Tuttle Publishing kindly asked me to review a handful of books a few months ago. It’s taken me a woefully long time to get this done, but I was/am determined to get it done ‘right’, and actually make up a pattern from each book, as opposed to merely reviewing the photography and layout. I had several other sewing projects to get squared away first, before I could commence.
I am reviewing “Stylish Skirts” by Sato Watanabe, which is different from my other Japanese pattern books in that you draft your own pattern. You do this by referring to the diagrams, which have the measurements on them.
I had wanted to make up the “Escargot” skirt, but with my dislike of drafting patterns (it makes my head hurt) the angled pattern pieces seemed intimidating for a project I wanted to hurry up with. So I chose skirt “J”, because it’s squares and rectangles looked doable, and because I have never seen a maxi skirt like this anywhere. It’s unusual without being unwearable, as are all the patterns in “Stylish Skirts”. There’s only four out of twenty-three patterns that I wouldn’t wear, and those are the asymmetrical ones. I could easily picture someone else wearing them, though.
Time: It took me maybe a day and a half total to sew this; an afternoon to draft the pattern; an afternoon and evening to cut it out and sew up the main parts, a morning for the waistband; a morning for the (entirely optional) under skirt, a simple A-line to combat the extreme sheerness of the overlay. And most of that sewing time was done in 10 and 15 minute increments!
Here’s a Tip: Draft your pattern onto paper. Yes, yes, I know, you really want to wear it this weekend. You’ll just draw it onto your fabric with a washable pen. Well, it’s your fabric and your time, so do what you like. But it’s been my experience that any time I try to draw squares and rectangles onto fabric, the grain shifts and I end up with rhombuses. Not to mention I’d have to repeat the whole excruciating process again the next time I wanted to make the skirt. So, paper pattern.
Here’s Another Tip: Use metric. It’s much faster to measure 152 cm than it is to measure 59 7/8″. And truth be told (I will bold this so that it sticks out) sometimes the translation from metric to U.S. Customary didn’t go smoothly. On panel “B” there was no inch measurement, and for the topstitching they rounded 0.5cm up to 1/4″, when 1/8″ would have looked better.
The measurements were accurate, though, and it went together smoothly, with one exception: The finished folded width of the waist band was 3 1/2cm. The directions said quite clearly to topstitch. They then said to put in two more rows of stitching, the first 1cm from the top, the second 1 1/2 cm from the first and 1cm from the topstitching. I did my math. 1 cm+1cm+1 1/2cm= 3 1/2 centimeters, an impossible figure because that is the finished width of the waistband, not counting the topstitching.
Negatives: (1) There were no finished measurments given, so I wasn’t at all sure what size skirt I was making. It sounded as if there were, but there weren’t. I added up the measurements given on the diagrams (fairly easy to do, since seam allowances are separate) for the length, and measured the waistband to see if I could get it up over my hips.
(2) The diagrams were a bit tricky to figure out, esp. on the small pieces, and this wasn’t even the most complex skirt in the book. However, you might fare better than I did. Just go slow and use your common sense. And draft it onto paper first.
Pluses: (1) As I said, the all the skirts were wearable by someone, and they were all a bit unusual, which is what I look for in sewing patterns.
(2) The book has cute little diagrams throughout the directions, instructing about straightening the fabric grain and reinforcing zipper seams. There is a page with good photographs about linings, and in the back it also has a glossary of terms and symbols used.
(3) The variety of skirts is impressive. There are so many techniques used in this book– shirring, pleats, paneling, elastic, drawstrings, linings, zippers, hooks and eyes, welt pockets (ingeniously sewn on as a patch pocket!) ruffles, gathering, gores, irregular hems, darts, button holes, and embroidery: and there are so many styles– gathered, A-line, sailor, pleated, bubble, asymmetrical, gored, wrap, color blocked– that there is bound to be something for everyone.
In Summary: Would I make this skirt again? You bet I will! This time with a fabric I can wear with anything, because this was just what we had on hand. Would I change anything? Just the measurements on the waistband– I’d add an 1/8″ so that the topstitching would come out even.
Tuttle Publishing was kind enough to send me two extra copies of “Stylish Skirts” by Sato Watanabe! Two lucky readers will each receive one copy.
A FB share, a link on your blog, and a comment are all worth one entry. So if you share, link, and comment, you will get three entries. You will have to comment to let me know if you linked or shared.
The winners will be chosen via drawing. I’m terribly sorry, but due to prohibitive shipping costs I can only ship to the lower 48 states. :-(
The drawing will end on the 25th of July, ’14.
(Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I was not paid or compensated other than the books sent to me.)