It goes without saying that even if you are shopping for a sewing book in your own preferred language, you should get one that is suited for your proficiency level. Similarly, for Japanese sewing books, there are books suited for different levels. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell by the cover, and it doesn’t help that all the covers look so interesting, you want to BUY every single one of them!
If you are lucky enough to be able to browse through the books before buying, look for one with lots of photographs. One of my personal favourites is this book
I love the list of projects page, where you can see all the finished products and even variations of each item of clothing.
Clear and concise step by step photographs
Step by step photos showing how the dress is constructed. When I first started, the first pattern I bought was from Spotlight, one of those brands that come in a little envelope and a few illustrated pictures of the few variations of the completed garment. The pattern was very thin tissue like, and it was hard to use, and the instructions were mind boggling! It was not till I got this book that I actually finally got the hang of making a basic dress bodice (with lining), and learned how to make a proper (and neat) facing with buttons.
This book is excellent for beginners because most of the dresses are simple, and are variations of a few basic styles, so by referring to the corresponding style but changing the sleeves/skirt, you can make quite a few garments out of this book.
I’ve also found a few other books that provide excellent step by step pictures. I will be posting reviews of the books I have, so do check back at my site regularly for new recommendations!
On the other hand, there are books that just show a diagram like this
The diagrams on the right have arrows pointing to them and are labelled with numbers. The numbers represent the order of sewing. Which is simple enough if you are experienced at sewing, and the steps are simple. Sometimes for a complicated garment like a jacket or a coat, it can get very confusing.
I will be listing various books in my blog with photos of the inside of the book, to give you an idea of the difficulty level of the book. Hope that will help you in choosing the right book to start with.