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Review: Stylish Skirts
In my last book review I went off on a tangent about how few books there seem to be for intermediate and advanced sewists. And then this one showed up in my mail!
I've reviewed one other book by Sato Watanabe, whose whose work is translated into English and released by Tuttle. I'm a big fan of her garment design sensibility, and I like how efficient her books are at presenting both finished garments and instructions.
Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure is a collection that ranges from casual to tailored to fashion-forward. (I'll get to all that in a moment).
Interestingly, it's a book with no size chart. These skirt styles are designed to work on a range of bodies – using elastic or drawstring waistbands, or no waistbands at all, along with wrap skirts and panel skirts.
As a U.S. reader, however, I do have to take a tiny bit of exception to the "Flatter Every Figure" part of the title. Some of these designs do have a lot of size flexibility, but the more tailored ones just wouldn't work with the wider range of body sizes we have here. I suspect that in Japan, where this book was originally published, there may be less variation in body type than we see here. (It's hard to tell for sure, but I imagine that a U.S. size S - L could wear any of these skirts, given some pattern adjustments.)
So, I don't think this is a book for everyone, but I do think it has a lot of merit.
…So definitely, you'll need to know your way around simple pattern alterations, and you'll want to make muslins before cutting into your project fabrics. (There are no instructions in the book for either. Like I said, intermediate sewists and beyond!)
There is a page in the center of the book, where the author offers a few suggestions for altering these patterns "for those of you who are well-rounded in the waist-hip area." (i.e, me.)
I do love all these designs. Sato Watanabe always has some great added detail that elevates the simplest garment.
There are several intriguing asymmetrical skirts, playing with the arrangement of gathers, or the shape of a hemline, or panels of draped fabric.
(I will say: quite a few of the design samples are made in dark fabrics, which makes it a little hard to see the details in photographs. So I'm showing you a pretty narrow selection here. Sorry!)
There are some really elegant uses of trim and embroidery in here – note the purple skirt up above as well as this one.
In case you haven't noticed, all the samples are presented on a dress form – ultimate simplicity.
Actually, let me take a short break from showing you skirts, so I can show you how patterns are handled in this book. There are no printed pattern sheets. Instead, there are detailed diagrams for drafting your own pattern.
If I have a quibble, it's this: I think that, if there are no garment sizes being used here, it would have been nice to at least have some dimensions of the finished skirts as made from the the drafting diagrams. That way, I could compare them easily to my own measurements and get a sense of fit, and how I'd need to alter the pattern.
Anyway. Here's one of the tailored designs. Really some lovely interpretations of the good old A-line here.
…And here's one of the two balloon-style skirts. Out of the 23 designs, five (including this one) require lining, and the book gives some general instructions on best ways to do that.
Here's a sample cutting diagram. And I should add that the instructions give pretty specific recommendations as to the best type of fabric for each patterm, which is something I always like to see in garment books.
Interestingly, the sewing instructions are all in diagram form, with short text labels as you see here. No accompanying written instructions. I tend to like this treatment in sewing, which is why I have so many Japanese books. Visuals really work for me. The presentation is very simple and clear, but again, I think a pretty good working knowledge of garment construction is necessary.
One last shot showing how much information is contained in a couple pages. If you're tired of beginner books and want a nice collection of go-to skirts, this one's worth a look.
(Disclosures: Tuttle sent me a review copy, and the title link above is an affiliate link.)