While the cat’s away…

The week home alone while son and hubby skied in Japan wasn’t so much play as churning through an impossible pile of garment sewing.

Immediately after the hubs and son departed fair (steamy) Sydney for Tokyo I trundled home to my sewing dungeon to finish a white rayon blouse I’d redrafted based on this one. I love this top its cool and easy, we’re suffering here with the heat at the moment. FYI last year was the hottest year on record for Australia – just in case you’re a climate change sceptic!

By the third day, trapped in the sewing dungeon, I’d started answering my own questions – out loud. Is that normal?

Funny how its the little things that take an excruciatingly long time though. On my first attempt to install the button loops I had inadvertently installed them backwards, you know, so this blouse could button up inside the facing?! What a pain unpicking all those, I’d used teeny stitches to secure them. Then those sleeve plackets and the latent elastic insertion with a 6mm seam nearly drove me crazy. My sewing machine absolutely hates to sew at the beginning of anything and little things just get swallowed up by the 9mm throat plate. The piece was too narrow to use a single hole throat plate because the fabric didn’t reach the feed dogs – aaaagh! Can you see the elastic has let go on my right hand? The elastic did it – not me, more fixing.


Design wise, my eye keeps wandering to the neckline though. What was I thinking to just leave those tucks wandering all over the place like a visual walkabout. They need a finish line. Next time I’ll design a neckband of some sort.

But how about that rayon, what a lovely soft cool textile, ever so slightly heavier than the usual stuff, though creasy. A girl’s got to have a few white blouses, they make one feel so smart and put together for parent/teacher interviews!


The buttons came from Kanariya in Sapporo, Japan. Thanks to this website for inspiring my visit. I only realised the significance – the boys being in Japan and all – tee hee! Last time we were there I didn’t ski, too many injuries and I’m just not willing to risk more. So one cold and snowy day tired of crocheting, I jumped on the bus/train in search of this 5 storey fabric extravaganza. What a gem this place is. For me, the button department was the best part. So many beautiful buttons and I’m a sucker for mother of pearl (MOP) at any time. The assistants, after much gesticulating and pantomime understood I wanted buttons but how many? I felt like Mr Ed the talking horse; it was almost down to pawing (hoofing) the ground as they counted! The buttons then go into a sweet little brown paper bag on which they write the item’s details in Japanese – such a pretty language written and spoken. Our son studied Japanese at school to year 10, its quite common in Australia, he can sound out one of the languages (there are 3 notations) but can’t tell you what the word means – so not a lot of help unless you want to be sure the green stuff on the table is in fact wasabi, WA-SA-BI!

Our friend worked on a pearling enterprise in Tahiti last year, he’s a gemologist. He told us that when they open the oyster to look for a pearl, the oyster dies. The oyster meat is eaten, but the shell goes to China for processing into mother of (MOP) buttons. Sounds like my buttons are well travelled. Tahiti – China – Japan – Australia.



The fabrics at Kanariya were mostly not my taste, lots of creams and browns and abundant cutesy prints. I am not your Hello Kitty kind of girl! There was this gauze that had me intrigued, though I still have no idea what one is meant to make with it. To me it seems like an ‘in’ joke – like its destined to be something quite specific and I don’t know what that something is. Do you have any idea? The 2 patterns are printed and run parallel with the selvage, not that that seems to matter in the case of gauze, the lengthwise/crosswise grains don’t really seem to differ? Watching the men cut the fabric (3 of them) was worth the purchase alone. They were so careful, measuring with a yard stick and folding the fabric so precisely before wrapping it in paper, the head fella instructing the younger guy. They insisted on imparting the washing advice too, despite my lack of Japanese – more charades!

On another note I beg you to please go and look at Lena’s blog post which arrived this morning – its very touching and her work is quite exquisite.




Add yours →

  1. Gorgeous buttons! I love that length of fabric too, even though it is a bit random. I’d make it into something simple to show off the different patterns, a colour blocked tee or something?

  2. I like the white blouse a lot, despite your fair, but harsh, self-criticism. Lovely interesting post. We have so much to learn from Japan, don’t you think?

  3. I really like the pin tucks and white is always a practical colour for integrating into the wardrobe. It looks great.

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