Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekend Review: I Am Cute Dresses

I Am Cute Dresses / Sato Watanabe
translated by Asako Ohashi
Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, c2011.
120 p.
This week I'm sharing yet another title from my collection of Japanese pattern books. I can't resist these when I find them either 2nd hand or while thrifting. Even if I don't use them, they are so pretty to look at!

This book is by Sato Watanabe, an author I wasn't aware of before finding this book. It's not a Tuttle book, rather it has been published by Interweave. There are a few differences in production choices, primarily that this book has no Westernized pull out patterns in the back. It is more traditional; all of the patterns have schematics that you then use to draw up your own patterns. It's more work to do it this way, for sure -- but the drafting skills are good to learn, and it's really just taking written instructions and measurements and drafting them out into an actual pattern piece. So if you're up for that, there's lots of good stuff here.

But, the sizing in this book is also a big difference from other Japanese sewing books I've read -- all of the schematic drawings are based on an average bust measurement of 35-36", and an average hip measurement of 38-39". There are points marked by a star on the pattern drawings as good points to resize for your body when making up a pattern. This size range reflects the Japanese source of this book; I'm larger than the average that this is working from, but close enough that sizing up isn't too much of a chore, especially since all the patterns are boxy, loose fitting, easy-tailored styles intended to have a "one size fits all" aesthetic. 

Of course, I'm not entirely sure that these kind of loose fit dresses will suit those who are not petite Japanese sewists, but I do find a couple of the patterns charming enough to give it a go. Like most of these books, the 25 designs are shown in photographs with brief descriptions in the beginning of the book, followed by a glossary and sewing tips, which includes an explanation of the sizing protocol, and also has a list of the pattern markings and what they mean on the drawings. This is very helpful as they aren't standard markings -- ie, where to identify the fold of the fabric, where to match up pattern pieces and so on.

And then the dresses are all shown in more detail with the pattern information and instructions in the last half of the book.

While it's a different way to approach a sewing book than the hand-holding beginner sewing books that many Western sewists are used to, I think that an experienced sewist won't have too much trouble. The patterns are intentionally simple, with few fussy shapes or techniques to worry about on the pattern making side. When this was first published in English in 2011, I'm not sure that the oversize look was as popular as it is now (ie: the popularity of the StyleArc Adeline or the Wiksten Shift reveal more appeal in the loose fit for contemporary sewists). So this book might have more currency now than at first.

In any case, I enjoyed looking through this and think that the pattern drafting challenge might be a way for me to up my sewing skills somewhat. I do like a number of the styles so might try it out and see what happens.

but what is with this weird pose on the back?


  1. I absolutely love the fabric of the dress on the back cover (despite weird pose). I am sure if there was a design you really liked in the book then you could put it together from parts of patterns you already own which do fit. I feel we would all have enough patterns to do that! That actually sounds like a bit of a challenge

    1. Ha! You are most likely right about the pattern mixing that could be possible with what one already owns. And yes, I agree that fabric on the back is lovely, the leaf in her mouth does throw me a bit though!


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