She wears the pants – review and giveaway

Yay…giveaway time!  I lurve a good giveaway and this one’s no exception.


The lovely peeps over at Tuttle shared this book with me for review, but you know, as always, all opinions are my own.

So, to the book.  Can we talk about the elephant in the room first?  “She wears the pants”. What were they thinking?  The original title of the book “She has a mannish style” is much more appropriate and really shows how easily things can get lost in translation, and why it’s so important to check cultural norms when carrying out any translation work.  To be honest, my preference would have been for them to include some of the strap-line and title the book “She has an urban style”, which would actually better encapsulate the contents of this book.

Like all Japanese sewing books this is very stylised.  Perhaps a little too much for my taste. Some of the photos are a somewhat too dark to properly see the garment, and you have to rely on the technical drawing. For me, this isn’t a book I’d make lots out of, but that’s because I’m not that hip! I don’t think it’s an age thing, more a personal style thing.

That said there are some garments that with a little tweak would fit perfectly in my wardrobe, you just have to restyle them in your head.


I love this jacket and think it would be a great trans-season piece in a good weight of ponté jersey.


This draped cardigan would look great with cigarette trousers and loafers.


This is a very classic blouse that would work in just about anyone’s wardrobe.


And with a bit of length added this blouse would work brilliantly with leggings or jeans.

As you’d expect the instructions are minimal but you do have some really clear drawings to help you out.


And the pattern pieces included in the back don’t have seam allowances, so you’ll need to add them.

Finally, I have one final, but rather large caveat, and that’s the sizing.  Whilst I appreciate that the Japanese market for which this book was originally intended is markedly more petite than the western market this edition is designed for, I’m surprised and disappointed at the very small range of sizes included.


Even taking the largest size I’d be having to grade that bust up by at least 30%. Which is a real shame because there’s a whole section of the sewing population that would love to dive into cool, Japanese sewing patterns and can’t because they either don’t have the skills or the inclination to carry out such a significant grading exercise.  I probably fall into the middle of both categories.

I really hope the publishers take this on board as more of these books become available in English and that they expand their size ranges accordingly.

However, let’s not detract from the fact that, quibbles aside, this is a great book that I’d definitely recommend if your style leans toward an urban look.

And I have a copy up for grabs!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Japanese patterns in general and sizing in particular, so leave me a comment below before Friday 22nd May and I’ll draw the winner at random.

12 Responses to She wears the pants – review and giveaway

  1. Lizzy says:

    While I get your point about the sizing, for me Japanese patterns are often a perfect fit that I don’t find elsewhere & I have a BIG collection as a result. I have three shelves of sewing library… one for reference, one for Burda and one for Japanese pattern books.
    Csews wrote an interesting post about Japanese sizing. The patterns often (not always) have a massive amount of ease. I made the gathered blouse & the square top and they are exceptionally roomy. So I guess the point I make is, it’s worth measuring the pattern pieces like Csews blog suggests.
    I have Japanese dress book, a translated one, and the sizing chart is too big for me.
    Don’t include me in the giveaway as I pre-ordered a copy before Tuttle contacted me & am giving away my review copy!
    I complete agree about the title and the photography. The photography almost seems more like a fashion magazine than a sewing book… and I guess it’s open to debate whether the photography must be about garment detail or inspirational/mood for the book. I quite like a move away from ‘catalogue’ style photography but the complete lack of visibility in some images is rather frustrating. Thank goodness for line drawings!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Thanks for such a fantastic comment and great points.
      I think the thing about the ease is that yes, the garment could fit due to the amount of design ease, which makes some of the styles much more accessible, but you would get the same look as the designer intended because you’re actually filling up some of the ease.
      And thats a decision for each individual, I guess.
      I’d agree that they opted for mood/inspiration over ability to see the garments, and I’m sure the Big 4 could take a leaf from their book, I’m just thinking it’s a little too far this time. They’re just a smidge dark for me.
      The good thing though is that these books represent a massive shift in what’s available to us and gives us yet another source of patterns so we’re not held ransom to the often unfathomable whims of the Big 4 (although I’m still a big user of their patterns).
      Long may this continue. 😀

  2. K-Line says:

    I love the style of the Japanese pattern books – but the sizing is hilarious! I’ve only made one Japanese pattern (a dress from Drape Drape) and it really didn’t work. Mind you, I think I could manage to upsize the bottoms better than the bodices! I’d love a chance to own this book. Thanks so much for the giveaway. PS: The title is stupid, I agree.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      I do wish that the industry (including RTW) would sit down and talk and issue a standardised set of sizes (including standardised definitions for ease… loose fit = 4″ of positive ease, etc).
      I think the home sewing market is big enough now to justify such collaboration and would encourage home sewers to be more adventurous trying new brands because there’d be a level of comfort around fit.
      I also think a size range of 4 sizes isn’t really cutting it in today’s market. But I’m speaking through the lens of a plus-sized sewer so I recognise that I have a vested interest in increased sizing.
      I would have thought the Japanese patterns would be right up your street with your mad (in a good way) analytical/mathematic/fitting skills. 😉

  3. Katy M says:

    I’ve borrowed quite a few Japanese books from the library but I always get scared and take them back without making anything! I’m never sure which size to choose because often the models are wearing garments big enough to fit 2 people in, but then on the other hand the models are so tiny maybe it would fit right on me! Hope that makes sense…. x

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Oh that makes perfect sense. If you fall within the size ranges then Lizzy’s comment about measuring the pattern to ascertain how this will fit you is a great start. And because the printed sheets don’t have the seam allowances on them this is a quick check you can do before you even have to start with the tracing. That’s a win, I say! 😉

  4. Vicki Kate says:

    Ooh, this looks interesting! I’m right on the edge of their sizing range (before the FBA) and the styles look interesting. I agree about the photographs being more ‘mood board’ than educational/helpful. Thank goodness for line drawings!
    There are some really interesting points raised in the comments above, and some great tips too! Thank you for the chance to get my grubby paws on this!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Line drawings save the day every time!
      Love the discussion this has raised. I think you’d be fine with these because of the ease. FBA’s are game changing, I think, because not only do they improve the fit but open up a range of sizes that I’d otherwise think wouldn’t fit me.

  5. TC says:

    I love Japanese pattern books! I also get confused about the sizing but not because I have problem with using centimeters. Sometimes I hear that the sizing is very generous on a pattern and then I don’t know what to do.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Sizing is a mystery to me! It’s such a moveable feast. And I tend to err on the side of caution when trying new patterns these days because I simply don’t have the time to experiment that much. Ah…first world problems! 😉

  6. Lm says:

    their sizing it’s a hit and miss with me…they can be quite baggy but I still find some stiles tight in key places , like the back width. The length of the garments is also short-ish on me. However I still like them and I’d really like this book. Many thanks!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      I have the problem with shortness in patterns. I’m 5ft 7″ and always have to add a couple of inches. If only horizontal changes were quite so straightforward!