Sunday, April 14, 2024

Weekend Review: Basic Black

Basic Black / Sato Watanabe
translated from the Japanese by Leeyong Soo
Tokyo: Tuttle, 2014, c2005.
64 p.

This is another Japanese sewing book written by Sato Watanabe, who has created quite a few by now. This one is almost twenty years old (!) but it's the first time I've been able to see it. You would never know that it was an older book, since the fashions are chic and edgy, and yes, classic too. 

It includes 26 patterns, ranging from jackets/coats to vests, blouses & dresses, and even a skirt. They are all distinct enough to count as unique patterns, and while a silhouette might be basic there are interesting details to each one, like subtle tucks in a tiered skirt, or unexpected darts to add a focus. Plus all the black fabrics have different textures and weights - jacquards, cottons or gauze, wool, lace - lots of variety. Of course you do not have to make your own in black, you might use these patterns and make yourself a rainbow wardrobe! Here are all the patterns inside: 

I found this was a little bit different than many Japanese sewing books, mainly in the fit of the patterns. There is a bit more body awareness and fit in this book, rather than only a loose or boxy aesthetic. With that comes the one con of the book, the sizing. It is of course limited when used by non-Japanese readers. And the sizing is organized by finished measurements, with three levels - Loose, Shaped, and Fitted. And the size chart shows each pattern by its letter, then the finished measurements (ranging from XS-S-M-L). This way you can judge how the fit will work for you, however, I found it visually confusing. I would have to take a bit of time to figure out what I want to make with this one, even though every project looks really great in the book's photos! 

After the first part of the book, which just shows all the patterns, there is a short 'materials' guide, and then for each pattern there is a Sewing Guide which includes the supplies needed, list of sewing steps, a layout plan, and then diagrams of each sewing step. It's very clear and feels like more instruction than some other Japanese sewing books. I was impressed with this one with the one caveat about sizing which is always noted in these translations. I found most of the patterns ones I'd probably make if I had all the sewing time in the world :) 

The book comes with two fold-out pattern sheets in an envelope in the back of the book to trace your pattern pieces off (it's overlaid like Burda patterns are) but if like me you read the book in an online format, you can also download the pattern sheets from the publisher's website. That's a nice touch. Overall an engaging addition to the sewing books by Sato Watanabe that I've read, and one I'll be looking for to add to my collection. 

1 comment:

  1. My library has this book and I ordered it! I hope the photos of black garments show the details. Thank you for featuring this book!


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