Pattern Puzzle: Pattern Magic

Here’s another entry in this occasional series of pattern puzzles owing to the wickedness of some visitors out there who feed my addictions. One sends word of a new Japanese pattern making book called Pattern Magic. Here’s a shot of the cover. Wow.

The only source I find for this now is on eBay (3 copies), I’ve contacted the seller to see if they can get more. [Edited: update, via this site, I found another source for the book here. So much for the early bird getting the worm, these are only 21$ :)]. Perhaps it goes without saying that I’m only telling you about this because I already have a copy on the way. It’s going for $30, 95 pp, shipped from Japan (free shipping) but expedited shipping is available for $5. The ebay seller has nearly 500 Japanese crafts books for sale with a feedback rating of 100% based on 5163 comments from buyers. Only one negative feedback (withdrawn) so I guess you can’t please everyone. On the eBay site there’s more photos complete with drafts. Here are two others I copied:

There are more photos from the book on Flickr. This user has a lot of interesting pictures and projects, making us all look bad. Thank god she’s preggars and about to pop; that’ll stem the tide of her productivity for awhile. Her blog is also interesting; here’s an entry she wrote on this book. She’s learned to make shoes too, pretty cool. Also while on Flickr, I found another user who’s taken shots of the book (among many other very cool projects and who also has a blog) and I see that Danielle visited the flickr site for this book and wonder why she didn’t tell me about it. Folks, I always want to know about this kind of stuff.

One last comment about the book with respect to the differences between draping and drafting. These styles are the perfect example of why I prefer drafting to draping. Somebody recently wrote me about this and I can’t find the email but this book nails it. I just don’t see how you can drape a style like this efficiently; it’d take you time and trial, again and again. You can draft it though, very quickly. These designs are the perfect illustration of why drafting is more precise and gets you to the end result faster. Now, I can understand if you have to drape because your drafting skills aren’t fully developed yet but I worry that you’ll end up convincing yourself that draping is the superior method just because you have that skill set. The drafts in this book are very easy to follow (the text is Japanese) and I really hope it will inspire you to explore the range of your abilities. Note I said “abilities”, not skills. If you can drape, you can draft, you just need to practice and hopefully this book will inspire you to challenge yourself.

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  1. Danielle says:

    Oh I totally forgot about this =P. I had bookmarked it and meant to blog about it months and months ago, and it’s still sitting there in my folder.

  2. carissa says:

    oh my.

    oh my.




    So, Kathleen, forgive me for asking a question that you’ve probably already answered a thousand times. What’s a good starting place for drafting. I know nothing about it – remember I’m a pattern-phobe. I’m exactly what you described about the draping and not developing drafting abilities. I just imagine what I want, lay it out in my head and cut. I then fit it on the client and sew, or vice versa. I guess that’s draping?

    That braided shirt is so so wow. I love stuff like that- Where are the seams!!! That’s just total genius.

    This reminds me of the feeling I had a few weeks ago. I got to sit front row at a concert put on by one of the best celtic harpists in the world. It’s like she grew twenty extra fingers or something. My brain just short-circuited trying to watch what all she was doing. I deeply admire people that focus on one thing and master it. I love that “how’d they do that!!?” feeling.

  3. Els says:

    Kathleen you will love this book, as much as I do.
    I bought this fantastic book “Pattern Magic” in June last year ,ordered it by emailing the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya in San Francisco.It took the bookstore 2 weeks to receive the book from Japan and a friend of mine picked it up for me and did the shipping which was much less than shipping by the bookstore.

    Maki / Japanese Book Customer Service
    Kinokuniya Bookstores of America,
    San Francisco Store
    1581 Webster St., San Francisco, CA 94115
    (415) 567-7625 / Fax (415) 567-4109
    I told several Dutch colleague dressmakers about this boook and they ordered it from a Japanese website but it is in french ( easier to read)

  4. J C Sprowls says:

    Aha… I thought you’d like that!

    Get this… all those photos are done on a 1/2 scale mannequin. This designer, I suspect, mostly works on 1/2 scale dolls and puppets. Either way, she has a lot of latitude to design; and, demonstrates a favorable balance between the technical and aesthetic.

    It would be very nice if I could read Japanese. But, it’s not necessary with this publishing house. The books they turn out are well-illustrated. I also have one on menswear hats from this eBay seller that I like, too.

    Shoemaking… got quite a few books and amateur DVDs on that subject, too. Now there’s an obsession…

  5. massa says:

    I own this book, and I like the “zig-zag” techniques by drafting used in this book, not the “bamboo” technique above in the picture. The book doens’t use draping technique, but it uses “paper draping” or “paper crafting” in a sense for realization of some complicated styles. Unfortunately, this book isn’t popular in Japan though…

    I checked out, this book costs about $40 at today’s rate(expedited shipping included).

  6. alisabenay says:

    When I was in college Helen Joseph Armstrong was my pattern making instructor. We used to come into class an hour early for absolutely no credit & do timed pattern tests. She would have these wicked little garments sewn up on a half scale form. With out touching them, we would have 5 minutes to draft the pattern. I think I learned more from that than anything else I did the entire time I was there.

    Thanks for the book link. I’m such a junkie for more books. :-)

  7. Kathleen says:

    Btw, when I wrote my entry If I were to produce a line these types of details are exactly what I had in mind. I made a version of that taupe braided top several years ago. I also put this stuff on sleeves. Most blouse sleeves are boring. I want the sleeves on my blouses to be showpieces themselves. Simple fabrications, one color, one fabric, stunning details. I think it’d sell.

  8. Jason says:

    I brought this book about a year ago (I live in Japan) but I have never used it because of my Japanese level is so low and I don’t know anything about pattern making. Maybe it’s about time I got it off the shelf and had a go!

  9. Judy Gross says:

    Kathleen, I managed to buy this book from, but let me tell you it was rather ‘difficult’ to navigate Amazon in Japanese! Its a fabulous book, great photos, (which is all I needed) everything else is in Japaneses!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been doodling that braided detail on paper for ages now and haven’t figured out how to make the pattern for it!!! Yes, it’s possible!
    Thanks Kathleen.

  11. carissa says:

    I’m still struggling with the “how’d they do that” feeling, Kathleen.

    I’d love for you to do some quick and dirty sketches of some wacky stuff –like your braided sleeves. Show me a flat sketch version and a sketch of what the finished sleeve would look like.

    Am I asking for something that’s insulting and a complete no-no?

    I’d love for you to post on this. Just some examples of far out stuff. – Not good enough for us to copy, of course. I’d just like to see how this works. Kinda like the exercise that Alisa was talking about.

    Also my book question, I’d like to read a little book that is extremely b-a-s-i-c. I’m kinda boggled by the terminology just in this post and the following comments.

    I’m just requesting this stuff because I know you have nothing better to do and have totally run out of posting ideas. ha ha ha, (falls off of chair laughing), ha ha ha!!! You should have these questions wrapped up for me in about 10 minutes, right? ha ha ha…(purple gasp) ha ha ha!!!

  12. katrin says:

    thanks heaps kathleen for the link – this really makes me so proud XD

    carissa, the process of drafting isn’t that complicated at all. the japanese books usually have good and clear pictures, so you won’t feel lost.
    if you prefer to start with drafting with instructions in your language there might be something like mueller & sohn or lutterloh systems available in your area. ebay usually has lots of stuff for both.

  13. S Monsegur says:

    Very interesting book. I took draping once and hated it. Is it possible to do drafting without having done well in draping?

  14. Trish says:

    I would love to meet Helen Joseph Armstrong. I love her book and use it to teach flat patternmaking. I do not use her draping book but it is a decent book in its own right.

    I love drafting, flat patternmaking and draping…well, I also love CAD so you can see I am a pattern-o-holic!!!

  15. buki says:

    hi, i got about 10 japanese craft book including this one, which i ordered on yesasia and postage is free worldwide and much more cheaper than anywhere else. I used the translation on google to navigate and that was it, easy!

  16. Kathleen says:

    I got my copy on Friday! It’s pretty cool. A funny thing about the shipping package, it was mailed from Hong Kong and it wasn’t sealed in the ways we typically think of sealing a package. No tape, no glue, just the wrap around string thing that anyone could have opened. Eric teased, saying it’s required to leave all packages open to inspection…

  17. susie says:

    Have just made this (hole dress), fabric around hole is quite bulky- no prob in the lightweight stuff I used , but in knit you might need to rejig the amount of spread in the sections cut from the circle.

  18. Hey there!
    I too, have the Pattern Magic book and LOVE it! I have actually made my slopers from it, using their meauring/percentages, being larger than the largest Japanes dress size, their templates were too small for me. I have made several samples of the designs: the circular hole-type pocket dress and the little cubes/boxes on a top. I am just amazed at the interesting architectural designing that the author uses. I am not surprised that the book is not popular in Japan right now, as it seems from my Japanese crat mags that they are into simpler,straighter lines. I love your blog and site.
    Marion :-)

  19. di says:

    Glad you like the book too- it’s so inspiring. I originally found out about it from a good (non-blogging) friend who visited Japan in Jan 2006, and brought a copy back with her. I loved it so much I had to get my own copy.
    Thanks for such nice comments about my work and blog- although I feel a bit deceptive if I come across as being that productive..

  20. Grace says:

    The book arrived yesterday from YesAsia. Wow! I love the braided bodice. I am not so sure about the hole in one skirt. I fear my friends will try to putt into the hole.

    The braided sleeve sounds wonderful.

  21. DANIEL CRONIN says:

    Pattern Magic is a dream come to help inspiring to think more than the box, but outside the realm of possibility. I saw pattern number two book is out and soon as i have set the finance I going to buy It.

  22. earthwhisper says:

    These books are amazing – my teacher at Parsons kept pushing us to buy them – glad i did! I ended up reinventing one of the patterns – Can’t read Japanese so I used it as ‘inspiration” to create something similar – ended up a very unqiue avant garde vision. I’m a draper so this was def a challange working from pattern only.
    Also, just want to say that I think drafting is very important – BUT there are some things that can only be achieved from the Drape and experimentation – Ala Madame Gres, Miyake, Junya Wantanabe…

  23. Carla Johnson says:

    Hi! (First time here). I’ve been searching for what’s turned out to be Pattern Magic for quite awhile without success until yesterday. And now today I discover your blog and a whole group of others who appreciate the “outside the box” creativity. Thank you so much for sharing this exciting information and experience. I’m saving up to purchase both volumes of this beautiful work. This aesthetic and real-people endorsements are exactly what I’ve been seeking. Thank you all.

  24. Nicola says:

    Hi, I have looked at this book and have tried to work out how to draft the slopers. just cant work out the formula they use for the underarm to waist line measurment, all the others are clear. I think its spet 4. Can anyone help me?

  25. Birgit says:

    Pattern Magic has a 1:2 scaled basic slope pattern in the back. Copy it and enlarge it, make a muslin. To mine I extended it towards the hips, takes some time but it’s worth it. The slope pattrn is actually quite good and it’s the basis for all the patterning to come. Good Luck.
    These books can be ordered on

  26. Yvette says:

    Pattern Magic 1 is now available in English, and Pattern Magic 2 will very soon be. Wonderful books – so inspiring. And being able to understand the text is a huge bonus!

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