There are many books available for patternmaking, but either the
Armstrong book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design, or the Jack Handford
book, Professional Patternmaking for Designers are the best. I used
both in my fashion design classes. I like these two books because
they explain the secrets of pattern drafting, whereas some of the
books are only meant to teach commercial pattern alterations.
Draping is another way to design, but it requires a dress form that is
the exact duplicate of the model's body. If your daughter is going to
be designing for others, she might want to look into a patternmaking
program. For that, the Wild Ginger program called Patternmaster
Boutique is one that I used with my students, and found to be
excellent. This allows the user to input a model's exact
measurements, then design clothing based on separate garment parts.
While the designs available in the program are pretty basic, there is
an editing component that allows the user to add, change or design
On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 20:11:57 +0100, S R Glickman
Several years ago, when I reviewed every pattern-drafting book in the
Upper Hudson Federation, Don McCunn's _How to Make Sewing Patterns_
was the one I liked the least -- he was a theatrical designer, so most
of the advice in _How_ is antithetical to the way I sew.
But he has since started a Yahoo mailing list, so a reader who gets
confused reading _How to Make Sewing Patterns_ can ask the author
himself to clarify.
He's also begun "The Apron Project" to teach the fundamentals to
absolute beginners, and posted the lessons in the files area of the
mailing list. The Apron Project strips away every possible
complication by making aprons for wine bottles, making it very easy to
see what darts do, what you can do with darts, what doesn't change the
fit, what cheating you can get away with, etc. One student quite
spontaneously and without any hints turned the apron upside down and
designed a bodice.
I've found Connie Crawford's draping and patternmaking books both easy to
follow -- they're meant for beginning fashion students who are just
beginning to sew, and are used in quite a number of schools. They
have their roots in many years of teaching draping, drafting and sewing
at FIDM, and as a commercial patternmaker.
She also has a new bunch of DVDs just out, covering
custom pants drafting, a "duct tape double" method that produces a very
useable mannequin for draping, and the basic bodice, developed by first
draping, and then patternmaking techniques to true and balance the custom
also carries basic drafting and draping supplies.Your daughter might also be interested in the set of knit and wovendartless bodice blocks -- very basic garment patterns that can bethe basis of more advanced/styled patterns. These have already been balanced and trued, and are ready to use as a sloper.http://www.fashionpatterns.com/Tools_Supplies.htmlConnie is best known in the home patternmaking world for her work with plus size figures, but works with all sizes. The plus size patternsare a special grade. If your daughter happens to have one of the patterns Butterick has just released, they're line for line copiesof some of the patterns on Connie's website:
understand they'll be releasing more of her patterns twice a year.I have not yet seen the DVDs, but expect they'll be well produced. I was in Connie's first class of patternmaking and draping for people who sewat home, and I consider her a friend and mentor. I do not have any financialinterest in her company, but I use her patterns and find they sew well andeasily, and I use her methods to make my own patterns.
Kay Lancaster email@example.com
"S R Glickman" wrote in message
I too am interested in pattern drafting and have quite a collection of books
but recently wanted to add a few more to the collection. I went to the
Amazon site to check out the reader's reviews to see what other sewing
people thought of the books available before I went to the expense of buying
I had been interested in buying Helen Joseph Armstrong's book,"Patternmaking
for Fashion Design" but as it's about $200 to get it to my country, I am not
prepared to pay that sort of money unless it was exceptional. I have seen
it but only briefly and after reading the reviews, I've decided against it
as I want to draft from body measurements and not from a dummy. You can see
the reviews here:
a beginning drafter, I would strongly recommend Rene Bergh's book "Make Your own Patterns". Simple explanations that are based on body measurements and her drafts work. The other good thing about this book is that it is moderate in price but I think it may now be out of print (I did notice some second hand copies available at Amazon). I read the reviews for this book too at Amazon and they can be found here:
reviewer called Jacqueline and who comes from Texas, says in her review that, "this book assumes that the user has the perfect, very young figure. I am quite experienced at both alterations and drafting from body measurements, and I can tell you that the thing which is most overlooked is that the greatest variation in the body is from the side view, while her waist and hip values assumes half of each measurement falls in the front and half falls in the back of the body,". The latter part of this comment about side view is rubbish. The book uses the measure of 'across back' and 'full back' and 'across front' and 'full front', ie armhole to armhole and side seam to side seam. Half of side seam to side seam should (assuming the measurements are accurate) show if someone has a huge bust with a thin back or a flat chest and a fat back. I doubt whether the reviewr has actually used the book or the silliness of this comment would become apparent on use.
The only problem for American readers could perhaps be that the book uses cm
and inches but that would make no difference to using the book. I use it
and I gave up using inches years ago given how much easier it is to use the
The other book that I think is worth borrowing through interlibrary loan is
called "Pattern Designing for Dressmakers" by Lyn Alexander. It is an odd
book as it's about historical patternmaking for dolls and costumiers but it
has THE most wonderful explanations for why things work. I had thought
that I understood the function and manipulation of darts before I read this
book (and sleeves too) but I had so many "AahHaa!!!!, I didn't know
that!!!!" moments with this book that I am now lending it out to sewing
friends who are all having the same sort of moments as I experienced with
I agree that the Texas reviewer probably doesn't know the first thing
about patternmaking. Once a sloper is drafted for a particular
figure, the manipulations are the same--one doesn't need a perfect
figure. Now if one is talking about using a dress form, that form
must be adjusted to the measurements of the model. But drafting is a
very different technique than draping.
The thing that many dressmakers don't realize is that a sloper is the
basis for all women's wear--from bras and bathing suits to heavy
coats. Another thing that sometimes isn't realized is that darts,
whether changed into tucks, pleats or released, always point at the
bust and hip. One of my favorite chapters in the Armstrong book is
how darts can be manipulated into seams so that they disappear, and
can also be made asymmetrical. This allows color blocking with no
Thanks to everyone who repied.
The library has the Armstrong book which I have reserved.
If that's no use I'll investigate the others suggested but from a
quick perusal of Amazon they seem quite expensive.
Many thanks again.
wrote in message
And how many of us have that? I don't think that I had one even when I was
all of 18 years old despite being slim, pert breasts and pre child stomach.
Now if one is talking about using a dress form, that form
Yep. I'd love to have a dress form but given the prices I survive with my
two old dummies that serve as mere shoulder shaped hangers.
If you love this section of her book, then I would recommend you try to get
hold of the last book I wrote about. It's a quirky wee book but sooooooo
full of interesting stuff for sewers. (I hate writing that word. I'm
always worried that people will think about body wastes and plumbing).
One of the "aha!" moments I had in the darts section was when she laid out a
full dress (skirt bodice and sleeves like a standard sloper) and then put in
7 points shich in effect are dart points on the body. It was bleedingly
obvious when I saw it but I'd never thought of it that way before. The 7
points (on a sloper) are bust, shoulder (where are joins shoulder) shoulder
blade, elbow, abdomen, hip and buttocks.
Must borrow that Armstrong book and give it a good read. I love Amazon for
reviews of books.
Since you must have it, what do you see as it's strengths and weaknesses? I
did notice that one of the Amazon reviewers (a student) made the following
comment: "During class though, many of my teachers noticed discrepancies in
the instructions. Particularly the fitted arm block. It made me fail my
class twice because the first and second teacher didn't catch that the
instructions were incorrect, causing me to continually make an incorrect arm
block. It took my DRAPING teacher to find out that the book was incorrect in
the instructions for the sleeve cap."
I am getting more curmudgeonly as I get older and I did think that either she needed to write more clearly as it doesn't make sense that the teachers "noticed discrepancies" but then didn't "catch that the instructions were incorrect" or that she needed to get off her butt and do a bit more homework using other books. Anyway, it made me wonder about the accuracy of the book. Have you noticed any such problems with the book?
On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 20:54:16 +0100, S R Glickman
If you live in the U.S., take the list to your reference librarian and
order them by Interlibrary Loan -- you can't keep ILL books long
enough to study something this complex, but two weeks is plenty of
time to decide whether or not you want to buy it.
I'm in the UK but they do interlibrary loans here too - but the local
libraries don't have the other books either. I checked on the
catalogue which is for all the libraries in the area.
In the past our local library would buy in books they didn't have in
stock - if you asked the right librarian- now they don't have so much
money to spend so this doesn't seem to happen anymore. :(
Anyway,I collected the Armstrong book from the library yesterday. So
now she can start ploughing her way through it. I didn't realise it
was so heavy!!
The weaknesses I find in the Armstrong book are that the fashion
sketches are now getting old, and the students were getting to the
point that they didn't want to do the exercises because they were "old
fashioned." I imagine that it's quite costly to start from scratch
each time a new edition comes out, so it's understandable that at some
point, the pix are not appropriate to the current student.
Facings should have been addressed more than the book showed. My
students always thought that they could just turn over the edges and
sew them down. I had to convince them that this was rarely done on
I'm pretty sure that the discrepancies in the first edition were
corrected in subsequent editions. I have to tell you, though, that I
wrote a workbook for my CAD students, using my own instructions for
bodices, sleeves, dartless blocks, bras and jackets, and my students
said that the workbook was easier to understand than the Armstrong
book. So, we used it for basic slopers, then used the Armstrong book
for manipulations. I don't remember a problem with the sleeve blocks,
because we didn't use those instructions.
In article ,
I have a fairly recent edition and the drawings just don't strike me as
that old. Maybe I'm the one getting old! I honestly can't imagine how
she could modernize the book anymore given the incredibly unconstructed
look of so much of today's RTW "fashions". So, if Armstrong were to
modernize the book in that vein, it would have little in the way of
I agree that is definitely not in the book. OTOH, most designer or
couture garments are rarely faced. Instead, they are lined or
edge-finished because it is considered unseemly to have the line of a
facing showing on the outside after the garment is pressed. Facings
also flop around unless they are secured fully and that always shouts
"homemade" as much as the facings.
I retired in 2003. I don't think I could have continued much longer,
considering that the "new" fashions for young people leave nothing to
the imagination. Many a night, I came home talking to myself because
a student wanted to show too much skin. The Armstrong book was
originally illustrated in the 1980s. To me, the styles in the book
look 20 years old. But some of the other available books were
illustrated in the 1950s, and are still informative. Some of the
styles that I've seen this year in the pattern catalogs look like the
things I wore to school in the l950s. Except, of course that the
necklines are lower and the skirts shorter...
Illustrating a book that is planned to be used for a long time must
take a lot of planning. At least the Armstrong book doesn't show huge
shoulders as was popular in the 1980s.
As for facings, if they are done as I taught my students to use them,
they don't flap out, and they don't show. Linings are appropriate for
some things, but everyday things to be washed after one wearing need
facings to be practical.
In article ,
Maybe I'm stuck in the 80's then! ;)
I watched several Paris fall runway podcasts today: YSL, Chloe,
Valentino, to name a few, and one of them (not Chloe) featured a good
number of padded-shoulder suits and jackets. They were simply stunning,
too, and show off certain figure types quite well.
My previous reference was to designer and couture garments as I clearly
stated. OTOH, even for everyday-wear it is often far less time
consuming and more practical to line a bodice with a lightweight or self
fabric rather than facings. I never use facings in sheer bodices and
even in plain old cotton blouses & shirts, I tend to use front bands
instead. I also steer away from designs than rely on facings as there
is almost always a better design solution. It's just my personal
Not sure what sort of exercises were set for your students, but I guess that
might be where being an older person might be more useful than being of the
typical student age. We older people know of the applicability of all
learning and especially those whihc come from knowing how to use good sewing
techniques. To me (as an older trout) that aspect of learning for a student
is the so important and not the 'fashion' aspects of a garment. It's after
one can sew that fashion (or utility and comfort in my own case) come to the
I'm with you on that score!
Thanks for that. I must get into the libary and fill in an interlibrary
loan application and pay them the fee.