Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Magazine Pattern School

May 12, 2014

Today’s book review is a book I bought without having any idea what is inside. I bought it purely because of the description on the cover. (Note that there aren’t any real photos of the completed pieces unless you count the tiny ones on the bottom right hand corner)


From the top – You are also a designer – From Shirts to Coats, make with freedom
Main title – In a magazine. Pattern School.
Vol. 1 – Tops edition

In the red circle – Sizes 5-21, 9 sizes in all
Actual size pattern (for basic bodice and basic sleeve)

Formula at the bottom of the page
Bodice 22 x Sleeves 26 x Collars 40 + alpha (for arrangement) = Infinite Designs!

Ok, I was totally sold by the last line – the formula


So I knew that it would be some kind of pattern making book, and not one with full patterns. I was kind of right. The book is kind of a textbook/pattern resource guide, all in one. The basic bodice block and sleeve blocks are provided in an actual size pattern sheet, so you don’t have to draft from scratch (although it does include a guide on how to draft from scratch). This book is more about using the basic  blocks and modifying it to the different styles and shapes, so that you can use your creativity and combine the different patterns to create your very own design.

It’s a little like Mrs Stylebook, except that the pieces in Mrs Stylebook have been designed for you already. This book on the other hand, allows you to be the designer. Kind of like lego pattern building.

The book starts off with 3 basic lectures – Bodice patterns, Sleeve Patterns and Collar Patterns.



Bodice – There are supposed to be 22 different bodice variations but the contents page only shows the 8 main groups. For each group there are further variants. For example, the Yoke seam pattern comes with 6 different variants which require different bodice modifications and therefore count as 6 different patterns.


Here is an example of the pattern variation page. The instructions and construction diagram are given, as well as photos of the finished piece.

The other two section on Sleeves and Collars are presented in the same way.


Sleeves – 10  main groups with a total of 26 variants.


Collars – 11  main groups with a total of 44 variants.

Other than the main components of bodice, sleeve and collar, there are also a series of “16 lectures” on special topics, here are a few examples.


Different types of cuffs and how to make them.


Comparison of lengths, garment lengths, sleeve lengths etc. This will help you visualize the final design.


Another interesting lesson – comparing the difference in the final appearance of the sleeves based on the position of the bottom of the armhole.

There are lots more lessons like this one, which are very insightful especially when I’m trying to create my own designs and drafting my own patterns.

The next section in the book is the “Practical” section, where they actually demonstrate how easy it is to combine and apply different patterns to create a brand new design of your own.





The last section is for people who want to draft their own patterns from scratch. There is a detailed guide for drafting the basic bodice block, sleeves and collars, plus detailed lessons on markings, seam allowances, lots and lots of details.

The actual size pattern sheet for the basic bodice and basic sleeve is provided. There are 9 different sizes from 5-21 which makes it very useful for a lot more people. Most pattern books come in the more average sizes of 9-13.

 Unfortunately everything is in Japanese. It is quite a balance mix of photos + text though which makes it not too difficult to understand. For those of you expert drafters and all you need are the dimensions and diagrams,  this will be a great resource.

Title : 誌上。パタン塾  – Vol.1 トップ編
ISBN : 978-4579073429
Publisher : Bunka Publishing



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  • Reply Miri May 13, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great book.

    Did you buy it used? (asking because the link on Amazon seems to only point to marketplace sellers)

    BTW, does Amazon Japan have an English version? (I peeked at the book through Google translation, but that seems a risky way to try and buy a book ;-))

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books May 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Hi Miri,

      I bought the book new from Amazon Japan is mainly in Japanese, including descriptions as input by sellers, but they do detect your location and automatically switches the language of the main functionalities, like add to cart, quantities, and the entire checkout process is in English which makes it very easy to purchase. You can search for the book using the ISBN no. that I listed.

      • Reply Miri May 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

        thanks! (just noticed how to switch to English)

      • Reply Miri May 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm

        I’m mystified: the Amazon Japan book price keeps changing (1000 to 1800 JPY in a week).

        Any tips on how does that works? (I so should have got it at 1000 …)

  • Reply EmSewCrazy May 13, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Wow, this seems like a great resource! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Lily Zhu May 13, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I’ve got mine a couple months ago. It’s a great book! Looking forward to the next in series.

  • Reply Pei Ying May 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Ooh! This seems like a fantastic book from your review, too bad my Japanese is not up to scratch! Thank you for sharing, would be checking this book out soon 🙂

  • Reply Analil May 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I love the photos you posted, but as I don’t speak japanese, is it even possible for a non-speaker to understand the instructions? It all seems to be in japanese, except for a few titles in english.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books May 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Hi Analil, there are some books that are less wordy with more photo/diagram instructions. This particular book is meant to be a resource guide/textbook style so as expected it is rather text heavy. If you are experienced at sewing it may be useful because all you need are the dimensions/drafting diagrams to create the same pattern. The text serves to explain the adaptation of each pattern from the basic blocks so will be useful to know but not entirely necessary if you are already familiar with drafting patterns. Having said that, this is definitely more of an advanced book, whether or not you can speak or read Japanese 🙂

  • Reply amalia June 27, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Hi, i bought this book and this is super great book.thank youfor sharing..
    by the way do you have the cover of mrs stylebook vol 1 (basic skirt)???? I’m sorry my english is bad

  • Reply JUDY JONES January 16, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Hi, yifarn. I am back to your website after a 3 year absence and decided to look through your book reviews while here. I have purchased Lesson 2, Skirts and so was quite happy to see Lesson 1 in your review. Since I don’t speak or understand a word of Japanese I have had to rely on any English translations to translate my book. Based on your review, I probably will have to purchase Lesson 1. Lesson 2 has hip blocks to make a skirt pattern and come in 24 sizes. I have all 5 books of Bunka Fashion School patternmaking in English but Vol 2 has not been helpful in translating Lesson 2, Skirts.

  • Reply Katerina July 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    HI, thanks for a very informative website!
    There seems to be also a German translation of (what appears to be) this book, [ Harumi Maruyama, Oberteil-Grundschnittvariationen: Mit Schnittmusterbogen, Stiebner 2015]] as well of its skirt counterpart, “Rock-Grundschnittvariationen” by the same author, in 2017.

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