Guides Translations and Help with Patterns

Understanding a typical Japanese sewing pattern

January 17, 2012

After posting the dictionary of sewing terms, I shall now go through an example of a typical pattern you can find in the sewing books. Most pattern books follow a similar structure such as this one.

You will usually find something like the above, with the size information as well as the list of materials and procedure, as well as two diagrams. One for cutting of the fabrics and one for the procedure. Let’s break it down into 4 parts to get a clearer picture.

First, determine the size you need. Then locate then pattern (G in this case) and prepare the materials.

Special notes to take care of when cutting, preparation details, and then order of making. (refer to diagram below)

For most books, unless specified, the seam allowance is usually 1cm. The seam allowances are usually denoted by a number and a line/arrow to the seam.

Hope this will help! I didn’t translate most of the section of “order of making” since it is specific to this garment and will not make much sense to another project, but understanding what the individual sections are about and the diagram conventions, as well as referring to the dictionary of terms, it should help you get started.

Just leave a comment if you have any questions.

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  • Reply Cheryl Wolf July 29, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Having just returned from Japan, with some fabric and patterns in two, I was happy to discover your blog! I got a couple free patterns from a fabric store in Kamakura. They are basically to-scale diagrams on a small page. Can you provide some guidance on how to translate the pattern into a usable template? Thanks!

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books July 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Hi Cheryl,
      Sure, you can email me the images at so that I can take a look and see what I can help you out with.

  • Reply Lisa August 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Hi – I am about to make my first top from a Japanese sewing book, thanks for the great tips – even though mine is one translated to english still found your blog very helpful.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books August 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Glad it helps! 🙂

  • Reply Nobu Murakawa December 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    After reading you blog and detailed explanation with diagrams I will definitely buy this sewing book.

  • Reply Raffaella December 30, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I love your blog! It’s so useful! Thank you so much for the great job! 🙂

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