Bags or Zakka Sewing Patterns Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Magazines

Magazine Review – Cotton Friend Autumn 2013

September 24, 2013

Is it Autumn already?

 I bought two magazines last week. Cotton Friend Autumn (above) and Female (which will be reviewed next week!)

Index page showing all the included projects (part 1)

 Index page part 2! As usual, other than clothes, lots of small goods, bags and accessories included.

Let’s have a look!

 This pattern is for a robe coat. The coat is similar to the construction of a bath robe (overlapping front panels) but in linen and includes a drawstring ribbon tie.

 A long shirt dress, check out the suggested co-ordinating look on the bottom right. Love it with the sweater and the boots.

There is an entire section devoted to 1 pattern that can produce 6 different variations from a single pattern – dress/tunic/blouse.  I’m not a fan of the first look (above) but there are some other variations that look pretty wearable.

Same pattern in a tunic length, and with different details such as shorter folded sleeves and a ribbon tie around the waist. Looks much better doesn’t it?

There is also a straight line sewing special. I once reviewed a book on straight line sewing. Straight line sewing actually doesn’t just mean sewing in straight lines, but that the patterns are constructed out of simple straight line shapes, so… no tracing!

 Some of the pieces you can make from straight line sewing.

A tunic (in gorgeous fabric!)

A very simple but sweet skirt thanks to the ribbon tie and jacquard fabric.

 Gathered pockets cardigan. You can’t see it from here, but the bottom front corners of the cardigan are actually flipped back and sewn with the side seams to make pockets. Ingenious idea!

Some very useful patterns –  leggings and lounge pants (title says free pants? Maybe it means free-size pants)

 And these next two pages are too cute. Pajamas for the entire family!

 I see Cotton Friend is starting to notice that Men need their sewing love too. Last edition, we saw a jinbei pattern for Men remember?
Sizes included : S,M,L for Mens and Ladies, 100,120,140 for Kids. 

 Some interesting fabric finds and projects made from them. The Japanese love the Moomins, there are lots of Moomin merchandise to be found in Japanese zakka shops. This fabric on the skirt is too cute! Will my kids let me wear it?

 Another very interesting garment for both Mama and Girls. It’s some kind of drapey cardigan constructed using rectangles!

 New fabric “veronica” being introduced on a padded vest with hood. The fabric is a quilted corduroy. (コル天)

 There is always a Babylock serger/overlocker sponsored special in every edition of Cotton Friend, and in this issue they show you how to make a hooded parker which looks super comfy and cosy.
In Kids sizes, 100,120,140 and Adult sizes S,M and L.

With step by step pictures of course.


And now for accessories. I recently made a canvas bag for my shopping trips, and while shopping for fabrics, I realized it was not easy to find nice canvas, especially those that look like these weathered canvas fabrics. Apparently these undergo some kind of Bio Wash treatment to give it the aged look. The ones I can get here are all either really rough and rugged, or a little plasticky due to the coating on the fabrics, and definitely not in these nice colors.

More accessories!

A hat template for making your own hats! Sounds kind of fancy, since you can easily trace these patterns out eh?

Make some miniature handbags

Bedroom slippers

 More bags!

 Frilly aprons.

Now a quick word about the how-to-make.

The sizes included in this magazine.
(Top row of measurements for both tables – Bust / Waist / Hip / Back length(nape to waist) / Sleeve length / Body Rise / Crutch Depth Line to floor / Height )

With the exception of special features which include step by step photographs, the rest of the how-to-makes include colored diagrams such as the one below. The colors and fabric shading really helps in the understanding of the process. I personally find Cotton Friend the most user friendly in terms of instructions.

Actual size pattern sheets for use with the projects.

Coming up on Thursday, I will be showing you some of the new fabrics featured in the Autumn magazines. See you then!


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  • Reply angela bell September 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm


  • Reply Estela Marcos September 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    First of all, congratulations for your website. I am new in sewing and your website is amazing.
    I have a big list of books I would like to have in my library!! ^__^
    I have a question, do you know where can i buy on-line this magazine? I have token a look to the website of the magazine, but is all in japanes and i do not understand anything..
    Thans in advance for your help!!

  • Reply kathie September 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

    hi i was very excited to see the projects featured in cotton friend and immediately headed over to etsy to find that i could download the magazine. I was very surprised though that there were no patterns available at the end. Are we supposed to draft our own from the thumbnail? sorry but i am pretty new at japanese pattern making

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books September 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Hi Kathie,

      I noticed there have been some unscrupulous Etsy stores selling Japanese sewing books and magazine scans which are obviously not authorised by the official publisher, but the patterns are actually large size (about A1 size) pattern sheets, there is no way they can include that in their PDF scan, so what you have purchased is probably just the instructions and photos and not the patterns.

      I did not attach a photo for this issue, but you can take a look at the last picture of this blog post to see what the attached patterns are like

      You will have to purchase a physical copy from an online store. I will be consolidating some of these links and posting them up next week.

  • Reply Kate Clemens August 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Do you know of anyone anywhere who does an English translation of cotton friend? If not, would you be interested?? Many thanks!

  • Reply Eloysa July 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I would like to buy japanese crochet magazines or books, any idea? Thnx.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books July 29, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Hi Eloysa,
      There are lots! Use this keyword term in and you will see lots of results – かぎ針編み
      You can start with this book (there is a look inside preview) and you will also see other related books below. I do crochet but I learnt mainly from youtube so I don’t know how to read graphic patterns. I have no idea whether their crochet patterns are standardized notation so do check the previews out before purchasing!

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