achievement unlocked: asymmetrical Mrs. Stylebook skirt

I am finally blogging this skirt that I made a month ago!

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This is a skirt from the Japanese sewing magazine “Mrs. Stylebook”–specifically the high summer 2017 issue, which I bought on Etsy from a seller in Japan. I like the idea of sewing magazines because it’s potentially a lot of bang for your buck. I think this magazine cost $25, including shipping, & I don’t know how many patterns it contains–close to one hundred, for sure. Obviously I don’t plan to make every single pattern, but even if I only make two, that would bring the cost down to the level of your average indie pattern company. & what really appealed to me (& may repel others) is that most of the designs are draft-it-yourself. I know some people are really put off by the idea of dropping a bunch of money just to have to get out their rulers & tracing paper & create their own patterns, but as someone who fits into exactly zero standard size charts, I love it! I enjoy the process of drafting in general, all the measuring & drawing, & the fact that I get a 100% custom-fit garment out of the process is just gravy! That’s actually why I picked “Mrs. Stylebook” over some of the other pattern magazines out there that include pre-drafted patterns.

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Of course, my skirt didn’t quite turn out like the skirt in the magazine. Probably because I know zero Japanese & had no idea what I was doing. All I had to go on is a couple of sample photos & a page of diagrams. Everything was in centimeters too, of course, so I was constantly having to look up the conversions. I also managed to choose the one skirt in the entire magazine (probably) that wasn’t based off a sloper. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s not really a complicated design. It’s basically an asymmetrical circle skirt with some pleats. I probably just should have drafted an asymmetrical circle skirt with the pleats. But I was trying to “trust the process” of following the magazine diagrams, which was maybe not the greatest idea when I really had no clue what the diagrams said!

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My biggest conundrum was figuring out the closure. The sample skirt clearly has a separate waistband, but I didn’t see any obvious signs of a closure–no zippers, buttons, or hooks. The waistband measurement in the diagram was also confusing. It seems to say that the waistband should be the waistband measurement divided in half, plus 2cm. Maybe I was supposed to take that measurement & cut the waistband on the fold? That seems like the obvious conclusion, but that literally just occurred to me right this second. & it still doesn’t answer the closure question. Other diagrams for self-drafted garments included illustrations of buttons, zippers, etc. It occurred to me that maybe this design was for a knit fabric, & so no closure is necessary. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decipher the recommended textiles, despite hours spent poring over multiple English-Japanese dictionaries. & I had already committed to this yellow & white striped woven from Ikea.

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In the end, I cut the waistband my waist measurement plus 1″ for wearing ease & 1″ for a skirt hook overlap. I installed an invisible zipper along the pocket side of the skirt & fastened the waistband with two hidden skirt hooks. That worked fine for me. Also, I am kind of becoming an invisible zipper whisperer. I am thrilled with how that zipper came out!

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I must have pleated & re-pleated the skirt at least ten times, but I just couldn’t achieve the effect in the photo, with the pleats being longer than the center panel & falling just so. That was probably user error, mostly, because I don’t sew a lot of pleated garments. I really don’t like the way pleats look on me. (So why did I pick this pattern? I don’t know. I liked the asymmetry & the fullness.) Eventually I moved the pleats to the side, & I liked that a lot more.

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The overlap in the back is awfully short on me. Maybe the given measurements just weren’t meant for a lady with a little more junk in the trunk? Or maybe I fucked up somewhere along the way. In any case, it was an easy enough fix. I had two yards of really silky-feeling white cotton lawn in my stash that I had purchased with the express purpose of making an underskirt/half-slip. I had just never gotten around to it. I went to Joann & bought some white ruffled cotton trim designed to enclose a raw hem & sewed a 1/8″ yellow ribbon to it. I sewed up one seam, added elastic to gather in the skirt, & done. Now I have a really cute coordinating underskirt to wear with my striped skirt, & with all of my other dresses & skirts. & I was able to make another by cutting the yardage in half length-wise. I trimmed the second skirt in a wider pink ribbon, because pink is one of my neutrals & goes with literally everything in my wardrobe. I especially like how it looks under my pink gingham shirtdress, & under my Lady Skater dresses.

So that’s that! Even though this pattern is literally four pieces (if you don’t count the pocket bag), it took me weeks to make it because I spent so long trying to decipher the Japanese. Why I never reached out to the larger sewing community to see if there was a Japanese speaker that could help translate, I have no clue. It didn’t even occur to me until Zoe offered, by which point, the project was finished. Next time!

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Bonus creepy kitten pocket bag.

pattern: skirt from the high summer 2017 issue of “Mrs. Stylebook”
size: custom
fabric: 3 yards of yellow & white striped cotton from Ikea
notions: universal needle, white thread, white invisible zipper, two skirt hooks, lightweight interfacing for the waistband, invisible zipper foot
total cost of all supplies: around $50
alterations: none, really, because I drafted it myself
next time: try a lighter, more drape-y fabric; maybe try it in a knit
remarks from the public: “It’s okay, Mama. I don’t think you look like a bumblebee. They have black stripes.” — Ramona
photos: Ramona took the photos of me, I took the rest, as always

4 Comments Add yours

  1. hoperoth says:

    My step-mom is a Japanese professor. She said she doesn’t want to translate an entire pattern (natch), but that if you have a few phrases here and there that are causing you real problems, you could send them to her for help. 🙂 The skirt looks great!

    1. Ciara says:

      Literally the only “directions” in the entire thing are in the photos of the magazine pages. That’s the thing about magazine patterns. They don’t actually include full-on directions like you expect from a McCall’s pattern or whatever.

  2. celandinesong says:

    I think it turned out super cute in the end! I really love the pleats and the underskirt you made too – a lovely lawn slip sounds like a great idea (especially as we’re coming into spring/summer down in the southern hemisphere).

    1. Ciara says:

      Thanks! I really like it took. & A++ for the underskirts. I always want ruffles & layers with my dresses & skirts, & it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I could just make some mix & match stand-alone underskirts instead of lining everything. Duh.

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