Bunka Garment Design Textbooks Are Amazing.

I am not selling my books nor do I have access to the discounted price I originally paid. If you are interested in buying these books, please use Amazon Japan. The books are about $40 each plus shipping. If you email asking where to buy the books or asking to purchase mine, I will not respond.

Thank you

You may have gathered from this blog that I have a love of all things international. Through much hard work and calculation, I have struck up a unique relationship with my counterpart in Japan. So unique, that when Trena went to Tokyo, my counterpart actually took her shopping — and we’ve never met!

At anyrate, when this week’s delegation came to Baltimore for three days, with them came four of the five English languageBunka Fashion College textbooks. Ginevra first tipped me off that they were coming and Christina let me know they were out. Oh, BTW, Bunka is pronounce Boon-ka. These look small in the photo, but they are 8×11 size (really A4, but whatev).

I am going to do my best not to gush too hard here. But, I am BEYOND excited about these books. Mostly, because they only cost me $100 for the four. They are selling in the states for $44 each. These are definitely text books. But, what I like about them as textbooks is that they, wait for it, ACTUALLY TEACH SEWING. See that below? Those are directions on how to sew a skirt, where to add lining, how to sew lining, how to cut it out, ways to pretreat, suggested fabrics for garments, places for interfacing, etc.

Yes, home sewers have sewing books that teach you this, but I can tell you that my garment design textbook (which cost $100) DOES NOT tell you *how* to sew.

There is a GREAT deal of information on fit and drafting. Ways to alter your sloper (including for bust)  and EXTENSIVE instructions on drafting one. There is a four page glossary on the little symbols and markings that are used on the Mrs. Stylebook / Japanese drafting patterns

I’m also enjoying reading about the history of garments

And this is all just in ONE BOOK.

Of course, there are things I don’t like. First, according to their charts I’m like the LARGEST size possible. After spending four days with six Japanese women, I would agree. I am huge.

But, what’s interesting about their sizing charts, is they take AGE into consideration. Now, call me crazy, but I suspect I won’t age like a Japanese woman. But, I do like to know that they take that into consideration in their drafts.

The other thing I don’t like, so many new products for me to track down! Mostly a few rulers like the D-curve (which looks like my #6), the reduction ruler, thier sleeve pressing ham (I like that it’s shaped more like an arm than my sleeve roll), and pressing horse.

I am resisting their pressing ham, pressing board, handy mat, crossarm and Yukiwari — our tailoring board. Hmm, but I cannot resist the needle board. It might be good I can’t find it on their website. Or this bobbin holder.

Someone I know is going back to Japan in March. My plan is to save up, do a huge order and pay the $50 extra luggaage fee on Al Nippon Air!

So, to sum up, if you can find at least the first book, Fundamentals of Garment Design, I think it it well worth the money if you are interested in fit and working with the Japanese patterns. If you are interested in drafting on your own, then I would get the remainder. The last, Coats and Capes, comes out in December. And, if you are thinking of ordering from Amazon.com Japan and saving some money. shipping is almost $50 for the four.

Seattle and My New Found Love of All things Japanese (photo heavy)

So, I guess I’m starting at the end of my trip. After PR Weekend concluded in Portland, I invited myself to Christina’s place in Seattle, WA.

On Monday I spent the morning exploring downtown Seattle.

I found the first Starbucks (I found out later it actually wasn’t. But, I thought it was at the time and that’s good enough for me), Pike Place Market and the the Daiso store.

I think we all know that I loooove pink. I actually have very little in my wardrobe, but loads around the house. My stop by Daiso, the Japanese $1.50 store in Seattle did NOT help. Sisters, check this out:

Pink tape dispenser(s). The smaller one is for classes (hopefully draping this fall) and the larger one is for home. Totally excusable. Tape is a necessity in pattern design, right?

Pink mini bento boxes for lunch. They even come with mini chopsticks.

And loads-o-blotting paper. I’ve been told I shouldn’t get wrinkles because of my tragically oily skin. In the meantime, I blot, therefore I am. These things cost a small fortune around here. But, from Daiso, $1.50 a box of 200.There was more I picked up. But, I made myself sit in the aisle and put things back (cone shaped coffee filter holder, tea and coffee canister, etc). It’s going to be ugly the next time I’m in the Pacific Northwest.

And, check this:

Sewing supplies! Machine needles, hand sewing needles, elastic, velcro, covered buttons, zippers, shirt buttons, flat head pins, lots and lots of sewing supplies. I wish my dollar store was like this!

And, on the Japanese… I got two new Mrs. Stylebooks and a new for me Lady Boutique from Kinokuniya Bookstores in Seattle (www.kinokuniya.com) . I can’t buy them locally anymore :( And, these were $10 less each than I’d been paying! Christina has committed (cough) to buying them for me and just bringing them at PR Weekend Philly in 2010.

And if you’re unfamiliar, these are the drafting directions

Finally, the thing I may have like best about Seattle are the home styles. Seriously. I am in love with Craftsman style homes. It fits my whole ‘urban cottage’ aesthetic.

Everywhere I turned there were houses ripped from the pages of the now defunct Cottage Living. Not one red brick row house with marble steps to be found!

Spring 2008 MSB

The new Spring (or is it Summer?) Mrs. Stylebook is out. I picked mine up last weekend at my local indie bookseller. This month includes a couple of hats and a few knitting / crochet projects. I’ve scanned a couple of my favorites.

I love the whispy layers of this blouse

It’s the sleeves here I like with the traditional collar

There are a number of pretty dresses in this edition. Some are shown with ankle socks and heels. I will never get on board with that trend. Didn’t like it in third grade when Madonna did it. Don’t like it now.

The cutest apron project. It’s made from a men’s shirt!

There is also a tutorial on pants drafting. So, this too will go with the other four of these I own. Sigh. Some people collect patterns, I collect the magazines!

New Mrs. Stylebook

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! It’s hard turning 27 for the sixth time, but I take it as a challange and succeed each year. My staff knows me well, there was a gift certificate to Michael’s / A Fabric Place on my desk when I came in yesterday.

I haven’t touched my sewing machine since last Wednesday. This is killing me! I’m going to a seder Saturday night, so hopefully I can make a little gift that morning. Oy vey.

Yes, yes, yes. I know I have yet to make anything from Mrs. Stylebook despite an arsenal of books to walk me through the process. But, that didn’t stop me from getting the latest edition over the weekend.

Which leads me to ask, maybe I should start a MSB Sloper Sew Along on Pattern Review? Or maybe someone who knows how to draft them could start one and I would be head cheerleader of that effort? Anyone? Anyone?

I like this edition for several reasons.

1. Making Navi. It’s fun to look at basic sewing technique descriptions in Japanese and guess what it means.

2. Simple frocks in this edition give me hope that I can make something.

3. Purses. There are about five different bags in this one. I am 100% in love with this bag! And, no fitting needed and it starts with a square. I think that I can manage.

Oh, and anyone know where I can find these Clover products in red? Even if it’s overseas? And while you’ve got your thinking hats on, where I can find the old pattern weights that look like donuts and have little feet or grippers on the bottom? Like the ones that Debbie Cook has (the yellow things).


Dorothy Moore’s Pattern Drafting Book

There was a lot of interest in the English/Japanese pattern drafting book. I’m not sure if it was because of the instructions or because it has actual patterns. I have two others I really like. One is Patternless Fashions which I talked about in May. That and Pattern Drafting, I think are the best for showing you how to read the Mrs. Stylebook patterns.

The other is Dorothy Moore’s Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking. I might have paid $5 including shipping and handling for my copy. I think this is the best of the lot for instructions on making your sloper and how to make variations in a pattern. It doesn’t seem to have as much in teaching you how to read the pattern schematics that you find in MSB.

There’s a great eBay guide on pattern drafting that refers to this book.
Linda at Patterns, Fabric and Thread — Oh My, wrote about it too.

Check out this newspaper article (click to enlarge) I found taped to the inside. It’s an interesting read if you want to hear about the then growing $2.3 billion home sewing industry back in the early 70s.

Table of contents:

While fashion diagrams are included these are very basic patterns with variations on a theme.

Like Pattern Drafting, it walks you through taking your measurements and developing a sloper or block.

Using this, it shows you how to add and subtract to create different looks.


I think this a good companion to Mrs. Stylebook. But, I like to think between the three I have the most complete picture.

Now, I just need to make something.

Japanese Pattern Drafting by Dressmaking

ETA: I’m sorry, but the second copy is no longer available. I’ll keep this post up though so you can find more information about the books.

Other recommended titles:

Dorothy Moore’s Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking (Originally Published as The Oriental Method of Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking)

Patternless Fashion by Diehl Lewis and May Loh. I wrote about this in May.

Earlier this year Tany posted about two Pattern Drafting books. I became mildy obsessed with tracking down copies as they were the Asian method and directions came in both English and Japanese.

I ordered three different copies with vague descriptions. There are three editions and I thought the sewing gods would be with me and send me the three different versions. Alas, they did not.

Today I received two copies of the same Pattern Drafting (no author but sometimes listed as Dressmaking), published by Kamakura-Shobo Publishing Co., Ltd in Tokyo, Japan. Publishing date is 1967.

The 204 page book includes step-by-step directions on drafting patterns for women, men and children. Over 200 different diagrams are included. If you are interested in Mrs. Stylebook or drafting your own patterns this is the book for you.

Table of Contents:

Not only does the book show you how to draft, it also gives you directions on fixing common fitting errors like sloped shoulders, etc. Also, there are construction tecnhiques like making a bound buttonhole, explanation of fabrics, how to make gathers, sewing darts, attaching an inner belt and working with prints — just to name a few.

Check out this review of the books on eBay and here on PatternReview.com

ETA: I’m sorry, but the second copy is no longer available. I’ll keep this post up though so you can find more information about the books.

Oh. I get it.

First, a moment of silence. Last month I ordered Power Sewing and Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina. They didn’t show so I started an email exchange with the online bookseller. They were supposedly delivered to my home on the 30th of June. Ummmm, don’t have it. Either lost in the mail or some snot-nosed kid was sorely disappointed when he nicked the $30 worth of sewing books off my porch.

My $10 worth of pattern drafting books arrived safely today and I’ve had an A-hah! moment. Tany suggested some pattern drafting books and I found these. And now, Mrs. Stylebook is finally making some sense to me. Maybe now I can stop harrassing Madhatter and GeekSewing about Mrs. Stylebook.

The drawings below are from “Patternless Fashion” by Diehl Lewis and May Loh. This book was $2.68 plus shipping from Amazon Marketplace. They essentially use the Chinese method to develop patterns with just your body measurements.

These are the same principals used in Mrs. Stylebook. Could not be more excited. Apparently, I just needed it in English.

Should be good reading for Ghana. I leave in one week!