Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nuevo Yukata Shirt

A few years ago at a sewing expo, I purchased several vintage Japanese fabric pieces from June Colburn.  These were salesman's samples of traditional blue and white printed cottons for yukata, the casual summer kimono.  The pieces are quite small - about 18" in width, and 24"' or so in length.  For this shirt, I chose two fabrics to pair with white linen from Sawyer Brook.  When I started working on this project back in August, I took some photos of the fabrics together, before I cut them up.  I'm sure they were stunning photos, but we'll never know, because the computer gnomes stole ran off with them.  (Seems they wanted to ditch their frumpy gnomewear for some stylish yukata.)  So, you'll have to use your imagination to envision the small amount of fabric I had to work with.  By the time the garment was finished, I had used almost every square inch of it.

I merged two patterns to create this shirt.  The base pattern is an out-of-print Vogue by Sandra Betzina (sorry, I can't find the number online and my copy is at my studio).  It's a classic shirt style, with a traditional front placket, shirt collar and cuffs.  I'm finding her patterns fit me fairly well, and are a good starting point from which I can arrive at a garment that fits me well.  I made a few basic alterations to tweak the fit.

The design elements in this shirt are from ReVisions Nuevo Shirt pattern.  I'm drawn to Diane Ericson's design aesthetic, and the features of this shirt pattern have long interested me.  It's arty without being wacky or looking like a craft project. 

Diane's shirt has a very loose fit, with dropped shoulders.  That style is not becoming to me, which is why I used the Vogue pattern for the basic shape.  I eliminated the front placket from the Vogue pattern, as well as the collar.  I don't care for a close-fitting neckline, so I lowered the front by about an inch.  I drafted the mandarin collar - a favorite collar style for me, as my neck is short.  I duplicated the shirt tail hemline of the Nuevo shirt.

One of the design features of the Nuevo shirt is the inset and pocket on the right front.  This is the perfect showcase for the yukata fabrics.  One - the pocket fabric - is printed on both sides, giving me three prints to combine.

Construction of this element is not complicated, but a good result depends on very careful seaming.  Interfacing is fused to the shirt, then the center of the "box" is cut out, and the inset is sewn in one edge at a time.  Getting sharp, square corners can be a bit tricky.  I edgestitched both the pocket and the inset.

This inset is the perfect opportunity for surface embellishment, which I'd like to do on a future shirt.  There is also a back yoke which can be embellished, but I eliminated it this time around because my print fabrics were in such limited supply.  Instead, I inserted a strip of yukata fabric down the center back. 

This visually breaks up a large expanse of white on the back of the shirt, and ties the back to the front, design-wise.

The Nuevo shirt sleeve is seamed down the center, as well as at the underarm.  I split the Vogue sleeve pattern in two, and drafted Diane's sleeve design at the bottom.  I really like the Nuevo "half cuff" feature.  It gives opportunity to add more of the printed fabric, to balance the design features.  I love asymmetry, so using a different fabric on each cuff adds to my visual pleasure.


I was pleased with the white and blue look, but felt a need to add blue to other areas of the shirt, to pull it all together. I topstitched the shoulders, outer sleeve seams, front openings, and collar with blue topstitching thread.  It made a huge difference in the overall continuity of the garment.

I shopped around for buttons and didn't have success until I found some at my local yarn shop.  The blue color was very hard to match, and these blue and white ones are just perfect.  (I'll try to get a close up photo next time I'm shooting photos.)  There were only 6 available, and I bought all of them.  I regret not using all 6, as the shirt gapes a bit when I wear it.  I'm not sure how to resolve this situation, since the buttonholes are cut.  I could add a placket, covering the existing holes, but I don't think I'd like a placket with the styling of this shirt. 

Plus, that would be a lot of work, and I'm pretty much done with this shirt, energy wise. Between searching for buttons and taking in the side seams a couple of times, the shirt was hanging around my studio way too long. I finally got the side seams right on Wednesday, and wore it to work Thursday. It will probably be put away until Spring, unless these Indian summer days continue. 

This was a really fun sewing project.  I'm still not sure I'm comfortable wearing shirts, as I prefer the drape of knit fabrics over the stiffness of wovens, but, who knows?  Maybe I'll get used to it!
The end.  :)


  1. Lovely! I hear you on the shirts; for me it's all about the softness of the drape & the fact that I hate traditional collars. I like the sort of collar you have there (but I wouldn't feel comfortable buttoning it all the way....

    I happen to be working on a Diane Ericson pattern right now too! The Peony vest. I haven't had much sewing energy, but I've muslined it & hope to get cutting my fashion fabric tomorrow...LOVE her aesthetic!

  2. Thats a wonderful shirt. I love all the creative twists and its such a great way to use those small pieces of fabric.

  3. Really beautiful, Dixie. What a clever way to use those special fabric pieces. I particularly love the back and cuffs. I hear you on the gapping. What I do in this situation is to put a snap at that location. Sometimes it's almost impossible to avoid.

  4. Fantastic shirt in every way, I especially love all the Japanese fabric embellishments.


  5. Great looking shirt! I hope you get to like them. I'd love to see what you do with shirts in future!

    Robyn --blue mooney

  6. I've almost given up on using accent pieces of fabric like this, but then when I see it done so skillfully and tastefully it sends my thoughts to my billions of bags of little doodahs of this and that I have squirreled away here and there. Thanks for the inspiration. Also, the blending of Diane and Sandra is a great idea.