Sewing For Your Girls by Yoshiko Tsukiori is much more suitable for beginners than most other Japanese books that I've sewn from. It was originally published in 2011 and is one of the recent English translations by Tuttle Books.
It provides 8 basic patterns for dresses, tops and shorts with 7 variations. All patterns, except one (which is easily drafted) are included as full-sized pattern pieces in a pocket inside the back cover. The patterns are for girls, though the shorts and overalls could be sewn for boys, and the sizing is based on height - approximately equivalent to age 2 to 8 years.
This Japanese pattern book would be perfect for a beginner at sewing. As well as pictures of the clothes and instructions for all of the patterns, most of the book is devoted to photo tutorials on how to sew.
Many Japanese Pattern books are not generally suitable for beginners. They rely on detailed diagrams to illustrate sewing instructions, so include much shorter descriptions of sewing steps. The other book of adult-sized patterns by this author that I sewed from, would not be as useful for anyone beginning sewing.
The three photo-tutorial sections are
- Basics of Dressmaking,
- A detailed Step-by-Step to make one of the dress patterns and
- Basic Sewing Techniques.
1. The Basics of Dressmaking is very well-presented. It includes descriptions of the fabrics used in the book and emphasises the importance of prewashing. Basic equipment is described and detailed pictures on Tracing a Pattern, Cutting out Fabric, Marking Symbols and Using a Sewing Machine are also shown.
2. There is a fully illustrated, complete photo-tutorial on how to sew the first pattern in the book and it includes techniques like creating bias tape, reinforcing pocket edges, and neatly finishing the armhole and shoulder frill. Every one of the numbered steps is pictured in detail.
3. There are 33 pages of tutorials on Basic Techniques which thoroughly illustrate all the steps needed for sewing techniques to sew the patterns in the book. Everything from facings, collars, hand sewing, plackets, invisible zip, pockets and shirring are covered.
I sewed two dresses from this book. The first was a sailor dress from Applied pattern 7 where I repurposed an old shirt for the fabric.
The second dress I sewed was Basic Pattern 5. This is the only dress where a pattern has to be drafted. But it is very straightforward as it utilises 2 rectangles which are based on the child's measurement.
It is a number of years since I've used shirring and it's as easy as I remember. There is a photo tutorial on how to shirr fabric which a beginner would find very helpful.
I used ribbon for the straps as I had a perfectly matching vintage stitched janemeans ribbon, but the steps needed to create straps are also given in the book and are easy to follow.
This dress was a very easy and quick make and would be a very convenient way of using a half-metre of fabric from your stash. Before I shirred the dress, my daughter thought the fabric looked like a curtain, but that didn't bother her too much once she tried it on!
(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)
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