Japanese pattern books

Continuing with today’s ADHD dump (but not so titled, it’d be too long and harder for me to remember) and following up on the tangent birthed in yesterday’s entry -on the subject of Japanese pattern drafting- what a whirl. Or whirlier (for Helen). In no particular order:

Couture et Tricot. I love this blog and don’t visit nearly enough. Blogger is Tany, a Luzo from Aveiro (most of the Portugese blogs I find are Brasilian). Her blog is great if you like sewing and want to brush up on your Portuguese (I minored in it). She writes every entry in English and Portuguese. Plus, she loves the whole Japanese pattern drafting thing too. Here’s a recent review. Thankfully, she provides the YesAsia links to purchase. Her blog roll is worth perusing too; taking you off on rabbit trails.

Previous to Tany’s blog, /anne left a link to the forum Misses’ Stylebook. This forum (run on really skinny software) is off the beaten path; it discusses Japanese pattern drafting and sewing. I’ve added this to my sidebar. If you’re interested in this whole topic, it’s a must stop. You have to be approved to join individually. I haven’t been approved yet. Assuming I will be.

Also found today is a book (ISBN:978-4-579-11144-2) written by Natsuno Hiraiwa (via May Studio). I’ll have to track that one down. The Misses Stylebook forum showed explicit styles. Natsuno is quite the designer, peruse her collections. I couldn’t stay long for fear I’d never leave but the cut of this skirt is cool.

The translator I hired (Noriko Momma) said the ruler thingy is described as for drafting sleeves and collars. As if it mattered. If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll buy it anyway. None of the other pattern makers on my block are likely to have one. Don’t you just love toys?

On books, I asked Noriko to find these on YesAsia if possible due to free shipping. She says:

Jacket & Coat Design Pattern Sewing Book. At yesasia.com , it is only $20.99 compared to £17.00 ($35 ebay)

New York Style Kids Clothes Pattern Book: This is not exactly the same book you showed me today. However, the title is very similar and is done by the same author; Yuji Ogata.

Vionnet (Amazon.co.jp). I could not find this book at yesasia.com. I also checked the Japanese bookstore here in US, but they don’t carry this book either. At amazon.cp.jp, the book itself is ¥2800 and the shipping oversea is ¥3000. So the total cost is ¥5800 (a little over $50). At ebay, without shipping was already £25 ($51 USD), so it doesn’t seem so bad to order from Amazon Japan after all.

Title: From one pattern, elegant vs casual. The book is about having 2 different looks (elegant or casual) from one pattern. The book includes 9 items, 19 patterns. It will come with actual size patterns from size S to XL.

Title: If there is a blouse, a skirt, or pants that fit me perfectly… This book is about finding the pattern that fit to your body perfectly. It introduces 28 different patterns in the book.

Title: Pants make you look slim and slender. I think that the title explains everything. This book is all about pants.
Standard, slim, straight, wide, you name it!

Title: Light-heartedly with a shirt-jacket. It is done by the same author as the pants book. This book is about the jacket, but not the heavy one, the one that you can wear it as a shirt or a blouse. It looks simple but there are some detailed work on pockets, lining, and so on.

Title: Basic Patterns for Kids Clothing. The book provides hands on instruction of making kids’ everyday clothes.

Title: My special day’s dress. This book is about the dresses that you would love to wear to parties, wedding reception, or some special occasions. Will come with patterns.

Title: One-piece dress and Jacket. This book is done by the same author as No3 book out of those 4 books you really want. It is focused on one-piece dresses and jackets.

Title: Flourish black clothes. From skirt to jacket and from simple to feminine….This book has various different patterns for those who loves black or even those who are not really care for black.

Title: Beautiful silhouette skirts. The book includes 27 different patterns of skirts with beautiful silhouette. It will come with an actual size patterns.

I paid $85 for Noriko’s services. If I overpaid, it wasn’t her fault. She quoted me the ridiculous rate of $15 an hour which I promptly doubled (she’s only working part time, teaching Japanese at NMSU, for a pittance of course). I haven’t figured my ROI on the deal yet but I made a new friend and it’s possible she’ll cart some books back for us (if we ask pretty-please); she’s going home for the holidays and can save us a whopping shipping charge. If you get some value out of her services, let me know; that’s rolled into my ROI. If nobody gets value out of it, then well, it was a losing proposition. Regardless, now I have somebody I can call up if I need something quick like. I hate to bug our two frequent visitors from Japan, Massa and Teijo (haven’t seen her in awhile) with these kinds of things.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Els says:

    Thanks Kathleen for all those shared links with the translations of the Japanese books.
    They look fantastic, and if you are able to order the Vionnet book I would like to order a copy via you.
    I am happy that you shared Tany’s blog she is such an impeccable seamstress and deserves to be in the spotlights.

  2. Elizabeth Z says:

    I have this one, although I haven’t sewed anything from it yet.

    Title: Basic Patterns for Kids Clothing. The book provides hands on instruction of making kids’ everyday clothes.

    It looks pretty cool, and should be usable for somebody moderately experienced from just the pictures. It looks to me to be intended for kids to learn to sew. The patterns are straightforward stuff (shorts, pants, skirts, overalls) with some cute touches and some instructions for
    making things by cutting down adult clothing.

    I got it at Kinokuniya in San Jose, so it is available from Japanese bookstores in the US. It sure looks like you should be able to order on-line from them at http://www.kinokuniya.com/ if you have a Japanese speaker around to help. Kinokuniya does list a book called ‘Vionnet’ but they don’t show a USD price which probably
    means they don’t have it in stock in the US. I know they special-order, but don’t know if it would be worth it if you’d then have to have them ship it.

  3. Tany says:

    Kathleen, thank you for the shout out (I still can’t believe it!) and for the great links you’ve provided! I’ve been growing interest on Japanese patternmaking books and magazines for quite some time (my first book was “Pattern Magic” and I owe you for finding it). I would also like to thank Els for her kind words; she has been a great friend and she is someone I look up to, not only sewing wise but also for her generosity in sharing her valuable knowledge. Hugs from Portugal!

  4. KatyRenee says:

    I too am obsessed. I blessed I work with someone who live in Japan for a while, to help translate. I just hope, hope, hope my job takes me to Japan in the future!! Maybe you, Kathleen, should start a bookstore on the side. I’m sure you’re not busy enough as it is!

  5. ernesto says:

    Hi Kathleen, I’m a student of Trish’s at EPCC, and i read your blog today, and when i saw that ruler, i was pretty sure it was a ruler for making arm holes. the only difference w/ the one pictured, and the one i own, and the school owns is that it’s thinner. Trish and i actually talked about the ruler, and your blogs about the pattern puzzles you’ve been posting. They are so awesome, and I’m seriously thinking of buying pattern magic, and some of these other books. I am also intrigued in creating the Möbius scarf. Thanks for the interesting posts!!

    Ernesto T.

  6. Marie-Christine says:

    Oh YUMMM! Thank you so much! I find it perfectly easy to use Japanese craft books, going backwards and all, especially since I’m native metric. Their pictures are a joy to use, marvels of clarity we could use in any language. But this ‘finding the stuff you like’ in a catalog is totally harrowing. And I’m having Kinokuniya withdrawal. Maybe if we all start ordering from yesasia they’ll improve with some simple English keywords? Maybe they’d even consider carrying Mrs stylebook. Sigh.

  7. Karmen Flach says:

    This link
    has the Mrs. Stylebook and also a selection of other Japanese pattern magazines and books.


  8. Karmen Flach says:


    I typed, copied and pasted too quickly….. I mistakenly sent the wrong link earlier and when I double-checked back tonight at the Etsy site that had carried the Mrs Stylemaker magazines, they were all sold out! My apologies for the mix-up.


  9. May says:

    FYI, the webpage for the publisher is

    There are two tabs you are interested in being sewists:

    The latter seems to include textbooks the Bunka school uses among which the Vionnet book you mention can be seen. The former has sewing books you’ve listed as well as other needle craft books.

    Bunka School has produced many prominent Japanese designers, including Kenzo, Yohji Yamamoto, and you can see their winning garment at the ling below:

  10. Kate O'Hara says:

    Yesterday I saw a bunch of these interesting pattern books at Kinokuniya Bookstore. Not having any ability to read Japanese I did not one but they look interesting. In the past I have thought nothing of buying Burda and 100 idees, language unconcerned. Is it a problem to understand the pattern instuctions and size information?

  11. nadine says:

    I’ve bought many Japanese “craft” project books and found that the graphics illustrations are so good you don’t need to learn the language at all. That said, I would say that if you are the type of person who is used to constructing things you would understand the drawings well. If you are the type of person who needs to be guided through something then you might find it challenging if the item has a construction you never experienced before. Most of these books print their measurements (in centimeters) so you have to convert for inches or just use their measurements. Some of the books provide the actual size pattern piece or you can xerox the shape and blow it up to get the scale you want on the copy machine.

    Mainly, if you can just put aside the nervous feeling of not recognizing the language you may realize that you can handle the project quite well. Sometimes, I take a scrap paper and go through the pictures and then write down in english what I understand the steps to be. That can help keep you on track.

    Hope this is helpful.

  12. nadine says:


    I’ve had problems with YesAsia in the past. When I went to order Pattern Magic 4 weeks early as I was giving a copy as a gift, they kept informing me that my shipment would be delayed 2 weeks. They sent me several of those emails. So reading their policy I decided to cancel the order as I located the books at my local Japanese bookstore. They wouldn’t let me cancel and mysteriously my shipment arrived 2 days later even though it was supposedly delayed a couple of weeks. They were quite stubborn about refusing the cancellation even though I’ve bought other books from them (with delays) and they say they will permit cancellations. They offered free shipping which it already had so no satisfaction there.

    I was put off from using them again but if you do order with them watch out for those delay shipment emails and don’t expect canceling will be accepted.

  13. may says:


    New Pattern Magic by Ms. Tomoko Nakamichi will be out soon on November 11th and looks like you can pre-order it from Yes Asia.


  14. Sarah says:

    The ruler thingy as you refered to it is a french curve and avaliable here in the states at most Joann’s. I’ve used mine plenty of times in redrafting shoulder seams as well as for the curve on some japanese sailor collar uniforms.

  15. Mark says:

    I live in Japan and when I used to sew I would buy a lot of Japanese sewing books.. Although patterns are sold to a certain extent in Japan, most of the “patterns” purchased are in book form, and most (but not all) of the sewing books are these pattern books.

    For instance, a “book” on jackets may actually consist of a couple of dozen spreads of color photographs of models wearing various jackets, with some assembly instructions. The the rest of the book is several fold-out pattern sheets for making the various jackets.

    To minimize paper, the pattern pieces for different patterns may be overlaid on each other in different colors. Usually you need to retrace the pattern onto pattern paper (which is sold in sewing stores). Often you need to add seam margins (I used a roller cutter with an offset guide to deal with seam margins, rather than draw them).

    As might be expected, the size range is on the small side (“small” being a euphemism for “non-obese” here).

    This reminds me of my favorite Japanese sewing gadget: A well-made pattern tracing wheel that had needle sharp spikes instead of the normal dull spokes. This tool is excellent for copying existing garments, since you can lay a sheet of pattern paper and the garment on a cork board and trace by punching little needle holes in the pattern paper.

    If anyone is planning a trip to Japan, the “Akihabara” of sewing in Tokyo is around the Nippori station on the Yamanote line. The police box at the station has maps showing the hundred or so fabric and notions shops (Tomato is the biggest, and my favorite, but there are many interesting hole-in-the-wall shops).

    Here’s the home page for the “Nippori Textile Wholesale Cooperative Society”:


    And a map of the member shops:


    Southwest of Akihabara there is also a tailoring district, but the shops are not geared towards the general public, so you need to wander around looking for them. Okadaya in Shinjuku is also an excellent fabric and sewing store, taking up a whole building, with lots of theatre costume designers hanging out there. Nagoya has a fabric district similar to Nippori. The Yuzawaya retail chain is also worth checking out.

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.