Happy 3rd Birthday to Japanese Sewing Books!

It’s the time of the year again to think back about how far I have come with this blog.


First post ever! 13th December 2011.

Recognize this? Over the past 3 years, I’ve changed the theme a couple of times, and never thought to archive the very first “look” of the blog. Thanks to the internet archive Wayback Machine, I actually found the very first blog post!

It really just started out because I was buying more Japanese sewing books than I had time to sew, and I could find no information about these books online other than searching in Japanese. Since I was making to effort to learn a little (well, just enough to get by understanding the instructions and searching for more new books to buy) I thought of sharing this information online. Over the past 3 years, I’ve tried to include more content centered around Japanese sewing books, fabrics, and even attempted to have my own sewing patterns and videos. Family and work commitments have increased over the past half a year or so, which explains why I have not been able to create any new patterns/videos lately. However, I’m glad to know that the archived patterns are still being well used and many of you have left comments thanking me for the patterns and telling me how useful they have been in making that something special for a loved one. I read every single one of the comments and though I may not have time to reply them all thoroughly, the thought that my patterns have been useful to someone just makes this blog even more rewarding. Your kind comments and emails have kept me going. It is wonderful to meet so many people online who share my love for sewing!

Thankfully, a number of publishers caught the Japanese Sewing Books bug too and started translating some of the popular titles into English. Many of you have commented on how useful these books have been and can’t wait for more titles to be translated. There are more books on the way, this much I can tell you :) and I will share them with you as soon (and sometimes even before) they are released.

So to celebrate my blog’s 3rd birthday, as usual, we MUST have a GIVEAWAY! And since many of you find the English versions so much more useful, I will be giving away one of the books that have been translated into English. To make this giveaway even more personalised, you are free to choose your giveaway prize from the following options.

A – Sewing For Girls

B – Sewing for Kids

C – Sewing for the ladies

To enter, just comment below and tell me your choice of giveaway prize A,B or C. Yup that’s it! This will be a simple giveaway with one chance per person, I want make it Sweet and Simple for everyone! :) So please just leave one comment per person.

Giveaway ends 1 week from now – Midnight, between Friday 19th and Saturday 20th December (UTC) which will be Saturday morning 8am for me over here in Singapore.

Once again, thank you all for your support over the past 3 years and I will keep on blogging about Japanese sewing books, and hopefully find time to do more than that!

Translation Request – Quilt Pattern for E Ray

Today’s translation request is for E Ray who needed help with the translating the pattern for quilt #2. There was not much information to translate this pattern other than the material list, as the actual quilt making techniques seems to be located on another page of Basic Techniques (page number also not mentioned).

Anyway, I do hope this helps!

quilt2_smclick on image to zoom in

I have one more translation request in the wait list according to my emails (Hopefully I haven’t missed out anyone!)  so I will post that up in the next two weeks or so.

Important announcement!

Due to family commitments, I will not be able to take on any full pattern translations for the next few months. By that I mean translating a full sewing pattern from beginning to end, including translating individual diagrams.  I will still be able to help out with translating terms and small portions of the instructions if you get stuck anywhere. Or anything I can answer quickly via email. I hope that by March/April I will be able to find more time to do the full translation requests as I know it is frustrating to get stuck while sewing! :)

Winner of Giveaway – Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids – Now in English

and the winner of this lovely book is…..


Jowyn Jenson!

Congratulations Jowyn, I will be emailing you soon!
Happy Sewing!


Book Review – Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics (Now in English)

Christmas is around the corner, and if you are thinking of making some handmade gifts, this book will help you make some one-of-a-kind Christmas presents! You can even buy this book as a Christmas present for someone crafty!

This book has been translated to English by the lovely folks at Tuttle Publishing (Yay!) and is all about handmade bags, by Emiko Takahashi, who is more well-known in the sewing “circle” for promoting hand-sewing. Most of her book published (she has published 76 books according to her website!!!) are hand-sewing books. She has published books not only on making bags and small goods, but also adult and kids wear. Yup! All Hand sewn! You can have a quick look at all her books here.

This book includes easy patterns and instructions for hand-sewing, so it will be great for beginners or those who do not have a sewing machine. Naturally you can speed things up a little and make these bags using a sewing machine as well, then add on your hand-stitched details for a personalized touch.


This book includes 60 Easy-to-make Purses, Totes, and More. Do note that out of the 60 projects, a few of them are multiple design variations of the same pattern, e.g. different embellishments on the same bag pattern. Patterns are included unless the design is based a simple rectangle, in which case you will only need to measure out the dimensions of the rectangle and cut accordingly. There are no complex curves construction/drafting required. All patterns that require anything other than a rectangle will be provided in the pull out pattern sheet.


The projects are divided into Shopping Bags, Everyday Bags, Fashion Bags, 2 Sewing Lessons (with full color step by step photographs) and everything else you need to know about hand sewing (basic stitches for construction + fancy stitches for decoration) and bag making (interfacing, handles, attachments etc). Let’s now have a look at some of my favourite projects in the book!


Spruce up your weekly grocery trip with a pretty shopping bag… I love the combination of knit fabric with tweed!


This is a really interesting foldable shopping basket bag. Quick and easy to shop and go!


Foldable Eco bag for carrying around as a spare shopping bag, you never know when you are going shopping! :)


These are both reversible bags. Both bags have round bases which make them nice and roomy.


These tote bags have a gusset base for a more roomy and spacious bag.


Flat totes are great for carrying around lesson books, document files or just as little bags for the little ones.


A lunch tote. Simply love the matching of light blue gingham check fabric with the pale leather handles.


 A great beginner hand sewing project.This is a simple drawstring purse that you can quickly whip up as a present. A great choice when you need to make multiple gifts since all the different design variations provided will mean each and every purse is unique. Lovely way to make use of scrap fabric as well!


 A sweet and dainty bag with a purse frame and crocheted handle.


A really delicate looking bag made with cotton voile, embellished with lace, and glass beads. The strap is made from lace as well.


Make a sturdy bag with zip enclosure with a leather handle and matching leather flower embellishments.


Very quirky and interesting Vase shaped bag that will be a great conversation topic.


Tucked bag with corsage.

As mentioned above, there are two detailed sewing lessons included in the book. The lessons are for the Flat bag, but it also comes with instructions on sewing a Gusset (which converts your Flat bag into a Gusset bag). The other sewing lesson is for hand sewing the little drawstring purse.



 Close up of instructions


There are also basic tips of bag making, as well as explanatory notes on the different materials you need for making bags.


Since this is a hand sewing book, hand stitching and decorative embroidery instructions are also included.


A typical pattern how-to-make is shown above. Every step is shown in a diagram form.


Close up of instructional diagram.


Patterns are included in a convenient pocket inside the back cover.


This book will only be released on November 25th, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.com
Handmade Bags In Natural Fabrics: Over 25 Easy-To-Make Purses, Totes and More (Tuttle Sewing Books)

Title : Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics
Author : Emiko Takahashi
ISBN No : 978-4805313169

Winner of Giveaway from Modes4U

And the winner of this awesome fabric bundle sponsored by Modes4U.com is… *drumroll*….


Jamie Bair! 

Congratulations Jamie, I will be in touch with you soon via email so that Modes4U.com can send you your prize.

Book Review and Giveaway – Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids – Now in English

If you have been following my site faithfully for the past few years, you may remember the balloon dress sew-along from this book two years ago? I know many of you purchased the Japanese version upon my recommendation and created beautiful balloon dresses (the one shown on the cover) and made other dresses from it as well. Those of you who hesitated because of the language barrier, you have no excuse now because the book has finally been translated into English!


The book is named Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids – 21 Patterns for Simple Separates and Comfortable Layers, and published by Roost Books.


The book opens up to reveal one actual size pattern sheet attached to the inner cover, the other sheet attached to the back cover. Slightly different from the Japanese version where they attached both at the back of the book. The patterns are for sizes 4-7 (which corresponds to 100-130cm according to the Japanese version)


For those of you who have not seen the book in Japanese, here is a photo summary of the 21 patterns you will be getting in this book.

The patterns are divided into two broad categories : Spring & Summer, Autumn & Winter. All the patterns you need all year round!


In the above photo, you can see how the Spring and Summer pieces are all light and comfy, suitable for layering in the cooler months of Spring and also wearable on their own as single pieces in Summer. The photos are taken in such a way to show you not just the individual pieces, but how you can mix and match the co-ordinates to create different looking outfits.


Here’s one of my favorite dresses. The Dual Yoke Dress. I made two of these for my girls and it is super comfortable for playing in. (See my version below in gingham check)

more photos of this dress on my other blog


Jodhpur-Style Pants uses a drawstring waist for easy wearing, but with a lovely button cuff detail that makes it look more like a pair of going out pants that just casual lounge pants.


Ribbon-Back Tunic and Sleeveless Blouse

Some more light and airy tops great for layering on. I love the soft look created by these sheer fabrics. The description says its a cotton linen fabric. But I can never find such nice fabrics here. The cotton linens we have here are rather thick and hardly sheer, more like linen with a cotton blended in than these nice sheer ones.

You may think these tops look pretty plain, but turn to the back and see the pretty ribbon tie detail (below)



Ribbon Embellished Dress

Next up, a very simple dress with a ribbon embellished yoke. You can’t really tell from the picture because of the color of the fabric, but there are two pockets on the front of the dress.


A very cute casual Stand-Collar Shirt with gathers details where the sleeve meets the shoulder seam, as well as top stitch details down the two centre front panels.


To go with the stand collar shirt, or to dress up a plain t-shirt, add on a Collared Vest, complete with an adjustable buckle on the back as well as welt pockets (unfortunately there are no details on how to attach the welt pockets?!! But this is not the fault of the translation, the original book in Japanese did not go into details about how to make welt pockets as well. I suppose you have to figure this out on your own or refer to online tutorials)

Let’s move on to the Autumn & Winter section.



I love these Hooded Ponchos! I am imagining one in red :) Or even in cotton laminates for a rain poncho!


A pretty Yoke Panel Skirt which you can layer on over warm leggings for Winter or make it in linen/lawn for Spring & Summer seasons.


This picture features the Fleece Hat + Coat Dress . The Coat Dress can be worn as a dress or a coat. This one is made in linen but I guess you can make a nice heavy coat using this pattern with wool as well.


Knickerbocker Puffed Pants

I just adore the pants in this book, they are all designed for ease of movement, but unlike the usual baggy pants, most of the pants designs include pretty girly details such as gathers, yoke panel and cuffs.


Pullover Dress

A Shirt dress with a front yoke and pleats, play with the color of the contrasting panel to make it your own!


An Elbow Patch Jacket

This warm jacket is made out of linen/wool and features cute contrasting elbow patches behind the elbows.  I know you can’t see it from this picture but I really wanted to show you the front instead because it looks so cute and grown-upsy


A Sailor Collar Pullover



Stay nice and toasty in this Hooded Scarf. A Scarf and Hood all in one piece!

Now for the technical details. The size chart for this book.


Note that everything is in inches only. There are no cm equivalents.

The how-to-make section starts off with 2 pages of basic sewing techniques, like Making Bias Tape, Hemming, Making String Ties, Gathers, Patch Pockets and Attaching Sleeves.


The how-to-make for each project follows the same standard formula. Note that other than the size chart, you should also refer to the Finished Measurements for the garment which is the first thing mentioned for each set of pattern instructions.




Note that the measurements are only in inches (See cutting layout diagram above)


Close up of the diagrams.


The other pattern piece that is attached to the back cover.


The very generous folks over at Roost Books are offering the readers of JapaneseSewingBooks.com a chance to win a copy of this awesome book.

To win this, simply leave a comment below and tell us which of the above garments you would love to sew! 

Extra chances will be given for the following :
1. Like Roost Books on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/roostbooks
2. Like Japanese Sewing Books on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/JapaneseSewingBooks

This Giveaway is now over, Thank you for participating!

For those of you who can’t wait any longer for the giveaway to get your hands on your own copy, you can always purchase your own copy (click on book cover image below) as it is already available on Amazon.

Available now on Amazon

Title : Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids
Author : Akiko Mano
ISBN : 978-1-61180-158-3

New Releases – November 2014

The end of the year is coming and what that means for me is well, less book purchases. Most of the books released at this time of the year are knitting and crochet related books. Even sewing books and periodicals cater more towards cold weather wear for Autumn and Winter. But there are still a couple of books that got me excited, and I’m sure some of you will squeal at these books too.


Pattern Magic – Volume 3
Honestly, though I’ve flipped through pattern magic 1 and 2 at the bookstore before, I always found it too challenging for me. Plus I would probably not dare to wear the garments out after spending so much time figuring out the pattern, so I have never bought or sewn from these books before. But those of you who are fans of the series should be excited to see that Volume 3 will be released soon. Sometime in mid Nov. Unfortunately there are no other photos even on the official publisher’s page. So the cover is all we get to see for now.


Sunny days Recital Clothes for Boys and Girls
A book of formal dress patterns which can be adapted to recital costumes or even casual daily dresses just be changing the fabric co-ordination. I’m so in love with the two cute dresses for the little girls (just below the book cover above) that I am going to buy this book. I know my daughter will bug me for the pink dress. I just hope that I can find similar fabrics to the ones shown. My daughter shops for her clothes from my books and somehow she always expects them to look exactly like what’s shown in the book even though I keep telling her that I don’t have the same fabric. Lol…

dignifiedladyGarments of a Dignified Lady

Another new book by Bunka, this book contains patterns with a very designer feel to them. Think asymmetrical collars and hems, drapes, folds and tucks. You can see a few more pages from the book from the link above.


Comfortable and Nice clothes made of Natural materials

And now for the periodicals.



Cotton Time November 2014


Cotton Friend Winter 2014


Cotton Friend Kids
Special edition of kids patterns by Cotton friend. I suspect this is a compilation of the kids patterns that have been featured already in the magazine earlier this year, but I can’t find any photos of the inside pages yet.


Lady Boutique November 2014



Mrs Style Book Autumn/Winter 2014

Giveaway – Fabric Bundle from Modes4U

It’s time for another great giveaway! This time round, you stand to win a wonderful fabric bundle from the kind folks at Modes4U.

Modes4U is an online shop selling all kinds of cute stuff, many imported from Japan and their selection is just simply out of this world! They have all the cute character goods from Sanrio and San-x, Stationery, Arts and Crafts, Bento boxes and accessories… the list goes on. Best of all, they ship worldwide and offer Free Shipping above a certain amount! Oh, and did I mention they sell fabrics too?

So as part of “research” I had to do some (browser) window shopping, I found a number of irresistable fabric prints. These by the way, are not part of the giveaway, just sharing my favourite finds :) Will come to the giveaway items in a while…


Tiny Dancer by Kokka 


Travel Fabric from A Toy Chest collection by Eri Tasaka for Kokka
This is a panel fabric where you can use different parts of the fabric as co-ordinating pieces in your bags.


Love this color combination!
Poplin fabric with small birds and  triangle print from Echino



Those of you who have asked me about purchasing Japanese print laminates, they have quite a selection of laminate fabrics from Echino.


I can never resist a Matryoshka doll print. This is a canvas fabric by Cosmo, great for making bags. But what I like most about it is the color combination. Rather unusual and different from the usual pinks and purples I would choose. But very striking!

There are lots more to be found on their website. They carry other fabric imports from USA as well, but the main Japanese fabric lines imported are from KokkaEchino and Cosmo.

and now, the moment you have all been waiting for.

The details of the Giveaway!

Modes4U will be kindly sponsoring ONE big prize of 9 fat quarters of Japanese fabric including Christmas fabric, echino and some cute designs:




1. Pink Canvas Fabric with leopards, lizards, bugs, butterflies and eagles in flower ornaments from Echino
2. Dobby weave cotton Mt Fuji fabric from Cosmo
3. Yellow Canvas Fabric with Polka Dots and Buck Stag with Glasses from Echino
4. White Oxford Fabric with Cat Prints from Kokka
5. Red Christmas Fabric with Snowman,Reindeer,Matryoshka prints from Cosmo
6. Blue Cotton fabric Alice in Wonderland Fabric from Cosmo
7. Lightweight Cotton Sateen with Green Triangles, Birds and Silver decorations from Echino
8. Red Canvas Fabric with Retro Roller Skates stars with red and pink stripes from Kokka
9. Pink Christmas Fabric with Christmas Tree Ornaments by Cosmo

 To enter, just do the following :

1) Visit Modes4u.com, browse through the store, and post your favorite items as a comment below.

2) Extra entries for people who Like/Follow Modes4U on Facebook or Pinterest.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/modes4u
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/modes4u/

3) Extra entries for people who blog about this giveaway and include link to giveaway + Modes4u.com

One comment per entry please, include your FB and Pinterest names in the same comment if you have done #2. Include the link to your blog post about this giveaway if you have done #3.
The giveaway will run from today 31st October to 16th November 23:59 UTC.
Good luck and have fun!
This giveaway has ended. Thank you for participating!


Book Review – Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls – Now in English!

Very Very excited to discover that one of my favourite Japanese pattern designer for girls dresses, Yuki Araki (荒木由紀), now has one of her books translated into English! I have reviewed some of her Japanese sewing books in the past like this one Fashionable clothes for Girls and Lovely Girls’ Dresses for girls up to 160cm. I have also done a translation request and blogged about something I made from her book. In total I have about 5-6 books from her Japanese collection, so you can imagine how much I like her style!

Since I have this original book in Japanese, I have also taken a few photos to make side by side comparisons. So let’s take a look!


English book cover.


Japanese version – the book is slightly wider. Some extra sizing information on the Japanese version but otherwise it’s the pretty much the same.


Taking a peek at the content page, you will find the full listing of the 22 projects, plus 2 projects to make matching items for Moms!


First up is a Camisole. Next to each project, Yuki Araki has some comments and notes to say about it. These have been dutifully translated into English so that her design concept and ideas behind each piece is conveyed. Just as it was done in the Japanese book.


Double Layered Skirt with an asymmetrical shirring on one side of the skirt’s outer layer for a little design effect and also to reveal some of the gorgeous fabric below.


Mother-Daughter Square Neck Smocks. This is one of the two matching Mother-Daughter patterns included in the book.


This sweet outfit comprises of 2 patterns. A button down U-neck blouse as well as an A-line skirt with a yoke and tucks.


A casual outfit great for an active day out or a playdate. A stand collar shirt (with gathers around the yoke seam, which is not that visible due to the color and print of the fabric), as well as a pair of pants with turned up hems. The pants come with cute round pockets at the back, which can be modified to square pockets or removed if you are making them for boys and find the round pockets too girly.


This next dress has got to be my favourite in this book. Can you believe this is an adaptation of the same stand collar shirt above? Except that this is a sleeveless version and has a longer hem to make it a shirt dress. There are also decorative flaps added to the yoke seam. (I thought they were pockets but they were actually just flaps). The dress is matched with a pair of leggings in sweet floral knit fabric. Pattern for the leggings are included as well.


If you thought that making a button placket for the stand collar shirt / shirt dress will be difficult and daunting, have no fear because there is a detailed step by step lesson devoted to the making of the button placket as well as the making of the stand collar.  Oh, and the fact that everything is in English makes sense too! :)


A close up of the instructions to show you just how clear the instructions are.


Another matching outfit with Mama – this is a U-neck Tunic. The brown fabric won’t be too loud on Mama and it looks really sweet for the little girl too doesn’t it? I love Yuki Araki’s use of colors. There is nothing too loud or colorful, in fact, you may not even pick out these fabrics when shopping for your little girls, but the results are still sweet and adorable.


You can tell that Yuki Arai loves natural colors. To make a natural color more interesting, she chooses fabrics with subtle design details, like this embroidered knit fabric that has been made into a long-sleeve coat. This coat has a hood as well as elasticized cuffs. You can also use the same pattern but vary the fabric choice/weights to make suitable coats for other times of the year.


This is the dress featured on the front cover. It is actually an extension of the camisole into a dress length, with added skirt panels and tied up with a pretty ribbon on front. This will be lovely in a double gauze or cotton lawn.


A longer length variation of the stand collar shirt, this version has long sleeves with contrasting trim on the collar, button placket as well as the cuffs. Main fabric is a dark brown check.


This is such a cute outfit for little girls to play dress up. she looks kind of grown up in it doesn’t she? By the way, the buttons in front are actually for decoration and the actual opening for the blouse is at the back. This is because the blouse is meant to fit neatly (not tight, but not baggy) and therefore it will be easier for a child to wear it with a proper back opening.


A variation of the long sleeve coat, this version sports a round collar, with short sleeves gathered with elastic . This was made with knit fabric which makes it comfortable for everyday wear.


This dress is a variation of the square-neck smock (seen earlier in the Mother-Daughter matching patterns) but in a longer length and color combination. You can make a matching dress for yourself too by adapting the Mama’s pattern into a dress length.

There are also two accessories patterns included in the book, you can make them in various fabric combinations that will match your outfit!


Two little bags with flap enclosures.


A reversible hat


Line with it a pretty fabric!

A quick glance at all the projects in the book.


Now for the important information. The size chart. Also note the paragraph above the size chart about the preference for using metric measurements.



There are also 4 pages of sewing notes with basic sewing information about using the books – tracing patterns, preparing the fabrics, sewing knits, making gathers etc. Pretty useful information. They have the same information in the Japanese version of course, but usually when I see a large chunk of Japanese text I usually ignore those pages as it requires too much effort to read :P Now I can understand what was written in that text!


The how-to-make page follows the same standard format.  Materials, Sewing Steps, Cutting Layout, and a general diagram showing the order of make.


The original Japanese version is pretty much the same, but do you find that the font size is a lot smaller and there’s more white space?


Close up of the instructions.


Patterns are neatly enclosed in a handy pocket attached on the back cover.


Now available on Amazon!

Title : Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls: 22 Easy-to-Make Dresses, Skirts, Pants & Tops Girls Will Love
Author : Yuki Araki
ISBN No : 978-4-8053-1315-2

I am hoping that there will be many more Yuki Araki books to be translated. This book is in fact, one of her earlier books to be published. In particular, we really need more patterns for teenage girls who are between 100-160cm in size. It will be awesome if this book that Yuki Araki published last year for older girls can be translated as well. Hoping that the lovely folks who have been doing such a great work of translating our beloved Japanese sewing books can hear our pleas and put this on the list!

While waiting for more of our favorite titles to be translated, I can tell you that there are a couple more already in the works (Yipee!) and I’ve got one more translated sewing book to share with you. It is not released yet but ready for a sneak preview. Right here on my blog. So stay tuned!

For a full list of Japanese sewing books that have been translated to English, click here.

Help with Patterns – Basic Black dress b

Tina emailed me asking for help in figuring out the dimensions for making the tiers for this dress.

Dress b from Basic Black.

I don’t blame you Tina, it took me a while to figure it out. The answer laid in two tiny circular symbols… :P Yup, two tiny circles. Couldn’t they have used a star or a triangle, or something that doesn’t look like part of the diagram????
Anyway, there are two different symbols for the front and back bodice.  So first of all, you have to cut out the front and back bodice patterns and measure their width across the hem line accordingly.  The front bodice measurement will be the circle outline, and the solid circle for the back bodice. I’ve done the calculations example for the front bodice.


I measured 8.8″ on the front, so taking this measurement, you will be able to add on the numbers provided for the different tiers, to find out the width to cut for each tier. I’ve done 1st and 2nd Tier as an example. (I know I’m mixing fractions with decimals, but that’s because my inch ruler measures in tenths and not eighths :) no worries, everything comes out in decimals on a calculator)

So, from the above diagram, we have determined that the width of the first tier should be 8.8″+ 7/8″ = 9.675″

Of course, when you cut the fabric, it has to be on fold, measure out 9.675″, and then add on 3/8″ to one side for seam allowance.
For the height of the tiers, it seems to be standardized at 4 3/4″ (or 4.75″) for all sizes. You can vary the height of the tiers without affecting the patterns, especially if you are taller and want the dress to be longer.

The following is the example calculation for marking the positions of the tucks for the first tier (size XS). For the rest of the tiers, just adjust the markings accordingly, based on each tier’s width, and dividing that up into 5 equal parts.


I hope this solves the mystery for you Tina! :)

For more pictures from this book, see my full review here

Buy now from Amazon

Title : Basic Black – 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe
Author : Sato Watanabe
ISBN : 978-4805313084