Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pattern Making Books

For years I pondered whether or not to go back to school for fashion design. When I say "go back to school", it's because I already have a degree in filmmaking (which, unfortunately for me, I got before I started sewing and - literally - could not stop thinking about sewing!). Missouri State University offers a degree in fashion design and I recently weighed the pros and cons of attending. The cons far outweighed the pros - I have a young son who deserves all of the attention I can give him, my husband is currently going to school full time, the thought of borrowing more money for school sends me into a panic and, ultimately, an official fashion degree would be worthless to me since I like working independently and making limited, one of a kind designs. I do, however, want to learn how to make my own patterns. That's where these books come in:

I got them through our public library (which is a pretty darn fabulous one!) to "preview" before actually investing in them. Patternmaking for Fashion Design is massive! It's filled with 800+ pages of detailed pattern making goodness. Draping for Apparel Design is shorter in length but just as detailed. Up until now, I've used basic vintage patterns and mixed-&-matched or altered the pieces to make my designs a reality. I want to eventually move away from commercial patterns altogether, but I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and will take a long time. I figure that I can devote at least 60 minutes per day, and will probably begin with the flat pattern drafting book. Does anyone have experience working with either of these books or have recommendations for others like it?


  1. Keep us all posted on how it goes! Good luck :D

  2. Ooh, I love the library! I'm waiting to 'preview' Cal Patch's book, 'Design it Yourself Clothes.'

    I haven't used the two books you have, but I'd love to know you like them.

  3. As someone having spent a lot of money at university and still working with something completely different I can see your point.

    Draping, art and craftsmanship in fashion Design by Anette Duburg is a great book. Has some nice examples on how to drape a vintage garments from really high class designers like Vionnet and Dior.

  4. As far as draping, I'd try and see if there are any video tutorials on youtube. Having taken draping, it is pretty straightforward but I can't imagine trying to understand it from a book.
    Some good alternatives to the flat patterning book, I would say, are Pattern Fitting with Confidence (Nancy Zieman) and Adele P. Margolis' Make Your Own Dress Patterns. The first is a great guide to fitting by using means other than slash n' spread. The second is sort of a condensed version of most pattern drafting books with good diagrams. It wouldn't be beginner-sewing friendly but if you already sew a lot you'd be fine. Plus they are both usually available through a library system.

  5. Wow! it sounds like we had parallel lives! I also studied film before I went back to school to study fashion design. I was also concerned with student loans, so I went to a community college, which had a great fashion program, and just did it part-time for a while. It was worth it, and cost effective. Some community colleges will offer sewing and pattern making classes under "domestic sciences" or something like that, it's worth looking into. Online tutorials are good too, as well as having the books. Helen Joseph-Armstrong used to teach at LA Trade Tech, the school I went to, I have earlier versions of her books. I wasn't a student of hers, but her books are very good. Good luck with the decision, keep us posted!