I have been a sewer since I was 8 years old. It was something I couldn't resist and with no formal lessons I learned how to sew "my own way". I have since completed several courses including 1 year technical school under the direction of an Austrian tailor, and a 4 year degree in Clothing and Textiles at BYU and a one course in French heirloom sewing at the Martha Pullen school of fashion. It was through those courses I learned what rules I could and couldn't break.
I also learned quite a bit of pattern drafting but to be honest I really don't enjoy it, I'd rather just get on with the project. So I would often purchase patterns from the fabric store and to my great disappointment it took just as much time to alter the patterns as it would be to draft my own. I found even the children's patterns were disproportionally large and I was rarely satisfied with the end product. For years I only sewed on occasion.
I can't remember exactly when Marie' sent me my first Japanese sewing book but I do remember I was pregnant with baby #6. The images were impressive but to be honest I was intimidated. The first couple tracing sessions weren't quick or comfortable but after checking out an English/Japanese dictionary and recognizing basic words like "front" and "back" it got easier. I believe anyone with basic sewing experience could decipher the Japanese patterns.
I'm hooked. I love the simplicity of the design and construction. With the exception of one adult pattern (my figure is far from the average Japanese woman and those patterns require quite a bit of alteration), I have been pleased with all the finished garments from my Japanese sewing books. I now own several books and am busy sewing more than ever. Japanese pattern books are what got me to love sewing again.