Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review - Fundamentals of Garment Design

The Japanese company Bunka Publishing Bureau recently published a series of dressmaking books from the Bunka Fashion College in English. I found this out thanks to this Pattern Review Discussion I ordered the first book in the series, Fundamentals of Fashion Design, ISBN978-579-11238-8, from www.Amazon.ja.com on a Friday and it arrived on the following Tue. Initially I wasn’t sure it was worth the purchase, as it appeared to contain basic info. that was covered in other books.

Chapter 1 - Overview if Fashion Design
Chapter 2 - Tools for Making Garments
Chapter 3 - Measuring the Body for Garment Production
Chapter 4 - Basics of Pattern Production
Chapter 5 - Garment Fabrics and Sewing Notions
Chapter 6 - Fundamentals of Cutting and Sewing

But Chapter 3 had some information I have never seen before about Human Body Proportions. How data is collected and used in designing pattern and flattering garments, even comparisons of body proportions for different races. And examples of a regularly proportioned body ( Japanese, but still interesting) in terms of the proportional relationship between width, thickness and height.
Then I got to page 88 and there it was, what I have been wanting since I first started using the Bunka published Japanese pattern magazines Mrs Stylebook and Lady Boutique. "Instruction for drafting the Bunka Sloper" …in English. Not only the bodice sloper, but the sleeve sloper and a section on Adjusting Various Parts for Larger Bust Measurements.

Reading the background information about the Bunka bodice sloper clarified the cause of some problems I had been having with my sloper. "The Bunka style bodice sloper is a way of making drawings based on a small number of measurements, the bust, back length and waist. The measurements of each part of the drawing sloper are mainly calculated with the bust measurement as a standard. Slopers produced in Japan accommodate mainly the standard body type of a Japanese adult woman 18-24 years of age (typically with bust measurement of 80 –89 cm)." Now I knew why my drafted sloper fit so poorly in some areas. It is drawn based on my larger 96 cm bust measurement, and my Anglo Saxon body proportions are not the same as a Japanese woman’s.
My drafted sloper fit fairly well, but the armhole area of the patterns drafted from it are consistently too big. Now I know this is because of the calculations used to determine the arm hole size and shape are based on my bust. Arm size does not necessarily increase in size in a linear relationship with the bust. I knew I needed to make fitting adjustments to the sloper, but it wasn’t clear to me how the sloper armhole should fit, especially in the underarm area. And there in the section on Fitting and Checking the Sloper was the answer. "The lower part of the armhole (the bust line) should be about 2 cm from the lowest edge of the underarm"

In conclusion: I would definitely recommend this book as an aid in drafting and fitting the Bunka ( Mrs Stylebook, Lady Boutique) multi darted sloper. As a stand-alone book on fundamentals of Fashion Design, I feel there are more comprehensive books already available.


  1. Fabulously informative post! Thanks so much for reviewing this book. The information on sloper development based upon the Japanese calculations and how it differs from your body requirements is fascinating.

  2. I've tried ordering this book from a couple of sites, but my results come back with a "0" record of this book.
    Did you call in your order or order on line?

  3. In response to Ann's comment above I responded with a private email with links to several sites that had the book in stock. If anyone else would like this info, email me at the email address listed on my profile.

    1. I have heard about the "Fundamentals of Garment Design Bunka Fashion Series Garment Design Text Book 1" and would like to buy it. Amazon price for this book is ridiculous. I hope you could give me a source that has better price for this book. Thank you.

    2. Please send me your email so I can send you suggestions and links for Japanese book sellers. My email is under "Contact me" on my About Me" link on the right hand side of this page.

  4. Thank you so much Audrey.
    I just ordered the Blouses & dress book and the Fundamental of Garment Design. I also ended up ordering them from the NY main store. Thank you for the information it was very helpful. (The NY store didn't have the other two books, I'll try from another one :)

  5. Thank you! Thank you! I saw the Bunka Fashion College design series at my local Kinokuniya store here in Singapore and it was pricey and I kept wondering if it's worth it. With the review you just made I think I'll try it out!

  6. Audry, thank you for your review of this book. I am wondering what other pattern drafting books you would recommend?

  7. Does it contains the details on how to draw the sleeve? I hv been using mrs Style book for a while but can't seem to find any detailed instruction to draw the sleeve part (especially the back turning point)

  8. Hi Audrey,
    Thanks a million in blogging this! But, I am a little curious (not important, but fasciating) as to why so many americans and australians are using and in fact very much in love with Bunka Sloper? (an asian sloper) What are the benefits of possessing this sloper?
    I myself is a chinese and I never knew that is it a treasure until I learned from you all through blogging. Thanks a million. love you all.

  9. My answer to 42's comment, in case other readers are interested. For me the motivation to use the Bunka sloper is that it is the base used to draft all the wonderful garments featured in the Ms. Stylebook and Lady Boutique magazines. And the sloper drafting instructions, which are diagrams rather than words, can be understood without reading Japanese. There are pattern drafting books available in the USA, but the garment styles included in those books are basic, limited, and are of the time the book was published. As you guessed the Bunka Asian sloper (either from the preprinted magazine insert or drafted from my measurements) still needed some changes to fit my taller, middle aged, non Asian body properly. But after making those changes, I have a sloper I can use to draft the magazine patterns. The magazine pattern diagrams tell me how much to open up a armhole opening or how much ease to add to a jacket. They show me how to achieve a certain collar or neckline starting from my sloper. Knowledge of those types of things requires drafting experience or classes, which I do not have.

  10. Hi Audrey,
    I am glad to have come across your post! I recently picked up all the volumes, and am a bit confused as to what the number in front of the body type indicator stands for. For ex. 5YT,7YT,9YT, etc. I feel there are so many charts! Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Awesome blog :)

    Thanks and Best,

  11. Hi Audrey,
    I am glad to have come across your blog! It's very informative. I just picked up the volumes and they are awesome. However I am having some trouble figuring out what the number in front of the body type indicator stands for. For ex. 9YPP, 11YPP, 13YPP, etc. Any kind of insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you


  12. Anthony, Page 70,71 of the book has info on the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) sizes. Letters indicate 1. Body type - values A, Y, AB, B where A = average hip size based on population sample statistics, Y hips 4 cm smaller than A, AB hips 4 CM larger than A, B hips 8 cm larger than. And 2. Height - values R,P,PP,T where R=158cm, P=150 cm, PP=142 and T=166cm
    So YPP9 is slightly slim hipped, extra petite size (hip 85 CM Bust 83 and height 142 cm). If you would like more information, charts comparisons of Japanese sizes to other nations sizes, I would be happy to provide them to you if you send me your email address.

  13. Also in response to 42 books. Most American sewing patterns are not based on a sloper. The patterns are typically based on an average body type and then you have to make alterations to the pattern if your body type is not average. Most books that teach pattern design from a sloper are extremely expensive, only available to fashion school students or really old and hard to find, or some or all of the above. It's actually cheaper to buy the Japanese books and the diagrams are so good sometimes it makes more sense than the books in English!

    1. It is out of print and not available from Bunka or other Japanese book vendors that I know of. I suggest you Google search on the title or ISBN and perhaps you will find a used copy for sale.