2 friends +1 daughter's love for manga +1 grandmother = 1 dress

I have two friends who don't know each other. However, they are both present in the same dress. My friend Mori works for Victoria's Secret. Just before Christmas, Victoria's Secret had a sample sale for employees. In addition to samples of undergarments and other clothing, they also had samples of fabrics and trims. Mori sent me a box of treasures from that sale.

I met my friend Elizabeth through http://www.patternreview.com/ . We both live in the neighborhood. We know so many people in common, it is something of a surprise that we hadn't met many years ago. Last week, when we went out to play in fabricland she brought me some fabrics that she wasn't going to be using.
One, was a white cotton, machine embroidered with black flowers. Elizabeth suggested that i could make it into a peasant blouse. I poo-pooed the idea, and wasn't sure if I loved the fabric or not. ( One shouldn't poo-poo too quickly, I soon learned.)

Today my daughter and I went to Book-Off, the discount Japanese bookstore. It was a first for both of us. My daughter used to be a big Manga reader. She wanted to sell off some of her Manga collection because she is no longer obsessed. Book-Off buys used books, particularly, Manga.

I wanted to see if they had Japanese sewing books or magazines. While my daughter sold her books, I looked at their collection of sewing magazines. They had a really impressive collection of sewing magazines and books. This is what I purchased, I could have easily bought three times what I took home, but I need to leave something on the shelf for next time.

What I love about the Japanese sewing books, is how visually oriented they are. I can't read a word of Japanese, but each book and magazine comes with excellent step by step diagrams and with well drawn, easy to follow schematics of the pattern pieces. The Japanese magazines work with with how my brain works. I have read on a blog devoted to working with Japanese sewing books that some of the writing is actually excellent.

My husband's maternal grandmother was said to be able to make clothing with out a pattern. She never passed on her knowledge of how exactly she did that. Ever since I heard about her skill I have been working bit by bit on learning how to make clothing without patterns. I have been learning, the way learn how to do everything, by chipping away at various aspects of that body of knowledge in a completely unsystematic way over a long period of years.

Lately, I have been playing with the idea of raglan sleeves. I had failed spectacularly at the task about ten years ago, making a linen blouse for my daughter that allowed for no arm movement at all. The turquoise blouse would have worked had my daughter planned to be a scare crow, but since that wasn't in her plans, I eventually trashed the blouse.

A couple of months ago, I made myself a raglan sleeved knit dress. Yes, I can move my arms in it. Last lesson , my student wanted to make a dress with sleeves. Her sketch showed a raglan sleeved dress. Rashly, given my vast (not!) experience making raglan sleeved dresses, I agreed to proceed. Together, we drafted a dress that was quite adorable on her.

One of the sewing magazines I purchased showed tons of raglan sleeved garments. Looking at the diagrams, the geometry finally made sense to me so I turned the lovely embroidered cotton from Elizabeth into a raglan sleeved dress with exactly the peasant neckline that I dismissed as being, " Not me.". My first attempt was too high necked, and too ruffled. So I re-cut the neckline and added a strip of narrow black scalloped lace to the neckline. the black was like adding a bit of salt to a vanilla pudding and rescued the dress from being overly sweet.

I had cut the dress too short and added some spectacular trim from the stash from Mori to the hem. So there it is, a dress made out of fabric from two friends who don't know one another.


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