Bounty from a faraway land

A long overdue post on my Japan sewing haul.

Carl was in Japan for two weeks in February (the awesome thing about living in the Southern hemisphere: everyone else is in the season we want to be in..) and went out of his way to get to Nippori (Fabric Town) and Kinokuniya (a Japanese bookstore – its a chain but awesome, like if Readings was a chain with massive art and craft/ design sections) to pick up stuff for me. Carl was pretty impressed with the Kino he visited in Japan (there’s one in Sydney but I looked at their prices online and abandoned all hope) he sent me some pictures from his iPhone when he was in the shop and I had a minor blackout from the stacks of Japanese sewing books in there.

Australia has this strange publishing law setup to protect local interests from foreign competition – anything that’s not written/published in Australia has massive, massive markups on it to prevent loss of sales/ over-competition to local writers/ publishers (but since there isn’t a huge amount of local versions of everything, you just end up paying three times the Amazon cost for every book). Its actually cheaper to fly in books bought from the US/ the UK (including international shipping) then to buy them here. I usually buy English language books on Amazon UK/ US/ the Book Depository and Japanese books from Taeco on Etsy. Unfortunately Amazon UK no longer offers free shipping to Australia and New Zealand – so I haven’t bought anything from them this year (apart from redeeming a ₤12 coupon I had to get a Japanese-style French sewing book).

So I was pretty excited about the Japanese craft books Carl brought back:

Drape Drape 3 by Toshiko Sato (ISBN: 9784579113736. Browse-through here). It’d only just come out and I wasn’t planning on paying $39.95 + postage for it at Tessutti. So, overlooking for the moment the fact that I haven’t made anything I‘ve made one thing from the other two books, here are my favourites; the last one is pretty close to Vogue V1179 (the DKNY knit tunic dress) so if you love it and can’t get your hands on this book- you’re in luck. I’m giving away Vogue 1179 here.

Drape Drape 3

8:00 AM I smell awesome. 12:00 PM Eh still good. 4:00 PM eh... might leave my arms down for the last one..

Feminine Style by Junko Matsumoto (ISBN: 9784579113330 you can look inside this book here)- this book has multiple variations (real variations not just adding two straps onto a skirt and calling it a variation) from three basic patterns.

Periodic table of variations.

A periodic table of variations.

Some really simple and elegant garments here that should suit various body types.

Stand outs include:

Elegant basics in various well-lit settings

Get started with sewing by Koda Blue (ISBN: 9784579113491. Browse-through here). Hipster mecca. Basic, dart-less patterns that are perfect for beginners (and perfectly boring for everyone else). Great if you need to sweatshop a whole bunch of tops for your kids’ school fete and don’t want to have to worry to much about perfect fit. Also great for teenagers and fans of Burda’s post-2009 sack-obsession-phase. Everything is loose-fit. There are some cool ideas here, like the contrast floral sleeve facing on the cover dress which would be great for using up scraps (like the two 20 cm squares of Liberty you gave up smoking for), the basic pants and the roll collar top.

I can barely see that white top..

I can barely see that white top..

They may look like fat pants but they don't fit like fat pants.

Disclaimer: I didn’t chop her head off – it was already (highly unprofessionally) like that.

The star of the collection though is this top.



I wanted the book because I saw the top somewhere and was sold on it (assuming incorrectly that the whole collection would be along the same lines…).

Moving on, Les couleurs francaises by Ryoko Mon (ISBN: 9784579112791. Browse-through here). An oldie but a goodie. One of the first Japanese sewing books I came across on Etsy; it was hideously expensive back then so I put it off till now. I really like the dresses on the cover (I have a nani iro linen that Carl got for me on his last trip to Japan that’ll be awesome for this pattern). Other picks from this book:

Garments for ladies and little girls

These are a couple more little-girl-garments I liked but I've exhausted my cute kid photo quota for the year.

The absolute star of the collection, however, is this book: Cute dresses and skirts for adults by Kono Sanae (ISBN: 9784140311752, limited browse-through here). This book wasn’t on my list, I’d never laid eyes (or anything else) on it before. Carl spotted it in a little bookshop in Japan, browsed through it and picked it up as a surprise for me (the man has a good eye for fashion). It roxorr’d my soxoff! This book is awesome.

The dress on the cover – that this white one is a variation of, those aren’t two darts at the armscye, its an insert – check out the pattern pieces.

Dress of smoking-hot pattern awesomeness

This yoke dress actually has fairly high fitting-potential because the yoke ends curve downwards into the arm scye almost like – wait for it – darts!

Dress with curved yoke and cool little basic wrap that would be lace-tacular in black over evening wear.

This tunic top is just niiice. And last but not least – toile skirt cut on the bias (the little ye olde people are sliding off) with, you guessed it – a proper curved waistband. Niiice.

Basic tunic and an A-line skirt cut on the bias

A basic tunic and an A-line skirt cut on the bias

There’s also a super pin-tucked version of that skirt which looks like a bit of a pain to make (less so now I have a pin-tuck presser foot) but should be totally worth it in terms of the end result (which may vary based on the wearer’s waist to hip ratio, exclusions apply).

Carl also got me some Japanese cotton fabric, trim, a Japanese envelope pattern (I didn’t know they existed!) and some really cool stationery (and heaps of ‘exotic’ snacks and chocolates all of which are gone now).

Yes. They do everything right to left there..

Carl’s processing the photos he took in Nippori right now so the next post on this will be a semi-virtual walkthrough on shopping in Japan (for sewists).

All images copyright of their respective owners.

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