Hi, in December I was asked by Tuttle books is there was a sewing book I’d like to review. I browsed their craft books and saw that earlier this year the publishing company had released the English-language version of Stylish Wraps by Yoshiko Tsukiori ($15.95, Amazon affiliate link here, Tuttle link here). Somehow I missed the release of this book back in August.
Tuttle publishes several of Tsukiori’s sewing books, including Stylish Party Dresses. If you’re familiar with Japanese sewing books, it typically follows a format like this: 1. photos of finished garments, 2. instructions with clear diagrams and 3. a set of full-size patterns printed on both sides of the paper. For Stylish Wraps, the patterns are printed on the front and back of two large pieces of paper. The patterns are stored are in an envelope attached to the inside back cover.
Stylish Wraps is a good book for beginning sewists because the patterns are simple, such as Poncho A, which is essentially a rectangle folded in half with a hole cut in the middle for the head and then the corners cut in a curve to form the sleeves.
There’s also Poncho B, which is a variation of Poncho A – a circle with a hole cut in it and a ruffle added to the sleeve.
There are 22 patterns in Stylish Wraps, each identified by a letter of the alphabet and a brief description. Similar to Tsukiori’s other sewing books, some designs share the same pattern pieces for the garments. This means that some patterns are quite similar to each other and essentially variations on the same design.
The table of contents divides them into 5 categories – Straight Cuts, Capes, Accessories, Dolman Sleeves and Regular Sleeves. For example, patterns D and E – Drape Jacket and Drape Vest, are in the Straight Cuts section. They use similar pieces except that one has sleeves and the other doesn’t.
The Drape Jacket is made with sweatshirt fabric. I like this design and the fabric choice.
I also like the Bolero, Pattern P, which is the featured in the top left photo on the back cover below. The cool thing about the bolero is that is has an entirely different shape when you tie the ribbons.
The title is a little misleading as not everything is a wrap. As you can see, some of the designs are coats and vests. There are also knitting patterns for mittens and other accessories.
Then there are a few faux fur designs, such as this cape, which is a bit odd looking. Maybe it would look better in black? It looks like two furry arms.
There are four sizes – 7, 9, 11 and 13, which translates to bust 31 (78), 33 (83), 35 (88) and 37 (93). Don’t be alarmed by these measurements. There is a lot of ease in Japanese sewing patterns so don’t assume the patterns are too small for you.
None of these patterns are fitted and they are designed to be loosely fitted. If you haven’t tried a Japanese sewing book, you might want to check this one out. The designs are nothing fancy. A few are frumpy but there are some stylish ones in the mix – and for $15.95, it’s a good deal.
I’m giving away a copy of this book on my blog. So if you’d like a chance to win a free copy, just comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random and Tuttle Publishing will send you a copy. This is open to all – worldwide entries are allowed. Add your comment by next Thursday, Jan. 11. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, Jan. 12 on this blog post. Good luck!
Hi! I got the sewing book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (affiliate link here) for my birthday earlier this year. It features several wardrobe basics – skirts, tops, pants, and jackets, plus bags. most of the projects in the book use her fabric designs. (You can see her fabric collections at Windham Fabrics and her other products on her website here.)
I decided to make the Pilvi Coat, which features a simple neckline (no collar), 3/4 raglan sleeves and side pockets. There isn’t any lining, just front and neck facings, no buttons or closures unless you want to add one at the top. There’s also a shorter hip-length version, the Pilvi Jacket, in the book. It’s a great coat for the Bay Area, which doesn’t get too cold much of the year. I really like how this turned out. It’s quite versatile. I can wear it with pants or skirts – and hats, of course.
The day I took these photos, it was a rare cloudy day so the light wasn’t great. But I do love the orange wall! It’s an apartment building that’s painted a really bright orange. It looks duller in my photos than it appears in real life. I’m wearing a vintage beret in these photos, which I got from All Things Vintage in Oakland.
All of the patterns are printed on two large sheets. Similar to the patterns in Japanese sewing books or Burda magazine, the pattern pieces overlap and are printed on both sides of the pattern sheets. If you are unfamiliar with patterns printed on both sides, this means you can’t cut the pattern pieces or you’ll cut into other pattern pieces. You must get some tracing paper and trace the pieces.
I made size L (bust: 38-40.5″ (96.5-102.9 cm); waist: 30-32″ (76.2-81.3 cm), hips: 41-43″ (104.1 cm-109.2 cm)). After I traced a size L, I had second thoughts and thought I should add more ease to the shoulders. I have broad shoulders so I was afraid they might be a little too fitted. I have a small bust, which works well with this coat. If you have a larger bust, you may need to make some adjustments to the pattern.
I taped more tracing paper to the front and back pattern pieces where the sleeves attach and traced size XL there and used my French curve get back to size L. I didn’t make any other adjustments as this was my test version.
It can be tricky finding all the pieces but there is a nice pattern sheet guide in the back of the book that highlights in this salmon pink color, the location of each pattern piece. Page 153 shows where you’ll find the Pilvi Coat pieces are on the pages. I didn’t know the guides were there until after I traced my pieces. Before you trace a pattern, consult the pattern sheet guides, which start on page 152.
I decided to make my first version of the Pilvi from a home dec fabric I got on sale from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco years ago. It’s a medium/heavyweight corded synthetic fabric, likely nylon and maybe there’s some cotton in the cords, which fray a lot as you’ll see in the photos below. The cords are a royal blue and they are woven in with this black synthetic fiber. The cords make it seem striped. It’s hard to see how blue those cords are in these photos.
The book recommends using “wool coating, textured mid-weight wool, mid-weight cotton fabric.” My fabric was a bit hefty because of the cords. I used a colorful lightweight cotton print for the back neck facing pieces and the pocket bags. I got the facing fabric for free at an American Sewing Guild stash sale. It was in a box of free scraps.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an unlined coat. I decided to pink my side seams. You can see a sliver of the pocket bag in this photo.
The front facing is not a separate piece – it’s part of the front jacket pattern piece. The front edge of the coat is where the facing folds back. The top part of the front facing attaches to the neck facing at the top of the sleeve. The sleeve facing attaches to the back neck facing.
NOTE: When you trace/cut the back and sleeve pieces, be sure to cut the entire piece, which includes the facings. Then you need to trace the sleeve and back facing pieces. If you don’t trace/cut the entire back and sleeve pieces, they will be 2 inches short and won’t line up with the front pieces.
The entire facing is topstitched in place in one long stitch line. I pinned the facing in place and then I basted using a ladder stitch. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t shift as I stitched. I used washi tape as my fabric guide.
Here’s another look at the inside of the jacket – as I was wearing it. That’s the front facing from the inside.
And here are more photos of the finished coat. Gotta love the pockets! Note: the pockets may be placed a bit low for some people. I have really long arms so the placement was fine for me. (Or maybe I incorrectly marked the pocket placement?) Be sure to check the placement before you sew them in place or you may be reaching pretty low to retrieve what’s in your pocket.
I really love these sunglasses. I forgot to put them on until after I had taken many photos so I only took a couple of photos wearing them.
Here’s the back. I think the coat fits pretty well. I like the length and the shape.
I will be making it again with a fun cotton print. I wonder if I need a little more ease around the armscye or maybe the bicep area. See those wrinkles around my bicep? The sleeves don’t feel tight so maybe it’s the fabric, which is a heavyweight home dec fabric. I think I’ll cut size XL for my next version.
Here’s the back detail. You can see some slight wrinkles in the fabric, which are the result of the fabric sitting folded up on a shelf for a few years. I pressed it but you can still see them on the back and part of the front. Maybe an other pressing will get those out.
When I was walking down the street to my photo location, the jacket flapped open in a light breeze, which was a little annoying. I needed to put some sort of closure at the top. A few days later I donned the coat and stopped by Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and asked Douglas, one of the store’s stylish fabric mavens for his opinion. He said that a button could be distracting and may clash with other things I wear with the coat. Good point! So he suggested a hook and eye that would be hidden.
So I traipsed to the third floor of Britex and went to the notions counter asking to see their hooks. There are fabric covered hooks in different colors. I was shown a blue one that was a close match to my fabric. Perfect! I love the hidden hook. You have the option of leaving it unhooked and no one can see it. I like it a lot better than a button. Then I can wear a necklace and I don’t have to worry about how it looks with a button. Dritz makes covered hooks and eyes but the color selection is limited to black and white, and maybe brown. I found other colors on Fine Fabrics website here.
Here’s a close-up shot of the hook and eye. It’s much smaller than this – only about 3/8 inch (1 cm) tall. These are often used when sewing fur.
I sewed it on…
… and it looks like this when hooked. I added the hook after I took photos of me wearing it. You can see my topstitching here – it follows the edge of the facing and continues over the neck facing and back down the other side of the front facing.
The topstitching will be visible so if you don’t want to see it, then you need to hand stitch it in place. I decided to try the topstitching and I like the way it looks. But if you are going to topstitch you really need to take the time to pin and baste the facings in place so the top stitching will look good.
The pattern calls for finishing the hem by folding it over 1/4 inch (6 mm) and then 1 inch (2.5 cm) and topstitching in place. Because my fabric is on the heavy side, I opted to finish the edge with bias tape and sew it down with a catch stitch. Here’s the front facing and hem finishing.
I really love this coat – the only drawback is that because it’s most synthetic, it doesn’t really breathe. But we do get a lot of cool weather in the Bay Area. Summer nights can get pretty cool and spring and fall can be cool as well. So I can wear this coat at least half of the year.
The next one I made will be from this fun fabric – ASCII art (!) – which I got from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics a few months ago. I made this wearable muslin so I could make the Pilvi Coat from this fabric.
So stay tuned for that coat. What’s in your sewing queue?
Last week I reviewed the Japanese sewing book She Wears the Pants. I mentioned that I was thinking of making the Draped Mini Dress but wearing it as a tunic. Well, I made it this weekend but I’m still not sure I like it on me.
I made size L, using a lightweight synthetic knit. It’s either rayon or poly. I’m really not sure. Maybe it’s a rayon/poly blend? I got it for less than $2 a yard at Fabric Outlet. It was priced at $1.99/yard and the store was having a 40 percent off sale that day. So this is my mockup. Here’s the photo of it in the book.
I didn’t make any adjustments except to the hip/upper thigh area. I added a half-inch (~1.3 cm) to the pattern before I cut anything. I’m sure there’s plenty of ease in this pattern but I was taking in consideration the fact that I usually grade up a size in the hips, and this is supposed to be a dress with drape. It wouldn’t be too drapey if it was too tight across the hips – even if I am using a knit fabric. (I adjusted the photo so you could see the drape but the background is a bit over-exposed. The perils of photographing black.)
I don’t have a serger so I used a zig zag stitch to sew this up. I think it would have been easier to sew if I had a serger to do the top stitching along the neckline and hem. This lightweight knit was a little fiddly but for a mockup, I think it turned out OK.
This is a simple top to sew but the armhole and neck bindings can be a little tricky if you haven’t had any experience sewing knit bindings. The bindings are essentially long rectangles (see cutting layout below). Because this pattern uses a knit fabric, it will stretch to go along the curves.
The front piece of this dress is rather wide so you have to tape the two pieces together. Unlike the back, it is not cut along the fold. As with most Japanese sewing patterns, you have to add the seam allowances, which are indicated on the cutting layout. For this dress, you do NOT add seam allowance to the armholes or the back neckline because these three areas will have binding added to them. But you do add a 7/8″ (2 cm) seam allowance to the front neckline. If you look at the diagram of the front neckline, you’ll need to add some length to the seam allowance on both ends. This has a triangular shape because this will fold over and be stitched down. I wasn’t sure how to draw that seam allowance so I just took a guess and made an approximately 45 degree angle for that bit.
I’ve told people that the diagrams are sometimes more important than the written instructions in Japanese sewing books. Well, I didn’t quite pay attention to the instructions about the neck binding. Oops. I looked at the first part – sew the back neck binding to the back but didn’t really look at the next illustration. Thus I didn’t fold over the binding twice before sewing it down. I just flipped it over to the other side and sewed it down. I wondered why the binding seemed a bit wide. Heheh.
Also, my back neck binding seemed a little short so you should gently stretch it as you’re sewing it OR just cut it a little longer than the diagram indicates, and cut off any excess. I actually pinned the binding to the back and it seemed like it was long enough but when I finished sewing it, I saw that a bit of the fabric of the back neckline was caught and folded over. Ack. Luckily it was only an inch or so from the end so I unpicked it that part and stretched the binding to fit. It doesn’t look very neat but I didn’t want to unpick the entire seam (#lazy), plus this was my mockup.
The armhole binding is done a little differently that I’ve done with other knits I’ve sewn – folding the binding in half and then stitching to the sleeve hem. For this dress, you sew the binding to the armhole, gently stretching as you sew. Then you fold it over twice and then sew it close to the edge. I decided to give it a whirl. As you can see here, I had a lot of extra binding left over. I cut off the excess.
If you haven’t sewn knit bindings before, you may want to practice sewing a strip of knit to a shorter piece of fabric. It’s not really something you can pin and sew. You just stretch and sew. For a good video about sewing a binding to a curve, see Cake Patterns video Binding on a Steep Curve on her Hummingbird sewalong tutorial.
And here’s what the armhole looks like with the binding folded over and stitched. I decided to stitch in the ditch to try to hide my zig zag stitch. it was supposed to be top stitched.
It looked pretty good but it was a bit thick. I didn’t trim my seam allowance and I’ve got a total of four layers of fabric that I stitched through. My fabric was lightweight so that wasn’t a big deal. I think the idea was to give the sleeves a bit of weight but they stick out slightly. Granted I didn’t press the dress at all so maybe that can be fixed with a little pressing.
Here’s a sort of side view. The neckline is a bit plunging for me – not exactly something I would wear to work unless I paired it with a camisole.
If I leaned over, I think I would be flashing my bra. For me, this “dress” is too short to wear as a dress. Thus I’m wearing pants with it. I might consider wearing leggings and boots with it.
If you like short knit dresses, this one’s for you. I still need to trim down the back neck binding because it’s folding up and you can sort of see the raw edge peeking in the back here (just to the left of center).
If you’d like to win a copy of She Wears the Pants, just comment on my post reviewing the book to be entered. You just need to comment by Thursday, May 21, 11:59 pm Pacific (California time).
Ta-daaaa! This is the tunic top I made from a French sewing book, Dressing chic: Vetements et accessoires, which I got for $6 from the Readers Bookstore at the San Francisco Public Library. The book has 18 patterns for garments and accessories – but it’s all in French, which I can’t really understand – despite a year of French in college. But it does have nice diagrams and the patterns aren’t very complicated so I decided I could figure it out.
I got some help via Instagram from @lakakills, who is French, and assured me that “les valeurs de coutre de 1 cm sont incluses” meant that a 1 cm seam allowance was included in the pattern pieces, and that “envers” referred to the wrong side of the fabric and “endroit” the right side. If you follow me on IG (@csews) you may recall seeing some of my WIP (work-in-progress) photos or this one below, which shows the book, the tunic as it appears in the book and the fabrics I was thinking of using.
I decided to make this pattern because I liked the neckline and it looked like it would be simple to make; it only has 6 pattern pieces: front, back, sleeves, front inset, front and back facings. The sleeve head looks a little funny on the model wearing a hot pink version (see above) – oddly puffy – but I decided to take my chances. Plus it was a chance for me to do some stash busting (I’ve been participating in the Summer Stashbust 2014) and experiment with putting two prints together, something I don’t ordinarily do.
These are the two prints I decided to use – the top one is a print that I got at a Bay Area Sewists fabric swap; it was in the mystery fabric category. It’s very soft and drapey so I think it’s a woven rayon. The one on the bottom is a cotton remnant I got on sale last year at Britex Fabrics. This fabric is similar to the one I used for my Emery Dress. But this version was printed a slightly different cotton (not voile) and had a printing error. There was a misprint of the bubblegum pink detail in the center of the flower so I made that the “wrong” side of the fabric.
I usually do a small bust adjustment on bodices but I decided to leave the bust darts as is because the model looked rather slender so I thought the bust darts would be fine as is. I decided to take my chances and just make some flat pattern adjustments and hope it all worked out. The sizes are S, M, and L. Based on the measurements provided, I went with L, which has a bust (tour de poitrine) of 94/98 cm [about 38.5 inches at the largest], waist (tour de taille) of 74/78 cm [30 inches] and hip (tour de hanches) of 100/104 cm [41 inches].
So here are the adjustments I made based on the book’s measurements (or what I usually do with some indie patterns):
a slight wide shoulder adjustment – adding 1/4 inch (slightly less than 1 cm) – my usual
added 1 inch (2.54 cm) of ease to the bicep area of the sleeves using the method Sandra Betzina details in her book Fast Fit (I got a used copy at Half Price Books.)
added 4 inches(about 10 cm) to sleeve length – I didn’t like the sleeve length, not quite 3/4, plus I have long arms
added 3/8 inch (1 cm) to hip – I have wide hips
I figured out that I needed more ease in the bicep area by:
looking at the model in the photo and seeing that she had skinny arms;
holding the pattern piece against my arm and seeing that it gave me about an inch of ease; and
comparing the measurement of my bicep circumference and the width of the upper part of the sleeve pattern piece.
I decided an extra inch of ease would be good. I followed Sandra’s instructions for a large bicep. I don’t have a large bicep but I decided that would be the easiest way for me to add ease to that part of the sleeve. I drew a line from the top center of the sleeve cap to the bottom edge. then I drew a perpendicular line where the sleeve cap begin to curve. I cut along those lines and then pulled the left and right sides apart until I had a 1-inch gap in the middle. She notes that the pieces along the horizontal lines will overlap slightly – and they do.
I taped the sleeve pieces to another piece of tracing paper, redrew my grainline and the bottom sleeve edge so that it’s a straight edge again. If you don’t redraw the bottom edge, you’ll have a curving hem. Sandra says to add this amount to the sleeve cap, which I did but later discovered that I didn’t need to do that. She also advises to stay stitch along the entire sleeve cap, which I did.
I didn’t make any changes to the armscye of the front or back pattern pieces. I just eased the extra inch of sleeve cap when I attached the sleeve to the main body of the tunic.
Note on sleeve lengthening: I was lazy. I sliced the pattern piece about 1/3 up from the bottom, perpendicular to the grain. Then I lay my pattern pieces on my fabric and moved the two pieces apart by 4 inches, pinned them in place, making sure the grainline matched, and cut. I guess you could say I “trued” the piece as I cut.
The trickiest part was how to attach the contrasting fabric inset and the facing to the front pattern piece. I stared at the diagrams and eventually determined that I had to arrange my pattern pieces in this order:
Front body wrong side up
Front facing wrong side down
Inset right side down, 1/4-inch pressed around edged
and then sew the tunic slit opening by sewing as close to the center line in a very tight U shape. I’m sewing through all three pieces. In this photo, you can barely see the facing because the right side is up and the interfacing side is against the main body. But you can see a slight white edge around the facing. On this, my “wrong” side of the fabric, you can see the pink centers of the flowers and the interfacing on the inset piece.
The next steps were to sew the bust darts, flip the front inset (my contrasting fabric) to the front, attach the front and back shoulders and facings. Then I flipped the front inset to the right side, and pin the facing to the front and back pieces like so.
The next step was to topstich along the neckline and around the edged of the contrasting fabric inset. I decided to hand stitch with black button craft thread. Here’s a detail of the front left side of the inset.
Then I eased the sleeves in place and sewed the side seams – from sleeve edge down the sides, stopping a few inches from bottom. I tried it on to see how it fit and the bust was fine, the sleeve ease was fine, but the sleeve cap was screwy. The very top sort of puffed up about an inch (a couple of centimeters) above my shoulder but the fabric wasn’t stiff so it was like a deflated late 19th Century blouse. Picture this without the pouf:
I immediately took it off ripped out the stitches along the very top of the sleeve cap where the weirdness began and ended, then I just took my scissors and cut off that excess. I sewed a new line of stay stitching, plus a line of ease, pinned and reattached. That quick fix worked! So I took the piece I cut off, lay it on the other sleeve as my guide to cut the excess off and finished that sleeve.
All that was left was to hem the sleeves and bottom. The bottom of the side seams are open (see photo below) so I had to press and fold the seam allowance of there and machine topstiched. Then I hand sewed the hems.
And here are some more photos. It was a breezy and very sunny day. I think this is one of the few photos that show my red shoes so that’s why I’m including it – even though my hair is blowing in my face. 😉
Here’s another side view.
And a closer shot of the front.
And the sleeves. I didn’t have enough of the navy fabric for the sleeves so that’s how I ended up with contrasting sleeves. You can see here how the fabric nicely drapes.
The tunic would probably look better with slimmer pants instead of these wide-leg jeans.
There are no darts in the back and it’s kinda poufs out there – not so attractive, eh?
I grabbed this belt before I left the apartment but maybe a skinny belt would be better.
Or maybe it doesn’t need to be belted. The back looks OK here.
I’m happy with this tunic – my wearable muslin. Plus one fabric was free (via a fabric swap) and the other I got for less than $10. I used thread I already had and I spent a few dollars on some lightweight woven interfacing. I think my total costs were around $10 to make this. The only thing I would change is that I didn’t really need a wide shoulder adjustment. I think the pattern was drafted to have a sloping shoulder look.
Have you made any wearable muslins? Or are they only possible with simple patterns?
A few days ago I got my copy of the English Translation of Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori (Laurence King). It was an impulse buy when I was browsing sewing books on Amazon a few weeks ago. I just happened to see it when I was in the midst of my I-don’t-have-everyday-dresses-in-my-wardrobe revelation (see Everyday Dresses). I liked the images I saw on Amazon so I pre-ordered it. This will be my second book of Japanese sewing patterns. I’ve also got Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa.
But now that I’ve flipped through the book, some doubts are creeping in. The models do not have curvy figures and they are rather thin. I have wide hips and I’m not a small person. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ (172 cm for you metric folks) and weigh more than 150 pounds (68 kg). Really.
Back when I was a kid in the late ’70s, my mom got me and my older sister jeans at Sears. I remember that we got the same size (she’s 11 months older) except that I got the “husky” version and she got regular (or was it slim?). I wasn’t overweight, just bigger boned. But I didn’t like being categorized as “husky.” Out of curiosity, I went to Sears website and checked out girls clothing. Guess what? “Husky” has been changed to “pretty plus” for girls but for boys, they still say “husky.”
The key is to make clothes to fit your body – not make your body fit the clothes, right? So I will see what I can do with this Japanese pattern book.
Here’s a preview of some of the outfits in the book. I think the designs and fabrics are all quite pretty. There are plenty of dresses but the book also includes patterns for tops, jackets, and pants. Maybe I’ll start with a top.
It will be interesting to see whether any of the dress patterns will suit me and my hips! I’ve been assured by @sew_la via our convo on Instagram that Japanese patterns will work on a hip-y figure. 😉
NOTE: If you haven’t used patterns from a Japanese pattern book before, be warned, on these patters you usually have to add a seam allowance and you cannot cut out the pattern. Multiple patterns are printed on both sides of the paper and the pattern lines overlap. This means you need to trace the pattern. I’m fine with tracing patterns but I sure wish they would use a different type of line for each size, which would make it easier to trace. I love that American patterns vary the lines for each size (dots, dashes, etc.).
Here’s what you’ll see when take one of the pattern sheets out of the plastic sleeve in the back of the book:
Yeah, it’s rather a mishmash of lines so you do have to stare at it to make sure you’re tracing the right ones. The technical illustrations are very nice so you can always look at those to make sure you’ve got the correct pieces.
Do you think these dress patterns will work on a figure with hips? Have you made any Japanese sewing patterns? If you have any tips, let me know!