Sew Japanese in January

One of the Instagram challenges currently doing the rounds is Sew Japanese in January, and it is just the push I needed to sew up a couple of Japanese patterns that I’ve been keen to make for a while.

I started with the Simply Sewn Gingham Button Down, which is featured on the front of the book by Michiyo Ito.


I liked the fact that this shirt can be worn two ways – as a wrap and as a regular shirt. Instead of leaving it unbuttoned with a cami underneath, I decided to button mine up and still wrap it, although I’m sure I’ll style it as per the book cover when the weather is cooler.


The wrap is quite clever. There is an extra button sewn to one side seam and a piece of hat elastic sewn to the inside of the other side seam. The bottom button and buttonhole are then joined up to the side seams by the extra button and hat elastic, and a very neat wrap is achieved.

I think I was trying to show the wrap in this photo but look like I’m doing some sort of “hello sailor” maneuver! I included it here because it amused me.


When wrapped, the back becomes very fitted at the waist and hips.


The skirt is my Stylearc Taylor skirt made from stretch cotton from Knitwit.

I’ve also enjoyed wearing the shirt buttoned in regular fashion.


I am so taken with this shirt and have worn it several times already. I do have a slight regret that I didn’t make the sleeves full length and now am yearning for a crisp white shirt that I can wear under jackets and jumpers when the weather cools down.


I’m wearing the shirt with my Jalie Eleanor pull on jeans made into shorts.

The fabric for this shirt is the most gorgeous crinkle cotton from Crossgrain Fabrics, which is a Perth based online shop selling the most beautiful fabrics. This shirt is light and cool and it’s just perfect for summer, and best of all it doesn’t need ironing!

I have found a couple of thrifted Ikea gingham curtains in my stash, so will be making a gingham one quite soon and I will make the sleeves full length but in a way that they can be rolled up for the warm weather.

My second make is from the Japanese sewing book Drape Drape 3,  and it’s the one-piece boatnecked tunic. I’ve had this wool from Potters in my stash for a while with no idea what to do with it, and this seemed to be the perfect way to use it up.  As the name suggests, there is just one pattern piece, and the top is cut on a double fold.


I couldn’t decide what size to make, so made it XL as that matched my bust measurement, but I think the top is a bit big, especially in the hips, where I needed to make an M. If I make this again, I might make the L graded down to M.


I’m also not keen on the size of the boat neck. I can never tell from a pattern how big the hole is going to be, and in fact I thought it was quite small. I shall be reducing the size of the neck if there’s a next time!


As this is wool, I am considering it a winter make and will wear it over wool t-shirts. I had a small amount of fabric left over so made a little infinity scarf to help keep my neck warm.

I had enough to double wrap it


or just wear it as a kind of collar.


I have found that the seam where the arms are put through (I can’t call them sleeves) is very narrow. I have quite skinny arms and it’s pretty tight and I’m not sure whether I’ll get my arms through if I’m wearing any sort of a jumper, so I will make this part of the top a little wider next time. Quite a few changes to note!

I did hope to make something a little edgier but I wanted to make both of these garments rather than one of the more interesting ones, so went for sensible over whimsical.



10 thoughts on “Sew Japanese in January

  1. Both lovely makes. I love the idea of a normal shirt that can metamorphise into something else. Fabulous. The top looks great and for what it’s worth, I think the neckline is nice. Could you make a really skinny turtleneck to wear under it, that would look wonderful in winter. Suzy xx

  2. Both makes are lovely but I’m really loving the white shirt!!! A classic with a twist!! You are ever inspiring as I’ve had this book for years and have wanted to make the shirt for about that long but wondered what it looked like ‘on the body’ so to speak. Well….. it looks fantastic on you!! I shall now add it to the ever growing queue list. 🙂

  3. I would rather say: sensible AND stylish. I love both of your Japanese makes and you’re inspiring me to revisit my Japanese books for inspiration. BTW, you hairstyle looks fantastic Sue!

  4. Both look good but the shirt is excellent.
    My way to check neckline sizes is to make a loop from my tape measure and try that. Not infallible but it helps.

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