Sewing For Your Girls: Easy Instructions For Dresses, Smocks and Frocks (for girl sizes 100 cm to 140 cm, or 4 to 12 years old) by Yoshiko Tsukiori - the designer of many popular pattern books for kids and adults alike - is not only a lovely pattern book, but a precious resource for anyone interested in sewing, which explains practical sewing techniques and provides lots of creative inspiration.
Sewing for Your Girls, in fact, includes brief, illustrated information on basic sewing equipment and fabric types, as well as step-by-step guides on how to do the main sewing techniques employed in the patterns (like how to sew on a button, insert a zipper, sew armholes, or do smocking). And not just how to do them, but how to do them in a clever way. To take one small example, in the Basic Sewing Procedures section, I learned a wealth of scissor skills: turns out scissors aren't just a cutting tool, but also a marking device: just make little notches in the seam allowance to mark the center of a neckline, a hem edge, a shoulder line, equal intervals in a gathering, and countless other clever markings. The Basic Techniques for Sewing section taught me a number of other important skills, including the best way to create and attach a pocket - what grief it would have saved if I had known all this before!
Applied Pattern 2a - this is a variation of a basic blouse, with the back and the necklines both modified: the button bands are removed, elasticized gathers are added to the front and the back necklines, and a round collar is inserted.
Applied Pattern 1b - this is a variation of a basic A-line dress, where designer Yoshiko Tsukiori has moved the opening from the front to the back, altered the neckline closure, removed the shoulder frills and placed a frilly decoration on the front instead, added a gathered hem frill and two pockets instead of a single one.
Sewing for Your Girls features eight versatile basic patterns that include dresses, sundresses, tops and pants (no skirts!). Each pattern has one or more variations, called "applied patterns", which add creative modifications and design details to the basic pattern: showing how the shorts, for instance, can be transformed into the cutest overalls (and I love overalls for girls - can't wait to make this for Rebecca!). Looking at all these patterns, and at how designer Yoshiko Tsukiori adapts them, is an amazing lesson in sewing creativity. Oh, the endless and possibilities of ruffles, bows, tiers, trims, pockets, sleeves, and collars she uses to transform a straightforward pattern into an entirely new garment - it is all so inspiring!
Basic Pattern 3 - this is a basic dress with a square, yoked neckline, a gathered and zippered back, and simple hand-stitched smocking on the front. In the applied pattern this basic dress is transformed into a zippered blouse with long bell sleeves.
While all basic and applied patterns come with the necessary instructions (occasionally one wishes they'd be more extensive), illustrations and photos, these are sometimes located in different sections of the book (patterns point to the relevant pages), so there's a certain amount of flipping back and forth between the various reference sections of the book. But all this jumping around is really worthwhile, teaching how any one sewing technique can be used and adapted in many different ways.
Sewing for Your Girls is a wonderful sewing book, not only for its cute patterns but because it actually teaches lessons in creative sewing. It's ideal for all skill levels, from readers who want to learn the basics of sewing, to more experienced ones who want to fine-tune their skills.
Tuttle Publishing is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of the book - if you're interested in winning, leave a comment below.
COMMENTS CLOSED - Thank you for entering the giveaway, it was very difficult to choose one name out of all the mothers, grandmothers, future mothers and aunts interested in sewing for their girls, as all of you should have a copy of Sewing For Your Girls! The winner is Ivana, please contact me!