Beth at Project:Project is doing a series of craft-related book reviews. She’s covered some really fun finds already, and I’m honored to be a part of the series by reviewing Cal Patch’s Design-it-Yourself-Clothes: Pattern Making Simplified.
Cal Patch is a professional designer, formally with Free People and Urban Outfitters. She now has her own Etsy store, Hodge Podge Farm, as well as teaching sewing and pattern making in New York. She has a lovely blog, and makes a lot of very nice things. I had wanted this book for some time, and was super excited when my husband gave it to me for Christmas.
The idea behind the book is to help you understand how to draft simple, basic clothing, which you can use to expand into more complex and stylized designs on your own. The book spends quite a bit of text explaining the process of body measurement, and where and what to measure to get an accurate fit. From there, it goes on to explain how to combine some of these measurements to make a T shirt, skirt, dress, pants, and shirt. After you’ve drafted the basic clothing patterns, Patch gives some ideas on expanding your designs to include more detailed clothing using the basic patterns as a starting point. It kind of reminded me of how one would learn the basics of writing or arithmetic. Patch teaches you the basics, so that when you get to more complicated designs you understand the reasoning behind them.
At first flip through, it looked almost too basic for what I was looking for. I mean I’ve already started drafting some of my own patterns, so I have the basics down, right? But to better review the book, I decided to pick a basic clothing piece and follow Patch’s instructions to draft a pattern. I wanted to try the pants, since my one and only pant attempt ended in total ill-fitting failure. But I was crunched on time, so went with the basic T.
I followed the instructions for getting all my measurements, and started making my pattern. One thing I did find, I think I would like this book better as a spiral bound. I kept flipping back and forth between the drafting instructions and the measurement information found in the front of the book. And it wouldn’t have been an issue at all if I had followed Patch’s instructions to take and record all my measurements before even starting a pattern. So now I’m going to go back, take and record every measurement, and print it on a laminated book mark to keep in the book for ready reference.
The text and instruction are easy to find and easy to read information. I had no trouble, once I actually read the instructions and didn’t just assume I knew what to do, getting all my measurements and starting the drafting process.
My only complaint about the actual content is lack of detailed pictures. If you’ve spent any time looking through my tutorials and sewing lessons on my blog, you know that I have a need for illustrating nearly every step in a process. I’m a very visual person and have a hard time translating written instruction into real life application without a little pictorial aid. There are some drawings for some steps of the drafting process in the book, but not very many at all. And some of the steps I just didn’t understand. I really got confused on the “squaring corners”. I still have no idea if I did that part right. But my patterns did get drafted, and material cut out. So, clearly understood or not, I was nearly there.
As for the actual construction process, the book doesn’t go over much more than a paragraph of very basic instruction. I’ve made shirts before, and didn’t have any trouble figuring out how put together the pieces, and didn’t find it a problem. But if someone who had never actually constructed a shirt before was doing so strictly off of the book’s information, I’m really not sure they’d be able to do it. So I would recommend at least a basic understanding of simple garment construction as a prerequisite for this book. This is a book on how to draft a pattern, not to teach you how to sew.
So after about 1.5 hours, including time to fix my kids lunch and deal with various little boy-related needs, I had my measurements documented, pattern drafted, pieces cut, and finally, the shirt made. It was time to see how well it would really fit me…