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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PPM #3: Kakurenbo Top

If I were to stick to patterns that are wearable, I'd have to stay away from the most interesting patterns in this book. So this time I chose to focus on design rather than wearability. The pinafore with kakurenbo is a fun pattern to draw, and a great pattern for some curve-sewing practice. I made it in unbleached cotton so it would resemble the fabric used in the book, but as you'll see, a stretch fabric would have been a better choice.

Drafting and cutting
This is going to be a picture heavy post, but I want to explain how to best draft this pattern as the instructions in the book are minimal as usual.

If you look at the pic above, you can see that you start with drafting a curve, adding lines, and then separating it into pieces. If you look at the match points, you can see that you're supposed to flip part B over. The book doesn't say how you're supposed to do this. You could separately trace B, cut, flip and then tape, but there's a much easier way which I'll explain below.

First start with drafting the curves onto your bodice front. I did not draft it according to the measurements in the book, just mimicked it. Mark matchpoints at the points where the line changes direction on the vertical scale, i.e. goes from right to left or vice versa.

Put a bigger piece of pattern paper on top of your design, and trace the line until your first matchpoint.

Now, flip your paper over from right to left (not top-bottom), and match your points. Just the points, not the line. Above I'm matching my points A. You see the mirrored image of the bodice below it. Now trace the next part of the line until your next matchpoint, in this case B.

Flip it over again and match your points B. Then trace the next part of the line. Keep doing this until you come to the end. You'll have half of the line on the other side of your paper, but it is mirrored and you can trace the line back onto the right side. You can clearly see it through the paper.

When you're done you'll have the complete line, but spread out. So the part from A to B, from C to D and from E to F is now mirrored and inserted between the other pieces without any extra tracing and cutting. Easy, right? You can also see the extra matchpoints (I-IV) and the cutting lines where it'll be spread out.

The next step is to cut along the lines and spread out. I spread them out by half of the measurements in the book because I wasn't going to make a pinafore. If you're not going to wear it, better not waste too much fabric on it. It works best to tape immediately after cutting a line, so it won't shift anymore.

This is what you'll end up with. Tape the spread out pattern onto a new piece of paper and trace the outlines. Don't forget to transfer the matchpoints. The new piece will be your final pattern piece.

As mentioned above, I used unbleached cotton. The author has used a woollen georgette, so I wanted to use a non stretch fabric, too. However, this makes the curves very difficult to sew. I have to admit I did not try my very best because I wasn't going to wear it, but I did correct the worst parts. It can be done as is demonstrated by this awesome version. However, it is probably easier to sew and equally pretty when you use a stretch fabric, shown here. A stretch version with a little less flare can be seen here, although I don't think Megan would have called this easy...

Sewing these curves by machine is no walk in the park, let me tell you this. Even though I hand basted before I sewed, it still did not get any smooth seams on the curves. I've ripped and resewn about five places where it was really bad, but didn't bother to make it perfect. So if you want to see what this pattern could actually be like, check the links above :). Megan's struggle with the curves is completely understandable, if I were to do it again I might sew it completely by hand to get more grip on them. If I understand correctly that's what Marion did and her curves look great! OK so now that I've warned you, here's the endresult.

So the good thing is: it worked out. There's concealed curves under the flares. You know what, I'm not even going to talk about gaping necklines and armholes and rippled seams. Let's just focus on the fact that this was a lot of fun to draft, horrible less fun but interesting to sew and that I gained more experience in drafting and sewing. Not wearable at all as I expected, it's not even my style when done well. But I could see this working on a skirt maybe. What do you think? Would you try it? Have you attempted some magic this month?

The date for next month is april 24th! This time you'll get to choose what I take on, so stay tuned :) As always, if you have projects to share, with or without blog, just email Marianna or me.


  1. interesting, I have these books and want to start working with them. I get a little over whelmed by the designs, but they are so beautiful. Looking forward to seeing more of your progress!

  2. You did it!! Well done; it looks like one of the harder ones. Great drafting tips which might come in useful if daughter ever asks for "the weirdest thing you can make me".

    May I ask: what size seam allowances did you use on the curves? I'd imagine very small ones?

    I hope "Knots" will be on your list of projects for next month! Though I can think of a few others that would suit you also.


    1. Thanks! I think in the end they were about half a cm or 1/4 inch.

  3. I was so happy to read this and see that it wasn't just me who'd had a hard time with this top (sorry for being happy about you having a hard time!). It is incredibly difficult to get this top looking neat. It has been ages since I made mine and I'm still not mentally prepared to attempt it again! I agree that the drafting is kind of fun and very educational. It would be a shame not to use that knowledge in a second attempt - just not quite yet :)

    1. I completely understand you were happy to see this :) For me it will be also be a long time before I try again!

  4. oh, well.. it's not my first choose but... after your post, i'm very interested in trying!


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