A Japanese Cardi from She Wears the Pants

Japanese pattern books have always attracted my attention. The styles seemed so simple and stylish, but it seemed the books had mostly dress and skirt patterns, so I passed them by. This past spring I ran across She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada. This book was translated from She Has a Mannish Style (same author of course). Finally, a book with mostly tops meant to be worn with pants.

I noticed the english version of this book (the one I have) has many poor reviews on Amazon. It seems that many thought the book was supposed to be pants patterns…which it’s not. Maybe they could have come up with a better English title? I know I’m quite pleased with the book. It has a style more like the Drape Drape books than the very sweet traditional Japanese pattern books. More edgy and urban, as the extended title says. My only complaint about the book is that the very dark photography makes it difficult to see the style details.

She Wears the Pants Draped Cardigan

My first try from the book was #15, the Draped Cardigan. It consists of 3 main pattern pieces – front/back are one piece (cut 1), the hem section (cut 2), and the sleeve cuffs (cut 2). Because the front and back are one piece, your fabric must be wide enough – at least 63″. My first choice of stash fabric was a few inches short, so I ended up using a pinky/coral cotton interlock, which ended up working very well. I made a large, thinking the styles would run on the small side, but that was wrong. I could have made a medium, no problem. Because of the style, the large looks fine though.

The pattern has pocket bags built into the main front section, then the hem section covers the bags, creating the pockets – very cool! Then the hem section wraps down and around to the back where you are supposed to sew the ends together creating a drape. Except the drape made a big bag-like thing right around my butt…and that was not cool at all. Good thing I basted that part to try it out. I ended up hemming the ends of the hem sections and the rest of the lower back. this created a low front/high back look that I really like.

SWP cardi back flare

SWP cardi back

On the front the buttons and buttonholes go up high and end low, following the curve of the front. I used non-matching buttons to emphasize this, and could see getting very creative there and in other areas of this cardi. It has a lot of potential for color and thread.

SWP cardi front open

I found the instructions pretty adequate. There is no hand-holding like you get from the big 4 pattern companies, but it’s fun having more of a challenge. Tracing the pattern from the big multi-pattern pages takes some time. I picked up some Frixion Highlighters that were awesome to use. First I roughly highlighted the pattern piece and any markings or notes with a highlighter, then did another with another color, and another. Then I traced each piece. The different colors help when tracing overlapping pieces because each piece has its own color. After tracing I ironed the color away so I could do more. I highly recommend this method!


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  1. I like this a lot and can see lots of potential here. Those Japanese patterns are terrifyingly bonkers, good tip re the Frixton pens.

  2. This is really fabulous! I am an old hand at tracing out patterns from Burda, and I always use a different color the pattern I want, but I never thought to use different colors like this. I’ve got the Frixion pens too and I will definitely use this on my next tracing adventure. The newer Burda’s are much harder to see than the old ones and this should help.
    If you don’t have wide fabric you can always add a seam to center back. I am very intrigued with how the pockets are made. If you made another I’d love to see some photos on how it’s done.

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  3. Saw your review at PR and came to read more details. Really cute cardigan!

  4. Me again!!! I use the Frixion pens a lot as they are versatile for fabric and paper.

  5. It looks great
    , really cool shaping. Great job as always!

  6. Thanks for the review of the Japanese book! I like their unique take on sewing and fashion.

  7. Hi Deb,
    I have also made this cardigan; I saw yours on Pattern Review while I was mid-way sewing mine.
    Your experience with the book, pattern and sewing was pretty much the same as mine, but yours ended up looking much groovier at the back! I sewed the full drape and then changed my mind when it was finished.
    Pictures on my blog: http://lizhaywood.com.au/index.php/the-japanese-cardigan/
    Have you worn it much?

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