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Japanese Sewing Books

Book Reviews Japanese Craft Books

Book Flip Through Review and Giveaway – Pom Pom Animals

November 19, 2018

Today’s book review is not a sewing book but a craft book, and it is oozing with so much cuteness that you will not be able to resist!

before I start, some back story about how I came to discover this book.

I received an email one day from a very nice lady called Yumi from Nippan IPS.NIPPAN IPS is one of the largest exporters and importers in Japan. They represent a lot of Japanese publishers and specialize in books on fashion, art, architecture, photography, hobby and travel. You can see their book catalogues on and it’s really exciting to find another source of Japanese books that have been translated to English!

Yumi told me that they have some very interesting Japanese sewing and craft books that have been, and will be translated soon. So she asked if I would like to take a look. I think the answer was clear! 🙂

So the first book I am reviewing today is called Pom Pom Animals, and yup it is literally making animals out of Pom Poms. If you think that the results will look like what you get from doing arts and crafts in grade school, well, be prepared to be amazed!

The author of the book is Tsubasa Kuroda, a.k.a. trikotri (her IG account has lots of cute pom pom animal pictures!), born in 1981 and graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts. She started working on pom-poms while working for a handicraft store, and now creates accessories and small handcrafts. She’s been selling pom pom animal kits for a while, and this was her first published book in 2016. Since then she has released 2 other books on pom pom animals as well.

But more about this book. This book was originally published in 2016, and very highly rated on Amazon. Lots of pictures and diagrams to follow and it shouldn’t be hard to follow even in Japanese, but guess what? Nothing beats having the book translated to English, and now it’s been done by Nippan IPS!


This book includes 45 products made of wool. You will also need some other simple materials like eyes and felt to complete the look.

There are soooooo many cute animals in the book that I’m just highlighting some of them here, because I will leave the rest for you to browse in the book flip-through video.


This was the first one that caught my eye, it really looks innocent (as described) doesn’t it? 😛


Literally lol-ed at this combination. It’s like a cat being caught trying to steal bread – it has this startled look, and it’s so small and cute, just the size of a little bun.

If you are not a fan of keeping real live pets, these are a great substitute! They are completely fuss free to keep and add so much color to the room.


Some more hidden pets…

you might think they are only good for display, but in the book there are instructions on how to adapt these pom poms, by adding a backing and brooch pins, to be used as decorative accessories.


Now you must be wondering, the pom pom animals look so life-like and realistic, it must be difficult to create right? Well, I wouldn’t say you are wrong, because you do need some artistic sense of balance to trim the pom poms into shape. But the instructions give you a very clear and precise method to the forming of the different colored layers. Straight down to the number of rounds you need to wind, as well as the angle you should wind it at. Here is an excerpt of the section on how to read the instructions.


Then more detailed pictures follow – there are a few animals which are demonstrated in full detail, the rest of the projects are basically variations in color and placement of the different layers /

instructionssample backcover

I also found a YouTube video of an interview with the author – Tsubasa Kuroda and if you want to see more of her cute projects.

So by now you must be wondering, like I first did when I received the book. My kids and I were gushing over the cute pictures but could we actually make one ourselves? It seemed highly impossible. My kids requested for ME to make many of the animals, they couldn’t decide which one they liked best because they were all so cute. I asked THEM to make it themselves since they were just idling at home (School holidays have started). But they just rejected the idea, saying that they will never be able to make it as well.

I asked a friend to help me buy some pom pom makers – they are available in some craft shops in Singapore, but I only managed to pick it up from her about a week later. My kids jumped into making pom poms. They made like a box full of fluffy balls, but no one attempted the animals. So I asked my #2 to make me a white pom pom and said I would try the simplest bear pattern.

Ok so do you want to see what I made? Erm, it looks nothing like the ones in the book. I was trying to make a simple bear, since it was my first time and I had no idea if I was able to do the shaping. And so after I mustered up enough courage to make the first snips into that perfect ball of wool (it’s just a ball of wool!) I gathered momentum and went around snipping furiously. It was really therapeutic to hear the scissors go snip snip snip. Had to go slow and inspect it from all angles, to prevent over-zealous trimming… but it was not too bad!



Luckily I have some felting wool and my felting needs so the nose was quite easily done. I had some sew-in eyes too, but I felt they were too big, so I used simple black beads. I might have sewn them in a little too tight though, I thought the eyes were not so clear from the front view. But maybe a bit more trimming around the muzzle might help. All in all, I really surprised myself at what I could do! It was really simple to follow, just need a little patience.


From this angle you can see that it needs a bit more trimming around the sides, he still looks a bit scraggly….but I think I will leave it at that.

Then my eldest got inspired and she chose a harder project. Tadah!


So you can see, if you follow the instructions, it is not impossible! Just have to try…. If you are asking me to, is it necessary to have a pom pom maker? Not really, but it really helps. I’ve made lots of pom poms as a kid too, using two pieces of donut shaped cardboard but it is a lot easier to wind 400 rounds on each half because the pom pom maker is designed to open up and let you have full access to each semi-circle portion. They are not that expensive too and if you are keen on making a whole zoo of pom pom animals, this will be a great investment!

Do you feel like making these cute animals all by yourself? To get you kick started, we have a giveaway just for you!


Would you like to make one of your own? You might have a chance to win a copy of this book – POM POM ANIMALS by trikotri
generously sponsored by the publisher NIPPAN IPS!

PLUS I will also send  you
a set of 4 Clover pom pom makers (35/45/65/85mm)
all the sizes you need to make the pompom animals in the book!

This giveaway will run on my Instagram account only (due to FB’s confusing maze of rules).

 IG page –

The giveaway will run for a week from today till
Monday 26th Nov 9am UTC +8hrs).


Want to buy own your own copy? Pom Pom Animals (in English) is available on and (Aff links)

Clover Super Pom Pom makers are also available on Amazon

Ladies Sewing Patterns Porcupine Patterns

New Pattern Release – Ladies Qipao (New and improved!)

November 3, 2018

New pattern release in my Porcupine patterns store! Ok at first glance it doesn’t seem like a new release since I’ve had a free pattern for quite a while, but let me take the opportunity, since this is a blog post, to explain the differences between this and the free pattern.

The first ladies Qipao pattern I did, was simply made because I wanted to make one for myself after making so many for the kids. Those of you who do pattern drafting should know, that drafting for ladies is much more complicated than drafting for kids because of the curves involved. I looked everywhere for a pattern but found a drafting diagram from a textbook instead, and it gave very general instructions (no mention of sizing) for the construction of the Qipao. The strange thing was also that it used absolute numbers for the construction of the sloper, such as the shoulder drop, positioning of the darts etc. The rest of the measurements were based on personal measurements but mainly the bust waist and hip. At that time I just wanted to test it out, and I think by some stroke of luck and because I was quite average in size and height, it kind of worked out, although now that I look at the pictures, I can’t believe how ill-fitting it was. Lol…

So last year, when I properly started drafting lessons for adults (I was taught by Jean of Nekonekofabric) who happens to be an avid sewist and learned drafting from old school teachers for years. So she taught me how to do a proper sloper using personal measurements and that’s when I started offering the custom Qipao pattern at the beginning of this year.

However, the tedious process of individually exporting each set of patterns meant that it was really constrained by my “working hours” which have reduced quite a bit this year. Which is why I had to pull it off the store because I had no time to keep it as a permanent offering.

But I noticed that lots of people were still downloading the free patterns, so I thought I should use the Qipao template that I had already constructed, but fit in standard sizing data to make it work.

Then came the other problem. The sloper was constructed using more than 20 personal measurement points, many of which are not even found within one single system of measurement. So it’s Math to the rescue! I used a combination of formulae and standard data to derive all the points needed. And here is the result.

One thing you have to bear in mind – is that this is based on standard sizes, much like the ones you can find being sold in Ready-To-Wear, but with one difference. In my instructions, I will show you how to adjust the measurements to fit your size.

There are constraints though, because this is after all a fitted dress pattern so it cannot cater to every single shape and size. So, this pattern is suitable for you, if you are within this size range 0-12, and relatively proportional in size,  but upon close measurements, you find that you are always between sizes and find it hard to choose which to make.  As long as your dimensions do not span more than 2 or 3 sizes, (for example a size 6 bust and size 10 waist), then this is the pattern for you. I will show you how to grade the pattern to fit the rest of the body.

In addition to the original unlined version of the Qipao which is finished with bias, I also created a new set of instructions for a fully lined version. This was also the other challenge that I set for myself. I made a few lined versions last year, and I must say it really adds to the luxe quality of the Qipao and it really opens up  your fabric choices for the Qipao since there will be no problems with structure/ transparency. However, the method of making it was completely different and more complicated than the unlined one, so I created a sewing video to show you how it’s done. The original footage was more than 2hours long! After editing the video and speeding up the boring bits, it was still about 1hour 😛 and almost put me to sleep while watching. But having said that, the end result was exactly what I wanted. A seamless Qipao, no stitching lines visible from the outside at all, which to me was a more elegant, toned-down version of the unlined version with bias. This will be a great base pattern for an evening dress for a party of function!

Other than choosing between the Unlined and Lined version, you can choose to make this in a tight skirt style which is the standard look, or a more casual modern style which is an A-line dress. This A-line silhouette is different from the A-line style on the kids version, it is more of a fitted bodice which flares out slightly into an A-line skirt. For sleeves, you can choose from sleeveless, short or cap sleeve.

Ok enough of me rambling on, let me show you some of the pictures of the Qipaos made by me and my pattern testers!













I hope you will like this new pattern and yes I have been asked about sizes larger than 12. Look out for tester calls by joining my group Porcupine Patterns on Facebook!

To celebrate the launch, I have some launch discount codes for you!
For Ladies Qipao only. 
Use code : QIPAO20OFF
get 20% off from now till 8th November 2018.

Need to buy more than 1 pattern?

For any 2 items from the CNY range –
Ladies Qipao / Girls Qipao / Boys Mandarin Collar Shirt
Buy 2 and get 25% off each pattern.
No code needed, discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

For all 3 items – Add Ladies Qipao and the Girls and Boys bundle (…/girls-qipao-and-boys-mandar…) to cart, and use the code QIPAOBUNDLE3 to get 25% off each pattern.

Book Flip Through Videos Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books

Book Review – Shapes you can wear – Katachinofuku

October 26, 2018

Today’s book review is for a book that is not very new, but one I have bought for quite some time simply out of curiosity 😂. I did actually want to try it though, and I did!


The pattern designer is Asuka Hamada, author of Piece Work. Her style is very quirky and usually not tight fitting, but I like them because they look modern and fun and very stylish, I just wasn’t sure if it would suit me. But anyway, it was the top on the cover that made me buy the book (as usual), since I buy all my books online. It is a round shape, sewn up leaving two holes for the arms and one for the head. Looks easy!

The title of the book is called Katachi no fuku – where katachi å½¢ means shapes, and fuku means clothes. So I loosely translate it to Shapes you can wear! Sounds more fun isn’t it? Patterns include – tops/tunics/dresses/poncho/handbag/bags/skirts.

Let’s have a look at some of the more interesting pieces, and then to the book flip-through video.

The first one is similar to the one on the cover, and it is literally called 丸 (maru) which means round/circular/ball shape.


Doesn’t look that bad when worn as a tunic! I tink this is some kind of heavy wool so it looks extra cushy and comfy for winter.

The next (below) is a rectangular shape – hole in the middle for the head and sides sewn up leaving armholes.


Ok maybe the model makes everything look good, but I want to try this one too!


Here’s another shape. Using a square, you can make a poncho. The sleeves look a bit restrictive in the first picture, but it drapes rather nicely in the last picture.



and this is the one I made!  There are two versions, the top one – P is a dress length, and the bottom Q is a top length. I like how the bottom corners drape. The cutting of this is still more in line with a traditional top, just that everything is cut out of one piece instead of having to join the sleeves. It was a very quick sew!


and I made this too! But I can’t show you this because it was made out of test fabric and I did not finish the raw edges, it seemed to wide for me though, so I will have to adjust the width a bit.

As for the size info – well, there is none. The book did mention it is suitable for sizes S-L though, but there is one size only – free size! However, seeing that it is made up of really simple shapes, it should be quite easy to scale the patterns?


In the how-to-make section, there is a couple of pages on sewing techniques, which you will use for all the projects.


A close up of the sewing diagram.


1 full size pattern sheet, double sided, is attached.


There are lots of other projects in the book so without further ado, here is the book flip through video!

Katachi no Fuku / Asuka Hamada

Title : Katachi no fuku
Author : Asuka Hamada
ISBN : 9784579115174

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Japanese Fabrics

Interview with Kayo Horaguchi

October 16, 2018

Today’s blog post is a special feature on one of my favorite Japanese illustrators – Kayo Horaguchi. I have blogged a few times about her fabrics and sometime in August, I was talking to Jean of Nekoneko fabric, where we were discussing new Japanese fabrics and one thing led to another, I was given the opportunity to interview Horaguchi-san through email. My written and spoken Japanese is non-existent, even though I can read Japanese sewing instructions rather quickly by now. So I had a lot of help to translate the questions and then translate Horaguchi-san’s answers back to English. Which is why it took so long but it was definitely worth the wait!

Before we begin, I have a few pictures to share with you. I made this outfit originally for a guest post but I realized I never posted them on my own blog! So I believe many of you have never seen these pictures before!

This was a flutter sleeve square necked tunic made using Kayo Horaguchi’s fabric. There is a newer version of this print released this year in 3 different colorways (which you will see at the bottom of this post)

The beautiful border print is shown in this tunic.


The colorful fine details on the bodice.


I had a lot of questions for Horaguchi-san, because I was so curious about her inspirations and how she came about creating such amazing scenes in her illustrations. Without further ado, let’s see what she has to say about her creative process!

Me : Please tell us a little bit more about yourself, especially for our readers who may be seeing your beautiful works for the first time!

Me : What got you interested in becoming a designer?

Horaguchi-san : Since I used to like drawing as a child, I naturally gravitated to work related to illustrations.

Me : Were you formally trained as an artist? How did you get started doing what you do?

Horaguchi-san : I attended a Vocational school for Fashion, majoring in a fashion illustration.
I was mainly painting with acrylic watercolor at that time.

Me : How would you describe your signature style?

Horaguchi-san : My main concept is to draw based on the theme “When you look at it you will feel fun and happy!”

Me : Who / What is your biggest influence in your work as a designer today? (A famous designer/artist or even moments from your childhood)
今日のデザイナーとして最も影響を受けた事/人物は何ですか? (有名なデザイナー/アーティスト、または先生の子供時代の出来事など)

Horaguchi-san : When I was a child, my parents often took me to the Art museum, I think that contact and exposure to a lot of art during my childhood have greatly influenced my work today.
My favorite artist is Yayoi Kusama, and I often take trips within Japan to visit her exhibitions and view her works.

Me : Your collections are an eclectic mix of cityscape, nature, people and animals. Where did you first get the idea to combine them in your designs?
先生のコレクションは、都市景観、自然、人、動物の折衷的な組み合わせです。 最初、どの様に先生のデザインの中でそれらを組み合わせるというアイデアを得ましたか?

Horaguchi-san : I did not plan specifically to create such a combination.
Sometimes the scenes just pop-up in my mind, I just combine my favorite motifs and the it forms automatically.

Me : One of the most striking characteristics in all of your designs is the color palette. I have always been fascinated by how there seems to be so many colors within the same space and yet they look so harmonious together. How do you pick out the colors for each piece and is coloring the illustrations the easiest or hardest part of the process?
先生のデザインで最も印象的な特徴の1つはカラーパレット(色の鮮やかさ)です。 私はいつも同じ空間内に非常に多くの色があるのに魅了されてきましたが、見事に調和しています。

Horaguchi-san : When coloring, I do not choose colors based on any color balance.
I apply color to my art based on my feelings at the point of time while I am drawing.
It is not a particularly difficult task when I am in the right mood.

Me : Can you walk us through your design process – from initial idea, to the finished product?  What does your creative process look like? Can you show us a picture of the initial draft, and the finished product next to it if possible?
最初のアイデアから完成した製品までのデザイン過程を一通り説明していただけますか? 先生の創造的なプロセスはどのようなものですか?

Horaguchi-san : As an example of the illustration work on the cover page of the novel, I first read the original book thoroughly, I will quickly sketch out the rough design of the scene from my impressions of the book and the name of the motif I want to draw with a pencil. (left of photo above)
From there I will capture the rough sketch in the computer and complete the illustration in the computer (right of photo above)
Other than work related projects, I use the same method. To first capture the scene in my mind with a rough sketch before finishing it after that.


Me : Your collection has grown from textiles and apparel fabrics and now to decorative items like stationery, product packaging and household goods. How did that come about?
先生のコレクションは生地から生まれ、現在は文房具、製品パッケージング、日用雑貨などの装飾品にまで広がっています。 どの様にして、ここまでに至ったのかお教えください。

Horaguchi-san : First of all, I started taking part in exhibitions with the hope that more people can see my works.
In 2009, I received a prize of Young Designer Award at the [Interior Lifestyle Tokyo], which is an international trade fair for Tokyo to propose lifestyle concepts to interior design markets from around the world. I was then invited to work with a various manufacturers and that’s how I was able to commercialize my works.
2009年にライフスタイル提案型国際見本市「Interior Lifestyle Tokyo」にて、ヤングデザイナーアワードという賞をいただいたのをきっかけに、いろいろなメーカー様にお声をかけていただき、商品化などが実現化されました。

Me : Your designs are not only used in textiles, but we can see that you have created many collaboration works/items with famous characters and brands. Do you have to design around the limitations of each product packaging restrictions or are you given free reign to create?
先生のデザインは生地だけでなく、有名なキャラクターやブランドを持つ多くのコラボレーション作品やアイテムに使われています。 先生は各製品の制約の中でデザインをデザインしなければなりませんか? それとも、自由にデザインすることができますか?

Horaguchi-san : It varies depending on the contents of the work received.
Sometimes I have to design with a lot of constraints and but sometimes I can design as freely as I like.

Me : What is currently your favourite creative work of yours & why? 


Horaguchi-san : My favorite work (of my own) is [promenade]
I display it in my room and gaze at it everyday. 


My favorite items are animal figurines, it is also my hobby to collect them as well. When I look at them it inspires me to think of various stories and scenes. I take great care of it. 

Me : What do you love most about your work?
Horaguchi-san : Since I really like to draw, it makes me happy that I can have a job doing something I love.

Me : If you didn’t work as a designer what would you be and why?
Horaguchi-san : I have never thought about it. . .but maybe a job related to animals even though I don’t have any talent in it. I might have worked on music related work.

Me : What are your goals for the future?
Horaguchi-san : Keep drawing and painting as long possible.

Me : Can we keep track of your latest works?

Horaguchi-san : Of course you can!
I upload my latest news to my websites and instagram, etc. every time I have a new project released. Please follow me at
Official website → http: //
Instagramhttps: //
公式サイト→http: //
インスタグラム→https: //


Thank you for reading! I hope you have learned more about Kayo Horaguchi and her works. Her fabrics are now available on!

In conjunction with this interview, Nekonekofabric will be sponsoring 2 meters each of the following fabric in all 3 colorways of Flower Shower by Kayo Horaguchi. This giveaway will be held on Instagram only, on both JapaneseSewingBooks’ IG as well as Nekoneko Fabric’s IG account. So hope on over to follow us to find out how to win!

*This giveaway is from 16th-19th October 2018 (2359hrs UTC+8)


Japanese Sewing Books New Releases

New Releases – August and September 2018

October 1, 2018

I have been hiding in a hole working on a new pattern and I’ve finally sent it out for testing, so what’s the first thing I do??? Shop! 😛 And I realized I have been sitting on this post for a week because today is 1st October. 🙁

Anyway, happy shopping!


Title : はじめての子ども服 (Beginner’s Kidswear)
Author : 朝井 牧子 (of Handmade baby clothes enanna)
ISBN No: 978-4528021952

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Title :春・夏・秋・冬 1枚仕立てのはおりもの
Publisher : Nihon-Vogue
ISBN No:978-4529058315

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Title :毎日着たい服、毎日使いたいこもの
Publisher : Boutique-sha
ISBN No:978-4834746365

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Title :私の、ブラウスプルオーバー
Author : Aoi Koda
ISBN No:978-4834746365

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Title :パターン展開でバリエーションを楽しむパンツ
Author :小峯 有華
ISBN No: 978-4416618806

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Title :コートを縫おう
Author :かたやま ゆうこ
ISBN No: 978-4416618806

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Title :May Meスタイル 大人のまいにち服
Author :Michiyo Ito
ISBN No:978-4529058490

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Title :楽しく学べる! ポーチの教室
Publisher : Nihon-vogue
ISBN No:978-4529058438

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Title :大人のかんたんソーイング2018-2019 秋冬
Publisher : Boutique-sha
ISBN No:978-4834746884

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Title :NHKすてきにハンドメイド 2018年 09 月号
Publisher : NHK Shuppan


Title :レディブティック2018年10月号
Publisher : Boutique-sha

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