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Do you make your own patterns? Are you frustrated with the outmoded looks or outdated texts in patternmaking books? Do you want to finally learn how to make your own patterns and do a good job? Well I have an answer for you.

Sewing, patternmaking & craft books are in hot demand right now and it is all the better for us creative types. For a start (as there are many wonderful books out there), today I have compiled a list of 6 essential patternmaking, sewing and technique books for the every day sewer/craftster to the advanced seamstress. Pattern making is full of absolutely endless possibilities, I know I sound like a broken record, but a single pattern consists of a bounty of variations. It is so key to your improvement and success as a sewer to have good patterns! These books range from fun to difficult and offer many fun project ideas and tips.

Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Pattern-making Simplified
Written by Cal Patch: the book’s description mentions she designed for Urban Outfitters before writing this user-friendly book.

Make Your Own Patterns: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Over 60 Dressmaking Patterns
Written by Rene Bergh
User Reviews:
"Hands-on patternmaking occurs as you create your own “sloper” or pattern shell custom fit to you! You then use these basic pattern pieces to create almost limitless designs and styles all to your own preference and liking."
“My hat is off to Ms. Bergh. She has successfully illustrated a simplistic method to creating original fashions.”

Bodymapping: The Step-By-Step Guide to Fitting Real Bodies
Written by Kathy Illian
According to one reviewer, this book is for folks who: “…whether you have a large or drooping bust, large derriere, low abdomen, flabby upper arms, etc. I personally prefer Boddymapping!”

Sew Liberated: 20 Stylish Projects for the Modern Sewist
Written by Meg McElwee
User Review:
“The 20 projects in this book are divided into three sections; domestic art, pampered artist and small stitches and all are relatively straightforward and easy to create. The author clearly has a fondness for appliqué and most of the projects include either turned, raw edge or reverse techniques.”

The Little Black Dress: How to Make the Perfect One for You
Written by Simon Henry
User Review:
"The Little Black Dress book teaches basic sewing techniques in a step by step format, from sewing a straight seam to invisible zippers to boning. The author takes a fairly conversational tone, helping to remove the fear and build your confidence as you go along. “
”Rather than trying to fit a commercial pattern (which is an absolute nightmare), this book teaches you to make your own. What could be more practical than having a little black dress that FITS?"

This is the book I learned from, a quite quintessential pattern making book for everyone with an interest in sewing almost anything! Patternmaking for Fashion Design (5th Edition)
Written by Helen Joseph Armstro
User Review:
"This quintessential guide to patternmaking offers comprehensive coverage, clear illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, providing users
with all the relevant information necessary to create design patterns with accuracy regardless of their complexity. "

What are your favorite patternmaking, sewing or project books?


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    Apr 14, 2016, 04.34 AMby ahtxl

    Maybe you should take a look at some Euro patternmaking system, e.g. Muller & Sohn pattern making system originated from Germany. It is used by more than 60% of garment factories worldwide. The books are amazingly detailed, with a smart approach to making fit pattern for every figure. From the basic block, the books go on to make different style variations.

    You can find their English ebooks from this website: http://germanpatternmaking.com

    Here you can find the books about Dress/ Blouse and skirt/ trouser. For the Jacket/Coat, you can order from www.muellersohn.com

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    Apr 5, 2010, 04.43 AMby buddingnaturalist

    Little black dress only works if you have someone (another person besides yourself or any alternate personalities you might have) to do the draping, marking and pinning (unless of course you have a mannequin with the exact same dimensions as yourself). I got that book a year ago and haven’t made anything from it yet because I’ve yet to find someone thats interested in putting that amount of effort and time into dress-making (for someone else..). :S

    1 Reply
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      Apr 5, 2010, 03.11 PMby burdastyle

      Thanks for the tip with this book!

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    Apr 2, 2010, 12.50 AMby gedwoods

    The only one I have is the BodyMapping one – the others I’m less familiar with. I shall certainly look them up!

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    Mar 31, 2010, 10.32 AMby luxihere

    my fav is Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. I have the fourth edition though it has page no. reference mistake, the content is good and covers almost everything.

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    Mar 30, 2010, 02.00 AMby auntchelle

    Like previous poster, Bad Kitty, I have the Winifred Aldrich book Metric Pattern Cutting for Women. While I haven’t had the confidence to draft my own patterns as yet, I do use the book as references for changing design features. Sew What! Skirts (Francesca DenHertog) is a good book for a beginner level to learn to draft various skirt designs.

    I’m interested in a couple of the books that you’ve listed and will have to investigate further. I do have 4 other fitting books – you need them when you’re a plus size! Actually, I’m beginning to become rather obsessed with sewing related books. I think I’m up to around 20, plus my collection of Burda, Ottobre, Knipmode & La Mia Boutique magazines (both current & vintage).
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    Mar 30, 2010, 01.48 AMby cantare

    I own 2 of the 6 listed above. All of my teachers swear by Armstrong for draping, drafting, illustration, etc at school—it’s good material to keep on the shelf along with any other books that fill in the needed details to sew for every body shape. May I also suggest the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (another one used by all of my professors).

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    Mar 29, 2010, 04.38 PMby ashchaser

    We use the 9 heads book in my fashion illustration class, and I really wish I hadn’t rented it! There is so much good information I actually want to keep it- despite how it weighs like 20lbs…

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    Mar 28, 2010, 07.56 PMby ealis

    What a timely post. Pattern making is something I’m trying to get into, and some of these books seem just right for a beginner like me. I’m heading to a book store and soon as I log-off.

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    Mar 28, 2010, 03.59 AMby liaspace

    I love bunka pattern books :) they have a few volumes (5, I think) and covers just about everything :)

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    Mar 26, 2010, 09.29 AMby mahaila

    I have the Patternmaking for Fashion Design (4th Edition) by Helen Joseph Armstrong. I am working through the book and find it really easy to follow. I also learnt how to use inches as the book uses imperial measurements as opposed to metric.

    I really love this book and would recommend it to anyone!
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    Mar 25, 2010, 08.59 PMby badkitty-1

    I have the Rene Bergh book and it is very clear and simple. I am starting to try making more patterns using “Metric Pattern Cutting” by Winifred Aldritch. It is a bit technical but is really informative and even gives a bit about grading. Thanks for the heads up about the other books xx

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    Mar 25, 2010, 05.09 PMby bola

    Thanks for this Alison! bx

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    Mar 25, 2010, 01.12 PMby littlemissstitch1

    Ooooooh what a good post!

    I’m always looking for new ways to improve my skills… Have a couple of the books you mention already… Make Your Own Patterns: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide & Patternmaking for Fashion Design, both great books with loads of idea’s but i’ll definately have a look at the other books you’ve recommended


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    Mar 25, 2010, 10.03 AMby Anna Aasbjerg

    Thank you so much for posting this list!!

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    Mar 25, 2010, 08.13 AMby roarah

    Thanks for the post! I’ve also found that there are a lot of really nice Japanese pattern books. Some of them are a little ‘out there’ but many contain some beautifully tailored elements that can be adapted to many patterns & applications.

    The only downside is that they are in Japanese. However, many have excellent diagrams & pictorial instructions so you can generally work out how the pattern is constructed without the language. If you can read Japanese, even better!

    3 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Mar 25, 2010, 07.27 PMby alisondahl

      The Japanese are so far ahead of me with their complex patternmaking and sewing methods! I would love some references, the diagrams and pictures themselves would be eye-opening and inspiring I’m sure.

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      Mar 30, 2010, 02.35 AMby auntchelle

      If you love the Japanese books you should check out Drape, Drape (Sato, Hisako ISBN978-4-579-11253-1 ). It’s beautiful and easily understood without a word of Japanese. Of course, there are sites which offer translations of the most common Japanese sewing terms/pattern markings which make things much easier. http://label-free.blogspot.com/search/label/How%20To%20-%20Japanese%20Crafting

    • N502838397_99324_9707_large

      Mar 30, 2010, 06.33 AMby roarah

      I have a few but my favourites are Pattern Magic & Pattern Magic 2, just Google them. The designs are a little bit out there, but the principles can often be adapted to a different garment to add a bit of interest.

      Tessuti Fabrics in Australia (link to their online shop below) stock a big range of Japanese pattern books including Drape, Drape mentioned by Auntchelle. Part of me just really likes the names of the books, like, ‘Clothes For Kids Who Are Just Able To Walk’.


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    Mar 25, 2010, 07.52 AMby pixelink

    I am setting myself some challenges and pattern making is one of those, have 1 book you’ve included but must get some more, thanks a bunch, I’m enjoying your recent posts and the basic pattern set you recently shared ;-)

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    Mar 25, 2010, 05.54 AMby hodgepodgefarm

    thanks for including my book on your list alison! i wrote it because there just didn’t seem to be anything out there to teach people how to make patterns for the kind of simple, modern clothes we all wear. there is a flickr group for projects over here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/design-it-yourself/ it’s still early, so there’s mostly just skirts so far because that’s the first project in the book. but slowly the shirts and dresses are trickling in too!

    2 Replies
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      Mar 25, 2010, 08.00 AMby pixelink

      Looked up your book and it’s now on my wish list.

    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Mar 25, 2010, 07.23 PMby alisondahl

      I know- there are not many modern, exciting books out there about patternmaking and sewing, so yours was a natural choice to mention! The Flickr site is great! Keep up the good work.

    • This is a question
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