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Metric Pattern Cutting

14 April 2010, 14:41

It’s fitting that Neighbour Helen decided to buy me this book for my birthday, as she’s the one who got me interested in drafting recently, and she liked it so much she bought one for herself, too!

I’ve heard that this is one of the best pattern drafting books around (alongside the Armstrong book, but there’s a £60 price difference there, too!), and I can see why. It’s certainly not an easy book to get to grips with, but if you’re a visual learner like me, then you probably really only need the drawings to be getting on with anyway. The book is absolutely packed with different blocks and various sleeve, collar, skirt, dart, yoke, etc drafts, with precious little else included. It’s a book that doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point, which is great as it doesn’t take up much space on the bookshelf, either (frankly, I’ve seen thicker magazines!!). There are no wasted pages here, and Winifred Aldrich certainly doesn’t mess around!

First up is the Basic Block, which isn’t really any different than ones in vintage drafting books I’ve got. But you can see the level of instruction here, and there’s probably the most hand-holding for these blocks than in the other parts of the book (so run away now if this makes your brain hurt!)

There’s a bunch of different blocks here (and a ton of size charts so you can draft and grade for the various sizes) like an easy fitting bodice, skirt, trousers, jacket block, knit blocks, etc [fixed, thanks!]. And then the bulk of the book is changing these blocks into interesting designs, so how to change and split darts, change these into princess seams or raglan sleeves, or how to add ease and fullness into different parts of a design.

For this, they show a bunch of illustrations on the left, then how to change your pattern to achieve these designs on the right:

There are SO many little details in this book I want to use – you could completely create a pick-n-mix outfit using these ideas. Like for instance, I totally love the yoked shoulder that’s integrated into the sleeve (#28):

Towards the end of the book, the designs start to get really complicated as they show you how you can use the various princess seams, raglan sleeves, skirts, leotards, bathing suits, leggings, etc that they taught you how to draft and combine them together:

But they honestly do work you up to this point slowly so the above image isn’t quite as big a shock as it may seem right now!

There’s also a whole chapter on fitting issues and how to alter your pattern pieces to get rid of weird wrinkles, but to me, this isn’t as good as a 1970s book I’ve got [“Making Your Clothes Fit” by Patricia Burkhart Smith], as that tells you the pattern fix AND the sewing fix (how to fix a garment that’s already sewn up) so I only glanced through it here.

This is the 5th edition of the book, but to me it looks like the only really updated part is a section at the back talking about CAD and fabric printing and various industry stuff that isn’t terribly interesting while the prices of those machines are still out of the range of the home sewer, IMHO. So if you see an older edition of this book at a cheaper price, go ahead and buy it, safe in the knowledge you’re getting all the good stuff anyway.

In any case, this book has got me REALLY excited to start doing some drafting. I just need to get myself a ruler longer than 30cm (ha!), a clear workspace, and stop being tempted by so many amazing patterns that are already drafted for me, just waiting for me to sew them, the little minxes (can you tell I just got a load of KnipModes in, on top of the latest Patrones??)!

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  1. Dear God, please supply the title of the 1970s book on fitting fixes — I need it!

    Susannah    Apr 14, 04:15 PM    #
  2. I’ve got an older copy of metric pattern cutting in Dutch and all the pattern instructions are exactly the same, although they’ve done some work on the lay-out. Mine doesn’t have any coloured backgrounds. I also love this book for all its variations (although I prefer to create sawl- and notched collars using the instructions from another book which has a more hard core mathematical approach). Of course you could also apply many of these variations to pre-made patterns. I’ve never used the slopers from this book, but I have to say that I don’t think ‘easy fitting’ is ‘aka knits’. In the menswear version of metric pattern cutting (which I do have in English), ‘easy fitting’ means ‘with more ease’. There is a separate sloper for knits which has no dart as well, but considerably less ease.

    lauriana    Apr 14, 04:35 PM    #
  3. I bought the Armstrong book and I am following a course with Detje Bosgra, who wrote a Dutch patterndrafting book – I have that one too, we use it to learn how to make you own patterns. Still, it’s so nice to receive Knipmode and buy a Patrones and Burda every now and then.. but I did start to draw patterns for myself and it’s fun to be able to make knock-offs from expensive (designer) clothes, or to be able to realise your own designs!Have fun with your books!

    — Teddie    Apr 14, 08:12 PM    #
  4. I agree with Susannah – in this book ‘easy fitting’ means less fitted, not more fitted.

    ~buzzybee~    Apr 14, 08:23 PM    #
  5. I’ve got an older copy of this book too, along with too more books from the same author; that’s a very good book on patternmaking!

    Tany    Apr 15, 02:30 PM    #
  6. I just bought this book for myself a few weeks ago and am working on my bodice sloper. My measurements are so hard to work with, though (I’ve got a range of 4 sizes, and that’s just on the top half!), that it turned out pretty-good-but-needs-improvement rather than perfect. I’ll be trying again, but I wish there were more instructions about what to do when the sloper doesn’t fit as you expected it to. The ‘figure flaws’ chapter is pretty good, but didn’t help me with the sloper as much I wanted it to.

    That said, the drawings and the pick-n-mix aspect of the book were what attracted me to it, and when I finally do get the sloper perfected, I’ll be really excited to try out some of the lovely design elements!

    Nadia    Apr 15, 04:27 PM    #
  7. Hey there, I did a short course on patternmaking based on this book and have to warn you that unless you are a standard off-the-rack size, there’s an awful lot more work you have to do before the block will fit you. So much in my case that it’s all fallen in a heap after such an optimistic beginning. Hope you have better luck!

    livebird    Apr 17, 06:12 AM    #
  8. I am completely smitten with pattern drafting. Thank you for the excellent and comprehensive review!

    MNStitch    Sep 2, 06:41 AM    #

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