New: Knit wear pattern making book

Oh joy joy joy joy joy joy, joy. At long last, there is finally a pattern making book devoted to working with knit fabrics. I should back up a bit. When I was at MAGIC, I bought a book called Design and Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics by Keith Richardson. It came in the day before I left town so I couldn’t look at it till now. One really bizarre thing. The title listed is different from the title printed on the cover. Weird. Until I figured it out, I couldn’t find it on Amazon. Anyway, here is my version of what passes for a review.

Cutting to the chase, I designate this one a must buy if you need a good reference for knits. Even if you don’t plan to make your own knit patterns, you’ll find lots of useful information that isn’t in any other pattern books.

That said, first are some negatives about it, keeping in mind that no book is perfect. The author lists color coding differently than anything I’ve ever seen (pg. 16). He’s Canadian, maybe that’s how they do it there. For the US market, reverse color codes for linings and fusibles. There is also, what I’d consider to be a grave error on page 48, regarding designation of cup size measurements. He instructs one to compare the difference between the upper bust and the full bust measure to arrive at cup size. Ouch. If you’re large busted, this isn’t tenable because you have lots of pillowing up there. The underbust measure remains the best indicator. After reading those two items, I’d steeled myself to the inevitability of rife error but then he goes and totally and unequivocally redeems himself with this (pg.56):

A larger version is here (149 kb). This is something I’ve been meaning to blog about. It really annoys me when pattern books have you true hems or seam turn-ups to match full seam width (middle sketch above). In real life, it doesn’t work that way. Even if stitching didn’t stretch a line (it does, that’s why you shouldn’t “stay stitch” necklines), it’s a matter of physics. You can’t have two identical lengths, that when folded into a tube, form an O.D. and an I.D. (outer and inner diameter) and expect it to look nice if both layers are trying to take up the same amount of space. Maybe on a long run like a garment hem you don’t notice it but on something like a fitted sleeve hem, you will. In leather, you can’t help but notice. In fact, the heavier the leather, the more you have to cut it back. The best rule of thumb I’ve developed for that is to subtract 1/32nd per ounce (leather weight is calculated ounces per square foot so that doesn’t hold for fabric). And you have to cut it back on anything with an O.D./I.D. (collars, facings etc). You also have to do it for denim or anything heavy. Anytime I’ve tried to explain this, I get a lot of argument so I haven’t exactly been motivated to blog about it. Anyway, I definitely hadn’t expected to see the hem shaved off like this in -of all things- a knit pattern wear book but there you have it. If it’s true for knits, it’s true for everything.

This book provides three basic functions. One is instruction for knitwear drafting for students and beginners with how to manipulate block patterns for various style renderings just like every other pattern book on the planet. Established pattern makers won’t need that. The second function is an orientation to knit sewing machines, stitches etc that will be helpful to entrepreneurs as well as the correct way to label patterns, basic work organization and the like. Similarly, it includes tons of charts detailing different stretch allowances, many per size and size category. I imagine that’s useful for everybody.

Now, if you’re an expert pattern maker, you may still find it useful. I mean, I’m presumably an “expert” but I don’t make knit patterns. Not because I can’t, I make those just fine for personal use but I won’t for customers. The reason is that technology has changed a lot since I was in school, I have no industrial knitwear experience, so I don’t know all of the potential bugaboos that always creep into the mix that you’re only going to know if you worked in a plant. Now that I have this book, it’s possible that I may. Maybe. It gives me a little more confidence (with all those quantifiable charts and percentages) that I won’t totally louse something up.

In summary: If you’re an adept professional with lots of knit wear experience, you won’t need this book (unless you need something to train somebody else) but everybody else will. If you work with a lot of knits, I designate this a must buy.

ISBN 978-1-56367-479-2
477pgs. Spiral bound.
List Price: $84.00 on Amazon

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  1. Linda says:

    “Ouch. If you’re large busted, this isn’t tenable because you have lots of pillowing up there. The underbust measure remains the best indicator.”

    Could post that in mile high letters across the sky so that all the pattern companies out there would get this. I can’t tell how frustrated I get about this. Thanks for posting this because now I know I am not crazy.

  2. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    I really like that diagram. One would think it should be applied to stretch woven fabrics and to regular wovens if they have a lot of give.

  3. Eric H says:

    Well, I suppose something like this post had to come out after the Vatican apologized to Galileo.

    (What is this comment in reference to? THIS!)

  4. Marnie says:

    Keith Richardson was my body wear teacher at school. Good teacher. He hadn’t written this yet when I was there. I think I’ll have to pick it up.

  5. Trish says:

    I have the book and I think it looks pretty good. I do find all the typographical errors though. On page 61 in the math formula it says 5 X 5 = 18… and of course, they meant to type 3 X 5… ooops… also, the formula on this page is okay, ….. to remove 1/6th of the size they take measurement, divide by 6 then multiply by five but to me it is faster to take the measurement minus 16.666% (which is 1/6th) but we all have different ways to calculate the math.

    Alot of the book is stuff you can find in a flat pattern book but I still think this is a great book to have if you are creating any patterns for knits. There are loads of great tips.

  6. Sandra B says:

    I got this a couple of weeks ago, and was going to review, but my book is at work and my computer is at home, and I can’t seem to get the two to meet. I also haven’t had time for more than a cursory glance. I think it, in general, is fantastic. There is so much that will stand a closer look – I didn’t notice the hem info, so now I know that I need to bring it home and really study it. I was a little confused by the measurement charts. From memory, it was something to do with trying to locate an absolute reference that I could match back to Australian sizing. I’ll bring the book home and work out a clearer way to explain that. There was also a mistake in the illustrations for leg shaping on a leotard or maillot – it said there were three lines for small, average and big bottoms, but the illustration only had the front leg-line. I worked it out from the bikini draft later in the book. These are minor quibbles. It’s got so much more than most patternmaking books, so it’s definitely worth having as a reference.
    I also finally splurged and spent the housekeeping on the two PatternMagic books. Beyond wonderful. My husband heard the exclamations of delight coming from my study, and raced in to make sure I was alone. I now just have to convince my picky 7 year old that baked beans a) are not toxic, and b) will in fact be our staple food for three weeks. It’s worth it.

  7. gail says:

    The librarian in me comes out: The title inside the book (amazing called the Title Page) is the official title of the book. Doesn’t matter what is on the cover or the spine of the book–it’s what’s inside that matters. :-)

  8. Babette says:

    To all the patternmaking teachers of the world – you trained us to make our facings a squidge smaller so that they would sit under, why not hems?

    This is so logical, practical and from miserable experience, clear, that I can’t help but wonder why it isn’t in every 101 on patternmaking.

  9. keith Richardson says:

    Thanks for the great review, yes there are some typo errors, which will be corrected with the next edition (a few years off), my first text-book.
    Thanks, and I hope it helps
    Keith Richardson

  10. Barb says:

    I don’t know why you would get the argument about the inner and outer diameters – get any sceptics to measure a coffee cup circumference inside and out then they’ll see it’s different! Could do it with masking tape quite easily.


  11. Zaz says:

    hi kai jones, although you say the content of the link is not much a point in there stiked me: “full bust circumference (assuming that the body shape reflected in these measurements has a B cup)” so this goes in the direction of why undercup and “overcup” AND bust circumference are important but again, they are important for custom made knits, right? if one is working with industrial knits they’d want to size for size B cups and well, those not fitting in that category just have to do with the items or not buy them…
    kathleen, i remember once you told me you alas did not know much about knits. i was looking for a book like the first one you mention under these words: “the latest and greatest in books and directories” and i one time i was thinking there just MUST be one in french…
    i am french and live in france…
    well anyway… if someone hears of one for the french market please let me know…

    thanks again for a great post and i will be checking your blogs if your IDs are active OXOX

  12. Kai Jones says:

    Hobby knitters mostly know about using “darts” to add bust shaping (although we don’t call them darts, and they come at the problem from the opposite direction by *adding* knitted rows of fabric rather than cutting out), and there are plenty of resources online and in books to learn how to use them and grade them up to your cup size. In fact some patterns for larger women include the graded bust adjustments for up through DDD cup.

  13. S. S. Ray says:

    I think the 2nd illustration is just fine. The 3rd one (which is shown as right here) will work only in case of a straight sleeve. When the difference between the sleeve width and aleeve hem is large then it will give the same result as illustrated in illustration 1.
    The 2nd illustration is right because even if after folding at hem the fabric becomes larger, it will be chopped off during side seam.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Hi Ray. Yes, this will only work on a straight sleeve, that was the example shown. Two piece sleeves as for suits, are another matter and were not shown (other than that after the 70’s, suits weren’t made of knits). Even so, I draft those as in example 3; the hem edge is sewn to a lining and not the shell in addition to the ID vs OD constraints. Method 2 is the way I learned it too; it is the most common instruction in pattern books. On the job, I learned another way that has held up year after year.

    The 2nd illustration is right because even if after folding at hem the fabric becomes larger, it will be chopped off during side seam.

    The process you’re describing requires that the hem is sewn before the side seam. I know this process has become more common than ever but it is not the dominant method (except in commodities) or even arguably the best one given the focus of this site (non-commodities). Iow, I know people do that but it’s not something I encourage.

  15. Amanda says:

    Are there any recommendations for other pattern books that deal with knits? I’m a student, still learning patternmaking, I already have Patternmaking for Fashion Design, but the knit chapter is woefully inadequate.

    I’m reluctant to buy Design and Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics unless I found it for super cheap, or a corrected version comes out. Patternmaking for Fashion Design is already enough of a pain to use with its errors, I think the problems with the math in Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics would drive a beginner like me bonkers.

  16. Anne says:

    Amanda, I have found Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting to be pretty good for stretch fabrics, at least for myself. The later editions expand upon stretch fabric cutting considerably. I’m not sure whether it’s cheap but I know at least it’s easy to find second hand.

  17. Anne says:

    Also, don’t neglect your local fashion school’s library as a useful reference for the books you can’t currently afford. You can (legally) take photos/photocopy a percentage of it too.

  18. AA says:

    I have bought this book, although I have not yet started drafting, it is pretty much what I have been looking for… Lots of helpful information for both women’s and men’s blocks. A few irritating typos, eg: when describing the skirt block he says in one sentence the front is wider than the back, then the reverse in the next sentence (p110).

    I second the protest about bust measurements (Personally, I have full but 40.5″, high bust 36″, under bust 32″… those 4 inches make a significant difference in fit…). (p48).

    I would like to add another protest. On page 35, when explaining how to measure crotch depth, Richardson lists 3 methods, implying these will all give the same figure:
    “1. When standing, from the front waist to the back waist, passing through the entire crotch area. Divide that number by 2.
    2. With the customer seated, take the measurement from the top of the chair seat up to the waist level.
    3. Use and ‘L’ square ruler and measure from the crotch up to the waist level.”

    I don’t have an issue with 2 and 3 (although I think the L-square has the greater potential for mis-measurement, since you need to get it perfectly horizontal and avoid poking the client with a sharp corner in delicate places!), but #1 is the crotch LENGTH, not depth, and is a massively different number!

    I’d also love to see a good index, the book is an inch thick!

    But other than that, I’m pleased to find it, so much information I haven’t been able to find in other texts.

  19. Ruth Watkin says:

    I also am mostly really happy with the book. Though I do have a few issues. The breakdown of sizing changes for different countries on page 31 states that Americans work more than Europeans and so need to be able to move more. Even if meant well, from the perspective of a European feels a little insulting.
    And I think there is an error on page 38:
    “The front crotch measurement is one-third of the front hip draft measurement.” (Makes sense)
    “The back crotch measurement is one-forth of the front hip measurement.” (This creates a number smaller that the front crotch measurement when it should be larger as shown in the tables)

    Other than that it’s great to see a book really tacking the issue of stretch pattern cutting which seems to be an area sadly lacking in the patter cutting book world.

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