The Pattern Magic disaster – the Nyokitto dress

posted in: Finished projects | 26

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for ages. I feel it’s time has come. Tonight my friend Marianna is coming round to help me and a few others do a bit of fitting. I discovered her blog when I was desperate for some help with Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic (Laurence King).  I started with Pattern Magic 1 and worked through the exercises, which was fun. I made a shocking pink linen dress (made from a charity shop table cloth) with a circle of hand printed velvet across the chest. At that point (a couple of years ago) I didn’t have a sewing machine, so it was somewhat laborious.

Pattern Magic 1, p22-23
Pattern Magic 1, p22-23

Then I tried a sleeve.

Eventually I took the plunge and decided to make “Nyokitto at the front”. I think this means a mountain and valley. Here is the photograph from Pattern Magic 2.

Nyokitto top Pattern Magic 2
Pattern Magic 2 p38

As you can see if you look closely the black and white photograph features a nicely pressed front. Carefully attached with a few artful, elegant pins. It has no back, no fastenings, no hem, no facings.

I proceeded by producing the block proposed in the book. Several hours later I tried on the toile.  Unfortunately Nakamichi seems to have a  short, wide woman in mind (you can get an impression of this from the photograph above) . On me the sloper bodice finished half way across my ribs. So I altered and refitted the block.  You could circumvented this by using your own block, or  photocopying and enlarging the “Bunka-style sloper” (block) for an adult woman included (at p102}.

Once I had fitted the block I made the Nyokitto pattern front according to the instructions. The top is a type of cowl top, but with a higher neck than is usual. I bought a piece of cheap green polyester satin (£2 a metre) at Simply Fabrics and struggled from start to finish. Slippery, disobedient fabric. Hard to cut, challenging to sew, irritating to iron. I faced it and put a zip up the back. Despite the tribulations I found the fabric quite nice to wear and I love the colour, set off by our Tasmanian tree-fern (planted by Kiwi gardener Doug). .

Green PM2

From the side you can see the mountain and valley better. I added a small safety-pin to the point of the cowl as a weight to keep it from reversing out.  The slithery fabric and the shape of the blouse means it sort of moves around in a slightly disconcerting but not unattractive way. What do you think? I rather liked its droopiness and thought I would make up a dress with the Nyokitto feature.

Nyokitto from PM 2
Nyokitto side on

As the book had shown the item in (what looks like) linen I thought a more substantial fabric would be good. Obviously as poor Nyokitto didn’t even have a back, expecting fabric recommendations was a bridge too far. I decided to go with a really nice remnant – a dress weight silk (possibly with wool) in a gorgeous purple-blue.  I love the fabric. I love the hyacinth colour. The skirt and back of the dress (my design) is pretty nice, if I say so myself. I made a fabulous lining too.  I have tied a yellow velvet ribbon round my waist. However the exaggerated shelf poking out for about a foot in front turns an elegant dress into a ridiculous one.

Purple silk Nyokitto dress
Nykitto Dress in purple silk

Unfortunately I haven’t worn it except for these photographs. It can’t only me who sees more than a passing resemblance to  a Tommee Tippee.

Tommee Tippee bib
Nyokitto bib

I had planned to wear this dress to a posh dinner. But what if I  dropped a bread stick or an olive down the front?



26 Responses

  1. jenn

    Ah yes, it is beautiful, but I tend to drop things down myself (crumbs, tea when I miss my mouth etc etc), I would hate to have it all looking back at me during the day!!!

  2. Jane

    Agree it’s not very flattering. It might look better if the cowl bit is at the back (but you might not want to waste any more of your lovely fabric)

    The pattern magic styles are sometimes more interesting than attractive! Well done for making the pattern though

  3. sew2pro

    I read this on my phone without seeing pictures so went on the web and my immediate thought when seeing the picture from the book was the bib. ‘Gotta catch ’em all!’ as they say in Pokémon. I think the PM books are worth the expense just for the good laugh you get from showing people the pictures.

    I love the colours of your fabrics and while the top is vibrant and wearable I agree that with the smarter dress, the valley isn’t enhancing anything particularly.


  4. Annnieloveslinen

    So much is right about this dress, the fit, the colour. You’ve probably ruled out being able to save it but from here it looks like you could manipulate the cowl, fold it to the side and pin with a brooch? That would take it from futuristic to vintage in one easy step.

    • fabrickated

      Of course this is the solution, Annie (and everyone else who has suggested it). I have hung on to the dress intending to do just this, but in reality it has lain in the cupboard for a year now. I have made a number of better dresses so have no shortage of options for the few posh events that I go to!

  5. elaine

    I love it! I think Annie has nailed it, I’ve seen a lot of Burdastyle designs that work that way [and have one myself] In a heavier fabric you can sort of karate chop the cowl to make a sharper fold and push it left or right [just use the origami properties]
    I haven’t been brave enough to try pattern magic designs yet, but they’re on my bucket list. I see them as being designed for standing elegantly ina corner, with artful lighting and a designer cocktail in hand, probably futuristic sunglasses. Think Tilda Swinton or David Bowie!
    I don’t think it’s a write-off…but maybe not for eating, just posing…

  6. Ro

    Or perhaps fold both sides towards the center, like a box pleat? I also liked the green version and love the other aspects of the dress. It did make me momentarily think of the furry aliens from Sesame Street with the big mouths, though!

  7. Mary Funt

    I agree with Annie that you could still save this by doing some sort of tucking and tacking/decorative pin on the front drape. Unfortunately some designs are more for inspiration than wearing. The color looks wonderful on you. This might work if the draping used much less fabric=flatter profile.

  8. ceci

    You look so vibrant and beautiful in both colors – it almost over-comes the crumb catcher vibe, which is so reminiscent of those rigid plastic bibs for babes. But not quite.


  9. Joyce Latham

    I hope you can reduce mountain and valley and save the dress. I agree with comments above. Could you reduce it to a skirt if need be? I like the green top. I’m so impressed that you give these more risky things a try. It’s another step forward….keep up the great work Kate.
    Till we chat again

  10. neucarol

    Hmmm. Interesting concept.
    Next time, if there is one, how about raising the cowl above the bust line per the book photo? And maybe reducing the amount of drape?
    Just a thought.

  11. Jenny

    The top is lovely and I love the colour of both pieces. Perhaps the dress fabric is just too stiff. It might work in a fabric with better drape. Lovely fit on both pieces.

  12. Thesewingmiserablist

    Your fabric is beautiful and you have my sympathies about the cowl. It’s very brave of you to try their patterns – I love their designs too. I think if you can shorten the cowl it might be wearsble. The vertical seam down the front bodice could be worked on by undoing it at the waist where it joins then taking some off the length at the bust, like a swayback adjustment. A horizontal dart could work too.

  13. Kerry

    From all the comments above (and I echo them) I think the challenge is on! There must be some way to save the dress, it’s a stunning colour and fit on you, so why waste the fabric and effort?

  14. Elle

    Those colors are wonderful on you. I agree that that dress cowl needs to be massaged into something other than a catch-all.

  15. felicia

    I would not call this a disaster. The green one is lovely. When I look at the pic from the book, I think that’s some kind of interfacing or buckram or something they’ve used. I wonder what a top backed with a stiff interfacing would look like? It also looks like their mountain and valley are a bit smaller than yours. Might you consider trying another?

  16. Mags

    I love the way you try the unusual and that does mean more chance of the odd failure but when it works …. Fabulous. The fabric and fit of your dress are gorgeous but I agree the shelf is a bit too prominent.

  17. Bunny

    The color and fabric are spectacular on you. This must be saved. What would happen if you poked out the cowl, and then pulled the point of it downward making soft darts point to the bust from the center seam? It could be tacked or the yummy broach could be placed.

  18. Alli

    Nyokitto isn’t not for practical, comfort-loving, simple me, but I love that you made it twice! It looks really nice on you (even though I can’t help but giggle at the bib shelf). Yay, you!

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