Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Stylish Party Dresses by Yoshiko Tsukiori: Review

As you can see, I'm a fan of Yoshika Tsukiori's Dress books.  I bought the hugely popular Stylish Dress Books one and two a few years back.  I've made a couple of things from them which get regular wear and I enjoy the pleasure of looking through them for dressmaking inspiration, the clothes and the styling are always a treat for the eyes.   Tuttle publishing produce the English translations of the original  Japanese editions and offered me a copy of her latest book, Stylish Party Dresses for review, and of course I jumped at the chance!

These books are always given new titles for the English language versions and as with She Wears the Pants, something of the original title is lost in translation.  This book started as 'Formal and Little Black Dress' and that in many ways sums up the book.  Inside it you will find 26 garments for formal occasions- think weddings, special occasions, even funerals.  They are not all dresses.  Instead there a mix of tops, skirts jackets,  two-piece sets and a jump suit as well as dresses.   Formality is key.  This is reflected in both the designs and the fabrics used.  The two dresses below are a perfect example.  The dress on the left has a shantung silk bodice and a skirt made from multiple layers of soft tulle.  The dress on the right has an outer of lace and an inner lining layer of crepe de chine.

There's a large range of shapes including jackets/bolero patterns.   I liked 'G' Lace bolero.  Formal events are often in places with variable temperatures- weddings particularly rely on one outfit to get you through multiple locations so a jacket is essential!

 I also liked the jersey wrap-look dress below which like a few of the styles in the book, is shown in two versions, black and in a print.  Black garments are always hard to photograph so it helps to see  how a different fabric can totally change the mood of an outfit.  The photographs are clearer than some other Japanese clothing books I have- e.g. She Wears the Pants has some rather elusive photographs in keeping with it's edgy fashion feel but can make it hard to see design details!  The paper is has a soft sheen and I liked the luxurious wallpaper backdrops.

Each pattern includes practical details relating to the fabric used.  This includes laying out pattern pieces on lace to achieve a good pattern balance at the front and matching seams at the sides .  The photo below shows this for 'I' Lace A-line dress:

It also includes construction details for particular fabrics.  This diagram shows  how to sew pattern pieces with two layers- the crepe de chine lining and the russell lace outer.

This is the unique feature of this book compared to other Japanese dress books that I have.  The fabrics used tend to be more luxurious than the usual cottons that make up the vast majority of my wardrobe so instead there is lace, satin, tulle chiffon and georgette, along with some Liberty Tana lawn.

This style appealed to me, probably because it is less formal and I love pin tucks! There are pin tucks all over the front bodice and it is shown in Liberty lawn and also in polyester crepe de chine although I imagine it more as a top than a dress.  There are some subtle details in this style,  the cuff has hidden snap fasteners.

The Liberty Print jumpsuit is a fun inclusion and the fabric details include  quantities for directional and non directional prints which shows a little extra attention to detail.

I'm not sold on every style.  This one looks a little like skirt tucked into knickers although when I look at the line drawings I like the top and the skirt without the front pleats is a perfectly useable A line skirt with a yoke waist.

The mini dress with raglan sleeves has already proved popular on Instagram.  I've seen a few versions made up.  Its a great style to maximise a graphic or large print and would easily crop to make a top.  I like the sleeve length on this dress.

I also like the frilled black bolero in the outfit below (shown over a long chiffon dress).  It's sewn up in a polyester georgette so the frill drapes softly.

There's a mix of shapes from loose flowing tunics to shift dresses, to mini skirts,  to two-piece skirt/top outfits and more traditional fit and flare dresses.  There are also some very interesting details- neckline back bows,  unusual sleeve pleats and detachable collars and dramatic back views; the blouse in the outfit below has a deep v at the back  plus a neck tie and a dipped longer hem and is shown in silk jacquard.

You can see more pictures and an interesting review, as always from Yifarn at Japanese Sewing Books.  The layout of this book follows other's Yoshiko Tsukori has written with photographs at the front, followed by written instructions and detailed diagrams.  There is a double sided pattern sheet to trace off in a pocket at the back and seam allowances are added with information on the recommended widths in the cutting layouts.  This book was kindly provided for free by Tuttle publishing for reviewing purposes. 
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  1. Thanks Kerry, great review! I love Japanese designs and I already have the Stylish Dress Book (which I looove) so I'll definitely need to buy this one now :)

  2. Great review! Love that jumpsuit!

  3. Hello,
    These above displayed dresser are just beautiful and are perfect partner for a party look...Very nice post...Thank you too much.......
    party dresses

  4. Hi Kerry,

    I'm trying to think of a present for my mum for Christmas and was thinking this book. Are there any other pattern books (artsy ones like this) that you think would make a great present? She has some of Yoshiko Tsukiori's older books and loves them but I was thinking about trying somebody new. Any ideas? A bit random I know haha, just thought you could help! Love your blog!

    Harriet x

  5. Hi Harriet

    Yoshiko Tsukiori’s books are amongst the best. I also like Sato Watanabe’s books- there’s Stylish Skirts and my favoruite, Basic Black which has a huge variety of shapes and garments in. Both are in English translation by Tuttle and easily available.


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