Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Happy Homemade : Sew Chic (in English)

August 14, 2013

I went away for the long weekend, had a good break but sadly missed the 20% Kinokuniya sale. Feeling a little blue about it so I decided to go yesterday anyway even though there wasn’t a sale going on. Bookshops are my little getaways if you know what I mean. 🙂 And guess what I found? Happy Homemade : Sew Chic – 20 Simple Everyday Designs by Yoshiko Tsukiori. In English. Not due for release on Amazon till Sept 24th! Want to have a look inside?

 As the book title suggests, there are 20 patterns inside. For sizes 6-16. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for detailed size chart measurements.

A quick glance at all the garments included in the book.

 Same box tunic, different look with the addition of a belt (below)

 A very simple jacket to make since there are no buttons or fasteners 🙂 Perfect for layering in spring and autumn.

Don’t you love the little translated passages attached to each picture. What’s “ping”?

This is the same outfit shown on the cover. So why did I show this picture again? Because I thought it might interest you to know that only the pants pattern is included. The blouse pattern, which I really like, is not included. 🙁

 When I saw this dress I didn’t quite like it, but I realized it was the choice of fabric. Bearing in mind that the original Japanese version was published in 2009, so this was probably styled 4 years ago. Nevertheless the dress pattern itself (a casual sundress) is a versatile pattern and can be easily updated by using a different fabric and and trims.

I love this tunic. It’s made using hemp fabric which I’ve never tried sewing with before but it looks rather comfortable and lightweight enough for layering.

Flower-child style? 🙂 Not a fan of layering with pants but the dress itself is pretty sweet.

 Sleeveless blouse with frill details.

 I live in berms and shorts most of the time. Gotta make this! Will be so pretty in linen 🙂

According to the book, there are 6 pages of “How-to” techniques that are taken from the book “Sewing Recipe:  Master Sewing Techniques as You Go”. I am guessing these were not included in the original Japanese version of the Sew Chic book.

I had to give this section special mention as it is really useful for all of you interested in starting out in Japanese Sewing Books. Especially those of you who are looking to own your first book, this section is invaluable. It’s also great for sewing beginners since they cover basic sewing techniques as well. The best part is, all the diagrams include both inches and cm, so everyone can use the diagrams and patterns with ease. No need for conversions. Here’s what’s included…

Basic Techniques :

  • Basic Tools (with pictures and descriptions)
  • Needles and Threads (about needle sizes, thread types and what they are used for, and a table of appropriate needles/threads to use for different fabrics)
  • Sewing Machine Tips (2 pages of photographs on basic techniques, gathering, sewing corners)
  • How to make paper pattern with Seam Allowance – include diagrams showing you how to use the paper patterns and add seam allowance. (I get this question a lot, and now there is a very good guide showing you exactly how to do it!)
  • How to straighten fabric
  • Pattern placement – key techniques for alignment, placement and cutting
  • Taking your measurements

How to make – a page with diagrams on how to make the following

  • Bias strips
  • V-neckline Facing
  • Facing
  • Binding
  • Pockets

Now that you have mastered all the basic techniques, let’s move on to the actual patterns. Each of the pattern how-to-make looks like this (see below)

I noticed that for simplicity’s sake, the respective quantities of fabric and materials for each size are omitted and there is only one set of quantity. This could have been done to prevent confusion over which measurements to use, as it is one of the features of Japanese sewing books that make the patterns look so complicated. Logically, this set of fabric quantity must be for the largest size listed (size 16).

Even though it is better to buy extra fabric in case of mistakes, there are times when you may need to know the actual fabric amounts. For example, you may already have a fabric you want to use but you don’t have quite as much as stated on the pattern. I would suggest you trace out the patterns first and lay it on your fabric to see if there is enough before rushing out to shop for more. This is because, in general, sewing patterns tend to space out the patterns quite a bit on their cutting layout diagrams, but in actual practice I try to lay my pattern pieces together as close as possible to prevent fabric wastage. From past experiences I usually do get quite a bit of fabric leftover.

Another instance where this might help is if you are shopping for expensive fabric, it might be wise to trace out your patterns first and lay it out on fabric of similar width to simulate the actual quantity you need so you don’t have to buy more than you actually need.

The only exception to this is when the fabric is printed and the prints need to be matched up or orientated in a specific direction, that is when you may need to consider pattern-repeat, positioning and hence you may actually need to buy a larger quantity of fabric than listed. But that’s another story.

All the “how-to-make ” pages include step by step diagrams, like the one above.

A sample of the cutting diagram – note the measurements are primarily in inches, and the number in the brackets are in centimetres.

2 sheets of patterns are included in a envelope stuck to the back cover. Easy to remove (no cutting or ugly glue marks!) and easy to store.

 Sizes included : 6-16. Best to measure before deciding which set of pattern to trace, instead of following your own clothing size. This is because different manufacturers, different pattern makers, use different sets of measurements.

Last but not least, a sample of the pattern – all the markings in english! The different pieces are marked out in different colors which makes it easy to differentiate.

Happy Homemade: Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs
by Yoshiko Tsukiori

Check out my list of other English versions of Japanese Sewing Books here!

Next week I will review the other book I bought which is due for release in November – Sew Chic Kids. It’s for both boys and girls! Stay tuned!

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  • Reply janet lee August 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I have this book in japanese. I love the styles so it’s fun to read the english version too. such happy little poem descriptions! thanks for the review!

  • Reply Courtney August 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I can’t wait for the kids book review. I just saw it for presale on Amazon yesterday!

  • Reply EmSewCrazy August 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Looks very interesting! Some of the pieces in there are super cool.
    Can’t wait to hear the kids book review. I’m always looking for new boy ideas.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books August 16, 2013 at 10:26 am

      The kids book is even better, especially for boys because it includes shirt patterns as well and not just simple tshirts and shorts. Will post it up next week!

  • Reply Ramona August 15, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I love how you can provide such great detail in your book reviews. What amazes me is that you do it with such an interesting style. (Most of the time, I get bored 2/3 thru a post with this much detail. I read yours all the way thru.) Great job.

  • Reply Blogless Anna August 15, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I have this book in English and it’s called Happy Homemade Vol 1 : Treasured Collection. I’ve made ‘E Blouse with Frilled Sleeve” and I love it!

  • Reply erin August 15, 2013 at 9:26 am

    This is the first Japanese sewing book that I bought in English. It’s nice to be able to read everything in the book for a change 🙂 And I found it easier on the eyes that they didn’t print all the patterns into one sheet like in most of the other books. By the way, I made the linen bermuda shorts last weekend and I really like the pattern! Can’t wait to see your linen shorts when you make it.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books August 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

      I need to buy some linen first! I might consider using cotton linen because it’s cheaper but it doesn’t have the same “look” as linen.

  • Reply Japanese Sewing Books in English » Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics March 10, 2014 at 9:42 am

    […] Happy Homemade:  Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs Yoshiko Tsukiori This title will be released on September 24th, 2013. Available for pre-order. Read the review here  […]

  • Reply Mika March 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I hv bought this book(Happy Homemade) I am a novice sewer. The problem is the pattern is scattered and I hv a problem locating the right one of front bodice & back bodice of a pattern that I hv chosen. I am unsure whether the one that I copied is the correct piece. As all the bodice comes with a yoke. Pls help me!! I am so excited to sew my first piece.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books March 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Hi Mika, which pattern did you choose? Let me know and see if I can help you.

  • Reply Elizabeth April 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

    In Sew Chic I want to make tunic B but notice the only pattern piece included is the bodice. What do you recommend??

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books April 14, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Hi Elizabeth, the tunic front and back pieces are both made out of rectangular pieces of fabric. The dimensions for the pieces are included on the [LAYOUT] diagram on page 34.

      • Reply RebeccaNYC July 3, 2017 at 3:18 am

        I also found this very confusing. No where in the book does it state that there is no pattern piece for the tunic and that you just measure out a rectangular piece of fabric. It also tells you to mark notch for gathering, but not where to mark the notch. Easy enough, but it would have saved me quite a bit of time searching through the book and googling. (although my google search brought me to your blog, which is a very nice thing anyway.)

  • Reply Book Review – Sew Chic Kids (Now in English) » Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics April 16, 2015 at 10:42 am

    […] like the Sew Chic book, there are 20 projects to make. Some are for girls, some for boys, and some can be made for […]

  • Reply Yany Smits April 14, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for the detailed review. I guess this will be my first book after all.

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