Like many of you, I'm guessing, I favor a certain style in clothing. Comfortable, loose and linen all come to mind. However, because I am short and have a small frame, most of what I find in the stores looks ridiculous on me because of outsized proportions. Even smalls in these styles often swamp me, because I am petite.
When we went to Shanghai last fall to visit the kids, the day after we landed my DIL whisked me to the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market. Inside is a dizzying array of hundreds of booths on several floors, each owned by a different tailor/shop. The booths are lined with bolts of fabric and hanging along poles up near the ceiling are numerous articles of clothing ready for you to try on and consider the styles. Once you decide on an item, you choose a fabric, your measurements are taken and upon your return, a week later ~ Voila! Your custom clothing is ready to pick up! Jersey print dresses, cashmere wool coats, linen smocks and pants, silk and satin evening gowns, it's all available.
For just over $100, I ended up with 2 dresses, a skirt and the blue-gray linen smock (above), all custom made. Aside from being a fun destination, it's a wonderful convenience, as my DIL has discovered during their stay in China. A special occasion coming up? No problem. See the style you want but want to change some things? No problem. Shorter sleeves? A different collar? No problem!
Sadly, no such options in suburban Ohio. I used to sew for myself, but not in years. Yet, with the styles I prefer, how difficult would it be? It's often a problem finding good patterns, but over my years of travel in Japan, I've accumulated a number of pattern books featuring these simple linen styles that I like. If you sew at all and are on the blogs and Etsy, I'm sure you're familiar with them. Japanese children's clothes patterns are particularly appealing, more and more widely available now. But even for experienced sewists, the Japanese patterns are somewhat intimidating.
If you've been at all interested in sewing with Japanese patterns, you must get yourself over to the charming blog, You & Mie. A home sewist, the author is currently presenting what she is calling 'The Japanese Sewing Book Series', a week of links to posts by invited bloggers who regularly work with these patterns. Each features a particular challenge of working with them. So far, they are clearly written, explain each step and are illustrated by many excellent photos. Aside from being an interesting introduction to some very creative bloggers, the series is a great reference to bookmark for my eventual projects. There's hope for us all!
Molly visited several weeks ago while in the U.S. on a business trip. She knew she'd have a little room in her suitcases so accepted some special orders from me ahead of time ~ so nice to have a personal shopper in Tokyo! Among the things she brought were these two patterns I had seen on a Japanese website, Linnet. (Wouldn't I love to shop in the actual store!) The drawings don't look like much here but I loved the photo of No.74 and think No.48 might be cute a little shorter, tunic length, in a light linen or lawn print over a t-shirt and leggings.
Have I made even one piece of clothing from any of my accumulated patterns? Go ahead, venture the question. You wouldn't be the first! (Molly among them.) No, I haven't, but as they say in the commercial, you can't win if you don't play.
And I'm fully stocked and ready to play.