Deciphering Japanese Sewing Patterns

If you've ever done any sewing with a pattern I think you'll find Japanese patterns are quite different. The basic principles of sewing apply such as cutting on the grain, right sides together, zig zagging edges but the actual pattern is tricky.

Often you receive patterns on a master sheet as a magazine insert. This requires carefully tracing the relevant pattern and markings. Some patterns are iron-on transfers which work on lighter backgrounds but not dark. These can also be cut out in the regular fashion - easy.

The guide sheet is where I really run into trouble. Comic books are very popular here but I hate them. They're hard to follow since the speech balloons jump all over the page. Guide sheets can be like that too. You may be presented with Steps One through Five as well as points A-D and a-d. There might also be little "one point advice" inserts and footers. Sometimes the steps are presented chronologically down the page but then for some strange reason one of the steps will span two pages putting everything else off kilter.

Help is at hand: Batty Chan is into the Lolita Gothic look you see around town. She also loves to sew and has created this brilliant translated sewing guide. It's a PDF file.

I have spent the evening trying to make usable notes for this bag template from Clover. I bought it earlier this year and have had a degree of success using it. Now I'm trying to glean some of the finer points and make it really useful.

So it seems I am on a sewing jig this week. Back to the cards later hopefully. Focus Blooming, Focus!


  1. I find Japanese directions for most arts and crafts things to be very difficult. All those little illustrations don't really help at all.

  2. What gets me is the little curly arrows and tiny hand written numbers around the edges of the diagrams. I think they mean fold over this many centimeters or who knows?

    I also cannot follow origami book instructions!


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