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Monday, July 15, 2013

Japanese Peasant Dress


This turquoise gauze came home with me 2 years ago after our visit to Thunder Bay. Pressed for time, we didn't see much of the city, but did manage to hit the most important attractions: Pita Pit (yum), Fort William, and Fabricland, of course!

Gauze has this amazing ability to stretch to 5 times its size. Neat. Except when you're trying to cut a pattern.







I chose a simple peasant dress pattern from Home Couture for Girls by Machiko Kayaki. It's an oldish book - I think from 1999 - but the patterns are fairly classic and basic and you can still find it for sale online.



Now the instructions are extremely minimal, not to mention in Japanese, but the pictures are sufficient - especially for this simple dress. I believe the little chart you see on the page below is meant to show elastic lengths.

The pattern wanted me to sew separate elastic casings to stitch to the garment, but I just extended the appropriate pieces to do a foldover casing (like, uh, normal).

When my model tried on her dress it was clear that I had actually made a giant nightgown! So I kept adding details hoping to make it look like a dress: a tie at the neck, elastic at the empire waistline, and some owl trim at the hem. Much improved.

Minimal step-by-step instructions. 


Construction illustrations. 

The pattern sheet. The pattern number and piece name (front, back, etc.) are indicated in the margins.

14 comments:

  1. I've never sewn with gauze before, so thanks for the warning about stretching. It's a pretty dress and this shade of blue looks great on her! I sew mostly with Japanese patterns and I often have to psyche myself up to trace off those mind boggling pattern sheets :)

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    1. Thanks! I agree - I like this shade of blue on her.

      "Expands" is probably a better word than "stretches" for gauze, but it does take a little care in cutting.

      I *own* a lot of Japanese patterns, but need to remember to turn to them as often as other patterns. Luckily *some* Japanese pattern sheets are easier than others!

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  2. I love the color. I can see how gauze might be interpreted in this style as a nightgown; however it would be mighty comfortable to wear! I've never sewn with it before but I'm interested.

    Your dress turned out cute - especially with all the details. I love the illustrations in the pages you showed.

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    1. Yeah, the gauze just made it bigger or more billowy than it would otherwise have been. But I still like the fabric.

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  3. Such a pretty dress and this colour is so airy and summer-y. I love Japanese pattern books. The illustrations are so good you don't need written instructions :)

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    1. Thanks! I love the Japanese books for their illustrations, too. Honestly, I think their illustrations are easier to decipher than most instructions written in English!

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  4. I like 'peasant' styles (even for me), and you will be pleased to know my first thought when looking at the picture was "what a pretty dress!" (not what a pretty nightdress!). I am thinking about giving Japenese pattern books a try as I have recently learned I rely heavily on diagrams in sewing patterns, so I thought they might suit me. As I am not such an experienced sewer as you I think I will start with a translated one, though!

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    1. I've been doing a lot of peasant necklines this summer!

      You should give a Japanese pattern book a try! I think you'd be fine with the illustrations and maybe a sewing reference book.

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  5. This looks so pretty and girly. I don't own any Japanese pattern books but the more I see, the more I want one to try!

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  6. Love the dress! Good save on the giantness, too! But why bias layout? Interesting. I wonder if the bias layout contributed to the giant stretch factor. Perhaps the designer intended it to be used with rigid cottons, to introduce give/stretch. Possible explanation for the externally-attached elastic casing: the facings (i.e. what became elastic casings) were cut on the grain to stabilize the bias layout of the main dress pieces. That way the necklines etc won't stretch or sag vertically. But then, it does seem a bit pointless if they're going to put elastic and gather everything. Hmm. Okay, that's as much drafting that my brain can take at this time of the morning (or any time of the morning) - must go swimming now. Have a lovely week!

    P.S. S loves her non-black dress, then? Yay!

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    1. That may be why the casings are cut separately. In any case, I didn't cut the dress on the bias - that would have been VERY interesting with the gauze!

      Sara's worn the dress once, not exactly by choice, but *I* like it!

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    2. Ah, yes, because if you'd cut it on the bias, the hemline would've been hell, but yours looks great.

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  7. The dress turned out so pretty, not nightgownish at all. I particularly admire the owl trim and the beautiful colour of the fabric.

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  8. I'm glad you like this dress. I do too.
    The colour is great.

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