Saturday, 26 March 2011

4. Sewing the garment

Posts in this series:
1. Sewing from Japanese Craft books - what you will need and an overview
2. Sizing and figuring out the instruction page
3. Tracing out the pattern pieces

Cutting out the fabric from the pattern is the same as for any commercial pattern. After looking at the layout diagram in post 2, I know where the fold is and I transferred the grain lines from the pattern sheet in post 3 so I know which direction to place my pattern pieces in.

Make sure you transfer all the markings from the pattern to the fabric. For this pattern I have also written which is the front and back piece as they are quite similar. I've done this for the bodice and facing.

So looking at the numbered diagram, I can see the order in which I need to put my top together. First up is sewing the pleats around the neck, then sewing up the sides, and so on.

Half the instructions for my top (C2) are shared with the other 2 garments in the C family, so they are found on a previous page for dress C1. I have transferred the markings for my pleats and they are straight forward to sew. One point to note (more so when I am making up the final garment) is which is the right and wrong side of the fabric so that I get my pleats the right way round.

I sew my pleats, iron them as per the diagram, then sew along the top to hold them in place. I do this for both the front and the back bodice pieces. I have chosen to make my rough version of this top using calico, ideally I should have used something lighter and closer in weight to the final fabric I will use as it’s quite stiff. Whilst it’s not a big problem, it won’t quite show me what the final top will be like as it won’t hang the same.

I then sew together the side seams and can see that it looks quite big, so I think I may have to make a few adjustments when this test version of the top is finished.

I should then sew the hem around the bottom, but I'm not going to bother as this is the rough version and I want to check the length when it's finished.

Next up are the sleeves and these are specific to this top and so on the instructions page for C2. I can see that I need to hem both the top and bottom layers of the sleeve but as it is the rough version, I won’t bother doing this to save time, instead I trim off 1cm where the hem would have been so that they will be the right length when I try them on. I join them together along the top, add the pleats and then sew the pleats in place as per the picture and markings I have transferred from the pattern.

Next, I join the sleeves to the main body of the garment. This is straighforward enough, but first time round I manage to sew them on upside down. Second time, I refer to the pattern where I have labelled where it attaches to the front and back and think about which is the right and wrong side of the sleeve. This time, I manage to get it the right way. 

The next step is to bias bind the remainder of the armhole, but as this is a rough version I don't bother. If this is your first time using bias binding I would do a trial run for the practice.

Next up the facings and back to the instructions for dress C1 for this. They are numbered 1 - 6 in the diagram: 

1. Sew them together at the sides, 
2. Finish the raw edge of the facing (I didn't do this on this version but would probably do this first on my proper top as it would be easier to do when it's not attached to the top.)
3. Pin the combined facing right sides together to the neckline of the top making sure it lines up at the centre and shoulders and then sew all the way around. Then sew them together (using a 1cm seam allowance as this is what I added to the pattern)
4. Clip the seam allowance
5. Iron the garment inside out
6. Sew down the side of the pleats to hold them in place.

When I make my final garment, I think I will also top stitch the neckline to stop it from rolling out.


After my initial hesitation about it being too big, it actually fits perfectly on top. I think it might be a little full so I am going to see how it looks with a little less fullness by taking some out of the side seam. I also need to figure out how long I want it to be.

I am also a bit concerned about the sleeves will stick up gladiator style. Again I wished I'd used something lighter to make this top as the calico is so stiff I don't think it's helping. I am planning to make it in voile and I think as this is much softer, it will be ok.

So I'm going to go away, make a few adjustments and perfect my fit, before starting the final garment. But one thing that has surprised me is that this was really quick to make, I guess it would take a little longer with finishing the hems and armholes.

So is anyone else making any progress?


  1. Your top's looking lovely Kate. I managed to find and trace my pattern and made a muslin which was a little tight around the waist (ahem). So I increased the pattern pieces and have just cut my skirt out ready to sew! All pain free (so far). I'll do a blog post about it this week. x

  2. Don't things just look so professional and lovely when you use calico instead of an old bedsheet...if I ever get around to making a proper non-bed-sheet muslin then I will hang it from the picture rail so that I can admire it often. Kate, I think you may have gone pro.

  3. Oh dear, I still haven't even opened the book! I know I want to make the dress version though. May have to start it next week, or the week after...