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Sep 14, 2016

Japanese Pattern Book Project #1 -- The Work Jacket


My next project is going to be the jacket featured on the cover of Men's Clothes For All Seasons, a Japanese pattern book with roughly 22 different men's patterns featured in it.

I hope eventually to try them all.

This style is sometimes called a work jacket or a chore jacket.  It's usually blue cotton denim or blue twill, and often associated with the French, as well as the late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham.

Here's a fancy version by Junya Watanabe.


From S.E.H. Kelly:


I wasn't sure what fabric I'd make mine out of, but I knew I wanted to use a solid.  I had it down to either a lightweight denim or a cranberry red organic cotton twill.   Unable to decide, I asked on Instagram and the vote was unanimous: the cranberry.  So that's what I chose!

I opted for matching topstitching thread rather than a contrast.

Now, working from a Japanese pattern book takes some patience, especially if, like me, you don't read Japanese.  Fortunately, the diagrams and photos are extremely detailed.  If you've sewn similar garments, you shouldn't have a problem. 

I'm pretty sure this pattern was made by deconstructing vintage workwear.  It has a very 1920's/30's shape.




I've worked with Japanese pattern books before, so I knew what I was getting into.  I found my size (Medium) by comparing my basic measurements (in centimeters) to those provided in the book.  In American patterns, I'm always a Small  (36 chest, 14.5 neck, 30-31 waist).

In this book, you must add the seam allowances; they're not included on the patterns.  It's a bit more work but it also gives you more flexibility.  I used a tracing wheel and yellow carbon paper on plain white craft paper (the kind that comes in a roll).  I added the seam allowances with a ruler in pencil.  I won't pretend it wasn't time consuming -- it was.




Anyone who has ever traced a pattern from Burda or a similar European pattern magazine knows what it's like to find the right pattern in the right size on headache-inducing pattern pages where multiple patterns in multiple sizes and colors are not only nested, but also overlapping.  Luckily, there were only eleven or so pieces, not including interfacing.

I cut my fabric yesterday and started sewing today.  So far, everything's been coming together well.  There were a few times I wished I could read Japanese, but I managed to figure things out.  This is not a complicated pattern but working solely from photos can sometimes be confusing.



And that's it -- I hope to finish tomorrow if all goes well.

In closing, have you ever traced a pattern out of a pattern book or pattern magazine?  Did you use the method where you place transparent tracing paper atop the pattern and trace the lines in pencil (which was my old method) or carbon paper and opaque paper underneath the pattern, which you trace over with a tracing wheel?

Any method other than these two you've tried and recommend?

Have a great day, everybody!

28 comments:

  1. The cranberry is very nice -- and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished jacket! I have tried several methods of tracing. These days I am using Swedish tracing paper, which is a lot like non-woven interfacing, and colored pencils. After tracing the pattern pieces on the paper, I add seam allowances with the SA curve rule, a really handy tool. So far this is the quickest and least tedious method I've discovered.

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  2. I have a roll of non woven disposable bed cover (medical supply) - I think it's akin to Swedish tracing paper but cheaper. You can see through it so you can put the pattern underneath to trace off. it does double duty because you can also sew it together and make a muslin!

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  3. I have a double tracing wheel, amazing! It has about 5 slots where you can move each wheel closer together or further apart so you can make the seam allowance as wide as you like, and as long as you remember which wheel is doing the main and which the SA it takes a lot of the headache out of this. Highly recommended!
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clover-487-W-Double-Tracing/dp/B00292BPII

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  4. You mentioned the French connection with this jacket and I can attest to the fact that years ago almost every man who you would run across who had a job where he worked with mechanical pieces of any kind was ALWAYS dressed with one of these jackets and usually matching pants. Les bleus de travail. It's a classic work look in France which has faded over time.

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  5. Love that color! Have you tried the Google Translate app? It can translate whatever you point your camera at. It's not perfect but it should provide you with some clues as to how to move ahead.

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    1. Wow! I have to try this too! I work pretty frequently from Japanese Pattern Books and I have made a couple of mistakes caused by incorrect interpretation of the diagrams - nothing major, but I'm going to try out the Translate App. Thanks!

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    2. Ooh. I am now possessed of a smarter phone, and a stack of Japanese books and magazines. The diagrams are usually brilliant enough to get me by, but now and then there is a stumper (mostly in the knitting books) that just derails the project for a time.

      Peter, your patch pockets are going to be perfect if you iron the curved seam allowance over a cardboard template with steam before you sew them. You only need a corner piece, and cereal box weight works fine. Your sewing skills are so much better practised than mine, it's unsettling to tell you that.

      The world's gone mad, I tell ya!

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    3. I baste the 2 pockets together, turn them and then give them a heavy press. Remove the basting and you have 2 matching perfect pockets.

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  6. This jacket looks like something out of LC King Manufacturing Co, a clothing fabric in Bristol TN. They call this type of jacket chore coats. Go and take a look! http://lcking.com/collections/chore-coats

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  7. Looks like a great start Peter! I love the color and wish you good luck on your jacket!

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  8. I use some Japanese sewing books also and the Google translate app on my phone is sometimes helpful - and sometimes laughter inducing. But it can certainly give you clues if something is less than obvious.

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  9. I have sewn from Japanese sewing magazines before, once you get into the swing (which for me was remembering to read right-to-left), it's pretty easy because the diagrams are so great. I was making Lolita clothes at the time and found this PDF -- http://www.feorag.com/gosurori/gr-patterns.pdf -- really handy. The first half probably isn't as important (unless there are pieces you need to draft) but there's a glossary in the back of sewing terms, translated from Japanese to English. I would usually go and pencil in any key words I needed to remember.

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  10. A.k.a. a "donkey jacket" in the 19th century. Which makes me love this style even more.

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  11. I'd buy such a pattern book purely for the photographs and diagrams which are stunning and very Japanese.

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  12. Peter, I have two of the Japanese pattern books, the military coats and the men's coats. I'm tall and roughly the size of a medium American male and found that even the men's large was too small. The pattern needed to be graded up especially in the sleeves and in the pockets but making a muslin and having an actual military field jacket on hand to refer to helped immensely. I'm in the process of making a man's military M65 field jacket (in blaze orange with a Minion print lining) and finding that some of the details are missing in the "how-to "illustrations. For example, absolutely none of the jacket instructions in the book show how the collar is attached and they missed a very critical detail that really makes the garment work; they neglected to put a lower extension on the hood that zips out of the collar that covers the back of the neck to keep water from dripping in. That said, still an excellent book and now I'm going to look for a copy of you book to add to the collection. There is such a dearth of men's patterns that anything, even ones that must be graded up, are like gold.

    Theresa in Tucson

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  13. Where can I find this book, please:)

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    1. This Etsy seller has it:

      https://www.etsy.com/listing/240624735/mens-clothes-for-all-seasons-japanese?ref=hp_rv

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  14. Hi Peter. I must give this book a try. Did you see my version I made of this iconic style? http://maledevonsewing.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/the-guild-jacket-reveal.html?m=1 Keep up the good work. Jamie

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  15. Sometimes I use masking tape to stick the pattern paper to a glass sliding door, cover and tape butchers paper/craft paper over the top and trace the pattern out. Its easy to see with the light behind the glass. The Swedish paper thing sounds awesome, but if expensive or difficult to find, the glass door works a treat.

    Cant wait to see your cherry coat,
    pkg

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  16. Larger sheets of waxed tracing paper really help. The ones I use are 29" by 39". It's also been recommended to mount the sheets to foamcore board with spray adhesive, then put your pattern paper on top with the pattern over it and trace away.
    The jacket is going to be wonderful!

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  17. A French colleague told me in France they trace Burdastyle patterns on newspaper with the tracing wheel, no carbon paper, just follow the dotted lines afterward. I use a double tracing wheel with carbon paper however. I did a couple things from the Drape Drape Japanese books for my daughter and she loved them. Like origami to assemble!

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  18. You need some of this tracing paper: http://www.richardthethread.com/index.php?src=directory&view=shop_richard&srctype=detail&refno=705&category=Tracing%20Paper

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  19. My recommendation for pattern copying is to scan and print to a large format paper, then cut the pieces you want. You might need to go to a copy shop for that, unless you already have a large format printer at the office or at home. This would be the fastest way. Not cheap or free, but fast and easy. ��

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  20. Ditto Esther, but not until I upgraded my printer/scanner to a ledger-sized (11x17-in) one, under $200, MUCH faster and more accurate than using a letter-sized one, and twice as fast to assemble the tiled print-outs from. I also add the step of digitally tracing the outlines I want so I can alter them, add/alter seam allowances, or design new shapes based on them as needed, in an image-editing program (I use Adobe Illustrator, but there are many free and cheaper ones, and Photoshop or its alternatives would work, too).

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  21. I love this look and would love to give this a try! Tracing the patterns out looks very time consuming though. I like the idea of scanning and printing the pattern pieces - great idea.

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  22. Nice post, I like men's casual shirts online they gives a neat and good look.

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