Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Wearing a Square (Pattern Magic)


I had an idea for an outfit a while ago that I was really looking forward to make. Unlike some sewists I’m not greatly drawn to prints (although I do wear them), but unusual style lines really float my boat. My outfit consists of a top and and trousers and I think together these two patterns will make une ensemble tres chic (I feel a bit of French coming on when I use the word chic, although as you’ll see this outfit isn’t at all French!)

The top is the “wearing a square” top from Pattern Magic 2 by Tomoko Nakamichi and the trousers are a Burda style pattern (see below). I’ve finished the top now, so this post will be about that part of the outfit.

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020

I have perused Tomoko Nakamichi’s book many times since it was given to me as a birthday present. It is an intimidating book, with lots of line drawings and sparse instructions. I often study particular designs and don’t quite manage to manipulate the fabric in 3-d in my mind successfully. I know I will have to get some fabric and test out the ideas as a toile first. The book also makes the designs in reasonably stiff woven fabrics which makes the finished garments look very architectural, but not so easy to relate to as “wearable” garments. Other bloggers have made the designs in fabric with more drape. Here are a selection of different fabric choices other bloggers have used for wearing a square; a floppy double-layer knit, a herringbone wool and a stretchy mystery fabric.

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

“Wearing a square” is one of the simplest designs in the book, and therefore a good entry level for me into Pattern Magic series. In essence you use your own measurements (or an existing bodice pattern that fits) to draw a few simple lines straight onto the fabric (actually a rectangle) and cut out.

I used the bodice sloper I made last year as my starting point for the dimensions of my top. I also looked at other people’s experiences with this design to make sure I was on the right track. Many of them noticed that the recommendation for the arm circumference is tiny so I made sure mine was wider too. I also decided to increase the length of the zip a little to 40 cm rather than the recommended 35 cm. Here’s a photo of the design drafted onto an old sheet:

Drafting "Wearing A Square"

Drafting “Wearing A Square”. Looking at this again, I notice that I did add a seam allowance across the top which also makes the facing for the zip.

This pattern could also be a zero waste pattern, depending on the dimensions of your body / dimensions of the fabric. I did have some fabric left-over, but it is a nice useful rectangle rather than loads of odd little off-cuts that you never know what to do with. So, I suppose it is more low waste than zero waste.

I’m used to working with patterns rather than drawing straight onto fabric, so the whole process seemed anathema to me. However, despite my reservations, the construction was quite straight-forward. There are just 6 seams to sew to make the sleeves and sides of the garment, hems at the cuffs and body hem and a zip to add.

I used a grey sweatshirting with metallic accents from Like Sew Amazing (sadly not on sale now, but I know that it has been stocked on more than one occasion). I thought this would be a good choice for this quirky top to show off its shape. There is a slight stripy pattern on the fabric. This creates a interesting effect because as the fabric wraps around the body and so the stripes appear in different directions. On the arms the stripes are on the bias.

Wearing A Square Front View

Wearing A Square Front View

It’s such an interesting top, I’ve taken photos of it from different angles.

Wearing a Square side view

Wearing a Square side view

Wearing a Square Back view

Wearing a Square Back view

I prefer to post a review only once I have had some use out of a garment so I can report about how it feels to wear. However this top, although cute, doesn’t really cut it against the snow and ice of the last few weeks. I finally got to wear it in earnest now the weather has warmed up. I thought that it might feel a little awkward to wear as the sleeves approach bat-wing in proportion. Perhaps it wouldn’t fit under a coat or my arms would be immobile in it? That said, I was pleasantly surprised. If I want to wear it under the coat I simply pull the sleeves up a bit (making sure the sleeves of the top underneath are pulled done for warmth (see the photo below) and actually it works under the coat fine. I’ve got used to the bat wings too and they don’t bother me. The only thing is that with its weird shape I tried putting it on upside-down a few times in the last week!

Top with the sleeves rolled up a bit so I can get my coat on.

Top with the sleeves rolled up a bit so I can get my coat on!

This top will be a perfect pairing with my planned Burda trousers. I’ve already made good progress on these, but I’ve come to a stand-still as there aren’t any shops open at the moment and I don’t want to buy the twill tape and buttons over the internet (as I’d like to colour match). I’m not worried though, it can sit unfinished for a while as I see this particular ensemble as a spring/ autumn outfit.

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

7 thoughts on “Wearing a Square (Pattern Magic)

  1. That’s a really cute top. I know you’re making it to wear with the Burda trousers but it looks good with your patterned trousers matching the grey in them. Having said that I’m so eager to see the Burda ones!! The setting looks beautiful and it’s lovely to see Spring arriving 😊

    • That’s the joy of grey! It does go with lots in my wardrobe. The Burda trousers are sadly on hold, because I need to buy twill tape and buttons that might match. I’ve started on some brown corduroy trousers, but now my topstitching thread has run out so I’m building up a list of harberdashery buys for when things open again. Don’t really like unfinished things hanging around….. We are so lucky here with our parks, just as well as we only have a very small backyard.

      • Yes I’m with you on grey! It’s frustrating not being able to get to haberdasheries because buying things online is not the same as you can’t match colours exactly.

  2. Yours looks great! So wearable!
    Alas, I couldn’t seem to work mine into my wardrobe and passed it on to someone else. Maybe a knit fabric like yours would have been better, and wider shorter sleeves (on the bias they dropped and got longer). Still, really fun to make and your post has been a reminder to revisit it.

  3. I really like your idea of using sweat shirting, and your end result is fabulous!

    • Thank you! Yes, surprised that I haven’t seen other makes using sweatshirting, it seemed like such a good choice to me – particularly given how potentially restrictive the arms could be!

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