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Book Review – Sunny Day Recital Clothes

April 24, 2015

Have you noticed something different about the site? Yes! It’s the long overdue revamp I’ve been meaning to do. I know it was time for a reorganization of the navigation when I found myself unable to locate certain posts or book reviews. It’s funny how I have to resort to Googling my own website as a faster way to locate a certain pattern/book rather than flipping through the physical books. I guess that’s the beauty of a digital archive. But then again, I realized that many useful articles have been archived by date and will not be seen by most unless they know what they are looking for. So I’ve decided to do some housekeeping, literally trawling through more than 300 posts, and re-categorize every single one of them.

Turns out that I have not been disciplined enough when it comes to labeling my posts by categories, and some articles that are useful should have been kept sticky instead of being buried in the archives. I wanted to show more posts from each category up front so that it will be easier whether it is your first time or a regular visitor to the website.

The new homepage features the latest posts in the featured area, followed by the latest book reviews, book releases, and then the ever useful guides that I wrote long ago but are still relevant today. The last section displays, by thumbnails, all the sewing tutorials or sew-alongs that I have created. For each of the sub-sections, note that there is also a link that brings you to another page, showing you all the archived posts for that category. For example, there are way too many book reviews to display on one page, so I am only displaying the latest 4 on the first page.

Well, enough about the new layout, let’s get back to this week’s book review.


I bought this book on a whim end of last year, after seeing a really cute dress in a sneak preview of the book online. This book is called Sunny day & Recital clothes for Girls and Boys. Sizes 100-130cm, with 4 of the projects available in size 140cm. The cover displays the recital clothes, but check this really cute dress out that made my buy the book.


The Sailor Collar mini-dress in Diamond print

Within days of receiving the book, I went fabric shopping, but to my disappoint the local Spotlight did not carry any fabric like the one shown in the book. It really is just a simple square pattern turned on the diagonal. It is quite hard to find online as well. There are plenty of check patterns but non with such big squares. The other unique thing about this fabric is that the lines are not overlapping like on a woven check fabric. Since I promised my daughter to make this dress for her year end party in school, I had to buy something. So I settled on polka dots…again 🙂

purpledress (1)

The sailor collar on the dress is actually fake, i.e. not sewn on the dress. The ribbon in the middle is attached using a safety pin (like a brooch) and the sash ribbon is attached using two loops on the side seams, which means you can actually remove these and it will look like a simple dress. What my daughter has been doing, is to use the fake collar on other outfits as well. She just loves it.

Other than the dress I fell in love with, there are other very useful patterns to use for formal occasions such as piano recitals, or weddings?


Mini Puff Sleeves & Sleeveless Noble Dress (100-140cm)


This dress comes with a detailed step by step lesson, including how to make the organza rose brooch.


Ribbon and Frill Dress and Shawl (100-140cm)


Some color variations you can try if you are making them for sisters.


For the boys – formal Tailcoat with Bowtie


Variation of the sailor collar dress. In bold stripes..can’t find this fabric in Spotlight too 🙁
By the way, do note that this dress is a mini-dress, which means the skirt is short. So do measure your girls for skirt length before cutting, in case you want it to be longer.


School Fashion Style Suit Set (100-140cm)


Learn to make a proper Jacket for the School Fashion style suit set in Lesson 2


Pair up a pretty Tulle skirt with the formal Jacket


Hunting (refers to the beret) & Knickerbockers


For the boy : Glen Check Vest & Half pants and Necktie
For the girl : Tuck dress and Bolero


 The same garments without the vest and bolero.


Dress down variation of the previous pattern

More fun patterns for Special Events…


Halloween Set


Christmas Set


Alice in Wonderland style Collared dress & Apron


Minnie Mouse! Polka dotted skirts & Hair ribbons


No prizes for guessing the inspiration behind this dress.
Snowflake dress & Chou Chou (scrunchie)


Princess Dress for Ball & long Panier (petticoat)


Mini Polka dots Collared Dress (this is actually a variation of the Alice in Wonderland dress)


The How-to-make section begins with an introduction on the different types of fabrics used in the book.  For formal wear it usually includes lots of satin, organza, tulle and jacquard fabrics. For a list of commonly used fabric names, you can refer to this post


There are also pages showing you the basics such as pattern tracing, sewing tools you will need etc.


The size chart for the book. The leftmost column reads : size / height / bust / waist / hip


There are 2 detailed sewing lessons as shown earlier, and for the rest, they are laid out in the usual format.


A close up of one of the diagrams showing you how to insert a dress zip.


2 full size pattern sheets (printed on both sides)


Clothes recital and sunny days of a girl and a boy / Nihon Web Publishing
click on thumbnail to buy now from cdjapan

Title : 晴れの日と発表会の服 Sunny Day and Recital Clothes
ISBN : 978-4529053655

I hope you liked today’s book review. For me it was a great addition to my library, not just because of the sailor collar dress, but because you will always come across some occasion when you need to make formal clothes for your kids. Even if you don’t, you can always make them for dress up play and even adapt them for daily wear.


Back to School Sewing Patterns Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Magazines Kids Sewing Patterns

The Last Cucito Magazine

March 28, 2015

Last September, I bought this magazine – Cucito Fall 2014. It was lying on my desk with a pile of other Japanese sewing books for review and when I came to it, I thought it was quite late into the Fall season to review this. There were patterns for Halloween which was over by that time. The clothes were also more suitable for fall than winter. So I left it out, not knowing it will be the last of the series! …. .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·.


Ever since I started sewing, I started buying sewing magazines as they are obviously great value for money. There are patterns for clothes and accessories from Baby size – Kids. The previous incarnation of Children’s sewing magazine by Boutique-sha was this one – Kodomo Boutique (where kodomo means Children in Japanese)


This was the oldest magazine I could find in my collection. Released in May 2007. Look at that price! (That’s about 8USD) These magazines are more than half the price of regular sewing books, but contain more than double the patterns. This is because as a magazine they have loads of advertising, with sponsored projects by fabric companies/stores, as well as sewing machine companies. Kodomo magazine contained only kids patterns. Patterns for boys and girls, babies, as well as kids accessories like bags and crafts.  There were not many step by step photos, and seem to cater to an audience of mothers who are more advanced in sewing since there were not many beginner instructions.

Cucito was the successor to this magazine and it was more beginner friendly, at least in my opinion… There were also matching patterns for Mums and kids, as well as more sewing lessons with step by step instructions. Unfortunately, Cucito seems to have run its course. On the publisher’s website, it states that the last issue of Cucito will be the 2014 Fall edition. It goes on to mention that they have been publishing Children’s sewing magazines, starting from Kodomo boutique since 1974! That’s a whopping 40 years!

Let’s look at a few pictures from the last issue and see what you will be missing…


A whole bunch of patterns. From tops, to bottoms and accessories. For both girls and boys and some for Mums too.


Matching tunics for Mum and Daughter


Recent issues of Cucito have also featured patterns for the in-between age group of Tweens. i.e. 130-150cm.


Another kid-tween pattern.


Boys and girls patterns, featuring the latest fabric range.


Mickey and Minnie costumes for Halloween, or just that outing to the Happiest place on Earth 🙂


Babies patterns


Kids accessories, like bags…


cucitofall2014_11 cucitofall2014_12

and hats (that’s a faux wool print fabric by the way!)

Instead of a standard format magazine released every season, the publisher says that they will be publishing 5 magazines in different formats and content to update it to today’s sewing needs. So do look out for those as well. I have already reviewed the first one, Cotton Friend Kids. Pricing wise, it is more expensive than the original magazine, at 972 yen compared to 880 yen for Cucito magazine. I won’t be reviewing the Handmade school accessories book because I have way too many school accessories books lying around and they are really mostly the same patterns.

Cotton Friend Kids (Read my review)
published 28 Oct 2014
「年中使える 手作りの通園通学グッズ」
Handmade School Accessories
you can use all year round
published 28 Nov 2014
Easy Handmade Clothes Clothes for Children
2015 Summer
To be released 23 Apr 2015
Cotton Friend Kids 2
To be released 19 May 2015
Easy Fall/Winter Clothes for Children (working title)
To be released late Aug 2015

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Japanese Sewing Magazines Kids Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Cotton Friend Kids

January 30, 2015

Before the excitement of receiving all the English translated books over the past few weeks, I had accumulated a number of Japanese sewing books that I’ve been wanting to share with you. I thought I had better review this before the season is over!

Cotton Friend Kids! is a special edition from the Cotton Friend magazine. Most Cotton Friend magazines are adult oriented with some matching patterns for kids. This special edition is the complete opposite. This magazine focuses on patterns for kids (both boys and girls), and a few matching patterns for Mum.


All the projects included in this book!


Before we begin, let’s look at the sizes included. There are 2 size charts. Sizes included are S-LL for the adults (top chart) and 100-130cm for kids (bottom chart)
and the measurements are for (in order of left to right)
Bust / Waist / Hip / Back length / Sleeve length / Rise / Inseam / Height
all measurements in cm


The book starts out with a series of matching outfits for Mom and Kids. The awesome thing about this book, and probably due to the fact that it’s actually more of a magazine with advertisements, all the fabric sources are listed.


A cropped sleeve tunic dress with a tie front.


Tunic with elastic gathers made using the new cotton sateen range from Echino.


Tunic dress/top with pleats


Simple coat (without lining) made with fluffy wool knit and enclosed with snap buttons.


Wrap apron made with Cotton+Steel fabric


Matching skirts for Mom and Daughter


The next section features a basic tunic pattern, and how you can make simple modifications to it to make various outfits.


The above two outfits were shown in different fabrics in the Mom & daughter section


A blouse length version of the basic pattern. The fabric is too cute!!! Double gauze fabric with blue raindrops on a chocolate background. See more color options of this fabric here

For this basic pattern, there is a 6-page tutorial with full colored photographs that show you every step of the making progress.



Close up of the photos


A Liberty x Hello Kitty special. It’s not the first time Liberty prints have featured Hello Kitty, but this range was created for the 40th anniversary of Hello Kitty. The blouse above is a round neck blouse with gathered sleeves and lots and lots of frills on the front (you will need 1.4-1.7m of fabric for this blouse alone!) That’s like a really expensive blouse!


There are also matching collared shirts for Mom and daugther.


Close up of the Mom’s shirt. This is my favourite print of all the 40th anniversary prints. This print is called Hatsune Garland.



There are also patterns for accessories made using the same fabric. Which is great given that the fabrics are so expensive. I may be better off buying a small fat quarter and making accessories out of it instead.

The next section is on stylish Autumn & Winter outfits.  I know Autumn has long passed, but still valid for Winter yes? 🙂



These cute hood jacket and vest are made using nylon quilt fabric.


Another tunic style dress, but I like it because of the fabric – Autumn Woods by Moda Japan.


These hooded parkas are made using waterproof nylon and have a slit opening in front. The front of the jacket is a high neck enclosure with velcro for easy wearing.


Some straight sewing patterns – read – no pattern tracing yay! Love the cute fabric on the top by the way, it’s from Brita Sweden RUT in 05 Pink.


Fashionable knickerbockers pants for kids


The next section is on sewing accessories with Animal motif prints


Panda Tote bags using fabric from Finlayson


Detachable pocket pouch made with Walk through the forest – grizzly bear print


Make a cute pair of ear muffs (I don’t quite see the animal motif/design in this one :P) and turn an ordinary pair of mittens into cute little kitten mittens!


The next section is a really cute idea. I have actually bought fleece blankets for sewing projects, as they come with super soft textures and prints that are cuter than those you can find off the bolt. These fluffy blankets come in sizes of 100cm x 70cm, made of fluffy fleece and are already quilted. The two vests above are ingeniously placed cut so that the binding around the blankets doubles up as the binding on the vest, so the only bias you have to sew are around the armholes and neckline.


Option 2 – make a hooded poncho. However, this particular pattern requires two pieces of blanket. One for the main body and one for the hood. You will be left with quite a lot of excess material from the piece used for the hood though. But you can always make a matching pair of socks or mittens or something?


Some more cute accessories for kids – detachable pocket pouch (above)


Hair accessories for girls

CottonFriendKids38 CottonFriendKids39

Elastic detachable tie perfect for little boys



With the exception of the full color step by step photos tutorials, the rest of the patterns are presented as above, in diagrams with color prints to indicate the orientation of the fabric.


Close up of the instructions


There are 2 sheets (4 sides) of patterns included. Note that there are many other projects using straightline sewing in the book, for those you have to construct your own patterns. But they are usually simple rectangles with slight deviations and are easy to make.

Title : Cotton Friend Kids! 2014-2015 Autumn Winter
ISBN : 978-4-8347-3885-8
Publisher : Boutique Sha

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books Kids Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Kids Yukata and Jinbei

July 9, 2014

I’ve received a lot of questions lately about the kimono, yukata and jinbei from different readers, and I realized that other than the seasonal pattern in Cucito Kids, I don’t actually have a book on making them or even tried making one. Well, the fact is that my kids will never get a chance to wear them, especially the pretty yukatas. But they have worn the jinbei when we stayed at certain Ryokans (some of the more family friendly ones offer them in kids sizes), and it is so comfy they can lounge around in them the whole day after their onsen.

What is the difference between the kimono, yukata and the jinbei? I’m not an expert but I’ll give you the layman’s explanation 😛  – A kimono is the formal, traditional Japanese garment worn for traditional ceremonies, whereas the yukata is more like a casual summer kimono made of cotton, unlined and is usually worn for summer festivals. The jinbei is a 2pc set with a wrap top and matching pants, usually worn as nightwear or housewear although they can also be jazzed up and worn for summer festivals as well.


This book was recently published in June 2014 by Boutique-Sha, which is also the publisher of Cucito magazine. Thus some of the patterns will look familiar as they have been featured in the magazine before, however, I bought it as it is a collection of many different variations of the yukata and jinbei patterns, for both boys and girls, and even some baby jinbei  patterns as well. The kids sizes range from 90-120cm and the baby sizes are for 70-80cm.


The different types of garments include – yukata, 2pc type yukata, yukata dress, jin bei, jinbei dress and baby’s jinbei. For each type there are a few pattern variations.


One piece Kids Yukata – for both boys and girls. Patterns for matching obi and accessories (e.g. bags, hair accessories) are all included in the book.


Another version of the one piece yukata


2 piece Yukata – Top and skirt sewn separately


Obi belt, matching bag and hair accessories patterns are all included.


Another 2 piece, with a wire frame purse accessory


I know I have this pattern somewhere in one of my past Cucito magazines, isn’t it sweet?  This is a Yukata dress, complete with lace and frills.


And a tulle sash!


Another Yukata dress. The fabric is adorable!


And now for the jinbei….


Very comfortable, casual loungewear, perfect for playtime.


The more fashion conscious girls may prefer this more girly style jinbei.


Baby jinbei…


Included in the book – how to put on the obi belt.


Tying of the fancy tulle sash ribbon for the yukata dress…


Most importantly, there are 3 detailed sewing lessons included in this book, namely for the 2pc yukata, yukata dress and the jinbei. Pretty much what you will need to tackle all the projects in the entire book.


You can’t go wrong with these clear, step-by-step photos.


As for the size chart, they have included quite a detailed one in here, with measurements for Bust, waist, hip, back length, sleeve length, pants rise, inseam, even weight and approximate ages.


There is also one full page on basic hand sewing techniques.


The individual project pages look pretty much the same as the usual how-to-make pages, but do take note the long list of materials, and that for a yukata, or a yukata dress, a lot of fabric is needed. A one-piece yukata requires 4m of fabric for the largest size (120cm). The 2-pc uses slightly less and the jinbei uses the least fabric. So do check carefully before purchasing your fabric.


A close up of the diagrams.


One actual size pattern sheet is included.


Title : Made of Cotton – Kids’ Yukata and Jinbei
ISBN : 978-4-8347-3767-7
Publisher : Boutique-Sha

Back to School Sewing Patterns Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Magazines Kids Sewing Patterns

Magazine Review – Cucito Spring 2014

May 5, 2014

Today we are going to take a look at the Spring Issue of Cucito  2014. This issue will satisfy anyone who loves sailor suits. Especially adorable on children!


The sailor tops come in boys, girls and even an adult version for Mom! (in S,M,L sizes)

There are also patterns for bottoms that will go well with the sailor blouse.


Skirts for the girls,


Pants for the boys.


There is a detailed step by step sewing lesson for the making of the pants, which is a simple elastic waistband pants with side pockets.


In this issue’s regular feature for older girls (130-150cm), there are some pretty spring blouses, tweed shorts,


and a versatile Zip up all-in-one pattern which comes in two different variations. The dress variation (red) and the one-piece shorts romper (in black)


There is also a special occasion formal dress segment for girls.


More casual wear – The blouse on the left is actually similar to the blouse made in the older girls section, and the dress on the left is a variation of the same pattern. That fabric on the right is so familiar, I’ve actually seen it at Spotlight. It is a Japanese cotton lawn that costs about $18/m (approx USD14.4/m). It’s scary how expensive fabric is here.


More pants for the boys, I wanted to show you this one because I really like the details on the short version – cuffed hem, box pleat pockets and button details.



And now, some projects for the babies. More sailor suits. The pants are so cute! 🙂



For the girls, the outfit comes with a skirt that has a front pleat and contrast lining. This skirt pattern comes with full color step by step photographs.


Other than clothing projects, there are also patterns for accessories, like this fabric growth chart shaped in a giraffe.



There is also a special feature for embroidery. A 5 page full color special with step by step photos on the different stitches, techniques and patterns you will need to personalize your sewing creations.


Ideas for using fabric scraps – making hair accessories.


Easy and cute stuff to make for kids.


 2 actual size pattern sheets included.

Title : Cucito Spring 2014
Publisher : Boutique-Sha