Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Sneak Preview – Basic Black

May 20, 2014

This book is not out in the bookstores yet but thanks to the very kind folks at Tuttle, I received a copy for a sneak preview. The title of the book is Basic Black, and needless to say, all the garments featured are black. Have no fear if you are not a fan of wearing black though, because with these essential patterns in hand, you can create your own wardrobe in your own favourite colors.


There are 26 patterns in all, designed by Sato Watanabe. Sato Watanabe, as you may already know, has had many many Japanese sewing books published. I have reviewed one of them here – Straight Line Sewing Dresses. A few of her books have already been translated to English, namely I Am Cute Dresses and Stylish Skirts .


The full list of 26 patterns you can find in this book.  Here are some of my favourites.


This blouse has a nice girly shape to it, which makes it perfect for wearing with your favourite pair of jeans or even a skirt. You can even alter the look of this blouse by omitting the lace. But remember to extend your hem and patterns if you do so.


A dress with a very simple shape, but given a designer touch with the tucks in each tier.


I like the look of this very smart looking zip up jacket. I don’t think I will choose to make it in quilted fabric though since there is no winter season here, but it will serve as a good basic pattern for a short cropped jacket.


I’m not usually a fan of long dresses, but I love boatneck necklines because they are so flattering. And once again despite the simplicity of the overall dress, there is a special designer detail to this dress. I hope you can see it clearly since everything is black, but there are actually alternate slanted darts on the bodice.


These two vests share the same “Whimsical” name but they are using two slightly different patterns. The bodice portion of the corduroy version has darts for shaping while the chiffon lace version is meant to be loose and drapey. The two vests use a similar pattern for the “skirt” portion but given the different weights of the fabric the chiffon lace hangs with a irregular hemline for a drapey look, while the corduroy version has more structure and body.


This looks really comfy for winter, as the fabric is a thick jacquard fabric which really holds the shape well. But I am thinking this will be a great pattern to use for a summer dress too, except that you have to take note that this design is cut loose to allow layering of the dress over a shirt/sweater. If you want to wear it on its own, you will have to make modifications to the armholes for a better fit.


If I had to choose one pattern to make from this book, this is it. Partly because it is close to what I would wear on a daily basis, but also because 3/4 length sleeves are a lot more flattering than sleeveless tops, but also more comfortable and convenient than long sleeves. The description actually suggests making it a size smaller for a fitted look, but as with all shirts, the fit in the chest area is always tricky so I would strongly recommend making a muslin to test for fit first.


A very sweet design but made using fabric more frequently used for mens’ shirts. You can follow suit or even change your fabric choice to make a really sweet blouse. Even in pure black I think it will be really cool. My only gripe about this one? The length. It looks kind of short on the model, but I guess that can be easily rectified by lengthening the hemline and ruffle panel in front.


A proper classic shirt pattern that never goes out of date – you will definitely need this as a staple item in your stash of patterns.


This is the dress on the original cover of the Japanese version. This shirt dress is again made in jacquard fabric but I am sure the pattern can be adapted with lighter fabrics for warmer weather. The jacquard fabric does help alot in giving shape to the dress, which is probably the reason why it was chosen to be featured in this fabric. But personally I have not made clothes using jacquard fabric, have you?


There are also a couple of skirts included in this book. This is a typical A-line shaped skirt, but once again made interesting with the use of panels.


I love the lace detail on the shoulders, but I suspect the blouse the model is wearing is made of pretty thick fabric (wool perhaps?) which gives it some bulk. Honestly this fabric looks a little too heavy and not entirely flattering. The description does suggest changing the base fabric for different seasons to create brand new looks.

Now for the instructions. The how-to-make section of the book begins with an introduction of sewing tools, sizing, how to use paper patterns, as well as a glossary of the symbols used in the patterns.


Here’s the size chart (pic below) for your information. There are 4 sizes covered in this book – XS,S,M and L.

This chart indicates the completed dimensions of the garment, note that the projects are grouped into 3 different categories . Specifically – Loose, Shaped (with darts/shaping seams), Fitted. So the finished dimensions are different, depending on the ease of each garment. Units are primarily in inches, with their cm equivalent in brackets.


The how-t0-make instructions for each project is laid out like this. With Materials, Sewing Steps, Cutting Layout diagram, followed by detailed diagrams for each step.



The sewing steps may seem a little brief, but that is because every step is illustrated by a diagram.


The diagrams look like this. Note how both sets of measurements “inches (cm)” are included with every dimension on the diagrams.


There is a handy envelope at the back for storing your pattern sheets.


And there you have it, the latest Japanese Sewing Book to be translated into English.

Available for Pre order now from Amazon

Title : Basic Black – 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe
Author : Sato Watanabe
ISBN : 978-4805313084

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  • Reply Gaye May 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Love it! Thanks for the review!

  • Reply Elsa May 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I love Japanese sewing books. Thanks for the review. As usual, some fabulous simplicity here for all occasions. I will wait for it to hit the bookstores in Australia. X

    • Reply MaciNic July 8, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Try Readings Elsa – there’s free delivery in OZ & it’s only $19 😉

  • Reply EmSewCrazy May 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

    OOH I love all the blouses and those dresses with the tucks and darts are great. I think I’ll have to keep this one in mind.
    Thanks so much for doing all these great reviews. I can buy books and magazines with much more happiness because I am getting books I know I will use.

  • Reply MaciNic July 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Thank you SO much for such a detailed review – I have it already – it arrived in Australian bookshops last week & you give a really good summary of the patterns & instructions.
    I’m looking forward to it complementing my Japanese only pattern books/magazines – and there are some delightful patterns included.

  • Reply Help with Patterns – Basic Black dress b » Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics October 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    […] For more pictures from this book, see my full review here […]

  • Reply Maureen October 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I made pattern K last week in cute kitty fabric and it is a gorgeous pattern made up. I may have to make a few more 🙂

  • Reply Japanese Sewing Books in English » Japanese Sewing, Pattern, Craft Books and Fabrics October 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

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