Thursday, February 23, 2012

Secrets Of How To Expand Your Patternmaking Skills

Okay,  I've read the best book on patternmaking by Connie Amaden Crawford,  and it's a good one,  better than the first one I bought.   However,  once you're "in the field" and dealing with clients,  you learn something real didn't learn everything you need to know.  Not by a long shot.  Clients will always ask you for something that will be undiscovered territory for you,  be it a bra,  or tailored suit or, oh horrors (just kidding) an unusual size.  Okay so here's what you do.

1.  first of all get real practice in,  you'll learn soon enough that you want more educational resources

2.  even though pattern grading and alterations are actually different job descriptions,  as in people get paid to these things,  like only those things,  as a patternmaker,  it would seriously behove you to learn them,  and quickly

3. think specialization and seek out the available resources,  I'll get specific here

(a) there's a chance someone will want a tailored suit,  find books on patterncutting,  patternmaking for tailored suites,  you need to do lingerie patterns for another client,  hurry up and find a book on patternmaking for lingerie,  not sewing lingerie,  patternmaking for lingerie,  this will have more info on what you need where as the sewing type instruction book will have those less fitted designs you could have drafted on your own any way,  that's not what your clients are asking for

(b) clients sometimes ask for their own size,  they're fashionista designers and they fit into tiny clothes but they aren't the exact size of industry fit models so you need to learn pattern alterations,  another reason for this,  if a client is in a niche size market,  say for a really big cup size and shape,  then you'll definitely need pattern alteration skills,  go to Amazon and look up pattern alteration books and dvds.  Also do a google search for pattern alterations,  you'll find ideas on people's blogs,  there are a lot of them,  as well as books,  classes,  dvds,  see what people are saying before you spend your money though.

(c) definietly get a book on grading,  clients don't ask for one little size,  your clients will ask for all kind of sizes and the reason you want to know how to grade corrrectly is because you'll need and want to know how to take the basic bodice you know is a perfect fit and grade it into a perfect bodice of another size without serious fitting issues for your new clients. 

Speaking of which,  I've just ordered Connie Amaden Crawford's Pattern Grading workbook and can't wait to get it,  to be sure.  I've looked up grading info online and learnt some great stuff,  but I don't really have the confidence I need to know,  that I know what I'm doing for sure,  I just have the courage to keep going.  There's a difference,   believe me.

Okay,  I hope all you fellow aspiring patternmakers out there have found this at least somewhat enlightning.  Also,  as I collect more educational resources,  books and dvds,  I'll post the reviews of them here on my blog too.  So be sure to come back again.

Good news is too,  I was finally able to get through the Squidoo so that I can start editing and publishing changes on my lenses again,  so hopefully between my current patternmaking client and article client I'll find a few moments here and there to update my two fashion lenses.  Or I might leave it for a few weeks still.  I'll make it easy and post announcements here for you guys.

If you'd like to read more about fashion, information on the industry and online schools check out my site at:
Budget Online Fashion Design Schools and Resources

If you're a designer or home sewer and you'd like to find some cool eco-friendly fabrics and more check out my resource page at:
The Eco-Friendly Fashion Designer's Resource Page


  1. Hi Ayisha!

    Good post. I wanted to offer some suggestions for learning about how to make patterns for different types of garments and some unusual ones.

    You are right about getting the proper patternmaking book for the types of patterns you would like to make. In addition to doing that, you may want take apart a garment similar to the one you are trying to make (you can use some old clothes that you no longer wear or get a few cheap ones at the local thrift/second hand store). I always suggest this to new patternmakers or to those trying to improve on their skills because I feel you will have a better understanding of all the pattern pieces and components that go into making the garment and a real world guide to take measurements from. This also helps the patternmaker figure out how to assemble it and the type of stitching and machines involved that were used to construct it (this information is very important especially when it come down to making/providing assembly instructions or a cutters must). Of course, if you are good at doing rub-offs (making pattern copies from the original without disassembling it), you will still have the original to follow.

    Connie Amaden Crawford's books are really good (I actually own her draping book) but may I suggest Helen Joseph-Armstrong's book 'Patternmaking for Fashion Design'. I'm sure you've probably heard of it and may have read a few of the reviews but I did a recent review last Sunday because I felt people weren't rating the book fairly, plus, a lot of the reviews were based on the older editions. I have the 1st edition, which I used in college and the most recent 5th edition as a digital copy on my tablet. The book is pricey but the amount of information contained within is very comprehensive. It covers mostly womenswear but there are also mens, childrens and knits/swimwear sections. In addition to that, they have included valuable information about assembling suit jackets/blazers, installing boning and bustier construction, and a lot of good information that relates to fitting/fit problems and how to correct them. I could go into more detail but you can go to this link to read my review and if you have any additional questions, you can email me.

    I also have a few patternmaking books, sewing books, and books related to manufacturing and the industry. If you want an opinion or advice about any of them, feel free to contact me. Just send me the title and I will let you know if I have it or not. I also have borrowed quite a few titles from the local library and have gotten the opportunity to read them in depth.

    1. Hi Jeff, Thanks for offering to give me advice, I appreciate that. If I have any questions I'll be sure to contact you in the future. As for Helen's book, I guess I better check out the latest edition. I did have an older edition before but found myself daunted by explanations as they seemed to be incomplete at the time, although in regards to the variety of cuts and styles of garment sections and types, I was thinking about re-purchasing (I'd sold my old one and bought Connie's book a while after). Newer additions can be quite different and very much improved, like Claire B Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques. Have a wonderful day Jeff and thanks again :)

  2. I'm also currently teaching myself patternmaking, currently i'm using "Building Patterns" I'm in the beginning chapter but I.wonder if there are other books that are better for self teaching. What book(s) would you recommend. I have a lot of patternmaking books so I may have one, but I can always get more shipped to me.


  3. Sorry I missed your comment here Farhana, I strongly recommend Connie Amaden Crawford's "Patternmaking Made Easy" though as it's the best general patternmaking book I've come across so far.


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