Stylish Skirts – a review and a skirt (or two)

Last post I mentioned the Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii which I discovered on Instagram. I’ve got a rather healthy collection of Japanese sewing books, in fact they outnumber all my other sewing books, I haven’t blogged my collection as I like to sew from things from them first – I’m a ‘proof is in the pudding’ girl. So I decided to try Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-to-sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure.

Warning: I’ve included many pictures so you get a good overview of what to expect with this book.

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

I’ve seen this book reviewed a few times but there are only a few skirts floating about on the Internet that I could find. I’m sure there are more but there is only so much time I have to hunting down slightly obscure things on the Internet!

This book is interesting because unlike many sewing books there are no pattern sheets. Each skirt ‘pattern’ is a simple diagram showing you how to draft the pattern – or in some cases a cutting layout diagram with the pieces and measurements marked in inches (centimetres in brackets). I really like this aspect of the book.

Unless you are absolutely not-a-skirt-wearer, I think many people would find something to appeal or suit their style in this book. Many of the skirts are composed of panels drafted on waist and hip measurements so the sizing is up to the drafter. The simple skirts (such as gathered skirts) could be made smaller or larger quite simply – more or less fabric for the panels or waistband. There are 23 skirts in total. I’m sharing a few below.

Warning: you need to add seam and hem allowances to the measurements provided, the instructions are brief and the drafting diagrams may take some puzzling out. There are plenty of diagrams to help you along.

You probably don’t need this book to draft some of the most basic skirts… however some of the other skirts are more complex… or quirky…

The book content pictures not fabulous – taken earlier tonight while sitting on my bed using the iPhone (eating chocolate slice) – but I think you get the idea. I often find the line diagrams are very helpful, particularly as I don’t think you can see the interesting design lines for some of these skirts.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those 'snail' panels.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those ‘snail’ panels.

A beautiful gored lace skirt

A beautiful gored lace skirt

a draped skirt... yes my weakness!

a draped skirt… yes my weakness!

All of these skirts are quite simple yet there is attention to detail and an appealing timeless simplicity to them.

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

I think the skirt on the left is a classic... however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

I think the skirt on the left is a classic… however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

Personal Thoughts on Stylish Skirts: I do like this book. It’s a little different to the rest of my Japanese book collections. The skirts range from simple through to more quirky. I will be sewing more, it’s a timeless collection of skirt patterns.

I chose a simple, irregular tiered (rather than the traditional three-tiered) boho skirt, the gathered tiers are broken or staggered.

As I was working with a number of rectangles, I drew a diagram with each panel marked with the finished measurements. I also pinned a little piece of paper so I knew which rectangle belonged where to minimise confusion when sewing the pieces together.

sewing notes to keep me on track

sewing notes to keep me on track

The skirt is very simple, composed of a front and back panel and two identical side panels. Each panel is broken into a top and bottom piece. You simply gather the bottom pieces attach them to their respective top pieces to make a panel. The panels are attached to form a tube and you attach the waistband.

A line drawing of the skirt

A line drawing of the skirt

The waistband has three channels, elastic on the top and bottom channel and they central channel with a drawstring. I’ve never been a fan of thick elastic waistbands but I think the two pieces of thinner elastic and a drawstring is very comfortable to wear. I also think the waistband is quite pretty with the three gathered rows. Once you finish the waistband you hem the skirt… And you wear it for the whole weekend… at least that is what I did!


My first effort was in a simple navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight. It’s a little crisp but you can clearly see the panels and gathers.

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front 2 beach

it was very hot and very very windy – somehow this was snapped between gusts of wind!

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy side 2 beach

Side view

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front outside

This is after the beach – later in the afternoon, post housework and other exciting events in my daily life. My arms are always in motion it seems – either to put on/take off/adjust sunnies – a habit hard to shake if you spend a lot of time outdoors I guess.


the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

back view: the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!


This one is quite different, a vintage rayon (I think) from a Lifeline charity shop, I paid just $3 for 4 metres. It was quite narrow, less than a metre wide. The gathers and design details are less obvious but it’s a pretty skirt and flows beautifully as I walk. Cotton lace from the stash.

Stylish Skirts - tiered floral side beach

I think I'm mid-sunglasses installation here so let's just look at the skirt :-)

I think I’m mid-sunglasses installation here so let’s just look at the skirt 🙂

Construction notes: I gathered the lower panels using two rows of stitching. I ironed the gathers flat once I had them even – I find sewing over the gathers produces a new even result this way. I overlocked all the seams together after I sewing the panels together using my sewing machine. I used lacing cord (it has some stretch) as my drawstring rather than making a self cord. This skirt is not rocket science, it’s very easy… but very comfortable and easy to wear for casual days.

I do like these skirts. They aren’t fancy or couture makes by any stretch of the imagination however I love maxi skirts… long, loose, soft skirts that I can tuck my feet under and curl up in. These will be worn a lot. Boho-style clothes and I are good wardrobe buddies. It’s one of those styles I always feel at home and relaxed in.

BOOK: Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-To-Sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure by Sato Watanabe
FABRIC: navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight (purchased at the recent 30% off fabric sale) and vintage floral fabric.
NECKLACE: from Mrs Peterson Pottery… love this one…
(note: all purchased by me)

Mrs Peterson's Pottery necklace

Mrs Peterson’s Pottery necklace

28 thoughts on “Stylish Skirts – a review and a skirt (or two)

  1. I have this book and this is not one of the skirts that appealed to me until I see yours…Isn’t that always the way? I really like it in the navy. Great job on the skirt and the review!

  2. The skirts are beautiful! Thanks for the tag! And thanks a lot for the book review. I love the books fo Sato Watanabe which also work without patterns but only with diagrams and whenever I use one of them I am totally thrilled about how it really works!

    • Thank you! The irregular gathers appealed to me too, it’s not a huge design feature but it makes the skirt a little more interesting. I have been wanting more maxi skirts & dresses but somehow got distracted by tshirts!

  3. As you know, I also have this book. I didn’t notice the snail skirt until you posted it to IG. I like that one and the one you made as well. I contemplated making the one you did for the sewalong but was feeling lazy and didn’t want to draft anything. I like your labels – you definitely need to do that with these patterns! Good idea to pin them.

    • At least with the one I made it’s just rectangles… even if you were increasing or decreasing the size it’s just a matter of adding/subtracting width or length – no angles or fancy calculations! It’s a good book, quite simple but some nice little details. Have fun!

  4. I bought this on the back of your post and I love the fact this book teaches you to draft the designs. That’s possibly a bit odd, but it makes me think more, and understand the drafting and construction of other patterns too. Plus there’s no sizing limitations and if I want a design to be a maxi, mini or other length, I can do that. Plus the designs are interesting and have so much customisation potential!!

    • I agree, I think that is what appeals to me so much – learning some simple drafting but ending up with quirky but wearable pieces. I hope you find some skirts to make and enjoy wearing!

      • I bought the book too from this post. I haven’t tried any yet as I have some study to finish by the end of this month. The only thing I found a little confusing is when, for instance, you have to draft the waist/16 and it has 6 3/4 next to it. It converts all the numbers from cm to ” even when redundant.

        • I’d be interested to know which skirt that one refers to as the drafting for some of the styles are quite different & the drafting method different. This book does taken some puzzling through as it’s not our standard approach to sewing patterns. And each pattern is different and while I found one missing conversion when I was looking at it – doubtless there are more – having one measurement meant the other one could be worked out. I do think when books are translated there is always some confusion about what is relevant and what is not, when I worked with craft magazines we didn’t convert quilt patterns – they were usually supplied in imperial (even though Australia is metric) as the equipment is imperial… and quilt patterns must be precise as little errors multiple into one big mess with quilts!
          I did find with this book it was much easier to work in metric as I was educated in the metric system and I find the calculations are much faster for me than working in imperial fractions (and I’m ok with them due to years of patchwork patterns). The book was also written in metric first.
          I’m a puzzle freak so I enjoy the game of nutting odd patterns out, I find it relaxing and rewarding. I would recommend drawing up your drafts and double checking everything. Rather like a maths lesson!

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  8. I made this same skirt using a very light navy blue cotton. I love its flowiness and that I can tuck my feet up under it. Next time I am going to iron my gathers flat, as they are contributing to my hips. But oh it is soooo comfortable

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