Sewing Japanese

There are times when I pick up a fabric and just know what it wants to be. This gorgeous cotton sateen from Lecien (Atelier Akiko) was just begging to be made into something from one of my Japanese sewing books. Something feminine, with clean lines that would really showcase the fabric.

Now that it’s done, I look at the dress and know my instincts were right on.

The pattern was from this book, which I’ve sewn from before but it’s been a while. I forgot to add a seam allowance to the straps of the bodice, which made turning it right-side out a little challenging. At one point, I seriously feared that I’d ripped the fabric. Fortunately, I was mistaken but I was holding my breath for a few minutes there.

I could not find the skirt bottom or the pocket on the pattern sheet, but based on the instructions I was pretty certain both pieces were supposed to be sort of self drafted. I fussy-cut some of the border print near the selvage for the top of the pocket (which is hard to see in the picture — my model was not being super cooperative that day). You’ll just have to take my word for it that there’s a sweet little hand-drawn bow near the top edge of the pocket.

Now to wait for spring so this sweet little dress can get some use!

The Little Schoolgirl

Among Miss L’s Christmas gifts was a new bento box. She’d started the school year with one but it came home from lunch bunch one week missing one piece, rendering it useless since it now can’t stay clipped shut.

I bought a replacement at a cute little store full of cute Sanrio products the day after Thanksgiving and immediately added a new bento bag and matching school tote to my Christmas-sewing list. I finally ended up getting to work on it the week after Christmas. It was an immediate hit with the little one (and received raves from her teachers after she returned to school).

The pattern for both (I’ll eventually get around to photographing the bento box bag) came from the Japanese sewing book Kids’ Bag & Goods. Sarah helped me figure out the math on the tote bag. While the book showed the finished measurements for the main panels, it didn’t have starting measurements — and having everything in centimeters was making my eyes twitch. The finished product looks pretty close to the one in the book, so I guess we figured right!

I used three fabrics: the strawberries on blue (maybe a Lakehouse fabric?), a red Kona cotton and a red-and-white gingham (I think from Michael Miller). I quilted the red cotton before making the tote bag. A bit more work but I think it looks super cute and totally worth the effort. And the tedium. Sewing a grid on fabric is not the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, for sure.

I did have one minor oopsie while working on the tote bag: When I was turning it through the lining, I ripped the lining about two or three inches from the gap up into the bag. I figured I’d just sew it shut but one of the folks at the retreat suggested making a little heart-shaped patch to cover it. It turned out to be the perfect idea and completely obscures my goof. Plus I told my daughter she was taking a little extra love from me every time she went to school, which resulted in a huge smile and an extra hug.