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.
477pgs. Spiral bound.
List Price: $84.00 on Amazon