Friday, February 18, 2011

Buy This Book

I am very excited - I think I have finally found the kind of drafting book that I would wholeheartedly recommend to everyone:

It came from the library! Earlier this week, on a whim, I thought I'd check out what the library had to offer by way of dressmaking resources. I knew they didn't have all the modern drafting books that were on amazon or Barnes and Noble, and certainly none of the make-your-own-pattern type coffee-table books that are very popular on blogs nowadays. But that was fine, because I was looking for vintagey old-fashioned dressmaking textbooks - the sort from before Photoshop, and (preferably) written by someone European/ Commonwealthy. I reserved a few random titles, and checked them out today.

I think you will like this book, especially if you are a novice drafter. I like this book. Let me tell you why:
  • It isn't huge. It isn't one of those mega-volumes that people rave about because it is value-for-money comprehensive. This has everything you need, in concise little chapters, without the fancy terminology. Much as it is nice to have an encyclopedia of drafting adaptations on everything you could possibly want to (and not) wear, that's sometimes overwhelming for beginning drafters. It's more useful to have more attention paid to the basics, if you are a beginner. Besides, you can buy lots of books that teach you how to adapt patterns, but not a whole lot that teach you to draft from measurements. This one does that. 
  • The diagrams are hand-drawn, and very good. I love that! 
  • She starts with a SLOPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Although she calls it the Foundation Block, which is what I'd always called it before coming to the US. Something familiar at last!! Immediately I felt right at home. 

Here's an interesting point, albeit trivial to most of you: all the horizontal reference points are measured and plotted downwards (see the vertical arrows in the diagram above) from the shoulder line (for the upper block) or waistline (for the lower block). This was how I learned to draft, although some other resources do a combination of upwards and downwards plotting. If you remember, I used this latter method to teach you to draft the child's sloper, because I thought it was easier to visualize. I still like the everything-downwards way because it uses one main reference line for the upper block, which makes more sense in principle. 

  • This is the collection of "notes" from about 40 years of teaching this stuff. It's a curriculum! And it reads like she's right there in the classroom, teaching it to real humans -see point 1.
  • Stuff is broken down into steps: even measurement points for the entire block/sloper are broken up into several diagrams. 
  • She doesn't tell long stories about Whys and Hows the way I do, but she explains stuff so you understand why you're doing whatever it is you're doing.
    Here's an example of the Princess Line/Princess Seam construction:

    Unfortunately, this was published in 1992 and is only available on amazon/Barnes and Noble in used copies. Read the reviews yourself here. No matter - I liked it so much that I went on ebay straightaway and bought one right off a London dealer, and paid the international shipping. Cost me US$26, which was a steal. 

    If you're a beginner drafter, you will like this book. It is the best book for beginner drafters that I've seen so far. Even if you're intermediate or advanced, I still say this is a great book for good, strong basics. I should point out that it's in metric, which might be inconvenient to some of you. I grew up drafting in metric, even though I do it in inches now, so it didn't occur to me as being odd, until one of the reviewers mentioned it. 


    1. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I can never find patterns that fit me "as is" in the shoulders and I know that I need to create a sloper for myself, but I don't have anyone nearby to teach me. I have picked up a few books from the library and though they were helpful in some areas, they didn't address this much. I'm going hunt this one up right away. You are my hero! :-)

    2. Hi,
      Just found your blog (how can I have not found it before?). I love it, spent my last hour (or maybe 2) jumping from one post to the other. I will have to find excuses, put the kids in bed early to finish reading your serie on drafting. And will probably have to spend some time at Spotlight (living in S'pore) where I noticed some ladies, the other day, drawing patterns.
      Thanks a lot, can't wait to read more.

    3. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm off to search my library's database!

    4. Hi LiEr,

      I love your beautiful projects. I also like your tutorials. You are a great tutor!I am a beginner to sewing. I am Maria and I am from Hungary. It's amazing how you can do so many things while looking after three kids. I'd like to ask you what your schedule looks like for a really busy day so I can learn some time management techniques from you.

      So if you could just squeeze in one more task in your busy schedule just to desdcribe how to squeeze in many-many tasks to one's schedule. When to do chores and how to survive while sewing. How to find time to sew more and keep sewing to finish projects. I don't have kids, yet I struggle to find enough time to sew.

      I've checked out the book. The price starts at $43.50. So,at $26 it wasn't such a bad deal.


    5. Ahah, thanks for reminding me of the existence of the library! I'll go see what they have.

    6. Thanks for the recommendation! Too bad we don't have it at our library. Maybe I can pick it up second hand.

    7. Very fun! Will have to add that to my Amazon list.
      I've been systematically checking out all of our library's dressmaking books. Found some duds, some gems - like some of Adele Margolis' older, non-politically-correct books (for example, she suggests one way to help one's clothing fit better would be to exercise, hehe.)

    8. hello, I'm Italian and I recently discovered your blog. I would like to congratulate you, I find the articles you create beautiful and your tutorial useful and easy to understand. thanks

    9. Oh my, the cheapest one on Amazon at the moment is over $80! Influence of your blog? It was only $43 yesterday, I believe =)

      1. I just found it on scribd as a pdf MaryAnne. You can find a login for scribd on retailmenot. Then you can at least read it before you decide to spend the money on a used copy.

      2. It is now a few years later and it is available here as a free pdf download.


    Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.