Craft-Splurge: The Stylish Dress Book

Craft-Splurge: The Stylish Dress Book

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:


4 thoughts on “Craft-Splurge: The Stylish Dress Book”

  • Spookily I was going to talk about these books in my next post, I already mentioned them briefly on the podcast. And I am going to make that very top next!! I made the one next to it, design E, in a plain grey, and because I am not a sylph like tiny Japanese person, it does come across a bit “maternity”. But I love it anyway. I bought three books altogether. This one, Basic Black and Feminine Wardrobe. I don’t think those two are the same series but they are also Japanese ones. I love them. And such great value for the amount you get.

    Did you realise though, that you have to add seam allowances as they are not included?

    • Ooh, and by coincidence I am awaiting delivery of the Feminine Wardrobe Book and have the Basic Black book on my ‘waiting for funds’ list, too! Yes, I did check for the seam allowance before making my first top. I’m quite happy with that as long as I am aware, as it gives people a bit of freedom over the seam allowance that they add. prefer to sew with a smaller seam allowance than the 1.5cm given in a lot of commercial patterns (I know you can trim afterwards, but I actually find keeping track of my sewing easier with a narrower seam) so as long as I remember to check each time I draw up a pattern to cut that should be fine (and because my memory for such things is bad I tend to check the details of such things each time).

      I’ve finished my top now and it will be on the blog on Friday. I have to say, I do love it greatly!

      My only worry was that such designs can look wonderful of the slender, delicate frames of the models but in reality not many of us are built like that! I’m trying to care a bit less about what others think, though. I wore my squirrel skirt to the office today. I’m sure a few people thought it odd, and a number of people commented (‘that’s bright!’ is the go-to phrase for someone who doesn’t quite know what to say), but I’ve got to the age where I feel like I’m just going to dress in a way that makes me happy. I’ve hit my ‘When I am old I shall wear purple’ patch!

  • Oh yes, I’ve noticed these books too at my favorite bookstore and they alone are motivating me to take up sewing. I must learn, but first I need to get a sewing machine, and hopefully a not too expensive one. Can’t wait to see your first creations.

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