This is the second part of my introduction to the Pattern Magic -series. The first part can be found here:  https://theshapesoffabric.com/2018/01/31/pattern-magic-part-1/

Pattern Magic Stretch fabrics

Pattern magic stretch fabrics table of contents

After the first two books, it’s time to explore Pattern Magic stretch fabrics. This volume is introduced as follows:

This book takes the special qualities of stretch fabrics and uses them to create stunning, sculptural designs. In two parts, the book shows how to work with stretch fabrics and how to cut patterns that exploit their properties with truly original results.

You’ll find a sheet with pattern blocks ( for stretch materials) to copy in both full- and half-scale at the back of the book.

Stretch fabrics are soft and not particularly well suited to creating strong sculptural shapes. So instead, many designs are made by adding volume, which then creates different kinds of drapes and gathers.

My favorite design from this book is the one in the cover. The look is achieved by sewing together a curved line with a straight line, which then forces the surface into this sculptural shape. You need a stretch fabric, because the straight line will be shorter than the curvy line, so you need to be able to stretch it while sewing.

pattern magic stretch fabrics cover

There are designs that can be worn in different ways to get a different – avant garde – look. Like a sleeve that becomes a turtle neck. Obviously in this case a stretch fabric is a must!

Perhaps the strangest design is called Pattern mystery: a mix of a dress, hood and gloves all in one.

Just another example of a creative idea is to attach a little shirt front with a big shirt back to get a medium sized shirt with an interesting shape. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

I know many people find jersey-fabrics the most easiest to work with, but I must say this theme is a bit off my comfort-zone, as I don’t use stretch fabrics all that much. However it opens up some new opportunities to try and make something with non-stretch fabrics using these techniques, or even just parts of them. Of course you need to adapt the ideas a bit.

Here’s a piece I made with neoprene. It’s inspired by the Sharp and snappy D -design from this book. Not sure if you can still recognize it, but that’s where it comes from. I really liked the shape of the sleeves, that slanting shoulder-line. Needed to add more space though, as neoprene is not elastic. I will surely be making other designs as well, but for now it’s all I have to show.

Slanted sleeves

Pattern Magic 3

Pattern magic 3 table of contents

This is the latest book. The original Japanese version came out in 2014. The English version is from 2016, so basically it’s been out less than two years. In the cover there’s a bodice made out of polyhedrons, one of my absolute favorite techniques from the whole series, as you probably can tell if you’ve been following my Instagram feed. But as a whole, this book still can’t beat the second volume.

Pattern Magic 3 has a different style from the others. It’s difficult to say exactly why it’s different. More sculptural maybe, and the designs go even further from everyday garments. The techniques are more advanced. Everything is done via flat-patternmaking.

It also has a chapter dedicated to fabric-manipulation technique called shirring.

I did my own version using a technique called Paring down and opening out. The idea behind this technique is that you make the bodice smaller than needed, so that when you then add a curved pleat (or other shape) to that point, it lifts up because of the tension created. And you end up having a sculptural design. There are various examples about this in the book: adding curves and triangles on a bodice-front or -back taking advantage of the bust-shape or the roundness of the back. Also adding triangles to the shoulder so that when you move your arms, they lift up.

Paring down and opening out

The chapter on polyhedrons teaches how to calculate the pattern. It involves lots of measuring! I’ve only used them as an enhancement, but here you learn how to make an entire bodice covered in polyhedrons and how to add them only on the shoulder. Once you learn the technique, you can do any amount of facets, any size and any height. It takes a rather long time to do the calculations, not to mention ironing the piece(!) but the resulting shape is so amazing that it’s all worth it.

Polyhedrons at the neckline
skirt with polyhedrons
-decorating a skirt
bodice with pleated polyhedrons
Pleated polyhedrons

There are a couple of techniques I haven’t tried yet, but I’m intrigued. The 3-dimensional ruffles for example, meaning one huge spiral ruffle covering the whole bodice-front. And the Serrated lines i.e. 3-dimensional pleats, which are not laying flat, but rather looking like an accordion-pleat. Both are pretty complicated techniques, especially the ruffle, so I haven’t gotten round to making them yet. But eventually I will!

Final considerations

Well, that’s it. These books have offered me lots of inspiration and will certainly continue to do so. In my opinion they are a must-have for anyone interested in patterns. Like an alternative view to classic patternmaking, to learn more creative solutions. The designs themselves are already fascinating, and on top of that they inspire many other designs. The books make more sense if you have studied some patternmaking. But even if you haven’t, you should be able to tackle most designs. I hope there will be more Pattern Magic -volumes in the future.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite?

Next I will write in a more detailed way about a couple of the Pattern Magic -inspired designs you saw here.


  1. I have the 2 first books.
    They are amazing.
    I’m a complete amateur but still I used it to make some fairly classic pieces with a twist that make them easy to wear everyday but with a small unique touch.
    I tried different patterns and so far my favorites are the flip turn and the asymetric garment creating peats on an otherwise simple top.

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      Yess. 🙂 probably the best ones. The flip turn looks really nice.

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