sewing talk

I'm totally hooked on Japanese craft books, I can't get enough of them. I'm sure it's probably impossible to get enough of them given there are literally hundreds out there with more published nearly every month. But all the same, I do own too many.

Up till now I've made a few skirts and a couple of dresses for my little friend and they've turned out brilliantly. Of course, little girls have a distinct lack of chest and hips which means sewing for them is a dream, but I've never managed to pluck up the courage to do anything for myself from one of these books. There are several reasons for this :

1. Way, way too nervous to cut from my fabric stash, what if I messed up?

2. I'm not an experienced seamstress and therefore haven't yet mastered the art of alteration (Japanese ladies are obviously smaller than we English gels).

3. Can't speak or read a single word of Japanese. Hmmmm!

I'm not too sure why the sudden change of heart. It could be because I decided what an idiot, what's the point of having fabric sitting in a cupboard, never to be used. What's the point of buying these books never to attempt anything?; It could be to do with the glass of wine I'd consumed not so long beforehand; or it could possibly be that I found some black linen from Ikea that would be so easy and so cheap to replace should the inevitable happen? Yes, I think it was all three. So after weeks of sifting though the books looking for a good starter project, I hit upon this one, Sewing Talk by Machiko Kayaki, in which one of the sizes catered for happens to have measurements that, wait for it, perfectly match mine. That is surely a sign? One other thing, fabric required? 2.1m. Fabric owned? 2.2m. Another sign, another. Yessss!

The dress I made was pattern C, a simple sleeveless shift and slightly elasticated around the neckline and arms.

Sewing from Japanese patterns isn't actually as scary as you may think as they provide very good illustrations and by flicking through the other patterns in the book, and with the help of an English sewing manual, you can normally figure out how to piece the jigsaw together. Most books provide full sized pattern sheets so you only need trace over them to create your own pattern.

I added an extra 5cm to the length of my dress to compensate for the extra height.

If you're at all interested in searching out more Japanese sewing books, then make Japan Couture Addicts your first port of call. It's a French site (can be translated) where a huge number of makes have been posted alongside the relevant book. Brilliant.

There are some fabulous knitting and crochet books on offer too but for those, I'm thinking I should learn some Japanese!


  1. Well done! It looks great and will be the perfect foil for any number of different accents - brightly coloured scarf, beads, brooch, belt and so on. I am sure you will find it incredibly useful as it can be dressed up or down and as it wasn't expensive to make you will feel you can wear it all the time. Go girl!


  2. It's awfully good - I really am impressed! Do you know my Japanese blogging friend Mami? I can't remember.

  3. Great little dress - good luck with the Japanese lessons !!!!

  4. Love the little black dress. I see you have commented on Twiglet's [my sister :-) ] blog about the word dumfing....it really IS just the word we have invented for embellishing. The noise our embellishing machines make is sort of dumf dumf dumf :-)
    A x

  5. It looks fab! Wish I had the nerve to sew anything wearable!

  6. Gosh Kate it's terrific,I'm really impressed! Looks lovwly on too.

    Has your snow settled, we are getting poiwdery flurries and lots of wind and sun too! random!

    Sarah x

  7. Very impressive - all you need now is summer!

  8. It's gorgeous, you've done a fabulous job.

    I'm off to check out that site!!

    Nina xx

  9. What a stunning little dress! I love it. I used to make all my own clothes when I was younger, but since we stopped manufacturing fabric in Britain, I find it too expensive these days. I "forced" my Forsythia by bringing it into the house as bare twigs and popping it somewhere warm. The tree outside is still very bare. xxx

  10. Thanks for dropping in on me. You are more than welcome to shout if ever you need help or advice about the sewing. Feel free to shout :-)
    A x

  11. The dress looks great! I love japanese craft & decor books. I have one on crochet and have my eye on a few others.
    Yes I am sure that many of us are guilty of having books we look at but seldom make use of!

    Warm wishes
    Isabelle x

  12. Hello!!
    thank you for stopping by.
    anyway I'm surprised you learn sewing from japanese book.Amaging!! I used to make clothes for me and childre before.
    Your dress is pretty(=kawaii in japanese)

  13. Well done you! It looks lovely and so comfortable.

  14. Well done Kate! What a versatile little dress - you could make this work for any occasion by accessorising with your wonderful jewellery pieces.

    I'm so envious; my sewing skills amount to cushion covers at most!

    Thank you for your lovely words on my recent post.

    Jeanne x

  15. These Japanese patterns are not for beginners, but the NUMBERS are in Arabic, so if you can follow a "notch" system you can create many beautiful articles. If you took a class your first project would be a body "sloper" from which to alter any pattern you like. I cannot believe how expensive paterns have become, and how all-inclusive they are now. In my experience, you will spend an equal amount of time laying out the pattern as it takes to sew it up. You are off to a good start with your little blue dress. Good luck!


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