One of the benefits of obsessively making excessive amounts of clothes from Japanese patterns books is that the publisher of the English translations of said pattern books will contact you to see if you’d like to review their books. Since “Duh!!!” was not an appropriate answer, I responded with an enthusiastic yes.
Now, I have the Japanese version of Happy Homemade vol. 2, but I was curious to see what the difference(s) would be with the English translation, Sew Chic Kids. As you can see, the English version is slightly larger in size. There are a few other differences too, mainly that the Japanese book crams everything in to conserve as much space as possible, whereas Sew Chic Kids really gives both the instructions and the patterns pieces more breathing room. This means that the English version comes with 2 pattern sheets vs. 1 densely packed Japanese pattern sheet. I now realize that I should have taken more photos of the books for reference, but you can take my word for it.
By the way, this is completely random, but remember that huge gap between K’s two front teeth? After four months of braces, totally gone! Amazing.
Anyhow, I showed K my newly acquired book and asked her which outfit she’d like me to make. As she flipped through the pages, I kept saying “Oh wait, not that one because I’ve already made it.” It turns out that I’ve sewn 14 out of the 20 options, so this is a really really good book. Her choices were limited since the available selections were mostly images of boys, but she was excited about the pintuck raglan dress (pattern e) and requested it in white.
“I want to wear it as a nightgown,” she said. So I scrounged up some off-white linen, and it looks pretty dreamy, no? As always, K masterfully styled the photoshoot with her stuffy, it of the brilliantly original name “Elephanty”. There were some unintentionally compromising positions involving Elephanty as I snapped away with my camera, and those I quickly deleted.
I did find an error in the instructions as I was sewing this. It was super minor, however, and involved a switcharoo of the inch and centimeter measurements in the layout for the neck bias binding. Something to look out for when you’re using the book. I do find it helpful that they include the US/imperial measurements. I also liked the larger size of the book that I could lay flatter than my Japanese version, and the construction steps were a breeze to follow since I understood every word, though to be honest, at this point I automatically just look at the illustrations and rarely bother with the text. One other thing I wasn’t crazy about was that I had to hunt down the pieces on three separate sides (the pattern sheets are two-sided), which was a little cumbersome. This meant the pocket piece was on sheet 1, the sleeve and back on sheet 2, and the front on sheet 3. On the Japanese pattern sheet, all the pieces are on the same side. However, the English pattern pieces are much easier to find since they’re spaced out a lot more and clearly labeled.
The dress looks like it belongs in the Sound of Music, and as classic and sweet as it is, I felt it lacked some oomph. This colorful cotton is from lovely Cherie — I think she sent it to me a year ago? K immediately fell in love with this fabric, but I didn’t have enough for a full dress, so I modified the pattern to make a tunic. There is, in fact a blouse/tunic variation based on the pintuck dress in the book (pattern h), but I wanted to keep it simpler and just chopped the bottom length and sleeves. The other change I made was to cut a single neck bias piece rather than the two called for. I thought the original method of binding the front, pintucked section separately a little awkward and the fit is better with this tunic.
The chambray pants are also from the book, but I sewed them forever ago and it’s actually a little too short for her now, so we cleverly disguised this by rolling up the hems.
So bright and cheerful — I love this fabric!
I’m so honored to have the opportunity to review and try out the book (and more to come!). It was fun to compare the two books and I think Tuttle publishing got a lot right with the English translation. Of course, no one needs two of the same book even if they’re in two different languages, so I am offering you, my lovely readers, Sew Chic Kids as a giveaway!
I used Swedish tracing paper for the pattern pieces and carefully folded them back, so this baby is pretty much brand new.
For my giveaway question, I was thinking of a job I had back in the stone ages. I managed a team of artists and we would have to sit together drawing things on little stones for eight hours a day. We got to know every intimate detail of each others’ lives as the work didn’t require a lot of concentration, but we also started to make up little games for entertainment. One day, one of my artists told me that I was like a butterfly, flitting around all the time. This led to everyone trying to identify what kind of creature they would be. So my question is: “What kind of creature would you be?”
The giveaway is open until next Thursday, May 1st and I will announce the winner the following day. International entries are more than welcome. Good luck!!