The best pattern grading book of all

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Apr 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm / Patterns / Trackback

The best pattern grading book published in the United States is Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Apparel by Jack Handford. Unfortunately, because it’s not as well known as the textbooks used in schools, it is out of print -for now. It is difficult to locate used copies. If you can find one, they cost over $400. The reason it’s difficult to get used copies is this is the title most often used in industry. You don’t sell a book you use daily; it’s a reference. It’s the text book grading books that are easily purchased used and new.

It is possible that were there sufficient demand, that the title will be reprinted; that’s what this entry is about. This was originally published by Plycon Press in 1980; Fairchild now owns it. If we can show sufficient interest, it is possible they will reprint it. I will tell you about it and if you think you’d be interested, I hope you’ll leave a comment signaling your interest.

First I should mention I knew the author personally as well as one can by correspondence and telephone. We had planned to meet In Albuquerque in May 1997 but he died before he could make the trip. This was before email, I don’t know that Jack ever had a computer. He was a dear person, if he ever married he never said. He never had children. He was uniquely qualified to write this book (pasted from my Amazon review):

Unlike many book authors, Handford was a pattern maker for years. He’d work in the industry for a spate of years, get disgusted, go back to school, get disgusted with school so he’d go back to pattern making, then into teaching, then back to school, then back to manufacturing over and over. He did this over the lifetime of his career finally ending up with a Ph.D and 50 years of industrial experience! I mention his background because it means his book is keenly attentuated to the needs of everyone, students, pattern makers and educators. He did it all so he’d know what was most efficacious for all parties concerned. His book blends the needs of everyone simply and succinctly. You could buy another book rather than this one but I don’t know why you would.

He retired as the Associate Chair of the fashion department at Otis in 1989. The reason his book is most useful is due to the way the grading charts and mapping are set up. This most closely mirrors the way you do it in real life, especially if you are doing it manually using a ruler or with a grading machine. The charts in competing books (Price/Zamkoff) are so complex that I don’t understand them. If there is a defect to the book, it needs a bit more introduction to the mapping of the pattern pieces, an oversight I corrected in my book on pages 173-175. The best thing about it is you can actually teach yourself to grade with it which is not so easily done with the Price/Zamkoff book. I’ve noticed there’s another grading book on the market for CAD grading but I don’t have it so I don’t know. I should get it.

There’s one negativish review (3 stars) of Handford’s book on Amazon written by someone who has no clue what a grading book is supposed to be and I’ll reprint a portion here in addition to my rebuttal in comments there in case your expectations are similar to his/hers. If you have similar expectations, you should not buy this book.

You [N. Owczarek] wrote:

“it does NOT give standard grading charts of standard sizes. it gives only the BASIC BASIC grades between them, such as 2″ for the waist.”

In my (professional) opinion, it should not give “standard” grading charts. Sizes are evolutionary. Contrarily, the process -and increments- of grading are static. I think the problem here is the gap between your expectations vs what a grading book is for professionals. If you want sizing standards (what you expected from the book), you have to buy those separately, usually from ASTM. Otherwise, you could reverse engineer grades by comparing competing lines.

“I was expecting something a lot more thorough and updated than this, especially since the apparel industry has changed so much. I wanted standard specs with grading, not common sense instructions on shifting a pattern up and out, etc.”

If you want a specs book, buy a specs book. No one claimed this was a specs book. This is a grading book (how to). A specs book won’t tell you how to grade so why would you expect a grading book to give you specs? The practice of grading -what this book teaches- doesn’t change regardless of how much the garment industry has. This book will still be useful 100 years from now. A specs book on the other hand, will need to change frequently. No one ever said this was a specs book.

The summary is, leave a comment if you’re in the market to buy this book and maybe we can garner sufficient interest that Fairchild will decide to reprint it. Thanks.

118 Responses to “The best pattern grading book of all”

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susan owen
April 7th, 2009
2:52 PM

I want one. Count me in….

April 7th, 2009
3:05 PM

I want one. I know I’m supposed to be retired, but I want one anyway. And I really really want the Conklin (?) book on plus size grading.


Robyn Ramirez
April 7th, 2009
4:10 PM

I am glad I bought it when I did (year and a half ago!!)

Ali Loverink
April 7th, 2009
4:16 PM

I am a student and stumbled across it in the library and have been trying to find it anywhere. It is a great book for beginners.

Ingrid Betts
April 7th, 2009
4:30 PM

Yes I’ll buy one. Thanks for working on this, Kathleen.


Tara D
April 7th, 2009
4:42 PM

I’d love to have one.

Terri Dans
April 7th, 2009
4:49 PM

I’d buy one, more information is always useful!

April 7th, 2009
4:56 PM

Yes, I will buy one. Thank you thank you thank you

April 7th, 2009
5:05 PM

I will get one!!

April 7th, 2009
5:16 PM

I’m interested in purchasing one.

April 7th, 2009
5:42 PM

I’d get one!

April 7th, 2009
6:00 PM

I’ve heard so much about it, I’d love to own one if they can get the price down to, say, under $100. I think all the schools teaching patternmaking & grading classes would, at minimum, buy one for their libraries plus one for every professor. This book has become legendary because of its scarcity. It’s definitely worth reprinting. Word-of-mouth will sell it.

April 7th, 2009
6:20 PM

I’d buy one!

April 7th, 2009
6:44 PM

Yes, please!

April 7th, 2009
7:06 PM

I would like to get one as well.

Stephanie Thompson
April 7th, 2009
8:32 PM

I’m also interested!

April 7th, 2009
9:14 PM

I would like to purchase, thanks!

Rowena Blizard
April 7th, 2009
10:57 PM

Yes I would be interested too.

Emma A
April 8th, 2009
12:09 AM

Sign me up as well.

April 8th, 2009
3:08 AM

Count me in (from the UK, but still interested)

April 8th, 2009
4:02 AM

Put me down for one!!

April 8th, 2009
5:28 AM

I so want one especially at a more reasonable price than $400

April 8th, 2009
5:30 AM

Yikes! As an enthusiast, I have no idea why I wanted this book. I remember putting it on my Christmas/birthday gift list several years ago and receiving it, but what made me think I needed it? When I saw this topic in the forum yesterday, I remembered I had the book. I should either find a reason to use it or offer it up to someone else. It seems too precious to just set on a shelf.

Ann K
April 8th, 2009
7:41 AM

If anyone is feeling flush these days, there’s one copy listed by a bookseller in NY state for $225. Go to and enter the title and author into their search engine. The info should pop right up.

April 8th, 2009
7:47 AM

I’d buy one.

April 8th, 2009
8:05 AM

Yes, I have to double check but I think I learned on and have always used one of his books for women’s wear. Needed nothing else- a book covering the full range would be great.

Elaine Good
April 8th, 2009
8:11 AM

Yes, please.

Susie Lam
April 8th, 2009
8:28 AM

I would love a copy.

Annie S
April 8th, 2009
8:29 AM

I’ll take one!

April 8th, 2009
9:02 AM

I’d buy it!

Melissa H
April 8th, 2009
9:07 AM

I’d like one — thanks Kathleen!

April 8th, 2009
9:43 AM

I am interested

Mary Lombardm
April 8th, 2009
9:47 AM

OMG, I so want this book! I haven’t found anything on the market (next to the ring bound grading book by EE Davis) which comes close to defining grade rule. I have to create graded specs for a living, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled them out of my you-know-what!

April 8th, 2009
10:06 AM

count me in. i am forever interested in the best ways to grade and anything that helps would be a blessing. i am assuming you would post a link to purchase the book if it is reprinted…? i know a lot of people who would be interested as well..

Lisa Shoemaker
April 8th, 2009
10:19 AM

I would love to buy a copy. I am used to spending around $100 for a textbook. My school doesn’t even teach grading.

April 8th, 2009
10:42 AM

yes please

April 8th, 2009
1:28 PM

I’m really glad I got a copy when I did. This is the book that made me understand how grading works. The Cooklin one was good too, also sadly hard to find.
I also wanted to mention that Handford’s Professional Patternmaking for Designers is also a really good book and you can still get that.

April 8th, 2009
2:41 PM

yes please

Michelle Smith
April 8th, 2009
6:42 PM

I’d love to buy one. . .

Karen LePage
April 8th, 2009
8:06 PM

I’d LOVE one. I just can’t part with the $400!

April 8th, 2009
8:38 PM


ruth anne
April 9th, 2009
3:28 AM

yes, i would love to buy one.

Jesica Milton
April 9th, 2009
10:08 AM

I’m interested as well.

April 9th, 2009
1:35 PM

I’m interested.

April 9th, 2009
2:45 PM

would love to get my hands on a copy, and might potentially use it in the classroom as well (20 students/yr, approx, if it’s adopted in a studio course)

Lisa B. in Portland
April 9th, 2009
6:14 PM

I’d buy a copy. I’d actually like to have the patternmaking book, too. I only have the Helen Joseph-Armstrong one, which, by the way, does NOT tell you how to make a princess-seam bodice that’s off the shoulder. It tells you how to make a darted bodice off the shoulder and it tells you how to make regular shoulder- and armscye-princess seam bodices but not combined. I had to figure it out in advanced patternmaking and I think that was the only thing I learned in that class.

April 10th, 2009
5:38 AM

I’d get it too, I tend to collect them – in fact I still have mine from college. I like to compare and contrast methods. Sometimes one method helps to explain another method.

April 10th, 2009
7:18 AM

i would definitely want one! i’m in the market for a good grading book and this seems to be exactly what i’m looking for.

April 10th, 2009
7:59 AM

I’m interested! I’ve been looking for one for a while now.

Lauren Ingle
April 10th, 2009
11:57 AM

Oooh, yes!

April 10th, 2009
5:50 PM

I would buy one, for sure.

April 10th, 2009
10:50 PM

Yes, this sounds great!

April 11th, 2009
6:39 AM

I would like one also.

April 11th, 2009
12:58 PM

I’d buy it.

April 12th, 2009
12:23 PM

i want one too

Marilyn Brandon
April 13th, 2009
8:22 AM

I’m in for one if we can get it for less than a hundred bucks!

Beth Laske-Miller
April 13th, 2009
4:44 PM

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If this book were more readily available I would absolutely buy it.

April 13th, 2009
10:51 PM

Yes, I want one. Hopefully this show of interest will result in a reprint. Can you keep us posted?

April 14th, 2009
2:39 PM

i already have “Grading Techniques for Fashion Design” by Jeanne Price and Bernard Zamkoff, but would love a well read industry reference.

i’m game to buy.

Arizona Lag
April 14th, 2009
10:20 PM

Yes, I would like one, too.

Cindy Garber
April 15th, 2009
1:14 PM

Yes, I want one too!

Julie Ethier
April 16th, 2009
10:11 AM

I want to buy one too!

April 16th, 2009
10:21 AM

yes, please count me in too.

Susan Urban
April 17th, 2009
9:16 AM

I sew and alter clothing for many people, I need all the info I can get!

Judy H.
April 17th, 2009
10:28 AM

I would love one!

May 13th, 2009
12:46 PM

I would love a book that teaches me the correct way to grade from set in to raglan. Please let me know if it comes available and where we can purchase one. Thank you.

Denise S
May 21st, 2009
6:36 AM

Fingers-crossed, I bought a used copy online that wasn’t exorbitant. I purchased a “good” copy for just over $40, which seems reasonable compared to what so many others are selling used copies…$80…$200….$400. So, occasionally a reasonably priced used copy does turn up online. But hopefully Fashiondex or Fairchild will just reprint it and that will be that.

Heidi J. Horan
September 18th, 2009
8:54 PM

I’d buy one and two more for friends with the same interest.

September 27th, 2009
6:43 PM

I’d be in for 3!
I’m trying to get my hands on a copy now!

October 19th, 2009
1:37 PM

I might be too late on this but if you are still keeping a tally I would be interested. I have a couple scans from his Professional Patternmaking for Designers of Womenswear. I wish I had the whole thing!

November 3rd, 2009
9:12 AM

There’s a copy of Handford’s book posted in the forum for $50. Please, no pros, preferred are designers or beginning pattern makers in need. Thanks.

December 2nd, 2009
6:14 PM

Count me in I would purchase a copy of the book

Mary Alice Carter
December 9th, 2009
3:13 PM

I would love to get a copy. In fact I had called Fairchild Books and tried to order it for my
Christmas present. They had it listed in their books, but didn’t say it was out of print until I tried to order it.

December 31st, 2009
4:34 PM

There has been a copy on ebay now, for about two weeks, it is a buy it now, I put the link in the little box (i guess that makes my name the link?), its 265.10 plus the 3 something for shipping.
It’s out of my price range, but perhaps its in someones budget…..

August 21st, 2010
12:40 PM

I want one! Count me in.

Gwen Frisch
August 30th, 2010
2:41 AM

I’m so desperate for a book like this, I’m trawling all over for one. Even if it is a bit pricey, it’s totally worth it. Please let me know when and if they become available!

Sharon Hoyt
September 6th, 2010
5:41 PM

I’m in line for this book too!

October 4th, 2010
2:15 PM

I’m definitely in the market for a copy too! Is it still an option that Fairchild may re-print (since this is an older thread)?

April 27th, 2011
9:14 AM

any thoughts as to which edition to buy? Original or a newer one?

May 1st, 2011
5:40 AM

Please .. I would love one!!

August 13th, 2011
12:12 PM

I would also love one!

August 25th, 2011
12:26 AM

So I got super excited because I thought I found this book at my local used book shop. Instead I came home with Jack Hanford’s Professional Patternmaking book….for $8. I guess I still can’t complain! Next to it was “Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern” by Rolfo/Zolin etc for $15, so I got that too! Wondering if you had any thoughts on that book?

I do wish it were easier to obtain Jack’s grading book. I’m returning to fashion school next year and want to learn pattern grading rather than enter “pattern grading hell” without any supplementary education.

Kathleen Fasanella
August 25th, 2011
3:42 PM

Next to it was “Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern” by Rolfo/Zolin etc for $15, so I got that too! Wondering if you had any thoughts on that book?

I wrote a post about how I assess content in reviewing pattern books, it would probably be helpful to you. The cut to the chase is that Kopp et al is comparable to Armstrong in that these are text books written for a gamut of students with a variety of goals. For most students who don’t intend to be pattern makers, any of the majors (which includes Kopp) are fine. Most books get the basics right so any book will do.

November 2nd, 2011
12:02 PM

Any new information on the book? I’d love to have my own copy too!

Anna Brown
December 8th, 2011
7:11 AM

This is an old thread, but I’d love to have one!!!

Annette Mc Dowell
February 5th, 2012
3:41 AM

I also would love a copy of this book if it is reprinted. I have been searching after buying and reading your book. After working in and out of the industry in various roles I find myself pattern-making and grading again. The industry in Australia is growing again, as it is in the US. We need all the GOOD information we can get. Too many of the masters have been lost to the industry, along with their knowledge. Thank you Kathleen for your generosity to us all.

May 20th, 2012
5:13 PM

I see this is an old thread, I’d love a copy of this book. Been searching far and wide and (unsuprisingly) there are none to be had.

Judy Mapondera
July 13th, 2012
3:08 PM

I would by it in a heartbeat! 7/13/2012

Margaret M
August 19th, 2012
4:47 PM

I have used this book for years, and I like it a lot. I am looking for a similar book for plus size grading. Does anyone have a recommendation?

November 15th, 2012
9:20 AM

I know this is an old thread but I would love to have this book. I’d buy it if it was anywhere!

November 20th, 2012
9:52 PM

I would love to see this book reprinted.

December 3rd, 2012
2:23 PM

I contacted Fairchild’s and asked them to reprint the Handford book.
In response, they recommended
“Concepts of Pattern Grading”.
Do you have any comparison? Or alternative recommendations?

January 15th, 2013
12:37 PM

Count me in — I would definitely love to have a copy of this book!!

January 28th, 2013
2:30 AM

i would buy one. and so would many of the people who are setting up their own businesses.

March 27th, 2013
8:02 PM

Yes I would buy one!

Cassie B
April 23rd, 2013
6:03 PM

want, need, and must have one!

July 3rd, 2013
2:11 PM

i would love to buy this book!

July 28th, 2013
4:42 PM

I want one! I want one! I want one!

Jasmine Stevens
August 4th, 2013
8:01 AM

I would buy a few to keep around the shop and at home.

August 27th, 2013
7:06 AM

I’m the 100th commenter. Do you think this is enough interest? Please Fairchild… Mr Handford took the time to carefully write it, he would want us to learn from it. (Not to mention I’m sure we’d all love to preorder a copy, if you’re taking orders!)

September 9th, 2013
3:41 AM

Hi Kathleen,
I want this book too. But it is so very expensive. Here in Pakistan, patternmaking is not done properly, though there are many fashion schools now, however, cutters who do patterns, work on entirely different rules. Most of the garments are loose. The fitted ones only have front and back waist darts. There is no concept of dart shifting at all. I have been working on patterns, because I love patternmaking. For alterations, I use a book Fitting and Pattern Alteration by Liechty (Fairchild). I would love to own pattern grading book. Do let me know if it is reprinted so I can order. Otherwise I will not be able to afford it.

September 30th, 2013
9:11 AM

I want one :)

December 5th, 2013
8:37 AM

I would like to buy one too if it goes to print.

December 24th, 2013
7:32 PM

I would buy one!

January 24th, 2014
12:20 PM

I want one!

January 29th, 2014
9:22 AM

I would buy this if reprinted!

March 21st, 2014
6:00 PM

I would love this book.

May 6th, 2014
9:28 AM

No wonder I can’t find this book, I would definitely buy if I could.

May 25th, 2014
10:38 PM

I want one too.

May 28th, 2014
6:35 PM

I would buy it instantly if they did another run. Even take it as an ebook for my tablet if they didn’t want to invest in the paper.

June 1st, 2014
5:41 PM

It’s definitely a must have!

Sophie britton
June 20th, 2014
5:28 PM

Has it been reprinted yet, I’d buy one.

Mary Alice Lo Cicero
July 8th, 2014
2:34 PM

I stumbled across this discussion on the Internet today, and I thought: Wow! I am not the only one lusting after any edition of this book up for purchase (that I can afford).

I did manage, through my local library, to obtain from WorldCat a library edition just to see what’s in the book and how its formatted. However it has to be sent back soon so that someone else can borrow it, and I would really like to have any edition of this book for my workroom bookshelf.

Is there any way to contact Fairchild Publishing and beg them to republish the book? I can’t believe that there would not be quite a market for it if it were republished. Particularly if desk copies were sent to professors at some of the leading fashion design schools and colleges.

July 9th, 2014
7:20 PM

I’ll purchase a book if and when it’s reprinted.

July 18th, 2014
7:18 AM

I’ll buy one! Please let us know if it gets reprinted.

August 26th, 2014
3:41 AM

YES- wish it were available today!

December 8th, 2014
8:16 PM

I would buy one!

February 18th, 2015
11:37 AM

I found a copy in my state’s library system, so I’m having it transferred over. But if I could buy it, I would!

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