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Book Review – Pouches of various shapes and sizes

February 24, 2014

I haven’t been buying many books lately, as most books during the winter season are devoted to knitting and crochet. So I turned my attention to sewing books for bags and purses. I kind of stopped looking for a while because I had too many books on bags already, then I spotted this book with a really cute cover! Look at all these metal frame purses!


The full title is いろんな形&サイズが作れる がま口がいっぱい which loosely translates to Making pouches of all shapes and sizes. There are 35 projects to be made in all, with 3 lessons covered in full with step by step photos. There are also basic technical lessons ranging from pattern tracing, tools, even embroidery stitching. I thought it would be really useful to have pictorial instructions because I have tried making one of these before but failed terribly. Well, at least in my opinion because my finishing was not perfect and there were dents in the metal frame (which was probably due to using the wrong tools). So I wanted to learn how to do it properly.

Here’s a look at the contents page.



For each design, there are a few variations, which totals up to 35 different purse designs in all.


The book starts off with the basic metal frame pouch, in two variations.


Followed immediately by a detailed lesson on making the basic pouch.


Close up of the photo instructions.


Full page view of the step by step instructions.

Now that you know how to make a basic metal frame purse, you can move on to make the following…


A mobile phone case (with darts at the base)


Card case, Lip balm/Lipstick case


Pencil case, Spectacles case


Gathered pouch


If you can find these large handbag metal frames, you can make this too! This is so pretty!  I actually saw many of these handbag frames being sold in Japan but as I’m not the type to carry dainty purses, I didn’t buy any. 😛


Plump purse (the title says that literally!)


Close up of the base of the “plump” purse.


There are some very interesting designs, like this box purse, where the clasps meet at the side and the purse is in a box shape. Perfect for storing earrings and rings.


Or make a larger one like this – Vanity purse


Long wallets/purses. This pattern includes a zipped coin compartment in the middle which also acts as a divider.


This purse is cute both inside and out! It uses a mother-daughter type of metal frame. I don’t know what this type of clasp is called in English, but the book says it’s a mother and daughter metal frame.


A more unique type of frame – the L-shape frame, where the clasps are located in the top corner instead of the middle.


Another interesting way of applying a simple metal clasp on a handbag.

Other than the 3 fully detailed lessons with step by step photos, the book includes basic technical knowledge lessons such as this one – tracing, cutting and marking the patterns. There are also lessons on embroidery, fabric treatment and even special tools that will help you create a better result when making a metal frame purse.


The how-to-make pages are located after the lessons, and they look like this.


Personally, I feel that the layout is a little cramped. See the close up below, the size/materals and pattern info are listed with the 4 lines of text, there are no steps written down in point form as everything is in diagrams. On some pages, they’ve even managed to squeeze two patterns in one page. But I guess this is because most of the projects are constructed in similar ways so there is no need to repeat some of the information.


1 sheet of actual size patterns attached.


and for those of you who are wondering where to buy the different metal frames, especially the really pretty ones with colored beads on the clasps, look no further! Website is in Japanese though.



Title : がま口がいっぱい いろんな形&サイズが作れる (Heart Warming Life Serires)
Publisher : Nihon Vogue
ISBN : 978-4529052344 

Japanese Sewing Books Japanese Sewing Magazines New Releases

New Releases – February 2014

February 13, 2014

From this month onwards, I will  be blogging once a month about new releases in Japanese Sewing Books. 🙂

The books I have listed are based on their release dates in February. Some of the new magazines due for release in March have already been listed on some online sites, I want to share them too but I have decided that I will leave them for the next month’s so that the content is more organized. Some of the books/magazines listed below have already been released and available for order, while some are due for release nearer the end of the month so you can only pre-order them.

Click on the images will bring you either to the publisher’s page, or Whenever it is possible I will link it to the page which gives you the most information about the book so that you can search for it from your favorite bookstore. Some publishers also provide sample preview pages so if it is available I will link to those pages so that you can see what is inside the book.

Happy Browsing!


Cotton Friend Spring 2014


Cotton Time March 2014 Edition


外国のおばあちゃんが作ってくれたみたいなバッグの本 おうちの小物やスカートも。
Bags,Small Goods, Skirts etc in Foreign Granny style 


誌上・パターン塾 Vol.1 トップ編
Pattern drafting for Tops with 22 bodice styles, 26 sleeve styles and 40 collar styles


新米ママもらくらく作れる かわいいベビーグッズ
Cute baby goods for new mummies to make


月居良子の かんたん、かわいい まっすぐソーイング かぶる、まく、はおる
Easy, cute, straight sewing by Tsukikyo Ryoko
(Tip : Click on the image above and you can see some screenshots inside the book by the publisher)


Pochhari Girl’s Sewing Book (L-5L sizes)


First time sewing

 More books and magazines coming your way in March! From next month onwards, I will post the new releases on the first week of the month. Stay tuned!

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Easy Sewing for Beginners

January 20, 2014

Today’s book review is a wonderful find from my trip to Japan. The title is はじめてさんのソーイング. Which roughly translates to First timer’s sewing.


It’s actually a sewing book for beginners, and despite having sewn for many years, I still feel like a beginner sometimes. There are many techniques that I have not mastered. This book does not just cover the basics, but it guides you through projects in order of difficulty so that you can progress as you sew along. The best part is, there are lots and lots of step by step photos.


This book is published by NHK – a name more commonly associated with the TV station. NHK publishing is related to the TV station and in fact, they publish many books and magazines that are related to the content on their TV programs, but at the same time, they are also an established publisher for a wide range of books and magazines.


There are 18 projects included in this book, listed in order of difficulty and covers everything from the most basic straight stitch to even sewing with knits and other fabrics.


Sizes included in this book.


The first project is a simple tote bag, where you learn basic straight stitching, like how to start and end a stitch, sewing around corners, attaching a pocket etc.


Then you move on to something more complex. Projects #2 and #3 are both skirts, but while skirt #2 is a simple gathered skirt, skirt #3 is a more advanced wrap skirt with hidden pockets.  The steps are shown in very detailed photographs even for the simple projects. For example, skirt #2 itself has 8 pages of step by step photos, showing you the proper way to finish seams, sew a proper facing for the elastic band and even the proper insertion and securing of an elastic band.

The following projects are listed in order as shown in the book, and you can see how it gradually becomes more complicated. If you work your way through this book, you will become an accomplished seamstress at the end of it! 😛










A typical how-to-make page looks like this. I love how the color coded boxes helps to divide up the information and make it a lot easier to search for information. Colored diagrams help a lot too in identifying the orientation of the fabric.


NHKeasysewing (2)

An example of a page with detailed photographs. There are only two projects without photographs but colored diagrams instead, probably because most of the techniques involved have already been covered in earlier projects.


Another page sample with detailed steps, this one shows you how to insert a side opening zip for a skirt.

NHKeasysewing (1)

One large pattern sheet included.

NHKeasysewing (3)

If you are interested in picking up garment sewing, this is really a good starting book. The projects are simple and most of the pieces are great for everyday wear, most of all, the step by step photographs make it really easy to understand, without needing much translation work.

Title : はじめてさんのソーイング
ISBN : 978-4-14-199173-1
Author : かわい きみ子
Publisher : NHK Publishing


Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Dress Style Book

December 2, 2013

Today’s book review is not a newly published book but something that I’ve had for a while. The book is called Dress Style Book and it’s a great source for all the dress patterns you can possibly think of. I have seen this book many times but was never really inspired to check it out. I think it was because of the prints used on the dresses, and the fact that they used illustrations instead of photographs. But as they say, never judge a book by its cover 😛

You know how many of the Japanese sewing books for women tend to gravitate towards floaty, dreamy, comfortable, and some say shapeless styles. I was looking in particular, for a book that will be able to provide me with a fitted dress pattern. I had some luck with the Female magazine a few issues back, where one of the dress patterns became a staple in my wardrobe. But after a while I got tired of making the same dress over and over again (I think I made 5?) and I wanted to find another versatile pattern that can be used in more than one way. So I decided to check this book out and I was not disappointed.

The book was first published in  2009 but it has since been republished 5 times, the latest was just published in May this year. I guess this was also a clue to how useful or popular this book must have been. The book includes 8 basic dress styles :

  1. Basic
  2. High-waisted
  3. Low-waisted
  4. A-line 1
  5. A-line 2
  6. Shirt
  7. Smock
  8. Peasant Look

For each style there are 3 variations which are shown together with the basic style. We’ll take a look at an example of Style 1.

Style 1 is called a Basic dress style which is a sleeveless, bodice+skirt with darts pattern.  Variation 1 is similar to the original style but with a segmented bodice and layered skirt.
The dresses are drawn in neutral colors, but suggested prints or fabrics are shown in square blocks below.

On the next page you can see two other variations. Variation 2 looks like a dress with boat neck collar, and Variation 3 looks quite different with the gathered shoulder straps.

After the overview of Style 1 and its variations, the book then focuses on each variation and shows you how to modify the original basic pattern to create this look.

In the diagram above you can see that there is a new line on the pattern pieces, that indicates the positioning of the lace overlay.

Style 2 is a High-waisted pattern

Variations 2 and 3 of the high-waisted dress pattern.

Style 3 is a Low-waisted dress.

Style 4 is a A-Line sleeveless dress, but these 2 variations (1a and 1b) comes with cap sleeves.

A very versatile Shirt dress pattern, you can vary the sleeve length or even make a sleeveless shirt dress.

The peasant look dress. I am not a fan of the usual peasant smock look but I quite like it in the tiered skirt style as well as the V-neck gathered variations. I could hardly tell the V-neck dress came from a peasant dress pattern!

The How-to-make section begins with two text heavy pages on how to use the basic pattern + variations. Unfortunately there are no step by step photos in this book at all.

Each of the dress pattern variation has it’s own how-to-make page like this one below.

The instructions for each garment is in the standard format with the cutting layout diagrams, materials, order of make indicated in diagrams as well as text.

Detailed diagrams are available for steps that are slightly more complicated. Also, expect lots of cross referencing diagrams between different variations and  different dress patterns.

There is one actual size pattern sheet attached to the book, and this pattern sheet includes the basic style patterns, as well additional pattern pieces used by the variations that cannot be constructed or modified from other existing pattern blocks. For example, Style 4 is a sleeveless dress pattern which can be modified to a dress with cap (Variation 1) or triangular sleeves (Variation 3). The cap sleeves for variation 1 are included, since it would be difficult to construct one of your own, but as the triangular sleeves can be constructed with a simple triangle, the pattern is not included but the dimensions for the triangle are provided.

Here are the sizes included in this book. The measurements above are for actual body measurements.
The 4 values on the column on the left are Height / Bust / Waist / Hip.

This book is not really ideal for beginners because you do need to know how to make modifications to your patterns. Changing a pattern from sleeved to sleeveless does not mean simply removing the sleeves because the curvature of the armhole has to change as well. The book does show you how by providing the measurements and dimensions needed for altering the basic pattern but if you have not constructed a pattern before, you might be confused. However, if you are quite advanced in sewing, you might enjoy this book as it really is a treasure trove of dress patterns. After applying the variations suggested by the book, you may be inspired to design and modify your own clothes.

Dress Style Book Pattern-no Variation-wo Tanoshimu / Nonaka Keiko Sugiyama Youko (Book)
Available on

Title : Dress Style Book
Author : Keiko Nonaka (Dress design) and Yoko Sugiyama (Illustration)
ISBN : 978-4-579-11267-8
Publisher : Bunka Publishing Bureau


Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – She has a mannish style

November 18, 2013

Recent find at the Kinokuniya Sale during the first week of November. I have not seen this book before but it’s actually not a new title. In fact it was released 3 years ago! Published in November 2010 by Bunka. The book is called 気分はマニッシュ by 高田祐子 (Yuko Takada) who is a graduate of Fashion studies from Bunka Fashion College. She is also the designer of a brand called TAGE and you can see more of her works here.

Thankfully, the title was interpreted by either the author or the publisher. The translated meaning of the words actually mean Mannish Mood, or in better grammar – A Mood that is Mannish. But the title given is She has a mannish style. I guess what it is really trying to say is Clothes for women with a masculine style? Whatever the title is, the book is not your usual floaty dreamy dresses. In fact I find that these are more wearable on a day to day basis. The pieces all have a designer touch. Everyone will be asking you where you bought your clothes.

There are 20 projects listed but some of them are actually the same pattern but made in a different fabric/styling variation. Let’s have a look!

I had some difficulty taking photos of this book.The challenge was from the fact that the pictures were mostly dark-themed and even the clothes are dark, so you can’t really see the details till you get to the how-to-make page where they show you the outline diagram of the garment. But you can still get the gist of how cool the clothes are from the photos.

Oval Coat – with a rounded collar, Puffed sleeves that are gathered at the elbow and extended as a long knit tube down to the wrist. It’s hard to describe it really. It might be easier to take a look at the diagram. From the photograph it looked as if the light gray sleeves was actually a separate long sleeve top below the coat, but it turns out that it IS part of the coat.

Now you have an idea of how the photos might be deceiving, we will move on and look at the other garments.

 A Jumper skirt in wool jersey (ウールジャージー)

 The dress has a baggy top with a tight fitting mini skirt attached. The model is shown wearing it over what could be a turtle neck + leggings. There are actually more details to the dress near the neckline but it’s all black so it’s hard to see!

Velour blouse. This blouse is made of Velour Lace (ベロアレースand Crushed Velour(クラッシュベロア

Fleece Jacket with knit fabric lining.

 Sarrouel Trousers (fabric used : Cotton+linen+wool blend)

 Square Cut & Sewn blouse. This is a very interesting blouse. In fact when you see the how-to-make section you might wonder how it is actually worn! The entire blouse is like a very wide rectangular tube with two holes on the side seams for your arms to stick out of. The top is lined with buttons on the front neckline, and buttonholes on the back neckline. Button as many buttons you want on the sides to adjust the neck opening size.

 Drape mini dress. This reminds me of one of the Drape Drape dresses but it looks a lot easier to make, at least from what I can see in the pattern cutting layout diagram.

 Here’s something that will add a designer touch to a plain outfit. 3 different variations of a Tippet.

Dots blouse. It is quite a standard blouse pattern but I think it’s a brilliant idea to use 2 different color fabrics from the same series to make the left and right sides of the shirt!

 This is a pattern that is used twice, for No 14 and 19. No.14 was in black, and it was impossible to see the details. Here it is made in a light khaki stretch corduroy, with a tie ribbon belt (removable). This pair of culottes include side pockets and a zip fly. There is a series of diagrams showing you how to sew that but I can’t quite figure it out. I have never attempted to make one because it looks too confusing.

 The last pattern in the book is a belt stole. Now here’s a stole/scarf that will never slip off your shoulders. It is literally attached to the belt and the belt is pinned down with a huge industrial looking safety pin. Hmm… ok it might be a stylist’s accessory but the pattern itself did not include instructions for buttons or buttonholes of any kind. So I presume it is entirely up to your creativity how you want to secure the belt.

 Size chart. Left column indicates Body measurements in the following order : Height / Bust / Waist / Hip

There are 6 pages of additional sewing tips/instructions made up of text+black and white photographs. While some photographs are quite self explanatory, I find that the majority of the photos still rely on some explanation from the accompanying text, so it may not be so useful to you if you are not able to read Japanese.

 An example of the typical How-to-make page.

There are diagrams included to illustrate the order of make, so you can just refer to the diagrams. Like all other books, there will be cross references from one project to another if there are similar steps involved.

 2 sheets of actual size pattern papers included.

Title : 気分はマニッシュ She has a mannish style
Author : 高田祐子 (Yuko Takada)
ISBN : 978-4-579-11325-5
Publisher :  Bunka

Kibun-ha Manisshu she has a mannish style. / Takada Yuko
Buy now from cdjapan

It was such a coincidence that I was going to review this book this week, because I just received an email with a translation request for the Velour blouse from this book! I will be posting it up later this week or next but I will link it up from this post again.