Stylish Party Dresses – and my boho Drape Top


… 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.

Drape Top i from Stylish Party Dresses

Hey Lizzy – where’s the party dress? Or even a stylish dress? Slightly windy day on the beach so it’s being blown about a bit.

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.

THE TOP

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.

It's quite modest and conservative at the front.

It’s quite modest and conservative at the front.

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.

top - flat

The pattern matching isn’t so great at the back… however the draping of the back conceals this centre back seam when I’m wearing it

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke....

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke….

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!

THE BOOK

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.

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

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.

THE DESIGNS

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.

I haven’t photographed every design – please see English Girl at Home for additional design images and Top Notch who has also reviewed this book.

Designs a and b from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing.

A tulle skirted and a lace overlay dress… now THAT’S a party dress!

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

I love this little lace jacket.

I love this little lace jacket.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist - this could be for you.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist – this could be for you.

The top I fell in love with - in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

The top I fell in love with – in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

I think I just like that lace fabric... but as for the red... I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind...

I think I just like that lace fabric… but as for the red… I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind…

I love the little blouse 'design n'. A simple wearable everyday design

I love the little blouse ‘design n’, I’ve already traced it and have some flamingo rayon waiting for it. A simple wearable everyday design

Jumpsuit for the brave!

Jumpsuit for the brave!

I like this chiffon mini dress - but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I like this chiffon mini dress – but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I do love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

I love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

Sorry bad shot - this jacket as a frotn frill - impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It's simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.

Sorry bad shot – this jacket as a front frill – impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It’s simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.

SIZING

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.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.

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.

the pattern sheet

the pattern sheet

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

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!

Stylish Party Dresses - typical instructions.

Stylish Party Dresses – typical instructions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

GIVEAWAY

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)

top - side

I’ve worn this all day – I feel very ‘boho beach chic’ in it and it’s perfect on a warm sunny day. #winner

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.

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

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108 thoughts on “Stylish Party Dresses – and my boho Drape Top

  1. I would love to win this book! I found you a couple of years ago, and you have been such an inspiration for me — your choice of fabrics and patterns are lovely, and very similar to mine.
    And your sewing is perfection!!! I truly enjoy reading your blog and can’t wait to see what you have sewn up next! Thank you for the opportunity to win this lovely book!
    Btw — I love love love this blouse and the fabric, too! Wish I lived in Australia and I would promptly purchase some!

  2. Great top Lizzy! I love how those books look but the designs are usually not really my style. I’m no fan of ruffles and stuff either but I must say I really like the ruffles on that light pink/purple-ish dress next to the chiffon mini. Might have to copy that idea 🙂 (also please don’t include me in the give-away as I have quite enoug patterns already)

  3. Hi
    I would love to be included in the giveaway. I didn’t use japaniese pattern jet and am very interessted in it. Many thanks Adriane

  4. Oh no, I’m really sorry to hear about your back issues! Hope you’ll get them sorted out soon. Back pain sucks so much! *fingers crossed*

    Also, you know I adore Japanese sewing books (even though I haven’t yet made anything from the one you sent me), so please include me in the giveaway. I would love to make that jumpsuit! Not sure I would be brave enough to actually wear it, but actually, why not? It might be fun! (:

  5. Your top is lovely! I’m a fan of Japanese sewing books – I have many of them but not this one. That would be a nice addition to my collection. As you said about the sizing, there is plenty of ease in these patterns and I usually don’t go by the chart and I found some jewels in these books. Good luck with your back problem. Just a hint if you care : yoga works like pure magic for my chronic achy back!

  6. Your top is beautiful! It is exactly something I’d wear! Please include me in the draw. I also love Japanese pattern books! Thank you!!

  7. I have considered and reconsidered this book on my Amazon Wishlist for ages now but your review has help to consolidate the view that I need this book. I would be delighted to be included in the draw…fingers crossed.

  8. I would love the chance to win this book. I really like the look of some of the Japanese patterns but have been put off as they seem really difficult – maybe the translation will help with that!
    H.

  9. What a fabulous top! I just adore the dramatic cut of the back. You can throw my name in the drawing… I’ve long admired these books but have yet to actually buy one!

  10. Gorgeous top, it suits you so well. Like you I am very drawn to design N so please enter me in the draw. I bought some peacock fabric months ago and this top would be a perfect pattern for it.

  11. Your blouse is so pretty with it’s floaty back! You are always showing us beautiful veersions of interesting patterns!
    I would be happy to take part of your giveaway. Thank you for providing this.
    All the best for your back, I hope you will be better, soon! 🙂

  12. That’s a lovely blouse on you and the back with the tie is a beautiful feature!
    The stylish dress book looks intriguing. I’ve been searching for simple dress patterns for the holidays, and I’d love to try one of the patterns from the book. Please enter me in the drawing too – thank you!

  13. Yes, please do enter me in the draw! Love your choice of fabric for that top. I think I agree; that back might be more wearer friendly with the deep V raised just a bit. Hope your back heals up fast for you! 🙂 Blessings!

  14. You look lovely in your new top. I love the look of the mock wrap dress and other dresses in the book so I’d love to win a copy!

  15. Oh I’d love to be included! I have this on my Christmas wish list, but thank you so much for showing all the garment that are in it, it makes me more interested than I was before even!

  16. Lovely top! Please include me in the draw, the book has some great projects in there. Thx for the giveaway and review.

  17. Exclude me from the giveaway, but just to say I love it! This was one of my favourite patterns from the book and is already traced. I started making dress E today but the armholes are pretty low so it needs some alterations to make it decent😂

  18. That style is definitely you! The photos in the book are lovely too and you can actually see what the dress looks like, even if you have to look at the line drawings to see any detail hidden by the fabric pattern.
    (Please don’t enter me in the draw. I prefer to admire others’ creations from this book.)

  19. Yes please include me in the draw…. I love Japanese pattern books and have a few myself but not this one. Thank you so much.

  20. The top looks very nice, I wouldn’t think it was from a Japanese book in the fabric you choose. It looks very boho chic.
    I would like to be included in the draw, please. Thanks so much for the chance.

  21. Yes please Lizzy! I’d love to be included in your giveaway. Those Japanese pattern books are awesome. I’ve had my eye on them for a while now but still haven’t got around to purchasing them! My Christmas wish list is getting longer!

  22. Beautiful work! I have a few Japanese pattern books and I like how there’s always interesting details, like the draping at the back of your top.

  23. I am a beginner sewist but already have my eye on the books made by this designer. I love the pieces featured in this book and the aesthetic is totally up my alley!! It makes me want to make it all. It would be a joy to win!! Thank you for the giveaway!

  24. Looks great Lizzy! Can I ask if you altered the length at all? I know you are quite petite and I like the finished length on you. If I made this I might need to lengthen it a smidge I think. Please don’t enter me in the draw as I already have the book 🙂

    • I’m five foot four. I did add an inch to the hemline rather than the 5/8 inch recommended – just in case but I chopped it back to recommended depth. The jeans I’m wearing are definitely ‘hipster’ and this is just long enough. It is certainly long enough at the back. You might want to add some length. You can cut it off – but not add it on!

  25. I flicked through this in a bookshop and wasn’t sure, but you’ve made me see it in a whole new light. Of course you can make these as casual clothes, why didn’t I think of that!

  26. The top is fabulous and suits you perfectly I agree it would be gorgeous in lovely silk. As for the book it self, it looks great I’m yet to try one of these books but the more I see of them the more I’m intrigued by them , and surprising for me I’m quite drawn to that jumpsuit 😍

  27. Thanks, I’d love to get this book. I’m also amassing quite a collection; they also make great tween patterns due to the smaller sizing.

  28. I always thought that my style is the complete opposite of the typical japanese pattern books, but seeing the blue dress with the collar or the lace dress, I think I changed my mind – if I don’t win, I’ll probably buy the book anyway!

  29. I’d love to be included in the giveaway. Your top looks great and I think there is several dresses that I’d like to make and wear. Google would have to be my friend but I won’t learn unless I dive on in.

  30. I love the Japenese books too and am very tempted to seek some out. So far I have managed to stop myself because, frankly, I’d die a ripe old age before I sew up even half the things in my head now. And I am a forgetterer (as my kids tell me constantly). So please don’t include me in the giveaway, it is a lovely one.

    The top is delightful – I love the back particularly now that summer is coming. I look forward to seeing what else you make from the book too 🙂

  31. I love the drape on that top so stunning from behind.
    I’d love to go in the draw to win a copy of the book, I’m already mentally going through my fabric stash to see what fabric I have to make myself a top too 🙂

  32. Great job on the top! It looks great on you. Now I think I’d rather make that top than a dress at the moment. But maybe I’ll make a jacket instead. 😉 I still haven’t made anything from the book yet but I will soon! No need to enter me in the drawing as I already have a copy.

  33. Yes, I would like to be included in the giveaway please. I’m sorry to hear about your back, take good care of yourself and hopefully it will be back to normal soon.

  34. Oh, my lovely! I’m so sorry to hear about your back – I hope the physio has worked some magic?

    The top is gorgeous, I imagine it will be wonderful for the summer that is slowly creeping up on you (as winter is descending on us!) and it seems designed for you!

    Whilst I’d love a copy of the book, realistically I’m not going to sew from it anytime soon! So leave me out of the draw as it deserves to be used rather than (potentially) sit in my sewing library… It’s on my wish list so once sewing is a real possibility again I’ll add it to my collection then, hee hee!!

  35. The top looks gorgeous! Please include me in the draw, I love Japanese fashion but the only Japanese pattern book I have ever used is Pattern Magic – this one looks much more wearable!

  36. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly #12 | Helen's ClosetHelen's Closet

  37. I love the last photo of you in your top. The hem is very dramatic in the side view. Please include me in your give away. I’ve thought about buying this book, but winning it would be more fun! Best, Janet.

  38. oooh, i would love to win this book. I’m not sure i replied already though, i can’t find my name. So i thought, rather twice than not taking my chance…. grat blog by the way 😉

  39. Hello, I am another big fan of Japanese design and would to win this book, if you would kindly include me in the draw, thank you.

  40. Hello! This looks gorgeous, like everything you sew! Thank you for sharing your sewing experience with the World! I am interested in this Japanese book. Greetings from Germany, Claudia

  41. Pingback: Stylish Party Dressses Giveaway Winner – more to come | Sew Busy Lizzy

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