People often ask me to recommend some pattern making books, so I decided to write a few introductions. Well, there are already these two articles about the Pattern Magic-series, which I continue to recommend, but now it’s time to introduce something more basic. I chose some books which I want to write about.
The perfect book to start with, is Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich, which has been around since 1975 and by now has reached its 6th edition. It’s been published by John Wiley & Sons.
What’s it about
The book has been written for fashion-students, who are beginners in pattern making, but it’s also useful as a reference book for freelance-designers.
It teaches the basics of pattern making, starting from the basic blocks of all the various garment types: skirt,trouser, bodice, jacket, coat.. And how to transform them into various different styles. So basically this book includes all the information you need, if you want to start drafting your own patterns.
As the title of the book suggests, this is a pattern making book that uses the metric system. For me, this is a good thing, as I’ve always measured everything in cm, and I find inches somewhat difficult. Of course, it might be the opposite case for you!
Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear gives you the chance to draft patterns to your own measurements. But you can use industrial sizes, too. There are a couple of different size charts: one for teenagers, with a more athletic figure (=high-street fashion), including sizes 6-16. And one for the mature women (=standard), sizes 6-24. Both with the possibility to adjust the measurements by the person’s height: short, medium or tall. There are also different charts for leisure wear with the letter-codes XS-XXL.
The size-charts have been updated to reflect the changes in body sizing during the years. This usually means bigger waist and -hips and a smaller bust.
This book contains lots of useful general information about pattern making, but most importantly it explains step by step how to draft the basic blocks, including how much ease to add.
The blocks have been divided into those with darts, called form blocks, and the dartless, called flat blocks. Each basic garment type is followed by different adaptations. For example, the basic skirt becomes a panel skirt, cowl skirt or a skirt with godets, just to name a few. Different waistline adaptations are explained, such as how to draft a facing or how to separate a yoke.
The chapter on bodice blocks teaches you all about dart-manipulation: moving the darts around, absorbing them in style-lines, pleats or gathers and so on.
There are separate chapters for sleeves & cuffs and necklines & collars. They give you the possibility for endless variations. I think, once you get the idea, you might even be able to make your very own versions.
A particularly useful chapter is the one that talks about correcting fit issues. Because lets face it, not everybody has the standard body-shape.
How to modify the pattern if you have big shoulders, long back or a large belly? These are the things to know if you’re doing made-to-measure.
Who should get the book
In my opinion, Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear is a book for people, who would like to start drafting their own patterns. If you’re no longer happy with modifying commercial patterns to fit your shape, why not learn how to start from the beginning with your own measurements? I know it’ll take some time to learn, and drafting the basic pattern blocks can be difficult, or even boring. But trust me, you’ll be very happy afterwards.
Drafting basic blocks and transforming them into all sorts of different garment-patterns is what pattern making is all about. So if you know these things, you’ll get far. It will be so gratifying to wear something you made, knowing that you even drafted the pattern yourself! If you want to be able to create really unique garments, this book is an excellent way to start.
Do you already have Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear? Has it been useful for you? Which other books would you recommend?