Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Stylish Skirts (in English)

April 28, 2014

Another Japanese sewing book that has been translated to English, Yay! Adding that to the growing list 🙂

This is another translated book by Sato Watanabe, the other being I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew.  There’s another one coming soon sometime in July – Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe. I hope I will be able to get hold of that before it’s release. But first, back to Stylish Skirts.


There are 23 skirts to make. Let’s see what type of skirts you can learn to make from this book.


A – Embroidered skirt with gathered waist and lace hem.

It looks like a very simple skirt, but this has a proper waistband with a side zipper construction. Ideal for those of you looking to progress beyond drawstring or elastic waistband skirts.


You can’t quite see it from the picture but this A-line skirt is made up of 12 panels! The overall shape is still a simple A-line shape but I think the multiple seam lines give it more structure. This skirt uses a invisible size zipper enclosure.


A wrap style panel skirt with an asymmetrical front panel.


Skirt with Lace trimmed Irregular Hem. There are darts in the yoke for a snug fit on the hips.


Now for some pleated skirts. At first glance this looks like a simple box pleat skirt.


Until you look closely between the pleats. Notice the vertical striped pattern hidden within the pleats, in contrast to the horizontal pleats on the front of the skirt panels. I love the beautiful top stitching detail around the pleat lines too, it gives the skirt a professional touch!


I thought this was a simple tiered gathered skirt at first, then I realized the gathers were located in alternate sections for the different tiers.


A wrap skirt with a frilled edge.


Very interesting looking skirt made with irregular shaped frills.


Finally a balloon skirt for adults! This comes in long and short versions. I personally find the long version a bit much, but the short version looks a lot cuter and more wearable.


Another very sweet skirt – Skirt with shirred yoke and lace belt.


Close up on the shirring details on the yoke.


For those of you who have a more adventurous fashion sense 😛 Here’s an avant garde skirt you can make.


18 panels this time! The colors are nice but some how this reminds me of a circus tent. A little too stiff and structured looking for me.


8 Button skirt. I can imagine this in a shorter and cuter summer version, i.e. without the extra stripe sections.


A functional skirt with large cargo pockets.

Now for the more technical details…

1. There are no patterns included, because these skirts are all made up of simple rectangles or trapezoids.  Drafting diagrams are given for each project so you will need to draft your own patterns (see example below)
2. There are no size charts, because the drafting dimensions are derived by using your exact body measurement. Which means that you can custom the skirts to fit you perfectly!


A project how-to-make consists of the following – Cutting Layout,


Drafting Diagram. Main units are in inches, while those in brackets are in centimetres.

Update : There has been some confusion over the construction of these diagrams. So I emailed the publishers to clarify matters. Basically the Width (W) and Hip (H) measurements are taken based on your individual measurements, then depending on the number of panels needed to construct the skirt, you have to divide this measurement accordingly.  In the example above (from Skirt V on page 88), the correct dimension for the panel should be
W = Waist measurement divided by 18
H = Hip measurement divided by 18
(effectively ignoring the number 7) 

For the question raised in the comments below – skirt L – Trapezoid Skirt with Line Detail, the drafting dimensions should be 
W = Waist measurement divided by 16
H = Hip measurement divided by 16
(ignore the number 6 3/8)

If any of you have questions with the other patterns, do post them below and I will post the correct drafting measurements below.


Sewing Steps


Close up of the sewing steps.


Included in the book are also tips on for sewing better skirts (addressing fit and ease depending on your desired comfort level), notes on skirt linings, glossary of sewing terms etc.


Available now on

Title : Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure
Author : Sato Watanabe
ISBN : 978-4805313077

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  • Reply Jen April 29, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Thank you for the review – this looks like a nice book with some interesting variations on the basics. IMO, skirts are the easiest garment to fit, and the book would be great for a wide range of sewing expertise. I particularly like the asymmetrical wrap skirt and the multi-level tiers – interesting!

  • Reply isabella May 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Hej! Is i possible for you to make a book review of two books I have seen on Etsy?:
    Natural Clothes for Girl and Mom – Pochee Special Issue – B21
    Kawaii Cute Clothes for Toddler Girl – enanna, Makiko Asai – Japanese Sewing Pattern Book – B1071″

    Can’t wait to hear from you 🙂

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books May 2, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Hi Isabella,

      I don’t have the first book, but I have the second. I was so sure that I had reviewed it but I can’t seem to find it now. I will try to post this up soon. 🙂

  • Reply Lilies June 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Hi, wondering if you can please help me… And sorry if I should have asked somewhere else…

    I have this book and would like to make the Trapezoid Skirt with Line Detail. But this is the first time I’m making something from this book. I had made something from the Shape Shape 2 but that one has patterns included.

    I’m confused about the drafting and how to cut the pattern pieces.

    I have made simple A Line skirt before. Is this project too big of a jump from that?

    Back to the drafting question, what does “W” mean? What does “H” mean? In that particular picture on page 60, which one is supposed to be 16cm? The top bit or the 15cm point?

    Sorry if my questions sound silly…

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books July 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Hi Lilies,
      Don’t worry your questions are not silly, I was wondering the same too but I found the explanation on pg 33 – Tips for making better skirts.
      W -stands for waist measurement, H for hips measurement.
      You only have to draft one trapezoid, which you will use (following the diagram) to make the panels.
      The measurements to be used on the skirt panels are fixed for the height measurements, but for the widths, you need to divide it by 6 3/8 (if Waist and Hip measurements are in inches) or 16 (if your Waist and Hip measurements are in cm).
      So for example, if the waist measurement is 50cm, then the width of the top horizontal line of the trapezoid will be 50/16 = 3.125cm. Do the same for the hips measurement, and place this line 15cm below the top Waist line.
      I hope this makes sense, let me know if you have other questions! 🙂

      • Reply womble July 15, 2014 at 2:50 am

        Actually I think there is an error in the translation here. Whoever was converting from cm to inches got a little over-enthusiastic. I’ve looked through very carefully and also made a couple of skirts now. I work in inches, as all my equipment is old (early 50’s) and predates metrication.

        Basically, each time you see H/x or W/x, that x should be a constant, but has been treated as a measurement and converted anyway. If your skirt has 12 panels, then each panel should be W/12 + seam allowance + ease/12. That doesn’t change if you work in centimetres or inches or ells or any other obscure unit.

        I’ve tried contacting tuttle publishing but they’ve ignored my email.

        I am also really disappointed that the avant garde skirt has no formulae, so it is only in one size.

        I’m not regretting buying the book, as it has lovely patterns in, but it is very upsetting that whoever proof-read it didn’t check this. It’s a really stupid error!

        • Reply Japanese Sewing Books July 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

          Come to think of it, you are right, especially for the panel skirt. If you take a H or W measurement, say in inches, and divide it over the unit (in inches), then the units cancel off and you are left with a numerical value that is not a measurement. So mathematically it doesn’t make sense. I’ll try to email them and get some clarification.

  • Reply Brooke November 2, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Thanks for this detailed review. This is exactly the information I was after in order to decide whether to buy the book or not. I am a very amateur seamstress but I think, with an experienced sewing pal by my side, I could learn a lot from this book!

  • Reply Japanese Sewing Books December 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I have updated the post with the clarification from the publishers. womble is right, x is a constant, and basically for all the patterns, use the lower number (which is in the brackets) as the constant.

  • Reply Japanese Sewing Books in English » Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics January 17, 2015 at 9:51 am

    […] Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure Sato Watanabe Read my review here  […]

  • Reply Ching February 9, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Hi.. I am now fallin in love with skirt and sewing.. Seems this skirt edition is pretty interesting.. How can I get the magazine? Please? Thank you.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books February 26, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Ching, You can get this book from

  • Reply Eighteen Panel Skirt > Idiorhythmic February 11, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    […] It has been years since I’ve made any clothing for myself.  Which is funny as I originally got into sewing for just that reason.  So, it was with a lot of giddiness, trepidation, and wine, that I set out this past weekend to make myself a new skirt.  The skirt started off very close to the original pattern, which is where I ran into the first obstacle.  Stylish Skirts is translated from Japanese, and there are some glitches in the transition. Fortunately there’s the internet, and I wasn’t the first person to run into problems. […]

  • Reply Sarah Turnbull February 8, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I was just looking at the reviews of this book on Amazon, and it looks like there will be a new edition in 2017. Hopefully the mistakes in the translated instructions will be fixed.

    I’m going to borrow the original English edition from my library, and try to work it out. Thank you to the commenters and to you for chasing up the corrections.

  • Reply Sarah February 8, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    By the way, do you happen to know if this is a translation of one of her Japanese books, or a compilation from previous ones or …? Given the problems with some of the numbers, I was thinking of buying it in Japanese.

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