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feminine wardrobe

Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos Translations and Help with Patterns

Short video tutorial for Pattern A of Feminine Wardrobe

June 6, 2013

School holidays officially started this week. I’m overjoyed that I don’t have to wake up in the dark for one month, but at the same time, there will be very little time for blogging and sewing and taking videos. Therefore during the month of June I’m going to work on guides and translations. Basically catching up on all the half written posts and updates I’ve been wanting to for a long time.

There will be book reviews of Japanese sewing books that have been translated to English (did you catch the Now in English version of Feminine Wardrobe on Monday?) , translations requests that I have done and should have put them up long ago, and also a much needed update to my list of sewing terms. I will also be organizing some of my archived contents to make it more useful for your reference if you are just starting out with Japanese sewing books.

The first translation request I’m going to talk about came in the second week of May. That was before I received my copy of Feminine Wardrobe in English. The pattern that needed to be translated was pattern A in the book which is the pattern for this dress.

 and the tunic top below.

It was an interesting project because Jill, who sent me the request, actually had some help with the translation but was not able to sense out of it. I looked through the translation and found that other than one major mistake by the original translator, the confusion was probably due to direct translation of the words rather than translating into sewing terms. So I made an attempt to do my version below. I added some explanatory notes in grey, and tried to explain it in sewing terms rather than translating word for word.


There was a specific step that was a little difficult to understand. It involved sewing of the of the facing to the bodice around the armholes. In this dress, there is one piece for the front bodice and one for the back. The garment is A-lined so no back enclosure from neck down to the waist was needed. However, there needed to be a opening in the neckline for the head to get through. The pattern called for the neckline to be sewn and topstitched first, before sewing the armholes. For tops with 2 separate back bodice pieces, you can sew the neckline and armholes right sides together, then pull through the shoulder gaps to flip the garment right side out. In this case, there is only one back piece so if you sew the neckline and armholes in the usual way, it will not be possible to turn the garment right side out.

Compare my translation (above) to the one below (from the English version). After reading both, I can say that neither explained it very well. Yup even my own doesn’t sound quite right. I can see it in my head because I wrote those words, but I’m not sure if the message gets across.

So I made a video tutorial! Just a short one that skips the first few steps and goes straight to the important bits, so please ignore the poor sewing (like any mis-alignments of seams if you spot any). I used a child size bodice so that everything could fit in better within the viewfinder and more wide angle shots can be taken easily compared to an adult size pattern. I hope I am doing it right, or at least this is my interpretation of the instructions which seems to work.

There is another pattern in another book 毎日の心地よい服 (Step 7 of Flare blouse “G”) that used this method.  I will post the translation of that blouse next week. I hope this will help those of you who are trying to follow the instructions for sewing the armholes. Happy Sewing!

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Feminine Wardrobe – Now in English

June 3, 2013

I recently discovered the Japanese version of this book through one of my readers, who sent me a request for translation. I don’t have this Japanese sewing book in my collection (I don’t know why!) but I heard so many raves about it online. I searched for it and found out that an English version was due for release in late May.

And then guess what? The very awesome folks at Laurence King (publishers of this book and many more translated pattern books coming your way) sent me a review copy of the Feminine Wardrobe (plus the Stylish Dress Book in English that I will review next week)! The minute I opened it I was hooked. I got to sewing immediately and I finished one top over the weekend.

The book is gorgeous. Not just the fact that there are patterns for 21 beautiful skirts, dresses and tops, but the photos are stunning and it makes me want to make everything. If only I had the time!

The projects in the book are divided into three different themes. Town, Party and Resort.

The book starts with “Town” projects – I imagine these refer to easy to wear pieces for a day out in town?  This is a really cute peasant blouse. Definitely making this one to wear on a daily basis with my shorts/jeans. I just need to find the right fabric.

 A really cute dress that you can wear to work too!

 I love tunics, perfectly comfortable for dress down days.

This is a variation of the bow tie shift dress but with a capelet attached. This dress uses a double-faced double gauze which has small checks on one side and large checks on the other. It makes sense since you can get to see quite a bit of the reverse side of the capelet hanging out. But it’s not easy to find double-face double gauze fabric. Maybe sewing two pieces of co-ordinating single layer gauze fabrics together will work?

 I really love this dress. I love the ruffles, the shape and even the choice of fabric, which is in my favourite color! But the model looks like she has a really small shoulder frame, and I’m wondering if the cutting is small or is it due to the angle the picture is taken. This dress is so simple and looks easy to wear but if I am making this I would make a muslin first just in case it does not look good on my broad shoulders.

This looks a little maternity like, and it could probably be useful for mums-to-be looking for a stylish dress pattern. I do like the draped collar and the puffy sleeves but will probably wear this with a belt.

Moving along to party pieces, where the style is slightly dressier but still casual enough for everyday wear. This has got to be my favourite piece in the book! It’s so pretty and sweet. The sleeves are made with two layers of fabric that extend out from the main bodice like petals. The fabric used in the picture is actually a silk shantung, which has a bit of body and helps to hold up the sleeves.

I didn’t have any silk shantung, so I made mine in a Japanese lawn which has a bit of a seersucker feel. It was hard to get sleeve edges finished right as the fabric was a little bit too thin to do a threefold hem nicely (that explains the lack of close up shots ;P) There are tucks in both the front and back as well as pleats on the sleeves near the shoulders. It was pretty easy to sew too since there were no zips or buttons involved.

Another one for the to-do list if only i can find more time to sew for myself. This top requires alot of lace though.

This looks like a simple skirt right?

 It’s actually a convertible sashed skirt/dress. Wear it anyway you want!

Another interesting take on a simple tunic. It’s not really noticeable from the picture, but the fabric is a double-sided fabric that has polka dots on one side, and stripes on the other. The ruffles around the bust is using the reverse stripey side. And I love the ribbon tie detail on her left shoulder. I also wish there was a pattern for the gorgeous skirt that she is wearing.

The picture above shows the model wearing the scalloped hem dress with a layered stole. The layered stole is beautiful but unfortunately is not included in the book. The dress is actually a variation of the petal sleeve blouse with tucks in the front and back, but with puff sleeves that end with a grosgrain ribbon tie at the cuffs.

 At this point I’m convinced that it’s either the styling, or the photography or the model that makes everything look so good that I want to make everything in this book. But I think I will look rather ridiculous wearing a big bow tie. How does she make it look so natural and not too over-the-top?

Of course, you can choose to wear the bow at the back, or even leave the bow out completely since it is made separately from the tunic. But I guess the tunic alone will look too plain and simple without it.

Now for some Resort style clothes. This is a bra-top sundress. A very versatile pattern that can be adjusted for fit using the ribbon from each side of the bra-top. You can also extend the hemline to make a maxi dress using this pattern.

So cute and summer-y. Feel like going for a summer holiday yet?

Another variation of the petal sleeve dress as well as the scalloped hem dress. This is also the dress featured on the cover of the book.

The how-to-make section starts off with a size chart. I thought this should be pretty useful if you are considering buying this book.  Japanese sewing pattern books usually come in cm but this book comes with both inches and cm as well. Not just in the size charts, but on all the measurements in the pattern how-to-make.

*Edited to add : The original Japanese version of this book provided S,M,L and LL Japanese sizes which are roughly equivalent to XS-L in the same chart above. The following table shows the dimensions for Japanese sizes S,M,L and LL.

Size Bust Waist Hip
S 72~80 58~64 82~90
M 79~87 64~70 87~95
L 86~94 69~77 92~100
LL 93~101 77~85 97~105

The brilliant thing about this book is that all 21 garments are derived from variations of 7 main patterns. It helps to minimize the number of pieces you need to trace. But not all the patterns can be shared as some of the variations have their own set of patterns. So do check the instructions and cutting layout for each garment carefully.

The format of the project how-to-make is pretty similar to the standard Japanese sewing book format. The only difference is that you get two sets of measurements – in inches and cm. Very useful for those of you used to sewing in inches. The sewing sequence is shown on a main diagram as well as in step by step point form.

The details of each step are illustrated with clear diagrams and for each diagram ,wherever necessary, the steps are further broken down into more detailed steps.

I don’t have this book in Japanese so I can’t compare page for page, but in some Japanese books, when referring to procedures that have been covered in previous projects, it will be indicated right next to the step. For example, step 1 may look like this
1   Sew the tucks in the bodice (refer to page 53 step 2) 

However, in this book the direct reference to the specific step was left out. I was a little confused while sewing this petal sleeve blouse, as the instructions seem pretty brief and not that self-explanatory…. Then I notice the words in bold right on top.
For more detailed sewing instructions, see pg. 49 and 50 

Yes, the text was in bold for a reason. I just didn’t see it the first few times. I kept thinking that the upside down triangles were arrows pointing at the diagram below. It was also at this point when I realized how this pattern (called C2) is actually a variation of the other pattern (C1). I’m must have been asleep when I first read it. Or just too eager to get started on sewing.

The actual size patterns are included in a little plastic pocket on the back page. No need to tear it out . Yay! Notice how the diagrams of the garments are included on the cover of the pattern sheet to help you identify and locate the patterns easily.

So what do I love about this book? The fact that there are so many pieces that are not just wearable, but easy to make as well. There are a couple of pieces that require more work, such as ruffles or tucks. But the results are so pretty I think it’s worth it!

Title : Feminine Wardrobe
Author : Jinko Matsumoto
ISBN No : 978-1780671246
Publisher : Laurence King Publishers

You can buy the book Feminine Wardrobe from Laurence King which offers free UK delivery (and also international shipping. Check the website for shipping fees), unfortunately this book seems to be out of stock on their website at the moment.

Alternatively, the book is available on (link below)

* is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Next week I shall be reviewing another translated Japanese Sewing Book – Stylish Dress Book – Simple Smocks, Dresses and Tops by Yoshiko Tsukiori. Look out for it!