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Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Ladies Pants and Skirts

May 2, 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Ladies sewing pattern book. Time for some selfish sewing!


Today’s recommendation – Ladies Pants & Skirts. This is a compilation of Ladies pants and skirt patterns by Nihon-Vogue and it features the work of 9 different designers. Sizes include : 9,11,13,15 and 17.


The book begins with patterns for pants, and here they are grouped by the works of the different designers.


The first two patterns A and B are designed by 大川友美 author of Clean and Natural .  The first pair of pants is a Linen denim Easy Pants  and the second is a pair of tapered denim pants. Both come with elastic waistbands, concealed side pockets as well as back pockets. There is even a full color sewing lesson with step by step photographs. Great for those of you tackling side/back pockets for the first time, because it really goes into details of how the pockets should be attached.



Check out the close up details of sewing on the pockets. Once you learn this, you can apply it to any pair of pants/skirt.


Pattern C is a pair of Neat Cropped Pants designed by Enanna 


Skirt? in the pants section? No it’s actually a pair of Full length Wide Pants. I love this design by Nanatone. It looks very feminine because it looks like a long skirt, yet it offers you the convenience of a pair of pants. Not too girly too, because of the drop waist ribbon tie.


If you found the full-length version too cumbersome, the same pattern is offered in 3 different length variations. The above picture shows the 3/4 length option.


and the shortest option which is probably more like a pair of culottes.


Pattern E is designed by muni, and is a modern day 3/4 length Jodhpurs pants. Jodhpurs pants are supposedly for horse riding, flared at the hips and thighs and tight at the calves. This particular pair of pants was made in knit fabric, with 2 side pockets along the side seams.


The second pair is a full length variation, almost the same construction as the first pair, but with a slight design twist for the side pockets.


Pattern F is a pair of Ribbon tie straight cut pants designed by Enanna .

The next section of the book is all about skirts.



The first pair of skirt is a below the knee flared skirt. This skirt comes with a yoke panel around the tummy area and only flares out from hip level onwards. I find this rather flattering for ladies because if you wear a flared skirt that flares from the waist line, the fabric bunches around the tummy and makes you look rather thick around the middle. Having a yoke panel (especially if you make this in a slightly heavier fabric) actually gives the illusion that your tummy is flatter.

The second variation is a mi-mollet skirt or a midi skirt. This refers to a skirt length that ends below the knee and before the calf.


The second sewing lesson in the book is for the skirts G1, G2, and G3. Which is pretty much a basic yoke skirt with an elastic waistband.



The next skirt – A Knee-length Tuck Skirt, was designed by Lilla Blomma. Lilla Blomma is not the name of the designer, but the brand name of a Pattern and Fabric shop helmed by two ladies, Megu and Mayu. H-2 (below) is the longer version of the same skirt.



The next skirt is a gathered skirt with yoke. The design is by LUNANCHE (Tomoko Tanaka)  It is not a fitted yoke but one that is gathered slightly at the elastic waist band with a ribbon tie. I love the soft green color of the fabric which is a Cotton linen chambray in Muscat color. The variation is a tiered skirt below (Cotton voile in Provence print)



This is a really cute skirt by AN Linen – an Apron style Salopette Skirt in Ramie Linen.


A much simpler variation – a drawstring skirt. But I am loving the draping of this fabric. This is made with a linen knit. I seriously have no idea where to find linen knit but it sure looks comfortable.


An extra pair of jeans lying around can be remade into a brand new denim skirt! Design by La la happy.

Here are the sizing details.


The column on the left says “size / height / waist / hip”. All the patterns are made based on height of 160cm, but for your reference, the model in the picture is 170cm tall and wears a size 9.




1 full size, double sided pattern sheet included.


Title : 大人のパンツとスカート Ladies Pants and Skirts
ISBN No. : 978-4-529-05359-4
Publisher : Nihon Vogue



Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – She Wears the Pants (Now in English)

March 11, 2015

As promised, another book review of a soon to be released English translated Japanese Sewing Book. I know I promised it would be up last week but I have a good excuse. An excuse that explains why getting a blog post photographed and written is taking more time than is used to. I will try to improve on that but more details about that in my next book review. 🙂

Back to this book. The original book in Japanese was first published sometime in 2013 which is really not too long ago, and the original title of the book was “She has a mannish style”  Do you remember that book? I fell in love with the book because, despite loving dresses and girly stuff, the truth is that as a Mum my wardrobe is literally navy, black and grey + shorts/pants.  The draw of this book is that the designer has taken wearable daily clothes and added some really cool designer touches to them.


Yuko Takada is also the author for I love Tops  (click to see my review on the Japanese book) and I love Pants. She is an award winning designer who graduated from the famous Bunka Fashion College with a major in Fashion engineering. This book has been translated to French as well with the title “Féminin masculin” which I am guessing means Female Male? or is it the other way round as Google translate tells me “male Female”? So now there are 3 very different titles for the 3 versions, but I think you get the point what this book is about. The author herself says it best, when describing the inspiration behind her creations….. see the little paragraph below the Contents page.


“Sometimes you want to dress cool and boyish, in special, unique pieces that are only for you…”

In the Japanese version review, I did share a number of the pictures with you but let’s have a look at them again just to refresh your memory. I’ve also added some new shots of those not shown previously.


Oval coat with a round collar. Interesting attachment of grey knit fabric as part of the sleeves from the elbow down. It is sewn on as part of the coat.


Jumper skirt with a false fly, decorative side panels and lined skirt.


Mini Dress in stretched wool. The dress has a baggy top with a V-shaped neckline. The model is wearing another layer inside the dress which explains why you can’t quite see the details. I’ll try to describe it as best as I can. A decorative bow is sewn to both sides of the front V, and on the back there are criss cross straps sewn to the back V. The skirt is like a short elastic tube skirt attached to the baggy shirt.


Top with Epaulettes. What’s an Epaulette? A shoulder decoration. In this case there are two fabric strips attached to the shoulder seams and fastened down with buttons.


A velour blouse that I had did a translation for. Chance for me to check how accurate my translation was!


Square Top – named after the squarish pattern pieces it is made out of. It’s one of those designer pieces that you need to figure out how to put on but so worth it cuz it looks so stylish and edgy. You can wear it in two different ways. Thrown on like a jacket…or like a blouse (below)



Fleece Jacket – the knit lining makes for an interesting contrast when you turn up the sleeves.


Sarrouel Trousers – are these technically the same as harem pants? I am not familiar with the terms but when looking at the how-to-make for this pair of pants, be warned that it looks like tricky business. I’m used to having two or four symmetrical pattern pieces when sewing pants, but this particular design calls for different size panels and pattern pieces, that will be pieced together to form the pants.


A casual unlined long jacket with welted pockets.


Pompom blouse – one of the simpler patterns to make but with an interesting neck binding that accentuates the neckline and the shoulder seam. The pompoms are actually from ready made pompom trim.


Draped Mini Dress – From the instructions this dress looks really easy to make. The drapes will form naturally thanks to the shape of the pattern piece and the knit fabric used. The material list calls for Cotton T-cloth, which I am assuming means T-shirt material (knit jersey) made of cotton? A google search turns up either cotton fabric, one even said it’s grey sheeting fabric but in the Japanese versions the term used is 綿 (which means cotton) and 天竺 (which means jersey). All the image searches in Japanese turn up some kind of knit fabric and it makes sense given that the dress has no other enclosure and a plain cotton fabric will not create such nice drapes nor allow you to get in and out of the dress with ease. So my conclusion is when they say T-cloth in Japanese sewing books, it means jersey.


Tapered trousers. Learn how to make a proper pair of pants with the full works – waistbands with belt carriers, side pockets with pocket bags, back patch pockets, zip fly. The design details are in the back waistband, where there is a interesting design feature as well as a decorative belt.


Semi-flared culottes with tucks and decorated with a waist tie made with the same fabric.


Draped cardigan – Another interesting piece in terms of pattern design. This cardigan is constructed out of 3 irregular pieces of fabric and the pockets are cleverly designed as part of the pattern piece so that you don’t actually have to make the pockets but just sew up the edges and the pockets will form naturally. It’s hard to describe. You have to see it the pattern to know what I mean!


Decorative Tippets that you can drape over any plain shirt/outfit to jazz it up.


This blouse is called the Gathered Blouse, it looks really simple but the design details are in the back. There were two photos of this in the book but both were showing the front and not the back! The back bodice piece is gathered where it meets the yoke. There are also pleats where the sleeve meets the cuffs and the cuffs come with a slit opening secured by a button.


The last piece is a knitted belt stole. What’s a belt stole you might ask? A belt + a stole combined in one piece. You fasten the belt around your waist and wrap the stole around your neck. Prevents it from slipping off. Brilliant eh? This is actually a knitting pattern with actual instructions on how to cast on and off, knit,purl and even how to make a fringe. The whole stole is made of rib stitch and stocking stitches which are essentially different combinations of the knit and purls. It does not tell you exactly what a rib or stocking stitch is, so you have to find that out for yourself. In any case, using diagrams to learn knitting/crochet has always been difficult for me to visualize, all the arrows give me a headache 😛 So I always fall back on youtube videos. Once you pick it up, it’s easy to follow this pattern to make this gorgeous belt stole.

The patterns in the book are for sizes XS-L, according to the measurements below. As usual, measurements are in inches and cm equivalents in brackets.



There are a couple of pages devoted to basic sewing tips and techniques, text+photographs included. In my previous review I did mention that they were not so useful as a lot of the photos needed explanation from the accompanying text. Now it’s all in English so no more problems with that! The sewing tips cover the preparation of fabric, choice of needle and thread, sewing seams, finishing edges, and even sewing on stretch fabrics and edge binding.


The how-to-makes are presented in a similar way as in the Japanese version.


A close up of the diagrams in the book.


Unlike the Japanese versions where the pattern sheets are stuck on to the last page, there is a handy pocket on the back cover. I wish they would do this for all Japanese sewing books because I hate tearing the patterns out of the back page.


The back cover of the original book was a cool cement gray wall+floor. Very minimalistic. This new back cover makes more sense because you get to see more of what is in the book. Oh and this book includes a quote from me as well! In case you are wondering, I don’t get paid for this at all! I’m just a fan of the book! 🙂

In summary, some of the pieces do seem a little complicated to make but there are also easy pieces that look really unique and stylish so I guess there’s something for everyone in this book, whether you are a beginner or advanced sewist.

available now for pre-order on

Title : She Wears the Pants: Easy Sew-it-Yourself Fashion with an Edgy Urban Style
Author : Yuko Takada
ISBN No. : 978-4-8053-1326-8

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Casual Sweet Clothes

January 6, 2015

Happy New Year everyone! A little late in the year for greetings maybe but this is my first post of the year!

Today I’m going to share with you a recently translated Japanese Sewing Book called Casual Sweet Clothes – Favourite Pieces for Every Day.


This book was actually released in August last year and somehow fell off my “sewing books radar” 😛

Luckily for me, the very kind folks at Laurence King sent me a copy for review, and so I’m here to share with you the lovely pieces from the book! The patterns in this book are designed by Noriko Sasahara, who is a Fashion Design graduate of Bunka Fashion College.


There are 18 patterns in all, Labelled A-R. The contents page is arranged by the order of appearance in the book, in some cases you will see the same garments featured again as co-ordinates paired together to form a complete outfit. Just to give you an idea of how to put the whole wardrobe together.

Now let’s have a look at the pretty pieces!


A- Dress with Ruffle Shoulder Detail. A simple shift made feminine by the light ruffles running along the shoulder seams. This dress pictured is made in light cotton chambray.


A combination of 2 patterns. C- Jersey top with cape sleeves (seen here in cotton and linen jersey knit) and P – a Layered lace skirt. Not my favourite way of paring them together. I would love to see the Jersey top with a pair of jeans and the lace skirt with a simple strappy camisole?


D – Jewel-neck Jacket with Bow. When I read this, I was wondering “what is a Jewel-neck?” Then I found the answer on Google. Apparently it’s a round neckline, quite similar to the boat neck but just falls above the collarbone. It’s so named because the cut helps to accentuate or showcase a piece of jewellery against the fabric. I learned something new today!


E – Another very sweet and feminine piece, a Lace-trimmed camisole. The ribbon belt is not an add on, but actually part of the design. The ribbon goes through a casing at the back of the camisole, and helps to gather the fabric in the back when you pull it together and tie it up in the front.


F – Casual pants with ribbon belt (with 2 side pockets). It’s hard to see from the picture but there is also a grosgrain ribbon binding the edge of the side pockets and running down along the side seams. Fabric used for the pants is Water-repellent cotton garbadine.


G – Lace-front blouse. If you are not keen on adding the lace panels, you can omit them, as the blouse itself is a very pretty blouse pattern with gathers both around the shoulder seams as well as the cuffs. I can imagine this pattern as a starter block for lots of pretty blouses, or even a coat.


H- V-neck shift with double ruffled cuffs. A very easy to wear dress that makes you look slim yet can hide your flaws since it’s not skin-tight. I love the double ruffles on the cuffs. The back of the dress is enclosed with a zipper, and as part of the design it is an exposed zip (in black). I’m not sure if exposed zips are still in vogue but you can decide for yourself if you want to attach it inside or out. It’s good to learn how to sew an exposed zip though, since fashion trends are cyclical and you never know when it will make a comeback.


I – Bolero Vest with Braid Trim, paired with the Casual pants (pattern F) seen earlier.
I love the bolero vest with the contrast braid trim! The position of the braid trim is marked out on the pattern sheets to guide you on its placement.


J – Tiered Pencil Skirt. I can never pull off skirts of this length, but still, can’t help but marvel at how pretty it is. The skirt above is made in cotton sateen which has a bit of sheen, and there are 6 layers of overlapping ruffles.


Here you see the same skirt paired with a flared jacket with raglan sleeves. I can’t quite imagine the two being paired together like this, but I just wanted to show you the pattern for the jacket. It’s a very simple casual jacket with a hood and two external pockets. Both the sleeves and bodice are flared. This will be a useful pattern for a rainy day jacket.


K – Dress with lace-insert sleeves. Another very pretty shift dress with gathers along the shoulder seams of the front bodice. The sleeves are made of separate front and back pieces so that you can sew a piece of lace in between for a little peekaboo effect. The back is enclosed using a concealed zipper. I can see this in a shorter blouse version as well, or a different fabric for a less formal look.


N – Denim Jacket with Braided Detail. The braided detail is made using 3 strips of denim and sewn all around the front and collar. There are no buttons on the front of the jacket though. The braided denim is attached using a blindstitch according to the instructions. By that I suppose it means you have to hand sew it?


O – Flounced-edge jacket. A short cropped jacket with a pretty flounced edge that goes all around the edges. The main jacket body itself is made of 2 front pieces, one back piece and 2 side pieces. The sleeves are also made of two parts each, a top sleeve and an under sleeve. The extra seams help with the shaping of the jacket and gives it a more structured look.


R – Round-neck coat with turn-up cuffs. This is actually from a similar pattern to pattern N – the denim braided jacket, but with a round collar and this coat is longer, almost to knee length. The cuffs can be worn folded down or up.

Now for some technical details….

The sizes in this book include XS-L, and will fit the following body measurements.


Note that the measurements are in inches, with their cm equivalents indicated in brackets.


A typical layout of the how-to-make page. Do also note that the seam allowances are not included in the pattern sheets, but have to be added on as indicated on the cutting layout diagram (bottom right diagram). Where it is not stipulated, use 1cm for seam allowance.


In one corner of the page, note that there is a Finished Measurements table. This gives you an idea of the size of the finished garment so that you can select the right size or choose whether or not to make length adjustments before cutting out your fabric.


A close up of the diagrams included.


There are 2 pages on the back teaching you how to adjust the dress and sleeve lengths properly.


The patterns are stored in a plastic pocket attached to the back cover. There are two full size pattern sheets, printed on both sides.


Title : Casual Sweet Clothes
Author : Noriko Sasahara
ISBN No :978-1-78067-173-4

Now available from amazon

I really love the pieces in this book, especially the fact that they are mostly easy to wear and can be made casual or formal depending on the fabric choice. There are many books that have simple shift dresses but tend to look shapeless or baggy. Not in this book. The subtle accents like gathers around shoulder seams, added ruffles or lace panels really ups the style factor. I hope you liked this book as much as I did! I will be back next week with another soon to be released English book review. This time for girls, so stay tuned!

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Straight Line Sewing Dress and Tunics for Ladies

September 26, 2014

This week’s book review is about Straight Line Sewing (again!) It’s a relatively new book, just published in June this year. I’ve seen and even bought quite a number of these straight line sewing books so it’s not a new concept, but what I really like about this one is the design and styling of the photos. The pieces look wearable, yet with a designer touch. As a matter of fact, the patterns are created by a designer. You can check out more of her works on her website


The title of the book is rather long – Straight Line Sewing Dresses and Tunics that Ladies want to wear.

The book includes sewing projects of varying difficulties. Suitable for everybody from beginners to advance sewists. The only problem (or it may be actually a plus point for some) is that there is only one size. There is only one set of measurements for cutting out the fabric. However, the completed dimensions are also included so it’s a good point of reference to see if it fits you. If it doesn’t you can always attempt to scale the pattern up or down since the patterns are mostly rectangular anyway, so it wouldn’t be as complicated as grading a pattern with curves.

Here are the patterns included in this book.


Some of the projects come with variations, using the same patterns but with different color blocks for a whole new look.


Each of the project has a difficulty indicator, with 1 scissors symbol for the easiest projects and 4 scissors for the most difficult one. I think there is only one dress (N) with a 4 scissors rating.


Simple Tunic with 4 corners along the side seams to give it a drapey effect.


You can’t quite tell from the picture but this dress is made up of one rectangular piece of fabric, with holes cut out in strategic positions for the head and arms. Level of difficulty? 1 scissors 🙂
The reason why I say that the holes are positioned strategically is because, in theory it seems simple enough to create a dress just by cutting out holes in the fabric, but it is also too easy to end up looking like you’re wearing a poncho or a makeshift halloween costume. I thought the end result looked pretty good!


What I thought was a easy color block tunic turns out to be rated 3 out of 4 scissors in difficulty.


Another easy piece to make but with gorgeous results.


This is essentially the same as the previous dress, except that it’s a shorter tunic version and using different color blocks.


An apron dress for layering over a shirt or t-shirt


V-neck collar dress


Round neck dress with cute drawstring details on the shoulder seams.


Tunic with tie straps, the use of two black fabrics of different materials make it an interesting piece.


Not particularly fond of the color combination here, but the jumper style dress with a cross back detail is cute for layering over a blouse.


A more formal looking dress, this is the project that was rated 4 scissors! I took a look at the instructions, and couldn’t find what was so difficult about it other than having to create gathers where the black skirt joins with navy blue sleeves . Could that be it?


Another stylish dress to make. I just love the simple lines, use of two different colors for the left and right panels, as well as the added ribbon detail near the shoulders.


This has got to be my favourite dress of the lot. Made with two different color fabrics for the front and back. This dress is rated 1 scissors so it’s possible for even beginners to make this! This dress is literally made out of a rectangle, cut out a hole for the head, and sewing up the sides leaving holes for the arms. I swear I have seen this kind of dresses being sold in stores for real money. Now isn’t it wonderful YOU know how to sew and can make this for yourself? 🙂


As mentioned earlier, the projects in this book are all free-size, so there is no size chart to fiddle with. The pre-sewing instructions are also very brief, probably also because the projects are really rather simple and not much needs to be said about how to cut out rectangular pieces of fabric right?


An example of the how to make section. For most of the projects, the patterns you need are basic rectangles, with the cutting dimensions provided. The instructions are all in diagrams.


A close up of the sewing diagrams.


There are some parts of certain projects that require pattern pieces. For example, the collars and skirt pieces. These are provided in one actual size pattern sheet on the back of the book.

Otona Ga Kitai Massugu Nui No One-piece & Tunic / Nakagami Kazue / Cho
Otona Ga Kitai Massugu Nui No One-piece & Tunic
Click on thumbnail above to buy from cdjapan (English site that ships worldwide)

Title : 大人が着たい まっすぐ縫いのワンピース&チュニック
Author : Wei : 中神 一栄 Kazue Nakagami Website | Facebook
ISBN No : 978-4528017894

I hope you like what I reviewed today! I’ve been so swamped with work lately that I have to find snippets of time in between to update my blog. So you can tell there is hardly even time for sewing. 🙁 I hope to make something from this book soon though, since I don’t have to trace any patterns it can be just a quick sew! Hopefully this weekend?

Have a good weekend everyone, especially those of you who WILL get to sew!

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in Chinese Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – May Me Style Ladies Wear

July 30, 2014

This week’s book review is the first time I am reviewing a Japanese sewing book that has been translated into Chinese. There are many Japanese sewing books translated into Chinese by the Taiwanese publishers, since I guess in Taiwan there seems to be a much greater interest in sewing and DIY crafts. The draw of buying the Chinese versions is that they are 20-30% cheaper than the same Japanese books (based on prices in my local Kinokuniya). In comparison, the price of the English translated versions are even cheaper. I think it all depends on where it is printed and quality of the print as well. Another plus point is that the ones that have been translated are usually quite current books, for example this particular book was first released in Japan in April 2013. In comparison, some of the English translated titles had their original Japanese versions released a good 5 years ago (and some even more!)

Of course, all these “plus points” won’t matter if you can’t read Chinese :P, especially since it is published in Traditional Chinese (which is used in Taiwan) as compared to Simplified Chinese (used in China and also here in Singapore). So take it that I’m just reviewing another Japanese sewing pattern book that has been translated to another language. There are also lots of French versions too, but since I can’t read French I will have to show you the Chinese version!


The title of the original book is  May Me Style Adult (Ladies) Wear. The image above is the original Japanese version
(image from just for reference since I don’t have a copy of the original)


The Chinese is pretty much the same but with a some additional comments on the cover like “Ok for casual wear or for gatherings”, and  “Learn in one lesson how to make tops, dresses, skirts, pants, vests, bags and accessories”.

There are 29 projects in all (including accessories) for sizes S,M,L and LL. Do bear in mind some of the garments are made using the same pattern pieces, with variations in length, or other additional design details, so it’s not exactly 29 unique design patterns included.

The rest of the book is pretty much the same as the Japanese version, and I must say that the printing quality is pretty good. Let’s have a look at the projects inside!


Sailor collar blouse


Loose fitting blouse with fine pleats


Button down blouse


V-neck tunic


Check out the back centre pleat of the tunic. It’s a nice touch by the designer.


Round neck dress – very simple design but I love that fabric!


Some casual bag patterns included


Slit open front dress


This is similar to the loose fitting pleated blouse (02)  but extended to dress length and an added drawstring around the waist.


Button down puff sleeve dress


Another centre pleat feature on the back centre line.


A-line skirt


Knee length A-line skirt with button placket and drawstring detail


Drawstring skirt


From left – Wide leg denim three-quarter pants, Narrow slimming pants (long), narrow slimming pants (cropped)


Full length dress coat


Vest style dress


Vests (in linen and wool)


Triangular slit opening at the bottom of the vest.


Shawl style coat


Hooded cape




There are two pages to demonstrate how, with the same patterns, you can create a more formal look simply by using a different fabric. This top is actually the sailor collar blouse (minus the sailor collar) and made with a red linen instead.


There are also a couple of pages showing you how to mix and match the different co-ordinates for many different looks


The sizes included are the same as the Japanese book version – S,M,L and LL. All units in cm, no inches provided at all.
Can you guess the terms on the left column?

A useful tip at the end of the table. Although the size chart uses 160cm height as a basis for all sizes, the model in the book is 168cm, Bust -79, Waist -60, Hips -87, and wearing size M for the photo shoot.

Together with the size chart, are some pattern tracing and sewing tips in colored diagrams.


There is one detailed sewing lesson with step by step photographs, for the Slit open front dress. Techniques covered include gathers, proper finishing of the open slit, collar and sleeves, as well as making hidden side pockets.



The rest of the how-to-make section is pretty much the same as the Japanese version, in terms of layout and simplicity 🙂


2 full size pattern sheets included.


Title :  May Me大人風手作服 (Chinese)
May Me スタイルの大人服 (Japanese)
(if you are interested, click on book titles to buy Japanese version from and Chinese version from, both offer international shipping)
Author : 伊藤 みちよ
ISBN : 978-986-302-186-5 (Chinese)
or 978-4529051972 (Japanese)