Metric pattern cutting for womenswear
By: Winifred Aldrich
A bible for anyone wanting to make their own patterns and create better fitting garments.
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Who is this book for?
If you're a fashion student, dressmaker or just an experimental crafter with a desire for making your own sewing patterns, this book is for you. It is ideal for someone with some experience of pattern cutting or someone who is very familiar with using sewing patterns but it's also a great book for a beginner to use in collaboration to learning pattern cutting.
Winifred Aldrich covers both woven and stretch fabric pattern cutting techniques so there's something for everyone.
Why is this book so good?
If, like me, then you're not the generic size then buying patterns from the shops means that you're going to have to alter them anyway; that is, once you've worked out which line to cut out, not torn the super thin paper and not spilled your cup of tea on the pattern and dissolved the paper. Now is your chance to put in the same amount of effort but to get the perfect result from it.
Metric Pattern Cutting really allows you to take control of your own pattern cutting. Winifred Aldrich shows you how to create the correct size, design, and construction for your project. There are instructions on how to make your own block patterns tailored to your measurements or for someone in particular. These block patterns form the perfect groundwork to help you create perfect fitting clothes right from the start. The book then progresses through any type of outfit you could imagine right through to the final details you may want to use in your designs.
As well as using this book to design sewing patterns, I have also found it helpful over the years for design inspiration as well as for help drawing fashion flats; drawings that show exactly how a garment should look to someone making the garment. The green area below shows examples of how fashion flats look showing both front and back seam lines & details.
As with any pattern cutting, I would always advise labelling your patterns as you go along. Although it's a little tedious at the time it's a time-saver later on. You might find it helpful to use our free Pattern Cutting Cheat Sheet which I have put together to provide a quick checklist as to what you should have on every pattern as well as giving a better understanding of all the pattern cutting symbols.
Over the years I've noticed that the date is often missed off each pattern piece (I've done it myself too) and although at the time it may not seem important, you'll see the importance when you've tweaked the pattern 10 times and you don't know which pattern piece was the latest version. I've also found it's super helpful to mark on your waist, hip, knee and elbow lines on each piece as these will come in handy if you're adjusting the fit later on; this means making sure you mark them on your block patterns too.
Another process which can be seen as a time-waster is making a toile of your pattern (aka making a prototype in cheap fabric). They're such a time and money saver in the long run, especially if you're about to make something in a very expensive fabric or you think you'll make the pattern again and again. Usually, a toile is made from calico or scrap fabric with a similar drape to it (always use a stretch fabric for a stretch pattern, not calico). Making a toile means that you'll be able to see if the design you were envisioning has worked, the fit and size are right and all before you've spent time and money making the final garment.
where CAN I buy Metric Pattern Cutting?
If you click on the images of the books below they'll take you over to Amazon where you can buy these books from anywhere in the world. I personally use the 5th edition of this book (purple cover) but if you want to be all up to date there is now a 6th edition (Oliver green cover), I'm not sure there's much difference though. There's also a Menswear edition (royal blue cover) and Children's wear and Babywear edition (bright green cover). So if you fancy trying your hand at menswear or children's wear these will be your go-to bibles.
Pattern Cutting Tools:
When you start out with any project I think knowing which tools to buy can be overwhelming and a lot of the time there are so many gadgets you just don't need. I thought it might be helpful if I showed you which tools I use and why.
Pattern Cutting Ruler - I use the Pattern Master ruler because I find the size covers most outfits I make. It's quite strong so it won't break (it's currently in my suitcase on my world tour and it's not broken yet, I think that's quite impressive) and it's super easy to do seam allowances with the extra lines on it.
Notchers - These aren't a must but they are useful if you want to make your patterns last longer. They snip a 'U' shape in the paper meaning it doesn't rip as easily as notching by hand creating 'V' shapes.
Propelling pencil 0.5mm leads- This is a must to be able to get the accuracy required for pattern cutting. If you use a normal pencil then the lead will get thicker and thicker meaning you add the odd millimeter here and there to your patterns. These millimeters all add up and then you'll find your seams don't quite match.
Paper scissors- Please don't use your fabric ones they'll get blunt very quickly if you use them for paper!