Monday, February 10, 2014

A Silk Chiffon Blouse and Japanese Pattern Book Review

Though I have sewn lots of children's clothes from Japanese Pattern books, I have only two books in Japanese with adult sized clothes. The main reason is that I tend to prefer sewing clothes for children but also because the style of many of the adult-sized patterns are loose and flowing. I like to wear more fitted styles.
When Tuttle Books sent me an English language book of adult-sized patterns by Yoshiko Tsukiori to review, I wanted to do the book justice, so I sewed a top from the book. I'm really pleased to have found a way for these styles to work for me.


Happy Homemade Sew Chic is a beautifully presented and photographed book.
The 20 patterns, from size 6 to 16, include 8 dresses, 3 blouses, 3 tunics, 2 jackets and 1 pattern each for culottes, sarouel pants and shorts and a skirt, most of which have a relaxed style and simple lines. The full size paper patterns, included in the book, need to be traced and seam allowances added.

The first half of the book has modelled pictures of all the styles. The middle of the book describes basic sewing techniques and tips with some very clear illustrations on bias binding facings and how to sew a v-neckline.
The remainder of the book consists of diagrams which very clearly illustrate how to sew each of the patterns. Numbered instructions correspond to numbers on the pattern illustration which in turn correspond to numbered diagrams for each step in the instructions.
The reason I love these Japanese Pattern Books and a major strength of these books is the clarity of the diagrams and illustrations. There are no wordy descriptions to wade through to understand the sewing techniques like inserting elastic, gathering, tucks and pleats, button tab, shirring among others. Instead, a diagram or short series of diagrams means that even complicated sewing techniques can easily be replicated successfully.
Inspired by current fashion trends for sheer fabrics, I chose to sew pattern 'S' in silk chiffon. My thinking was that a fabric with drape would work well with the simple lines of these designs, and would also work with my shape. I was also trying to save the silk chiffon fabric which I had sewn up badly the first time.
As the chiffon was more difficult to sew than the suggested lightweight cotton, I needed to make some design changes. I lengthened the top and used ribbon instead of trying to cut a bias neckline facing in chiffon. I sewed narrow hems at the armholes with my new rolled hem machine foot.
These changes worked very well, especially the use of narrow gingham ribbon to cover the inner neckline seam where the ruffled collar joins the neckline. The ribbon is a soft pale sage green gingham ribbon from janemeans. Using ribbon meant I didn't have to cut narrow bias strips in slippery chiffon.
I also didn't sew a ruffle down the centre front as I thought it might affect the drape of the chiffon. Instead I attached the ruffle piece at the neckline and put a simple knot in it.
I'm surprised by how much I like this blouse. Chuleenan wrote an interesting post on the style and fit of Japanese patterns, and I would have had some of the same concerns. Though I don't think every style in the book will suit me, there are plenty patterns in it that I will make.
If you are looking for some encouragement or motivations to sew from Japanese Pattern Books, there is a sewjapanese sewalong with a Flickr group and #sewjapanese hashtag on Instagram (which I'm unable to link to!)


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  1. Lovely top Angela. The fabric is beautiful, it would be perfect for a hot summer like last year.

    1. Thanks Maeve, I'm glad it worked & that I managed to save the fabric :-)

  2. The top looks great on you! A light and flowy top like that will be perfect for summer. I think wearing a dark colored camisole underneath the sheer top helps as it still shows your shape.:)

    1. Thanks Cindy :-) I'm determined to make more of there styles work for me!

  3. Oh, great top, I like that you decided to sew it in chiffon.

    1. Thank you Catja, I think the drape of the chiffon worked too. It's still a pain to sew though ;-)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Nicole, I was pleased it looked ok :-)