Category: Japanese pattern books

What the Japanese Can Teach Us About Sun Hat Making.

It’s been like summer here in southern Germany this last week. We were collecting Easter eggs in freezing conditions with a few flakes of snow a couple of weeks ago and yesterday we were basking in 28 degrees sunshine. Spring’s often like that here. Suddenly you’re packing away your woolies and trying to remember where you left your sunglasses months ago and rushing to buy sun cream.

Yoda all wet and muddy after jumping in the stream, trying to cool off in the heat!
Yoda all wet and muddy after jumping in the stream, trying to cool off in the heat!

The Japanese take sun protection very seriously. At least they did when I lived there. My husband’s Japanese and whenever we see his family I’m reminded about sun care. Products designed to block sun exposure are everywhere in Japan, from UV cutting face creams and cosmetics to umbrellas and hats. And this care and attention to maintaining pale skin seems to pay off. Many elderly women in Japan have the most beautiful wrinkle-free and flawless complexions. It’s inspiring.

When I first went there in my early twenties, I was admired for my pale skin. I felt colour-less and washed-out looking but for the Japanese it was the goal. You only have to look at the traditional make-up of the Geisha to understand the white-skinned beauty ideal of the Japanese. Now in my mid-forties, every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and shudder, I wish I’d adopted more of the Japanese sun-protecting ways over the years LOL.

I did learn the necessity of finding a good sun-hat though. Many people don’t wear sun hats here in summer and there aren’t a wide selection available to buy, so on my last visit to Japan I picked up this Japanese hat-making book so I could make my own.

‘Adult’s and Children’s  Hats’ ISBN978-4-529-04977-1.

Japanese hat making book
‘Hats for Adults and Hats for Children’

It’s helpful for novice hat-makers like me because it offers patterns that gradually build in difficulty from basic level to advanced allowing you to progress as you gain skills and confidence, to making more complex styles.

From basic beginner styles to advanced hat making skills.
From basic beginner styles to advanced hat making skills.

It also has patterns for children and adults in a range of sizes so I’ve been able to make hats for myself and both of my daughters from when they were toddlers till school age for the last couple of summers.

I first made this simple make for my older daughter. It’s one of the entry-level patterns and comes together really easily.

sun hat 10

It’s been well-worn and has now been passed on to the younger daughter.

sun hat 8
Hat made from organic cotton twill for the outer shell, and an organic cotton batiste for the lining and Japanese cotton for the brim.

Last summer I let my daughters choose the pattern they’d like because I wanted them to like and wear their hats. They both went for this style below with a small brim all the way around – not the most sun-protecting model in the book but I decided that if my daughters were happy to wear them, then they’d be better than no hats.

sun hat 2

This design is a level two hat and slightly more complex to make than the first because of the split brim and multi-pieced segmented crown. It’s still do-able, just with more pattern pieces.

sun hat 3
Linen/cotton outer shell and Liberty Art Fabrics cotton tana lawn for the back turn up brim and organic cotton batiste for the inner hat lining and grosgrain ribbon for the band.

I used Liberty tana lawn cotton on the back underside of the brim to give the hats a fun contrast when the brims are flipped up. I got the Liberty fabric from Shaukat’s online shop in their crafter’s section. I bought a pack of smaller fabric pieces in a variety of prints and they’re perfect for using on smaller projects such as these hats.

sun hat 4
Teddy bear motif from lace manufacturers in Switzerland – I’ll reveal where I got this in the next YoSaMi newsletter – leave your email in the box at the top of the sidebar to sign up – it’s FREE.

I made one of the book’s second level intermediate sun-hats for myself.

sun hat 1

I used linen for the outer layer and an organic cotton batiste for the lining and a hat band I bought in Japan. The hat band makes all the difference in keeping the hat’s shape but the grosgrain ribbon I used for the children’s hats also works well.

sun hat 5

It was still relatively easy to do but the side pleat added an extra challenge.

sun hat 6

I thoroughly recommend hat making. It’s satisfying because it’s relatively quick to do and sun hats are everyday items that get lots of wear in the summer – at least they do in our family.

Some people are put off by hats but I believe there’s a hat shape for everyone and this book covers many different styles to suit different face shapes and activities.

Hat Making: What You’ll Need

You don’t need special tools or materials to make these hats but you’ll need a lightweight woven lining fabric such as cotton batiste and either a grosgrain ribbon or ideally a hat band for the inside. I’d recommend using sturdy light to medium weight woven fabrics for the outer hat layer such as lightweight denims or linen. You’ll also need lightweight interfacing for the brims.

What’s your favourite summer accessory to make? Let me know in the comments below.

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Happy sewing as always,








July Jumpsuit Trio

I’ve had a bit of a thing for making jumpsuits lately.  In fact, I’ve already made three!  What can I say other than -I like them – you get the fun of a dress with the practicality of trousers.

This blue one below, made up in a Liberty print tana lawn cotton, was inspired by a Liberty cotton jumpsuit I saw on the A.P.C. online shop earlier this year which unfortunately I don’t have a link to.  The A.P.C. one was retailing for nearly 300 euros!  Needless to say, mine cost a fraction of this price to make!

Liberty jumpsuit with side pockets P1230051

I found the pattern in this Japanese pattern book ‘Dressmaking at Home’ by Machiko Kayaki ISBN 978-4-579-11393-4.

It was really straightforward to make.  It consists of a top with an elasticated neck and wide leg pants which are then joined together in the middle with an elasticated waist and a drawstring with silver beads on the end – from La Droguerie in Strasbourg and in-seam side pockets. You get the whole thing on through the neck – this is the only opening so before I joined the top to the pants I checked that I could get my shoulders and hips through the neck opening.

The A.P.C. version had almost an identical looking neckline but it had a button opening on the front of the top from the neck down to the waist, which would make it a lot easier to get on and off.  I did toy with the idea of trying to copy this by altering my pattern and cutting the front top piece into two and adding a button placket.  But finally I decided against it.  I thought I’d make it up as it is first to see how it turned out.  Maybe I’ll make another with buttons next time.

In the book the pattern had been made up in viscose and was a bit wider and had more drape than mine in the tana lawn cotton.  So I took mine in a few centimeteres at the side seams and a bit in from the leg width because I was worried that it would be a bit too wide. Now that it’s made up though, I think a bit of extra width at the sides would have been ok.

The next two jumpsuits of the trio are two versions of the same pattern from this Japanese book – ‘Lots of Liberty print! Dresses and tunics’ ISBN 978-4-07-277210-2.

Liberty jumpsuit with patch pockets and tie-neck Liberty jumpsuit with tie-neck

This is another easy pattern that has patch pockets at the sides and separate belt at the elasticated waist and a tie halter neck top, which I also added beads from La Droguerie on.  This green one is another Liberty print tana lawn cotton lined with a very fine cotton batiste.

Lightweight denim jumpsuit with Liberty contrast belt

The final version is made up in a lightweight denim bought at the Hollander Stoff Markt in Karlsruhe, with a belt with a contrast side in Liberty print tana lawn – which can just be seen in the above photo.

I made them all using French seams and I would recommend adding a few centimetres to the leg length because I always find the Japanese patterns to have short legs – and I’m not tall at 162cm!

All three have been really easy and comfortable to wear and I’m really happy with them.  I’ve got a bold print drapey viscose that I would like to make a drapey neck version of the jumpsuit in.  All I need now is a few more hours in the day!

Have you made any jumpsuits?  Which patterns did you use?  I’d love to hear about them.

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