Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Information Gathering

For my birthday, Nicole gave me the most fantastic sewing book: Drape Drape by Hisako Sato. The design is phenomenal – all flowy-plus with many opportunities for sewing with jersey, my personal fabric fave.

The arguable downside is that the book is in Japanese. After the debacle of the last 2 weekends, wherein I spent more than 2 dozen hours sewing 2 bras, neither of which fit (again), you’d think I might want to take a break. Or at least sew a pattern whose directions I can get with somewhat other than pictorially.

With his poetic sense of metaphor, Scott suggested I aim to avoid potentially smashing with a hammer, the finger I have already gashed with a knife. (What a silver tongue.)

Just call me a masochist.

A host of posts on this book and the beauty of the one-piece Gather Dress No. 3 are compelling me to give it a go. Of course, it may be easier to learn Japanese that to make this dress – I’m not fooled by its one-pieced-ness. It’s gathered in 47 places (give or take).

On the plus side, it took no time at all to read the directions!

Drape Drape is one of those Euro-style pattern books that prints six different patterns, in six different colours, all one on top of the other on the same oversized page. Having finally seen one of these up close, I shrieked with laughter. Like inappropriately. On observing me (and the page), the unflappable poet said: That is utterly ridiculous. What are you making? A jet?

The beauty of needing nothing, while simultaneously knowing nothing, is that the state yields its own kind of liberty. Tonight, I’m going to try to trace this baby out. If that works, I’m going to try to find a fabric in my smallish stash that will drape well. If that works maybe I’ll aim to figure out what the pictures are trying to tell me.

You'll be pleased to know that Scott advised me to make a muslin. That conversation quickly degenerated into a pedantic, 15-minute discussion wherein he accused me of being pedantic for suggesting you can’t make a muslin out of a knit fabric. (By nature muslin is woven.) His final edict: Make the freakin' dress with cheap stretchy fabric so if you wreck it, it won’t be the end of the world.

What does he know?

To my sewing friends, I would so appreciate any answers, you might have, to the following questions:

  • The Drape Drape dresses appear to be made in jersey – except the one I’m going to make (No. 3) which apparently has a zipper. I did find evidence that someone else has made it in jersey without the zipper, but that might not make my job any eaiser. Can anyone clarify the best fabrics to work with?
  • The sizing is S, M, ML and L. I don’t have the slightest idea which one will fit me best, if at all. There aren’t any measurements. Are these dresses cut for boyish, tiny-breasted figures (like the photo models)? Can anyone tell me what measurements these sizes correspond to?

  • Are gathers generally difficult for enthusiastic, beginning sewists? I mean those who are already nuts enough to make bras but who don't have a world of experience with draping and gathering.
  • Do the photos provide adequate instruction on their own?
Crazy Update: I figured out where the sizing is, amazingly enough! Pg 33 (adjacent to, unsurprisingly, How to Make - a title graciously written in English!). You will not believe how insane resourceful I am - I went into Google Translate and discovered that the English - Japanese translation feature provides translation into characters! I have verified the cm measurements for S, M, ML and L. How great am I!? So fun.

Next Update: I'm most definitely a Large.

Next Update / Also a Question: Does anyone know if there are seam allowances built into the patterns. I doubt it entirely, but as I don't read Japanese... Any feedback would be great.


  1. I am mostly amused by this post because it is insane to undertake this project and because, were I you, I'd be undertaking it myself.

  2. I love Japanese patterns, but I have never worked up the gumption to try one. I do know that the sizing is TINY, though - I fit a US 0-2, and I'm a medium in Asian clothes :)Look forward to seeing how you go with this one!

  3. You are definitely the best Woman for this undertaking! You've got the drive and the talent. I can't wait to follow you on this adventure. BTW, I'm so jealous. I've heard of how great this pattern book is!!!!

  4. What I know is that I am so impressed by your passion. And I also know that Scot made me laugh. As a non-sewer I probably would have said something similar. Other than that I have no feedback that would be at all helpful

  5. I'm glad you figured out the sixing. Even tho' I have never met you, I have been to Japan, and I would have suggested a large. While I am a medium sized woman here in Canada, in Japan I was an Amazon of gigantic proportions. When you are the same height or taller than most of the men, you tend to stand out in a crowd. Especially when you are endowed with strong Nordic features.

  6. Sally: I've had occasion to consider your comment today and I think it's telling. I'm sure you would be just like this!

    Tiffany: Thanks for your sizing feedback. Having done a bit more research, I totally agree.

    Victoria: I will lend it to you after I've done a little bit of playing around. Not sure how much good the book will do :-)

    Sox: Thanks so much for your comment. I am def a Japanese large. In stretch fabric, for safety! :-)

  7. You are so determined that I can't believe you haven't taken a class on the Japanese language by now so that you can fluently read the book! I am trying to figure out the garment w/ the zipper... wish I could see a picture. Even if it's a knit, sometimes a zipper is necessary in order to get in and out of a piece. How tight is it supposed to be?
    I can't wait to see some of your stuff!!

  8. I have Drape Drape but haven't made anything yet. I have knitted from Japanese patterns though and I know that if you can figure out a few basic things, the diagrams are good enough to work from without knowing the language. I also know there are resources on the web for sewing from Japanese patterns, but I don't have a list of them as I keep putting that off.

  9. Stacy: If only I had the time! :-)

    Mardel: The pics really are very good. BTW, as I mentioned in another comment, the waist on my dress is quite short. Be careful when you use the book. You may have to lengthen everything...

  10. As you know from my current cowl neck obsession, I'm heading full speed to a drape drape obsession this fall. I'm tired of fitting into my clothes; I want them to fit me.

  11. Whoops. I saw this post after I commented on the one before it. =_=;

    For your future reference, Drape Drape Sizing is:

    S - Bust 78 CM, Waist 58 CM, Hip 84 CM
    M - Bust 82 CM, Waist 62 CM, Hip 88 CM
    L - Bust 86 CM, Waist 66 CM, Hip 92 CM
    XL - Bust 90 CM, Waist 70 CM, Hip 96 CM

    And most Japanese pattern books do NO include seam allowance. If they do, it's usually 1cm by default.

    I hope that helps. :)