Sewing dresses is a great creative outlet, but for many who sew, coming up with ideas and trying to make them real is a big challenge. Finding vintage inspired fashion to sew can be difficult as well. "The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams" is a great source for new and vintage concepts and ideas for sewing dresses. It has a whimsical bent, with styles that you won't find in a store. Rather, the focus is on dream-like and fantasy looks with a vintage 1950's or Victorian or Marie Antionette kind of style.
The sewing techniques shown in this little book range from layering sheers, applying bias strips, ruffles, applique and other textures. By using opaque and sheer fabrics, many unusual and fanciful effects are created. The author reviews each type of texture in detail, showing how it can enhance a surface and provide richness and visual interest.
Bodice and skirt details are shown from the author's collection. There is a significant portion of the book devoted to the author's background and artistic profile. This is not always what someone looking for sewing ideas is willing to read, but it does provide an interesting viewpoint and career outline that some may find inspiring.
The final book chapters provide a pattern with directions for making a dress. This is a princess line bodice and circle skirt dress, which is especially good for detailing with textures and color.
The pattern itself may seem complicated for a beginner to work with, but similar patterns are available in purchased patterns, if that approach is easier. In fact, a purchased pattern might provide helpful supplementary sewing instructions not given in the book.
This bodice is shown without boning, which will make it soft, without structure. With this style, shoulder straps are essential. I am guessing the author left out boning to make the pattern easier. Having a purchased pattern may help to advise the sewer who wants a boned bodice instead.
I highly recommend this book as a source of inspiration, along with a great series of tutorials on how to create texture and visual interest when sewing fashion. This is something that has been left out of fashion sewing in recent years, so for many this may be a first peak into new territory for sewing.
Book: The Party Dress Book, How to Sew the Best Dress in the Room
Author: Mary Adams
Publisher: Watson-Guptill, 2010
Binding: spiral bound
Skill level: Intermediate
(With a purchased pattern, this book could be used by someone who has fit and sewn a dress or two successfully, and is ready to be more creative.)
This book will appeal to anyone who loves fanciful and creative fashion.
It is the perfect engagement gift for a creative bride to be.
This is equally fun as a 'look book' for someone who doesn't sew but loves new ideas.
It is also an interesting read to learn about the author's own career in the arts and fashion.
The following commercial patterns may be used when making the dress shown in this book.
Princess bodice, with sweet-heart neckline:
New Look 6805
Princess bodice, with flat neckline: