I Am Shift Into Tunic (top) and I Am Cute Contrast (bottom) from I Am Cute Dresses.
Detailed illustrations accompany each pattern in I Am Cute Dresses.
Easy, Breezy Summer Dresses
It is no secret that I am obsessed with Japanese sewing books. I love the unique construction of the patterns, the clever design details, and I even enjoy the challenge of decoding the instructions from the illustrations (making a muslin first really helps!). Happily U.S. publishers are increasingly offering English translations of these popular cult books, making them so much easier to use.
One of my new favorites is I Am Cute Dresses by Sato Watanabe. I have one of Sato's skirt pattern books in Japanese, and I'm a big fan of her design style, so I was thrilled about this new English translated book of her dress designs.
And just in case you were wondering, the dresses in I Am Cute Dresses are indeed unbelievably cute. Seriously. It features twenty-five simple-to-make dresses, each one cuter than the next. And with charming project names such as I Am Hello Halter, I Am Jumper for Joy, and I Am Sew Buttoned Down, these projects are impossible to resist. They are all designed to be generally loose fitting, with lots of drape, and feature simple construction with clever design details. These make the perfect summer dresses and fit my top three criteria for summer fashion sewing: comfortable, pretty, and quick to sew.
Since these dresses are full of fantastic drape they are perfect for showcasing gorgeous summer prints or romantic, floaty fabrics. Far from boring to sew, each project offers an opportunity to practice your dressmaking skills and focus on constructing a key design detail. Try your skills on a variety of collar styles including V-neck, bandeau, mandarin, halter, and more. Experiment with different silhouettes such as jumpers, drop-waist, empire, shifts, kimono-cut, raglan, and wrap dresses. And then play with design details from pleats and tucks to ruffles and pockets. And don't forget to add your own twist!
These simple dresses are perfect canvases for adding embellishment such as trims, buttons, appliqué, fabric painting and stamping, surface design, hand and machine embroidery, and more. Or let the fabric do the talking and play with mixing prints, cutting collars, cuffs, and hem bands on the bias, combining solids with prints, or using a contrasting textured fabric for accents.
Now one thing you will notice about Japanese sewing books is that they focus more on how-to illustrations than written directions. Most of the time, especially with simple sewing projects, you mainly need to know the order of construction, where to put the seams, and how to finish it off. This is why you can figure out the directions even when they are written in Japanese because the illustrations are so fantastic.
Beginning sewists will love this visual approach to sewing with detailed illustrations, construction diagrams, and call-outs. Experienced sewists will have no trouble deconstructing how the dresses come together and can focus on adding their own design tweaks.
I love that each dress is like a little recipe. Once you find a favorite pattern you'll want to make it up in lots of different fabrics! These dresses will sew up fast, so you can have a new cute summer wardrobe in no time!
So pre-order a copy of I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew and have a ball making the cutest summer dresses around.