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Finished Projects Japanese Fabrics

nani IRO 2018 – Sewing with nani IRO Linen

March 27, 2018

As part of nani IRO month, it goes without saying that I need to make something out of the new collection as well! Last year I explored sewing with nani IRO cotton sateen, and this year, I decided to make something out of the very same fabric we are giving away, which hopefully will make you want to take part in our awesome one-bolt fabric + book giveaway!

The fabric I used is a thin linen in the most popular blue colorway from the Ripple or is it Pippre series. This is what the fabric looks like. The fabric in the picture is hung with the lengthwise grain vertical, so the selvedges are vertical as well.


But I really wanted to make the bottom border into a skirt, and I also wanted to make a more structured dress compared to what you would normally see. Most of the linen pieces in the book are baggy and even though it would be really comfy to wear, I really wanted to try something else. So I just went ahead with what was in my head, and here is the result! 🙂


As expected, the bottom border for the skirt is really amazing. It’s really like wearing a piece of abstract art! The top of the dress was actually a more rounded neck, but I amended it to a  boat neck so that I could show more of the horizontal stripe.


And this is how it looked on me! The skirt is an inverted box pleat skirt because I felt that using gathers will make it too poofy.


Here’s the back view. Remember that this linen is rather sheer so the dress is fully lined with white lawn.

But I had about 1m left of scraps. So I wanted to make something casual too, for daily wear. I was really in love with the linen by this time because it is so cool to wear for our super hot weather. So with the remnants, I managed to cut out a tank top! And because I wanted to feature both borders, and also max out the use of the fabric, I decided on an asymmetrical tank with a longer back piece featuring the bright blue border.

This piece is not lined, as the dark blue print in the front ensured it wasn’t see-through. But I did use lawn to face the neckline and armholes as I wanted a clean finish around them. This was a really quick and easy project and now I really want to get more nani IRO linen because I wore this the whole Sunday and it was so comfortable and cool to wear.


Here’s the back view. You will notice that linen crumples. Yes But that is part of the relaxed linen look. Which then brings me to another point. I didn’t iron the pieces after washing them. I just wore them as it is and I think not having to iron is a major bonus for me! 🙂


Some of you may be afraid of sewing with linen because it is usually more expensive and seems like it will shrink alot. This is actually not my first time sewing with linen, but the previous times I used thicker ones. This thin linen from nani IRO was actually very easy to handle. In fact it feels a little like a mix of cotton and paper. The slight stiffness is due to the natural fibres of hemp. You may also wonder, if it will shrink alot since most people think that anything cotton/natural fibres will shrink like crazy.

So I did a shrink test.


So the first picture is the before…

2 pieces of 10cm square pieces of thin linen were added to the wash. Cold wash (approximately 25-30 degrees in our weather). The top piece was sun-dried and the bottom piece (with blue streak) was put in the dryer on my regular cycle.



Sorry for flipping the pieces when I took the after photo. The blue streak piece is now above, that’s the one that went into the dryer. I had to tape down the edges with washi tape to keep it flat because they were a little wrinkly. Notice that there was no shrinkage along the lengthwise grain at all! However, there was a 6-7% shrinkage on the cross grain.

Obviously there is not much difference between being dried in the dryer (which is way hotter) than on the line. I said sun-dry but because I live in an apartment it was more like sun/wind-dried in the shade. It dried really quickly though, because it’s thin and rather loose weave. So it’s not as dramatic a shrinkage as some might say, but you should definitely pre-wash the fabric before cutting to avoid any surprises.

If you love that relaxed/free-spirit look, as well as the class Japanese/Muji look. You will love sewing with, and wearing linen. I am hooked and want more.


Love this grungy look!

And so that’s the end of my sewing with nani IRO linen report! I hope this was useful to you. And yes I know I promised to post the translation request last week but I got distracted by the fabric arrival and had to start sewing immediately! The translation is almost done, short of one small diagram. And will be up later this week.

Finished Projects Giveaways

Sew Good Knits and a Giveaway!

September 29, 2017

Toddlers grow at an alarming pace. Much faster than I can sew. And can you believe it I have actually depleted my knit stash from Japan. I can actually buy and ship them in from Japan but knits are bulky, and most shipping forwarders charge by volumetric weight. So even if the price of the knits are reasonable, by the time I get it shipped to me it may be double the original price. So… I have been on the lookout for knits. Good quality knits that are comfortable and can withstand the abuse from a toddler ;P It is hard to find nice prints for boys too. There are lots of pastels and pinks and unicorns out there but I the range for boys is limited to cartoonish cars, superheroes, and I usually don’t like the bright and gaudy colors they come in. Then I came across Sew Good Knits, a Facebook group for preordering European knits. They are based in Singapore so it’s extremely convenient for me (don’t worry, they ship internationally too!)

They specialize in knit fabrics that are made in Europe, most of which are certified organic according to Oekto or GOTS standards, which is more reassuring given that I am buying them for my toddler. To be honest, I have been a little hesitant in ordering because they are quite pricey. I do know that it is due to the quality and I have heard lots of raves from others in the group who are big fans and vouch for the quality of the fabric. But I held back until…….


I saw this fabric! My boy is totally into diggers right now, and dump trucks, and tractors…. the list goes on. So when I saw this, I fell in love instantly. I knew he would love it and I love it too because the print is so simple and well, no gaudy colors!


I used the raglan tshirt pattern from the above book – Knitwear for kids. This is one of my most frequently used book for knits. There are step by step photos for some of the patterns, including this raglan tshirt.  Read my review here. Buy from or cdjapan (aff links)

Back to Sew Good Knits. So I ordered a couple of prints, and guess what…. they were kind enough to send me some extra fabrics for me to sew and blog about. Yay! Will work for fabrics anytime.


This print was is perfectly co-ordinating with the gravel on the digger shirt don’t you think? I immediately decided it was going to be a pair of harem pants. This harem pants pattern is modifed from an old issue of Cotton Friend. It’s no longer in print though so I don’t think I’ll tempt you by posting it here. 🙂


Look at the complete outfit! So adorable right?

And like how the others had raved about it, the fabric is really soft and amazing. It’s stretchy and soft and the color doesn’t fade after washing. I love it! The best part is, the knits are much wider than normal fabric widths, so even with a fat half, I can make a toddler shirt or a pair of pants/leggings out of it. With a full yard, I can make a whole outfit for him or even something for myself (the mint squares below is reserved for myself ;P)


Now I have a mini stash of Sew Good Knits!


I reached out to Celine, who is one of the founders of Sew Good Knits, to find out more about their little start up, as well as their big plans for the future.

Who are the founders of Sew Good Knits ?
Celine Khoo and Ruth Mak

What inspired the creation of Sew Good Knits?
The love for high quality, organic knits with interesting designs, especially some nice boy friendly designs! Euro knits fit the bill since they were still fairly uncommon locally. Also we were ourselves spending a lot on shipping buying from retailers based in the US who offered a variety of euro knit brands. 

What kind of fabrics do you carry in Sew Good Knits?
We specialize in knit fabrics that are made in Europe, most of which are certified organic according to Oekto or GOTS standards. Jersey and French Terry are the most common types of knits we bring in as we feel they are the most versatile. Some of our local customers may shy away from French terry as they think it’s warm for local weather but we try to ensure that the French terry we bring in is lightweight and suitable for the Singapore climate. 

We also carry ribbings in a variety of colours to complement the fabrics that we carry and we hope to be a one stop shop for sewists looking for materials for their next knit project. As the majority of our fabrics are made from organic cotton and through processes that are safe and good for the environment, they are very safe for babies and children. At the same time, the high quality of our fabric ensures ease of sewing because of the stability of the knit fabric as well as the longevity of the garment sewn. 

In the long run we would love to be the sole distributor for all euro knits but it is a challenging process given the small market here and also the sheer number of European designers. We would love to stock them all! 

Do you (or your co-founders) sew? if yes, what type of sewing do you do?
Ruth :  I own a handmade business that had been born out of the love of sewing. I sew apparel for myself and my children, and it’s quite fun to try and create certain looks for myself that I’ve never tried before. My boys have also learnt to appreciate that their mama-made items are truly unique to them and I may have created a problem for myself, as I’ve recently discovered that they are having a hard time giving up the ones they’ve clearly outgrown! 

Celine : I mainly sew for myself and my kids as currently with my youngest just starting to walk, my crafting time is limited. I love sewing apparel mainly as I find them most practical. I used to have a real fear of sewing knits as I thought them to be really challenging but now when I need a quick stress releasing project, knits are my go-to as they sew up so quickly on a serger and are just generally more practically for daily wear for kids!!! 

What are your future plans for Sew Good Knits?
We’re working on an online store, but progress has been painfully slow as we’re both mothers to 3 children each, and managing the pre-order group has been quite time consuming. We are keeping our options open with regards to including wovens in our inventory, especially if our suppliers offer these options as well, but knit fabric will still be our mainstay. 

Where can we join your Pre-order group and keep up with the latest news about Sew Good Knits?
Our Facebook Group for pre-orders is
Our IG handle is @sewgoodknits ; and our yet to be launched website is 


Now that you have learnt more about Sew Good Knits, here is a chance to win some of their gorgeous fabrics!

There will be 2 concurrent giveaways to enter. One will be on Facebook and the other on Instagram. Follow the instructions below to enter either or better still, both! 1 yard of Euro knits will be given away for each giveaway. On top of that, there will be a mystery Fat Half (Fat half) that will come along with your prize!

Here’s how to enter. 


1 yard of the following fabrics from the latest range from Paapii Design + 1 mystery FH will be given away.



  1. Join the Facebook group for Sew Good
  2. Like and follow JapaneseSewingBooks on Facebook.
  3. Comment below the giveaway post by telling us your favourite fabric from any of the knits in the Sew Good Knits collection. Hint, you can browse the retail album for existing stock, or any of the fabrics listed in any of their preorder albums. (note that these album links are only visible if you are a member of the group)


1 yard of the following fabrics from the latest range from Paapii Design + 1 mystery FH will be given away.


  1. Follow Sew Good Knits on Instagram (
  2. Follow Japanese Sewing Books on Instagram (
  3. Comment below the giveaway post on my Instagram page, and tell us what you are going to make with these fabrics.
  4. For extra chances to win – Repost the giveaway banner and hashtag #sewgoodknits
  5. For extra chances to win – Post a photo of your Euro Knits makes (for example fabrics from Käpynen, Ommellinen, Majapuu, PaaPii Design and more). It doesn’t have to be purchased from Sew Good Knits, we just want to see your creations! Important – please include the hashtag #sewgoodknits so that we can discover your photos.

Items 1-3 is compulsory in order to participate, items 4 and 5 will give you extra chances to win!

This giveaway is open worldwide and ends 6th October 2017 10pm Singapore time (UTC +8)
The lucky Winners will be announced on the following Monday (9th October 2017)

Good luck!

Finished Projects Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Frill sleeve blouse from Dresses and Coordinates Lesson

May 12, 2017

Remember the book review I wrote a couple of weeks ago? I made one of the tops and wanted to show you the results.

The book I am talking about is this one. This book is all about dresses and coordinates that can make you look slim. I wanted to test it out ;P


I made this top A3, but instead of using eyelet/lace fabric for the frills, I used the same fabric throughout. I also sized down as I was going to make it out of knit fabric.


This was the actual top. I made size M when the size chart said I should make L, that’s because when making tops out of knit fabric, expect a lot more ease due to the stretching of the fabric. However, I still found it too baggy for my liking. In the photo from the book, the lady wears it tucked into pants, so the waistline is defined by the waistband, and therefore it doesn’t look so waistless. I will bear that in mind when coordinating with bottoms. Although tucking in shirts is not really my thing.


Here’s a back view of the sleeves. Can you tell that there is no separate sleeve piece? There is some bagginess in the underarm area because of that, but also because I think this size is too large for me. However, it is really comfortable to wear and allows for lots of movement, something that I really need in daily wear because of my super wriggly toddler.flaredsleevesblouse

To demonstrate how it would look better with a more defined waistline, I clipped up the back of the top, and I think it looks so much better! What I can do is to take in the sides a little bit more, since it was such a quick and easy sew using my serger. I do think that this pattern is a winner if I size it down for the next top. I did a rough muslin with some wovens using the same size and true enough, it was a little hard getting it on and off. It was not tight once worn, but I needed to add some slits in the waist line and probably add a zip

Finished Projects Japanese Fabrics

My nani IRO Cotton Sateen dress

March 30, 2017

So I was being kind of ambitious when I said I could finish a dress in a week 🙂 More like one and a half. This happens when I only get 5 minutes at the machine before someone drags me away. So I had to quietly finish bits and pieces of it during his nap and when he’s off to bed at night.

Those of you following me on instagram must have seen my post asking for opinions about making this dress on the cover of this book. (Read the full review here)

I thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions. I think I must have some kind of stubborn streak in me, or I must have subconsciously decided I was going to do it but was hoping for a positive affirmation. 😛 But I think the majority said no to the combination. Many also object to the “cutting” up of the fabric print. But I had the image of the completed dress stuck in my head and I figured the only way not to cut up the pattern in the fabric for a dress is to make it caftan style :P. I was deliberately trying to steer away from the baggy, loose fitting, casual style to make a more formal looking dress. This is because, the default option for nani IRO fabrics is usually double gauze, which works beautifully for everyday wear, but can look rather casual. So I really wanted to try this beautiful cotton sateen on a more fitting dress, and this is the end result. I don’t know about you but I like it!


The ribbed knit at the waist line both created slight gathers in the bodice and skirt, and allows the waist line to be defined, both by the contrast in color as well as the stretchability of the fabric. Some felt the black was too harsh, but as I could not find any other shades of blue that will go well with it, black actually looked better.


This dress has a slight relaxed fit over the bust area to accommodate the gathers at the waist. The sleeves are cap sleeves with gathers near the shoulder seam. You can’t see it but there is no topstitching in this dress. Not even hemlines for the sleeve and skirt hems! Lots of hand stitching within which is also why it took so long to complete.


The only difference I made to the original pattern was the change of a fully exposed metal zip that was to be sewn from the right side to a concealed zip. I did contemplate a semi-exposed metal zip, but decided against it and opted for the safe option of a concealed zip.


Some thoughts to share after working with nani IRO cotton sateen. It is to-die-for!!! I am not kidding… It is buttery and soft and not heavy like some of the other “cotton sateens” I have bought from spotlight in the past. It drapes really beautifully and I’m so in love with this material that I ordered more in the other two colors from Elizabeth Little!

I did mention in my last post that I will be doing a test on shrinkage of the fabrics and here are the results. As they say, always prewash your fabrics the way you intend to wash them, so it’s Machine wash cold + dryer (delicate cycle) for me. I did throw these 10cm fabric squares in a laundry net so that the fraying will be contained. I didn’t want to overlock the edges as I felt that might affect the final measurement of the shrinkage amount. After the pieces came out of the dryer, both were really crumpled, so I ironed them out.

The first piece you see here is the cotton sateen (the white arrows indicate the grainline). You can see that after the wash, there is about 2-3mm lost along the grain and a lesser shrinkage cross grain. So that’s about a 2-3% maximum of shrinkage. That’s quite acceptable considering that most cottons are expected to shrink about 4%. You can see in the after picture, that the washing creases are quite difficult to get rid of though.


The next experiment was for nani IRO double gauze. I have always pre-washed my double gauze in the past since I have always assumed that it will shrink terribly. Part of that misconception also lies in the fact that when it comes out of the machine, it is always in a terrible scrunched up state. However, it is really easy to iron the creases out compared to the cotton sateen. But due to the loose weave, it did fray a bit more.doublegauzeshrinkage1

I was surprised to find that, after ironing it out, the shrinkage seemed to be quite minimal! I think the partial loss of fabric from the edges was more due to fraying then shrinkage. So could it be due to the ironing which helps to stretch out the weave?

In any good science experiment, you should always repeat the experiment 3 times. But hey, this is a sewing blog not a science blog, so don’t take my word (or experiment) results for it :P. You should always pre-wash your fabrics for best results.

That’s the end of my nani IRO cotton sateen report. If you are keen on getting any for yourself, do visit Elizabeth Little before they are all gone! If you are not fast enough, you may want to check out my blog again within the next few weeks as there might be a special giveaway for you all!


Finished Projects

Chinese New Year Sewing 2017

January 26, 2017

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year Eve and so the feasting begins! Today I had to rush to finish up all my sewing so that I can take some photos, clean up my workspace and get into the holiday mood already. Just wanted to compile what I made this year in one post.


You may have seen this already if you follow me on instagram or facebook. Using my own free qipao pattern, I used the bodice piece and attached a simple peplum pattern to the waist line. The above is me trying out low-key photography using nothing but a soft box, and a camera on a tripod. I used remote shooting using my camera’s software and it took me quite a number of tries, believe me it is hard to pose for the camera! I did like the dramatic look that was created in the end and how it really brought out the beauty of this Cotton + Steel fabric (from the Les fleurs collection by Rifle Paper Co. in Tapestry – black). I kept the buttons simple as there was already alot going on in the fabric.


The second piece was made for my daughter who wanted specifically, a keyhole collar and peplum top like mine, to go with jeans. Fabric choosing took a while because our plan A was initially aborted after the prewash, and then it was back to the drawing board. She didn’t want anything too colorful, so I thought this was an interesting alternative to reds and pinks.


The final piece was made using a Cotton + Steel fabric – from the basics collection, Netorious : Filler Paper. This was actually plan A. I got this fabric at a steal from a sale and it had a beautiful sheen to it. Unfortunately, after the prewash, it lost the shine and didn’t look so appealing. I kept it folded in a pile for weeks and when my daughter said she needed a second dress to wear to school for their CNY celebrations, I thought I should just try making it and see if my initial instincts about the fabric was right. I couldn’t believe how it turned out! It was simple but so beautiful.


It is 100% cotton so it does crease easily. Not too obvious under sunlight but I guess the single directional light does accentuate the shadows and show the creases more.


To make it more interesting, I added hidden details using Lola Weisselberg by Quentin Blake (yes! the illustrator for lots of Roald Dahl books) for Liberty fabric.


Inner binding for armholes,


Inner binding for skirt slits.

And that’s it for this year’s Qipao sewing! Next week I’ll be back with regular programming with new book reviews and maybe a giveaway for a special reason! Find out more next week! And to those of you celebrating Chinese New Year, Happy New Year to you!