Using Japanese Sewing Books

October 4, 2013

I stumbled upon a few archived pages from the early months of and I realized that they are not linked anywhere else in the blog and are in fact buried deep in the archives. So I decided to consolidate all the links to guide you in using Japanese sewing and pattern books. From browsing, choosing, buying to the actual making of the clothes. The links are all here and will be updated as and when I have new content added to the site.

Step 1. Buying a Japanese Sewing Book

  • Browse before you buy – You can browse through the books from certain publishers. Nihon-vogue , Bunka Publishing Bureau (how to browse on Bunka’s site will be posted soon!)
  • Pick one that has already  been translated – Japanese Sewing Books translated to English – Constantly updated list of Japanese Sewing Books that have been translated to English, and where to buy them.
  • Japanese Sewing Books in Japanese  – There are many sources for buying Japanese sewing books online. All the books I have reviewed include their ISBN numbers so you can search with that rather than having to key in Japanese. I have also included affiliate links on my right sidebar to for Japanese sewing books. It is an English site that sells books, cds and more, and best of all, ships worldwide from Japan.
  • Buying a Japanese sewing book in singapore . If you are located in or visiting Singapore, you might want to check out where to buy books and fabrics from physical stores in Singapore- Fabric and Book shopping in Singapore (and other cute Japanese stuff)

Step 2. Buy Fabrics

Step 3. Making

Additional Resources

This page will be updated whenever I add something new, so do bookmark this page and check it often!

If you have any questions or special requests for something you would like to see featured on my site, leave a comment below! Thank you!


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  • Reply Alison Holmquist August 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    I teach sewing in Wales, and have just discovered your website. A few years ago I had a Japanese student who was making a dress for her daughter using a Japanese pattern. She had not done dressmaking before, and I don’t speak Japanese, and had not used a Japanese pattern before, but we muddled through. The dress was gorgeous. I love Japanese style, and having found your website, am now encouraged to use a Japanese pattern myself. I can’t wait!

  • Reply Anne Smith December 7, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Are the japan lovely crafts books in English as well as Japanese? I really love their stuff but wouldn’t really want to buy something I can’t use 😉 Many thanks!

  • Reply Anne Smith December 10, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Many thanks!! 😀

  • Reply shy December 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    great website!
    just wondering are there any japanese sewing books for kids that you could recommend?
    my preteen daughter is just starting out and i think their illustrations and instructions are the best.
    thanks 🙂

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books December 12, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi shy,
      I have not come across any sewing books specifically written for kids, i.e. with language or illustrations that are targetted at kids. There are a lot of beginner sewing books out there too but usually with a mix of photos and text. Without understanding the text it may be difficult to understand fully. My daughter is 10 and other than my initial supervision and teaching her how to use my machine, the rest of the time she likes to work independently from this English book called Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make The projects are not sophisticated but easy enough for kids to do on their own. When they get more confident on the machine (especially with sewing straightlines, around corners and curves) she will be more ready for actual garment sewing. Or at least that’s what I hope 🙂

  • Reply Michelle December 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Having been to Japan several times and looking forward to more visits, I have always appreciated the style of clothes I find there. I finally broke down and bought a Japanese sewing book and decided on a New Year’s resolution! Not only will I be learning Japanese, I will be learning how to sew! I have a feeling your blog is going to be invaluable to me. Thank you!!

  • Reply Susan Fisher April 27, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I want to make an item from the sewing book Simple Style Dress by Machiko Kayaki. The directions include the standard advice about “unless otherwise specified, seam allowance is 1 centimetre.” But I am not sure about whether the pattern pieces actually include the seam allowance. Do I have to add 1 centimetre all around to the pieces when I cut them out? I’d be grateful for any advice you can provide.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books April 29, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Hi Susan,
      The pattern pieces do NOT include seam allowance. You have to add them on according to the cutting layout diagram found on the how-to-make page.
      Not all seam allowances are 1cm. On the cutting layout diagram “裁何せ図” you will see numbers tagged to the edges of each pattern piece. For example, the bottom hem is usually a 2.5 or 3, the side seams are usually 1 or 1.5. You have to add this amount (in centimeters) to your traced pattern. When you see just a seam allowance line but no number, you take it as the default 1cm seam allowance. if there is no seam allowance line or it says “0” then don’t add anything (usually for extra pieces of fabric cut out as bias or edges of garment that will be finished with bias)

      You can refer to the last picture on this post
      for a worked example. Note how the bottom hem has a 3cm seam allowance, but the side seams are not specified (which means they are 1cm by default)

  • Reply Farmertakesawife August 30, 2016 at 12:53 am

    How about making a dictionary of Japanese embroidery terms?

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