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Skirt i: Japanese Pattern Book

This skirt (actually, it’s called “skirt/pant”)  is the cover shot on the Japanese pattern book We Wear Clothes Onself:

Inside the cover is a pattern sheet a lot like the ones in BurdaStyle.  Every pattern piece you need to make all the garments in the book are on one small sheet of paper that’s printed on both sides.

All of the instructions are printed in Japanese, but the illustrations are superb, so figuring out the construction of this skirt wasn’t particularly difficult.  The patterns are all named with English letters — in this case, the letter “i” — so it’s possible to locate the pattern pieces by looking for those letters as a clue.  I did end up checking the kanji to make sure I had the right pieces, though.  You don’t need to read Japanese to do this; just compare the figures to see where they match.

I marked each of the pieces I needed to trace in red pen before I started, which saved me a lot of grief.  No size was indicated (or at least, I had no way of figuring out what size the skirt was meant to be), so I checked the measurements, and then added a 5/8inch seam allowance all around.  That turned out to be perfect; however, the wench in the photo is clearly a lot smaller than I am, so I suspect that seam allowances were included for the intended size.  Here’s the front:

Wrestling the skirt onto Miss Bedelia was a bit of a challenge, and I see she looks a bit tipsy below.  A firm elastic waist and a dressmaker dummy are not necessarily the best combination.  (And, boy, did I crumple the fabric in the process.  Good thing I’m in love with wrinkled linen!)  The curve on the back is a different shape from the smaller arch on the front of the skirt:

There’s a center panel on the front and the back, both neatly top-stitched.  The hem arches are faced, but the rest of the hem is essentially straight, and just turned up and top-stitched.  My kind of finish!

The quirky curves in front and in back (below) are functional — kind of.  The skirt can be buttoned back to front to make it into “pants”.   The look is something like a gang-banger gone wronger than usual, but you gotta love the option:

The buttons and buttonholes are artfully designed to allow this, but you’ll have to figure out the placement yourself by referring to the photographs in the book.  They’re not marked on the pattern.

You can also twist the skirt a quarter-turn to the side and button each curve to itself to make the skirt angle inward at the ankle, too, but that doesn’t work quite as well, since the side seams do hug the hip.  This inevitably means that they bulge a bit when you rotate the skirt.  Or you can just button the arches closed for yet another look:

The variations are all photographed in the book; some of them might work better in a lighter-weight fabric than the the Jo-Mar mystery yardage I used.   (I think it’s linen.)

The pattern is drafted very nicely; I was really impressed at how well it went together.  It’s a whole different aesthetic from anything European/American, though, and that’s obvious even in the shape of the basic skirt.   In the most fundamental way, the design is conceptually  completely “other” from my perspective.  So cool!

The waist is supposed to have a drawstring, but I hate them almost as much as I hate skinny elastic, so I constructed the waistband the way I was supposed to, and then threaded the wide elastic through instead of making a channel for the drawstring.  The top of the skirt is a bit bulky, owing to the substantial fabric, but it’s very comfortable to wear, either at the waist, or further down on my hips.  I love this skirt, and expect it to become a favorite.

Related:  We Wear Clothes Oneself:  Japanese Pattern Book

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  1. May 10th, 2010 at 11:50 | #1

    Very cool! I didn’t know there were any “trace off” Japanese patterns – I thought they were all “draft your own” like Ms Stylebook..

    • May 10th, 2010 at 13:30 | #2

      This was so much easier than “draft your own”. I’m going to be a lot bolder about picking up more of these books now.

  2. May 9th, 2010 at 22:59 | #3

    I bought this book last summer and I also liked this skirt, but of course haven’t gotten around to making it. Yours is GREAT!!

    • May 9th, 2010 at 23:03 | #4

      I put it off, too, a little concerned that it might be frustrating and unrewarding. Those great photographs convinced me to try it. It turned out to be one of the most instantly rewarding things I’ve ever sewn! (And fast, too!) Making it was just as much fun as oogling the book — I hope you’ll make your own great skirt soon!

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