Saturday, May 16, 2009

Japanese dress #1

I knew it would be a bear, going in: I'm tall, barrel-chested, and increasingly chunky as I move into middle age. In other words, shaped not even remotely like the typical figure for which these Japanese patterns are drafted (ISBN 978-4579111497):

Given all that, I did reasonably well adapting (with much measuring, head-scratching, and hoping for the best) a sleeveless version of dress #23 to my shape and size. Here's the cheap cotton "wearable muslin" for what I'd hoped would be a repeatable "ATR" (around the house) dress:

The skirt, back and midriff came out fine, but I flubbed the bodice front. I sized it up and made it longer (even American patterns are 1-2" too short in the front torso for me) which turned out to be too big. Then I butchered trimming it down again, which is totally because I was tired and impatient and I should have known better than to keep going at that point. The funny pleats at the shoulder are because at try-on stage I discovered the shoulders were much wider than I wanted and I was too lazy/slapdashy to recut them, and just took a quickie pleat in the middle of each instead.

Even with such a flawed, ill-fitting bodice it's a serviceable garment, which is what I was aiming for. I'm wearing it right now and it's comfy enough that I probably will attempt it again someday. The challenge of getting the bodice to fit is far from solved, though, and some time needs to go by before I'll feel up for round two of redrafting.

I am pleased that I (deliberately) cut the midriff a bit loose, because, combined with the deep V neck, it means this can be a pull-on: no zipper required! The loose cut was planned with steamy weather in mind, the zipper-omission a happy coincidence. Of course, I discovered that after I'd done an astonishly good job installing the invisible zip. But if I don't need the zip, why waste it, so I ripped that all out and stitched up the center back seam.

You may be thinking, as I am, that for all that work it's a remarkably unflattering garment (I may not be slim, but I'm really not as chunky as I look in this dress). The thing is, I desperately need more lightweight, "breathable" (in both fabric and cut) dresses to wear around the house all summer. So I'm aiming for steamy-day comfort here, with no intention of ever appearing in public in it. That's what ATR dresses are for. I've got some more in the works, as I slog ever-onward in my quest for a truly great "TNT" (tried and true) ATR dress pattern. This isn't it, but at least I've got one more thing to wear on a warm day.

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