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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!


Free Japanese Sewing Patterns Links Free Patterns

Free Japanese Sewing Patterns – Dr Cos

September 19, 2013

It’s been a while since I have posted any links to Free Japanese Sewing Patterns, and recently I have had some feedback that some of the links are no longer working. I am trying to find archived versions for those that have been already moved, but not all can be found. So what can I do? Find more new links to free patterns of course!

Today’s free pattern link is from a cosplay website. This site has lots of free patterns and the owner of the website has made lots of impressive costumes, which you can see in the Past Clothes link. This list of free patterns may come in useful for those of you getting into a bit of Halloween sewing. And despite the fact that the patterns are for cosplay, there are some basic patterns that can be useful for daily wear as well. There are free patterns for hats, shirts, skirts,dresses,gloves,vests etc. for both Ladies and Men.

Just an example of Dr Cos’s past work on the blog

On the free patterns page, the projects are listed in categories, but not all the patterns are available for download yet.
無料型紙ダウンロード mean free pattern download.
製作中 – means under construction
ダウンロード販売中 – means pattern for sale.

When you click on the pattern, you will see an overview of the completed garment with difficulty level stated below (the above is level 3. with levels from 1-20)

Under the costume diagram, you will find the list of the patterns for download. which looks something like this.

The patterns may be free, but they are certainly look professional, here’s a sample from one of their pieces!


Hope you like today’s free link! From this month onwards, I will be back to blogging twice a week. Monday’s blog post will be about Japanese sewing book/magazines. And Thursday’s post will rotate between Free pattern links, fabrics, translation requests and maybe more of my own free patterns/tutorials.




Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – One-piece and Bottoms

September 16, 2013

Today’s book review is not a very new book, in fact, I can’t quite remember when I bought it but I rediscovered it recently while moving my books around (to make more space for more books) The title is 冬でも夏でもずっと着られる ONE-PIECE & BOTTOMS 大人のふんわりかわいい服.

The first line means – One-piece/Dresses and bottoms that you can wear all the way through Winter & Summer, and the second line means Soft? (Google says softly/fluffy) and Cute Clothes for Adults. If anyone knows the proper translation of ふんわりas it is used in this title, please let me know! 🙂

The book includes 13 patterns with 2 variations of each, making it 26 projects in all!

 The contents page provides an overview of all the patterns included. There are only 2 sizes included though, M and L.

Most of the projects are meant for layering and are in the comfortable, casual Japanese style we all know and love. ❤ Here are some of my favourite pieces.

 Long camisole

 Dolman sleeve Dress

 U-Neck Dress with elastic waist

 Sleeveless Dress with side button enclosure.

V-neck Shirt Dress. I love the back detail that makes it look like a coat. This will be perfect for Autumn!

There is a pants pattern too, Sarouel pants, with two variations. The rest of the bottom patterns are for skirts. Gathered skirts, flared skirts, pleated skirts etc.

This book is published by 成美堂出版(Seibido Shuppan). I don’t have many books from this publisher, so I was not used to the book format. I was looking up and down for the size chart but it turns out that there is no general size chart, and the book jumps from photographs straight into the how-to-make section. The sizing information is actually included on each how-to-make page. The finished measurements for each garment is listed as the first point in each pattern (under でき上がり寸法)

 The rest of the pattern is pretty similar to most other books. Cutting Layout, Overall diagram with steps indicated, and instructions in point form, but each step comes with a corresponding diagram, like the one below.

 Note that the diagrams are in color? That is pretty useful, especially in figuring out right side and wrong sides of the fabric.

 Right at the end of the book, after all the how-to-makes, some basic sewing tips are included, like how to trace the patterns and add seam allowances to them. There are also tips on how to make bias tape, gathering, button hole orientation etc.

One actual size pattern sheet included.

 Title : 冬でも夏でもずっと着られる ONE-PIECE & BOTTOMS
ISBN : 978-4-415-30931-6

Otona Otona-no Funwari Kawaii Fuku Fuyu-de-mo Natsu-de-mo Zutto Ki Rareru / Seibido Shuppan (Book)

Available from

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Nanatone’s Sewing Variations

September 9, 2013

Today’s book review is a Cotton Friend Special Edition – Nanatone’s Fashion Book – Sewing Variations. (In Japanese – NANATONE のおしゃれBOOK ソーイングバリエーション)

I first mentioned NANATONE by Megumi Aoki in the Cotton Friend Spring 2013 Edition review. NANATONE is the brainchild of Megumi Aoki, who started selling her own handmade goods in 2000 under the name nana-cotton. In 2005, she started NANATONE, an online shop selling clothes and handmade goods. She has been featured in many sewing books and magazines and even authored a couple of her own books. You can check out her online shop and her blog to see her works. She even models her own creations!

Back to the book. This book contains 10 basic patterns for sizes S,M,L,LL.

 The 10 basic patterns form the basis for all the styles featured in the book. Each pattern comes with either 2 or 3 variations. To showcase the different possibilities of each pattern, the book is divided into the following sections.

1. Border (meaning horizontal stripes)
2.  Gingham check
3. Solids
4. Floral Prints
5. Polka dotted prints
6. Blue

Other than that, there are also lots of pictures and interesting snippets of her daily life, as well as other craft related columns. It’s all in Japanese but we can still ogle at the pretty pictures 🙂

 For each themed section, different patterns are used in combination with the fabric type featured…

 and she then models the clothes to show you how to co-ordinate the different pieces.

 This is such a cute shirt, in gingham check seersucker.

Shirt dress, great for layering

 The name of this pattern is かっぽう着ワンピース which according to Google Translate – it’s a Cook’s apron dress.

 Tiered dress

 This is a variation of the shirt dress, with added buttons and ribbon tie.

 There are also a couple of tops included, like this one – a Dolman sleeve blouse.

 A short blouse version of the square neck dress.

 A peek at one of the columns in the book – don’t you love her sewing room?

And now for the important part – the how-to-make section.

 The sizes included for this book are listed above. This size chart is a lot more detailed than most books.
For your reference, the measurements listed in the top row of the table are
(Bust/Waist/Hip/Back nape to waist/Sleeve length/Body Rise/Crutch Depth Line to floor/Height)

Some of you might be scratching your heads with the two terms – Body rise and Crutch Depth Line to Floor :P. I used the terms from my pattern making textbook by Winifred Aldrich but even if these are the official technical terms, I don’t hear them used often so I shall try to explain what they actually mean. Basically the Crutch Depth Line is at the base of your butt curves. Body rise is from the base of butt up to the waist, and Crutch Depth Line to floor is from base of butt to the floor. This is based on body measurements but I have also seen diagrams such as Jean sizing diagrams, where 股下/Crutch Depth Line to floor is indicated as the inseam of the jeans/pants. In any case, it is not that important in this book since there are no pants patterns included!

 The how-to-make section introduction includes a few colored pages of basic sewing techniques.

 The how-to-make section groups the patterns by pattern type, and lists the different variations within the same page.  So on the same page you will find different list of materials and cutting layouts. Make sure you refer to the correct material list and cutting layout for the garment you are making!

As for the sewing instructions, there are no step by step photographs, but there are sewing diagrams, like the example above.

 There are 2 large color pattern sheets attached for a total of 4 sides of patterns.  The pattern variations are grouped by pattern type and indicated with different colored lines which makes it easy to search and trace.

Title : Nanatone’s Fashion Book – Sewing Variations.
NANATONE のおしゃれBOOK ソーイングバリエーション
Author : Megumi Aoki
ISBN : 978-4-8347-3296-2
Publisher : Boutique-sha

NANATONE no Oshare BOOK Sewing Variation / Aoki Megumi
Buy now from cdjapan (affiliate link)