Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Making Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis

I thought today I’d offer you a review of one of the first pattern making books I got.  I’ve had Making Your Own Dress Patterns, by Adele P. Margolis since high school.  It’s aimed at the beginning pattern maker, and has introductions to the basic slopers, moving darts, adding fullness and general design adjustments.   

It works similar to an exercise book in a number of ways.  It provides cute little quarter size slopers and then instructs you on how to adjust them into a number of different styles. 

I love that the book teaches you how to adjust the sloper, rather than to draft certain styles.  I think that those are far more transferable skills and will be more useful in the end.  However, the book doesn't teach you how to draft a sloper for yourself.  The book tells you that many pattern companies have sloper patterns and they can be called a “foundation pattern, master pattern try-on pattern, shell pattern, basic-fitting pattern, ect” (p. 18) and explains that these can be used to make new patterns in the standard sizes.  She also says that many home sewers like to use personalized slopers.  But, creating these is never discussed.   The book states a few times through it that it is aimed for the pattern-making audience, not a sewing audience.  I think this is likely the reason that drafting a sloper has been left out...

Ooo! I divided darts :)
The book is full of useful information.  However, it can also be very repetitive at times.  Because of its workbook nature, the book instructions you through many versions of essentialy the same procedure.  For example, there are five examples of moving darts in the bodice.  Each example follows the same process but move the dart to a different end location.  This is an excellent way to make sure you’re comfortable with the process, but it can also be a little tiresome to read through. 

There is also a very large section in the second half of the book which outlines the changes required for a huge number of different styles.  These are mostly changes that I think many would be able to figure out, based on the techniques in the first section of the book.  However, the guidelines can be very helpful for a novice or uncertain pattern drafter.  I also find that the dozens of example drawings can be a good place to look for inspiration.  There are probably dozens of dozens of illustrations through the book.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful book for a very new pattern maker, or for a young sewer.

P.S. No one can judge you for making little paper patterns for all of your dresses... It’s oddly therapeutic to play with little paper slopers.  And I’m sure I’m developing useful skills! Not that I waste embarrassing amounts of time with this or anything... 

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