So I couldn’t resist sneaking in one more summer dress! A couple of unexpected days of sunshine will have that effect on me!
Vivé la France!
My Tokyo dress is actually a bit of a French love affair as it’s made with the wonderful Halo Blue viscose from Atelier Brunette. I was desperate to get my hands on the blue version of this much-loved fabric, but it was sold out everywhere. So I was very excited to snag this remnant in Atelier Brunette’s sales.
I’ve actually been buying a lot of French fabrics and patterns recently. You see, when I’m going through a period where I have been doing a lot of sewing-related shopping, sometimes my other half gets a bit (justifiably) cranky at the stream of packages arriving at the door (and the directly-related stream of cash exiting my bank account).
But, since he’s French, if I can say, but “but this one comes from a boutique French studio, I’m supporting French entrepreneurship!”, he goes a little easier on me!
Well, at least until he then asks me if they are from Paris and I have to say “Oui, je pense”…
Mon Dieu, how can I sew in French???
This was my first time sewing a pattern by Atelier Scammit. If you are worried about the language problem – here’s the low down.
The Tokyo dress pattern itself has the names of all the pieces marked in both French and English, so this is no problem. The instructions themselves are written in French. Unless I missed something on the Atelier Scammit website, I don’t think the instructions are available in English. While there are some photos, they are not really visual instructions, so the words are actually important.
So, if you are a complete beginner sewist and do not understand French, this project might be a bit difficult.
However, as long as you are not a total beginner, you shouldn’t let the fact that the instructions are in French deter you.
The Tokyo dress is a really simple project and you don’t actually need the instructions.
I didn’t use them!
The language of sewing
Due to that aforementioned French hubby, I do actually understand French. But when I started to read the instructions, my eyes kind of glazed over. Something didn’t compute. This is in no way a reflection on the instructions but on the fact that sewing language just isn’t everyday language!
Case in point: I then asked my other half to help me understand the instructions. Here’s the thing: he couldn’t translate them for me either!!
And I realised why.
The language of sewing is highly specialised and technical. It’s just not a language that non-sewists use in everyday life. Due to my crapping on about sewing, my husband has learned sewing terminology in English, but he didn’t actually know those same terms in his native language!
Think about it: a native English-speaking non-sewist who picks up sewing instructions, isn’t going to understand terms like “placket”, “collar stand”, “understitching”, “French seam”, “facing”, “yoke” (more on that last one later…). Even words like “hem”, “lining” and “seam” are often only understood by the non-sewing populace in a very general way.
We sewists have our own language entirely!
Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Trying to convince myself that just because I can’t follow sewing instructions in French doesn’t mean I can’t speak French…
So the point is that if you’re not a total beginner, you don’t need any instructions to sew this simple Tokyo dress.
And this whole experience left me in awe of all the brilliant, talented sewists in the sew-osphere for whom English isn’t a native language, but who trudge through instructions in English regardless.
A happy accident
The Tokyo dress pattern is designed to be sewn fully lined, with a view to making it reversible. In other words, you are guaranteed at least “2-for-the-price-of-one”.
But, I had a bit of a revelation that I could make it even more versatile by simply skipping the elastic waist!
Like so many things, it began as an accident.
I’d messed up my first attempt at sewing the elastic channel. My horrible lining fabric was so slippery that I’d completely twisted my shell when sewing the shell and lining together.
Lax and lazy lining
On this note, am I the only one out there who lines lovely fabrics with cheap fabrics?
I am willing to spend quite a bit for the fabrics that I love, so then when it comes to buying lining to go with it, I baulk at the thought of spending more. So I pretty much always end up with cheap-as-sh*t, horrible-to-use linings.
Am I alone here?
I sometimes see patterns which say things like “we recommend silk or similar” as a lining fabric. I just laugh!
So anyway, after my slippery, twisty, elastic channel attempt, I unpicked and decided to just hem it already. I had enough time that I still wanted to make some progress that evening, but I just couldn’t face another attempt at the channel. So the dress was all finished, bar the elastic channel.
Back to that happy accident…
The next day, I was taking my son to the pool for an early morning swim while the Frenchman slept in. I went into my bedroom to grab something quick to wear. The unfinished dress was all I could get to without opening cupboards and drawers. I decided it would work as cover up for a quick trip to the pool, so off we went.
I realised that I really liked the versatility of being able to use my Tokyo dress for little things like that, without the elastic. It also crossed my mind that if my little monster ever ends up with a younger sibling, the roomy, boxy version would be great as maternity wear. Speaking of which, Atelier Scammit also have a maternity range, which includes a more empire-line maternity version of the Tokyo dress!
Further, I almost always wear a belt on top of anything with an elasticised waist. So I figured I could just rely on the belt entirely. I’ve taken my Tokyo dress on a few outings now in its various forms, and it works really well!
And if you happen to be heading to Tokyo…
I also happen to think that the Tokyo dress would be an especially perfect addition to any travel capsule wardrobe. With one reversible dress and a belt in hand, you can potentially have quite a few different looks! You could also pop a long-sleeve top underneath or a cardigan on top in cooler weather.
Oh and if you are lucky enough to be heading to Tokyo, please go fabric-shopping for me …
I love little, tiny, baby, mini PDFs
The other great thing about the Tokyo dress pattern is that the PDF is only 18 pages.
It only has 4 pattern pieces and that includes the cap sleeves. What you’re looking at here is the sleeveless version, so we’re talking 3 pattern pieces only!!
(Speaking of sleeves, the English word marked on the pattern pieces is “yoke”. I’ve always thought of yokes as being around the shoulders or neckline of a garment. Not sure if this is a lost-in-translation thing or if, technically-speaking the term “yoke” is more versatile than what I have in mind. In any event, this doesn’t cause any difficulties because it is blatantly obvious exactly what this piece is!)
This Tokyo dress is a size 42. I lengthened the skirt, however, by about 4 inches. This was so that I could have a very deep hem with the shell fabric visible on the lining side. So the finished project is about 2 inches longer than what the Tokyo dress pattern envisages. It’s worth mentioning that this change meant that I could no longer fit my pieces on my 2 metre of fabric. Instead, I had to cut out the back skirt in 2 pieces.
Keeping it simple…
All in all, I’m pretty happy with this one. Sometimes it’s just the simpler garments that I find myself reaching for day in and day out.
Am I the only one?