Nani Iro – Japanese dress project

I’m in London for the BETT show and starting my next project – the Short Sleeved Gathered Dress designed by Nani Iro. Next week I am heading to the Draper’s Daughter in Chichester, England to look for Nani Iro fabrics to make the dress.

Follow me on my [new] instagram page to see the project happen @katiedays_makes

You can find this pattern and many more in her book A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro.

Books helped me to start making clothes

Part way through the pandemic, I started visiting the book aisle of JoAnn fabrics craft stores where I discovered “My Felt Doll” by Shelly Downs. The patterns were pretty easy to follow and I made a few dolls.

My Felt Doll by Shelly Downs

I found myself returning to the book aisle at the craft store because it provoked my curiosity. I think I forgot the peace that came from undistracted creativity. There were no intrusive thoughts from digital ads popping up to affect my concentration.

Along the way, the craft books below rekindled my love of sewing and I made a few more things. It felt so refreshing to find a project in a book and create it — all without getting side tracked on the internet.

From doing these simple crafts, I got interested in making clothes and started purchasing patterns. First, in January of 2021, I made this pattern:

It said “easy”, but a lot of it was hard for me.
Skirt selfie.
I love the print on this fabric. It was good for hiding my mistakes.

Then, in January of 2022, I made this pattern:

I did pattern A – and yes, it has pockets!

After making garments from scratch, I tried modifying existing garments by sewing electronics into them.

I wore my jacket (arm covering electronics) and skirt to a special event hosted by Infosys Foundation USA for International Day of the Girl in October 2022. (Matching the sign was a coincidence..!)

Back to the book aisle at JoAnns

Around November of 2022, I was back in the book aisle at JoAnn Fabrics and found the Nani Iro book, A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro. I love it because it not only lays out the patterns, but clearly walks you through each of the steps. The two clothing patterns above (skirt and dress) were only possible with help from an expert. Even though the patterns were labeled “simple” and “easy”, there was a lot left unexplained in the pattern.

Nani Iro’s book coupled with how-to videos from the publisher make this a great solution for a newbie clothing maker. The book’s photography, binding, art, paper selection, font, and so much more also have the subtle elegance of Japanese art and design. Reading this book with a cup of a tea is its own special delight.

Well, now I’ve picked out my pattern (Short Sleeved Gathered Dress), so it’s time to pick out fabric. I’ll do that next week in Chichester, England at the Draper’s Daughter fabric shop. Come back next week to see the fabric I’ve picked out.

In the meantime, I hope you might get a chance to visit your favorite book aisle, whether at a book shop, a library, or your local craft store.


If you are interested, here are the four videos for the process of making the Short Sleeve Gathered Dress in her book A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro: