Copy One

“I will master something, then the creativity will come”

A fitting Japanese proverb, for a Japanese make, on my first ever blog post! The ‘tunic with neck ruffle’ from Yoshiko Tsukiori’s ‘Sweet Dress Book’. I love loose fitting clothes so Japanese dressmaking pattern styles really appeal.


When I first started dressmaking a year ago I made a dress by the same author and was really surprised how easy the limited instructions were to follow for a complete novice, although the end result looked like a sack – why I chose dark brown linen I’ll never know!

So this time I aimed for something a little lighter. On a visit to Kingston Upon Thames I planned a quick stop at the amazing Fabric Land. Unfortunately the road was closed due to a “police incident”. Disheartened I made my way back to the station and stumbled across Fabric Time which had a small but unusual selection of lightweight cottons (I don’t think the shop is open anymore but they still sell lovely fabric online). I’m not normally a fan of pure cotton for dressmaking (ruddy creasing) but this one was so soft that I had to have it, along with a few others for good measure!


Given a choice between dress sizes I normally err on the larger side with dressmaking patterns, but knowing that Japanese patterns tend to come up large I went slightly smaller this time. I also didn’t bother adding seam allowances to the front and back pieces. The sizing turned out to be perfect, with only a slight adjustment to raise the front neckline. So, if you’re planning a running up a Japanese pattern take my advice and think small!

The other change I made was to the construction of the ruffles. The pattern called for two pieces, hemmed under. Could I hem the curve to a smooth finish? No I could not. So I decided to cut four pieces, sew right sides together in twos and turn out – perfect curve! I even rolled the hem ever so slightly – just like Tilly (and the buttons) taught me!


I’m glad I tackled this make with a bit more dressmaking experience behind me as these instructions seemed to be a bit out of order, such as the instruction to sew the ruffle to the neckline before sewing the shoulders together!

Of course I still managed to fit in the regulation *blunder-sew when attaching the ruffle…


I overlocked any exposed seams but decided to try something a bit different for the arm holes as I find the overlocker doesn’t give the best finish around curves. I wrapped the seams in some very lightweight organza and I’m pretty happy with the finish.



The final improvement (on my previous attempts) was to attach the bias binding correctly – essentially sewing twice (see this great tutorial by oliver and s). Soooo glad I wont have that annoying situation of the binding coming away after a few washes!


I’m renown for making, but not wearing (my local charity shop is very well supplied) but I think this will actually get a good run – in fact I’ve worn it out already – admittedly only to walk the dogs but it’s a start…



*an idiotic mistake made by a seamstress who really should know better – every make is destined to suffer at least one.

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