Japanese Sewing Books for Dolls: A Review
+ buying directly from Japan
By Rajendora @ Sewing Box Designs
I’ve recently started adding to my library of doll specific sewing books and was very happy to receive some Dollybird volumes as a gift, and purchased the re-released Beginning Dolly Coordinate Recipe book. I’d been putting this off for years because every time I looked for a presumably low-priced used book, they were priced around 50 to 60 USD and some were priced at 120 USD. Well, guess what? Not only were out-of-print books lower priced directly from Japan, the dollar to yen recently took a huge dive and made the price even lower. I got my Beginning Dolly Coordinate Recipe brand new for 18 USD and that included the shipping.
Beginning (Hajimimashite) Dolly Coordinate Recipe is the first in the series of Dolly Coordinate Recipe books that cover patterns and sewing for dolls like Momoko, Blythe, Barbie and Unoa. But there is nothing wrong with using the couture techniques and patterns for larger dolls. Despite its obsession with Blythe, Dollybird often has patterns for MSD and SD dolls as well as Momoko and Barbie, and is a bit pricier, but more high end in the content. The Dolly Coordinate Recipe series starts out with the basics, but focuses on clothing and sew-able accessories like purses. The Dollybird series has everything from the latest Japanese Doll releases, in depth reviews on dolls, craft tutorials, very detailed patterns for your dolls and where to buy craft items in Japan. Japan has the most amazing amounts of craft related stuff! These books will supply you the Japanese names for them, and you can then search for these items through an overseas retailer like Amazon Japan, or match them up with in-country items.
Beginning Dolly Coordinate Recipe has a series of basic patterns from t-shirt and panties, to skirt suits and a tote purse. The book teaches by increasing your sewing skills as you progress through the wardrobe. It shows how to do high fashion couture sewing techniques that were once taught in any sewing class but has now gone out of style because ‘no one has time’. In other words, if you want to learn to sew, doll or human, get these books; because along with everything else, (patterns!) they teach high fashion couture sewing skills! Best part is: you don’t need to know Japanese. Every one of these books is illustrated step by step, something I’ve seen in almost every Japanese craft book I’ve come across.
Beginning DCR will walk you through what you will need to sew for your doll, how to chose fabric (yeah I know, in Japanese, but they are heading for other-language translation) and making realistic clothing in miniature. The techniques taught in these books will correct any ‘Barbie out of a box’ look to your fashions. As you go through the series, the focus is less on the basics and more on the details, so by the time you get to Dolly Coordinate Recipe Vol 12, it’s all about the actual look of the clothing – garments like picture-perfect leather biker jackets, impressively ‘worn’ blue jeans, and high fashion right off the Society pages. I learned a lot of tricks from this book that translated very nicely into a better MSD outfit recently, and will probably make my Yo-SD sewing even better. It’s even given me the confidence to go back to working with Obitsu and Volks 1/6 dolls. If you like the smaller PukiFee dolls and Junkyspot Nanos, this is a huge help. The Mini-Blythe and Momoko Mame (bean) patterns can be easily sized to them, as well as Sylvan Family patterns.
Dollybird is a sewing and craft course in itself. Each book has a continuing series of tutorials, as well as short, specific ones. The three volumes I was given have an on-going patterning tutorial series in them that’s perfect for beginners.
From making to-scale food, to vintage embroidery and crochet techniques, I was amazed to see how simple things were compared to all the non-Japanese books I had looked through previously.
For example, take the lace tatting tutorial. My grandmother had shown me how to do it, but I was like ‘it’s algebra with thread’ at the time; but no! It’s more like macrame with a crochet hook! Seriously simple! The photo tutorial is very detailed and makes perfect sense.
The sewing instructions are detailed enough with so many line drawings that anyone with average sewing skills can follow them.
Dollybird even has face-up tutorials.
Dollybird has all the news on Japanese dolls and where to buy crafting items in Japan, with reviews and photos of items in the shops. Some of the shop URLs were already out of date, but I was able to track down other shops, as well as locate items on Etsy. It took some doing with my trusty Word Tank and some patience, but it is do-able. When all else fails, there is Amazon Japan, which has a ‘click here’ for English. You have to make an account with Amazon Japan, your regular one won’t shift over, but they are there for you.
I bought my copy of Hajimimashite DCR through CDJapan, where they have a points program that gives you gift points just for registering your birthday. In other words, you get coupons points for just being alive another year. Sweet!
YesAsia can also locate books for you with the ISBN number, but for out of print books, Amazon Japan is the way to go. You can get the books in-country through Japanese books stores like Kinokuniya, but they will charge a higher price. You have to remember the exchange rates go up and down.
I use http://www.xe.com/ucc/ to find out what the going rates are on prices in Yen, but Amazon Japan will convert prices into your country’s currency when you set up an account. It’s also great for dealing with Taobao shopping.
Beginning Dolly Coordinate Recipe (はじみてのドーリ∙コーデイネイト∙レシピ)
Dollybird Vol 17 ISBN 978-4-79860484-8
Dollybird Vol 18 ISBN 978-4-7986-0618-7
Dollybird Vol 15 ISBN 978-4-7986-0165-6
Where to buy:
CDJapan (http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/ ) You can pre-order, earn discounts, and very reasonable shipping choices. If you can’t find an item in English in search, use Google translate to get the Japanese title, then copy paste.
YesAsia (http://www.yesasia.com/us/en/home.html) Ships from China, worldwide. Excellent service, but takes a bit longer, as they order then ship to you, and shipping can be a bit pricier than CDJapan.
Amazon Japan 9(http://www.amazon.co.jp/) Look for the menu choice ‘would you like to see this page in English’ and you’re good to go. Great source for used books for lower prices. Just double check that the seller is willing to ship out of Japan, very few aren’t.
Kinokuniya (http://www.kinokuniya.com/us/) Not my idea of best choice, they do have to hike the prices because of all the import and business taxes in the USA, but if you really don’t want to deal with overseas, go for it. Found in most countries, but I listed the US Url.