Review: I Am Cute Dresses

24 Oct 2011


I am besotted with this slim, high-value book. I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew is authored by Sato Watanabe, who has published several sewing books in Japan. This is her first U.S. book, and it retains the same charm and high instructional quality inherent in Japanese craft books.


I Am Cute Dresses is a collection of 25 dress projects. It encompases a variety of shapes, fabrics and construction details. And all of the dresses are designed to be simple to construct and flattering on everyone. (More on that in a moment.)


Just to give you a complete picture, let me jump ahead of myself a little and show you how the book handles patterns. Each one is diagrammed like you see here, with measurements for each pattern piece and a layout guide. According to the press materials for the book, you can just cut your fabric to these measurements. But I'd actually roll out some big paper and use the measurements to draw myself a pattern first. That way I could alter it as needed and then more easily reproduce the dress later.


Back to the dresses. They are indeed cuter than cute, and would give a fairly new sewer opportunities to practice lots of necklines and sleeves. Sato Watanabe has thoughtfully constructed these dresses so that some can be slipped over your head and others need a side or back zipper – so you can pick and choose according to your sewing skill level.


There are dresses for all seasons, and for kicking back as well as going to a fancy party. And with shapes this simple, altering them to fit your style can be as easy as shortening or lengthening a hem or adding a drawstring or belt.


Every dress has its construction fully diagrammed, which is something I always love. There are also basic text directions, but they're kept to an absolute minimum.

I know I say this all the time, but this is exactly the kind of instructional detail I'm always looking for in sewing books.


It's kind of hard not to just keep showing you dresses. I have a lot of favorites here! (If you'd like to see a few more, visit the book's web page and click the "Preview" tab.)


…But I do want to talk for a moment about fit and sizing. The book's assertion that these designs "fit everyone" is likely no more true than it ever is, but I do like the approach overall. The book specifies that this pattern collection is sized for average bust measurements between 35-36 inches, and average hip measurements between 38-39 inches.

Obviously, there's lots of leeway room in the samples you've seen pictured here, and the garments are designed to fit loosely. In some cases, too, the pattern measurements have points in them were you can follow an easy formula to customize things for your own body.


If you know a little bit about pattern-making, then you can easily "read" the measurements of the pattern pieces and determine how much ease a particular design will have on your body. And since most of the seams are straight seams, customization isn't too challenging.

…And while it's true that some roomy dresses will mostly look good on willowy women, I think I Am Cute Dresses offers up enough variety that most real-woman body types will find something cute to make here.

(Disclosures, as always: Interweave sent me a review copy, and the title links above are affiliate links. I hope you have a lovely week.)



Very cute dresses! Thanks for the review!

Ha! This is the first japanese sewing book I bought in 2007 :).

If you're interested in seeing examples made from this book by non-model women, you can check this link on the french blog dedicated to japanese sewing:

And oh, yes, those diagrams are so great! It's amazing how, even in japanese, those books are generally easier to understand than patterns with explanations written in a language (and an alphabet) you can read. Leafing through my little (er, or not so little...) collection of japanese books is always a pure pleasure.

Just in case you don't know Pomadour's ebay shop: A feast for the eye (and a dangerously addictive way to loose track of time on internet, as far as I'm concerned).

Ooh, both great links, Veronique - thank you so much! I love seeing what others have made from this book, and the Japanese craft book store link, well... there goes the rest of the morning for me! :-)

Oh my, these really are cute! I love projects which make you realise that a pattern doesn't have to be complicated to look good. Looks like the kind of book that would inspire me to experiment more with pattern drafting and customisation of existing patterns.

Can I just by the cover dress and hairstyle? ;)

Temptation presented at just the right time! Looking past my holiday crafting (must visit Pam!) I am thinking about next summer's wardrobe. Dresses are the age-appropriate, cute and breezy solution to warm weather dressing in a humid place.

Hi. many thanks for this detailed revise of this book. it really helped mr to decide whether to buy this on or another of her books. Thank you taking the time to write this.