The internet can be a scary place. Alongside the more unsavoury areas of the web there are also the sites that will not set the safesearch filters twitching, but instead pose the more genteel threats of the desire to make, try to sometimes buy all the things. Here we lose not our innocence, but many hundreds of hours of our time, lost in day dreams and endless browsing of beautiful things, and occasionally a great depleting of the Paypal account, or swelling of the credit card statement because of something you clearly need right this second because it is the basis of your brand new obsession.
One particularly dangerous place on the internet for such perilous activity is Pinterest. It’s basically like a peer-reviewed catalogue of eye-candy for the aesthetically-minded, and one of greatest menaces to the pocket and restful nights not visualising all the things you wish you could be making at 3am is Rachel Coopey of Coopknits who has a habit of finding hundreds of things that I obviously need in my life immediately and without further thought.
Last week a particular pin caught my eye – it was a montage of images from the blog Ivy Arch documenting a year that the blog’s owner spent determined not to buy one more piece of clothing but instead to make all items of clothing to wear by herself. Absorbed by the images of dress, after dress, after top on this blog I started to notice that many of the items were made from patterns from a book called The Stylish Dress Book. I little further browsing via Pinterest and a Search Engine and I found that it was originally a Japanese book, now translated into English, and in fact one of a series of five books. So I decided to treat myself… to all five.
Ouch, Pinterest – that was a low blow, and so conveniently timed for Pay Day. The astute reader will have noticed only four books in the picture above – one was a little slow to ship, but has safely arrived now and is every bit as wonderful as it’s sisters.
The designs are mostly casual dresses and tops designed with that particular Japanese style that incorporates simplicity, ease, delicacy and does away with the need to brush one’s hair. Each book has 20+ designs included, each provided with a number of double-sided full-scale pattern sheets from which you can trace and cut the pattern pieces, making each of the books amazing value for money. The photography is charming as each of the models poses with what is sometimes a slightly awkward grace, occasionally looking to be on the brink of tears, usually against a plain backdrop but with one of a number of props be it a watering can or a stack of waffles. The reader might even stumble across a recipe for cookies, or maybe some cupcakes.
The instructions given for each pattern are brief than those given for most patterns that I have used before, but the diagrams are so clear, as to make the construction of each garment appear quite self-explanatory. The diagrams and schematics of each piece are particularly well given, and really quite joyous in their own right. After browsing through the photographs, I often spend a good few minutes browsing through the diagrams, taking in all of the little details that I may have missed in the photos. The long tunic a couple of picture above, for example, has a slit and tied sleeve detail with a curved lower edge, which don’t think is immediately apparent from the photo page alone.
I believe that this may be the first design that I try from this series of books as it has a few details that I’d like to try – such as the vertical slit at the neck and those sleeves. I’m yet to fully make up my mind as I need to asses my fabric and see if I can find any pieces big enough to make the top from, and then to try to figure out what to wear it with. Luckily, the book has some Japanese styling tips to guide me on my way: