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Exploring the World of Japanese Men’s Pattern Books

Detailed illustrations and patterns make these volumes excellent sources for sewable and wearable men's garments.

If you’ve ever sewn menswear, you probably know that the number of commercial men’s patterns available is nowhere near the number of women’s. An entire blog post could be written about why this is so, but suffice it to say that there’s little available beyond the basic pants, shirt, pajamas, and hoodie patterns. Things are improving somewhat with the growth of independent pattern companies, however. A sign of the times perhaps: It’s easier to find a men’s cosplay superhero costume pattern than a classic men’s overcoat pattern. If you’re open to adventure and enjoy a challenge, I encourage you to explore the world of Japanese men’s pattern books.

There are more than half a dozen of these pattern books currently in print, each of which includes 10 or more individual patterns. I own six books (shown below) and, so far, have used them to make two pea coats, one work jacket, and two pairs of pants.

My cotton twill work jacket is made from a pattern in Toshio Kaneko’s Men’s Clothes for All Seasons.
I made my coated-cotton pea coat from a pattern in Ryuichiro Shimazaki’s men’s coat book. I made a second version in wool tweed.

The meticulous attention to detail in the patterns and the pattern instructions exceeds anything you’ll find from an American pattern company. The photography is gorgeous, and the fabrics chosen are perfectly suited to each project. In short, these books are inspiring.

The Japanese possess a profound appreciation for traditional American sportswear, including mid-century Ivy-League-style classics and military-inspired outerwear. You will find no better source for these iconic pieces.

N-3B Type Flight Jacket pattern is available in Ryuichiro Shimazaki’s military coat book.

Japanese pattern books present a few challenges…

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  1. hadassah53 | | #1

    I was surprised and pleased to see this article. I have long been a fan of Japanese sewing for women (enough to purchase all 5 volumes of Bunka Sewing School). Didn't even know there were books for men. Thanks for such an informative article and for covering all areas of sewing.

  2. grblt | | #2

    Yes, thanks ! Regards from Paris.

  3. neucarol | | #3

    Clear, concise, great photos.
    Instructional, fun read.

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