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Japanese Sewing Books


Using Japanese Sewing Books

October 4, 2013

I stumbled upon a few archived pages from the early months of and I realized that they are not linked anywhere else in the blog and are in fact buried deep in the archives. So I decided to consolidate all the links to guide you in using Japanese sewing and pattern books. From browsing, choosing, buying to the actual making of the clothes. The links are all here and will be updated as and when I have new content added to the site.

Step 1. Buying a Japanese Sewing Book

  • Browse before you buy – You can browse through the books from certain publishers. Nihon-vogue , Bunka Publishing Bureau (how to browse on Bunka’s site will be posted soon!)
  • Pick one that has already  been translated – Japanese Sewing Books translated to English – Constantly updated list of Japanese Sewing Books that have been translated to English, and where to buy them.
  • Japanese Sewing Books in Japanese  – There are many sources for buying Japanese sewing books online. All the books I have reviewed include their ISBN numbers so you can search with that rather than having to key in Japanese. I have also included affiliate links on my right sidebar to for Japanese sewing books. It is an English site that sells books, cds and more, and best of all, ships worldwide from Japan.
  • Buying a Japanese sewing book in singapore . If you are located in or visiting Singapore, you might want to check out where to buy books and fabrics from physical stores in Singapore- Fabric and Book shopping in Singapore (and other cute Japanese stuff)

Step 2. Buy Fabrics

Step 3. Making

Additional Resources

This page will be updated whenever I add something new, so do bookmark this page and check it often!

If you have any questions or special requests for something you would like to see featured on my site, leave a comment below! Thank you!


Buying Guide Guides

Where to buy – online sources for Japanese Sewing Books

October 3, 2013

I get a lot of questions about where to buy Japanese sewing books and magazines, so I decided to compile a list here.  This list is only for online shops as I think it will be more useful for now compared to a list of physical stores.

Kodomo Boutique CUCITO / Boutique Sha
FEMALE / Boutique Sha
Cotton Friend / Boutique Sha

Click on the above images to buy these Autumn magazines from CDJapan

I have grouped them by country but all of them offer international shipping, with some of them offering free domestic shipping above a certain purchase amount. I have chosen these few because they have a pretty good selection of books. I did come across many shops that sold a small collection of books but I decided not to list them all since I figured it might be more useful to list larger and more established bookstores with a wider selection.

Disclaimer : Other than CDJapan (of which I am an affiilate member), I am not linked or paid for any of the other links. I have not personally purchased from any of them (other than CDJapan) so I cannot vouch for their service or shipping time, nor did I compare their prices so it is up to you to check other customers reviews of the store’s service and do your homework in comparing item prices/shipping rates.

Etsy and eBay stores have an advantage because you can see their store ratings and tell if the stores are established and legitimate, but beware if you come across some ebook listings with really low prices. These are usually PDF scans of the actual books, but if you are buying a sewing book you definitely need the physical copy because you need the patterns!

So here goes is my list for now, and if you have more to add please email me at

Online Stores selling Japanese Books and/or Magazines that ship internationally





United States

Kinokuniya’s BookWeb Global Service(Online Shopping)

The following are online shopping websites of Kinokuniya. They only provide domestic shipping or self collection from the local stores (locations for each country are listed in the respective website). Free domestic shipping is provided above a certain amount. Since Kinokuniya is based in Japan, you can be sure to find every book that I have reviewed here, available for purchase unless it has become out of print and not even available in Japan. The books that are stocked in the local stores can be shipped out quickly, but if it is not in stock, you may have to wait for 2 weeks while they order the book from their main headquarters in Japan. The only problem is that Magazines are not listed in the database. Only books. I am pretty sure the physical stores stock the Magazines, but I do not know if it is possible to email them to add the Magazines to your orders. If any of you have tried, do let me know because I would love to find out!

If you are an online retailer of Japanese sewing books and magazines and would like to be listed here, email me at

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Magazines Ladies Sewing Patterns

Magazine Review – Female Autumn 2013

September 30, 2013

As promised, a review of the latest Female magazine – Autumn 2013.

I must say we really get it at a good price here. The listed price in Japanese Yen is 840, based on the current exchange rate, that is about SGD10.78, and with my member’s discount (Kinokuniya) I get it at SGD10.17! Even if you are not a member the price is not far off from the original listed price. Price aside, this is one of the magazines that I really use quite a bit. So it’s no wonder I have to buy every issue that comes along.

Now let’s take a look at what’s included in this issue!

 Part of the Autumn Hit Trend  Pick up feature, where they feature 7 looks that are “in” this season.
Above : A very uniquely constructed cardigan + Cocoon dress.

Left : Pullover (using straight line patterns) + Right : Light coat (requires the use of the standard Bunka sloper – instructions provided on construction of sloper)

Left : Shirt dress with gathered skirt (patterns provided) + Right : Frill Blouse (using Bunka sloper)

 Left : Flare mini skirt + Right : Frill dress (both patterns provided)
I love the dress on the right! Even got my patterns traced but now trying to find the right fabric.

 Remember this dress that I mentioned in the fabric post last week?

 Some interesting coat patterns included in this issue with ideas on co-ordination. The coat above requires the use of a Bunka sloper.

A casual looking Gown Coat pattern – patterns included, as well as step by step pictures. Yay!

 Some straight line sewing projects are included. I like the these two because of the front tuck details and the sleeves. They are actually similar except for length and the pockets on the green dress.

More sweet dresses with elastic waistband. Left dress is sleeveless, Right with frill sleeves.

 Something new this issue : Lingerie and Room wear feature

 Babydoll camisole & short pants set.

 Comfy clothes to wear while lounging at home.

Size chart for your reference.

(Top row of measurements for both tables – Bust / Waist / Hip / Back length(nape to waist) / Waist – hip/ Body Rise / Crutch Depth Line to floor / Sleeve length / Wrist Circumference / Height )

There are lots of instructions included with the magazine, many involve the construction of the Bunka sloper, which is rather wordy and being entirely in Japanese, so it may not be very useful for your construction purpose unless you are familiar with the construction of a sloper and measurements are all you require. There are apparently English translated versions of the Bunka Textbooks which you may purchase from Amazon. I have not personally flipped through these books so I don’t dare to recommend them here. But when I do and if I find it useful, I will be sure to let you know.

Other than instructions for the sloper, there are also useful pages like this : “How to use the patterns” page. There are also pages on basic sewing techniques, from handstitching, applying interfacing, how to sew on hook and eyes, snap buttons etc.

There are three featured patterns with detailed step by step photos (an example was seen earlier in the gown coat pattern). The majority of the rest are in colored diagrams like this one.

A close up of one of the diagrams.

For the rest of the projects that have neither photographs or colored diagrams, they are included at the back of the book in black and white diagrams. These are usually pretty easy pieces like standard pants and skirts so I guess no detailed explanation necessary.

I noticed that there have been people selling scanned copies of sewing books and magazines online , but these are clearly not authorized e-books by the publisher. Then there are also people who offer these downloads for free, but without the pattern sheets, what use are the sewing books/magazines? ;P Well, maybe you can manage to use just the straight line sewing patterns since these do not require patterns, but for the rest of the garments, you really need these pattern sheets.

I will be scouting around online for legitimate sources where you can buy these magazines and putting them up in a list on the blog. Those of you who buy them regularly, do share your sources as well and I will include them in my list. Remember to let me know which country these online shops are based as it will make a difference to the shipping cost. Thanks in advance for sharing!  🙂 See you guys on Thursday!

Japanese Fabrics

Japanese Fabrics – New Fabric finds from Autumn Magazines

September 26, 2013

I have been getting a lot of queries about where to buy the magazines, and I have not replied some of you yet. Sorry about that, but what I am going to do is to compile a list of sources for purchasing Japanese sewing books and magazines. That will be ready next week! In the meantime, for those of you who are not able to buy the magazines easily, I wanted to share some of the new and exciting fabric finds in the latest Autumn magazines.

First on the list has got to be this Moomin panel fabric. I first discovered the Moomins on a trip to Finland many years ago. But it was only in Japan that it really caught my eye because it seemed to be wildly popular in Japan, with all kinds of merchandise being sold in the Zakka shops. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals the reason for this

The Moomin Boom

The Moomin Boom (muumibuumi in Finnish) started in the 1990s, when Dennis Livson and Lars Jansson produced a 104-part animation series in Japan named Tales From Moominvalley, which was followed by a full length movie Comet in Moominland. Moomin books had always been steady bestsellers in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but the animation started a new Moomin madness both in Finland and abroad, especially in Japan, where they are the official mascots of the Daiei chain of shopping centers. A large merchandising industry was built around the Moomin characters, covering everything from coffee cups and t-shirts to plastic models.

There are a number of Moomin character fabrics available, but this particular panel print series was made for Kokka, and the prints are just like large pieces of art. In fact, you can even frame the panels up for display!

Remember the dress on the front cover of the Cotton Friend Autumn issue I just reviewed? I didn’t notice it till today while searching for the featured fabrics. It is no ordinary check print. It’s actually a digital inkjet print with the simulated bleeding effect of printers. Whether or not this was a “printing accident” I shall leave it up to your imagination 😛 but it certainly makes it an interesting fabric.

Next, we have the Corduroy quilted fabric. Perfect for Autumn and Winter months. The bedroom slippers look super cosy!

The next two fabrics were featured in Female magazine which I will reviewing next Monday.

The first one is another digital print, but on polyester. I am not the biggest fan of polyester, but I can’t deny that sometimes it is really convenient to have since they require no ironing. This fabric features a galaxy print, or as the designer named it, a Macrocosm print. Honestly,  I would not have liked the fabric if I had not seen the picture of the completed dress. I’m just not about the quality of the print though, as it looks quite pixelated in the close up picture.

The last fabric I wanted to share with you is this Cotton lyocell blend in sateen weave, featuring a petit paisely print. Once again, sold by the completed product picture 😛 I think all fabric sellers should do that. It makes the fabric irresistible ! I have not tried sewing with this particular blend before, but it looks quite smooth, probably really comfortable to wear, but will it be easy to sew? If you have sewn with this type of fabric before, let me know!

That’s all for today, see you on Monday for a peek into the Female Autumn Magazine!

Fabric Picture sources and links to buy

Inkjet print checks –
Corduroy Veronica Series
Digital Macrocosm Print in polyester
Petit paisely in Cotton lyocell blend


Bags or Zakka Sewing Patterns Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Magazines

Magazine Review – Cotton Friend Autumn 2013

September 24, 2013

Is it Autumn already?

 I bought two magazines last week. Cotton Friend Autumn (above) and Female (which will be reviewed next week!)

Index page showing all the included projects (part 1)

 Index page part 2! As usual, other than clothes, lots of small goods, bags and accessories included.

Let’s have a look!

 This pattern is for a robe coat. The coat is similar to the construction of a bath robe (overlapping front panels) but in linen and includes a drawstring ribbon tie.

 A long shirt dress, check out the suggested co-ordinating look on the bottom right. Love it with the sweater and the boots.

There is an entire section devoted to 1 pattern that can produce 6 different variations from a single pattern – dress/tunic/blouse.  I’m not a fan of the first look (above) but there are some other variations that look pretty wearable.

Same pattern in a tunic length, and with different details such as shorter folded sleeves and a ribbon tie around the waist. Looks much better doesn’t it?

There is also a straight line sewing special. I once reviewed a book on straight line sewing. Straight line sewing actually doesn’t just mean sewing in straight lines, but that the patterns are constructed out of simple straight line shapes, so… no tracing!

 Some of the pieces you can make from straight line sewing.

A tunic (in gorgeous fabric!)

A very simple but sweet skirt thanks to the ribbon tie and jacquard fabric.

 Gathered pockets cardigan. You can’t see it from here, but the bottom front corners of the cardigan are actually flipped back and sewn with the side seams to make pockets. Ingenious idea!

Some very useful patterns –  leggings and lounge pants (title says free pants? Maybe it means free-size pants)

 And these next two pages are too cute. Pajamas for the entire family!

 I see Cotton Friend is starting to notice that Men need their sewing love too. Last edition, we saw a jinbei pattern for Men remember?
Sizes included : S,M,L for Mens and Ladies, 100,120,140 for Kids. 

 Some interesting fabric finds and projects made from them. The Japanese love the Moomins, there are lots of Moomin merchandise to be found in Japanese zakka shops. This fabric on the skirt is too cute! Will my kids let me wear it?

 Another very interesting garment for both Mama and Girls. It’s some kind of drapey cardigan constructed using rectangles!

 New fabric “veronica” being introduced on a padded vest with hood. The fabric is a quilted corduroy. (コル天)

 There is always a Babylock serger/overlocker sponsored special in every edition of Cotton Friend, and in this issue they show you how to make a hooded parker which looks super comfy and cosy.
In Kids sizes, 100,120,140 and Adult sizes S,M and L.

With step by step pictures of course.


And now for accessories. I recently made a canvas bag for my shopping trips, and while shopping for fabrics, I realized it was not easy to find nice canvas, especially those that look like these weathered canvas fabrics. Apparently these undergo some kind of Bio Wash treatment to give it the aged look. The ones I can get here are all either really rough and rugged, or a little plasticky due to the coating on the fabrics, and definitely not in these nice colors.

More accessories!

A hat template for making your own hats! Sounds kind of fancy, since you can easily trace these patterns out eh?

Make some miniature handbags

Bedroom slippers

 More bags!

 Frilly aprons.

Now a quick word about the how-to-make.

The sizes included in this magazine.
(Top row of measurements for both tables – Bust / Waist / Hip / Back length(nape to waist) / Sleeve length / Body Rise / Crutch Depth Line to floor / Height )

With the exception of special features which include step by step photographs, the rest of the how-to-makes include colored diagrams such as the one below. The colors and fabric shading really helps in the understanding of the process. I personally find Cotton Friend the most user friendly in terms of instructions.

Actual size pattern sheets for use with the projects.

Coming up on Thursday, I will be showing you some of the new fabrics featured in the Autumn magazines. See you then!