The truth about Pattern Magic

I had a go at making the Ball Shaped Accordion (jabara) sleeve. This is featured on the cover of Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic 2. Isn’t that pretty?

front cover of Pattern Magic 2
PM 2 “the Sleeve”

Here is some inspiration. I saw this jug in a Seville museum and my mind went “ping” – let’s make a simple dress with a globular sleeve. Maybe in light, silvery grey?

Silver jug Spanish
Silver jug in Seville

The instructions are fairly detailed and with sufficient concentration and patience not hard to make. I used calico to make the jabara.

How to make accordion sleeve Pattern Magic

Here is the jabara. It’s quite beautiful and pleasing in the calico.

Pattern magic accordion sleeve
Accordion sleeve, muslin

I began to imagine it in linen, on the dress-in-my-mind.

But look again at the front cover of the book. There are three large pins, artfully arranged. The “sleeve” is pined to a half bodice toile. It is just the same as mine. Just a toile. It is not a sleeve!; fur coat and no knickers! It has no back to it. It is just a flap, pinned to a bodice.

I turned the page and realised while we have detailed instructions on how to make a ball shaped jabara, no clue is given on how to make a sleeve. And often this does not matter because we seamstresses are clever and creative, but reader, this one defeated me.

The thing with a globe is that it is circular. The thing with an arm is that it generally lies against the body so the portion of the sleeve that doesn’t show to the world needs to be fairly streamlined and flattish.

I tried making the jabara into the front of a two piece sleeve. I tried to make it work as a kind of puff sleeve. I tried making a cuff for it. I played around with a leg o’ mutton version where the jabara extended into a long sleeve. I tried a number of techniques for actually inserting it into an armhole. Everything I tried distorted the globe and made it look horrible. There was more chance to work with it longitudinally, or horizontally. Below it is allowed to droop when anchored with a priceless Staffordshire figure on the mantlepiece. The only solution I could envisage was somehow mounting the globe on an underlying sleeve, but I think that is a cheat as it becomes embellishment rather than a sleeve.

Pattern Magic sleeve
chrysalis shape

And this is the truth about Pattern Magic. Many of the projects are lovely intellectual experience. They take us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to think about form, cloth and pattern cutting in fresh ways.  Some of the designs are very wearable and there are some super versions out there. Have a look at Sew2Pro and Carolyn’s blogs to see what can be done. But some of the ideas are just ideas, and I do not believe anyone, least of all Tomoko herself, have suceeded in making a sleeve out of this. While it can be fun to make objects out of cloth I was defeated in my desire to make a jabara sleeve.

I wonder if anyone else has a solution to this puzzle?


14 Responses

  1. Kbenco

    I confess, I have 2 Pattern Magic books, and have yet to make a garment, or even a calico jabara not-sleeve from them. I am not totally surprised though, by your revelation. These are fantasy books! Manga clothes! How cheating though, to have the cover photo pretending this is a sleeve, I hadn’t noticed that until you pointed it out.
    (Ok, some people can wear these clothes, but how many people have the modelesque physique of Carolyn?)

  2. ejvc

    I am sure that I would make a traditional garment and apply this piece like a patch somehow. But I would not be confident about laundering it! How on earth would you press it?

  3. neucarol

    Hmm. Based on page 21 instructions, seems it is actually a sleeve, Is it attached at cap only?
    A fascinating puzzle.
    But enough, turkey calls; it’s Thanksgiving in the States. Happy T-Day everyone.

  4. Galina

    Since it isn’t a full sphere it should work as a sleeve. Somehow. I will definitely give it a go now. If it doesn’t work out as a sleeve, it will still make a nice lantern:) Thanks for posting the instructions.

  5. sew2pro

    Thanks for the shout, Kate, and well done on your investigative work.

    Please follow this up with The Truth About the Great British Sewing Bee and the Cocktail Dresses Made in Under Three Hours.

  6. mrsmole

    I love it when we sewers can uncover the hidden truths about bad fitting and badly designed patterns and now this example of intricate deception. I’m with Galina…it sure looks like a sleeve but as a decorative lantern…hang a tassel from the bottom edge and call it done. And Sew2pro….3 hour cocktail dress…don’t tell me that isn’t real…aren’t shows like that supposed to make the rest of us feel inadequate?

  7. cheryl murray

    A senior student of mine made a jabara sleeve as part of a costume. It worked to a degree, however, lost its beautiful accordion shape when attached to the arm opening. A little disappointing as it was interfaced and lined (64 stitched pieces in total). I still don’t know if we attached it correctly as the instructions stopped at the jabara component. Feeling disappointed and frustrated!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much for your fascinating feedback Cheryl. I don’t believe there is a “correct” way to attatch it, but I hope one day someone may work out how to do it as it is a stunning piece.

  8. Brenda Marks

    Thank you for telling the truth! These PM books are intriguing, but I’ve not been too tempted. I like clothes that I can wear out of the house. : )

  9. Unlimited76

    Hello I read your post and o think you can pull it off by making like snow white sleeve so that it will work as an actual part of a sleeve

  10. Flore


    How did you manage to do the pleated accordion crescent? Can you share your pattern? I am convinced I can find solution on how sleeve can be placed but the pattern and pleating measurements stumped me at some point because I started to question measurements given in book as misleading!!! I cannot get the crescent shape!!!! Did you cut the half moon pattern somewhere to be able to create crescent pleats…If so how and where….? Then I will share with you in return the best sleeve placement for this as I am no pattern grader at all

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