Well, I haven’t seen a really in-depth review of this book and since I own it and have made a couple of things from it, I figured I would give it a shot.
The full title on the cover is I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs To Sew. The author is Sato Watanabe. This is a Japanese pattern book that was translated to English by Interweave Press.
The premise of the book is pretty simple: 25 dress patterns. The first part of the book is simply pictures of the dresses with a little bit of description. Some of the dresses are actually on models, other dresses (like the 8. I Am Baby Bateau and 12. I Am Raglan To Riches) are not shown on actual humans, they are shown hanging and you get to guess what they might look like on a person.
After the brief look-through section you get to the second part of the book,which is a few pages on construction tips, basic techniques, and a glossary.
The third section of the book is the actual patterns. Each design is pictured and then a schematic is given that you get to draw out to get your pattern. Some are definitely more complicated than others. Here below I have a picture of the 17. I am Sweetly Tied (one of the dresses I’ve made thus far). It’s got the materials needed, optional sizing adjustments and a seam allowance note on one side and then it gives you the fabric layout. The fabric layout consists of the various geometric shapes that are clothing patterns and gives you measurement information. If you’re good at geometry you should have no problem drawing these out. If you just follow the included measurements then you’ll get whatever Watanabe-san’s default measurements are but if you follow the measurement adjustment information on the side you can make it more custom to your figure.
Also note that on the “materials needed” section the author is specifically referring to the materials that she used to make the pictured dress. She’s not really giving suggestions for other fabrics. This also affects the way she does some of the fabric layout information because, for instance, 21. I am Shift Into Tunic she is laying it out as you would if you were using kimono fabric, which is a much narrower width than most fabrics you’ll buy on the bolt. Keep that in mind when you’re looking at her instructions.
The next illustrations are going to be the basic dress fit together with arrows and numbers along with a numbered list of steps. This is kind of the general order of things and it’s a great overview of the steps. Following that will be detailed drawings of how to do specific things, for example for 17 (pictured) it goes into more detail on how to attach the collar and how to put the skirt together.
The way that I process information is perfect for this type of book. It’s very clear, I have pictures and it seems to have worked better for me than the traditional paper sewing patterns. I have had very little confusion on interpreting the instructions in this book, despite the brevity.
All of the dresses are fairly simple and none of them are overly fitted or tailored. Most of them are very similar – for example, 10 and 17 are the exact same dress except that she switched out the skirt fabric on 10 and not 17. 7 and 8 are the same except for the collars. And the others have similarities as well.
Now, I have made 17 and 9 from this book so far and while I didn’t have issues in the bust for 9, probably because it’s a gathered neckline, 17 I had to add darts in because it was so shapeless in the front. The picture of the model in the dress doesn’t allow you to see how the bodice really fits but from what a friend and I could tell, it didn’t fit her too well in that area, either. Your mileage may vary in that realm and we’re all different body types so just keep that in mind when you’re drawing out the patterns.
I also have a very large tummy still (and the newest spawn is now 1 year 2 months) so I can say that the dresses weren’t all that flattering on me. You might want to skip if you’ve got a large pudge like I do. (Which is exactly why I picked up drape drape, to camouflage!) However, I am very much a beginning sewist and I have learned a LOT from this book about pattern-making and sewing.