Did I have a Japanese pattern?...

Well, it turned out I did. Nearly all the Japanese sewing pattern books for women that I own came from a local second hand Japanese language bookshop (I know, I used to have one of those at the end of the street, cool huh) when it closed down.

Sadly, sewing books weren't their strong point, and while they had lots of those Stitch Idees embroidery magazines that I love, most of the sewing books were circa 1988. Think floral, drop waisted dresses with low hemlines, long sleeves and huge, white peter pan collars. Of course I took them all, so if you ever need to dress up like a Japanese version of Lady Di then I've got your pattern!

The one, beautiful book I have came as a gift from the lovely Emi, and it's a Dress Style Book which has you drafting every dress you want from a basic block. No culottes and too much work for my end of the month deadline.

Thumbing through the older books I found one that might be as recent as the early nineties:

In there I found this pattern for matching jacket and culottes. Mmmm mmmmm. :)

Eventually I found the sizing information on the pattern sheet and cut the second largest size. I could just fit it all on the remnant of linen. Yay!.

Well, I say I cut it all. But I couldn't cut the waistband or the fly shield as I couldn't find any pattern pieces for either of those. I used that funny Google phone camera app for some translations as the jacket and the culottes pieces were all marked on the cutting layout and it was hard to be sure what was what. It's not a super helpful app as sewing terms are somewhat beyond it, but it got me as far as realising there were no pattern pieces for those parts.

I figured I could sew the pants then just cut a waistband to fit, and for the fly shield I just winged it with a rectangle that was similar to the Hollywood Trouser pattern. In fact, I pulled that pattern out and used it for the pocket technique and the fly construction as there were close to no instructions for the culottes.

The pattern suggested belt loops but I left them off. I couldn't quite make out what was meant to happen at the gather/pleat points on the front and back of the shorts. I just gathered these sections to about as small as I comfortably could and then cut the waistband to fit the raw edge. Zoom in on that button, it's a perfect match!

The linen is every bit as soft and swishy as it looked when A was wearing her culottes and they feel fantastic to wear. And of course, being shorts, you can do everything in them!

The back shorts are cut more on the bias than the front shorts and they have a very skirt-y feel to them.

Dinner in the city with 17 other Japanese sewing book or fabric enthusiasts was wonderful. I wore my culottes with this same top - the upper half of the Vogue Guy Laroche (V1339) dress seen here.

I've worn them quite a few times since. I don't have many pairs of shorts as, while they're very practical, they're not something I've ever felt particularly suited to. But these skirty-shorts feel good.

It amused me to have a photoshoot at the end of the back lane by this purple wall as it just happened that the Instagram posts of P's pants and A's culottes were against the same wall and they were neatly aligned in my feed. Curating your Instagram feed is a serious thing and you gotta know I'm all over that level of blogging (heavy sarcasm font).

But more importantly, you get to steal figs from that tree down the lane...

And the kiddo modelled her new birthday dress for me. More to come later on that one, but I can't help but share this photo of the two of us (almost photobombed by a brother on a bike)


  1. Ooo...lovely culottes! They look elegant and very comfortable. Can't wait to read about that fab birthday dress...

    1. THanks. Defintiely comfortable and with low heels they felt snazzy enough for a summer dinner outing.

  2. Your new culottes looks so comfortable and the photos prove them to be so. Now this is a different side to a Japanese pattern than I've seen before, fitted and classic is that possible?

    1. Well, the waistband and the hip is fitted but not much else. I wonder how the jacket would work out. Most of the other patterns are classic Japanese just of another era. So instead of A line sack dresses, they're dropped waist sack dresses :)

  3. Very nice culottes but sweet baby cheeses, your arms are insane.
    You are looking well fit.

    1. Ha ha. I had to lift a 3x3m marquee onto the roof of the car the other day and Flipper doubted I could do it solo. Never challenge this lady :) - wish I'd thought to ask him to video it!!


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