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Book Reviews Girls Sewing Patterns Japanese Sewing Books in English

Book Review – Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls – Now in English!

October 24, 2014

Very Very excited to discover that one of my favourite Japanese pattern designer for girls dresses, Yuki Araki (荒木由紀), now has one of her books translated into English! I have reviewed some of her Japanese sewing books in the past like this one Fashionable clothes for Girls and Lovely Girls’ Dresses for girls up to 160cm. I have also done a translation request and blogged about something I made from her book. In total I have about 5-6 books from her Japanese collection, so you can imagine how much I like her style!

Since I have this original book in Japanese, I have also taken a few photos to make side by side comparisons. So let’s take a look!


English book cover.


Japanese version – the book is slightly wider. Some extra sizing information on the Japanese version but otherwise it’s the pretty much the same.


Taking a peek at the content page, you will find the full listing of the 22 projects, plus 2 projects to make matching items for Moms!


First up is a Camisole. Next to each project, Yuki Araki has some comments and notes to say about it. These have been dutifully translated into English so that her design concept and ideas behind each piece is conveyed. Just as it was done in the Japanese book.


Double Layered Skirt with an asymmetrical shirring on one side of the skirt’s outer layer for a little design effect and also to reveal some of the gorgeous fabric below.


Mother-Daughter Square Neck Smocks. This is one of the two matching Mother-Daughter patterns included in the book.


This sweet outfit comprises of 2 patterns. A button down U-neck blouse as well as an A-line skirt with a yoke and tucks.


A casual outfit great for an active day out or a playdate. A stand collar shirt (with gathers around the yoke seam, which is not that visible due to the color and print of the fabric), as well as a pair of pants with turned up hems. The pants come with cute round pockets at the back, which can be modified to square pockets or removed if you are making them for boys and find the round pockets too girly.


This next dress has got to be my favourite in this book. Can you believe this is an adaptation of the same stand collar shirt above? Except that this is a sleeveless version and has a longer hem to make it a shirt dress. There are also decorative flaps added to the yoke seam. (I thought they were pockets but they were actually just flaps). The dress is matched with a pair of leggings in sweet floral knit fabric. Pattern for the leggings are included as well.


If you thought that making a button placket for the stand collar shirt / shirt dress will be difficult and daunting, have no fear because there is a detailed step by step lesson devoted to the making of the button placket as well as the making of the stand collar.  Oh, and the fact that everything is in English makes sense too! 🙂


A close up of the instructions to show you just how clear the instructions are.


Another matching outfit with Mama – this is a U-neck Tunic. The brown fabric won’t be too loud on Mama and it looks really sweet for the little girl too doesn’t it? I love Yuki Araki’s use of colors. There is nothing too loud or colorful, in fact, you may not even pick out these fabrics when shopping for your little girls, but the results are still sweet and adorable.


You can tell that Yuki Arai loves natural colors. To make a natural color more interesting, she chooses fabrics with subtle design details, like this embroidered knit fabric that has been made into a long-sleeve coat. This coat has a hood as well as elasticized cuffs. You can also use the same pattern but vary the fabric choice/weights to make suitable coats for other times of the year.


This is the dress featured on the front cover. It is actually an extension of the camisole into a dress length, with added skirt panels and tied up with a pretty ribbon on front. This will be lovely in a double gauze or cotton lawn.


A longer length variation of the stand collar shirt, this version has long sleeves with contrasting trim on the collar, button placket as well as the cuffs. Main fabric is a dark brown check.


This is such a cute outfit for little girls to play dress up. she looks kind of grown up in it doesn’t she? By the way, the buttons in front are actually for decoration and the actual opening for the blouse is at the back. This is because the blouse is meant to fit neatly (not tight, but not baggy) and therefore it will be easier for a child to wear it with a proper back opening.


A variation of the long sleeve coat, this version sports a round collar, with short sleeves gathered with elastic . This was made with knit fabric which makes it comfortable for everyday wear.


This dress is a variation of the square-neck smock (seen earlier in the Mother-Daughter matching patterns) but in a longer length and color combination. You can make a matching dress for yourself too by adapting the Mama’s pattern into a dress length.

There are also two accessories patterns included in the book, you can make them in various fabric combinations that will match your outfit!


Two little bags with flap enclosures.


A reversible hat


Line with it a pretty fabric!

A quick glance at all the projects in the book.


Now for the important information. The size chart. Also note the paragraph above the size chart about the preference for using metric measurements.



There are also 4 pages of sewing notes with basic sewing information about using the books – tracing patterns, preparing the fabrics, sewing knits, making gathers etc. Pretty useful information. They have the same information in the Japanese version of course, but usually when I see a large chunk of Japanese text I usually ignore those pages as it requires too much effort to read 😛 Now I can understand what was written in that text!


The how-to-make page follows the same standard format.  Materials, Sewing Steps, Cutting Layout, and a general diagram showing the order of make.


The original Japanese version is pretty much the same, but do you find that the font size is a lot smaller and there’s more white space?


Close up of the instructions.


Patterns are neatly enclosed in a handy pocket attached on the back cover.


Now available on Amazon!

Title : Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls: 22 Easy-to-Make Dresses, Skirts, Pants & Tops Girls Will Love
Author : Yuki Araki
ISBN No : 978-4-8053-1315-2

I am hoping that there will be many more Yuki Araki books to be translated. This book is in fact, one of her earlier books to be published. In particular, we really need more patterns for teenage girls who are between 100-160cm in size. It will be awesome if this book that Yuki Araki published last year for older girls can be translated as well. Hoping that the lovely folks who have been doing such a great work of translating our beloved Japanese sewing books can hear our pleas and put this on the list!

While waiting for more of our favorite titles to be translated, I can tell you that there are a couple more already in the works (Yipee!) and I’ve got one more translated sewing book to share with you. It is not released yet but ready for a sneak preview. Right here on my blog. So stay tuned!

For a full list of Japanese sewing books that have been translated to English, click here.

Book Reviews Girls Sewing Patterns Japanese Sewing Books

Book Review – FU-KO basics

April 9, 2014

Have you been waiting for me to review this book since you saw me post its arrival on Instagram? Ever since I started blogging about monthly new releases, I have been increasingly drawn to shopping directly from (I’m not an affiliate to by the way, in case you were wondering) But I use it a lot to look out for new books. Sometimes you can find new books listed on that are not even listed on the book publishers own website.

Out of the many new releases from the recent months, I picked 4, and hoped they were good, since being new releases they usually don’t have the “Look inside” feature so I have to rely on descriptions. Judging a book by its cover is quite a difficult thing! 😛 But I played safe with two of my choices – Cucito and Pochee are may sewing magazine staples, and they take months to get to my local bookstores, so I bought them online. I will be reviewing all of them over the next few weeks, starting with this one.

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Clothes for girls that I want to make

Lots of easy wearing clothes for active young ladies. I love how some of the styles and even fabric choices are quite adult looking, but so adorable on the little girls.   The book is divided into 3 main sections

1. One piece/dresses
2. Co-ordinates – tops & bottoms
3. All season wear (with fur accessories)

Sizes from 90-130cm. There are also 3 projects that include size 80cm. The yoke dress (on the cover), back button dress and long bloomer pants (I have highlighted them below)

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size 80cm included for this dress pattern

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I love this fabric, but it kinds of hides the main feature of the dress – there is a front button placket, can you see it?

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I love these little dresses, very simple and comfortable. It’s called the Relax dress.

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ETA (May 2017) I made one in Art gallery knit!

Section 2 features co-ordinating tops and bottoms

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size 80cm included for this pants pattern

The title of the third section is about “all season fur goods”. It’s not all about fur though, what it actually includes, are patterns that you can use for both Spring and Winter, simply by changing the materials/accessories but using the same pattern.

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Light coat for spring time.

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Layer up and add a faux poodle fur tippet for a cozy look

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Perfect for spring!

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Layer up and add on a thick cozy scarf made out of knitted fabric. What is knitted fabric? The book source pointed to a physical store and a manufacturer (Naka CO Pte Ltd) but I couldn’t find it listed there, so I googled for knit fabrics and found this picture on Selvage Blog which actually credits the Japanese fabric to Miss Matatabi’s store. The knit pattern on the fabric above looks different of course, but I am guessing it is a similar type of fabric, where the fabric actually looks like it was knitted. That would be an awesome shortcut to knitting!

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Size chart for this book
The first column on the left indicates – height, bust, waist, hip.

There is only one project that has a detailed, full color, step by step sewing lesson. That’s for the dress on the cover of the book.

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For the rest of the projects, this is the standard layout for the how-to-make section. Every step is explained using a diagram.

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Close up of one of the diagrams.

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2 sheets of actual size pattern paper attached.

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Title : 作ってあげたい、女の子の洋服
ISBN No : 978-4-529-05296-2
Author : 美濃羽まゆみ Minohane Mayumi
Publisher : Nihon-Vogue

This book is serious full of stuff I want to make. I think I am going to start with the relax dress. How about you?

Girls Sewing Patterns Translations and Help with Patterns

Translation Request – for Janene

March 17, 2014

This is a translation request for a pocket dress, requested by Janene, from a book that I almost forgot I had!


ISBN : 978-4529047678


Pocket Dress on Page 12


1. Fold over the top edge of the central panel fabric, sew a casing and insert elastic band.

2, Make side pockets on side panel fabrics, sew top and bottom side panel fabrics together.

3. Place back  bodice and front side panel fabrics right sides together, sew shoulder seams. Overlock/zigzag both layers of seam allowances together and press the seam allowance towards the back bodice.

4. Place front side panels and centre panel right sides together, sew together and neaten edges all around, through the neckline, with bias fabric.

5. Sew side seams, overlock both layers of seam allowances together and press towards the back.

6. Finish armholes with bias fabric.

7. Sew a double fold hem to finish the hemline.


Happy Sewing Janene!

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Girls Qi Pao / Chinese Dress sew-along Pattern variation

January 31, 2014

I have been seeing lots of YOUR creations on my Facebook page and I can tell you it’s been wonderful seeing them.  Now it’s my turn to show you mine. First of all, I said I was going to sew on Chinese brocade, and I did. I made one dress but I was not happy with it. Firstly, it was hard to sew with, even though I made sure I used the correct needle. The fabric is polyester and frays like crazy, and the binding didn’t catch properly at certain points. Which is probably the reason why they use such thick binding/piping in the mass produced ones. The fabric also puckered along straight seams and I just didn’t have time or patience to try it out on dress number two. So I fell back on my favourite fabric, the same that I made the first dress from. But this time I made a variation to the pattern. I chopped off the pattern at the waistline, and added a flare skirt.


Instead of a front opening, I decided to sew the front panels fixed in place, and used a concealed/invisible zip on the back.


I stitched in the ditch at the edge of the bias and the fabric, to secure the front panel in place.


This is what it looks like from the inside, the inner flap doesn’t have to be so wide/deep now that it is going to be stitched in place, but I was too lazy to cut it off after sewing.



To make this variation, following the following steps.

  1. For the back pattern piece, instead of cutting on fold, I added a one cm seam allowance to the centre back line. This gave me the extra allowance to fit a zip in. I then measured the waist position on my daughter using the back neck point as a reference, and marked it on the back bodice piece. Remember to add one cm seal allowance to the waist line for attaching the skirt.
  2. For the front bodice, just match the waistline mark with the back piece, making sure the pattern is aligned at the underarm seams.
  3. Cut out the pieces and sew the top bodice as usual.
  4. Combine the two front pieces by laying flat and sewing the top outer flap onto the inner flap, following the curved edge of the bias. Stitch in the ditch.
  5. Measure the width of the front bodice where you cut off at the waist, mine was forty cm. Multiply that figure by two, and cut out a piece of fabric in that width. For the length of the skirt, it is up to you. Mine was eighty cm wide by fifty cm long.
  6. Do the same for the back bodice to determine the width of the back skirt panels.
  7. Sew the side seams of the skirt, make gathers and attach to top bodice.
  8. Attach the concealed/zipper starting from the back neck point down past the waist line, stopping approximately ten cm below the waistline. The actual end point is up to you since it depends on what size you are making.
  9. Finish up the back seam and hem, sew on decorative buttons. And you are done.

P.S. Note how I had to spell out all the dimensions? The entire row of numbers on my mac keyboard is not working. :/

Anyway, here are some pictures of my brocade version if you are interested. It still looks pretty good in pictures… lol…





Off to go visiting today. Happy Chinese New Year to those of you who are celebrating it. Have a good weekend 😀


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Girls Qi Pao (Chinese Dress) Sew Along Day 3

January 16, 2014

Today we are going to tackle the side zipper opening of the dress. This took me a few experiments to figure it out. I am not even sure if this is the correct way to do it but it works! 🙂 So here goes….

What we did yesterday…
1. Cut out fabric.
2. Preparation work – iron on interfacing for collar lining, serge edges
3. Sew shoulder seams, open seam allowances flat (sewing video)
4. Attaching the collar pieces (sewing video)
5. Finish raw edges of bodice+ collar, armholes, hemlines with bias (sewing video)

How to make (continued)
6.Attaching the zip to the side opening.
7. Sew the inner flap to the back bodice, and the side seam below the zip opening.
8. Sew up the other side seam of the dress.
9. Hand stitch to tuck in top of zip and neaten up side seams.
10. Add decorative frog/chinese knot buttons across the collar and to keep the front bodice attached to the front inner flap in place.

and here’s part 2 of the sewing video. If your connection permits, I highly recommend watching the video in 720HD – the explanatory text is a lot clearer.

For those of you who prefer pictures, I have extracted some screenshots of the key steps for today’s sew-along  so you can refer to these if it is easier to view pictures compared to video.


Align side seams where zip is going to be, with fabrics’ right sides together, sew a long basting stitch to temporary hold the back and front bodice together.


Open up the seam flat, and place the concealed zip (right sides down) onto the opened seam. Align the top of the zip to the bias binding.
Hand baste the zip down on both sides of the seam allowances.


Once the zip is basted, you can remove the first long basting stitch that was holding the front and back pieces together.


Sew the two sides of the zip to the front and back bodice respectively.


Now to sew the inner flap. First, align the inner flap from the armholes, right side facing back bodice. Mark on the wrong side of the inner flap, the position of the zip stop.


Sew with a 1cm allowance, from the top edge down to the point marked blue. Make sure your stitch line lies to the left of the zip teeth so that it hides the top of the zip behind the seam.


To secure the bottom half of the flap, change to a regular zipper foot, and sew as close to the zip teeth as possible. This time, you have to sew to the right of the zip teeth so the zip is not obstructed.



For the other side, just align from armhole to hem, pin in place and sew with a 1cm seam allowance.


Time to put some finishing touches. first, tuck in the top of the zip by folding it over the bias and then folding back . Hand stitch to keep it in place.


To prevent the side seams from sticking out, open them up and sew them down to the other side of the bias.


Sew on the decorative buttons, sew on the metal snap fasteners in the gaps  between the decorative buttons, and you’re done!

If you made this dress, do post it on my facebook page for all of us to see! I will be sewing two of these in Chinese brocade fabric over the weekend. Will post the pictures up when they are done. Hope you liked my sew-along and keep those suggestions coming for the next one!