Saturday, May 25, 2013

Feminine Wardrobe Book Review

At last, a Japanese sewing book pattern that I can get behind! Then again, that's mostly because I made a bunch of changes...



The Feminine Wardrobe, by Jinko Matsumoto, is another book that Laurence King Publishing sent for me to review. Like the Stylish Dress Book, it's just been translated into English and is coming out sometime this month. I don't know if it's because I've been staring at too many of these books, or if this one is actually more wearable, but I actually liked quite a few of the designs in here!

These dresses look normal! Actually, better than normal. I really like the bow detail on that shift. 
Of course, they're still into the photography in front of a white wall, this time with a stack of vintage books and a tiny lamp on the floor. 

I chose to make the "peasant blouse," because of its superficial similarity to this recent Anthropologie top:

Lemonbloom Peasant Blouse

It's got the floral pattern, the gathered-into-a-wide-neckline look, and the loose sleeves. I only realized later that the Anthro top is an actual button-down; I'd overlooked the buttons because of the busyness of the print. If anything, though, I like the FW version better because there are no buttonholes to deal with!

This being the fourth Japanese sewing book make I've attempted, I'd like to think I got a little wiser about the sizing and the roominess that tends to result: not only did I start with the XS, I preemptively removed four inches from the center of the front and back pieces! This ended up being the right call, I think, producing a lightly gathered, loose-but-not-sacklike comfortable top. The other problem I tried to head off was the excessive poufiness issue; the book only gives "cotton" as the recommended fabric, but last time I used cotton voile, which had too much body and resulted in some unattractive bulge when gathered. This time, I used a very thin rayon challis, which is so drapey that it almost classifies as a liquid. Unfortunately, this meant that attaching the collar of the blouse was very, very tricky, and mine still isn't perfect, despite using almost all of my pins in prepping it for sewing. If I were to make this again, I would use some lightweight interfacing to stabilize it (which the instructions actually call for, but I cleverly didn't bother looking at them), and possibly employ some of Andrea's tips for working with chiffon.



Besides the sizing and fabric change, I also lengthened the sleeves by a few inches and added elastic to gather it in, similar to the look of the Anthro top (yes, I know it's actually just rolled up in the picture, but I really like the three-quarter sleeve look with the puff of sleeve right above the hem). At this point, I was ready put in the elastic waistband (the instructions, which I ignored, call for you to do this before you even attach the sleeves, but I figured that I couldn't trust their placement, so I opted to do this at the end when I could try on the whole thing first), but some experimentation with a thin elastic belt made me think twice about the gathers all...gathered...about my waist. It just didn't look right. But I still needed a way to bring it all in and make the top less swingy.

Surprise! These sleeves are the puffed wonders of Anne's dreams. And if you're thinking that the top looks amazingly sleek...

Thanks to extensive browsing of Anthro's newest tops, I had a brilliant idea for reducing the width in the torso without the use of elastic (can it still be an idea if you're pretty much just straight up copying?). The Lace Yoke Tee looks deceptively slim, but if you look at the back, it's actually brought in with the the use of some buttons. I made a couple of button loops and sewed them onto the back of my top, then sewed buttons onto a little matching topstitched rectangle of fabric.

Worn with my McCall's 6610 skinny pants



And with that, this top goes from voluminous (and not even as voluminous as it was originally drafted!) to slenderizing while still being comfortable.

Summary:
Fabric: 1.5 yards of rayon challis from SAS Fabrics...it was barely enough!
Notions: 2 pearly-looking plastic buttons, seam binding
Hours: 5 hours, mostly due to the finickiness of the rayon. It was a fairly calm five hours, though, with hardly any moments of frustration or threats of this turning into a UFO. I love it when you just get on a roll with sewing and you know what you need to do, and it's engaging without being mentally taxing.
Will you make it again? You know, I actually might! I really like the look of this top. I would just replace the collar with a strip of self-fabric bias tape next time, though...less fussing, more or less the same result.
Total cost: $5...between my two inspiration tops, I saved somewhere between $50-70!
Final thoughts: I really like tunic tops because they cover the butt, which means that I don't need to worry about wearing underwear that doesn't make lines in my pants. I'm sorry, was that TMI? Well, now you know. My McCalls 6610 pants are fabulous, but they're also a little on the thin side, so I need to choose underwear carefully if I wear them...but now I don't need to if I'm wearing this top! Unmentionables aside, though, I'm seriously in love with this top and I'm so glad that I finally made a Japanese sewing book pattern work for me!



Incidentally, if you're interested in making your own garments from these kinds of books, I just discovered this French group blog that's specifically dedicated to showing the finished garments made from various Japanese sewing books. It's interesting to see that everyone else has the same issues with the silhouettes looking boxy and shapeless (although that might actually be their desired look, I don't know), and that most people end up adding belts or sashes for waist definition.

Sadly, I actually found this book to be surprisingly devoid of poses to mimic. Aside from the random stack of books, most of the pictures have the models just standing and holding purses, so that's not too weird. Darn!


18 comments:

  1. very interesting back detail!! I like some of these Japanese designs for summer blouses and dresses, they can be nice to wear if it's really hot. But most of the time, I prefer more fitted stuff otherwise, I'd look pregnant all the time..

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    1. Yeah, I have that same issue with Japanese patterns, which is why I had to find a way to bring it in....they do have some cute looks though, if you're willing to take the time to modify them a bit.

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  2. Brilliant idea for reducing width at the back waist! I look way too pregnant without some waist shaping, so I may steal this idea... ;-)

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    1. Please steal it! I stole it from Anthropologie, after all...and it really does work brilliantly.

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  3. Replies
    1. If only I could say that I invented it!

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  4. Very nice. :) Thanks for the advice on sizing, too, I am also getting frustrated with how big some allowances are in patterns, I seem to always be taking in quite a bit when I use my *size*.

    Let us know when this book hits amazon or stores or wherever. Will have to get a copy of it as I am in LOVE with the bow shift dress. So cute!

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    1. Yeah, I think it takes several makes to get the hang of how much sizing allowance different pattern companies have, but once you do, then you can preempt a lot. I just checked the LK publishing website, and it looks like the book is out and available to order!

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  5. Looks good! And I really like that back button detail--I'm another one who looks pregnant without waist shaping, so I'm constantly looking for new ways to cinch my looser tops in!

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    1. I love that it's such a simple fix, and it adds a nice little detail without being as casual as a big band of elastic.

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks! I wish I could take credit for thinking of it!

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  7. So pretty! The button detail in the back looks fantastic.

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    1. I was very very careful while topstitching those little squares!

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  8. I'm so glad yopu reviewed thios one. I just bought the book thinking that it looked more realistic to my lifestyle than most of the ones I've seen on Amazon. Adorable top!

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    1. Yeah, the designs are definitely more suitable for public wearing. No exposed side boobs here!

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  9. Lovely! I really like what you did with the back to control the fullness. Great colors on you too! I love tunics for the same reason. Don't have to worry about the bottom!

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    1. Hehehe I'm glad someone else understands about tunics and bottoms!

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