Sunday, September 17, 2006


This is my version of the Man Blouse. It is View A of the same pattern, Vogue 7457.

I made this top using the skills learned in the Understanding Sheer Fabrics class that I took on PR this summer. It took quite a while to make, despite the "very easy" tag on the pattern. Since the fabric was chiffon I basted everything and was very very patient!

I cut a size 12 because I hought the 14 was going to be too baggy, and followed the pattern except I made a baby hem on the bottom rather than a narrow hem.

The other change I made after constructing the shirt was to take out the cord and casing at the waist. The casing really didn't look very good through the chiffon, splitting things up with a horizontal line. When the cord was tied it also made the shirt go a bit too weird and girly.

Making this was partly a silk chiffon practice and partly a test of the pattern for some velvet burnout fabric that I bought in Tokyo. If one made the top a bit longer then it might be possible to tie it round the waist with something.


This summer I took 2 PR classes. These were Understanding Sheer Fabrics and Build a Better Tshirt by Sarah Veblen and Shannon Gifford respectively. The thing that started this class taking was that I had accidentally bought a rayon and silk devore when in London earlier this year, and then realised that I had no idea how to sew it. Now I do, although I haven't actually done it yet.

However, the Understanding of sheer fabrics doesn't just apply to silky, dressy things, but also to anything with holes in! I took the tshirt class somewhat as a consequence of taking the sheer fabrics class. After you are going to wear transparent things then you need to have something underneath! The first thing I made as a result of the sheer class was James' Man Blouse. James looked lovely in that through the summer (the fabric is beautiful) in the intense heat but doesn't wear it outside the house! However, we've seen plenty of Japanese men wearing man-blouses since. The Japanese don't half dress funny!

I chose the Jalie 2005 Tshirt pattern because it had good reviews. In Shannon's class you start with a tshirt pattern and then alter it out of all recognition. You start by making the fit much, much worse but 2 weeks later you have made it quite a bit better than the original pattern, and have a valuable set of basic patterns for future use. Maybe more importantly, by the end, you have learnt a huge amount about how clothes are shaped to fit our bodies and are a step closer to being able to copy design features from clothes on to a basic pattern that is likely to fit. Basic changes for me are shoulders more square and narrowed hips and waist. I also have a bust dart (incorporated into the princess seams in this case) and a non-straight centre-back seam.

People on the Tshirt class suggested that Jalie patterns have more square shoulders and are more inverted V shaped than other patterns. It may be true but I think it must be a pretty small difference. I noticed no particular improvement in this area than Kwik Sew or Vogue patterns, had to square the Jalie shoulders considerably and there were 4 sizes difference
between my bust/chest and waist/hips!

So, I made a princess seam tank which was one of the possible permutations of basic features detailed in Shannon's class.

Shannon seemed to lean more towards modern solutions using hi-tech substances and fancy machines where as my impression from Sarah was one of being "at one" with the fabric and using the correct techniques to slowly convince it to do one's bidding! I pretty much prefer working slower and taking the latter approach. I didn't use interfacing in this top.

For the sheer I used black "fishnet" knit and I underlined this with soft dense red very stretchy 2-way stretch cotton knit for the front and back. Just the red knit for the sides, and for the neck and arm bindings. All purchased in Nippori (a region with 65 fabric stores all within about 10 minutes walk!) in Tokyo. Sarah's (Zen!) sewing techniques were very helpful for getting this stuff to behave. I ended up doing double rows of basting stitches for everything I stitched on the machine. I used a long stitch and tied off all the ends by hand (backstitching was pretty much impossible, with my machine at least).

In the Tshirt class I also made a pattern for James from the Jalie pattern. I actually made it before I made the tank for me, so it was actually the first result from the class. Using Shannon's instructions it was straightforward to adjust it to fit James' measurements. I used a blue version of the very stretchy knit. Shannon suggests using interfacing. I used some in this shirt and I think I probably shouldn't have, except for at the neckline. At least the interfacing in the hems is too tough and not stretchy enough for the fabric. It is just about OK, but I will be more careful next time I make a T for James. I think that probably interfacing can be mostly avoided but I also do now have some lighter weight interfacing for knits.



In the previous post you may have noticed James wearing a cute little 2G iPod Nano. This is not his Nano, he is only the model.

So, rather than buy a (currently nonexistent anyway) case for my lovely new Nano, instead, this afternoon I made a case. I used a little bit of some quite thick navy suede that I happened to have.

I just traced the ipod on to tracing paper, added seam allowances at the side and a tab that tucks into the back. It fts quite snuggly so is quite secure I think. I made the first verson out of some left over ultrasuede but it was too supple. The cord is stitched on using a narrow zig-zag. I used a size 16 leather needle and some size 30 pink thread on the top but thinner thread on the back. I topstitched round the bigger holes to add a bit of extra support. The sewing machine went "thunk thunk thunk" as it stitched this stuff but nothing broke and the stitches were generally good.


Ultra-cool bizz part #2

At last I finished the second pair! It is hardly shorts weather now... After seeing James in the first pair of shorts regularly I decided they were really nice and it was worth making another pair right away (to consolidate the things I learned the first time).

The fabric is probably Ultrasuede. It is certainly very much like a swatch I got from Denver Fabrics, so if it isn't US, it is something very like. As I understand it, Ultrasuede is the USA tradename of fake suede made by Toray (a Japanese company), so I'd be unlikely to see the name here. Anyway, they had rolls and rolls of this stuff on the top floor (5th) of Okadaya in Shinjuku, Tokyo, but only 1.5m left of the particularly thin yellowy beigey one that I bought. Most of the rolls said it was OK to wash but this one said dry clean only, so of course I pre-washed it in the machine - no ill effect. Ironing was OK so I could fuse interfacing (also fused a few other bits with seam fusing stuff - darts and the huge seam allowances at the back crotch).


phew! Glue stick is your friend!!!! I glued everything! Hope it washes out like it says on the packet! I used a water soluble pencil to mark things - hope that washes out too :o. I used this page a lot to work out how to do things.

I did lapped side seams, and topstitched the seam allowances above and below the side pockets to the front to match. Maybe you can see some of these details on the side view. The lapped seams are wonderfully supple.

The waistband I did quite differently form the instructions on the pattern. I sewed the crotch first (the pattern sews on the waistband first), then I cut off the seam allowances from the waistband, laid some twill tape on the inside, and basted on the outside and inside of the waistband with glue. Then I double top stitched through all layers. See waistband. With the twill tape stabilising things the waistband seems more snug than the tencel so I haven't actually added the belt carriers.

I used a snap instead of a button and a plastic zipper rather than metal and I think it help the front sag problem (see last paragraph of original review).

I did not topstitch the inside leg - didn't want to make the seams stiff - they are so nice and soft either lapped or with just a single stitching line. I am not sure if they will hang well with only this one line of stitching - will see once they are washed and worn for a while.

The length is unaltered from the pattern but I cut off the hem allowances and left the edges raw.