Mao Top and Jodhpurs Jimjams

After borrowing Akiko Mano’s book from a friend, I bought the French edition Jolies Tenues Pour Fillettes Coquettes.  Although my French is basic, I’m finding the book easier to use than the original because I can type any unknown phrase into Google Translate and it comes up with the English equivalent.

Well usually.  Not always.  I did freak out when “…rabattre les marges de couture vers le col…” came out of my magic interpreting machine as “fold the seam allowances toward the cervix.”   😯

But mostly it does work.  I wish I’d used it before cutting my fabric, as half-way through the project, I discovered two facts which you’ll need to know if you too can’t resist sewing from this beautiful book (but don’t actually speak the language it’s in): 

 1.  The patterns do not come with seam allowances: you’re supposed to add them….  🙄  Well I never.  This explains why the neckline and the armholes on the Bubble Dress seemed so wide! 

2.  The sizes at the top of each page of instructions are finished garment  measurements, not body measurement (see below for how I found this out :oops:).  To determine the size you require, go the page 35 (in the French book) or check here:

Size in   cm
Height 100 110 120 130
Chest size 54 58 62 66
Waist size 49 51 53 56
Hip size 57 60 63 68
Length of sleeve 33 36 40 43
Head circumference 51 51 52 53

A Note on the Fabric Used

I love good-quality shirting fabric – which isn’t cheap – so I’m reluctant to throw away DH’s work shirts just because they’re worn at the collar and cuffs.  Instead, I keep them till I have enough to sew something for my daughter.  When she was a toddler, I’d make her Betty Draper-style dresses with voluminous skirts.  

These pyjamas are made from 3 shirts, two shown above, and one plain blue.  Can you see where the released back darts of the shirt are visible on the back legs of the jodhpurs? 

If you have other ideas for how to upcycle small pieces of (usually striped) crisp cotton, please share here.  By the time I next have a shirt stash, DD will be too tall for everything but bloomers!

Pattern C: Jodhpurs-Style Trousers

These trousers are comfortable.  They can be worn all year round.  Choose colour and fabric that most suit you.”

Difficulty Rating: Advanced Beginners.  These are quick to make, though you might like previous experience of making buttonholes.  The cuff construction diagrams are minimalist but adequate.  If you’d like more pictures of the cuff-making process, see below.

Sizing: I went for height 130.  I mistakenly used the finished garment measurement to pick a hip size.  Yup, I learn by mistakes.  This has made the trousers narrower than they should be though they fit fine.

Modifications: I substituted the corded waistband with an elasticated one – it makes getting changed so much quicker.

Constructing the Jodhpurs Cuffs: a pictorial supplement!

Starter kit: all the pieces you need (8), interfaced and with the inside leg seam (entrejambe!) sewn then pressed open.  The bottom row is the facing (the inside of cuffs).  I’ve pressed in to mark the buttonhole area.  The facing has been pressed under along the top seam as in the instructions.  I’ve flipped the bottom right piece over to show the reverse.

With right sides together, pin cuff to finished trouser leg.  Pin from buttonhole marker to the seam allowance edge (1cm) on the opposite side.

Stitch.  This is what it should look like when done:

With right sides together, pin cuff facing to the cuff: pin from the buttonhole flap downwards then along the bottom seam then up the opposite side.  Leave the pressed edge on top unpinned.

Stitch then trim seam.

Turn right side out and handstitch the pressed edge of the facing to the inside of the trousers (or you can topstitch: it’s quicker).  It might be wise to have a fitting at this point and see whether the cuffs are going to be on the tight side or too wide.  You can then decide where to place the  buttonholes.

Pattern H: Chairman Mao Blouse

Would this blouse design be inspired by the famous Chairman Mao who stalks this blog, seen here sleeping on calico and pattern paper?

No, not him


This blouse can be worn over other clothes.  It is better to choose classic colours.  The centre seam construction makes it easy to sew.”

Did  you see that?  No buttons!  Not even the setting in of sleeves!  I dare say you could make this for a boy too, and  – the real Chairman Mao would surely agree – it would be a very practical, day-wear top, or substitute for a school uniform where your school doesn’t have one. 

The Centre Front Seam

Remember to cut a 4cm seam allowance for the centre seam.  You then sew it wrong sides together, press open and press under the last 1cm of the SAs. Sew this down then sew rows of parallel stitching (which I didn’t do as they wouldn’t have showed up on my stripy fabric).  Add cute detail!

Easy Sleeves

Sew shoulder seam, lay shirt open and pin gathered sleeve to it, right sides together.  Sew.

Finally, sew the side seams all in one.

Difficulty Rating: Beginners welcome!

I look forward to making this in linen next year.

8 thoughts on “Mao Top and Jodhpurs Jimjams

  1. Wow, these are adorable, they have a real vintage vibe and I particularly like the centre front detail, so professional. Yes shirting is a great fabric especially if its pre used as it tends to be nice and soft. I would never have been tempted to try a book in another language but I would give it a go now, thanks for sharing.

  2. Very cute and practical too. (If in doubt about whether foreign language patterns do or don’t have seam allowance on them I check the armholes and neck first. )
    For squares of shirtings I can only think of giant patchwork skirts, sorry not brilliantly original. Otherwise, maybe slice up into binding to use with a plain?

    • Thanks Pella, those are very helpful ideas. Binding would be fantastic with those stripes (and I do enjoy making it, particularly in winter when my hands are cold…..) I’ve not made patchwork before so it’s about time I braved it. DD does like peasant/dirndl skirts.

  3. Waw, these are so gorgeous! I had planned to make that Mao top for the past Summer, but I never got to it. After seeing your version, I want to make it more than ever! And it would look so nice in linen (especially when it’s a bit wrinkled ;-))…

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