My family may not have bought all the wonderfully sewn garments my dad made to the states, but we did bring over his favorate sewing books. I thought I would show you how patterns are like in China as they are quite different from the patterns we usually use.
book #1: Toyko Summer Outfits
It features Japanese girls in some color outfits. the shapes are pretty boxy and not quite my thing. However, it comes with 100 patterns! 100! and they are not just variants of eachother. Of course, take a look at their patterns:
You have to draw them out and “draft” the patterns yourselves. But with the detailed guidelines, i think it could be easier than fitting muslins onto oneself and drafting them. It could also fit better than using the conventional patterns, where you have to guess your fit by folding the height lines to make them shorter, adjusting the sizes for chest, waist, hips according to different measurements, etc.
Note the lack of directions! On every pattern there’s a few words on how much fabric you need, and maybe 1 sentence of tips/notes on making the dress! I personally dont mind it, as I never read directions anyway. But I can see a lot of people having trouble with this!
Though I disliked most of the patterns when I looked at the photos, they looked much more appealing on drawing. You can still see the emphasis on the strong shoulders in most of the pattern though! The page I should had a dress(48) that somewhat reminded me of vogue patterns, if you soften the shoulder!
Book #2: The awesome book (j/k, its awesome, but the real name is ” New Method of Tailoring — the D way to tailor,Shanghai whatever “D” means)
This book is the bomb! It doesnt have any colored photos inside, but it comes with a general knowledge on sewing, 32 men’s patterns, 57 Women’s patterns, 34 children’s pattern, 17 pants (yes, separate section just for pants) patterns, and hat, shoes (!?), and gloves. As the previous book, they are not wishy-washy about their patterns. They are truely differently patterns, and not just a variant of each other.
Despite the dominance of big shoulders on the cover page, the patterns actually looked normal. There are some pretty classic patterns –trench coat, motocycle jacket, princess seams, riding jacket, tuxedos, you name it. If I chose to, I think I can actually take quite a few patterns from here and make some pretty updated garments! But of course, the pattern drafting part looks pretty intimidating.
What I love about this book, is that its probably made for a pro-tailor. All the patterns are drafted according to every measurements — height, height of your body, chest, waist, hips, shoulder length, arm length, neck width, etc..There is a small section on ow to alter patterns for older people, as their body shape is different. There are actually a lot of fashionable clothing for men. It was a pity that my dad didnt sew any for himself!
The books were not super cheap — about 7 chinese dollars each and my dad bought it in the early 90s. I would think its equivalent to about 50-60 dollars relative to our earnings here now? But they are pretty darn and worth it 🙂 Here are some patterns they had for your enjoyment. Click on the photos for bigger pictures! If you ever feel extremely adventurous and knows how to read chinese, you can use those pictures as a pattern!
There are a few patterns in there that I would love to make. However, I would need to get help from my dad to decipher some of the stuff!
I wonder if old sewing books from the US is as stripped of how-tos and full of technical drawing as these chinese books. These days I see a lot of sewing books with a extraordinarily amount of tutorial, details how to, stuff that I pretty much learnt from making mistakes and experimenting. Perhaps it is because sewing had skipped a few generations — not many people are lucky enough to have mothers or fathers who sews challenging garments, and thus our generation has a voracious appetite for sewing knowledge!
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this rare glimpse into vintage chinese sewing! 🙂