24 May 2008

Made in Japan

On a tip from Tany, I purchased a Japanese pattern book, Retrospective is Stylish by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I purchased it from the eBay seller, pomadour24 (and I was very happy with this seller BTW).

There are 21 retro inspired projects in this book, created through tweaks of a few simple patterns. The outfits include skirts, dresses, vests, jackets and blouses. Each garment is found on a full scaled pattern sheet included with the book.

The patterns come in four sizes, with bust, waist and hip measurements listed in brackets: S (79 cm, 59 cm, 86 cm), M (83cm, 64cm, 90cm), L (88cm, 68cm, 94cm), XL (93cm, 74cm, 98cm). All patterns are drafted for a person that is 160 cm tall. To say that I am pleased with these measurements is an understatement - I am a M bust and waist and a L/XL hip and the height is perfect. It's not often that I find patterns drafted for a smaller person. Many pattern companies seem to forget that there are women of smaller stature out there - New Look, Silhouette, and Marfy are just a few of the companies that routinely start their sizing at a point that is too large for me. This is one of the reasons I use so many vintage patterns - the sizing is more up my alley. I guess women came in smaller sizes back in the day!

The only problem is that everything is in Japanese and unlike Spanish or French, it will be impossible to use the internet for translations (my keyboard doesn't have Japanese symbols on it). Thankfully, the patterns are all fairly simple, so I should be able to muddle my way through. If worse comes to worse, I can always ask at school to see if any of my kids can read Japanese (another one of the joys of being at a school with many cultures).

I am really looking forward to using this book and if all goes well, I may pick up a few more Japanese pattern books - there are some other really cool looking ones out there!

ETA: I just found this page, full of pictures of the projects in this book.


angie.a said...

Ooh, that looks like a great book! I keep collecting these, but have only used them as inspiration as I am not of small stature! But, they were lovely, lovely eye candy.

Have you ever used yesasia.com? If you have the ISBN, it's pretty easy to navigate & find what you're looking for (& generally cheaper too.) It takes about 2 weeks to ship, but I generally save about $5-10 US per book vs. the ebay seller, so its worth it.

Also, check out this site:

These girls actually make a ton of stuff from the Japanese fashion books & the blog is easy to find projects & ISBNs. It's in French, but I use the google tranlator to translate the page if I need to.

angie.a said...

oh, and my student Japanese craft book translator graduated yesterday! sniff. :)

cidell said...

I notice too that BWOF seems to like to start at a 38 (which is fine by me since it's my size). But, I have petite friends who sew who have to grade down. A lot.

I have to stay away from the Japanese craft sites. I'm already a MSB buyer and have yet to make a thing.

But, their retro inspired stuff is so pretty! I'm going to have fun watching you.

Anonymous said...

Shannon, the gals over at the "Zakka Life" and "Lunch in a Box" blogs both read Japanese and may be willing to help. Biggie at Lunch in a Box is, in fact, a translator in real life.



Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Shannon - isn't there a folder on SG that does Ms. Stylebook and Japanese translations? And I think a Yahoo group too...maybe you could ask at SG?

...and I NEED to see some new clothes...anything coming out of the studio?

Anonymous said...

another magazine I've never heard about, thanks for posting it, I love to see what people make using the foreign magazine, can't wait to see what you chose to make

Marji said...

I know that what you end up making will be breathtaking.
I'm glad you're able to find sources that work for your sizing.
I'm on the other end of the spectrum. Most Marfy patterns come up to one size smaller than I need, so in order to use them I need to grade up, and of course make everything longer.
It's a pain.

Vicki said...

I bought that book too when Tany posted about it. I haven't make anything yet (of course )!

Dawn said...

You need a Japanese-English dictionary so you can translate the katakana. If you look closely, you'll see there are three "forms" of Japanese writing. One of them is called katakana. It is mainly words from english that the japanese have translated because there is no Japanese word for it. I bet a bunch of terms in your book are english words that have been translated. For example, the first three characters of the title of your book are "re" "to "ro". If you say it fast it sounds like "retro". The Japanese language didn't have that word so they made one. The other characters are kanji and much harder to translate. Any of that square-ish, angular writing is the katakana.

Hope that helps a little.

Summerset said...

Yay! The Japanese are small people so this makes sense. While I love BWOF, many of the styles I like start at a 38, which I have to grade down a size or two. Patrones is the same, unless I can get the "Joven" issues which start at their size 38. Now I must add this to my list of things to buy.

Anonymous said...


Here's a Japanese translation of your blog at Altavista Babelfish.

Here's how to get started:


I've translated a lot of Cyrillic Russian over there and it's pretty good most of the time.

also try googling japanese characters for the computer keyboard.
Hope this helps.

Tany said...

I'm so glad you liked this book! I have an extensive collection of japanese books and I'll be happy to give you some insight on the most interesting ones! I have some experience with Mrs Stylebook magazine, which is also written in Japanese, and I was able to figure out most of the instructions by following the linedrawings (these japanese books are very well illustrated!)

Anonymous said...

Shannon, I have been toying with buying one of these Japanese syle books so I'll be watching your porgress. I would fit into the medium range, so I'll be interested in the general arm, neck, shoulder fit.

Sally said...

Shannon, these are lovely and seem to suit the style you maintain. Some of them were sort of "Wallis Warfield Simpson" before she became the Duchess. Lovey stuff.

Lori said...

These sites might help: http://movinghands.wordpress.com/japanese-sewing-and-pattern-terms. And this one: http://www.tata-tatao.to/knit/japanese/e-JapaneseEnglish.html is for knitting but some of the terms might be the same.

Anonymous said...

Shannon: I bought a couple of Japanese books, Simple Chic and Polka Dot, or something. I made my daughter a dress and myself a blouse. With your sewing knowledge, you won't have any trouble at all. I managed to grab one of the last three books available, thanks for posting about it.