First try at Tomoko Nakamichi- Pattern magic


Sometimes very basic patterns can be a little boring. I purchased the book, “Pattern magic” from To begin with, I thought there were some strange ideas in there. A “canguru pouch” like pocket or a hole in the side of a dress??? But then I found that it actually was quite inspiring. I kept coming back to it and wanted to try out some of his ideas.

I must say, that this project can only be viewed as a first try. Most techniques need to be perfected and I find that it is necessary to get a feel for both the fabric and the shape I want to achieve.

If I wanted to try this now, I had to use fabric that I had in the house. I am in the process of making another dress, and thought it would be fun to implement some of Nakamichi’s ideas. I knew that the fabric I had was not perfect for this technique. I started out sort of knowing it probably would not look quite right. But practice makes perfect, and who knows maybe it won’t be so bad after all?

The book gives a very rough description of how to use the sloper (basic pattern) included in the book and modify it. I was working with the Bamboo shoot (takenoko). It looks really cool. I can see that the fabric he has used is sturdy soft and thin. My material is thicker and it has some stretch in it.


I found understanding exactly what I needed to do a little challenging.  I copied the sloper to full size then drew the shape on to some brown paper.  My cutting board has many helpful lines on it, I therefore used it to help me keep the grain of my pattern pieces straight.

When drawing the bamboo shoot pattern unto the sloper, I tried to stay within the proportions that would look something like the original. 2 inches wide strips for braiding was a good size for me. The book does not say anything about how wide each part should be, so it is left up to the reader’s best judgment.

I cut into my pattern along the bottom “Y shaped”  lines. If you look at my left photo, you will see that the lines I cut resemble a Y if you push the parts together. Then I pulled the parts away from each other in order to get a shape that could resemble the illustration in the book. This caused my paper to bulge a little. I folded my “bulgy areas” and flattened the pattern (right photo above).

In the next part I discovered that pulling the pieces of my pattern further apart was necessary. I tried to keep the center front with the grain line in the right direction as I attempted to make it look like the photo in the book. I taped the pattern pieces to my cutting board to make them stay in place. When the paper creased as I moved the pattern pieces I continued to let the paper fold where necessary and flatten (as above).

Using what we here in Norway call “food paper” (matpapir), I traced my pattern. You can use any see through paper surface you choose. You can see that I have defined the center front with a green line. This I found to be helpful. Then I drew in my “red cutting lines”.

Finally I was actually ready for the fun part…. That is, seeing the results on real fabric. Even though I was planning to end for the day, I just couldn’t help but to continue.  I pressed my fabric and cut it.

Now is the part when all is supposed to be well. When I tried to fold my braid I was a little disappointed, because everything looked so “flat”. I continued to play with it and discovered that it was necessary to add creases along the lines where the braid would form in the fabric.

As I anticipated, my product was not quite the same as the original. Because my fabric is relatively thick I added seam lines to define the braid. Yes, it is a bit flat, but the pattern is there. If you are attempting to make your own “takenoko top”, look at the bottom right of page 85 in the book. There is a small illustration showing that you secure your braid with stitches on the back of the fabric. I did this on my sewing machine.

Even though my top is a bit “unique” this has been a learning experience. I am planning to add a collar from this book, some sleeves and later implement it in my dress project. Follow along on my blog to see it evolve.


About sewingforfun

Have four children, am a nurse. Am presently at home during the days. Have been sewing since I was little, and I enjoy it.
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4 Responses to First try at Tomoko Nakamichi- Pattern magic

  1. Sitting Bull says:

    First try or not, very impressive:-) I’m looking forward to see the finished dress !

    • Carlita says:

      Hi I am also following this pattern book. did you close the darts on your pattern before you started? as the instructions on the book aren’t very detailed.

      • sewingforfun says:

        No I didn’t. But as I folded out the pattern, after cutting in the bottom area, it sort of closed itself. I flattened the pattern, creasing where it was necesary. When I did this, you could say that the darts in a way sort of closed themselves.

        Good luck on your project. It would be very interesting to hear how you do.

        🙂 Kristin

  2. Pingback: Magic meets Peplum « Lin3arossa

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