Lily went to Melbourne a few months ago and, knowing her mother well, brought me back this book.
She also produced a pile of fabric and asked if, for her birthday, I would make her a few of the dresses in the book.
Well, it was a while before I had the real time or brainspace even to look at it, but we got together in the incredibly hot week that followed Christmas, pulled down the blinds, turned up the air-con and got stuck in.
The dresses in the book are simple and beautiful — I'd like a few for myself as well.
The sticking point is that the book is almost entirely in Japanese, and the patterns for all 26 dresses, in all sizes, are printed on just two sheets of paper, and the instructions are in quite small Ikea-style pictograms.
So you need a clear head, lots of time, and a good working space.
As neither of us knows any Japanese, we Googled a few blogs and websites written by people who had tried this book — including one bright spark who said: "If you can't read Japanese, just type the words into 'Google translate' and they'll do it for you." Honestly!
But we did manage to glean valuable info about seam allowances (none allowed on the patterns), and decided our first dress (the one above) would be made from calico so we could gauge the sizing, and whether the patterns worked.
We need not have worried: they are simply brilliant. Everything went together so easily, even sleeves. You can make one dress in just a few hours. We made all the dresses pictured here, including the one on the cover.
It pays to have a little sewing experience so you can recognise the symbols for interfacing, grainline, stay-stitching and so on, but as you can see from the pictures of the dresses we made, they are all quite simple unfitted shapes, with no intricate tailoring or anything.
I hope to get Lily to model hers so I can photograph them — they look quite different from those being modelled by the sad-looking little waifs in these pictures!