Japonisme Appleton


Japonisme – the influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetics on Western culture. 

Or at least that’s what the internet tells me! I fell in love with this Japanese-inspired print at the fabric store, but I couldn’t think what to call it. Not Chinoiserie, because it’s not inspired by China… thankfully a little Googling led to Japonisme, or Japonism, which sounds far less fun. I’m a sucker for all things Japan after living there for 5 years, so this fabric had to come home with me.

Where it became… another Appleton Wrap Dress!


I’m still working off the tester version because I’d already made my alterations to it… but next time I’ll cut the “real” version that Jenny sent me so that I can get the adjustments she made after the testing process. (Most notably, it was altered so the wrap hangs straight. I had to fudge that a little here!)

Speaking of the hem… wanna see the underlayer?


Hey baby, is that a slip AND leggings I see there?  

The dress is designed so that the underlayer of the wrap skirt is wider then the front. It definitely helps prevent wardrobe malfunctions.

But enough about pattern details – now for my dress itself!


This polyester slub knit is less stretchy than my first version in rayon, so I cut the back out 1/2″ from the fold, adding 1″ down the centre back. I think I also added 1/2″ to each the front and back, and sleeves as I cut. Sorry, I can’t quite remember!


I love the purple, green and red in the print, so I tried to highlight those sections as I cut. I”m just ignoring that those brown sections are there at all – my least favourite colour!

While taking my pictures, I had a good teachable moment about light. Here’s the same shot, with 3 different types of light:

lighting Collage

Left: The flash came on – ugh! Look how flat my face and body look without any contouring from the natural light. The colours in the dress are less saturated, too.

Middle:  Natural light, dappled in shade from a tree. The camera is really struggling with exposure – some parts too light, or other too dark. Mixed shade and sun in the same shot is hard for the camera to handle!

Right: I took a step back so my full body was in the shade of the tree trunk. Much better, right? The background is a bit blown out (over-exposed), but there are gentle highlights and shadows on my face and dress, and the colours are more consistent and strong. Definitely a more flattering picture – as a rule, I take all my pics in full shade. It’s just what works best for me!

Here’s a rather different exposure:


Darker exposure, much more colour in the background. I’m blue-tinged and underexposed – and I was much more so before editing! I did as much editing to brighten my face and dress as I dared without loosing the colours of the dress or background. I’m not actually sure how my camera exposure is set right now – is it an average of light and dark in the frame, or based on the centre of the shot? These pictures are motivating me to play around and see!


I can’t believe that October is almost over. Thanks to Jenny from Cashmerette for being the inspiration to include movement in our pictures! November’s muse is Heather from Closet Case Files, and she’s going to be talking about editing pictures for a fresh, modern look. I can’t wait to get that discussion going!

My next project is going to be the Sew Over It Shift dress I mentioned in my last post – thanks for all your advice and encouragement.

What’s next in your sewing queue? 

61 thoughts on “Japonisme Appleton

  1. Lovely dress – it looks great on you! My eye goes straight to the colour in the fabric and doesn’t see any brown so I think you’re entitled to ignore its existence!


    1. Thanks doll! I feel like this pattern perfectly avoids “too tight” by being “tight in all the right places”!


  2. What a glorious dress. The fabric is absolutely stunning. You may not like it but you do suit brown. You look brilliant. I love the background. I think shot 3 in your triptych is really great even with the higher key background. It makes the dress stand out more. I am ashamed to say that I have sewn nothing and taken no pictures but I am in the middle of moving house so I do have an excuse. I am hoping to be reunited with my sewing machine sometime this year. 😦 Xx


  3. YOU. LOOK. FANTASTIC. I wouldn’t be surprised if you soon get some offers for professional modeling! This dress is beyond perfection, but I’m a little biaised too, since I am an hopeless nipponist! You lived there for 5 years? Lucky you!!


    1. Bahaha – thank you! 🙂
      Yup, I did 5 years in Japan! 2 years, loved it, came back to Canada to certify as a teacher, then went back for 3 more. Was pretty ready to leave by the end, but it was a great place to live in general!


  4. This looks great!! I love the fabric and you certainly did well highlighting the brighter colors. You’re doing so well with the photos too! I’m disappointed I didn’t get to do my homework this month but, I’ve spent the better part of the month learning new techniques and working on my current dress. What’s the deduction for tardiness? 😉


    1. Lucky you – In my area, it’s official school policy the no marks are docked for late work! So you can do pictures in June and I’ll still be excited! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. 3 kinds of light..I love the dappled one,, it seems so alive and interesting! How lovely to be wrapped in the colours and design you love!


  6. This fabric and dress are just gorgeous on you, and after spending an hour trying to get one satisfactory picture of my appleton with my iphone, I am in awe of your photography skills!


    1. Ohh, that’s frustrating! Maybe you’d like having an iphone tripod and remote? I definitely find that set up is the easiest with my camera!


  7. What pretty fabric! The brown doesn’t really stand out to me, but it does add a richness to the background. And I still have to try to get my pictures for the month–every time I’ve had the time, the lighting in back of the house is all wrong. And it’s raining today. So I’m really hoping that I can make it work before the end of the month!


  8. This is my favorite version of the Appleton I’ve seen so far! I love the colors and the print and frankly, you’re totally rockin’ it. 😀

    Next up on my sewing list is putting zippers in several skirts I’ved stitched up that point. After that I have two shirts cut and ready to sew, before I’m back to a couple of projects for my daughter.


  9. Gillian- I love this dress and the colors look amazing on you (dare I say, even the brown?)!

    I just cut my first appleton after testing and I REALLY didn’t want to trace the pattern since I knew the changes were minimal. I had already fixed the hip curve to fit me ( and since I have to grade between sizes, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel), so I knew the only change I needed to make was to fix that front wrap issue. I lined up my tester version over the final version and it was super easy to fix, I just slashed at the waistline the rotated the skirt portion to match the new pattern. Basically it was just rotated around the center of the waistline on that front pattern piece about 5 degrees. I taped it up, trued the hemline, had to shave a sliver off the front neckline to get it to match, and was good to go! Just wanted to let you know in case you are like me and LOATHE that tracing step. Now, to sew mine up before Friday! I think that black and white bird print will be a perfect dress for the day before Halloween at the office 😉


    1. OOH! That is great info on how you altered it. I’l do the same!
      Did you manage to sew your bird version up in time?


        1. Is that how you did it too? Excellent. I figure I basically did the same thing by making a horizontal pleat that tacked some of the skirt to the wrap tie to even out the hem.


    1. Ooh, my hair is getting so long… it’s at that dangerous point where I find myself trimming the back or my bangs, when I really should be making an appointment! How’d you haircut go the other day?


    1. Thank you! I took these pics at the same park I often go to for photos, but I had fund finding some new locations this time!


  10. I’m biased because I live in Japan, but this is the most beautiful dress you’ve made! You look really great~~ so wish I could make time to see, I really want one just like it!!


  11. Man did I tell you I love this dress???!??? I love it! And I SO wish my Fabricland had this fabric, it would be my next project YESTERDAY. Gorgeous, and great pics with the different settings and lighting. 😀


  12. That is some awesomely beautiful fabric– and you have used it to excellent effect! It looks amazing and you look gorgeous. I needs to make me an Appleton, stat!


  13. This dress is gorgeous! Your pictures are lovely too. For me, the hardest part of sewing is to get a nice shot of the finished garment. You need light, a photographer and a nice location at the same time… Maybe I should try this tripod and remote thing… You are doing a great job with it.


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