Happy Homemade Sew Along, Day 1

As I mentioned before, I came across a cute "Sew Chic Kids" which inspired me to pick up sewing again. There are not a lot of children sewing books that feature items for boys, but this one has several that are promising, including a versatile pull-over Parka. And what a happy serendipity it was for me to come across a sew-along that happen just recently, hosted by Cherie from You and Mie and Meg from Elsie Marley.

Sew-along is a great opportunity to break up a daunting task into manageable chunks and to ask for help along the way. Today, for example, I've got about 2 hours free time for myself during which I could accomplish things needed to do on day one of sew-along.

Let's talk briefly about the fabric. The plaid shirting flannel was already in my stash since forever. Maybe at some point I meant to make a PJ bottom for PapaLorp (who is 6'1" and thus the extra yardage on it). The red wool is a fabric remnant of a kimono. I inherited a pile of kimono remnants from a friend of mine, whose grandmother owned a kimono store in Kyoto. Many of the remnants are silk, which I have yet to find a suitable project. I may use this woolen red one as a hoodie lining or accent for the kangaroo pocket. We'll see about that.

O.k. back to the sew-along. Day one is all about tracing and cutting pattern. I love the ease and simplicity of Japanese sewing book. Yes, a bit of detective work is needed but even for those who do not read Japanese, the diagrams are very user-friendly. There are many bloggers out there who dedicate their time and effort in Japanese sewing. I suggest checking them out if you fancy any particular pattern/book -- chances are someone else have already done it.

Normally, patterns are drawn on special pattern paper (such as this swedish tracing paper). It is a special type of paper that can be machine-sewn and won't tear easily. For my everyday pattern-making purpose, I trace my pattern onto newspaper using wax-free carbon paper and tracing wheel, or, if I am particularly careful with the original paper pattern, I trace them onto a piece of parchment. This baking parchment from Reynolds is cheap, readily available, wide enough to accommodate children patterns and pencil-erasable.

As with many Japanese sewing pattern, seam allowance is not included on the pattern. You must add it yourself and one way to avoid error is adding the seam allowance on the pattern piece, like this. Normally, seam allowance is one centimeter (or 3/8 inch) -- using metric measurement will give a more accurate fit. On curved lines such as armholes, a french curve will be handy but if you don't own one, you can measure one-centimeter along small intervals and connect the dots like I did above.

Sometimes seam allowance is wider, for example, on the hem of the sleeves or bodice. You need to look for this clues on the book. In this case, the seam allowance for the sleeves needs to be added such that when you fold it in (left picture), the edges on the seam will line up. The resulting seam allowance will look like a fish tail (right picture), not straight out.

I also decided to add a kangaroo pocket. Cheri gave me the measurement of hers (since we were both making the size 2). It is about 5 x 10 inches. I cut a pattern of 5 x 5 and will place this on the fold line. Notice that I did not add seam allowance to this, which I will have to do when I cut the fabric later.

All in all, I did the tracing and cutting in about 2 hours. By that time, the Tod and PapaLorp had arrived from grocery shopping and I had to stash all my clandestine sewing project out of sight.

Until next time, where I will cut the fabric and do the prep work as prescribed in day two.

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