I bought the latest edition of Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear last month and meant to post my review sooner. Sorry ’bout that.
If you have the third edition and have been happy with it, I don’t see much need to get this fourth edition. The value of the much ballyhooed color coding designed to facilitate instruction was negligible. I assumed the color coding would be in the drafts (where it’d be useful) but it was used as the background for flats in the sidebars. Color wise, you get shades of green or grey, hope you’re not colorblind and have trouble discerning green values. What I did find useful was the re-organization and prioritization of the material itself. This difference between editions is strikingly clear on the table of contents page and a vast improvement over what is now, a comparatively cluttered TOC of the third edition.
New material in this text is a section on drafting for girls with developing figures, what we’d call tweens (girls ages 11-14). It is not a large section (13 pages) but covers the block development of fitting shells for bodices, dresses, skirts and trousers. For styling changes, one confers with other sections or other books entirely. Once you have the basic sizing and shape done, it really doesn’t matter which book you use to apply design attributes.
The text has an increased focus on the needs of obese children, characterized by the thoughtful discussion we’ve come to expect from Aldrich -in addition to sizing charts. Don’t skip the ten or so pages of dense text in the front matter and you’ll see what I mean. Invariably, someone is going to ask me if this is going to solve their sizing problems fully but it likely will not. It can only help. There is no book on the market that addresses this issue.
Form vs Flat
Aldrich makes the distinction between form vs flat pattern cutting in a context I’m not familiar with but it makes sense. To me, flat pattern making refers to two dimensional pattern making using paper. Its opposite being draping, a three dimensional process. Aldrich says form cutting -while done on “the flat” (as I define it) is shaped closer to the body, encompassing its curves and nuances. She defines flat patterning to making garments that are more easily folded and are more generic in shaping. I don’t do much of the latter so it wouldn’t have occurred to me to classify the two types. These differences may be stressed more in Britain (the author is English) but I cannot say. In any event, these two types of pattern cutting are in separate sections which can be useful if one is specifically targeting a given price point, form cutting being the higher of the two.
Is this book for you?
I can’t say. If you don’t have a children’s drafting book yet, this would be a good one to get with the caveat that no book is ever going to provide a complete solution. This is not a failure of the Aldrich book but of books generally. I like her books and the Blackwell Science (now Wiley) books but the format and presentation is a bit different. I am not aware of any current children’s drafting books on the market so this may be all you can get if you want up to date sizing information and current styling typical of today’s market. I also prefer how she illustrates grading points as compared to Cooklin.
If you need a great deal of hand holding, you may be frustrated. For example, a hood draft on page p.120 (photo below) lists the dimension of the hood height as being X centimeters between points 1-4 which cannot be true on the face of it (only 2 to 4 cm). The text reads “cervical to head crown” and lists the prescribed centimeters for each size but it should explain the prescribed centimeters are in addition to cervical height less total height -which equals the length of the head. FYI: cervical height is the distance from the floor up to C7. Someone accustomed to making patterns might grin a little that the total hood height is listed as 2-4 cm but they would know what to do, while someone who is less confident may be frustrated. If you are comfortable making obvious intuitive leaps with a bit of self checking, then you’ll be okay with any grey areas you find. It may not seem so obvious reading this on the page but if you’re working through the draft step by step it is.
The book is 9.5 x 7.5, with 211 pages in a lay flat hard cover binding. The list price is 52.99 but Amazon sells it for $42 and change.