Japanese Pattern Books – Part 1

So, I have a lot of Japanese pattern books. A lot. Today, I thought it might be fun to show you my library of beloved kids’ pattern books (I also have a lot of pattern books for grown-ups…an intervention may be in order). 

I’ve gotten quite a few requests for recommendations, and though I can’t claim to be any sort of expert, I have sewn a fair amount from most of these and have my faves (which I’ve shared with you at the very bottom).

I plan on doing a more elaborate review that includes what I hope to be helpful information about each book as well as all the items I’ve sewn per book all laid out in a pretty way, but for now, just a simple listing because it’s already novel-length as it is…

Girly Style Wardrobe by Yoshiko Tsukiori
Publisher: Bunka

Onnanoko no Fuku, Tezukuri no Fuku (Clothes for Girls, Handmade) by Yoshiko Tsukiori
Publisher: Bunka

Happy Homemade vol.2 Kids no Fudangi (Every Day Clothes for Kids) by Ruriko Yamada
Publisher: Bunka

Happy Homemade vol.5 Kids no Genki na Fudangi (Fun/Active Every Day Clothes for Kids) by Ruriko Yamada – (I have not yet sewn anything from this book yet – that will change soon!)
Publisher: Bunka

Sunao de Kawaii Onnanoko no Fuku (Innocent and Cute Girl’s Clothes) by Akiko Man0
Publisher: Bunka

Oshare ga Sukina Onnanoko no Fuku (Clothes for Stylish Girls) by Akiko Mano
Publisher: Bunka

Heart Warming Life Series: Oshama na Onnanoko no Oyofuku (Fancy Girl Clothes)* by Yuki Araki
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

*This one is not available on the Kinokuniya site but I found it on the Japanese Amazon site.

Heart Warming Life Series: Mainich Kiru Onnanoko Fuku (Daily Wear for Girls) by Yuuki Katagai
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

Onnanoko no Oshare Fuku (Stylish Clothes for Girls) by Yuki Araki
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

Heart Warming Life Series: Onnanoko no Odekake Fuku (Girls’ Clothes for Special Occasions or the literal translation is Girl’s Clothes for Outings) by Yuki Araki
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

Heart Warming Life Series: Chiisana Onnanoko no Oyafuku (Clothes for Little Girls) by Yuki Araki – This book focuses on knits and I haven’t made anything from it yet.
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

Heart Warming Life Series: Honnori Sweet Onnanoko no Fuku (Girl’s Clothes with a touch of sweet) by Yuki Araki
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

A Sunny Spot: Oshare de Kawaii Onnanoko no Fuku (Stylish and Cute Girl’s Clothes) by Mayuko Murata
Publisher: Nihon Vogue

Kantan Sukkiri Onnanoko Fuku Otokonoko Fuku (Quick and Easy Girls’ and Boys’ Clothes) by Polka Drops
Publisher: Nihon Vogue



1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

These are my favorite ones – I love them all, but I’m drawn to the patterns in these books the most. They’re all simple designs, but I like that many of them have subtle unexpected details like angled pockets on a tunic or a knit top with ruched sides seams. Ultimately most of the books have at least a few patterns that are so similar to ones in other books as to be interchangeable, but I get these books for styling inspiration as well, so I don’t mind the duplication.

I get all my books from Kinokuniya here in Seattle. I find that the Nihon Vogue books by Yuki Araki have more advanced techniques compared to others, which I am liking more and more. For a beginner testing out the waters of Japanese patterns, I think the first four listed (in the beginning of the post, at the top) have the easiest patterns.

By the way, the English translations in the parentheses are approximations that I came up with and I included the phonetic representation of the Japanese titles because isn’t it fun to know what they’re supposed to sound like? No?

Goodness, this turned out much longer than I meant it to be! Are you as addicted to Japanese pattern books as I am? Let’s commiserate…


Sewing Inspiration


I get inspiration for the clothes I sew for K all over the place: my Pinterest boards are out of control, I look through my Japanese pattern books all the time, and I seem to get about a dozen catalogs in the mail every week (Anthropologie, Mini Boden and JCrew get the most attention). And don’t get me started on all the blogs!

But I am most inspired by people I see in passing. I can barely remember what I cooked for dinner the night before, but I rarely forget outfits. I’ve always been this way. Recently I saw a posh woman, sliding into her car, wearing mile-high black heels and a short dark brown coat with a mini, poufy skirt. It was cinched at her waist just so, and looked oh so fancy and not at all trashy. It made me so curious: where would you wear something like that at 10am on a Tuesday, bare-legged in the cold, February morning? I loved it though.

And then I saw a young woman at a cafe, sporting the perfect grey knitted scarf with a sweater of a very similar hue, and there was the poufy mini skirt again. I adored the super long knee-high socks she wore and stored the outfit away in the back of my mind. And so ideas start percolating and I look through my patterns and fabric to create the silhouette I have mentally designed. Often, I get sidetracked by one fabric or another and begin to imagine other possibilities, tucking that original idea away for another time. My plans for a poufy mini turned into the suspender skirt, for example.

What inspires you to sew? Is it usually a pattern? A certain fabric? A particularly stylish girl you see in a magazine? I’m inspired by them all!

In other sewing news, I took the advice I received from a few of you and got the Wiksten Tova pattern – I’m taking the plunge to sew for myself after a three year hiatus! I have some Essex linen prepped and I just might have something to show you soon….


Quinoa Salad

This past weekend I had a rare girl’s night out and had an opportunity to sample the amazing food at Poppy, where they serve all their meals in “thali” form. The word means “plate” in Hindi, and is a style in which a variety of dishes are served at once, kind of like tapas. I got the vegetarian version, and the tiny ceramic plates and bowls made me coo with happiness because I’m all about mini things.

Four hours and thirty delicious miniature dishes later (we each had 10), my friends and I were still jabbering away, so the hostess had to practically man-handle us to the bar area to seat other paying customers. She was supremely gracious about it, and we ended up scoring free dessert. I hardly ever go out at night (or go to fancy restaurants) and just hang out with friends without kids screaming bloody murder in the background, so this was a special treat on every level indeed.

Anyway, one of the topics that came up during the dinner was the horrific effects of sugar. My friends are awesomely health-conscious and in fantastic shape. Me? Not so much. I LOVE sugar. I crave it, worship it, go the extra mile to include it at all times. Toss in some butter with the sweetness, and I’m aces. But after some chilling facts of the poisonous properties of sugar, I almost, almost passed on the free dessert.

Later, I thought about sugar some more and found that my enthusiasm for the sweet stuff was waning just a tad. Not completely, mind you, but I do want to be healthier. Which finally brings me to the point of this post. Hounded by the guilt of saccharide over-consumption, I made quinoa salad. Tons of it.

It’s quite delicious. I like using Trader Joe’s quinoa (the tri-color is especially tasty, but I used plain here). I also added some leftover Israeli couscous aka ptitim that I just discovered is considered children’s food in Israel – no wonder I like it so much. But I think I prefer this salad without the couscous.

I hesitate to even call it a recipe but here’s what I did:

1. First  you make some quinoa. The method I like for making quinoa is here. The key is in the water to quinoa ratio – the packaging always recommends too much. 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rinsed quinoa is perfect. Place fluffy quinoa in a big bowl.

2. Then drizzle in a touch of olive oil. I used about a tablespoon for 1 cup of cooked quinoa.

3. Open a can of black beans, rinse and pour into bowl.

4. Add chopped vegetables/fruit. I used half a cucumber, a handful of frozen peas and corn, tomatoes, avocado and a couple cloves of garlic.

5. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.

Voila! You will feel sated but not laden with heaviness after a nice (big) bowl. And because it’s so healthy, I might be able to get away with one small piece of chocolate. Or ten.

Monday Outfit: Red Knit Henley + Wool Suspender Skirt

Good morning, friends! Did you watch the Oscars? I didn’t, though I was rooting for Lincoln, which happens to be the only nominated movie that I’ve seen this past year. In a former life, I actually got paid to create “best-of” celebrity photo galleries for various award ceremonies (crazy, right?). The Teen’s Choice Awards were always good for some eyebrow-raising outfits and the Oscars were eternally glamorous, but the Grammys were the best, especially when Lady Gaga was involved.

I had hoped I could tie in this Monday outfit with some red carpet theme, but the closest I got is that I used the crimson color. My screen is making this top look dark pink, but in actuality it’s a deep red with subtle stripes.

Do you remember this post with 2-year-old K? I used the same suspender skirt pattern from this book, though instead of the 90cm, I cut out the 120cm this go around. I also used this fabulously luxe striped wool. Looking at the older images, I see that I totally reversed the buttons (they are supposed to be on the straps and not the yoke). My skills were woefully elementary back then and I remember being thoroughly confused by the instructions.

I love suspender skirts and their old-timeyness. This one is a little too loose, but I beg you to take a look at the perfect matching of the stripes on the side. I never get that part right. It’s perfect on the other side too. Huzzah.

Now, the red knit henley top. I got this slinky, beaut of a knit (polyester and rayon, but feels like silk) and thought I would use it for myself. Then I accidentally tossed the fabric on top of the grey wool with red stripes while trying to get my stash organized and had an a-ha moment. Given its slipperiness, it isn’t the easiest stuff to sew, though it was surprisingly cooperative in the cutting stage.

Don’t look too closely because the neckline is kind of embarrassing with the uneven stitching and the placket…well, I did something weird there and I still have no idea what I did. But from a distance and hidden under that super cute scarf, it looks completely passable. The pattern is from this book.

The Honeycrisp apples (my favorite) are gigantic this time of year. They are clearly not organic and are most likely injected with steroids.

I love this vintage look, and it took some cajoling, but K came around to liking it too.

I am busy busy busy this week! Some ceramics to teach, some art commissions to complete, some fun sewing projects in the works…very excited! I’ve also promised you some tutorials, and I’m shooting to get at least one of them done this week.

Happy Friday + Bouquets for you

Happy Friday! I know they’re silly, but I like writing haikus so they will be my little Friday ritual…you know how I cherish routines.

I saw the white anemones at the grocery store (!) and they were so pretty I couldn’t resist. These black-centered anemones are apparently popular wedding flowers, and I can see why. I am a big fan of chic and minimal.

I noticed that I had an unwitting theme of multiple versions going on this week: two tunics and half-leggings, a cupcake-off, different versions of tights and leggings designs, photos of various writing utensils…and to wrap up the week, here are some flowers I made using supplies I had lying around.

I think I may like them almost as much as the real deal anemones. The white and purple flowers are made from air dry clay which has the most pleasing consistency. Airy, light, stretchy and wonderfully pliable. True to their claim, the clay didn’t stick to my hands at all but adhered to other clay pieces like glue. I used the Amaco brand that came with white, purple, orange and yellow. You can blend them, but with these color palettes, your blending options are pretty limited. The clay takes 24 hours to dry and though it does harden a bit, it maintains an almost spongy quality. The pink and bluish teal flowers are made of crepe paper.

I didn’t follow any tutorials; just made ’em up one afternoon when I had a few extra minutes. So easy. I want to make much more elaborate flowers – maybe next week!

What do you think? Not so faux-looking when combined with the anemones, right? Like  so:

OK, the teal mini-broom looking blossom definitely doesn’t pass muster, but I like the color.

Tonight, K will be performing during Japan Night at her school and I can’t wait! It sounds like she’ll be singing and dancing to what could be considered a “hillbilly” Japanese song; this should be interesting. Have a wonderful weekend, friends – hope it’s an extra good one!