How to “Read” Japanese Sewing Patterns and a Bubble Skirt


Loongg time no post ( again ). Recently I bought some discounted polka dots fabric and when I got home I realized that the polka dot patterns were off. I decided to make something with a lot of gathers so the wonky dot patterns won’t show that much , hence I picked a bubble skirt pattern.

The pattern is from “Female” magazine, winter edition of the year 2007. I hope the copyright police won’t get me as I am going to post their patterns. All this for educational purpose, no infringement intended. Another thing to note is I can’t read Japanese, however there are some Japanese words that are written just like Chinese which I could read a tiny bit. So everything I’ll be writing should be taken with a grain of salt. I guess-work through the project.

So, here goes !

I’ll be making the red skirt below :


The little description box next to the model shows the skirt pattern’s number ( 100 ) and also the page of the instruction ( also on page 100 ).


Overview of the instructions page :


I find that the how-tos from this magazine is very detailed , with all the measurements shown whereas in other magazines , they will usually just post the shape of the patterns.

First we’ll start with section 1. Since the same pattern can be altered to make different versions, you’ll have to locate the sewing pattern number that you want to make. In my case, it is #100 ( marked “A” below). The “57” there means page 57 where the original photo of the skirt is.

Next, (B) tells you where the paper pattern is, so for this skirt it is on side D of the pattern insert.

(C) shows the sizes available ( S – M – L – LL ).

(D) shows how much outer fabric you need. The fabric width should be at least 130 cm, and according to the 4 sizes available you will need either 1.3 m for the S size or 1.4 m for the remaining sizes.

(E) is the lining fabric details.

Underneath (E) where it says ” 25mm”, I guessed that it is the elastic band’s width . I came to that conclusion after staring at the page for a while.

Now, how the hell do I know what size I am ?  Somewhere in the magazine, usually in the back there will be a size chart that looks like this :

Then you play match the characters on the illustration to the chart. The first 3 are the bust-waist-hip sizes. Since I’m making a skirt, I find the size where my waist will fit… which is size LL … WTF !!?? *cry*

Onward to the pattern insert. Find D-side and look for your sewing pattern number. You see that solid black line ? Your pattern will be drawn in a solid black line. Look for number 14 along the edges of the insert. That number in the parenthesis means there is only 1 pattern piece.

All the sizes will be there, trace the one that fits you.

You should look at the below first in case you need to alter the pattern. You see the shaded pattern ? If you are making pattern #98, you’ll have to extend the skirt by 7 cm.

To the right of the shaded pattern, there’s an illustration on how to finish the hem so that it turn into a bubble skirt. To the left are the details of the inner lining. Above is the waistband.

Breezing through to how to layout the patterns.

(A) shows that the fabric is folded with the correct sides facing together.

(B) will be the selvage.

(C) is the seam allowance ( 1.5 cm ). There are no seam allowance for the top and bottom of the skirt here.

(D) shows the fabric length / width for your project.

(E) tells you what part of the skirt you are working on. The one on top is the bubble skirt, the one on the bottom is the lining of the skirt.


Lastly , the step-by-step pictorial. Each step consists of sub-steps. For example, under step one, you first sew the side seams together. Then iron them open. Lastly, sew around the edges of the top and bottom to get them ready for gathering.



What is that stain above ?? I don’t remember sneezing .

And here is how the skirt looks :



Hope this tutorial helps !