Japanese Sewing Books in English

Book Review – Stylish Remakes

December 18, 2015

It’s the end of the year and time to declutter! Amidst the frenzy of sewing Christmas presents and getting ready for the New Year, I’ve been trying to declutter the house. Actually, I’ve been meaning to ever since I read the book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s hard to do so with a baby always attached to me, but I’m trying.

Old clothes used to be an easy thing for me to get rid of. But after reading this book sent to me from Tuttle (another Japanese Sewing Book in English to add to your collection) , I now have to consider every piece before deciding – to throw or to upcycle?


This book is all about upcycling. The author “Violette Room” is actually a brand of casual wear in Japan. Excerpt from their website

The history begins in the fashion academy.The violet room is the name of the common room existing there.
So that a bird returns to the den,
It is the important place that always exists in the place of our heart. Thus, it became a brand name.
more about Violette Room

A word upfront – there are no patterns included. There are drafting instructions but based on one set of measurements. It is also not a sewing instruction book with detailed step by step photos or diagrams. The finished product dimensions will be provided so you can estimate what adjustments you may have to make. After all, it really depends on what “raw materials” you have to work with. To me, it’s more of an idea book and inspiration than anything else. Let’s have a look!

The book is divided by the following categories, my favorite has to be the T-shirts section, since I’ve been sewing knits more often for my kids and there are lots of Tshirts to be thrown out.


Some simple ideas to start off with – embellishing an existing Tshirt with a bow. Don’t worry, it gets better 🙂


Up the street fashion vibes by attaching a lace skirt to an old retro shirt. I think the retro-ness of the shirt is important to the look. It’s a Chicago shirt!


I like this one. Combine a baggy T (just use the interesting print bit on the Tshirt) and a fitting tank top, add a sweetheart neckline and it looks like a one-of-a-kind designer tank top!


This upcycling idea will help you get rid of your stash quickly, for it uses 3 shirts at once. I’m not sure why the tank top has to be attached to the shorts though. The shorts was made up of 2 different t-shirts, so you can play with different color tshirts for a more dramatic effect!


This has to be the cutest little remake. The original shirt was cute enough and converting it into a romper just makes it even cuter! It did give me lots of ideas to reuse old Ts for my little boy’s clothes. The romper is too large for my boy though, so I used an old Tshirt, with a baby tank top pattern from Cucito, and made this! The orange knit bias was cut out from another t-shirt. Now I have an old stack of Tshirts waiting to be turned into kids bottoms, tanks and to be used for knit bias tape.


The second section was all about Flannel shirts, but of course you can use normal shirts if you don’t have any flannel ones.



Here’s what you can do, make a dress out of 2 different shirts.


or, make a baggy shirt more feminine and fitting by shortening the length and adding cuffs and gathers.

The next section is on borders (Borders here means a striped pattern print)


If you have lots of college sweatshirts, you may find the next section interesting as well. Since they are mostly oversized and baggy, it makes a great “fabric” for upcycling, like this cute little dress here.


Garbadine Coats, at first glance, it looks like nothing more than adding embellishments to a normal coat. This was actually a very plain, long and shapeless typical trench coat, which was transformed into a more fitting, short and cute feminine coat. Makes a great little outfit for rainy days.


The last section is on Bandannas, which is by definitely the most versatile item to upcycle, after all, it is nothing more than squares of fabric. The interesting thing about using Bandannas for upcycling, is that the prints are usually confined to a square repeat. So how you piece the bandannas together will make a difference to how your garment turns out.



This camisole and skirt number reminds me of the batik dresses I used to wear as a kid!


If you don’t have that many bandannas lying around, you can also turn it into a cute drawstring purse.

The following shows you how a typical set of instructions will provide. The drafting pattern is blurred out intentionally, but you get the idea. the drafting dimensions are also based on one set of measurements anyway, so the best way is to base your pattern on an existing shirt that fits.



I like the fact that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to upcycling. You can remake using existing material (less waste), you don’t have to buy new fabric (save money), and you get a unique look everytime. Those of you who are wondering what to get for your sewing friends as a Christmas present, this will be a great idea!

Buy now from Amazon (Affiliate link)

Title : Stylish Remakes
Author : Violette Room
ISBN No: 978-4805313657

Disclosure : I received this book from Tuttle to write this review, but all opinions are my own. 

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