Pattern Puzzle | Cut The Trends | Pattern Fundamentals | Pattern Insights | Pattern Fix | First Sample | Design & Illustration | Vintage Patterns | well-suited archive

Pattern Puzzle - The Japan Skirt - no block required!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Japan Skirt - Self-drafted Pattern.  Rectangle skirts are nothing new.  What maybe new is the way you work your rectangle.  This particular pattern has been hanging on my pattern rail for at least 8 years.  Originally developed for merino ponti, grading up and down in sizes allows you to cut this pattern in a variety of knit and woven fabrics.Japan Skirt Pattern Puzzle

Most important is that the fabric you use is good both sides.  The sample below has been cut in an African Wax Print on cotton.  These prints are renown for the fact that the better quality versions are printed on both sides.  Strange but true!  Equally a Merino Ponti will also be good on both sides.  In particular this would suit any drapey, double face fabrics (satin backed crepe).

Japan Skirt Sample

You will all be aware of Rhonda's great work with rectangles for many garment types.  One post in particular has a fantastic rectangle skirt development that is similar to this #PatternPuzzle.

Rhonda's creative life.

A google image search unearthed a commercial example of a very similar skirt from ZARUG, a creative women's brand from Bucharest.  Please note that this garment has an even hem where the drape meets.  Out pattern here will have a variable hem length.

Inspo from Zarug.

With origins in folk costume and based on a rectangle, The Japan Skirt is simple in construction but versatile in application.  This skirt shape has been seen in the collections of Issey Miyake and Akira Isogawa, as an interpretation of the simplicity and elegance of Japanese Folk Costume.

The difference with this rectangle skirt is that I have worked on the fit around the waist with the inclusion of a dart on the only seam.  This provides some shaping and a place to hide the invisible zip.  Have also varied the hem length to add interest in the hem drape.

  1. Draw up a rectangle of half width of usable cloth (72.5cm or 29") X back length of skirt (78cm or 31 ¼").
  2. Measure along the top edge of the rectangle (right to left) for half of your lower waist measurement (44cm or 17 ⅝").
  3. Mark the fold-back waist facing 4cm or 1 ⅝" inside top edge of rectangle.
  4. Mark diagonal cutting line for the placement of shaping dart and zip opening.

Japan Skirt Draft

  1. Mark the turn back waist facing edge to match the angle of the zip opening.  In construction the 4cm or 1 ⅝" turning will be used to enclose the top edge of the zip.
  2. From turn back notch on waist facing draw a straight line to the outside edge of the pattern.  This will be the front edge of the waterfall drape and it does not need a 4cm turn-back.  We will add a 1.25cm turning for a rolled hem edge.
  3. Mark in the 'cut to fold' (right) side of the pattern.

  1. Cut along the diagonal line and open for the dart allowance and the opening for the invisible zip.
  2. This dart opening will have the smallest possible seam allowance (0.7cm or ¼") added to sew in the zip.
  3. This opening will also need to be at least 18-20cm or 7 ¼-8" long for the inclusion of a zipper.

Japan Skirt Dart

  1. The stitching line for the seam that comes from the end of the zip should extend for at least another 20cm or 8" past the end of the dart.
  2. To make a variable hem length, mark 8cm or 3 ¼" above and below the existing hem line.
  3. Redraw new hemlines and eliminate the original line.

Japan Skirt Pattern

  1. Draw out the full and final pattern piece with your straight grain parallel with the fold.
  2. An alternative grain may be the he line if you are cutting a border print.
  3. The outside edges of the skirt have a 1.25cm or ½" hem allowance for a rolled hem finishing 6mm.
  4. The zip opening already has a minimal seam allowance (0.7cm or ¼").

Final Pattern Japan Skirt

Grading for different sizes and different fabrics is relatively easy on this skirt style.  I have indicated a larger than usual grade increment of 8cm (3 ¼") between sizes (4cm or 1 ⅝" on this half pattern).  The simple shape of this skirt gives it some flexibility in fit.  When looser in fit it sits lower on the waist and as the fit gets tighter the skirt simply sits higher on the waist.  This flexibility is enhanced when this skirt is cut in a stretch fabric.  Thinking Merino Ponti as a fab winter skirt.

The photo series below added 09.09.14.  Detail for the construction of the zip and seam.  :)  Sew skirt and drape seam allowance together first, for each side of the seam, before inserting zipper.

Japan Skirt Samples

Hoping you all enjoy the experience of a self-drafted style.  We would love to see the variations you sew together.  Comment below if you would like to showcase your efforts here or if you have any questions. 

Enjoy :)


Sue's Sew By Me

Share this blog post:

Poetje commented on 14-Mar-2019 12:19 AM
Hi there Anita, being a mum, experienced sewer I thought, with daughter 18 and a novice sewer we started to read about your Japan Skirt. She has a supple fabric (blankie )that would be great for this. The problem is we can't find a written out tutorial for it. And I can draw the pattern, not that hard right? But I can't seem to find the size of the graph paper (is it called this way?) you used... Would very much appreciate your info about this and help her make her first garment! Thank you so much for the wonderful patterns on your site and the pointers you give!! For sure gonna make something for myself too!

Kind regards Jet
Anita - StudioFaro commented on 14-Mar-2019 05:01 PM
Hi Poetje, thanks for getting in touch. All the information available for this design is above in this one blog post. I didn't use a grid to draft the pattern, just body measurements. As it happens I'm about to release this design as a digital sewing pattern. It should be listed in the coming month. If you're subscribed to the website you'll be the first to know. :)
Selina commented on 26-Apr-2019 11:29 AM
Your Japan skirt was what I was looking for. Saw a photo, but not sure how to sew. Your instructions are very helpful. Thank you for sharing.
Anita - Studiofaro commented on 26-Apr-2019 01:26 PM
Hi Selina, thanks for dropping by. The Japan skirt is a favourite. :) The trick with the sewing is to make sure you catch the zip in the dart with the seam allowances on the inside. Also, it's a good idea to use fabric that looks good from both sides. I'd love to see your sample when it's made. I have a facebook group where it's easy to post photos and comment on your pattern puzzle makes - called STUDIO FARO MAKERS. Also a great place to ask any pattern making or sewing questions.
Gisele FORCUCCI commented on 06-May-2019 06:39 PM
merci pour ses idées
Anita - Studiofaro commented on 07-May-2019 10:14 AM
My pleasure Giselle! :)

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.


Using my content

All images, designs, photos and layouts on this blog are created and owned by Anita McAdam© of Studio Faro. They are available for HOME AND PERSONAL USE ONLY.  If you would like to use my content for teaching or commercial purposes please ask.  I have some amazing resources for teachers and manufacturers. ;) enquiries@studiofaro.com

Recent Posts

FREE Members Area Articles - Become a Member


All my sewing patterns.
These are the first of my sewing patterns as PDF downloads for you to buy and sew.  The more I sell the more time I have to make new ones.  So if you fancy supporting the work I do here on the well-suited blog, this is your opportunity.  These patterns are based on my size chart listed here on the website.


All my garment blocks.
Garment blocks are the basic template we use to make fashion patterns.  They are not patterns in themselves as they have no design detail.  My garment blocks also don't have any seam allowances as they are never sewn together once the fit is perfected.  If you look at any of my Pattern Puzzle posts you'll see that I usually start with a block then modify to achieve my new design idea.  These garment blocks are also based on my size chart as required for the mass production of fashion clothing.


My fashion design, illustration and pattern making worksheets and instructions are based on the teaching methods and blocks used at Studio Faro in my workshops & workbooks.  Subscribe to receive email updates.

About Studio Faro

The challenging patterns, the exciting new design trends and the impossible drapes; that's what I live for.  Disclaimer: These new ideas are offered here for testing and are offered without guarantee.  Allow yourself time and space to truly test and perfect the patterns for all your new ideas.  And please don't give yourself a hard time if the first toile is less than perfect.  It's simply part of a process. Enjoy :)

Using my content

All images, designs, photos and layouts on this blog are created and owned by Anita McAdam© of Studio Faro. They are available FOR HOME AND PERSONAL USE ONLY.  If you would like to use our content for teaching or commercial purposes please ask.  I have some amazing resources for teachers and manufacturers. ;) enquiries@studiofaro.com

Back to Top