Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Resources for Patternmaking- Recommendations?

Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while may know that Cal Patch's book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified, was what first got me interested in patternmaking. After racking up late fees at my local library, I bought my own copy, which has been a great resource for drafting several basic skirts and shirts this past year. I haven't yet ventured into the trouser drafting section, but I look forward to getting there eventually. Now, I'm looking for a book to supplement the Cal Patch book. I'd like a book that demystifies the bodice-making process and shows how to use a basic sloper as the basis for constructing other designs.

Here are some contenders I've recently checked out of the library:

Patternmaking for Fashion Design (4th ed.)
by Helen Joseph-Armstrong

This hefty volume looks like it is the most comprehensive of the three. It shows you how to make a sloper from measurements and provides 800 pages worth of instruction on manipulating the sloper to create a seemingly infinite array of design possibilities. There is even a section on creating swimsuits.

 Cons: Very pricey! Used copies start at $109.95. Also, a few reviews point out some errors.

Principles of Flat Pattern Design by Nora MacDonald - Looks similar to the Joseph-Armstrong book, but less comprehensive. The illustrations are plentiful and clear, but it doesn't seem to cover coats and jackets or other garments outside the basics. Nevertheless, it's gotten some good reviews and is significantly less expensive than the Joseph-Armstrong book.

Professional Patternmaking for Designers by Jack Handford - This one also covers the basics of sloper construction and manipulation, but at first glance the instructions don't seem to be as clear as the other two books. The book does cover pattern grading, though, which is on my long list of skill to acquire.

What are your favorite sewing books? Do you have any patternmaking books you can recommend?


  1. Hey, thanks for the reviews on the books. The only book on pattern making I have is one from 1942 Modern Pattern design. It's fairly good but like you point out, you can make the basic sloper but the other array of designs are not spelled out very well. So, I have a drafted sloper but that's about all.

  2. I'm currently on a Cal Patch challenge - making each pattern in the book- but starting on tops I feel she leaves out too much. Where are the darts? How do I make a fitted shirt and not a square/boxy one like the one she has in the book?? As an alternative to Cal Patch's book that take pattern drafting to the next level without being too complicated I really like 'Make Your Own Patterns' by Rene Bergh and it's less than 5 pounds. It also has instruction and ideas on how to alter the basic sloper.

  3. Hi DaneMum,

    I'd love to see Cal Patch come out with a second book showing some more intermediate patternmaking skills. It's a great book to begin with- I'm still working my way through it- but, I also wanted some more info on bodice darts and more form fitting dresses. I'll have to check out the Bergh book. Thanks for the tip!

  4. I had that first book when I was a student at FIDM. The author was a teacher there. I still have it 20 years later. It doesn't really explain thing but it is all you will need for pattern making IMO.