Pattern Puzzle: mystery draft pt.2

solution_to_pattern_puzzle_hat_draftingThe mystery draft is a HAT! Congratulations to Grace, Samantha and Colleen who guessed yesterday’s Pattern Puzzle was a hat. Brian, Liz and Naomi came close suspecting a hat or related headgear with a visor.

Here’s the back story (previously mentioned in the forum); this scan came from a Russian hat drafting book I acquired from a student (I will call her “Tony”) who took my production pattern class last week end. Tony works as a designer in the film industry in Los Angeles (a whole other subject; the job is less glamorous, more thankless and worse paying than you’d imagine). Since she speaks Russian fluently, she has a lot of Russian pattern books. Knowing I was obsessed about them, she brought ten of them, six of which I bought from her because it is almost impossible to order Russian books unless you speak the language. Compounding matters, the site that sells them in the US is Russian language only and has awful search capabilities. If anyone is interested in buying their own copy of the books I have, I will update the forum thread with links to purchase as I am able to confirm them. It’s like flying blind since the character set is so different from English.

This book is keenly interesting because head anatomy (anthropometry) is dissected at length. First is an overview (below):

Then consider the matter of the shape of the top of the skull (below):


Then there is overall head and face shape which affects hat design (below):


Last but not least is the slope of one’s profile (below):


Part of my interest in posting these images (there are more to come below this discussion) was to see how many people’s brains work like mine. In the forum, Stuart spoke to that directly by saying these drafts looked “sooooo much like sheet metal (pattern) development, or general CAD projection work” and that they should because they’re “solving the same problem”. These drafts (see below) illustrate exactly how I see patterns in my head. Perhaps now people can understand why patterns for clothing and patterns for sheet metal are more similar than generally accepted [and why I’ve been collecting sheet metal drafting books for years (Teijo sent me another vintage sheet metal book recently, thank you doll!)]. This illustrates why well engineered patterns can be precisely matched as sheet metal must be with no overages such as ease (also pt.2) except where it’s truly called for (most are not) and still other examples could be considered akin to misguided professional practices. In my opinion of course.

In short, the drafts in this book and the other Russian books are a tremendous source of validation for me. You don’t know how delighted I was to see (for example) the brim pattern trimmed off along the side of the head (red line) in the sample puzzle draft. I did not have the words to articulate why it must be so only that it is unerringly true.

At $45, the hat book was the most expensive of all the books. Even though the copy only runs 107 pages and the paper quality is poor (ghosting from opposing pages), I think it is well worth the money. In fact, Tony and I discussed approaching the publisher to have them translated in English. The other books I bought from Tony cost significantly less, on the order of $15 to $25 each. A few of them were basic text books; the drafts weren’t particularly remarkable but the illustrated style lines were sufficiently charming to merit their purchase. Can’t speak for you but I buy vintage books mostly for that reason (Erwin, Hillhouse & Mansfield etc).

Okay, lengthy introduction dispensed with, here are other random selections from this hat book. Enjoy!






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  1. Dia in MA says:

    Interesting. I have an amusing antique related to this. It is a doll sized man’s hat in a small hat box. I thought it was a toy. However, my mother told me that long ago this was how you gifted a hat to a man. He was given the small hat in the gift box with a card inside. He brought the gift card to the shop to be fitted properly for his hat. Talk about lost lore!

  2. Lena says:

    I own quite an extensive collection of russian pattern drafting books, I find information in these books very rare and everything is very well explained.

  3. Grace says:

    I have a book on my shelf called “Map Projections”. You would love the book. I have actually had to use the book in the past to validate computer code was written and operating correctly.

  4. Quincunx says:

    Not wholly lost, Dia! Not that long ago on Stitcher’s Guild, a young man asked for advice on buying his fashion-student girlfriend a sewing machine. People piled in with their opinions and experiences of various brands, asked what she used at school, etc., and one genius spoke up and told him to give her a sewing-themed token along with a pre-booked appointment at the nearest sewing machine seller. (And since I can’t find the discussion right now, will my face ever be red if you were the one to suggest it. ;) )

    Seeing this makes me wish I hadn’t been put in the CAD class in the very last semester of high school, with no possibility of learning more unless I paid for it. The intro class didn’t cover radial drawings like these, just Cartesian. Oh well. Off to do more nerd sniping by linking the original to geeky folks who have no idea where clothes come from. Mwahahaha!

  5. Wow, this is an amazing find! I am a milliner for the stage, and I definitely want to try to navigate this all-in-Russian site to buy this exact book.

    And, I can offer my totally unscientific answer to your question, Marilynn, which is that 22″ is no longer the average headsize, if the actors’ and dancers’ head measurements I take on a regular basis are anything to go by. It depends on your target market, I suppose. I worked for a while for a fashion milliner who did mostly men’s hand-blocked fedoras in small batches for retail, and she blocked all her hats at a 23″ headsize. Women, hairstyle has a lot to do with it. I would put the average woman’s headsize now at 22.5″ unless you are talking about super petite women like ballet dancers, but women who have extensions, braids, or dreadlocks have much larger headsize measurements, so if your target market is also likely to have hairstyles with those augmentations, you’d need to draft for it.

    Thanks for sharing these images, Kathleen, i am on the hunt for this book now!

  6. Thanks for posting this.
    Most of the time I am having such a trouble explaining how I was thought to draft patterns in Russia ( back in Soviet Union) and why I do what I do and why it works. I had one supervisor who did not know what the Pi number was (and she was in charge of making kids hats)
    Sometimes I feel I speak very different language to patternmakers I came across working with in US.
    Yes we had to study a “heavy duty” anatomy and ergonomics, geometry, proportions, color harmony, Fibers and Textiles, Industrial Sewing and Cutting equipment and many other things (BTW was all free education those times for about 6 years all together) to become a Designer they called is a “MODELIER”. I feel so lucky and it was fun, however it was so bloody brutal to get ready for the tests and examination for graduation. They would not offer 3 answers one of which is correct to a question – you just have to get it right.

  7. To Quincunx
    BTW – we did not have CAD systems – all was done manually with pencils and rulers and curves and drafting tools – I know for sure it is very possible – and the teachers really did not like seeing the traces of erasers – they would reduce grades for that.

  8. Utterly fascinating – particularly the shapes of the skulls. This whole thread and its graphics could snarl me hopelessly for a decade or two. I love how patterns drafted intuitively mesh with engineering systems so the bones of the concepts leap out. And can be reproduced or morphed.


  9. Chris says:

    I love this sort of technical drawing – I took Technical Graphics up to my final year in school, as I had dreams of being an engineer or architect. I went for the fashion route instead, and by far my favourite part has always been making patterns from designs.

  10. Asako Sakai says:

    Hi Kathleen. Thanks very much for this post! Totally fascinating stuff. And timely, too, as I was fiddling with drafting a simple kid’s sun hat pattern from scratch. Amazing how a human head would come in all sorts of shapes. I’ll have to ask a Russian friend to see if she can order this book for me.

  11. Lisa Brazus says:

    Amazing as always. I am now very interested in the Russian pattern books. This one too. Let us know if you have any luck in getting the publisher to release English versions.

  12. Jemma says:

    WOW- how amazing are these ! I just popped online to see if i could find out how to redraft a hat brim for a new pattern i’m working on (i dont normally sew hats – more clothing) and i came across these fantastic pictures… i feel i might have to put the patternmaking on hold for today to research some more books on hat pattern drafting- I know there must have been someone with the knowledge out there somewhere!

  13. Nina says:

    Hi there!
    Is there a way to have a copy of this book? Or just the title and author?
    Would be very thankful if somebody can tell me!

  14. Jan says:

    I worked with a publisher last year who has foreign language books translated into English. Most are somehow fiber related. I was the English Technical editor on one such book. Would you like for me to get in touch with them about the possibility of having these translated and published into English?

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