Wednesday 18 September 2019

The Kabuki Tee Experiment

You know when you have a ma-hoooossive list of projects that you want to sew, many of which you already own both the pattern and the fabric for? And then you have an idea for a new project, something clicks in your mind and you push aside all your carefully laid plans because you have to make it RIGHT FREAKING NOW? You do? Good, then I don't need to explain. 


I had been aware of the Kabuki Tee by Paper Theory Patterns for a couple of months before the sudden urge to make it took hold. If Hunter S Thompson had been into sewing, that last sentence would definitely be something he'd have written I think. Anyways, the Kabuki tee is a definite deviation from the rest of my wardrobe, but after the success I had with my recent experimentation with volume, I felt the Kabuki tee pattern just might work out for me. With a contemporary Japanese feel that I very much appreciate on others, but is something I have yet to dabble with personally, I decided to take the leap. I kept my fingers crossed that I had some other items in my wardrobe that I could match it with, so that it wouldn't be an orphan. 

(image source: Paper Theory Patterns)

I love the drafting of this pattern. Those sleeve insets-come-bust darts look so simple but are executed so nicely. The bias-bound neckline and basic hems complement the general clean look of this style. The pattern's body measurement put me (as per usual) in two sizes: a 12 for the bust and 14 for the waist and hips. Looking at the finished garment measurements, I decided that the design ease was sufficient for me to just go with a straight 12, and the resultant fit is great. 

The instructions are lovely and clean, with very clear illustrations. However, when I got stuck into the construction, I was a little disappointed at the sparseness of the guidance. There was one mention of possibly overlocking the raw edges of just one of the shoulder seams, and that was the only reference to finishing raw edges throughout the project. Similarly, there was little mention of pressing seam allowances, and the instructions for the hems were just to turn up and stitch, with no direction to finish the raw edges first or to double fold them.

The lack of seam allowance finishing and pressing directions left me feeling somewhat in the dark when it came to those tricky sleeve insertions, more hand-holding would definitely have helped me feel a bit more confident there. I'm a fairly experienced sewer at this point, and I've inserted panels like this before so it came out alright (FYI, I overlocked the seam allowances of the sleeve insertion together, pressed them towards the body of the garment, and decided to topstitch them down), but I suspect that the explanation for this part of the project might be a head-scratcher for someone who hasn't been sewing for long. Which is a shame, because the lack of fitting required with this style would otherwise lend it well as a project for a newer sewer.


As we know, fabric choice is key and can totally make or break a sewing project. I adore the plain linen sample version photographed on the Paper Theory website, however I wanted to work with what I already had in my stash if possible. I was also carrying a mild concern that this top might end up looking a bit 'flouncey pottery teacher in her 60s' (no disrespect intended to anyone, that is OBVIOUSLY where my style is ultimately heading, I just don't want to get there too soon!), so I aimed to pick a fabric that would work for this pattern but be a type of fabric I do already wear, to bridge the gap between the new-to-me and the more familiar.  

I had recently become the grateful recipient of a remnant length of this 4oz washed denim from Fabric Godmother that had some light damage in parts. It's the same fabric I used for my most favourite, and possibly most worn, top ever so I already new its properties and how it will eventually age. I was able to cut this pattern whilst avoiding the most obvious light damaged sections. I think the fabric has just enough structure to hold the shape of the Kabuki pattern style (although probably not by it's millionth wear and thousandth laundering I'll wager), and I'm excited to see how it fades at the seams, neckline and hems over time.


Luckily for me, as soon as I finished this top, the climate dealt us an extra helping of late-summer warm, sunny days to wear it in. It felt so breezy and nice. I've also found a surprising number of bottoms that it looks pretty good with, including these Cobra corsage Luna pants, and my three knit pencil skirts. Will I make another Kabuki tee? Possibly. If some lovely linen or linen blend lands in my lap at some point, I may take the next step towards my inevitable complete Art Teacher aesthetic. 


Birgitte said...

I have to laugh about the art teacher aesthetic. The description is quite well known! I work as an art teacher (grade 8-10), and a few days ago I was relayed a conversation between a coworker and her teenage son, who had asked her if we had any of those typical art teachers at our school - "You know, with eye glasses, and flowy clothes and gesturing and stuff". Yup. :D

The lines of this top is great, and I can easily picture it with knit pencil skirts! Kind of off topic, but your hair and make-up look really great in these pictures. :)

Charmaine said...

A beautifully finished garment. Well done. BTW Paper Theory have excellent instructions for this tee on their website.

Barbara said...

It turned out really nice! I like the topstitching.

I was also a bit in the dark about the seam finishing. I didn't want to serge the seams because it's not precise enough to do that angled sleeve with a serger, so I sewed with my regular machine then sewed a second line of stitching a quarter inch or so out, then just trimmed the rest of the fabric beyond that -- very carefully, as close to the second line of stitching as I could without cutting into it.

I was sewing with a shear fabric and thought that would look good, and it does. But next time if it's not shear I will try to serge the SAs together after sewing and see how I like that.

Zoe said...

Hi Birgitte, Charmaine and Barbara,

Thank you all for your comments! Birgitte, let's embrace the Art Teacher aesthetic together! Thanks for the tip off Charmaine, I'll be sure to pass that on to anyone I know who is about to embark on this project. Good luck with your next version Barbara!


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