Blue Crop Top, and a Reader Question Answered

This top was finished hot on the heels of my pink cropped kimono sleeve top, but it has taken a little while to take photographs of it – finally here they are!


I took the opportunity to use up some leftovers of a gorgeous lightweight cotton sateen that I used making this dress several years ago:

The Juliette Dress Pattern - It's Free!

All these tops (I’ve made three now!) have got a lot of wear this summer as they can be kind of dressy or casual.


Here I’m wearing it with comfy capris and birkies, but I also like this print with anything else black – my cropped flares, naval trousers, an unblogged midi skirt.  It would be nice with a pencil skirt too, but I must be the only person in the world without a black pencil skirt!

pattern.scissors.cloth button

This top is exactly like the last one, with kimono sleeve gussets and a buttoned back neck split – it hardly deserves it’s own blog post! But I want to talk a bit more about kimono sleeves. In the comments on my pink top Kathy asked a question about them, and I can see why there is some confusion.

Most people think of a traditional Japanese kimono when the the word kimono is mentioned:

Japanese Kimono
Image Source:

But patternmaking terminology is a bit different, and kimono usually refers to a block where the sleeve is cut in one with the bodice:

pattern.scissors.cloth kimono fb

The kimono block is derived from a standard bodice block and sleeve:

pattern.scissors.cloth kimono outline
A kimono block can range from loose fitting to close fitting. A batwing sleeve is an example of a style derived from a loose fitting block. The closer the fit of the sleeve and armhole, the more restricted is the range of movement. To increase the range of movement in close fitting styles, a gusset can be inserted in the underarm area – which is what I did with mine:

pattern.scissors.cloth gusset

This kimono sleeve gusset can take many different shapes:

• Diamond:

pattern.scissors.cloth kimono diamond

• Triangular – this is easier to sew than a diamond, as the bodice side seam and sleeve seam can be sewn in one action:


• Pentagonal – like my pattern, where the gusset is an extension of an undersleeve panel


• Pentagonal – similar to my pattern, but the gusset is an extension of a side bodice panel:


• A rectangular panel extending from sleeve hem to bodice hem: (In real life you would probably shape the design lines to be more flattering, but you get the idea)

pattern.scissors.cloth kimono strap

• Introduced via design lines, as in these two different treatments of a yoke seam:


As you can see with a kimono block, there are a ton of design possibilities!

Sometimes, you will find a kimono sleeve referred to as a Magyar sleeve. I googled Magyar/Hungarian traditional folk costume and discovered this image which shows a kimono-like sleeve:

Magyar sleeve
Image Source:

(That was a dangerous rabbit-hole of an hour though – I am in desperate need/want of a beautiful hand embroidered Hungarian blouse now!)

Isn’t it interesting that the terminology for this type of sleeve shows origins from both Japan and Hungary – two quite different parts of the world? I wonder if common usage is due to geographic location, or maybe it is due to the fashion era as I notice Magyar sleeve described more in mid-century texts. In my fashion education we used kimono, so I’ll stick to that for now. What do you call this type of sleeve in your part of the world?

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Designer, Patternmaker, Blogger Of All Things Sewing. Follow as I share projects, patterns, and my favourite tricks of the trade.

16 thoughts on “Blue Crop Top, and a Reader Question Answered

  1. In the U.S. this is either kimono sleeve or cut-on sleeve. I prefer the later, because – as shown by the photo – a real kimono is quite different. Also, the word kimono literally means “wearing-thing” and so I think that “cut-on” is more accurate. That said, it is probably most commonly called a kimono sleeve anyway.


  2. Cool, I never knew that these were “Magyar” sleeves. Did you know that the Hungarians are not originally European; they were a nomadic tribe that arrived in Europe in the 800s from the East – from as far away as central Asia possibly. There are certainly linguistic, musical, cultural similarities between Hungarian culture and Asian culture. I wonder if the sleeve is another one, or just a fluke!


  3. Love how you’ve styled this top with the cropped pants. Also, what a fascinating read regarding the sleeves and gussets and yet, I would love an embroidered blouse like that as well!


  4. No, you are not the last person in the world without a black pencil skirt. I don’t have one either and jeez it would be handy to have on. Interesting post about the kimono sleeve. And your top is very versatile!


  5. I associate ‘Magyar’ sleeve with older patterns, like say 100 yrs ago. And Kimono more recent. That’s just my impressions.

    Is there any difference in the ‘feel’ of the sleeve between gusset shapes? Why would you choose one over another?


    1. Technically the fit and feel of each gusset shape above would be the same, the only difference is that the style lines have changed position. However further adjustments can be made to change the fit, like flaring the hem or sleeve for example.
      You would choose the gusset style that best suits the final design you want to create, ie you might use the version with the side panel to create a princess line dress, or the last version to create yoke gathers by transferring the waist dart into the yoke seam.


  6. My best guess about the difference in terminology in the United States is that, after World War II, it would have been anathema to have described anything as “Japanese.”

    It is a sadness that one has to denigrate all the good things about a country or a people group, once that country has been declared an enemy. I don’t understand humanity, sometimes.


  7. Hi. I call them Romanian blouse sleeves. The pattern are very similar to the ones in the Romanian traditional tops for women (occasionally for men), although the collar is usually gathered on a lace.
    I think a lot of traditional wear around the globe has variations on this type of sleeve because is comfy and relatively easy make, compared to more fitted models.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Sheryll! I’m Syreeta. Stumbled across this post as I’m working on a fitted bodice with cut on sleeves (Simplicity S8882) and seeking a bit of additional sleeve movement. Thanks for the tutorial – the pattern piece images were super helpful. Out of curiosity, how much additional movement did the gusset give you? can you reach overhead now? or just slightly higher than before?


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