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

New Releases – October 2014

Time flies whether or not you are having fun. :( It’s already more than a week into October! So here are some of the new releases I’ve spotted that have been released recently or soon about to be released.


Check & Stripe Simple Style Handmade
Ladies Sizes S,M,L & Kids sizes 100-140cm


Simple and Natural Fashionable Clothes
Ladies Sizes S,M,L,LL,3L

mensclothesMens’ Clothes
Mens sizes S,M,L,XL,XXL plus 2 matching boys patterns for 100-130cm
Finally, another sewing book for the guys. There are 5 sizes included!


Sewing Basics


Sewing & Crochet vol. 2

I have not seen this particular book (or is it a periodical) in real life. But I love both sewing and crochet. It looks like a book with patterns for small handmade goods but I also spot a header saying that there is a pattern for a Wrap dress that you can make in 1 day. Unfortunately I can’t find any inside pages even on the publisher’s website so I’ll have to either buy it or see if I can spot it during my next visit to Kinokuniya.


Easy Sewing for Ladies 2014-2015 Autumn/Winter edition


Easy Autumn & Winter sewing (Mrs edition)

Have you bought any of them yet? Do share your reviews!

Book Review – Straight Line Sewing Dress and Tunics for Ladies

This week’s book review is about Straight Line Sewing (again!) It’s a relatively new book, just published in June this year. I’ve seen and even bought quite a number of these straight line sewing books so it’s not a new concept, but what I really like about this one is the design and styling of the photos. The pieces look wearable, yet with a designer touch. As a matter of fact, the patterns are created by a designer. You can check out more of her works on her website


The title of the book is rather long – Straight Line Sewing Dresses and Tunics that Ladies want to wear.

The book includes sewing projects of varying difficulties. Suitable for everybody from beginners to advance sewists. The only problem (or it may be actually a plus point for some) is that there is only one size. There is only one set of measurements for cutting out the fabric. However, the completed dimensions are also included so it’s a good point of reference to see if it fits you. If it doesn’t you can always attempt to scale the pattern up or down since the patterns are mostly rectangular anyway, so it wouldn’t be as complicated as grading a pattern with curves.

Here are the patterns included in this book.


Some of the projects come with variations, using the same patterns but with different color blocks for a whole new look.


Each of the project has a difficulty indicator, with 1 scissors symbol for the easiest projects and 4 scissors for the most difficult one. I think there is only one dress (N) with a 4 scissors rating.


Simple Tunic with 4 corners along the side seams to give it a drapey effect.


You can’t quite tell from the picture but this dress is made up of one rectangular piece of fabric, with holes cut out in strategic positions for the head and arms. Level of difficulty? 1 scissors :)
The reason why I say that the holes are positioned strategically is because, in theory it seems simple enough to create a dress just by cutting out holes in the fabric, but it is also too easy to end up looking like you’re wearing a poncho or a makeshift halloween costume. I thought the end result looked pretty good!


What I thought was a easy color block tunic turns out to be rated 3 out of 4 scissors in difficulty.


Another easy piece to make but with gorgeous results.


This is essentially the same as the previous dress, except that it’s a shorter tunic version and using different color blocks.


An apron dress for layering over a shirt or t-shirt


V-neck collar dress


Round neck dress with cute drawstring details on the shoulder seams.


Tunic with tie straps, the use of two black fabrics of different materials make it an interesting piece.


Not particularly fond of the color combination here, but the jumper style dress with a cross back detail is cute for layering over a blouse.


A more formal looking dress, this is the project that was rated 4 scissors! I took a look at the instructions, and couldn’t find what was so difficult about it other than having to create gathers where the black skirt joins with navy blue sleeves . Could that be it?


Another stylish dress to make. I just love the simple lines, use of two different colors for the left and right panels, as well as the added ribbon detail near the shoulders.


This has got to be my favourite dress of the lot. Made with two different color fabrics for the front and back. This dress is rated 1 scissors so it’s possible for even beginners to make this! This dress is literally made out of a rectangle, cut out a hole for the head, and sewing up the sides leaving holes for the arms. I swear I have seen this kind of dresses being sold in stores for real money. Now isn’t it wonderful YOU know how to sew and can make this for yourself? :)


As mentioned earlier, the projects in this book are all free-size, so there is no size chart to fiddle with. The pre-sewing instructions are also very brief, probably also because the projects are really rather simple and not much needs to be said about how to cut out rectangular pieces of fabric right?


An example of the how to make section. For most of the projects, the patterns you need are basic rectangles, with the cutting dimensions provided. The instructions are all in diagrams.


A close up of the sewing diagrams.


There are some parts of certain projects that require pattern pieces. For example, the collars and skirt pieces. These are provided in one actual size pattern sheet on the back of the book.

Title : 大人が着たい まっすぐ縫いのワンピース&チュニック
Author : Wei : 中神 一栄 Kazue Nakagami Website | Facebook
ISBN No : 978-4528017894

I hope you like what I reviewed today! I’ve been so swamped with work lately that I have to find snippets of time in between to update my blog. So you can tell there is hardly even time for sewing. :( I hope to make something from this book soon though, since I don’t have to trace any patterns it can be just a quick sew! Hopefully this weekend?

Have a good weekend everyone, especially those of you who WILL get to sew!

New Releases – September 2014

I can’t believe it’s already mid-Sept, where did the time go? Before October comes along, I better show you some new and fresh books that are going to be released, or have been released during the past month.


Easy to use Bag and Pouch
(learn how to make bags and pouches with handles, metal frames and zips)
For more details (such as ISBN number) pictures, go to the publisher’s website and click on the light orange button below the cover.


Canvas Bags and Small goods made with Home sewing machines
Click here to view more pages on


How to make Canvas Bags
(with step by step instructions)
For more pictures and book details, click here


Ladies Pants and Skirts
Visit publisher’s website, and click on the light orange button below the book cover to view more pictures.


Another Ladies’ sewing book by May Me, unfortunately this will only be released 27th September, and there are no previews yet even on the publisher’s website.


Easy Hand Sewing Kids Clothes
Pants, Skirts, Dresses etc for Babies to Toddles approx 60-100cm sizes
More book details

and let’s not forget the periodicals!


Cotton Time September 2014


Cucito Autumn 2014



Lady Boutique September 2014

Any of these books tickle your fancy?

Winner of Japan Lovely Crafts giveaway


Thank you all for your support and participation. We know many of you are great fans of Japanese Sewing Books and Japan Lovely Crafts but unfortunately we can only pick 1 winner!

and the winner is…… Caroline C Tan!
Caroline, we will be contacting you by email to get your contact details.

For those who didn’t win this time, no worries, there is another giveaway coming up next month, so do keep a look out for it. The only clue I can give away right now is that it will not be a book, but it is the most important component for any sewing project! :)


Giveaway from Japan Lovely Crafts

It has been a while since we had a giveaway on the blog. It’s about time! Those of you who have been to my blog must have noticed my sponsor’s banner Japan Lovely Crafts on the right sidebar.  Japan Lovely Crafts is an Etsy store run by the very lovely Nobuko who is based in Japan and therefore has the best source to all your favourite Japanese sewing patterns, crochet patterns, masking tape, felting kits, fabric etc… basically all things kawaii!  If you are looking for any items not listed in the store, you can always email her with your requests and suggestions as well.


When Nobuko offered to sponsored a giveaway, she even asked me to browse through her store to select the book for the giveaway. I got distracted and sidetracked by the lovely things in her store.


Check out this cheery colorful cloud deco tape. More deco tapes here,


this book that teaches you how to draw Sanrio characters!


and this Japanese DIY needle wool felt kit featuring seal brothers. Melting from the cuteness!

But I digress…. the giveaway is about a book, a Japanese sewing book. I finally decided on this book because I have the same book and I’ve even reviewed it before  so I know it will be a useful one for you. The book is targeted at first timers, but whether or not you are a first timer, you will benefit from the detailed sewing lessons which are displayed in step by step photographs. Especially helpful if you can’t read Japanese :)


The book includes projects for tops, pants, skirts



The sizes included in the book (Left column states Bust/Waist/Hip)



For more pictures from this book, check out my book review here

Now for the important information. To participate in the giveaway, you just have to leave a comment below this post. It’s that simple because I’ve had past giveaways where readers who do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts feeling left out. However, for those of you who are active on social media or are even bloggers, you can earn additional chances to win!

For additional chances to win, you can do one (or more) of the following

1. Like Japan Lovely Craft’s page on Facebook  - please leave your FB username with your comment.
2. Follow Japan Lovely Craft on Twitter – please leave your Twitter username with your comment.
3. Like Japanese Sewing Book’s page on Facebook - please leave your twitter username with your comment.
4. If you are a blogger, you can blog about the giveaway, feel free to use the banner below – please leave the link to your blog in the comment.
One comment per person please, you don’t have to create a separate comment for each additional chance to win.
The contest will run from now till
13 September 2014 8am (Singapore time UTC+8 hours)
GMT – Midnight between Friday, 12 September 2014 and Saturday, 13 September 2014
EDT - Friday, 12 September 2014 at 8:00:00 PM
Good Luck!

Book Review – Baby and Toddler Clothes

I’ve hardly reviewed any baby books on my blog as you may have realized, because I tend to review what the books I buy to sew from, and most of the time I only sew for my girls and myself. But the next few months will be exciting for both sides of our family, as there are 4 babies  who are expecting to arrive from this month till next Feb. So I thought it was time to relook at some baby sewing pattern books, and see if I have time to make any handmade gifts for my new nieces and nephews.


The title of the book is loosely translated (with the help of Google translate) as The most well recognized Baby and Small child’s clothes. I guess it means the most frequently used/seen pieces in a baby and toddler’s wardrobe. The little captions on the cover also say “Easy from foundation”, and “First time mothers can feel assured”. Which probably means Great for beginner sewing mums, since the book will cover everything you need from the basics of sewing. There are 37 pieces of clothing and accessories covered in this book, for ages 0-3. As a testament to how popular and useful this book has been, it was first published in July 2010, and had its 16th print run in May 2014!


The estimated size chart and age range is included in the beginning of the book.
Left column says Size / Hat size / Age indication / Height


As it is a book for beginners, the book begins with an introduction of tools, fabrics, sewing basics like pattern tracing, sewing notations etc.


There is even a section on sewing knits, since you know, knits are probably a lot more comfortable for baby and toddler wear.



The main section of the book  covers seven main categories of clothing.
A – Coveralls
B – Sleeveless Shirt
C – Camisole
D – Monkey Pants
E -T-shirt
F – Easy pants
G – Skirt


Each of the type of clothing will come with a basic pattern, as well as two variations.


Short gathered sleeve variation of the overalls


Long sleeve tiered blouse (modified from the overalls pattern)


For each of the clothing type, there is a full color lesson, detailed in step by step photos.



B – Sleeveless shirt


The boy version of the sleeveless shirt has a proper button placket on the front, you can learn how to make this by just following the pictures.


C – Camisole (I guess this is only for the girls :)


D – Monkey pants


Variation 1 of monkey pants


Variation 2 of monkey pants with a little skirt. How cute!


The classic T-shirt with snap buttons on the side for easy wearing. Very important feature for baby clothing since it is sometimes difficult to pull the shirts over their heads.


Tshirt Variation 1 – long sleeve t-shirts


T-shirt Variation 2 – Cardigan


Easy Pants


Variation 1 – Salopette pants


Skirt pants


G – Skirts


Tiered skirt

Other than clothing projects, there are also patterns for essential baby accessories.






Reversible Tulip hat




Quilt knit vest


Hooded Reversible Poncho

As each clothing category (A-G) comes with its own sewing lesson for the basic arrangement, the how-to-make section only includes details of the pattern variations, as well as the how-to-makes for the accessories.


One double sided pattern sheet included.



Ichiban Yoku Wakaru Akachan to Chiisanako no Fuku 0 ~ 3 Sai no Youfuku, Komono 37 Ten / Nihon Vogue Sha

Title : いちばんよくわる 赤ちゃんと小さな子の服
ISBN : 978-4-529-04842-2
Publisher : Nihon-Vogue

Book Review – Handmade Bag Basics

I picked up this book from the Kinokuniya sale over the National Day weekend. It is a book about the basics of handmade bags and it’s great for beginners!


This book is split up into 3 main sections. The first section is more like a textbook, and goes through all the basics you need to know for bag making.


There’s everything you need to know here. From selection of tools like needles, thread types, fabric selections, patterns, preparing your fabrics, sewing around curves, finishing of raw edges etc.



The second section provides 11 different sewing lessons from the most basic tote bag, to the boston bag (complete with zips and leather handles). The lessons are ordered in increasing order of difficulty, so you can work your way through the projects. By the end of the book, you will be an expert at bag-making! :)


Here are some of the bags you will learn to make in this book.


Petanko tote bag. What’s Petanko? I have no idea and there doesn’t seem to be a direct translation, but it seems to refer to flat tote bags.


For each of the sewing lessons, the instructions are presented in large, clear graphics like the ones above.


This bag looks like the previous tote, but it is made using laminated fabric. Anyone who has made bags using laminated fabrics will know that these fabrics are not easy to sew with. This lesson will show you how to work with laminated fabrics.


Mini Tote bag


Simple Pochette


Classic Canvas Tote bag


Eco Bag


Messenger Bag


Boston Bag

The third section is a chellenge for first time sewing Mamas! Make a set of school accessories for your child!


The standard 3 piece set – Lesson bag, Drawstring bag, Shoe bag


There are no pattern sheets included, since all the bags are constructed using simple rectangles and easily constructed shapes.

However, as a bonus, there is a little booklet at the back that you can detach for reference.  It is a handy handmade dictionary for frequently used sewing terms and techniques.


An excerpt from the handmade dictionary



Title : Basics of Handmade Bags
ISBN No.: 978-4-405-07182-7

This book is great not only for beginners who have never sewn a bag in their life, but also for people like me. I’ve made many many bags before but there are certain steps where I just wing it, mostly due to shortage of precise instructions. This book breaks down the process to the smallest detail, so I believe that by following it I will finally learn how to create the perfect bag!

Translation Request – for Emma

This week’s translation request is from this book – Straight Stitch Sewing Tunics and Dresses by Sato Watanabe.


 The pattern translated is for pattern E variation 2.

pattern1_SMclick on image to zoom in

Fabric – 2 Way Toriko Satin [Solpano 4112999] 145cm wide x 1.8m (you can purchase the exact fabric here )
Interfacing : 40 x 60cm
Fastener (zip) – 20cm longth x 1pc
Beads – 3mm Cut beads (beads with facets) x 20pcs, Small round beads x 20 pcs

Sewing order
1. Sew tucks on front bodice, attach facing on neckline (for front)
2. Attach fastener to back centre, attach facing on neckline (for back)
3. Sew side seams, finish armholes with a double fold hem
4. Attach shoulder fabric pieces
5. Finish the hem with a double fold hem
6. Stich beads on top of tucks (on front bodice)

pattern2_smclick on image to zoom in

Happy Sewing Emma!

New Releases – August 2014

It’s a brand new month! And here are the new releases that are coming soon, as well as some that have been released over the past few months (that have escaped my radar) Obviously I have not been too hardworking at shopping lately :P

Happy browsing & shopping!

cottonfriendCotton Friend (Autumn edition 2014)


NHK Wonderful Handmade 


Fabric bags and accessories without using patterns


Adult Sewing – 26 patterns for all year use
For more preview pages, click here to go to the flash viewer on Nihon-vogue’s website

handmadepurseHandmade Purses Book


Straight Sewing Dresses & Tunics


Handmade steteco for everyone
To find out what a suteteko is, this article from Japan Times, is a great explanation.


I Love Liberty Print 

hatsyouwanttomakeHats you want to make
althernative site on Rakuten, clicking on the green button below the cover image allows you to launch a flash browser to preview the pages.