Ebook: How to Sew Japanese Sewing Patterns

Everything you need to sew your first Japanese sewing pattern.

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Japanese Sewing Terms You Need to Know - English Translations

03 Sep 2015

Want to know how to translate Japanese sewing patterns? Facing a page of sewing instructions in Japanese can be intimidating, but like with any sewing projects, there are certain sewing terms which are used repeatedly. Here’s the most commonly used Japanese sewing terms and their translations in English.

Sewing Basics

Japanese How to Read English Translation
作り方 tsukurikata instructions
縫い代 nuidai seam allowance
型紙 katagami sewing pattern
wa symbol to indicate fabric fold line


Japanese How to Read English Translation
裏 or うら ura reverse/wrong side
表 or おもて omote right/correct side
前 or まえ  mae front
後ろ or うしろ ushiro back


Japanese How to Read English Translation
縫う nuu sew
まつる matsuru baste
作る tsukuru make
つける tsukeru attach
始末 shimatsu finish
出来上がり dekiagari complete


Japanese How to Read English Translation
表布 omote nuno right / main fabric
裏布 ura nuno lining fabric
接着芯 sechakushin interfacing
ボタン botan button
ファスナー fasuna fastener / zipper

Clothing Items

Japanese How to Read English Translation
スカート sukato skirt
ベルト beruto belt
ワンピース wanpiisu one-piece/dress

Let’s try translating a Japanese sewing pattern!

Here’s an example of a Japanese sewing pattern for a very simple maxi skirt.

Circled in BLUE, the Japanese symbol 作り方 means Instructions.

In RED, you can see the English translations of the different pattern components and which direction the diagram is showing.

Highlighted in YELLOW are the 4 steps to make the maxi skirt. Can you work out what the instructions are using the ‘Instructions’ table above?

  1. Sew the skirt.
  2. Make the belt.
  3. Attach the belt.
  4. Complete!

How to translate Japanese sewing pattern to English

The more you practice, the more you’ll get used to how Japanese sewing patterns work. The diagrams really help you and understanding the instructions, so even if you can just work out whether you are looking at the right or wrong side of the fabric, it’s a great start!

For a more in depth look at translating and understanding Japanese patterns, check out my ebook How to Sew Japanese Sewing Patterns. Many more sewing terms are translated in the book, including types of fabrics and garments. You’ll also find out how to make sense of those seam allowances and drafting patterns.

Author: Rin Gomura-Elkan

Rin is a sewing lover living in laid-back Australia. Born in Japan, she has a passion for making Japanese crafts accessible to a worldwide audience. She helps women live a more creative and meaningful life on her blog, sewinlove.com.au