I was really impressed by Built by Wendy Dresses: The Sew U Guide to Making a Girl's Best Frock. I really liked her Sew U book that came out back in 2006, so I was excited to see that she had a new one, concentrating exclusively on DRESSES. Whoo-hoo!
There are three dress patterns (sheath, shift, and dirndl) and twenty-five variations, most of which are cute (although they skew a little young). And the pattern sizing has changed from the first book, with the new book including an XL size (up to a 41" bust).
This would be a good book for a dedicated beginner. By "dedicated beginner," I mean someone who is slightly more patient than average (or maybe just slightly more patient than ME), who is thoughtful and careful, and who has sufficient motivation to spend more than one weekend putting a dress together. I estimate that it would take one weekend's worth of time (for a beginner) just to get the patterns traced and altered, one weekend to cut out the pattern and begin construction, and one weekend (or long evening) to do the finishing work. This is definitely a book for someone who will enjoy the planning and the process as much as the finished item.
However, if you worked your way carefully through the projects in this book, there would be very little that would faze you at the end. She covers pattern alterations, collars, clipping curves, sewing on buttons, seam finishing, facings and linings … and of course, pockets, although welt pockets are not included — even Wendy says they're on the difficult side, so she left them out. Zippers are given a slightly hand-wavy treatment, but since there are roughly one gazillion zipper tutorials floating around the web, I don't think that's a problem.
I get a lot of emails that basically read "I bought a sewing machine NOW WHAT??" I think this book is the new answer to "NOW WHAT??"