French pattern making books

Being the collector of arcane pattern making books that I am, of course I was prowling for French books on my trip last month since the French are, well, all things French. We worship that. Yep, we do. At Premiere Vision, I bought four of them. One for women’s, two on men’s drafting and another on men’s pattern grading. Two were older editions, these were a riot because you couldn’t tell what the book was about from the cover. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but many trade published (really self-published) books never followed standard publishing protocols. It was not unusual for book covers to be an advertisement of related products. Here’s one of the covers so you can see what I mean.

If you’re expecting me to bang on about how wonderful/awful these are then you haven’t read the criteria I use to review pattern books. Most get the basics right, I just do spot checking. Since I don’t intend to use these beyond (perhaps) inspirational detail, these got an even lighter pass. Since men’s and women’s are basically the same drafting process (yes they are, yes they are, yes they are -and vice versa) and I have three of the men’s, I won’t mention the women’s book at all. Unfortunately, the things I like to spot check (interfacings) were not mentioned at all. That’s a strike. Another strike are the linings drafts. My face twisted all up looking at those; they put all of the extra lining length in the upper chest right through the armhole, necessitating the addition of a big wad of lining in the sleeve linings too. Eeek! That said, I have every confidence professionals are doing it their way in France in spite of what their books say, much as we ignore what our books say here too.

Here’s some spot checking. I like how this center front is not straight (below). Yours isn’t either.

In men’s tailoring drafts, one thing that really annoys me is if they get that slit for the pocket wrong (as these books did, shown below). It’s not straight because before the pocket is set, a dart runs vertically from the slit into the chest. I wrote about it here and here.

[Amended: oopsie, don’t know where the image went. Refer to the pocket in the illustration immediately above for reference; it also illustrates the point.]

Near the end of the book, this error of the horizontal pocket slit was corrected to be angled rather than straight (below) but this doesn’t make sense to me. Why teach something in the beginning that’s wrong? A lot of people never get to the end of the book so you may as well start if off right. Suits are for advanced users anyway.

One thing I liked in the book was the explanation for correcting for the corpulent figure (men, below). This is correct. Most books in the US are afraid to go anywhere near the neckline, or even to cross the roll line. FYI: depending on the corpulence and fit, you’d do either or of the given illustrations, not both.

Commonalities across nations (sort of like cognates)
Other things I found interesting were methods that I’ve seen elsewhere. For example, this illustration below, is very typical of English grading drafts, specifically Cooklin.

Below, you’ll see a block pattern superimposed upon the draft. This is typical in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) drafting texts. I thought to include this illustration because people always want to know how much bigger to make a coat when starting with the basic block.

Uniquely French
Below is one concept I saw repeatedly across drafts, jump seams. I get why they do that at the break point (point labeled A). What I don’t get is why it’s done at the lapel. Personally, I don’t find the need of that jump seam at the breakpoint but I will probably have to do one of these just to figure out what the benefit is of doing it this way. Ideas anyone? this is your turn to show off, don’t be shy.

OT: German Pattern Making Books
Unfortunately I was unable to purchase any German books when I was there; I went to the local university but to no avail. Heidi did pass along some information for me or you to follow up on if you’re interested. There’s a pattern making book from Mueller and Son (Rundschau Verlag). In December an English edition about jacket and coats will be available but it will be pricey, about 125 euros. She also mentions the journal “Rundschau” for ladies and men (two versions). Lastly, she says Meisterschneider: Schnitt-Technik (Swiss) is a wonderful book for men’s tailoring and is available on Amazon.

There are 8 comments Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *