All tied up

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MMblouse picAs seen in Making magazine logo   Issue 58/March 2015 of Making magazine was released in the UK yesterday and in it is this simple front buttoning bow tied blouse pattern and tutorial by yours truly :) Now the issue is on the shelves I can share this version with you- available on my Free Patterns PageKimono-Bow-blouse-flat

It’s based on the same hip-tucked body shape as my keyhole neck kimono/magyar blouse and like that one also has a 30’s/40’s feel to it. Works with or without shoulder pads as well.


Yesterday as an after thought I added optional extra front and centre back tucks to this pattern to help you make the hips a closer fit if desired. Top-stitching along each tuck looks nice too.

However if you’re just not a pussycat bow fan…

Say NO to the bow

….you could add a different sort of collar; a less fluffy bow tie, a peter pan, a simple stand or even just sew on a vintage lace collar to the round neck.

Green satin blouse VeraVenus

This little green silk satin blouse is one I made years ago. It has a very similar style armhole though shaped closer to the shoulder and with a little curve in the underarm so it forms a closer fitting grown-on cap sleeve. The simple skinny tie collar is just a straight folded band.  A detail I particularly like from 30’s and 40’s bloused is multiple close rows of top stitching. It lends an instant vintage feel to a modern make. I went to town with that idea, even adding it on at the seams and hems.


I like the bow blouse with jeans but it works really well with some of of my vintage 40’s suits.

I’ve just been sorting through my Spring/Summer wear (inspired by this sunny day) and remembered that a few of those of those have undergone some major alterations to get them to fit me nicely. A post on what I think of as ‘kamikaze alterations’ is on the way. It may give you some useful ideas on how to approach various fitting alterations on vintage garments, particularly how to gain that valuable waist and bust real estate. It’s more than just letting out a couple of darts as you will see.

Stay tuned…


A little more on the kimono front

Simple vintage style blouse- free pattern @

Magyar blouse with shoulder pads


Magyar blouse

No shoulder pads and with tie belt from the dress.


Left over from my recent adventures in vintage Japanese kimono deconstruction I had enough of  one to also make this simple magyar/kimono blouse.

The definition of magyar blouse says  that  ‘…the sleeves are cut in one with the body.’  I’d also call that a kimono style top. I’m not sure of or even if there’s much difference between a magyar and basic kimono cut …if anyone does know a distinction please enlighten me.

In any event the magyar style of dress bodice & blouse seems to have been around for a long time in western fashion history from before WWI through the 30’s, into the 50’s and pops up beyond though in more recent decades maybe that’s when it began to be called a ‘kimono’ cut.  Really I’m just making a supposition on that, don’t quote me.


My blouse started with a vintage Style pattern, envelope long gone, maybe late 40’s. However the pattern is sized for a teeny-tiny person so I redrafted it to a human size for myself and made it up in kimono silk. I decided after the fact that I  prefer three keyhole or tear-drop cutouts rather than two (as in this velvet dress I made  a couple of years ago) so the pattern I posted  has 3 keyholes.  You will need to look up bias binding techniques if they are new to you as the neckline and keyholes are finished with small self bias bindings. Other than that it is an easy make and could have a collar instead of cut-outs, or a V neck or something if you just can’t face doing those fiddly bindings. It’s a nice basic shape that is wide open for creative interpretation.  Thinner fabrics with some drape will work best…. even a jersey could!

Pattern size, seam allowances, fabric amount needed etc are all included in the blouse pdf. on my VV Free page. It would be a very easy pattern to grade up or down following the Threads Grading guide link over there on the right.

Magyar blouse flat


my at-work wear.


vintage  resin button

vintage resin button

Though shown up there with a black pencil skirt made from my skirt drafting tutorial with bucket pockets and these little resin seahorse buttons (Is it easy to make buttons like these? I’ve been wanting to experiment with resin for ages) I have mostly been wearing my blouse with just jeans for ordinary day-in-the-studio attire. Lol, is it obvious I’m not big on taking selfies?



While I’m about it here also is how to make one kind of shoulder pads from 7 inch circles. These are the ones I made for the kimono fabric Hollywood pattern dress and as I used tiny poppers to hold them in I can quickly swap them into the blouse . Not just a pretty face here, ya know!

Pictorial on how to make shoulder pads for 40's style dresses












Cornish Pasties


Cornish Pasty thoughts have set my stomach rumbling…. dinner time!


In answer to Anna’s comment below about altering the pattern or something similar for a larger bust I’ve made this quick diagram. If done on a full size pattern with this proportion of spreading about 8cm/3″ inches total would be gained across the front at bust level and about 4cm/1 1/2″ between shoulder and waist line. The waist and hem are brought back to the original pattern size by swinging the lower side seam back in and making the tucks bigger. Some adjustment in fit may also be needed at the outer shoulder to make the arm opening nearer the original size. Of course if more is needed across the front the spread would be larger but the principle the same. Two useful measurments to take are your side seam to side seam over full bust and shoulder over bust point down to waist to work out how much you need to add.   Hope this helps  :)

VV Kimono Blouse FBA

VV Kimono Blouse FBA



Kimono My House

Oh, kimo-No!

Ok, so what I didn’t know when I started writing was that my post title is also the title of a Sparks album from May, 1974 ( I guess I was listening to  other music at the time) I like the album cover anyway so there it is. Next I learned that the title is a take on the 1951 Rosemary Clooney song ‘Come on-a My House’. Next stop was at the rather wonderful Japanese YouTube version which I share with you:

Isn’t the stuff you  find on the internet amazing…

But I’m wandering.

Anyway to get to the point this is a post about my most recent up-cycling/ re-purposing/ extreme ‘make-do-and-mend’ venture involving, you guessed it- Kimono.

In the past I have bought small piece pieces of kimono fabric from Kimoyes in Australia which I used for applique

Definitely not to be cut up!

Not to be cut up.

Kimono fabric I used as applique

 and some small sewing projects. I also have a couple of vintage kimono  that I hang up up from time to time as eye candy but I lacked the nerve to dismantle an entire kimono and make something new with it. My Kimono up-cycling awareness was boosted by my friend Mariko (her website) who makes lovely things using vintage kimono. Monkey-see-monkey-do here wanted in on the bigger kimono cut-up action too.

I took the plunge and ordered three pre-WWII kimono from Japan in September.  They arrived 3 weeks later and hung around my house being admired until just before Christmas when I finally took a deep breath and began to carefully un-pick all the hand stitches holding them together and gently hand wash the panels. I’ve read a bit about making kimono but un-making was  interesting too; I found small bits of silk wadding in the hem of one giving a nice roll to it and bits of interesting fabric in another used as a collar stiffener. During the washing a powerful smell of mothballs was released along with some grime from all of them. However the colours seemed very fast other than some red silk thread bits which I’d been a little sloppy about removing every single one and those colour-ran a little but only in tiny areas. Next time I will be sure to remove all thread bits. The fabrics themselves are surprisingly strong  although thin. When shopping I made sure to choose kimono described as ‘in excellent condition’ for their age. The first and last dresses in the photos are a crepe type of silk (pre WWII) and the middle one is a smooth flat weave, probably 50’s. It was originally a juban, which was an unlined under-kimono.

Kimono Dress rust sm Kimono Dress red sm Kimono Dress peach sm

It has been a fascinating project and required a lot of concentration and thought throughout. There were various cutting puzzles due to print placement issues, the fabric panels being only 14″ wide and of course I aimed to utilize every possible scrap of fabric.  Next the decisions on whether to line or not (only the last dress is fully lined with a satin faced chiffon- now there’s a fabric that is a major pain to work with!) and what seam finishes to use. The crepe silks are so fluid that I did everything with a mind to retaining fluidity. I’m now thinking I may go back and add in a habotai lining to the bodice of the middle dress just for strength… it is such a thin silk that if I sneeze hard I’d worry I’d burst through.

Of course the vintage patterns themselves had issues: two were a size too small for me so I cut out with larger seam allowances and fit-on-the-fly. The last one was particularly fiddly style to say the least- the skirt as patterned required loads more fabric that the kimono yielded- what was I thinking! Hence keeping the gathers in the side front but creating a more A-line pattern for the back. The original full-gathered sleeves looked terrible on me too. Years of sewing,  I should know what suits me… but still there’s the occasional “hmmmm, no.”. Took them out, re-cut with a flat sleeve head and they much look better.

Am I really going to wear these ? Well yes! I’ve been out in the 1st style twice already, the 2nd will be a summer star I can tell as it’s such a simple and easy to wear style. The third, gotta admit the peach is a bit intense and not 100% my colour ; the whole affair has a hint of ‘mother-of-the-bride about it but if I dress it down rather than up I’m sure it will have it’s day.

As a read I recommend  “Kimono”   which is fascinating if you are interested in the history and development of the kimono in Japan.

And for eye candy and kimono shopping Ichiroya is the place to go.

Dozo yoi ichinichio!

Modern kimono wearing

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