… or what to wear when you aren’t wearing a party dress…
I had already purchased the Japanese version of this book Stylish Party Dresses, traced this top & had it on my lengthy list of books in my personal collection to review (which is becoming embarassingly extensive!). When Tuttle Publishing contacted me with an English copy to review and offered to provide a giveaway copy (giveaway now closed), it made sense to accept. I had struggled with the Japanese version of the pattern sheet and I was delighted to get my hands on an English version as I liked many of the patterns.
With this book I was immediately drawn to the tops, jackets and cape-sleeved bolero. I liked a couple of the dresses but it was the possibilities of the other items that drew me in and lead me to compulsively purchase the Japanese version months and months ago.
I was tempted to sew this top in silk… I think it would make a luxe top with skinny jeans or cigarette pants or a pencil skirt… however I opted to stick with the spirit of the book and found a budget-friendly fabric. I purchased this woven rayon, on sale, at Spotlight. It’s a lovely mosiac, stained-glass style print.
Where I didn’t stick to the spirit of the book is the ‘party dresses’ theme. I thought it would be interesting to look beyond how the designs are presented and find new ways to wear them. In the book this top is paired with a loose mini or maxi skirt.
This top has a front yoke with a couple of sets of gathers above the bust, the sleeves are full and wrist length. from the front, the top is quite conservative and modest.
The body is very flared and the back drapes beautifully – yes ‘drapes’, of course I was going to love this! It’s a ‘business at the front and party at the back’ top. The back opening is wide/low and I had to tug my back bra strap down for the photos. I’d be tempted to raise the back ‘v’ a little next time as I hate fiddling with clothing that I am wearing. The tie across the shoulders does help keep the top in place and is a nice decorative finish.
Construction details: I cut out two yoke pieces and burritoed (self-lined) the front yoke – to increase the neatness of the internal finish. I used French seams on the sleeves, back and side seams – when the fabric is lightweight, I love French seams. The neckline and back opening is finished with self bias-binding. The back tie I made from self fabric – sewing a long thin tube and turning it right-side out with a bobby pin. I knotted the ends of the ties.
Sizing: I fell into the 6 size range but chose to make up size 4 – and as you can see, there is plenty of ease!
It’s no secret I love Japanese pattern books. I have a considerable collection! Last year I fell in love with the unique designs of Drape Drape (I have a genuine urge to make some more at the moment)… and now I have come to love some of their ‘everyday’ clothing books as the minimalist designs, loose fit and sizing suit my build and lifestyle. I know this isn’t the experience for everyone… however it works for me.
As I mentioned, I own the untranslated version of this book – in fact I purchased it because I fell in love with the top I’ve made for this post. The Japanese book version is just beautiful, it’s a larger format and has a different cover and is called ‘Formal and Little Black Dress‘. Even my non-sewing friends comment about the beauty of Japanese sewing books, they are often beautifully shot and have an eye-catching serene aesthetic.
This book offers 26 dresses and separates which seems to represent excellent value for the cost of the book.
Some of the design details are obscured by the printed fabrics and photography. However if you flick to the instructions section of this book, every set of design instructions provides a line drawing which is excellent way to determine the design features.
I’m drawn to the jacket, cape and tops in this book. I wear a lot of dresses, mainly to work, however I do love to create tops & jackets to wear with jeans as that’s my out-of-work uniform. It’s quite easy to look beyond the styling of Stylish Party Dresses and see that many of these items can be worn casually or paired with pencil skirts, jeans and the like.
Yes. Japanese sizing range is smaller than our traditional ‘Western’ sizing. That said I’ve got a few Japanese books (I Am Cute Dresses as an example) that don’t cater for my measurements, they are too large for me, so don’t dismiss Japanese books without some investigation. I’m not saying these books will suit everyone however if you are falling just outside the size range – you might be surprised.
THE PATTERN SHEET
You will need to trace. The patterns are overlapped and printed in a single colour but not a mess of lines so it’s not too tedious.
Tracing the pattern was more challenging as the pieces were located across two sheets, the markings are slightly different to western pattern markings and these patterns share many pattern pieces – with different lines for armholes, lengths and necklines. I re-traced it in the English version – and while it is MUCH easier, it does require concentration to ensure you have chosen the right line. I traced the back and front piece twice… I was tired and rushing the first time and didn’t trace the pieces at the more flared line.
There are two pattern sheets (double sided) and these are contained in an envelope in the back of the book.
The instructions are brief but clear and accompanied bynumbering, garment line drawings and illustrations. People with sewing experience will find these instructions brief but adequate. It might be challenging for a beginner – but you don’t know what you don’t know at that stage – Google is always most helpful in this regard!
I like it. Clearly. I liked it enough to purchase an untranslated version, I excitedly spammed -instagrammed many of the images when I purchased the Japanese book. I’m delighted to have the English version as I’m going to make up some more of these patterns as I do love the simplicity for everyday wear.
I haven’t tested every pattern or proof read every line of the instructions – the book would be out-of-print before I finished! However overall the quality appears to be the standard I’ve come to expect from a Tuttle Publishing book.
The patterns in this book are very simple – and it sells itself as that ‘easy and inexpensive sew-it-yourself dresses for that special occasion’. You could use cheaper fabrics… you could use silks, linens and fancy fabrics – and many of these minimalist designs would shine in luxe fabrics. Either way, you can interpret these patterns to suit your own style and life – or party for that matter.
Some of the language and symbols are slightly different to some of the other Big 4 or indie patterns on the market – however it just takes a little time to adjust to a slightly different approach. I would expect this from any new/different pattern company.
With 26 dresses, tops, jackets and skirts provided in Stylish Party Dresses, I think this book does represent good value for your spend if the designs appeal and suit you.
Let me know if you would like to be included in the giveaway draw in the comments below. Note this is open to anyone in the world and will be chosen via http://www.random.org. Giveaway closes Tuesday 3 November at 5pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time). GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.
I received two copies and provided one of these copies to the Brisbane Frocktails event (on 31 October 2015) as a lucky door prize.
Pattern: Drape Top (i) from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing
Fabric: Rayon, from Spotlight, $9 a metre, used approximately 1.8m (135cm wide)
I’m running well behind schedule on everything at the moment, it’s the story of 2015, such is life. Right now, my back is being a drama queen. I’m limited to sewing simple makes which don’t require hours of cutting or sitting at the machine as my back locks up. I’ve put back my Mood Fabrics Network make as I need to rest my back a little more. I should be good within a week and after perhaps one more torturous but necessary physiotherapist visit.
Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this pattern for review purposes.
All opinions my own. No affiliate links in this post.
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