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Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Mens Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Book of Men’s Shirts

October 7, 2013

This is the first book I’ve ever bought on sewing Men’s shirts! And definitely my first book review on this subject.

I was first drawn to this book after receiving a sewing question from Happy Sew Lucky on instagram. I have actually seen this book many times but never thought it could be possible to make a Men’s shirt on my own. After seeing pictures of her shirt in progress, I was inspired to get my own book and maybe… just maybe, I will make one for the husband (who sometimes read my blog by the way so I can’t say too much)

The book includes 19 patterns with both formal and casual shirts’ patterns included.

Regular collar white shirt

Semi wide spread collar white shirt

Due bottoni collar shirt – this is supposed to be a casual suit, not for wearing with suits.

Wing collar formal shirt

Round collar cleric shirt

Regular collar casual shirt

One-up collar short sleeve shirt


Stand collar tuck shirt

Military shirt

Shirt with zippered pockets.

If you, are like me, unable to tell the minute differences between the different types of collars and cuffs, then this book will be very useful for you. Interspersed between the various pictures of the shirts are these pages that breakdown the details of a shirt, for example the different types of collars, cuffs, even the different types of fabric and buttons you can use.

The descriptive text is in Japanese but the main English terms are translated and that was enough for me.  There are also sections on bleaching, ironing, dyeing, etc but these are mostly text and not much pictures so I did not show them here.

Various types of cloth suitable for making shirts.

The How-to-make section starts with a scary flow chart. It’s pretty mind boggling but in a nutshell, the purpose is to list down all the steps involved in making a shirt.  I’ll just stick to the individual pattern instructions for now and not try to get confused by this diagram. 🙂

So here’s an example of a how-to-make. On the left column near the binding you can see the instructions in point form. Pretty brief instructions, as most of the instructions are detailed in diagrams. There is only 1 set of full instructions which is for pattern 1 – regular collar shirt. I guess this is because most of the steps in making a shirt are pretty similar so there is no need to repeat the steps in all of the patterns. The rest of the patterns do not have a full set of instructions but wherever there is a variation from the standard shirt instructions, the diagrams of the additional steps will be included.

Close up of one of the diagrams.

2 large pattern sheets included.

Before I forget, the size chart!

The size chart table is divided into two sections.
The first three rows of measurements refer to nude measurements (meaning actual body measurements) and they are : height, chest around, waist.
The bottom 5 rows refer to garment measurements: neck around , sleeve length (from neck to shoulder to wrist), shoulder width, chest around, wrist around.

Frankly speaking, it looks like a massive project. Even the number of patterns to be traced per shirt is daunting. I will probably try one of the casual shirts first but before that, I will need to source for the right type of fabric. Does that sound like an excuse not to start? ;P

Title : 男のシャツの本 Book of Men’s Shirts
Author : 嶋崎隆一郎 Ryuichiro Shimazaki
ISBN : 978-4-579-11110-7

Otoko no Shirts no Hon / Shimazaki RyuichiroBuy now from cdjapan

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!

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!


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)