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Japanese Sewing And Pattern Book From Showa 17 (1942) for Yofuku (Western Clothing)

September 11, 2011 in Books, Sewing, Vintage Patterns, Wonderful Finds

I collect antique kimono sewing books, ranging from Taisho (1912) all the way through to Early-Mid Showa (1950-1960). While I can barely read Japanese, and most certainly can’t read older Japanese text, I love collecting these books for the illustrations and photographs. They are true snapshots of the fashions at the times. Also, most books – the measurements are in centimetres, so while I may not be able to read the directions, having grown up with metric measurements in Australia, I can understand to a degree what the diagrams are explaining, and therefore sew from them.

One day while hunting around for more, I stumbled upon a gem of a find – a sewing book from Showa 17 (1942) for yofuku (Western clothing)! I’ve never seen one of these before in my many years of browsing Japanese online auctions, so I was rather excited.

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for around 4 years now and I think it’s about time to dust it off, scan it in and let it live a new life inspiring those online.


Information about the book:

This book essentially instructs how to create an entire women’s wardrobe, including:

    Undergarments and corsets

This book is in Japanese, but the really wonderful part is that for each outfit – it shows the pattern pieces that need to be drafted very clearly marked in centimetres and with grain lines showing – and gives sample pattern layouts on fabric. The measurements given are average, I assume, as the beginning of the book shows how to take your measurements and create your own sloper. This means for those experienced seamstress and drafters, you should be able to easily adjust the given measurements to yours.

If you’ve been sewing for quite some time – especially with vintage patterns and feel very comfortable with drafting, I think you’ll be able to easily work from this book without needing to read Japanese. If you’re a beginner sewer – I certainly don’t want to discourage you from attempting any of these wonderful outfits but I do highly recommend reading and studying sewing literature and pattern instructions from around the same time in English to get a feel for the natural steps of garment construction.

This book is a large book – 400+ pages and will most likely take me a good week or so find the time to sit down and scan it, so I will share it in installments by uploading the images to a Flickr set. Once I’ve scanned the entire book – I’ll create a PDF of the full book available for download.

Anyhow – enough typing, let’s look at the illustrations of the outfits! Be sure to click on the images to view a larger size.

And as a teaser, here’s an example of the pattern drafting and fabric layout (oops, I realize I chose a slightly complicated example!):

If you make any of the pieces from this book, please let me know about your experience and share photos!

Likewise – if you’re an experienced pattern drafter/seamstress (Japanese or not)  and would like to work with me on an open source project of converting the pattern pieces to English and providing English instructions and steps, free for all, please do let me know!

Last, but not least. For those concerned about copyright infringement, Japanese copyright law puts this book in the Public Domain, therefore it’s perfectly fine for me to share the book in its entirety with you. While the scan copyrights are mine, you are more than welcome to share this, repost scans, etc with anyone providing it’s done in a not for profit capacity. All that I ask is that you kindly give credit back to me.

Estate Sale Goodies

September 4, 2011 in Wonderful Finds

I’ve been slowly stockpiling up on vintage sewing patterns as I’ve been gradually returning to sewing, purchasing them from Ebay and Etsy. However, I wondered if there might be another avenue of finding them slightly cheaper. I haven’t had much luck with the thrift stores around my area – they rarely have patterns and if they do, they are usual of rather hideous garments from the 80s or early 90s that no one wants.

After hunting around on Google, I saw Sew, Mama, Sew mention on her blog about going to estate sales. Gosh! Why didn’t I think of that earlier? Following her advice, I fired up Craigslist and did a search using the keywords she mentioned. What luck! There was an estate sale nearby with vintage patterns and sewing notions. The only problem…I did this search on Saturday night, the sale had already been going on for a day.

Arian and I decided we’d give it a go anyhow and woke up early Sunday morning to arrive when it opened. As I suspected (and had explained to Arian on the drive over) – the vintage patterns were already snapped up the day before – but there were still many vintage notions left. Nothing terribly exciting – bindings, elastics, etc – but these are always very useful to have on hand.

As I walked out of the sewing room into the bedroom – I immediately noticed a large pile of vintage hand embroidered linens on the bed. They were absolutely beautiful – this lady was truly talented. There were a number of them with bird motifs – which I absolutely adore. I had to have them. The two pillow cases on the bottom row – I have plans to turn into a Spring/Summer dress for Lily for next year.

Right before I left – I noticed a bag of vintage beaded jewelry along with some lovely scarves. You can never have too much jewellery or scarves in my opinion! Some of the necklaces I like as is, others I’m going to use the beads for new necklaces.

So while I didn’t score any vintage patterns, I did walk away very happy with what I did find. I also learnt an important lesson. Hunt for estate sales on Craigslist on Friday night rather than Saturday!


P.S. I should mention that my husband was rather chuffed to walk out with a framed portrait of Chuck Norris for all of $1! One Buck Chuck! While we certainly don’t agree with Mr. Norris’s political and religious views, we’re always amused by the Chuck memes around….and it was just rather bizarre to find it in the house of a little old lady who collected cows and thimbles and did such wonderful embroidery!