‘She Wears the Pants’ a review, a blouse and a giveaway

I’m not a country girl… it really gets up Willy’s nose…

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Given my current fascination with Japanese pattern books, when Tuttle Publishing contacted me about reviewing a couple of their titles, it was an irresistible offer. I received She Wears the Pants (released this month) and Sewing For Your Girls (I will review this soon – I have a backlog of projects!).

She Wears The Pants - published by Tuttle Publishing


The garments: This book does have a range of garments – from mini dresses to tshirts, shirts and jackets, pants and culottes. Yes, I was incredibly tempted to make that draped mini dress but I’ve got three draped dresses – my wardrobe needs other types of garments! I really like the range and style of these garments.

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

This book had been around for some time before being translated. Several of the garments have been made Top Notch (velour top, draped cardigan, draped dress, square top) & Handmade by Carolyn (tapered trousers, square top); and Meggipeg (Gathered Blouse).

Not all of the garments pictured are patterns in the book, ie the tank with the short/culottes pictured above or the pants with the mustard top pictured below.

There is one knitted garment in this book – a belt stole. There are some tippets – one of these is pictured below.

She Wears the Pants - back cover

She Wears the Pants – back cover

There is an excellent review of this book and more images on Japanese Sewing Books.

Photography: I might be precious but I did find some of the photography a little bewildering. The images are very dark and this is exacerbated by the matt stock they are printed on. Some of the garment details are very hard to see in the photographs. It seems to me that these images are more about projecting a mood, intended as ‘fashion’ or ‘inspiration’. The construction section of the book has line drawings that provide the design details. I love line drawings.

She Wears the Pants - example diagram

She Wears the Pants – example diagram

Instructions: The instructions are brief. There are some general instructions. In some cases, such as sewing on a collar, it is outlined once in a projects and then other projects simply refer back to those earlier instructions. Having some knowledge of garment construction is helpful. Like many Japanese pattern books, diagrams form a large part of the instructions. I don’t mind this – I find it interesting to puzzle through a project and think about how the project has been constructed and the other approaches I could take.

Sizing: Japanese sizing is small. I fit into the Small category & Medium height. While Japanese sizing puts some off I would say that they often allow A LOT of ease, in some cases much more than you might expect. Csews wrote about it in this February blog post.  My second make from this book swims on me. It’s meant to but it could fit most sizes.

Title: I find the translation of this title odd. To me, ‘she wears the pants’ means something completely different to ‘she’s got mannish style’. To me ‘she wears the pants’ means that in a relationship the ‘she’ wearing the pants is in control, the dominant partner/personality or the boss of the relationship. To me, having ‘mannish style’ simply means a girl dressing in a ‘tomboy/masculine’ style. Handmade by Carolyn mentioned the translation of titles on her blog recently, in particular talking about this new title and her preference for the Japanese title. I don’t mind either way but I do interpret the new title as meaning something completely different to the original title. That said, it doesn’t impact on the contents of the book!

She Wears the Pants - pattern sheet

She Wears the Pants – pattern sheet

Pattern sheet: There are two double-sided pattern sheets. They are printed in a single colour and while the print is quite clear, the sheets are quite ‘busy’ and it took me quite a while to find one piece! Each sheet does have a list of the patterns on it, and the pattern pieces you are looking for – which is very helpful. Most of the pieces are listed around the edge of the pattern sheet with a line going from the text at the edge to the pattern piece… not always! There are some lurking in the middle of the pattern sheet swamp and you may need some patience to hunt them down.
When confronted by a busy pattern sheet, I find each piece and trace around it with my fingers. This might sound odd but when I am tracing a piece I have a general idea of the shape of the pattern piece and don’t make many mistakes.

Seam allowances: This book does not include seam allowances. The layout diagrams indicate how much allowance you should add as this can vary from the hem to the side seams etc. I don’t always add the recommended allowance, I tend to add what I prefer to work with in different areas of the garment – which just comes with experience.

Different approaches: I do think that with any translated book that you need to really think every step through. Not only may there be some issues with meaning and possibly conversion of measurements between metric and imperial, I think that there are many ways to approach garment construction and you need to be mindful of that when sewing outside your ‘usual’ patterns and books.



I love clothing that was a touch of quirkiness without being too odd. The Gathered Blouse ticked that box for me.

Gathered Blouse - while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned... that's how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

This blouse has a very full back, is quite cropped at the front with a slightly longer back. The collar is rounded and the front pockets are slightly angled. The shoulders are dropped and sleeves arejust below elbow (on me anyway), quite full with pleats at the cuff with a simple finished slit  and button cuff closure. The combination of a ‘mannish’ shirt with some soft feminine features was interesting to me. Funnily enough the detail the pattern is named for is not photographed in the book – the gathered back. Unfortunately my shirt got creased in the car – but you can see how full the back of the blouse really is.

Sorry - shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

Sorry – shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

I have always steered clear of patterns without seam allowances for shirts as the accuracy required for creating a good button band, collar band and collar scared me. As I was working with this pattern that had not seam allowances I decided to re-think my former shirt making techniques and took a different approach.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped – strong breeze is blowing. Oops, thought I had ironed this to death but must have missed that last bit of hem!

I decided to use sew-in interfacing rather than fusible for the first time – which has given the collar some lovely structure and I’m quite taken with it now. I traced these pieces directly onto the sew-in interfacing – without the seam allowances. I then added the allowances as I cut out. I then used a fabric glue stick to attach the interfacing to the collar, band etc. This provided me with the exact sewing line and everything went together perfectly… I think I’m sold on this method!

I can't see myself every wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog.

I can’t see myself ever wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog picture. I know, I spoil you and make a goose of myself far too often.

For some reason I imagined this blouse in a chambray fabric with jeans – a bit of a take on the country girl that I’ve never been. I might have spent two years at boarding school in the country but I was a ‘fish out of water’. That’s a whole other story and not for here in the middle of a sewing blog 🙂



I’ve made two things from this book – I’ll post the other shortly!



I had already pre-ordered this book before Tuttle contacted me so I’m giving this one away. Leave a comment below to be included in the draw.

The draw closes on Sunday 17 May at 6pm (my time EST Sydney/Australia). Open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Pattern: Gathered Blouse from She Wears The Pants (English version), published by Tuttle Publishing.

Fabric: it’s a mystery fabric (seems to be a chambery, fine linen type fabric) from The Make It Fabrics in Logan, Brisbane. This place is a rather unexpected treasure trove, a tip off from blogless Alison (thank you thank you!). Busy Lizzie was the most obliging chauffeur on a recent trip to Brissie – mwah. Finished with matt metal buttons from Lincraft.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links on this post.

91 thoughts on “‘She Wears the Pants’ a review, a blouse and a giveaway

    • I always wonder what’s too much & what’s too little. I decided of you had never used a Japanese sewing book or had concerns about what you are going to get, this review might help. I do think they are excellent value for money, lots of patterns for the price.
      And I just realised I forgot the suez chart!! Oops, that’s important, I’ll pop it in now!

  1. Can you tell us about the sizing of the garments in the book please. i am a (UK) size 16. I suspect everything would be way too small for me, Japanese dressmaking tends to cater for the petite as far as I can see. Thanks

    • Sorry! Big oversight! I’ve added that to the post.
      I’ve found many Japanese patterns allow much more ease than we might usually expect in a garment. Please read the post I’ve linked to which covers that in more detail.

  2. What a beautiful blouse you’ve made. I love reading your posts, you make some great clothes and would love to win this book.

  3. Thanks for reviewing this! I have been poring over Japanese sewing books in my local bookshop (Boffins) and never sure about them as the models are all very petite. Would love to win this hehehe.
    And thanks for your review of the morrisblazer and your comments.. I have finally made mine 🙂 x deeptisewsforsanity on IG.

  4. This book looks interesting as well as challenging to a novice like me! Would love to give it a go, thanks for the opportunity.

  5. A really interesting pattern book, and I’d love to win it! The gathered blouse is really pretty, and the collar is laying perfectly. I may have to try sewn-interfacing too. I’d never thought of using a glue stick in the process – much easier than basting – thanks!

  6. That looks great on you – just enough ‘quirk’ to look interesting – really enjoy reading your blog.

  7. Love the blog, Lizzy! I love Japanese pattern books too, but have only ever used the Laurence King ones so far (which are great too..) – keen to give this one a try..

  8. Oh I do like that blouse, and would love this book! You are drawing the winner on my birthday so fingers crossed.

  9. Love that collar – and it does look good buttoned up! I’ll have to try your technique, too. I’ve always fancied a Japanese pattern book but have been a bit nervous to try!

  10. Your blouse is really pretty. Wondering if someone would have to be as slender as you to get away with it though..! The patterns shown remind me a bit of the ones in Burda magazines – something a bit special about them. Please enter me in the draw!!

  11. This shirt looks fab on you- such inspiration. I might just have to follow suit if I’m lucky enough to get the book.

  12. Don’t enter me in the draw…I know you said there was lots of ease but I still don’t think it would work for me…but just to say the blouse looks lovely on you. Love everything about it.

  13. Oh what a beautiful blouse Lizzie! I love the collar shape and (surprisingly for me) the big blousey back! The chambray really shows off the design details too, it’s lovely. Don’t bother entering me for the giveaway thanks, I’m a bit too curvy for Japanese patterns, just wanted to comment on your gorgeous blouse. xx

  14. yay! I would love to win this book. I’m never quite sure if the more saggy japanese style will work for me, but you never know before you try…

  15. This blouse is another twist on a basic shirt…love it!
    Your blogs about Japanese books/designs have set me off in a new direction…thanks

  16. I have never used a Japanese sewing book before, but I could be tempted by this one! Suck lovely patterns.

  17. Your blouse is such a nice balance between “different” and classy, quite beautiful. Thank you for the review, too, i just discovered these books and i think i have a new addiction 🙂 I’d love to try some of the patterns from the book. Many thanks!

  18. I love this top on you! The chambray is just perfect for it. I have been stalking this boon online. I’m slightly outside the large bust measurement so I’m glad to hear Japanese patterns have a lot of ease as I’d really love to try some out. I’d love to be included in the giveaway draw!

  19. A very sweet shirt – I love that you’ve made it in chambray-esq and think the feminin/masculin comes across well 😉 Great street art backdrops!!!

  20. Make it Fabrics is a treasure trove literally! Liz mentioned it when I bumped into her at East Coast Fabrics a couple of months ago and I got there last week… I saw a couple of things I’m going back for (that linen/chambray you have used is one of them!) and they were selling a hand crank Singer to a young girl for $80!!

    The shirt is lovely. I love the gathering at the back and the shape of the collar. There are a lot of great patterns in that book that would be nice to have a go at. Great review.

  21. I had always wondered about what this blouse (also on my sewing list) looks like in another color fabric than in the book. Your version in chambray is very nice! I can’t wait to see your other make from this book:-)

  22. Your version looks fantastic, I love the back of this shirt. Your review was fab too – it was great to see the pics of some of the other patterns. There are a few I would like to try. Please enter me in the draw!!

  23. Good review and the shirt looks great ! I saw others blogguers talking about this book and seams to be interesting to sew a everyday garment. Thanks for the giveaway! Regards from Spain.

  24. I love this book! Super helpful review- I’m not normally into Japanese sewing books but I love the tomboy style!

  25. Ooh, I love that shirt even more now! That collar technique sounds perfect for accurate stitching. I’ll have to try and remember it… Could I throw my name in the hat? I really do have serious shirt envy!

  26. Love the shirt and it is balanced so well with your jeans. I was really interested in the suzerainty chart so tiny I would be a plus size I guess though my waist is 28″. I would still like to have a try though, please enter me.

  27. Love your blouse, perfect in the chambray. I like it both unbuttoned and buttoned on you. Would love to win this book and give some of the patterns a try.

  28. I borrowed the book at my public library a few months ago, but would love to have it at hand. Your blouse is lovely paired with jeans. Love the styling, as always!

  29. LOVE your shirt. It’s a beautiful relaxed style & really suits you. Don’t worry about entering me in the draw, as awesome as some of those patterns look I think at this point in time my skills aren’t quite ‘there yet’ & it’d confuse the hell out of me!

  30. I love coming back to this blog, I’m always interested in what you sew! I would love to win this book please! I love this edgy mannish style it’s hard to find patterns like this!

  31. Pingback: Square Top (2 ways) from She Wears The Pants | Sew Busy Lizzy

  32. Wow, what a beautiful blouse. I’ve seen this book, but yet not bought. It is very king of you to open this giveaway to anyone, anywhere in the world.

  33. Love the blouse, especially the back and the sleeves. Right up my street. Your choice of fabric works really well too.
    Thank you for the opportunity to win the book. Looks very very interesting. Xx

  34. This shirt is very… interesting. I think I like it, but I’m not sure. Then again, I think it’s great that I’m more intrigued with this shape than in love with it, because it means it’s a different style than what I’m used to looking at. A shirt that gets you thinking. 🙂 I love your fabric choice, and I agree that the collar looks great with the sew-in interfacing. Quite an interesting project!

    Count me in for the giveaway. I have a somewhat “mannish” style and would be curious to check out the rest of the patterns. I also agree that the 2 different titles mean 2 completely different things!

  35. Nice shirt! I am really interested in this book and in japanese sewing books in general.I have heard many great things and would love to own one.

  36. Cute blouse! I like the square top you’ve made in your next post too. How comfy does the outfit on the front cover look! Thanks for offering to give your second copy of the book away – that’s really generous of you!

  37. Love this so much. This is my kind of top. I like how it looks buttoned up, too. I love the style of Japanese pattern books so much but have never worked from one. The chambray is perfect!

  38. Pingback: She Wears the Pants - Review - and Giveaway! - C Sews

  39. Seems like sensibly shirt/blouse… then pow, party round the back. I need to get some linen / chambray… never seen with it before but love the look.
    Please count me in for the giveaway.
    Clippedcurves at gmail dot com

  40. Great review! I saw two of the patterns made up by the Bay Area Sewists meet-up here in Berkeley, CA last Saturday. I would love to win this book and begin my own exploration of Japanese clothing making. Thanks.

  41. I love the gathered back to this shirt. I’ve made several items from another Japanese pattern book, “Simple Modern Patterns” I think it’s called. Nicely “different”.

  42. I’ve just recently become enchanted with these Japanese sewing books and would love to add this one to my rapidly expanding library…. and that blouse is wonderful! Love that gathered back yoke.

  43. That collar looks perfect. It’s great to find a new tip or technique! I can’t get on board with fully buttoned collars on myself, they’re just that bit uncomfortable and I think they make me look neck-less. I love the rounded shape here.

  44. Pingback: Ahoy! She Wears The Pants (again)… No 4 Top with Epaulettes | Sew Busy Lizzy

  45. Pingback: Book Review: Sewing For Your Girls | Sew Busy Lizzy

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