Monday, March 2, 2009

pretty little smock

My bosom friend gave me (along with other beautiful things) a gorgeous pattern book last June, called Girls Style Book. I was in love at first page, but in an unrequited longing sort of way, since all the instructions and pattern notations are in Japanese. I thought they might as well be in Martian.

(Sorry for the wrinkles. Photo stylist, I ain't)

A few months ago, with the help of Purl's timely post about Japanese patterns, I traced and cut out my favorite girls shirt pattern in the book, the one featured on the cover. I just now got around to making one from it, and I'm real sorry about that because it was really a lot easier than I thought it would be.

The illustrations included were all I had to go on for sewing instructions, but I managed to put it together with no mistakes made, after poring over each diagram. The illustrations really are a triumph of clarity and brevity. It occurred to me that many American patterns I've purchased were much less clear even with copious instructions in English to go along with the illustrations.

For instance, just from two tiny diagrams I unlocked for myself the mystery of how to get perfect rounded curves on the little pockets (gathering stitch on edge, cardstock template inside, pull thread to tighten and iron). Bear with me, y'all probably already knew this, but I never took Home Ec in high school. I was too busy sitting in my art classes with my black floor-length coat on.

I just love the little smock, so simple and sweet, and could be easily lengthened into a dress. And no sleeves to set in! I required myself to use some fabric from my stash, so I chose a cute little print that had been on the clearance table at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough for the whole thing (why why why do I ever only get a yard of fabric?), so I decided to make the yoke and pockets from a contrasting thrifted pillowcase. I cut it so close on the fabric that I didn't have enough left to cut the needed bias binding for a tie closure in the back, so I just added a single button. Which I like better anyway.

Now that I have figured it out, I have plans (well, you know how that goes in Larissa World) to make several more for spring and summer. And maybe to try another pattern from the book, now that my confidence level is rising.

If you want to attempt to find the book (I'm not sure how available it is), here is the ISBN number: 978-4-579-11181-7


  1. sweet dress i would likte to have all japanse craft books they are so inspiring and often easy to do

  2. Larissa! That dress you made is very pretty! Very well done!

  3. How CUTE! She looks adorable! Way to go on the materials - looks much more visually interesting with 2. ;)
    (BTW - Patio looks nice, too.)

  4. Very cute! I have always loved Japanese patterns but I thought I'd never be able to figure out how to make them. You did a great job! And I love the two fabrics you chose.


  5. You did it! This calls for dropping the huge list of things I had to do today and pulling out my own Japanese Girls' Style book to pore over. School? House? Laundry? Bah!

    I love it, Larry. Good job. (And if it was so simple, could you whip one out for me?)

  6. I've always wanted to get my hands on one of these Japanese pattern books. They are so beautifully designed! The smock looks great and so comfortable!....oh and the pockets, genius! I just try to clip and pin as much as possible but its still never quite right.

    Looking forward to seeing more projects from your book :).

  7. That is adorable! Will you make my clothes too?

  8. Thanks, everybody!
    Robyn, I could, but I think you need to experience the whole Japanese pattern journey to truly appreciate it, Grasshopper.
    ScrappinBethie, if you desire a wardrobe in size 6x or smaller, I'm your gal. Those are the only clothes I seem capable of making, judging by the ill-fated efforts to make clothes for myself.

  9. Oh, what a pretty dress (and the sweetest girl!!) You chose the fabrics with great success - they really go well together!

    Japanese books are treasures! I adore the elegant and simpel look the clothes have.
    Now I need to go look inside some of my Japanese books - although I will not understand a word in any of them ;0)

  10. I love this smock and you did a great job. I also love looking at Japanese patterns but am always to afraid to give them a try. You have inspired me!

  11. i love that smock. i haven't tried the clothing books in japanese, but i have the little nick nack stuff like bags and such. they are WONDERFUL and wish that the english speakers would learn and then produce.

  12. "Bosom friend" ???!!!! Tell me you're a fan of Anne of Green Gables, too!?! :)

  13. This book is also one of my favorites. I am making a dress from it right now! Yours turned out so well.

  14. April, yes I am very fond of Anne with an e.


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