Bow-tie tunic: Sewing Japanese patterns

Bow Tie Top

I bought Feminine Wardrobe, a lovely book of Japanese sewing patterns, months ago after seeing pictures of it on Tilly’s blog. I was really drawn to the simple, classic silhouettes and earmarked several projects for summer sewing (though only managed one amidst getting married and writing my masters dissertation).

Jinko Matsumoto’s book comes with a big double-sided pattern sheet containing all the pieces to the 21 designs of the collection. The designs are all based on half a dozen core shapes though, which I find great for ideas on how to modify patterns to make really different garments.

After pouring over the gorgeously-styled photos, I finally settled on the ‘giant bow-tie tunic’ project – an A-line tunic with a fabulous oversized bow. Part of the reason I went for this as my first project from the collection was because at the time (this was sometime mid-summer in Ireland), I didn’t have very much sewing experience and was looking for a simple enough project that was a bit more challenging than the few things I’d made so far.

(I think I need a better steam iron...)

(I think I need a better steam iron…)

It was the first time I’d worked with a pattern like this: the pattern pieces needed to be identified, traced and cut out etc, while the actual sewing directions are not terribly detailed. Actually, the (translated) instructions for making up the garments are very like those in the Burda magazines – several simple points with a sketch or two as guidance, but no great detail.

Skills learned: Tracing a pattern, inserting neckline facings.

Recommend pattern? Yes and no: yes, because this pattern is really beginner-friendly and I love the finished piece (though the massive bow isn’t always practical to wear out and about!); and no, because the size range is really restricted to quite small sizes and really doesn’t cater to different body shapes.

Overall, the patterns in this collection all seem do-able and the garments are loose-fitting styles so a comfortable fit is quite easily achieved. There are a few more pieces in the book that I’m planning on getting stuck into this spring, such as this cute shift dress:

Matsumoto Shift Dress


16 thoughts on “Bow-tie tunic: Sewing Japanese patterns

  1. This is stunning – you did such a great job with it! I often look at those japanese books but shy away because I feel that the oversized style would overwhelm me but this looks great on you.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment Andrea!

      Yes, that’s definitely something I’m wary of with these patterns – I think several could look like I’m wearing a big sack! Others though could be lovely as loose-fitting sundresses. It’s kind of a fine line between the two!

  2. Fab, It looks great and I love the shape. I am in love with these Japanese pattern books. Just made a dress from the Stylish Dress Book. I haven’t made anything from Feminine Wardrobe yet but you have persuaded me that it is one I want to try.

    • I really love this book! Even if every project isn’t to your liking, the photos are great for sewing inspiration. I’m actually planning another project from it right now, a summery dress. Here’s hoping I get the weather for it! 🙂

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