*Firstly, let me say that I did not get this book for free, I wasn’t asked to review this and I am not using affiliated links. I stumbled upon this book in a local bookshop, took a peak inside and bought it on a whim.*
This blog post comes in two parts. Part one will feature a book review of „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ by Tanya Whelan and in part two I will tell you about the dress I made from said book.
About the book
When Victory Patterns announced their Boundless Style book I was quite taken with the idea to have a whole book of different bodice, skirt and sleeve variations to mix and match into my dream dress. But – and this is a big buuuut for me – Boundless Style is not at all size inclusive. (size range 2 to 16)
„Sew many dresses, sew little time“ on the other hand goes up to a size 24. This makes it a way better fit for me (pun intended) as I’m well within their size range.
What I really like about SMDSLT ist that it doesn’t give fancy design options. It gives you basic pattern pieces and enough instruction (at least for me) to design all the fancy bits and pieces yourself for a more personalized dress.
You can choose between a simple bodice with darts, a bodice with princess seams, a halter neck option, a wrap bodice and a cowl neck and more (7 total). From there it gives you instructions to pretty much make any variation you could ever want (collars, off-the-shoulder straps and anything you could ever do by moving darts). It comes with basic sleeve and skirt options – the most complex being a multi-panelled, flared skirt. The book also includes a short but well compiled chapter on fit-alterations and features design-based alteration instructions throughout.
Basically it gives you the option to fit a basic pattern to your body (somewhat similar to a sloper, but with SA and ease) and then make hundreds of different dresses from that. At least that is my intented use of the book.
I think „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ is a good fit for anyone who wants to either make basic dresses in different variations without having to go through the fitting stage every single time or wants to do the same for more complicated dresses with design features and doesn’t mind putting in the design-effort themselves. If you fall in category one – simple but effective – I would go so far as to recommend this book to an advanced beginner. I’m only putting in the advanced for one reason – you have to draft your own facings and linings. The book gives you comprehensible instructions on the how-to but this might seem daunting to an absolute beginner.
If you are, like me, a more advanced sewer who likes to look at any dress and go – I could make that! and you don’t mind a little pattern drafting to make your dream dress happen, then this book could be right up your alley.
Now to the good, the bad and the mixed.
I really liked the basic bodice with darts I worked with for my dress. I love that the back bodice comes with shoulder darts. This makes all the difference with my slightly forwards falling shoulders. The instructions on how to alter or implement design features are easy to understand and well written. I loved that I could solely rely on the instructions in the book and didn’t have to look up anything additional online during my drafting process.
The only thing that I find to be problematic in this book is the fact that the lines in the nested patterns are very close in color and easily confused.
I will add that all the patterns are drafted for a B-Cup. That is amazing for me, as B is my cup size but many people might need to do a FBA (or SBA). Although, since all alterations should translate easily throughout the book, this might be less big of a deal.
That’s all I can think of for now but feel free to ask away if you have additional questions. By the way, for anyone who’s interested – there is a german edition called „Kleider nähen“ (they didn’t even try to be creative, let alone come up with a pun).
About the dress
It was my dads birthday recently and I decided that I needed a new dress for that occasion. Need might have been a strong word, but I wanted one … also christmas is coming up, y’know? 4 weeks are surely not enough time to make an additional dress … *cough*.
So I was set on something festive. And what screams holiday-season like dark blue velvet? Well, red or green velvet, but I’m distinctly not an elf.
But I also knew that I wanted this dress to be reasonably comfortable, so I went for a velvet knit. At 4€/m it was quite inexpensive. Despite buying over 3 meters of the extra wide velvet I ended up having too little fabric for the full circle skirt I wanted, but it was just about enough for a 3/4 circle.
For the bodice I wanted to try a variation with yoke-gathers. The book had good instructions on what I wanted to to. I basically just cut off a yoke-piece at the top of the basic bodice and then moved all the darts to the center top to form a big piece that I then gathered and reattached to the yoke piece after adding seam allowances on both pieces. I then changed the the front and the back bodice to a boat neckline.
I then drafted a simple 3/4 circle skirt and copied the pattern for long sleeves from the book. I had to add about 2 inches to the sleeves as per usual. For future reference – they just about fit, adding an additional inch or so couldn’t hurt.
All in all the dress was a remarkably easy sew. I had never worked with velvet before and added extra pins to prevent any „walking fabric“ but I had zero problems. Not a single pucker was detected and even the sleeves went in perfectly fine. Glorious.
Due to it being a circle skirt and therefore parts of the skirt being cut on the bias I let the dress hang for a few days before I hemmed it. The fabric moved a lot during cutting an hemming and I am not one hundred percent sure that the hem is even, it might be ever so slightly shorter in the front. But I suspect no one will ever notice that besides me anyway. The dress fits me pretty well but I don’t want to make any final statements about the general fit of the patterns until I’ve made at least one different view in a woven fabric.
I am very happy with the final dress and have been wearing it a lot over that past few weeks. Do you have any holiday-dress plans?
I really want to make a wrap-dress or a faux-wrap and the book has examples on both. I might give that one a try next. But I also need some pants for work. I’m still working up the courage to start with my first pair of gingers, so tempting but so daunting.
Hope you are doing well,