Review: Patternmaking in Fashion

patternmaking_in_fashionGina Maree found this book Patternmaking in Fashion when she was shelving books at her part time job in a book store and wrote me saying it had sleeves I’d described. I think someone else had told me too (sorry I don’t recall who) but I didn’t actively pursue it until Gina wrote because the price of the book was so low. It’s $10-$14 depending on where you look. My summary conclusion is this book is a great buy, I cannot fathom why people are selling used copies of it on Amazon.

Beyond instruction for drafting a fitting shell, I would disagree this is a basic or beginner’s book. You should not expect to be able to cut whichever style strikes your fancy after using this book, it will not do that. Some of the styles within are quite complex and would be challenging for beginners but fun for intermediate pattern makers or those with a knack for it willing to exercise a bit of perseverance.

sleeve_draftThe value for beginners is drafting a fitting shell. For kindred with more experience, it has the only instruction I’ve seen in modern (English language) books on how to draft a sleeve appropriate to the range of motion. Most pattern books show the front and back of the sleeve as being close to mirror images. The drafts (right) in this book are not like that. The back side of the sleeve cap is longer and more gently sloped. The front is curvier, cupping at the armscye. Take it for what it’s worth; I think the sleeve drafting portion alone justifies the cost of the book.

Intermediate users (or brave beginners) will enjoy trying some of these styles. The skirts below are examples of challenges. I’m not wild on the petal skirt (left). A closer view would show it looks to have been made of upholstery fabric. I know I’m not supposed to comment on things like that but fabrication can only make one look hippier. Try it in another fabrication. Above all, use what you can and leave the rest.

The skirt on the right is interesting, again not wild on the fabric but the folds are pretty cool; it’s also not difficult to make as one would think. I find the lines appealing enough that I wonder how it’d look in something softer, say a double georgette.  Obviously it would work as is, softer goods need a lot more ease otherwise the figure looks to have gained ten to twenty pounds but you get my drift.


The book is a paperback of 104 pages, similar in size and orientation to the Japanese drafting books published by Bunka. The edition of Patternmaking in Fashion I’m linking to is in English, French and German. A separate edition is translated into Spanish and Italian. The binding is stitched rather than perfect bound. This means you can weight it open and the binding won’t break. I love the paper quality, it feels heavy and rich. Pages are thick and dense enough that you don’t get ghosted impressions from opposing pages. It also has a dust cover. This was not a cheap print job.

There are plenty of clear illustrations of drafts (caveats below) including forms for use in recording measures. There are quite a few color photographs to illustrate completed project styles. The measuring section is also photographed on a live model. Speaking of, it is untoward to remark about model attractiveness but this girl is the most remarkably beautiful girl I can remember seeing in a very long time.

Format/Minuses: Some of the translations are puzzling. For example, I don’t understand how “collar” is used as a given point of measure within the text. I haven’t actually done any of the drafts to know (at which point it would become apparent) but the definition of collar isn’t something one should be puzzled about. I’m thinking of buying the Spanish edition to tease that out better. I’m guessing the author (Lucia Mors de Castro) is a Spanish speaker although I am utterly baffled because the drafting process can only be described as German. So the author speaks Spanish but drafts German? I’d love to hear the back story on that. Before I digressed, “collar” in Spanish is “cuello” but cuello also means neckline. Summary: be forgiving with awkward translations.

A change in text design would improve readability, say, indenting the beginning of paragraphs. In places the text seems dense (the proverbial wall of text) but that may not bother you. Another issue is font size within the drafts themselves. If you’re an old fart like me, you’ll need reading glasses. One last thing is having to flip between pages, instructions for the basic bodice are several pages apart from the illustrated draft so you’ll have to flip back and forth. I am a whiner cry-baby about things like this so I would copy the pages with the instructions to use with the illustrated draft (or vice versa) so I wouldn’t have to flip back and forth. Seriously, this is a minor issue considering the value of the text.

Note: I don’t know anything about this author (and I looked) so I can’t speak to where this comes from but the drafting style is clearly German (see image below). That my friends is a very good thing. I don’t know if the author was trained in Germany or learned from a German instructor or even whether the illustration style and organization originated with the German publisher but like I said, it’s a good thing. Of all the pattern texts, the German books are the most expensive by far. With the exchange rate and shipping, a German drafting book can set you back $300. Even I don’t have one (beyond WW2 and earlier) and that’s saying something.


Germans have zero style reputation (I do not concur) but their pattern engineering skills are arguably the best in the world (the jury is still out on Czechs and Russians but I suspect they could be just as good). Yes, better than French and Italian. It would be a pity if this German publisher were compelled to cease investing in books for the English speaking market because this book didn’t sell. My fear is that this book hasn’t sold well and will go out of print. Perhaps worse, the publisher won’t consider it cost effective to print other titles similar to it which could be a loss to us all. I would very much like to see this author and publisher to put out more books like this. You can do your part by buying Patternmaking in Fashion! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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  1. Jessenia says:

    Technically it’s not the first block I have done. I have used other drafting methods but have not obtained the results I want . I’m a little bit of a perfectionist.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Could you give me some direction on how I should go about drafting a block?

    Did you see the comment I left above Donna’s?

  3. Sabrina says:

    Am I doing something wrong with my draft? When I use the instructions in this book, my sleeves always end up with a lot of ease (at lease 4cm). The sleeve I drafted using Metric Pattern Cutting (after a little adjustment so that it looks right, and fiddling with the ease) has just over 1cm and is so easy to sew in. It looks great.

    I want to know if I’m doing something wrong with the well-thought-of Muller & Sohn pattern cutting method. It’s said to be the best, and if it is, I want to learn more about it. :)

  4. Maria zanette says:

    Io sono italiana e capisco anche se poco il francese e inglese. Effettivamente chi ha tradotto non ne sapeva nulla di cucito. Peccato perché anch’io lo trovo un libro interessante. Apprezzo sopratutto la costruzione della manica.

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