It’s time for Sew Japanese in January over on Instagram, so I had a bit of a fossick in my many Japanese sewing books. I really wanted to use the cotton lawn that I recently dyed, using coreopsis flowers, assorted windfall flora and a lac dip. I used the new pot and gas burner that Archie gave me for Christmas, rolling the fabric round a piece of hose so that I could fit it into the pot.
The piece of fabric isn’t very big, and it’s quite light, so I just couldn’t decide what to make from it. Then my eyes lit on the shirred jumpsuit, Pattern L in Sweet Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori and I decided that I might just get it out.
I had to cut it across the grain, and add a false hem but I managed to cut it out. When I added in the straps, some gratuitous pockets, and a piece to practice the shirring, this became a minimal waste make, which made me very happy.
It’s a really, really, simple make. Sew fronts and backs together, sew up the side seams and the crotch seam and you are almost there. Except… the shirring has to be done. I did a lot of shirring in the 1970s and my memory tells me that I was quite good at it. In retrospect I wonder whether I had outsourced it to my mother as I’m certainly not good at it now! I knew to handwind the bobbin, but then I was stumped. I googled settings and decided to increase the tension and lengthen the stitch. I had to do 15 rows and when I finished I thought it looked a little tight. Trying it on, I got one leg in and found that it gripped my thigh so tightly that no amount of shaking would budge it.
I decided to see if I could get the other leg in, and had to sit down to do it. I managed it and then had to winch it all past my hips. I do look a bit like a sausage bursting out of its casing, but it’s so comfortable to wear that I don’t care. I didn’t actually need any straps as it holds itself up pretty well, but I wanted to avoid any accidents.
I’m feeling as though I’m dressed like a toddler! The back pocket is to hold my phone when I’m cruising around the holiday place, and there’s a front pocket which isn’t useful for anything but I didn’t want to waste the nice piece of dyeing.
I put it on to take these photos, really for my own benefit, and many hours later, realised that I was still wearing it.
I might never appear in public in this one, but it will definitely be in high rotation in the hot weather!
I had thought about smocking the playsuit, but felt that was a step too far, so used the smocking pleater to gather up two rectangles of spotted rayon, which I then smocked using a variety of simple stitches. I sewed them together and decided that it would make a really good dress for my zero waste doll, Esme from The Craft of Clothes, which I realise I’ve never blogged. I added some cotton ribbon for straps and dressed Esme in it, and that’s what she’s been wearing ever since! She’s chatting to her chum the Patty doll from Pattern Division.
I haven’t mastered either shirring or smocking, but my interest is piqued so expect more.