Draped Mini-Dress – from ‘She Wears the Pants’

Draped mini - black hat - She Wears the Pants - csews.com


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.

Draped Mini Dress - She Wears the Pants - csews.comI 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.)

Draped mini - black hat - She Wears the Pants - csews.com

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.

Draped mini dress - cutting layout - She Wears the Pants - csews.com

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.

Draped Mini - diagram - neck binding - csews.com

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.

Sleeve binding - Draped Mini Dress - She Wears the Pants - csews.comThe 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.

Sleeve binding attached - Draped Mini Dress - She Wears the Pants - csews.comIt 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.

Draped mini - front - She Wears the Pants - white hat - csews.com

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.

Draped mini - She Wears the Pants - back right - csews.com

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).

Draped Mini - back - white hat - She Wears the Pants - csews.com

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).

She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada- csews.com

Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!

Draped mini-dress from Japanese sewing book She Wears the Pants

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

13 thoughts on “Draped Mini-Dress – from ‘She Wears the Pants’”

  1. This looks great on you! I would not be able to follow the Japanese pattern because even though I would start out adding extra for the seam allowances, I know as time went on somewhere some piece along the way would get forgotten and then come stitching time I wouldn’t be able to figure out why it won’t hang right, fit right, or piece together right. I have to have the American patterns where all the lines are drawn out for me already. As it is, I can mess that up. I have a sunhat that I started a couple of summers back that is several wedges pieced together and they form a swirl pattern from the crown to the brim, well I still can’t get the last bit to line up correctly even though the cut fabric is identical to the paper pattern and the paper pieces line up…. sigh it sits in an unfinished projects drawer until I can take it to my Mom and she can help me figure it out.

    1. Thanks so much! I totally understand about not wanting to add seam allowances. You really have to pay attention to them, especially when they aren’t all the same! Good luck with the sun hat! Maybe you can do a search online and see if anyone else had the same problem. Maybe they figured out how to fix it.

  2. I so like this tunic mini-dress on you, and the way you’ve styled it too! Really nice! Thank you so much! Annette

    PS – have a good weekend!

    1. Thank you! I have to say that I’m a bit overwhelmed by how many people like this mini dress/tunic. I got a lot of positive response on Instagram. I think I will try making it again, but with a higher neckline. 😉

  3. This is one of my favorite draped styles. Great purchase! I wish I could find deals on fabric as you did! Would love to see you wearing more vivid colors such as red 🙂

    1. Thanks! I think Fabric Outlet is having a Memorial Day sale now – 40% off. You may be able to find some cheap knits there.

      Yes, I do need to make more things with color. Red is one of my favorite colors but I haven’t made too many things in red. Gotta work on that!

  4. I really like this, but then, there’s no surprises there 😉 It looks a bit more risqué than V1250, but not as daring as DrapeDrape1 #1 – I do love a draped neckline and in black jersey, over your pants, yours looks fabulous!!

  5. Oh I like this. With a black CAMI underneath dignity would be assured! But I agree the length is not what I’d call a dress. Even so it looks fantastic as a tunic.

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