So, before we start the sew along, here are a few things you will need;
- Your book (and if you bought it from M is for make, your translation sheet)
- Pencil, ruler, rubber
- Masking tape
- Paper suitable for tracing a pattern onto
(I use this paper from Morplan, but have a look on the comments from this post for some other suggestions. It needs to be transparent enough to see the lines of the pattern through and wide enough to fit your larger pieces on, or you can stick multiple sheets together.)
- Some calico - we will talk about quantities later in this post
(roughly £2 a metre from the high street or some old fabric you no longer want such as a sheet or duvet cover.)optional:
- a tracing wheel to trace out your pattern (I prefer not to use these as I find it harder to be accurate and more time consuming)
- a pattern master (not essential but really useful for tracing off curves from a pattern and adding seam allowances)
But first off, I thought I would give you a summary of the whole process so you know what to expect. I will cover all of this in more detail in the sew along.
An overview of sewing from Japanese pattern books
Japanese books tend to follow a similar layout. They start off with pages of beautiful photos showing the garments you can make. Then follows the instructions, and at the back, the pattern sheet.
On the pages with the photos of the garments, you will glimpse tantalising bits of English. Each garment is usually referenced with a letter and the page on which to find instructions. This garment reference letter will also be used on the pattern sheet. You can see the instructions for my party blouse are on page 51 (but there is no reference letter).
When you get to the end of the photos and before the instruction pages, you will often find a summary page containing the size table (this can also appear on the individual garment page or at the back of the book, but it should be somewhere and look a bit like this). We will translate the measurements later.
Turning to the relevant page for the garment you want to make, you will find a simple picture of it, the reference letter/number (mine is C2), a cutting layout diagram, maybe some tables for sizing or fabric/materials list, some blurb, and then simple line drawings to show each step of construction.
The cutting layout diagram includes useful information such as some seam allowances. It will also show you how much fabric you will need. When choosing your garment, spend a bit of time looking through this page, understanding the sequence of how it all goes together.
At this stage you can figure out how much calico you will need. I always make a rough version first to check I have the right size, make any fit adjustments to the pattern and practice making the garment. So from my book I can tell that I will need 180cm of fabric that is 110cm wide. The fabric in this picture is folded in half.
The picture of the garment will be numbered and each of these is the different steps in which it will be put together (in order). You should be able to reference the more detailed diagrams of individual steps against this picture. Not all steps, for example sewing together the shoulders or sides, will have a detailed picture as they don't need one.
The pattern sheet is at the back of the book, ease it out carefully or cut it off as close to the book as you can. Open it up and try not to be scared. Pattern sheets that contain multiple patterns overlaid can be very daunting. But don't be, once you have had a chance to understand it, they are fine.
You will trace off the required pieces of your pattern, label all the important markings and information (this will require some translation). Once this is done you will add seam allowances to your pattern piece as they are not included.
All done, then you will sew it all together as per the instructions.
So there is your overview, go off, get what you need and we'll meet back in (about) week to figure out what size to make and further understand the instruction page.