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Sew Along with A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro – Part 2 of 4

August 13, 2022

Quick Recap of what we covered last week
Part 1 (6 Aug)
 – How to use the book, locating the patterns on the pattern sheet, tracing and adding seam allowances.

Today we will be cutting out the fabric pieces, preparing the pieces for sewing,  and completing steps 1 (front to front yoke) and 2 (making the placket)

The last two weeks we will cover
Part 3 (20 Aug) – Step 3 (Back to back yoke), Step 4 (Sewing front and back yokes together), Step 5 (Attaching the tie collar)
Part 4 (27 Aug) – Step 6 (Finish armholes), Step 7 (Pockets and side seams, Step 8 (Hemming)

Before we begin, let’s talk about pre-washing.


Do you pre wash your fabric? It depends. For garments I will pre-wash if the final garment is meant to be fitting or if the length of the skirt/dress/pants is crucial. Especially if the substrate is made of natural fibres like cotton or linen that is sure to shrink a little, I will always prewash. Nothing special about the process since you should wash it the same way you would treat your laundry since that’s the way you will wash it after you are done sewing. For me I will serge the raw edges (very important or you will end up with a mess of threads) and also put it in a laundry net. Throw it in the washer and dryer, and always iron it before cutting it out. A crumpled piece of fabric will result in uneven pieces and affect the final outcome.

Having said that, there are times when I do not pre-wash. For example, in this video, the garment is a very loose fitting one. Even the neckline is an adjustable tie collar. So I did not prewash it. Length wise it might shrink a little but for this casual style and such a long dress it may not be very visible so I decided to save time and skip it.

Other than garments, I do not prewash when I’m making bags as well, because I find that certain fabrics especially quilting cottons tend to lose the “shine” and develop a slight worn looking “fuzz” once washed, which ruins the look of the bag. So I never prewash fabrics when making bags.

Ok let’s get started with today’s sew-along video, shall we?

Some notes about today’s sew-along.

Gathering of front yoke
The usual practice when gathering is to divide both the gathered piece, as well as the piece to be attached to, into equal sections so that you can pin them down at equal intervals and get an evenly gathered piece. However as you can see I did not do that in the video. This is because the 2 sections to be gathered are actually quite short so I was able to even out the gathers visually.

Attaching front to front yoke
In the instructions, the front piece is sewn to both the inner and outer yokes in one step by sandwiching the gathers between the inner and outer front yoke. However, as I prefer to adjust the gathers as I sew, I did this in two steps. First by sewing the gathered sections to the outer yoke with slightly less than 1cm seam allowance, then finishing with the inner yoke with a 1cm seam allowance. You can do it either way.

Cutting with Scissors vs Rotary Cutter
If you are cutting fabric with a scissors, it might help to place more fabric weights or even pin your paper pattern pieces to the fabric. I use only two weights because when cutting with a rotary cutter I don’t have to lift the fabric so it doesn’t shift much. The fabric weights are just to keep the piece of paper in place. If you don’t have a rotary cutter / cutting mat, I strongly recommend it, it is a real game changer!

Transferring marks and notches
In the video I transferred all the marks and notches from the paper pattern to the fabric pieces. However some of it might get obscured once we serged the fabrics (especially the side pockets and side seams) so we will mark them again at a later stage. The more important marks and notches are the ones that show you where to gather for the front and back pieces, front and back yoke pieces, and also marking out the seam lines on the placket is important for a neat finish on the placket.

Where to buy (aff links)
Sewing book – A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro –
Clover curve rulers with seam allowances –
Clover long ruler (50cm) –
Staedtler 9mm mechanical pencil  –
Clover Awl (I can’t find the wooden version online sorry!) –
Leonis Water Erasable Marking Pens. I was surprised when I received these because they were so small but despite it’s size they have outlasted any of the other markers I’ve had and does not dry out. –
Clover Wonder Clips (Mini) good for thin fabrics and smaller crafts as it won’t weight it down –
Clover Wonder Clips (regular) – more sturdy for holding pieces together for example when gathering –
Panasonic cordless iron (it’s a small iron and no cord so it’s perfect for crafting. The shape of the iron also means you don’t have to twist your arm to iron hard to reach places like in between buttons –
Olfa Rotary Cutter 28mm –
Olfa 28mm blades –
Olfa Small scissors (super sharp and precise for snipping curves and tiny areas)
Olfa Cutting Mat – I join 2 sizes together A1 and A3 to fit on my Ikea cutting table
And that’s it for today! I hope the video wasn’t too fast and the notes were clear enough. See you next week for part 2 where we will start cutting out fabric!

This sew-along is brought to you by Zakka Workshop. Zakka Workshop is a publisher of distinctive craft books, patterns, and kits inspired by fresh, contemporary Japanese design. They have lots of interesting craft books so do check them out at!

Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

Sew Along with A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro – Part 1 of 4

August 6, 2022

Welcome to the part 1 of the Sew-along! I’m sure you are as excited as I am! This sew-along is brought to you by Zakka Workshop. Zakka Workshop is a publisher of distinctive craft books, patterns, and kits inspired by fresh, contemporary Japanese design. They have lots of interesting craft books so do check them out at!

The Sew-along will be broken down into the follow sections.  The videos and blog posts will be published every Saturday night at 9pm Singapore time (GMT +8) so be sure to look out for it if you can! No worries if you are unable to sew on Saturday itself because you will have the whole week to catch up. The entire process is divided into easily manageable chunks that you should be able to complete within a week. Here’s a quick summary of what we will be covering.

Part 1 (6 Aug) – How to use the book, locating the patterns on the pattern sheet, tracing and adding seam allowances.
Part 2 (13 Aug) –  Cutting out your fabric pieces, preparing the pieces for sewing, steps 1 (front to front yoke) and 2 (making the placket)
Part 3 (20 Aug) – Step 3 (Back to back yoke), Step 4 (Sewing front and back yokes together), Step 5 (Attaching the tie collar)
Part 4 (27 Aug) – Step 6 (Finish armholes), Step 7 (Pockets and side seams, Step 8 (Hemming)

Without further ado, here is today’s sew-along video

Some notes about today’s sew-along and for fabric / materials purchase.

Dress length adjustments
I traced the patterns as-is and did not make any adjustments. I am 160cm tall and the dress is 123cm long. The dress ends at the ankle for me which is perfect. To adjust the length if you are shorter/taller than me, you can adjust the length by varying the width of the hem than the 7cm hem as instructed, or just add/substract directly from the bottom edge of the pattern to your desired length since the side seams of the front and back pieces are straight lines from armhole to hem.

Fabric requirements
I know we didn’t cut any fabric in this video, but since many of you might need to order fabric for this project, I thought I should mention that I actually used a 3m cut of fabric even though the instructions asked for 3.9m. I realized that for M size, even with the standard width of 110cm (or was it 104cm?) I was actually able to fit the yokes side by side, and the pockets were also cut in a row instead of staggered like in the pattern layout diagram. I also saved on some fabric by cutting the tie collar along the long scraps left from cutting the front and back pieces. I’m not sure if this will apply for sizes larger than M though, plus I’m short, so it’s best you finish today’s video and with the actual pattern pieces (including length adjustments if any), you can test out the placement on your fabrics before deciding how much fabric you might actually need.

Bias Tape requirements
The materials list states 1m of 1.2cm wide single fold bias tape. This was not included in the pattern layout so I am assuming they mean store bought tape. This is for finishing the armholes. You can use store bought tape of course, but because I was using thin linen, and I didn’t like the difference in weight of cotton bias tape vs thin linen, so I decided to make my own.  As the bias tapes will not be seen from the outside, you can use any fabric strips of similar weight and color for bias tape. If you want to make them using the exact same fabric as the dress, then please use the recommended fabric required as that will safely allow you to cut extra for bias tape. I only manage to squeeze it out of 3m by not cutting it at 45deg. It’s unorthodox but it worked because the armholes for this dress is not extremely curved and is for the most part, straight lines so I managed to get away with it. But it’s entirely up to you if you want to do the same, and this is based on M size so the scraps I had left could accommodate this.

Where to buy (aff links)
A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro –
Clover curve rulers with seam allowances
Clover long ruler (50cm)
Staedtler 9mm mechanical pencil
The tracing paper I use is from Taobao so it’s probably not useful to link it here but there are lots of options on amazon and online for rolls of tracing paper.

And that’s it for today! I hope the video wasn’t too fast and the notes were clear enough. See you next week for part 2 where we will start cutting out fabric!

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Throwback Thursday – Free Chinese Dress / Qipao pattern for girls

January 19, 2017

Every year just before Chinese New Year, I see a renewed flurry of activity in our local sewing community -The Sewing Network, from mothers/aunts/crafters sewing and making Qipaos /Cheongsams for their little ones. This year I’ve decided to compile some of them to show you all the amazing things that they have done with my simple template as a base.  From adding sleeves, to tulle sleeves, going collarless for comfort, adding gathered skirts, romper style, matching doll sets. All you need to give your little girl a wide smile for Chinese New Year is a simple and free pattern, plus lots of love and creativity. 🙂


This pattern had its roots 9 years ago, when I first made attempted to make a mash up dress+chinese collar for my then 3 year old daughter. Being inexperienced, I created a front flap opening, but sewed up the gathered skirt at the waist line. Needless to say, it was a struggle getting in and out of it, haha… That idea was revisited a few years later, you can imagine how traumatized I was at my failure, but I was determined to get it right, by copying the side opening from a store bought Qipao my husband bought for us from his business trip to China. I finally understood how it worked and so created a free pattern (click here for the free pattern) and launched it in January 2014, plus sewing video tutorials (click here to watch the videos on youtube) to make it easier to understand.

Anyway, this year, Chinese New Year falls on 28th Jan which is rather early. It seems like Christmas just came and went and I just got settled in the new school routine. But it’s based on the lunar calendar so it’s not up to us to decide ;P  I am still struggling to spring-clean, and am still sewing our new outfits for CNY2017. I have lowered my personal expectations for this year and I’m probably only going to make one outfit per person instead of 2. I just hope I can make it in time!

In the meantime, have a look through and get inspired by these creative ladies from our local sewing group – The Sewing Network. Click on the arrows to see the next slide. The copyright of photos belong to the owners as stated in each picture. If you wish to be included in the gallery, just message me on Facebook or email me with your photos.  Enjoy and be inspired!

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

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Sew-Along for Boy’s Stand-Up Collar Shirt Day 2

January 8, 2017

Well, somehow I did it! I always wanted to get back to making sewing videos because it is just so much easier to explain using videos instead of words or even still pictures. I managed to clear out some table space and used a clamp instead of tripods to take the videos. However, you will notice I did not film some of the simpler sewing steps. This is because I would have needed a second clamp and make multiple adjustments to the settings everytime I moved the camera. So for the easy sewing bits like shoulder seams, side seams or serging, I did not show every single step, but I hope everything else is quite self-explanatory.

So in the last post – we traced the pattern pieces and got the fabric and interfacing cut out. Today we start sewing! So without further ado, here is the video for steps 1-3. Steps 4-8 will be covered in the next video which I am still filming and editing. I am following the steps and descriptions in the book as much as I can so that it will not be confusing for you.

Happy sewing! Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

For those of you who want to sew along, here is a link to purchase the book on amazon (affiliate link)

Updated : The final video with steps 4-8 has been posted. Click here to view the next post.

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Sew Along for Boys Stand-UP Collar Shirt – Day 1

January 6, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good break over the Christmas and holiday period. I know I haven’t posted much since last December but I was kind of burned out after the holiday. Somehow things move along a lot slower too when the kids are around during the school holidays. It’s like nothing gets done but so much needs to be done. After the mad rush of getting everything ready for them to go back to school, it’s finally time to sit down and think about what to do next!

I originally planned to write up a New resolutions post about how I am going to schedule my blog posts properly, and yes even bring back the translations requests section but then I suddenly realize that I have to start sewing for Chinese New Year which is 23 days away! Gulp…. I have to sew (at least) 2 cheongsams for my daughters, including drafting new patterns since they have grown so much since last year. And I have to sew for my little boy too! So due to the tight timeline, I have to jump right in and the first one I will tackle will be from this book.


I have posted the full book review some time ago, so you can look at the rest of the projects here if you have not purchased the book yet. This book is translated into English so no worries about following along!


I will be making the above Boy’s Stand-up Collar Shirt in Size 2. I will be taking pictures as I go along, I’m not sure if I have space/time to setup my video equipment, since having a 2 year old around means no tripods stay upright for long. What am I talking about, he doesn’t even let me out of his sight. It is 6+ in the morning here which is why I can even type this out. Anyway, I’ll probably be taking pictures, so if you can, sew-along with me! I will be splitting up this project into a few separate posts, and the length of each post will literally depend on how much I get done each day.

So the first thing you have to do, as you can see on the bottom of the right hand page below, is to flip to pg 57. See below.


You will notice the instructions are rather scant. And you may wonder where the rest of the diagrams are? Why does it jump straight to number 6? The actual steps to follow are in the order given in the top right hand diagram. but notice the little footnote near number 7? It says to follow the steps in project “t” which is on pages 62-63, which is a normal collared shirt, with the exception of step 6 which is the making of the stand up collar.

I guess this is a good way of saving paper, since there is really no point printing repeated instructions. But I do wish that was written right under the materials list, and in a larger font. ;P

Anyway, gripes aside, and it wasn’t too hard to figure that out anyway, let’s move along and look at the pattern pieces and materials.

For materials, the length you will need is based on standard 110cm wide fabric. The lengths are listed in order of sizes. So for Size 2, I will need 35 1/2″ or 0.9m of fabric.

For pattern pieces, you will need to look for the pieces labelled “q” and you will need 5 pattern pieces (yoke and facing are the same pattern piece)


The pattern pieces are spread out over 3 different pattern sheets. I can only show you two since the are printed on double side, so I am just showing you how I located the pieces on sheet 1 and 3.

Pattern sheet 1 – Q – yoke and yoke facing (shown above)
Pattern sheet 2 – Q – sleeve  (on reverse side of sheet 1)
Pattern sheet 3 – Q – back, collar (shown above)
Pattern sheet 4 – Q –  front  (on reverse side of sheet 3)

Now trace your patterns out, remember that there are no seam allowances, so you have to add them on after tracing.

To know how much seam allowance to add, refer to the Layout diagram.


For example, the pattern labelled SLEEVE has a double line around it, and at the bottom edge of the sleeve it says 1 1/2 (4)

This means, that there is a 3/8″ or 1cm seam allowance all around, except for the bottom edge where you should add on 1 1/2″ or 4cm of seam allowance.

For other pieces where there are no numbers and just a double line, it just means add on 3/8″ or 1cm seam allowance by default. Here are examples of two of the pieces with added seam allowances.


With the pattern pieces cut out, you can now cut them out of fabric. You can mix and match coordinating fabrics for the yoke / yoke facing, inner and outer collars, etc. Go ahead and be creative!


Here are my pattern pieces laid out on my fabric. I am using Sarah Jane’s Painted Gingham in blue. Note that I will have to cut two of the collar and two of the yoke pieces. Also, my layout is a little different from the one in the book. That is because the collar and yoke pieces have to be cut on fold, and furthermore the design in the book was using a striped fabric. So to mix things up a little the collar and yoke for the shirt in the book was running perpendicular to the rest of the shirt. So bear that in mind when you place your pattern pieces, it really depends on the print on your fabric and how you want it to appear on the shirt.


Next, you have to cut out the pieces for the Interfacing as well. Under the LAYOUT diagram, there is one more cutting diagram for FUSIBLE INTERFACING. The instructions for the FRONT FACING section are not very clear, and you may be confused over the “shape” of the front facing. Basically there are 2 x 4cm wide strips, meant to go onto the extended seam allowance of both Front pieces, which folds back to create the button placket. This interfacing will help to stabilize your button holes and buttons.

So now you should have all your pieces ready and let’s start sewing tomorrow! I will start with some prep work and then probably steps 1-3. Crossing my fingers I can stay on schedule 🙂 If you have any questions, ask them in the comments section below.

Updated : Post for Day 2 of sew-along, with a sewing video for steps 1-3 is now available.