Like so many people with a presence on Pinterest, we have a thing about sleeves. On the Bombazine Pinterest page we’ve got dozens of photos of tops and dresses pinned with helpful comments beneath like SLEEVES. And MORE SLEEVES. And I LOVE THESE SLEEVES. Many of the sleeves that get pinned on our little patch are that lovely, flared kimono shape – recent favourites include Tome’s summer dresses (check out SJP in this one) and Rosie Assoulin’s amazing elongated sleeves.
But much as I could look at long sleeves all day, I’m not great at wearing them. Without fail the first thing I do when I try on a top is shove the sleeves up to my elbows. I’m constantly either pulling them down or pushing them up, and if they can’t be easily adjusted and sit around my wrists I obsessively try to swat them away. It even extends to nightwear. I have a beautiful kimono-style dressing gown with long, flared sleeves –they annoy me so much I’ve devised a complicated system of rolling them up to my shoulders and holding them in place with rubber bands so they don’t get in the way when I do the dishes. Don’t get me started on the glamour of my home-life. You couldn’t keep up.
For people with a troubled relationship with sleeves, the Tessuti Tokyo Jacket is a happy compromise. It’s loose, drapey and slightly Japanese in shape, but the cuffed sleeves sit lightly off the wrist, and it’s easy to shorten them even further. It’s perfect. As usual I’ve been admiring different makes of this jacket online for a couple of years, and the pattern’s been sitting in my sewing stack for almost as long – but I only recently got around to making one.
The fabric I chose is a very light, printed silk from Tessuti. Different fabric weights give quite varied end results with this pattern – it can look quite boxy in a heavier, stiffer fabric, but for my first one I wanted something super-relaxed to put over a singlet in summer – I admit I totally based mine on this version from Tessuti’s blog, credit where it’s due.
Once I got over the trauma of hacking into that floaty, delicate silk, the jacket came together really quickly and easily – even more so because I skipped the pocket. It’s a lovely detail and really makes the jacket in many cases, but I was worried that the pockets would droop in such drapey fabric, and was happy with a more streamlined look. I also shortened the sleeves by a couple of inches, and did French seams instead of the recommended overlocked finishes.
As with many Tessuti patterns, the Tokyo Jacket runs quite large for size, so I recommend dropping a size or even two – or doing a toile. I skipped this step by trying on the display version in the Melbourne store – but of course this isn’t practical unless you live locally.
It hasn’t really been warm enough in Melbourne to give these sleeves a good trial run, but I wore my Tokyo on a recent work trip to somewhere warm, and am happy to report it was a pleasure to wear. No nervous sleeve-wrangling, and no rubber bands required. Winning!