January 04, 2013
This is another one of the new how-to sew books at my library. I was excited to review this because Japanese sewing books have a reputation for precision and design that elevate the average sewing book. The Pattern Magicand Drape Drapeseries of books are two notable series that pattern making enthusiasts rave about. I knew that our local patrons would not respond well to Pattern Magic or Drape Drape, but they would probably respond to Simple Modern Sewing.
This book is written by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. The photography and styling of the designs really grabbed my attention. I personally found the designs very appealing and in this case something that I would actually make and wear. In comparison, I did not find any of the designs in the books I reviewed previously inspiring enough to put in the work necessary to make them up. The book consists of 8 simple patterns that can be used to create 25 garments. Each grouping of patterns can be mixed and matched interchangeably to create the different styles.
The book is divided up into three general sections. The first is the photography/inspiration section that shows each of the style variations. The second is general pattern and sewing instruction. The third contains detailed cutting and sewing instruction for each style variation. This includes a pattern layout, diagrams, and a list of sewing instructions.
The styles in the book are sized for the average Japanese woman. The average American woman may find some of the styles a bit on the small side. Some of the styles are intended to have a lot of wearing ease, so the largest size may fit some American women anyway. There is a size chart and finished measurements for each style, which helped me determine the correct size to trace.
Overall I really like the styles in this book. I selected the wrap blouse, shown on the front cover to sew up as a test for the dress. The biggest downfall of the book is the pattern sheet. It is nice to see the patterns are printed on sturdy white paper rather than tissue paper. But the pattern sheet is a dizzying array of overlapping pattern pieces in multiple sizes in solid black lines. All the patterns and all the sizes are solid black lines. Burda patterns are similar, but they are much easier to sort out. Each style is a different color and the sizes are differentiated by different line types.
To finish up part 1 of the review, the book is inspiring and lovely to look at. The general sewing information and detailed sewing information appear to be adequate for sewists who have some experience. The cutting diagrams and pattern prep require a bit of work. Because of the difficult pattern sheets, I don't know that I can recommend the book for beginning sewists. The styles are simple enough that one could find similar patterns from the Big 4 without the hassle of interpreting the pattern sheet.
Anyway, I've traced off the blouse and dress pieces and begun the pattern checking process. So far I've spent maybe 4 hours just in prep work. Updates as I work my through it.