Review: Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Dec 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm / Contest and Projects, Designers must know, Patterns, Reviews / Trackback

patternmaking_dennic_coverToday’s review is another recently published book called Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo ($26). Be sure to read through to the end because I’m giving away a free copy of this book to one lucky visitor! Also, the publisher is promoting a significant holiday discount on all titles in their catalog for UK buyers. US buyers already get the discount courtesy of Amazon.

This introductory text is an excellent tool for designers, and oddly enough, particularly for those who don’t intend to make their own patterns. I think there is a big hole in the market for a book that fills that gap. The reason being, many designers want a better understanding of the relationship of shapes and how these are incorporated into the body of a garment. See this example that shows the outline of pattern pieces on the body so one can understand construction relationships.

patternmaking_quarterscale_drape_vs_real_lifeFor designers who do want to learn a few skills, this is a nice introduction with solid exercises so you can feel like you’re accomplishing something. While it does closely reflect a school environment, there are some delightful surprises. For example, I love page 24. Reason being, there are a lot of people who are convinced that draping on a quarter scale form is the ticket because Vionnet did it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, it’s a dandy way to save on fabric but you need to be aware of performance variances in smaller scale.

patternmaking_dennic_form_vs_bodyAbove right is a photograph comparing a neckline flounce created in quarter scale and one created full scale. The full scale version, being heavier, drapes prettier than the smaller one. Of course if you liked the smaller version you’d have to do something to create the effect full scale (underline with organza maybe?). What is more likely is that you’d see the small version, think it looked like a V-neck clown ruffle and abandon the style without sampling it in full size.

The other pitfall common to school learning versus real life are the differences of modeling on a form as compared to a human body. In this photo (right), Chunman Lo shows the same garment on a form and on a body. The form is compliant and accommodating. The human, not so much. The shoulders slide down on a human. The lesson being that while you may create a style via draping on a form and give it to a pattern maker to make up for you, it is best to presume a sample on a human will not match the expectations you developed based on the dress form sample.

There are a lot of neat things about this book, things it never would have occurred to me to mention. Here’s one tiny detail; the matter of needing to twist seam allowances (below).

twist_seam_allowance

On the other hand, the text doesn’t mention one should clip the allowance at the point it changes direction but in the author’s defense, you can’t do that with all fabric types. Materials that don’t fray easily are a given.

There were a few things I found useful. On pages 81-89 were a series of draft conversions. Say, combining separate bodice and skirt blocks to create a basic dress block. I wouldn’t say this is not in any other book (I don’t know) only that I’ve always done it by hook or crook so this is something to look over the next time I have a related project. In the same section was instruction on how to create a dress block if you only had the bodice portion, cobbling on with measures from a body or form. Like I said, useful.

Minuses could be summarized as a mis-match between expectations and needs. This is not a production pattern making book and it does not claim to be such either. Meaning, there will be differences between the text and work practices. For example, production patterns shouldn’t be marked as illustrated in this book but more like the section on production pattern making in my book (pp. 176-180).

Call it a philosophical difference, but I don’t agree that patterns should be made as quickly as possible by sacrificing standard procedures to include seam walking etc (pg 104, third paragraph). I have seen too many instances in which rough patterns are elevated to production status simply because someone managed to sew one up somewhat successfully with however many workarounds. As with the leather book I recently reviewed, there were quite a few variations in how I work versus the book’s instruction. Be that as it may, I still think this is a great option for designers who want a friendly introduction to patternmaking if only to make their product development processes go more smoothly. With a careful reading, you shouldn’t flounder as much or be as intimidated by it as you may have been. I don’t need to worry about promoting this to dyed in the wool pattern makers because they’ll buy it anyway. Even if they only get one thing out of it, it’s easily worth the $26.

Errata: Keeping in mind that it is very difficult to monitor every detail in a project like this, there are bound to be errors. For example, on page 110 begins a section on of obligatory notches but the illustrated sample sleeve pattern does not have a shoulder notch on the sleeve’s cap. I know it is a genuine oversight because shoulder notches are evident in many other places. My point being, as useful and friendly as you find the text, resist the temptation of using it as the rule or final word in production pattern making.

Another thing you should be aware of is that this book was written by a professor in the UK so there are regional differences. For example, the standards for color coding are different. Additionally, the one review written on Amazon mentions that the drafts were created in metric and converted to imperial measures. The reviewer says that not all the measures were converted accurately so to stave off  frustration or discouragement, you might consider drafting in metric. In case you wonder, I haven’t drafted any styles from the book, that’s not how I review them.

Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo
240pp, 8.5 x 11 $26 Amazon US, $40 list
Full color photographs and many illustrations.

Hark! A discount! The publisher is offering a 35% discount on all titles sold from their UK site from now until December 31st. The discount code is LKPXMAS11. I realize this is a disappointment to US buyers but look at it this way; the Amazon US price is discounted exactly 35% so this way, UK buyers can enjoy the same benefit you do.

And of course, a contest giveaway! The publisher’s US representative was kind enough to send me a copy of the book for review. What neither of us knew was that one of you (Jessica Owen, thank you!) had sent me one too. So, I have an extra copy to give away. [The real hold up on writing this review was trying to figure out how to do it.] I have decided to do what Poppy Gall recently did and treat every comment posted to the site for one week as one entry for the contest. That means, if you post seven comments in a week, that amounts to seven entries for you. Etc. I thought it was a great way to do it. But I would. I won her contest, yay me! I have never won anything before.

Based on comments, I’m amending this entry. Again, the contest is not based on the number of comments to this post. Every comment on ANY post on this site is a separate entry. Meaning, to optimize your chances, find other posts to comment on. The archives post will be going up soon, you could probably find something interesting that’s worth reading and commenting on.

Speaking of Poppy, yesterday she posted how to make your own color palettes like she does it. Being ill versed with Photoshop, I had no idea it could be so simple.

82 Responses to “Review: Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo”

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Samantha
December 2nd, 2011
4:42 PM

Looks great! If I don’t win I may buy it at that price :) I must devour every book I can possibly find before I attempt something.

Gisela
December 2nd, 2011
4:49 PM

Kathleen,

Thanks for that review, I am very tempted to buy this book. If I own Patternmaking for Fashion Design from Armstrong do you still recommend getting it? Just wondering if I’ll get pointers or learn something new with this one.

And also thanks for sharing that link! I can’t wait to do my own color palette!

Gisela

Rebecca
December 2nd, 2011
4:56 PM

Thanks for the review. I have the same question as Gisela. If I already own the Armstrong text, is it worth getting this book as well?

Thanks!

Joelle Hodson
December 2nd, 2011
5:06 PM

Does this text have a section on knitwear patterns? Overall this sounds like a good book.

Carol
December 2nd, 2011
5:09 PM

Great review, I would love to win a copy of this book.

Austin Storm
December 2nd, 2011
5:10 PM

Huzzah! Thanks for the detailed review.

August Milan
December 2nd, 2011
5:21 PM

Looks awesome! I love to have a collection of different pattern making books. It really helps the design process and it’s fun to experiment with the various techniques ;) this look like a good one!

Kathleen
December 2nd, 2011
5:34 PM

Gisela/Rebecca (anybody else) if you only have one pattern book, you probably need another one especially if Armstrong is your only point of comparison. If you plan to be a pattern maker, you need to begin a life long habit of allocating a portion of your budget to buy nice books in the interests of your personal development. Whether that means skipping meat a few times a month or delaying the inking of your tattoo, I think it’s worth it. Designers need to make similar budgetary choices. Remember people, professional doesn’t mean bigger, it means better.

Speaking of, there are people out there that home sewers in particular, admire. The people you admire are not any better than you are -trust me on this. The only difference between you and them is that they buy this stuff. They don’t wait around to see if it becomes popular. They actively stay on top of new titles as they’re being released, glean information from them, present it as their own and voila, you think they’re the bonafide expert.

Now as to whether it should be this book I can’t say because I don’t know what your goals are. Many established pattern makers buy all of them, $26 is dirt cheap for a pattern book. You don’t want to know what I spend on books, I’ve been coveting one that costs $250! If your budget is limited and you’re not certain of what direction you’ll go, you can try inter library loan. Sure it’s a hassle but it doesn’t cost anything. That is really the only way you’ll know.

Btw, I neglected to link to an image in this entry before you commented. See the hyperlink at “this example” in the second paragraph.

Tina
December 2nd, 2011
5:34 PM

I currently only have armstrong text on my wish list. I’m a home sewist, so I don’t really need a lot of books on patternmaking, but am wondering which might be better from my perspective. Maybe I just put both on my amazon wish list and go from there!

Tiffany H.
December 2nd, 2011
5:36 PM

Thanks for the review. Gisela and Rebecca I have the Armstrong book as well as a couple of others. I find something new in every pattern book I have. Sometimes it may just be the way that another author explains a basic technique.

Glenda Robinson
December 2nd, 2011
5:41 PM

Thanks for the review. Looks like a great book!

Chris
December 2nd, 2011
5:58 PM

My book collection is growing nicely thanks to your reviews Kathleen. So even if I don’t win it, I’m pretty certain that I’ll end up buying it. I definitely don’t regret buying the two books by Lucia Mors, they’re two very good books, and I have been recommending them to some friends. I’ve also been following Poppy Galls blog since you mentioned it, inspiring stuff :) Thanks for all the time you put into this site.

Miriam
December 2nd, 2011
6:26 PM

I never win anything either, but I’m always happy to try :-)

Timmie
December 2nd, 2011
6:46 PM

Thank you for the review and discussion of pattern making. I have tried making pants patterns using Armstrong and Luterol. Neither fit. I see that i should try something else.

Candi
December 2nd, 2011
6:47 PM

So far I haven’t had much luck with books. I would love to have this one in hand. It has officially been added to my Christmas list.

Amanda deLeon
December 2nd, 2011
6:53 PM

Thanks for the review, Kathleen. I will definitely put it on my list of books to get. BTW, I’ve been holding out on refreshing the ink in my tattoo for 10years…..I spend all of my money on sewing/pattern books and fabric, hahaha!

Maris Olsen
December 2nd, 2011
6:58 PM

Thanks Kathleen -love your site!! And I’d love to win this book to add to my collection!

Zoe
December 2nd, 2011
7:33 PM

Hi Kathleen,
I hope your offer is good in Canada too! (Vancouver to be exact.) Even if the give-away doesn’t pan out, I’m definitely going to get the book for my library.

Thanks for your review and for the photos to illustrate what you’re talking about.

Best, Zoe

Lisa Brazus
December 2nd, 2011
8:28 PM

Great review. I love the pictures and the examples of the half scale and full scale along with the dress form verses the model. I try to impress upon the students that you must do a full scale sample in the fabric you will be using for the final garment. It makes all the difference. I will purchase the book. You are correct at $26 it is a steal.

Emily Clapp
December 2nd, 2011
9:02 PM

Oh! I am so geeked out over this! I would love to win the book.

Joyce Wyld
December 2nd, 2011
9:20 PM

I’ve never been in a giveaway before, so I’ll try my luck. I can’t resist patternmaking books-anytime I see one second hand I have to have it. I’d love to read through books like this-even though I’m not a professional patternmaker, if I ever had a career, that’s what I want to do. Thumbing through sewing and patternmaking books in particular gives me great pleasure-I’m still not sure why though. I love your site Kathleen-even though I’m not in the industry, what you write is intensely interesting. Thanks for all that effort.

Theresa in Tucson
December 2nd, 2011
9:42 PM

Interesting book, Kathleen, and you are enabling. I don’t need another drafting book, but I sure want one. I have Laurel Hoffman’s books on my wish list as well and they are much pricier. I’m going to check the school library and see if our wonderful gem of a librarian has maybe bought a copy of this.

Novita
December 2nd, 2011
11:13 PM

Thank you for the review! This is going straight to my wishlist!

EA
December 3rd, 2011
12:36 AM

Talk about coincidence. In your prior post about the patterning for leather book I was curious about the other offerings of that publisher and ended up finding this very book. It looked quite intriguing from what I could figure out from the preview pages ( no zoom). Thanks for posting these extra pages…this keeps getting better.
I love pattern books a lot even if I don’t always understand them right away or have the time to try everything. I enjoy plunking around in my pattern software’s CAD editor tweaking/manipulating the generated patterns or trying ( emphasis on try) to work through a draft from scratch..like the one in the new Lucia Mors book. I also belong to the Armstrong club, it was the very first book on patternmaking I’d ever seen.
Anyway, I’d glad you had something to say about this book. : )

ps… I didn’t know you could do photo sampling in KULER. That’s freaking awesome. The swatches are larger than what I can get in the swatch set window in Illustrator. Thanks for the direct to Poppy Gall’s.

Sabine
December 3rd, 2011
12:53 AM

I find it unusual that the patterns were made in metric and then converted to imperial. It does sound like an interesting book and it will definitely go on my wish list.

CarmencitaB
December 3rd, 2011
1:20 AM

Please put my name in the hat.
I would love to learn more about pattern making.

Quincunx
December 3rd, 2011
3:06 AM

Ooh. Chris, a two-part question:

1) so yes, it’s worthwhile to get the second de Mors book (Patternmaking in Practice) after buying the first one first, and

2) is there a bookshop in the south which carries it? I’ve been haunting Vibes & Scribes for the second book to show up but to no avail, and having to walk in and out past the fabric bolts while saving the book money is -killing- me. Still, any physical bookshop which has the first one, and Aldrich and Bray and other interesting titles in shrinkwrap, and good fabric and interfacing on the next shelf over, is worth supporting.

Birgitte
December 3rd, 2011
4:31 AM

I can’t think of anything better than another patternmaking-book on my bookshelf! Thanks for the giveaway!

Anna Brown
December 3rd, 2011
5:23 AM

Hi Kathleen, I’d love to see a post of your top 10 books every DE who makes his or her own patterns should own. Judging by your comments here, the answer is “all of them!” but I’d love to see which ones you think are most useful that are currently published, regardless of price.

Kate Rawlinson
December 3rd, 2011
6:06 AM

Thanks for the interesting review, and how nice to have a UK-centric offer flagged up for once – sometimes it does start to feel like the internet is solely for the benefit of Americans! (Although I feel obliged to point out that even with the publisher’s Xmas discount, it is 10p cheaper on Amazon.co.uk).

I’m always amazed by how few pattern-cutting texts there are, especially compared with sewing books.

Theresa Hill
December 3rd, 2011
8:02 AM

Great review! Thanks!
This has been on my Amazon.com wish list since I read about it on another blog (I forget which one). I’d love to win it!!

Marie-Christine
December 3rd, 2011
8:07 AM

Thanks Kathleen! Always good to have a recommendation from you. I’ve been quite happy I got Lucia Mors de Castro from a previous post, as she’s definitely improved my sleeves :-). These examples of different effects by different methods are very worthwhile, although of course we need to also keep in mind the difference between even a muslin on the body and the real fabric, which are the ones that take a real long string of painful bad experiences to integrate for most people.

Good advice too about the need to keep up with the literature of whatever you want to learn. I’d add that it’s not so expensive when you make it a regular habit. Birthday-sewing book, Christmas-sewing book, treat-sewing book etc. What hurts is when you decide you need to learn all about something new and have to fork over something for the basic half-dozen texts you immediately need. What helps is access to good bookstores/libraries/Kathleen so you can have a glimpse of whether an expensive one is really worth it. And Gisela/Rebecca, I’d point out that buying another text about fundamentals is always better than buying say another few yards of fabric, much better return on the money in the long run.

Judy
December 3rd, 2011
8:11 AM

Thanks for reviewing this book a may have to add it to my collection. I would love to see a book on production sewing and production patternmaking.
Judy

Another Kate
December 3rd, 2011
8:17 AM

I’ve just bought this bought so don’t enter me into the competition. Your posting is timely as I’m just going through his steps for drafting a bodice block and accompanying sleeve. There certainly are errata. You’re right not to recommend this book for production pattern drafting. The bodice block’s armhole is way too low and the steps for guaging the height and width of the sleeve head seem to be rather on the casual side. Also there are no instructions for finding front and back pitches. The measurements used in the examples are all for a small size 12 (I’m from the UK) – there is no useful chart of all the measurements he refers to across all sizes (apart from the LCF chart but this leaves out lots of measurements he uses). I think the drafting methods are very much directed at fashion students producing samples. Last night I ended up with a bodice and sleeve blocks that were a combination of Mors’s measurements and proportions and Lo’s draft for the bodice (with a higher armhole though) with an accompanying sleeve that was all from Mors.

However, I LOVE this book – for bridging the gap between fashion design and pattern drafting, for making me think about anatomical issues that I hadn’t thought about before, for the detailed commentary alongside the pattern drafting instruction explaining the methodology and for teaching me a lot about pattern drafting techniques in general

Looking forward to your own book Kathleen!

celeste
December 3rd, 2011
8:42 AM

I’d love another pattern book ;)

Beth
December 3rd, 2011
9:01 AM

I just added this book to my amazon wish list. I would love to win it, but I just might have to buy it!

Donna
December 3rd, 2011
9:14 AM

I drafted in metric from the Aldrich book and found it really easy. Would love another book so will put it on my list if I don’t win.

pat beadle
December 3rd, 2011
9:20 AM

Nice for us brits to be remembered, `and i mean that in the nicest possible way .I think this will be on the christmas wish list as of now

Ann
December 3rd, 2011
9:48 AM

My wish list keeps getting longer!
Thanks for sharing Poppy Gall, I have been following her blog since you mentioned it before, always a bright spot in my day…good stuff from F-I.

Marcy Tilton
December 3rd, 2011
10:02 AM

Kathleen,
You do a service to so many, professionals and dedicated amateurs alike. I am an enthusiastic follower of your postings, because I learn from you (and about cool new books like this one…if I don’t win it, I’ll buy it)….AND because your writing is smart, funny and compelling. Hope our paths cross again, I had such a great time on our last encounter! Marcy

Traci Akierman
December 3rd, 2011
10:35 AM

I would love to win this! If I don’t, it will go on my book wish list…

Julie
December 3rd, 2011
10:47 AM

I don’t own any pattern making books, but my sewing is getting to the point now where I’d love to learn how to make my own. I doubt I’ll win, so I’ve put this book in my Amazon wish list and will buy it once I know I definitely haven’t won the one here.

Cindy D
December 3rd, 2011
11:13 AM

Oooooh Count me in!!

Dia in MA
December 3rd, 2011
11:30 AM

Your Errata/editing problem brings back memories. I worked as a technical editor for many years and remember similar incidents. Scientist/boss: “Why do you want that arrow moved there? It looks better where the artist put it.” Me: “Yes, but your article talks about the part I moved it to.” I didn’t always win.

For me, sewing is a hobby as well as a pleasantly remembered summer job of many years ago. I have a small collection of design books bought at a yard sale when a local seamstress moved and sold her textbooks. I have one on flat pattern making with a crude basic template that you work the lessons from, one on draping, one that goes into some detail on altering basic patterns into whatever you want (50′s era) and a couple others that are similar to these. They’re fun!

Chris
December 3rd, 2011
12:31 PM

@ Quincunx – 1) I definitely don’t regret buying the second book – there are a few bits of information already covered in the first book – taking measurements, and some parts of a skirt block. But the rest is a very logical progression from generating basic blocks by draping on the mannequin, to manipulating darts and generating a new design from the blocks, making facings, cutting out through to construction ( although not detailed construction – which I didn’t think was needed anyway).She also shows some collar drafting and construction, including allowing for turn of cloth (she calls it fold line allowance ). *also I should have said Lucia Mors de Castro*

2) I bought mine from Amazon, as I don’t know of a shop in Waterford that would carry it. Although I’m sure Vibes n scribes would get it in if you asked? I only recently discovered their shop -I’ve found them really helpful. The first time there I spent over two hours picking out some books and fabrics, love that shop!

Jade Owen
December 3rd, 2011
2:39 PM

I would like to be entered! I have an ever expanding wish list on amazon, thanks to you, Kathleen.

Kathleen
December 3rd, 2011
3:25 PM

Based on comments to this entry, I should reiterate a few points.

First a gentle reminder to follow the links I left in this entry because it is obvious (in some cases) you have not and I don’t think it is productive to constantly rewrite old content. I’m sure the Rolling Stones hate Jumpin’ Jack Flash but I don’t make that kind of money to warrant repeating myself. Case in point, read how I review pattern books.

Another case in point: if you only have one pattern book, you need another one especially if Armstrong is your only point of comparison (again, read the entry I linked to). You have to decide whether you want the most popular book or if you want better ones because these are not the same thing. I’m sure having that book signals to your friends that you care about your craft, but I think the better way to impress people is with skills even if that means buying books that don’t impress anyone (except maybe me). Do you want to be good or just look good? Only you know.

Re whether the book has info on drafting for given materials or for men, kids, preggars, plus sizes, home furnishings, upholstery etc. This is not a reasonable expectation. For pattern books to be as comprehensive as you’d want, they’d have to be much much bigger and frankly, would be so expensive no one would buy them. If people don’t want to pay $26 for a book, they won’t pay $300 or $400 for one that had everything on their wish list (and probably would still fall short of one’s expectations). Besides, there’s no incentive to publish on specialized topics when everybody prefers to buy what’s popular (see above).

Lastly, the contest is not based on the number of comments to this entry. Every comment on ANY post on this site is a separate entry. Meaning, to optimize your chances, find other posts to comment on. The archives post will be going up soon, you could probably find something interesting that’s worth reading and commenting on.

Deanna
December 3rd, 2011
3:29 PM

Great review, Kathleen. Thank you. I like the part about the 1/4 scale draping. You can’t scale down the drape or hand of the fabric, so it doesn’t always help unless you are just doing a quick stab to try a to get an effect before trying the sample fabric on a full sized form. Another similar pet peeve is that the dress forms seem to have a really high bust line for the kind of fit I want. I think a lot of girls are wearing the padded push up bras which seems to add or lower the mass of the bust line (?) but even in smaller sizes I have to lower the darts or they seem to hover. Or is gravity increasing? Anyone else finding a difference between dress form shaping and foundation styles?

If you are short on cash, check out Amazon’s (or other’s) used bookstores. You can sometimes pick up an older addition of a book for much less, and it still works. In some of the cases it has dated styles of clothing as examples, but if you have a bit of imagination you can apply the same principles. I have had good luck with my local library as well. It is a test in patience, but at the same time it does build a collection that others in the design community can enjoy. Make sure you use your library in the topics you enjoy, so they don’t cull those big expensive beautiful books.

Deanna
December 3rd, 2011
3:32 PM

oops,

older edition, not addition
I’m such a maroon.

Anne Kasten
December 3rd, 2011
4:12 PM

Thanks again Kathleen for finding some amazing gem that is full of information and tools – not to mention inspiration.
Having worked on the design of many buildings I have come the realization that the drawing can never tell you how the detail you envision will really work out. Only when you have that piece of crown molding tacked up in place and stay away from it can you really tell if it is JUST RIGHT. Muslin and a full scale form are always the best.

Mary in FL
December 3rd, 2011
6:17 PM

Great review! I think this would be a good way to round out my sewing book collection, as I think Armstrong is my only pattern drafting reference so far. At that price, if I don’t win it, I will probably buy it.

Connie
December 3rd, 2011
7:33 PM

I love this site and all your great advice. I will probably never draft patterns for anyone but myself and family, but I love to learn. Thanks for the book review too. It helps to have a fair review because I can not afford to spend money on useless books.

Sylvia Cox
December 3rd, 2011
8:18 PM

Sounds very interesting. Also, thanks for the mention of Poppy’s blog entry.

Marguerite Swope
December 4th, 2011
4:48 AM

This sounds EXACTLY like the book I need. I will probably just go buy it and I’ll have time to spend with it after I finish sewing my samples for my rep this week (and how I wish I had had this book when I was desiging those samples).

Marguerite

Neza
December 4th, 2011
7:51 AM

Hehe
Maybe the last chance to win something this year…
:)

celeste
December 4th, 2011
8:24 AM

Good to know armstrong shouldn’t be our only reference.

I do agree about having more then one book on a subject (but I do tend to get a little carried way sometimes). It’s good to have different refrence points!

Another Kate
December 4th, 2011
9:53 AM

I did look at the link about how you review pattern books, but I’m afraid I don’t really understand what you’re saying. If you are saying that you don’t examine the blocks that an author is going at great lengths to describe because there are enough standard blocks floating around in the industry, doesn’t that undermine the review? After all, a lot of students (future designers in industry) are going to look at a book like this which is targetted at them (the publishers categorise this book under the heading “Portfolio Skills” clearly confident that the fashion colleges will buy multiple copies for their libraries). And some of these students will think “mmm… I wonder if these blocks produce produce a fit than the poorly- cut standard size 12 that was taught to me by the college to use for my degree collection”.

As I say, I think this is one of the best books produced recently, and certainly a great improvement on Aldrich (which Fashion Colleges in the UK seem to love). It’s just a shame that in using measurements for anatomical details that other pattern cutting books don’t use at all, it is difficult for me to decide how well his blocks really work. It helps to understand his theories by testing them out – drafting his blocks to different sizes with the help of a comprehensive measurement chart.

Kathleen
December 4th, 2011
11:30 AM

If you are saying that you don’t examine the blocks that an author is going at great lengths to describe because there are enough standard blocks floating around in the industry, doesn’t that undermine the review?

No to standard blocks floating around and no to undermining the review.

I just looked at that entry again (cleaned up some broken links too). I did make it clear that I don’t even look at the blocks much less try them out -because that’s not how we draft patterns in real life. Perhaps you could follow some of those links there too (block, sloper, how we make patterns in real life etc). The only people who draft fitting shells are students. You’ll do it once -in school but that’s not real life.

I can understand if you don’t like how I review because that’s probably not what you need right now. I don’t pretend to be competent to review a book from the context of someone who teaches it. I can only review from the context of someone who has made their living making patterns for 3 decades. There’s tons of stuff out there for students, this is the only space I know of with information for commercial parties. And we need that. How else will designers make a living?

After all, a lot of students (future designers in industry) are going to look at a book like this which is targetted at them [...] And some of these students will think “mmm… I wonder if these blocks produce produce a fit than the poorly- cut standard size 12 that was taught to me by the college to use for my degree collection”.

There are two fallacies here:
1. That designers make patterns in real life. Some do, really small operations but that is not the norm. Like I’ve said many times, I can count on one hand, the number of designers I know of personally who can cut a production ready pattern. This offends a lot of people, mostly students, homesewers or aspirants but they’re missing the point. Which is, pattern cutting is not the designer’s job in real life. Just because they teach you that in school, or magazines dramatize a designer’s contribution to the design process doesn’t mean it’s true. Designers have a very difficult and challenging job -so much so that they don’t have time to do pattern cutting (I’d take my job over theirs any day, they work very hard and get blamed if anything goes wrong, even things over which they have no control). In real life, most of the designers I know can’t make patterns at all much less make production quality ones.

2. I object to the idea that the quality and caliber of a pattern book can be summarized by the dimensions of a supplied fitting shell draft. Sizing evolves just like people do (how many times have I said this?). To suggest the quality of a book can be summarized by the fitting shell would mean that some very very lovely vintage pattern books are wrong or useless because those are based on a body from the 1800′s through 1950′s. These older books with drafts that won’t fit anyone today are some of my most prized possessions (Hillhouse & Mansfield, Erwin etc).

You’re welcome to judge the quality of a book based on how well a fitting shell can be made from it that meets the approval of your instructor but my view is much more long term than this. How many times will you need to draft a fitting shell? If you plan to be making a lot of patterns, you need the other stuff -like how to turn collars, draft linings etc. You know, the boring stuff. As for me, I don’t draft a fitting shell, if I have a new form, it is faster to drape it and make the fitting shell from the drape. Then I keep the shell for subsequent iterations. Why reinvent the wheel constantly?

Again, I do not deny the book is marketed to students but I’m not qualified to review it in that context. I still say the text has perhaps unintended commercial value that transcends the brief period in a designer’s schooling in which they are inculcated that they will be required to draft patterns once they gain employment. Call it self serving but I think it is very important that there exists other viewpoints.

If the quality of a book is determined by the results of a fitting shell draft, imo, the author doesn’t have much going for him or herself when the most expeditious way is to drape a block because a book’s instructions cannot possibly contrive to cover the gamut of every possible fitting configuration there is.

AZ Barbara
December 4th, 2011
11:37 AM

I love pattermaking and scoop up every book that I can afford. Each one has a perspective and style all it’s own which often translates into a new understanding of a process or draft.

nat.laurel
December 4th, 2011
5:26 PM

Kathleen, thank you for the review. I am not a designer now will I ever become one. I’ve entered the industry through a different door, and I wouldn’t be able to make a couple of stitches to save my life. Perhaps that is exactly the reason why I keep an eye on books about sewing, pattern making, etc.. I just bought the book from Amazon based on your review, pictures that you chose to insert and comment on, and because of this: “This introductory text is an excellent tool for designers, and oddly enough, particularly for those who don’t intend to make their own patterns. I think there is a big hole in the market for a book that fills that gap.” Sounds like a good book for me. Thanks again.

Don Pezzano
December 4th, 2011
6:30 PM

Thanks for the review. I would be very happy to win this book.

Breeyn
December 4th, 2011
7:47 PM

As a self-trained designer, I read your blog regularly and learn a lot of important things from it. I could definitely benefit from this book in my artillery.

Katherine
December 5th, 2011
12:09 AM

I love pattern books. Please include me.

Karen
December 5th, 2011
11:26 AM

This book sounds very interesting. Right now, I only have one pattern making book, so I would love to read this one.

laura
December 5th, 2011
5:26 PM

It is highly unlikely that I will ever become a professional pattern maker like you however, this book looks like the missing link for someone like me.

Colleen
December 6th, 2011
10:58 AM

I encourage inter-library loans to check out the book and, also, how disciplined one is in reading/working from it. I did this with Kathleen’s book – found it worthwhile – and later bought my own copy (after reading the library version in full). Worth every penny!

Cary Pragdin
December 7th, 2011
1:14 PM

Hmmm; I’m getting inspired to visit the library for the first time in over a decade, and see what treasures may be reposing on their shelves. Of course, winning a copy of the abovementioned book for my personal library would be great too! Random question; is there such a thing as a baby-sized dressmaker’s dummy on the market? I’m currently using a child’s doll that I have named Sipho, but he’s a bit out of proportion. Also, Kathleen recommends employing a fit model in her book, and I couldn’t agree more, but the problem is to find a regular supply of babies that happen to be the correct size. Any suggestions? Sipho is good at holding still for adjustments, but not so good at seeing how the garment performs during movement.

Cary Pragdin
December 7th, 2011
1:19 PM

Some ideas that I had included getting a wax model like you find at Madame Tussaud’s, or one of those reborn babies in a size 3-6M (Medium as per text), but I don’t know how well they would stand up to regular use (or even where I would get them…)

Kathleen
December 7th, 2011
2:34 PM

Yes, there are commercial dress forms for babies and toddlers. I am smitten with the Alvanon child forms so I haven’t looked at any others. Whatever you do, be sure to get a form with a head. I plan on getting one of the Alva child forms soon.

Kat Anderson
December 7th, 2011
6:35 PM

Thanks! Always looking for more info on Patterning.

ginevra
December 8th, 2011
9:49 PM

BTW, I’d really love to win this book – I flicked through it in the bookshop attached to my local Uni (interesting – AUD46.95 – our prices are finally nearing US list prices). It looks well set out, easy to read … obviously I can’t discern more on a quick flip through ;)

Silvia
December 9th, 2011
6:38 AM

I love pattern drafting. Although I don’t sew for a living I love acquiring these skills and already bought the Patternmaking for fashion design.

Stuart Anderson
January 18th, 2012
9:29 PM

“If you plan to be a pattern maker, you need to begin a life long habit of allocating a portion of your budget to buy nice books in the interests of your personal development.”

This is the key line from the whole discussion … there is not always a right or wrong way to do something, nor does every book contain every detail or method. Every author proclaims the best fitting method so all but one of them must be wrong. The methods are simply different.

I have bought soooooo many pattern making books in my life and continue to do so. I have actually recently bought this one … not because I needed it but because it existed as a pattern making book I dont yet have … crazy? not really, I love my art. This book does fill a little gap, but I’d put it in the category of a supplementary school text that covers some things a school text generally doesn’t … put this together with a good college fashion teacher and it’s a valuable book … in and of itself I find it somewhat lacking. For people like my daughter who have watched me work it’s a great introduction to pattern making.

caroline
February 7th, 2012
8:53 PM

I’m sure by now the book has been awarded. Bravo K for your generosity.
I had the occasion to look over the book at the museum shop and let me tell you…..very interesting (as a home sewer trying to emulate ready to wear garments). I was particularly intrigued by the Bias Tube page/chapter and how it explained the concept in adapting to existing patterns.I had never seen this published ..this the price of admission….
That said, the winner of this contemporary tome,( or perhaps you Kathleen), please be sure to pass on your good fortune and send me only the copy of the two or three pages explaining this.
I would thank you to the heavans!

Kathleen Fasanella
February 8th, 2012
10:13 AM

I had never seen this published ..this the price of admission….

Well, you’re in luck. I actually wrote a post on how to do this -before I got the book. Also see pt.2.

That said, the winner of this contemporary tome,( or perhaps you Kathleen), please be sure to pass on your good fortune and send me only the copy of the two or three pages explaining this.

The long term consequences if everyone were to do this are dreadful because independent smaller publishers like this one would cease publishing. Meaning, we would be bereft of who knows how much information. $26 for a book is nothing, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve bought and paid much more for them, that had that *one* good bit of information. If I hadn’t been exposed to a wide ranging source of material, I wouldn’t know anything and my posts would be pretty boring, the same old rehash of Armstrong, Kopp etc. and as a consequence, nobody would find my work of interest either much less send me books to review and give away… In the end, I invest a lot of money in this site (and myself) that a lot of people may not realize. For those that do, I post premium material in the forum -specifically with respect to the spiral dress there is content in the forum I did not post in public. One to thank my site supporters and two, I don’t enjoy seeing my content rehashed elsewhere with someone else’s name on it as is so often the case.

Ayisha
July 15th, 2012
9:14 PM

Hi Kathleen, thanks for the great review on this book, I’ve had my eye on it since earlier this year. Actually, I was wondering if there was another book out there that taught some of the great designers’ pattern making techniques. If you know of any and could share the title(s) I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks and have a wonderful day,

Ayisha

Kathleen
July 18th, 2012
8:02 AM

I don’t think there are any and it’s the sort of thing I stay on top of.

Ayisha
July 18th, 2012
2:47 PM

Thanks Kathleen, I know not to keep looking for a while then, hopefully though, in a few years someone will publish a new book with this kind of information. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Alison Cummins
July 20th, 2012
4:24 AM

Ayisha,
The answer to your question is in this very thread! See Katleen’s comment at December 4th, 2011
11:30 AM, the paragraph that starts a bit over of a third of the way through the comment addressing Fallacy 1.

The answer to your question is also in this post:
http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/the_cognitive_dissonance_of_experts/

Neera
October 25th, 2013
9:41 AM

Hi Kathleen,

I just bought this book this year. I think it is a great book! However i was quite confused with the measurement they were using. In page 43 they ask to refer size 12 on pages 12 & 13. But i found that the measurements was a bit different. Like for example the bust they were using was 35 1/2 in while on pages 12 & 13 the bust is 34 in. Why is that? Can you explain to me? It would be much helpful! Thanks!

Neera

Kathleen Fasanella
October 25th, 2013
5:08 PM

Hi Neera
It could be that I have a different edition but I understand your confusion.

On pg 43 of my copy, the author says to refer to the chart on page 45. Comparing the charts on pg 45 and 12 & 13, I see what you mean (even if our editions are ever so slightly different).

In my book, page 13 is titled “College size charts”. The chart on that page is labeled “Womenswear main size chart at London College of Fashion 2010″.

Page 12 has two other charts, listing dress form sizes in the UK and USA.

The author is trying to provide a service by including a (very small) survey of sizing information from different sources (3) because -shocking as you may find this- not everyone agrees that x measurements equal x size. When he gets to the drafting portion starting on page 45, he chooses to use the size 8 dress form measurements from page 12 rather than the form measures from London College on pg 13.

Neera
October 26th, 2013
5:33 AM

Thanks Kathleen for your kind reply! Yea i think we have the same edition, the chart is in page 45. Just in page 43 it mentioned to refer to page 12 & 13. Hmm i guess i’ll just follow my own measurement, and just add the tolerence suggested by dennic. By the way I read your review on lucia mors’s book too! Looking forward to buy hers soon. :)

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