As I was reading Kathleen's comment from Wednesday's post, I realized that there may be a few more folks out there who would like to give Japanese patterns a try, but are just a teeny bit scared. Here is my attempt at demystifying these lovely patters so that more people will give them a whirl: (Keep in mind, I am a Japanese pattern beginner myself!)
Most of the patterns in these books are full size and printed one on top of another. Simply find the pattern pieces labeled with the letter of the view you have chosen, and trace the correct size onto tracing paper. (Instead of tracing paper, I use non-fusible interfacing. It is much more durable if you plan on re-using your pattern.) European, and apparently Japanese, sizing is by centimeters tall. For example, this book has patterns for sizes 100cm all the way up to 140cm. (100cm is about 3T or 4T. My Rosie wears a size 3T and is 90cm tall, but I made her the size 100)
These two pages (above) show the complete cutting and assembly instructions for view "h".
This particular pattern (click to enlarge picture) calls for fabric 105cm wide, and for the size I made (100cm) it recommends 1.6m or little more than 1 1/2 yards. I think this is a bit much, but you can judge for yourself. (I actually made it work with the one yard I had on hand, but it was a very tight squeeze and I wouldn't recommend it.)
The numbers (they are centimeters) that you see around the edges of the pattern diagram are the seam allowances that you must add to the pattern when you trace it. It is not as difficult as it sounds! After I had traced my pattern pieces onto my interfacing, I simply used a ruler to add the 1cm, 2cm or 2.5cm seam allowances, and cut along those lines. I also made notes on the pattern pieces near the edges to help me remember what seam allowances went where.
The Japanese apparently don't think it necessary to elaborate on the assembly instructions, but if you have even minimal sewing experience, you should do all right. The numbers that you see above with arrows indicate what to sew first. For example, the pockets go on first and you can see the detailed drawings show you basically how to make them. Step #2 is to sew the sleeve front to the dress front to sew the sleeve back to the dress back. Step #3 is to turn and stitch the neckline and insert the elastic, and so on.
Keep in mind these are just the basics that I have gleaned from about 5 different Japanese craft and clothing books. My hope is that this helps a few of you to feel comfortable enough to take the plunge and try out some of these beautiful books.