english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts

Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Have you seen the Japan Sew Along (#jsa2015), taking place on Tanoshii? I learned about it on Instagram, courtesy of Sew Busy Lizzy.

Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

This is my contribution to the sew-along, based on the short variation of the Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure by Sato Watanabe.

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

The premise of Stylish Skirts is that the book provides you with instructions to draft each of the projects included. No paper patterns are included. Given that the premise of the book is to support you to draft skirts yourself, I didn’t worry too much about strictly following the instructions in the book when making this skirt.

Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

The Balloon Skirt in the book has both a zip and a waist tie. I couldn’t really see the point of including both, and as my fabric had a slight stretch I actually did away with any fastening (yay!), as it’s possible to slip the skirt on and off.

The Balloon Skirt in the book is constructed from three panels, brought in using pleats, to create lots of volume. I cut my skirt as one single panel along the full length of my fabric. As a result, my pleats needed to be much narrower so the ‘balloon’ effect isn’t as dramatic. I would like to make another version with greater volume for the full effect – perhaps in the longer length, which I love the look of in the book (although the tops that both versions are styled with don’t do much for me).

Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Construction wise my skirt is two loops of fabric – the outside loop is attached to a shorter loop at the hem to create the balloon effect. The two loops are attached at the top by a waistband. Super simple.

The fabric used is a jacquard from Barry’s. It’s a daisy print in two shades of gold, and has a slight one-way stretch. I bought way too much (as per usual, which is why my stash is full of small, useless lengths of fabric) and have quite a bit left over that I think would make a great pair of shorts.

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Like other Japanese pattern books, minimal written instructions are provided in Stylish Skirts, but each project is accompanied by a number of illustrations. Personally I think this approach (and the premise of the book) suits intermediate sewers more than beginners, as it helps to have an existing knowledge of skirt construction. The book makes some assumptions regarding the reader’s understanding of how to draft the skirts, which a beginner might find confusing; for example, it doesn’t explicitly state in writing how to calculate the skirt measurements (as least for the skirt I made), how to take measurements, etc.

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

The skirts included cover a wide variety of styles. Although the projects are all women’s skirts, it would be fairly easy to create children’s versions by altering the measurements.

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

The skirts are styled on dress forms which doesn’t appeal to me as much as being styled on models; although it does potentially make the book look distinct from other Japanese pattern books, which do admittedly often look quite similar (although It’s a look I love).

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe

Sew Busy Lizzy has also reviewed Stylish Skirts and sewn two skirts from the book. Make sure you check out her review also.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Stylish Skirts in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link

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Quilted Jacket from Basic Black

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

I did the insane blogger thing and took these photos outside while it was snowing (not very heavily) today. I spent the day faffing around and left it until the last 30 minutes of daylight to get these pictures – roll on spring and decent daylight hours! The photos were taken on the patio just outside our garden door, as Phil sensibly stood inside the house and took these photos through the doorway, while I stood in the snow! Smart man.

This is the Blocked Quilting Zip-up Jacket from Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe by Sato Watanabe, made in size small.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

The pattern doesn’t include instructions for quilting the jacket, instructing you to use a quilted fabric, which is what I did. I bought my fabric from Barry’s. The fabric is actually slightly stretchy and is a bit lightweight for a jacket (you can see it stretching in some of the pictures below) but with a lining it’s just substantial enough. The fabric also pulls easily, I had to be careful pinning it during construction, so it may not last too long without getting caught on something…

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

The book includes fairly brief written instructions (6 steps for this jacket), but most steps are illustrated, often with multiple illustrations, so you’ll get on better with the book if you’re a visual learner.

The only changes I made to the pattern were reducing the width of the shoulders slightly, and reducing the height of the collar, as I initially found it too high and knew I’d never do it up.

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

The patterns included in the book are provided on two pattern sheets. Pattern sheets are double sided, and pieces are overlapped, so patterns need to be traced. The major pieces for each pattern are included, although seam allowances aren’t included and need to be added on; for simple shapes (i.e. squares and rectangles) the book instead provides measurements. For the lined clothing items, including this jacket, the book doesn’t include separate pattern pieces for the lining, but provides instructions on how to re-size the main pattern pieces. Measurements are included in centimeters and inches – which is helpful for someone like me who chops and changes between both systems!

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

I am a bit lazy when to comes to tracing patterns so initially skipped the lining in order to avoid creating the pattern pieces. However, my fabric was too lightweight to get away without a lining, thus forcing me to be good, so I created the pattern pieces and cut a lining in the end.

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

The theme of Basic Black is clothes made in black fabric (which I obviously ignored when I picked my own fabric!). With such a broad theme, the 26 patterns included in the book cover quite a wide range, from simple tops and skirts to jackets, shirts and coats.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

The biggest disadvantage of picking black clothes as a theme is that black is difficult to photograph. The book does suffer from this a little, as it’s difficult to make out the more intricate details on a number of outfits.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

Patterns are included in four sizes (S, M, L, XL), and only a finished size chart is included. It would be worth checking that one of the four sizes will be a decent match for your measurements before ordering the book, although a lot of the patterns have a looser silhouette which allows for a little leeway.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

I was impressed at the number of more complex patterns included, including coats (2 patterns), jackets (3), and shirts (3). The book also includes a pattern for a coat dress and a simple Cheongsam, although this is unfortunately one of the patterns where it is difficult to make out the details in the photo.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

I also love the final pattern in the book, this gorgeous raglan coat.

Basic Black by Sato Watanabe

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Basic Black in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link.