...I'm totally not pregnant. Which meant that even though yes, these clothes are more wearable than the ones in Drape Drape, they still wouldn't be my first pick when it comes to trying new patterns. Still, in the interest of doing a fair review (i.e. one where I actually try out at least one pattern), I picked one of the two dresses in the book that actually looks like it has some waist definition going on: Dress R, which features several rows of elastic shirring at the waist.
|Unfortunately, white on white doesn't photograph so well.|
I decided I wanted to make this dress without the sleeves, and use different fabric for the yoke for some visual interest (and also because sheer yokes are totally in right now). Tracing the pattern was pretty easy, and since the dress is actually pretty basic, I didn't really bother much with the instructions. In case you were wondering, though, the instructions are very similar to Drape Drape: concise and clearly illustrated with well-done line drawings.
|It's a cute peasant-ish look, especially with the decorative blanket stitching at the neckline.|
How did it turn out? Judge for yourself.
|Oh hey, that doesn't look anything like the dress in the book.|
|Yeah, sorry about that, but I made lots of modifications.|
|I love the white embroidered flowers on this fabric!|
Maybe it was the embroidered cotton voile I was using, but the dress ended up looking very puffy around the shoulders, so I added several more rows of shirring at the shoulders in an attempt to tame some of the extra fabric. I also widened the neckline, took in the bodice side seams by about 1.5" at the underarm (tapering to nothing at the waist), recut the armholes to accommodate the new width, and shortened the hem by about five inches. I also ended up having to do huge seam allowances at the edges of the yoke in the back. For some reason, I didn't bother trimming and re-binding them, so they show through the back a little bit since the voile is so thin. Ah well, I don't have to see my own back, so I'm just going to pretend it didn't happen. And obviously I didn't do the decorative stitching at the neckline, opting instead to just bind everything with white bias tape. All in all, it was rather more fussing (and trying on and making adjustments and retrying) than I expected for a dress with such simple shapes. I wouldn't be scared off, though, as long as you like the style of dress in this book -- the pattern pieces are really very simple and the sizing is extremely generous. I cut the XS for this dress (despite the book recommending a M for my measurements) and I still had to take things in quite a bit. So if you think you can't make clothes from a Japanese sewing book because you're not standard-Japanese-person-sized (I always feel like a freakishly tall giant when I'm in Asia, and I'm not even that tall), don't be afraid!
|Even though the shirring helps with the waist definition, I still like dresses best with a belt or sash, so I tried the super trendy turquoise + red combo. I quite like it!|
|How's that for vibrant color, eh?|
Fabric: a little over 1.5 yards of 100% cotton embroidered cotton voile. Even though it isn't part of my official stashbusting pledge pile, it's been in the stash for a couple years and it definitely fits the April theme of vibrant color. My only gripe with it is that the embroidered sections are quite puckery and won't flatten out even with ironing. I also used a minimal amount of this dotted white net that's also been in the stash for a while.
Notions: bias tape, elastic thread
Techniques used: Shirring! I haven't shirred since this dress (where I actually had to do a similar thing to tame shoulder puffiness), and this time I shirred the front and back pieces before I sewed them together, and let me tell you, it was much easier dealing with flat pieces! Also, sometimes when I haven't used a new technique for a while, I forget that it isn't that difficult, so I avoid it because I've built it up in my head as some big task involving lots of preparation. I was actually pleasantly surprised (again) by how easy and fast shirring was; even winding the bobbins by hand didn't take much time. Incidentally, this dress only required two bobbins' worth of elastic thread.
|More or less even rows of shirring. Also, seam binding on all the insides.|
Hours: Seven. What looked like a relatively simple project ended up taking a lot of time because of fussing with the fit at the top so that it didn't look so huge. Also, planning the cutting layout took not an insignificant amount of time because my yardage was so limited.
Will you make it again? No. And there's maybe only one other project in the book that I might actually make one day, but honestly, these patterns would probably be simpler for me to just improvise on my own, rather than modifying these patterns to get the look I want. I actually made a similar sheer-yoked dress last year that turned out to be much easier.
Total cost: I don't remember where I got this fabric, nor how much it was, but knowing my fabric shopping habits, it can't have been more than $5 total. [side note: The problem with fabric shopping in LA is that you start thinking that any more than $3/yd for fabric is exorbitant. I know, I know, some of you are probably all pshh, #LAsewistproblems...$10/yd for embroidered cotton voile is considered to be a good price. Don't hate, I'll be moving in a few months and then my idea of a good price for fabric will recalibrate.]
Final thoughts: I like that this is a fun summer dress that's easy to wear, and I especially love the bright colors. With the sash, it's actually fairly close to my wedding colors. All around, it's a good solid wardrobe piece, not especially groundbreaking, but nothing wrong with it either.
So, my conclusion? If you're pregnant, these are simple, relatively fast projects that would make for good belly coverage. Alternately, if you like the loose smock look, if you like uncomplicated pattern pieces with some cute details and embellishments thrown in, this is the book for you! According to the LK Publishing website, the book will be available in May. Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, this was a free copy provided to me for review purposes, although I'm not financially compensated in any way.
Last order of business: I wouldn't be me if I didn't at least try to mimic the models' poses. Whether it's holding a plate of flour while standing under a random sprig of flowers tacked to the wall, drinking from a ladle, or showing off freshly baked bread, well, let's just say that these Japanese sewing books provide me with no end of amusement.
|I didn't have a sprig of flowers to tack to the wall, so I settled for Walnut's catnip mouse.|
|Yes, this soup tastes about right.|
|I didn't have real bread to pose with. At least my coordinating oven mitts are from a Japanese store?|
Of course, IMHO, the best photo prop (even if it totally obscures the actual dress being modeled) is a cat.
|Could there ever be any doubt?|