I wanted to give a review about this book but before I do, I feel that you need to know something about my background and how it relates in my synopsis of the text. I am a freelance patternmaker that lives in New York. I have a BFA in Fashion Design and Marketing and I have...
I wanted to give a review about this book but before I do, I feel that you need to know something about my background and how it relates in my synopsis of the text. I am a freelance patternmaker that lives in New York. I have a BFA in Fashion Design and Marketing and I have been making patterns for roughly about 16 years. I have also taken some additional classes in recent years to learn new techniques and enhance previous ones I have learned. I own several other books ranging from basic patternmaking, books that specialize in lingerie patterns, and menswear pattern books. I own patternmaking software and I am currently using all the things I have learned and applying it to drafting patterns on my computer. I own two dress forms (a half scale and a standard one) and I know how to drape. I know how to sew and construct simple garments such as a t-shirt and intricate ones like bridal gowns. I also know how to do rub-offs (copy garments) and how to grade (change the dimension of a standard pattern to fit a larger or smaller person). I wouldn''t call myself a know-it-all or a master at this but I would say I know a great deal more than the average Joe when it comes to making patterns.
That being said, I have come across all types of people that are learning or want to learn about patternmaking. Most of these individuals are designers (or people who think they are designers), fashion design students in college, people that sew as a hobby, or individuals that want to make some unique clothes and save some pennies in the process. All of these are good reasons to learn the skill. In order to learn anything, you need to start with the basics. When I refer to the basics, I mean that you need to start with knowing what a pattern is, what it''s used for, and how YOU will incorporate its use in what you need to do. By knowing this, you can figure out where you need to start and what type of book will give you the information you need to get you there.
When I was studying in college back in 1993, a very good teacher introduced me to the basics of patternmaking. She instilled in me the importance of accuracy, explained the use of the tools, showed me how to measure and incorporated the application of those measurements in developing the basic pattern (also referred to as a sloper or block). This was where I was introduced to the book, PATTERNMAKING FOR FASHION DESIGN (1st Edition). Although I used this book, it wasn''t introduced into the curriculum until my third patternmaking class and the reason for this I think was because the teacher felt it may have been too advanced for a beginner with no prior knowledge of patternmaking like me. The first patternmaking book I was ever introduced to was HOW TO DRAFT BASIC PATTERNS (4th Edition) by Ernestine Kopp, Vittorina Rolfo, Beatrice Zelin, and Lee Gross. Even though that book was more basic than Helen Joseph-Armstrong''s book, you still need to know the basics of the human body, measuring, and how to use the tools properly and I feel the best way to learn those things is from a qualified teacher or industry expert. Books will mean very little to you if you can''t relate to the information within and if you don''t have a reference to gauge your performance like a teacher or a tangible sample of what you are doing.
Now for the most important part of this, the review:
Like I said previously, I own a hard copy of the original book and I also have this new 5th edition (a digital Kindle version on my tablet). I feel that this book is good for an individual that already knows the basics of making patterns and wants to learn about more intricate garments and how to make patterns for those garments.
1. In comparison to the 1st edition I own, they have added information about computerized patternmaking (not how to draft on a computer, just on developments related to the industry), a menswear section, a childrens section, more information on drafting knitwear patterns and swimsuits, detailed directions on jacket construction (which is one of the most challenging things in sewing, in my opinion), and how to copy ready made clothing design. If you are on the fence about getting an older edition, I say you should get this (unless you get the older edition for a very good price).
2. This edition highlights certain diagrams and instructions in a different color making following along easier for the reader.
3. It''s available as an eBook, which for me is good because I like to refer back to certain sections if I have a question about a technique or process. Easier to carry around on a 7" tablet when I''m out on a freelance gig. Plus, the eBook is cheaper. I like that they''ve taken the step to make it available as an eBook. Hopefully, the other publishers will follow suit.
4. Very good illustrations.
1. Like a previous poster said, there are some errors with drafting the armhole for the basic pattern and they have some other numerical errors. For the asking price, they should make sure that these are perfect before demanding someone spend that amount of money. In my case, I purchased it for more of a reference guide. I have enough experience to correct the errors within when I draft patterns and the foresight to not even apply them to what I''m drafting.
2. Although I think the illustrations are good, a lot of them seem a bit dated style-wise. What''s more important to the user of this book is that they grasp the concept of the style lines they want in the garment and be able to apply those techniques in developing a style that is aligned with current market trends.
I gave the book 4 stars because it does most of what it intends to and that is to inform the reader about various patternmaking techniques and how those techniques apply to the development of different styles across all markets, genders, size ranges, and age groups. It lost a star for the errors in the text, which is inexcusable.
Before I end, I would like to offer some advice, tips and suggestions that may help the previous posters and additional people looking to learn patternmaking or wanting to buy books on the subject.
When you use this or any patternmaking book, the measurements given within are a collection of general data taken from a small sample of human beings. Even if you magically happen to fit into one of those general categories, you still have to check and fit the final pattern by making muslin mock up. It would also help if you had an additional set of hands or a person that is knowledgeable in fitting to help you (you can''t check your own back, your own shoulders or adjust a hemline properly without some assistance). That way, you know where the issues are and you can apply the corrections accurately for the best results.
Know how to measure and know how to convert fractions into decimals. (i.e. 1/2"=.05, 5/8"=.6250 etc.). It surprises me the amount of people I come into contact with that have no idea on how to use a tape measure.
Buy the right tools and learn how to use then properly. To make patterns, the most basic tools you need in you arsenal are:
1. An 18" C-Thru transparent inch/metric ruler
2. A plastic French curve
3. A hip curve
4. A pencil
5. An eraser
6. A tape measure
7. Paper (blue dot paper is the best option because it will help beginners with their accuracy by lining up the dots but if you don''t have that option available to you, you can get a roll of that white paper they use at the doctor''s office. The stuff that they roll out on the examination table that you sit on. You should be able to buy it at a medical supply store and almost every town or city has one).
In the beginning of most patternmaking books, you will see a more detailed list of supplies but if you have these basic things, you can make any pattern. If you do it more frequently or want to invest more in the process, you can buy additional tools.
Before buying this or any book, check your local library to see if they have a copy. You''ll be surprised at what you find. You can also check the local college bookstore to see if the material is relevant before pulling the trigger. In New York, FIT is a good resource for this and it''s open to the general public. A lot of local New York libraries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens have patternmaking books in their collections.
If you can, take a class or find someone reputable that can teach you the basics. Once you have learned the basics and have the concept of how to create a pattern from scratch and how that relates to a finished garment, you will be able to better understand any book.
Check YouTube and the Internet for videos and how to blogs and/or posts.
In reference to the comment I made about the different types of people that want to learn patternmaking, I will offer a few book suggestions. All the books I am recommending I personally own.
If you are a designer wanting to make patterns for your collection, this book is a good recommendation but if you have absolutely no knowledge about the process, you may want to start with HOW TO DRAFT BASIC PATTERNS (4th Edition) by Ernestine Kopp, Vittorina Rolfo, Beatrice Zelin, and Lee Gross and after you have learned most of the basics, you can get the other book that accompanies this one titled DESIGNING APPAREL THROUGH THE FLAT PATTERN (6th Edition) by the same authors. It builds on the first book by helping you to develop more complex styles.
For fashion design students, this book is one that you are probably using or are going to use and it''s appropriate in a college setting because you should have a professor that can instruct you on the proper way to make a pattern and that can point out any mistakes in this book and how you can correct or improve on them. A good additional read is APPAREL MAKING IN FASHION DESIGN by Injoo Kim and Mykyung Uh. I was able to borrow this from my local library and decided to invest in it after reading through it extensively. I took a patternmaking class in 2010 and the way the teacher instructed me is very similar to the method in this book (she didn''t use this book in class and was not familiar with it). It gives very good and detailed instructions and the illustrations are very good and easy to follow. One of the best things about this book is the way that the author diagrams slash and spread techniques and shows the direction for scissor placement.
For the home sewers, I found that most of them have gained some of their knowledge from using commercial patterns which is a decent start but from a development standpoint, I think that THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PATTERNMAKING FOR FASHION DESIGNERS JUNIORS, MISSES, AND WOMEN by Lori A. Knowles is a good book for this category mainly because the book shows you how to develop a pattern based on a particular styles included in the book and how to change/develop some of those styles by changing a piece like a sleeve. The book has very detailed illustrations and reference styles by numbers so you can follow along. The beginning of the book has very good instructions on taking measurements on the body to develop the basic patterns and they even demonstrate the draping technique to develop the basic pattern. The book includes a really detailed measurement chart for regular, petite, and plus-sized women. There is also a menswear version of this book, which is rare in patternmaking books.
My best advice for the individual that wants to make an occasional pattern for sewing up a garment is to go to your local thrift store or Goodwill and buy a really cheap version of the garment you want to make that fits, take it apart stitch by stitch, iron the pieces flat, trace them on paper and you''ll have a pattern. If you want more comprehensive lesson on this without taking the garment apart, refer to PART 6 CHAPTER 25 of this book. Google and YouTube are also your friends.
I know this was a really long read but I spent most of my Sunday evening writing this in hopes that it helps clear up some misconceptions and misunderstandings about the book.
*** UPDATE 3/15/12 ***
I was reading through some of the past reviews and one reviewer, 1st nest, made a very valid point in comparison to this edition and the 1st one. They have omitted a section of the book, a 52 page chapter at the end that discussed fitting problems and pattern corrections. For a beginner or even a seasoned pro, that particular section has a lot of good information for fitting and would prove useful if you were having problems with the fit of the garment (which is very common with your first draft). If I could adjust the way I rated the book based on this, I would probably lower it to 3.5 stars. All in all, this still is one of the most comprehensive books I have ever read about patternmaking.
If you can get your hands on a 1st edition, the fitting section alone would be well worth it.