made in Golden Week

I made these on the last day of Golden Week at Tokyu Hands, Shinjuku. I’d walked past late the day before, seen people making their own shoes, and made sure to come back.

Apparently Tokyu Hands has been doing this in Golden Week for 25 years (although they had a 4 year break). They have people who come back each year to make new shoes for the holidays. I know why, it was really fun!

They said next time they might consider having extra-large size wooden soles … the largest size fit me, but was to small for my husband. There were Japanese men making shoes for their female partners (I suspect their feet were too big, too). It was also nice to see an elderly man with rather swollen feet carefully making shoes to fit (I often wonder whether less-able-bodied people get left behind in the Tokyo rush). Oh, and we weren’t the only Westerners making shoes, either.

It wasn’t difficult, at all. First you cut the 3cm (I think) wide strips of leather, sticky tape the strip in place whilst trying the shoe on, and then duplicate it for the other side/other foot. Then you hammer the studs in place, voilà, shoes. They smell lovely, because of the wood.

The sticky tape was the only problem, I think I was too thorough and it made a mark when I tried t remove it. Oh, and the test drive. It’s hard to go down stairs, but doable. I walked a block to the local shop, which was fine. But after a 10 minute walk I needed bandaids on both feet! In retrospect, I think the Tokyu Hands guy might have tried to tell me they were a bit tight, but I didn’t want them to slip off, you know!

my first sewn garment

So, a role-playing character enters the bar:

“Where you been? Haven’t seen you in ages.”

“Sewing-land” (sighs heavily, hand tremors)

“Bad, was it?”

(nods) “Bad like you wouldn’t believe” (drinks deeply) “Ah, that’s better!” “Yeah, real bad, but I survived!!! I made it through the dark forest of topstiching, the swamps of non-stick interfacing and finally I fought the dreaded zipper-toothed dragon”.

Yes, I’ve really and truly completed my first sewn garment. Burda 7947, view C, I think I should have chosen something easier … not a 3 out of 4 dot effort. Also, I made it needlessly difficult for myself deciding to do mock flat-fell seams. Yes, of course, I see all the imperfections … the interfacing is too stiff (but firmly stuck!). There’s some problem or other across the front at hip level, same issue I often have with RTW clothes. And it’s really too big for me, who knew tape measures were so subjective?

But I’m really glad I’m done – not just relieved, I feel I’ve learnt so much, and now have new confidence to tackle sewing challenges. And let’s face it, any sewing is still a challenge for me … ah, the joys of being self-taught.

Out of interest, I scrolled back to when I first got interested in sewing, it’s about a year of reading, thinking, dreaming …

schade … (pity… )

I found a newsagent that happily stocked foreign language sewing, knitting and fashion magazines. They weren’t disconcerted that I can read languages other than English. And I found a great Italian sewing magazine in the style of Burda World of Fashion, Patrones or Knipmode with multi-size sewing patterns and instructions sandwiched between photos of the great clothes you could make. And I truly like the clothes… simple, stylish, I’d love to wear them.

But. (You knew there’d be a ‘but’, didn’t you?) But the magazine is from 2005, and the distributor can’t / won’t get any more issues, maybe because it’s no longer published. And I’m having a tough time finding any recent information about the magazine online, making me think the distributor’s right. The only possibility is this, it looks like a totally-French-language version, reasonably recent. Is it worth ordering it all the way from France, I wonder… sight unseen?

Mood: Sometimes I like German more than English. Although ‘schade’ covers a somewhat different range of meaning than ‘pity’, I think. ‘Pity’ is more sentimental, ‘schade’ can also relate to damage.

meet April Showers

Hi, I’m April. Yeah, that’s right, April Showers.
Very funny, like I haven’t heard that one before!
Look, it’s not my fault, my parents picked the name. What? You didn’t think April was a girl’s name?!?
And who are you, anyway?

Huh? You were expecting someone more goth looking? What, all black and grey?
Someone told you I usually wear black eyeliner and grey dresses with raindrops?!? And I’m all gloomy and wintery looking? No way, that was a stage, i’m over it!

Oh, you can hear someone muttering in the background about using what they have and not having any decent black fabric paint or decent black pens? Yeah, i dunno who’s muttering either.
Look, it’s Autumn colours, ok? It’s Autumn here now and it hasn’t rained in days.

She’s my April entry for A Month of Softies. She’s a proof-of-concept doll. The concept is graphix girl, number 19 on my to-do-list. Yes, I think the concept is proven, I’ll make graphix girl one day … but not in May, I’m working on back-tack!!!

And just to show you even prototypes have their prototype:

I love finding out how people develop their softie patterns, so I thought I’d show you how I’m developing mine ;D

Mr Fellowes

This is Mr. Fellowes. (I don’t believe anyone calls him Odd Fellowes to his face). He’s travelling in the train, like he does every morning, reading his newspaper … he only agreed to put his hat on because of the photo ;D

What is he? A piece of pure whimsy. And using what I have. Why isn’t he one of your 33 projects? Well … actually … he’s a sewing experiment, and I didn’t want to experiment on anything “serious”. I learnt a bit about stuffing, and that I’d like to sew more with knit fabrics.

And yes, the experiment was successful, thank you for asking. I’ve recently had this radical idea that pinning the pattern to the fabric would be better than trying to follow wobbly fabric marker lines. And yes, it was. Shhhh, stop sniggering at beginner sewers!! ;D