Summer of Skirts Part 3: Roller Skating Wrap Skirt

Roller skate wrap skirt by Saké PuppetsWhat better way to wear a roller skate skirt than to take it for a spin on your own set!

I started roller derby this year and love it. I’d wear my skates to bed if my Japanese apartment didn’t require I remove all footwear at the door. I’ve caught myself hip-checking strangers on the subway and my gear bag now contributes most of the bad smells in our house.

So when I saw Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Sparkle Roller Skates Ring A Ling, I wanted it immediately. Sewing + roller skates = mind blown.

Melody Miller's Roller Skates Ring A Ling skirt by Saké PuppetsThe fabric is a mid-weight cotton-linen blend, perfect for a summer play skirt. And I’ve hardly worn anything else all summer. If you’ve met me for lunch or a play date in the past 2 months, odds are I was wearing this skirt. After my roller skates, it’s my new best friend.

This skirt encourages wigglingMaybe my photographer is jealous, because I was scolded for moving around too much during this photo shoot. But it couldn’t be helped. I was wearing my two besties and they got along splendidly.

The pattern for this skirt is Tilly’s Miette wrap skirt. Two friends and I decided to make this together as a mini sewalong, because we all wanted a project to do together and I couldn’t be bothered to read something for a book group. We all live in different parts of the world, so we posted our sewing updates and questions on a secret Facebook group. I think our sewalong experiment worked pretty well, and I’m not sure about them but I’d do it again. Especially if it means I can avoid another book group.

I did have one big issue with this project. I was so mesmerized by the metallic details and roller skates with pom poms that I didn’t notice the print had diagonal stripes. Which meant that I should have cut my skirt on the bias, but didn’t. Oops.

oops. stripes.Because the print is quite busy, I decided to just make it busier by adding the pockets.

Busy body printI actually like the way it turned out. Pockets in skirts are a wonderful thing anyways, so it was sort of a win-win. A demonstration shot:

Cell phone goes here! Magic!I’m ignoring the fact that on a recent episode of Project Runway Michael Kors called these “pleasure pockets.” Eew, gross, you orange old man!

Peek!A final action show. Peek!

That wraps up my trio of summer play skirts! It felt great to make a whole season’s worth of wearable, durable clothing, so now I’m looking to autumn. What are you making, friends?

Blue Waltz Dress

I haven’t bought new clothes in a while because every time I see something I like in a store I find a detail or something that isn’t quite right and convince myself to make it instead. This would be fine if I actually made the thing.

I finished my wool Hollyburn skirt just in time for … spring. As the weather warmed up, wearing a full wool skirt felt silly. And hot. So I tried to think a season ahead when choosing my next sewing project. Enter the Elisalex dress in Nani iro blue waltz.Elisalex dress in Nani Iro waltzTokyo’s summers are really hot and linen dresses are ideal. A lot of Nani iro fabric comes in this linen-cotton blend or double gauze cotton, which are great for sweaty Japanese summers. Coincidence? I think not.

I love the way this dress fits. The bodice is lined and just the right amount of snug.My zippier side.

I made a muslin for this dress which helped me decide to lengthen the bodice an inch. The muslin is still wearable though I’m not in love with the fabric, so I have designated it as my clean-the-house dress. Scrubbing floors in a dress = much more fun than scrubbing floors in sweatpants.

I went with an exposed zipper using this tutorial by Gretchen Hirsch and after seeing this tip by Closet Case Files added a very thin interfacing to give the skirt a little more poof. I don’t have a full-length mirror and now that I see these photos I might shorten the hem to the knees. I purchased the Nani iro from Miss Matatabi and lined the bodice in an orange and red cotton voile from my stash.

Summer, bring it on.Blue waltz for summer. Nani iro and Elisalex

Pattern Frenzy

A while back Vogue had a sale on all their sewing patterns, so I bought three. This is definitely wishful thinking. I can’t imagine I will find the time to make all of these dresses.

vogue patternsI bought them because they were inexpensive and I thought they might be nice patterns for a beginner. I am going to cut into that pattern tissue, yes I am.

A friend recently bought a real-deal Von Furstenberg and looked great in it, which was the inspiration for 8646. I have no idea what I was thinking about 8825. Those sleeves are sort of hideous. (Though the blue version on their website is much better, and this version rocks.)

The hardest part about sewing is conjuring up an image of the final project — what fabric to use, how it will drape, how I could possibly customize it? I have no idea.

While frolicking in the US last summer I stopped by JoAnn Fabrics and found all their patterns on sale for cheap, like $1 or something ridiculous. I can’t quite remember, it all went a little blurry after the frenzy hit. I had forgotten about them until I went to put my new Vogue numbers away.

pattern frenzyI now remember my excitement about Ms. 8727. In 2006 (or 2005?) I bought a dress similar to view B at H&M for $15, and it is one of my favorite dresses. It fits me perfectly, is printed linen with a lined bodice and pockets, and I still wear it all summer. Even though styles in Japan are quite modest and that much semi-cleavage is scandalous. I don’t care, I need pockets! For years I have been dreaming of making one in every color of the rainbow but didn’t actually know how to do that. Until now!

This is quite the lineup, and none of it gets started until after this:

Nani iro + ElisalexI decided to join another sew-along, this time for the By Hand London’s Elisalex dress. I am making it in Nani iro linen. My excitement can only be adequately described in emoji: ヾ(^O^)ノ

Birthday Suit

birthday shirt

It would take many birthday tequilas to show you that birthday suit.

birthday suit

I recently turned 30-something, so I made a birthday shirt. The pattern is from the August issue of Burda Style magazine. Listed as an intermediate level pattern, I thought it looked simple enough. I learned an intermediate sewer I am not. It took some Googling to help me understand the invisible zippers at the cuffs. They are a cool detail and I’m glad I persevered. My zippers are not so invisible, but they are bright yellow so I’m glad they peek out a bit.

I could have botched this pattern completely and it wouldn’t have mattered because this fabric is lovely. It feels soft and light and is covered in almost-neon yellow dots. Happy birthday to me.

ps. previously mentioned in this sneak peek.


Does everyone know how much a necktie costs in a Tokyo department store? Let me help you – about ¥10,000, which translates to USD $127. For a basic, silk-ish boring striped necktie.

I haven’t bought my husband a new necktie in years because I couldn’t stomach paying that price for something I knew I had the skills and resources to make. This meant he had no neckties. I experimented with making ties using Liberty of London cottons, but the ties proved too flimsy. A good tie needs some heft, and the fusible interfacing in these made them more like wispy bits of cardboard hanging from a shirt. Recently, I tried again with wool.

The thicker wool and sew-in interfacing allow these ties to swing freely. Because we know men like their accessories to swing freely. I altered Burda pattern 3403 to create a skinny 2 1/2″ tie rather than the fat 4″ as instructed. The fabric is a Pendleton plaid with cotton shirting lining, and cashmere blend herringbone lined in red silk.

With more practice I think I’ll be able to master better points. More practice means more ties, and a way to lure someone into fabric stores with me.

During this photo-op Dan informed me he would never wear this outfit in public. He would obviously need to wear a suit jacket with a tie. Such discerning taste.

And yes, that is a baseball bat tie clip.

I made a shirt.

I totally did. I turned a piece of fabric into something wearable.

Ignore the wrinkles and the pink belly button dot. If I can’t see them then you can’t see them. That’s the way it works, right?

And no, I’m not going to model it. I thought about the idea, but really… guys, I’m an awkward lanky goof, and when there is a camera involved it’s a hot mess.

But back to my shirt. My shirt! A friend was wearing one she made, and when I commented on how much I liked it she bullied encouraged me to try sewing one for myself. I ordered the pattern online that same evening, and with speedy, instant gratification it was sent via PDF five minutes later.

All I could think about was sewing this shirt. I was possessed. I bought fabric the next morning, brought it home and washed it and watched it air dry, drumming my fingers, telling it to hurry up already.

It took me 4 hours to make, start to finish. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. I sewed the pocket upside down, then the side seams inside out. I had to rip out all the stitches but I didn’t mind. I was making a shirt, yo.

And then it was finished and I was in love. I put it on immediately, which was easy to do because I was wearing only my underwear solely in anticipation of the moment when I could put on my bespoke top. Bespoke — la tee dah!

Then I sat down and sewed another one.

I told you, I was possessed. The second one has a hand-sewn pocket. I used more expensive nani IRO fabric (I was ready!) and it only took me an hour. I’ve already worn it twice.

What shall I sew next?! Do you have pattern suggestions? Please send them my way! I’m giddy! I want to sew all the shirts!