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Amparo Bertram

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05:56 pm: Why I love my sewing machine
Today I had a bit of free time, so I spent an hour working on sewing the sleeves of my yukata. (See how to sew yukata sleeves for diagrams.) Each sleeve is a rectangle folded in half.

The first thing I did was set up the sewing machine the teacher brought out for me to use. It was...old. I now really, really appreciate the features my own sewing machine has, especially including:
  • arrows printed directly on the machine showing where to load the thread through the various tension devices and
  • a needle-threader that eliminates the need for trying to stab the thread through the eye of the needle.

    Step one was to fold each sleeve wrong sides together and sew a short line along the side where the two opposite ends of the rectangle are brought together (the red dotted line on the diagram labeled 1). First of all, I always pin the material so the heads of the pins will be facing in the direction of my right hand, so I can pull them out easily as I go. This is apparently completely opposite to the way the sewing teacher does it...I guess she pulls them out with her left hand? I'm not sure. In any case, she mentioned how weird it was for her to put the pins in backward. Next I started up the sewing machine...which made a horrendous grinding noise. I was afraid at first that I had broken it, but I guess it was supposed to sound that way...? The teacher didn't seem to think anything of it.

    Once the first line was sewn, we flipped the sleeves inside out. Unlike most other clothes, in which the fabric is folded directly to the seam line, traditional Japanese clothes apparently have a bit of buffer zone around the seam called a kise. Thus, instead of the seam looking like the top of the letter A, it looked more like the letter M, with the actual seam line in the valley.

    I then proceeded to sew the curve of the sleeve, the part that dangles out farthest from the body in the finished product (the red dotted line in the diagram labeled 2). As soon as I did that, I was told that the machine-sewing portion was finished. The next step was to sew, by hand, two arcs, each a little over 1/8" apart working out from the curve. (In the diagram they look like straight lines, but I was instructed to sew parallel to the curve itself.) This took me quite a long time, because I had to keep stopping to wipe my hands dry. Sewing by hand is definitely not my strong point. By the time I finished one sleeve (the teacher did the other), the hour was up and it was time to call it a day.

  • Comments

    [User Picture]
    Date:December 14th, 2004 07:03 pm (UTC)
    This continues to be fascinating to follow. *g* (And may prove useful if they ask me to design the next Vittum show, which is A Thousand Cranes.)

    If you ever run across a resource that has the directions for those diagrams in English, could you point me to it? I could glean a few glimmers from the drawings, but I know I'm missing something important...
    [User Picture]
    Date:December 14th, 2004 09:36 pm (UTC)
    The closest I've been able to find is this site, which approximates the shape of the finished product, but since it uses a single broad piece of cloth rather than narrow strips, it doesn't have seams in the same places so it doesn't quite look authentic. It's probably much easier, though.

    If I get the chance, possibly over break, I can translate the instructions.
    [User Picture]
    Date:December 14th, 2004 09:53 pm (UTC)
    it doesn't have seams in the same places so it doesn't quite look authentic. It's probably much easier, though

    Good reference to have regardless, especially for costume use.

    No rush on the translation -- heaven knows I have no idea when I'd be able to do anything with it -- but it'd definitely be cool to have sometime. Thanks!

    Also? I adore the icon. (And yeah, I'm a sucker for in-jokes I was there for, but still...)
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