Sewing a Japanese wrap-dress… and some complications

in needleworkmonday •  last month 

I did it again or is it already again again? Sewing something that doesn’t fit. You my dearest readers will know this better than me, as I suppress every thought about my craft-fails – a very helpful method to stay motivated with sewing. I highly recommend it :-DDD

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I have this lovely Japanese sewing book for many years now. It is the first sewing book I owned. Cleverly, I bought it before I could sew, so it slept for a while in my book shelf. Now as I am a bit more experienced in sewing (please stop… I can hear you snickering) I wanted to give it another try. I opened the book and - tadaaaa - the first pattern was so beautiful, that I wanted to try it: a wide wrap dress which can double as a coat. If you want a look at this pattern and the whole book here is a review in English.

You know my strategy. The first step is always to buy a inadequate cheap fabric, to try fit and pattern. The selection of bargain fabrics which were big enough to sew this coat-dress was very limited - except if you think a dress made from neon fur fabric - which is a remnant of carnival is a good choice… than your options are better. I chose a sturdy denim like fabric in powder blue with brownish ornaments. The fabric is very stiff and durable, but I thought this a good quality, as I thought of this project more as a coat than a dress. Yeahhhh…. And no, this wasn’t thought through. The dress has a wide gathered skirt piece which can stand on itself because of the stiff fabric.

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But two steps backwards. To trace the pattern was easy, the explanations about material and process understandable and so the body of the dress was finished in no time. The bust dart sits on the right place and the shoulders are ok. The armhole is a bit to narrow under my armpit, I would modify this, if I ever sew this again.

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As a next step the book recommended to work the straps. And I nearly burned the whole thing while trying to follow the explanations. And believe me I read/heard/saw many of them. My fabric was so stiff, I couldn’t turn the d*** sh** inside out. I tried it with a safety pin, I used chopsticks, I jumped on it…. But the stubborn thing didn’t slip a millimetre. The method that finally worked (but nowhere near as good as in the video I watched) was to use a huge drinking straw and a wooden pin. You stick the drinking straw inside the strap and than poke with the wooden pin into it to. If my explanation is too elaborate (joke) just watch this video :-D


(you really do not need these fancy tools, the drinking straw worked fine)

The biggest challenge done, I went on with the sewing. All went well until I sewed in the sleeves. Sigh. Just look at the photo… I turned the sleeve on the wrong side and happily sewed it in. I only noticed it while trying the dress on. And while noticing the incorrect inserted sleeve I also noticed that the dress looked – ahem – like a sack. Because of the stiff fabric, the dress didn’t drape softly to my ankles, no it look as if it was wearing me, not the other way round.

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So, my dear needleworkes, what shall I do. My first notion was as ever, to burn unpick the whole dress and reuse the fabric for a real coat. But on a second thought, maybe I can wear the thingy if I simply shorten it? I made more of these informal photos where you can get a impression of the dress in a shorter version. But you need a bit of imagination as the fabric bulges so immensely, it looks like a ballon skirt.

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Nevertheless, what do you recommend? Ripping or shortening?

PS: sorry for the uncurated and a bit weird photos with funny socks and trousers beneath my dress.
PPS: I cut my hair…. :-D


Thank you @crosheille for initiating and @muscara, @shanibeer, @marblely for hosting the #needleworkmonday. If you want to see more beautiful projects with yarn, fabric and most of all needles, follow @needleworkmonday. Or even better grab your needles and keyboard and join the #needleworkmonday community.


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Hi, @neumannsalva. I've just seen your post. The hair looks great - it reminds me to give mine a trim :D

I like the fabric but I personally would shorten it a bit if you are planning to wear it soonish as it may be a bit warm. I'm not sure about the draping though... what was the recommended fabric type?

If it's to be worn during colder weather (as the fabric is stiff), then you could leave it as it is. It will be lovely and warm with a cardigan or short jacket :D

I actually made a similar mistake recently with a sleeve and as a result I've now got to cut another sleeve because I can't be bother to unpick it :D I shall show it to you when I find it - I also threw a tantrum ;D

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lalala ... the recommended fabric was linen 😄😄 But, as linen is never on sale in the store near me, I thought why not take denim (I guess, in reality I thought not too much) And after all the feedback, I will shorten the dress instead of killing it.
And with the sleeves... sigh... my problem is that I have no spatial imagination, and this is no coquetry. I cannot visualize how things will fit together in sewing. Sometimes I try it out with paper beforehand... to spare me the ripping. Thankfully the stiff fabric is easy to unpick, so less hate on my side, or I already burned the emotions away while trying to turn the straps inside out 😆
I hope you have enough fabric to rescue your project. And I am curious what you are sewing.
With my hair: I told the hairdresser to only shorten it a little bit and she got carried away 😱 But as I at most go one time per year to a hairdresser, it's ok. Nevertheless, thank you so much for the compliments - I need them 😆


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Thank you so much for your awesome work and for sharing my post <3

😄 Oh goodness you tickle me...where do I begin? Oh yes first I like the two vids you shared. I love how she gave us a preview of the book and that turning right side out trick with the straw is fabulous! I will be keeping note of that for my sewing adventures!

I like the dress in it’s shorter version better. It would be cute with tights as @jamethiel mentioned. I can see it all cute with its wider skirt once you tidy it up. The long version reminds me of a house dress that you wear around to do various things while at home. All of this is just my own personal opinion but I am always excited to see what you decide to go with ;)

You made me laugh though, I can see myself sewing a sleeve wrong side out.

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Uhhh I am always happy, when I make you smile. But believe me the straps where no fun, I would never make them again in such a stiff fabric. Nevertheless, I am very happy I learned something new.

I followed your lead and cut the dress yesterday. It looks much better, but it is still not really to my liking. I am now thinking about some darts at the back.... I guess although I so love the Japanese pattern books and their style, I have a body which is not suited for this kind of style. At first, I thought I will make this dress again in a softer fabric, but now I am no longer sure this is such a good idea.

And with the sleeve... I also had to laugh very hard. It took me completely by surprise, I really thought I had done everything right, then this thingy was inside out. Thankfully, the fabric was easy to unpick.

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Yes you sure got some learning out of this experience! You tried it and now know this may not be your style. That’s the beauty of experimenting, you never know what you’ll end up liking or not. If you try the darts I hope that makes you like the dress more with all the work you put into it. I know you’ll keep us posted!!

Your hair is cute, I bet it is easier to manage now!
I like the shorter dress version, it will look cute with tights! Long is nice for winter but only keep it long if you will actually wear it.

And your sleeve... I laughed when I got to that part, it seems so easy to sew and then stuff like that happens. And I would also have wanted to burn it.

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Thaaaank youuuuu... that was the main reason I got it cut. The hair was to heavy when I pulled it up and it did not help my headaches. Much better now (although it is really short for me :-D)
And with the dress, I cut it yesterday. I like the shorter version much better, but i am still not completely happy with it. I ponder to insert back darts, to get a more defined waistline. I sadly guess, that most of these wonderful Japanese patterns are not made for my figure/size..
And with the burning – I had the most intense impulse while fumbling with the straps. Oh my ***** the inside out sleeve was harmless in comparison. Thankfully the fabric is easy to unpick. The dress has now two! sleeves with the right side out and all straps are attached :-DDDD

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I look forward to seeing photos of the finished dress! It is lucky that you didn't follow through and burn it. :D
Not sure if darts would help, I don't know enough to figure out sewing alterations and you are WAY beyond my skill set. :)

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Darts are my 'got to' solution to fit my bigger backside/sway back into dresses :-DDD If I don't do darts, dresses sit to low on my back and I have to cut a much bigger size to accomodate my behind :-D
https://www.sewmamasew.com/2010/06/the-mighty-dart-the-role-of-darts-in-your-fitted-clothing/
But with the burning, I could visualize a interesting video with me burning a dress :-D

Ahehe but it looks good on you, base on the picture @neumannsalva maybe in personal especially seeing the materials or touching it, we can see the difference...

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But would you shorten it or would you use the longer fit (you can see the whole length on the photo with the faulty sleeve) ?

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for me continue the longer fit can be use during cold time...

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ok thank you for your tip <3

I like it on you :) Looks good! I like the pattern on the fabric too. And I see, the original one is with sleeves. I like your half done no sleeve version.

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Thank you so much for the compliments, but as you perhaps guessed after reading the post, I am not too pleased with the dress. I guess my figure is not perfectly suited for many of the Japanese pattern, although I so love them (wahhhhhh here me cry) I have cut the dress yesterday and know contemplate to insert darts at the back to give it a more defines waistline.
Or perhaps I should have used a more appropriate fabric with more drape :-D

shortened version is much better! The dress looks original and I like how the skirt keeps its shape. when I read about the sleeve, I saw myself :))))) the other day I sewed straps to the backpack, and so I twisted one of them, that my husband had to unzip the fasteners in order to put the strap on properly. question: how did I do this and where were my eyes? ))))) I am sure that you will think up something and the dress will turn out great!

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I followed your lead and cut the dress yesterday. It is much better shorter, but I am still not completely pleased. I will try to insert some darts at the back to give it a more defined waistline.
And with the sleeve/straps... it is funny how we sometimes do completely wrong things believing all is well. I had to laugh so hard about myself, when I noticed I put the sleeve inside out.
I hope you could rescue your backpack and its straps :-)

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I will wait for you to finish your dress. I like the idea of ​​sewing it!

I like the dress a lot, and more importantly, I like it on you! If the stiffness bothers you, maybe a few washes will soften it. I like both lengths, but the shorter is definitely sassier.
I think we encounter little things that might nag us when we make our own clothing. I experience that as well. I was looking at two things I made last year. The one I love is made with yarn that pills so badly every time I wear it. I made another with harder wearing yarn, but the shoulders came out weird. Probably because I rewrote the pattern for a smaller gauge yarn and maybe wasn’t careful enough with my numbers. The good news is that I think I have an idea of how to fix it.
We’re designing stuff every time we make something because we are using different materials than pictured.
We have to give ourselves credit for having ideas and executing them. And we learn each time, even when we love what we make.
I love your haircut!

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We’re designing stuff every time we make something because we are using different materials than pictured.
We have to give ourselves credit for having ideas and executing them. And we learn each time, even when we love what we make.

I love this! And you are so right, I often forget this. I am so focused on the output and see my mistakes and compare it to the intended output (of the book/pattern) and see more mistakes. I forget how much I learned while doing this and how many more possibilities are there, to make it better.
I have cut the dress yesterday and like the shorter version much more. But I am not completely satisfied with it... I am contemplating to insert darts at the back to give it a more defined waistline. I love the minimalistic style of these Japanese pattern books, but the fit is not the best for my bigger size and moreover for my curvier backside :-D

And with your designs... A pilling yarn is not so nice, I would always fear it will ultimately rip or fray. And with the other design: Shoulders are not easy to calculate (says the woman who sews/knits things that do not fit :-DDD) But I am sure your ultimately your idea will work, as I love all the things you make and they are so artful.
Perhaps you will write about your designing (modifying process one day.
And thank you for the compliments, I so seldom go to a hairdresser (mostly one time per year :-D) I do not like to sit there and stare at myself in the mirror with wet hair and bright light :-DDD And they are often so brutal with long hair. This time the hairdresser was ok, only a bit excessive with the cutting. She snipped much more than I wanted. But I am ok with it.

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I think I WILL do a post about designing. I haven’t really been knitting. Swatching but nothing is catching my interest. So yoursuggestion is timely. 🙂

Shorten it would be cuter, I think.... and gosh, you are so adorable <3 What a lovely post ! Aaah, I can't sew anything to save my life so your 'failures' are still miraculous achievements to me :D

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Uhhhh I always have to blush because of your lovely compliments <3 <3 I followed your lead and cut the dress yesterday. It really looks much better, but I am still not completely satisfied. I will try to insert back darts to give it a more defined waistline. Not sure if this will work...
And believe me, I am a real beginner with sewing. I am mostly also surprised if something I sew is wearable. Many of the needleworkers here make things... wow... But i must start somewhere :-D

I think the shorter version looks better in the pictures. I'd imagine the dress would look lovely with long boots and a heel. Love the colour light blue-brown combination!

That's the thing with the choice of fabrics, things made according to the same instructions will look totally different when made from varying fabrics...
Good luck with your final decisions!

Love your fun modelling pictures :-D

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I should have thought about this before I bought the fabric ... but I so wanted to try out the pattern and linen (as recommended in the book) is much too expensive. Now I have this funny and stiff dress :-D
I yesterday cut is and I like the shorter version much better. I am now contemplating to insert back darts to give it a more defined waistline. Not sure if this will work.
And with the photos... I am naturally skilled in making fun of myself and document it :-D On Sunday I tried to mimic a bunny while I was on a stroll with my husband - he filmed it :-DDDD

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Those back darts sound like a good idea for the waistline, I always find that a well-defined waistline can upgrade a garment from something average to something more dressy. Good luck with those!

Your pics are really fun to look at and I'd say that bunny video would be something cool and funny :DDD I'll have to pick up a few fun-photo tips and tricks from you :)))

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If I am honest my technique for photos is that I mostly quit thinking.... 😂 ANd than I need someone who makes photos from slightly higher, than my head looks bigger and I slimmer 😂
After seeing you in your amazing dress, the last tip is unnecessary for you: you have such a beautiful figure 😍💕😍

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awww, many thanks for that last comment :D although I find it was simply a particularly good angle I found :)
I also find that pictures taken from a slightly higher angle are usually more flattering. It's all about the angles and light, it seems.
I think tips are always necessary, as the wrong angle can ruin the best looking people...
One useful tip I found somewhere on the internet is to keep your arms away from the body, that way the waist and the whole torso looks slimmer. :DDD

I chuckled a bit at the inside out sleeve, but I've done things like that before so it was only a slight chuckle. :)

As for suggestions, I'd say shorten and wear it. It definitely has potential.

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Believe I also chuckled... ok, I laughed very loud, because i did not noticed it while sewing. Only as I put it on to test the fit of the sleeve I noticed the sleeve looked differently.
And with the length, I cut it yesterday. But I guess the dress needs some more alterations before I can wear it :-DD

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  ·  last month (edited)

Hehe you are so cute @neumannsalva 😘 I love reading your posts, always so candid and funny and witty. I think the dress looks nice long but short looks nice too. Ripping it to make into a coat seems like a lot of work 🥺😵. Does the fabric feel like curtains? It looks a bit like the Sound of Music fabric from curtains made into nice garments for the kids 😁
I love japanese sewing books too and I have a few hidden in the shelves hehe. Not daring to look at them yet. But you know what, I think they usually use linen for their garments.
Oops just saw your discussion with cryptocariad on linen 🤪