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Book Review - Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear by Winifred Aldrich

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

A bible for anyone wanting to make their own sewing patterns and create better fitting garments.

(Please note that I have not been paid to write this review, I just wanted to share our resources and provide you with a genuine review. We do however make a small amount of commission with any affiliate links you may use )


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 how to draft sewing patterns.

Winifred Aldrich covers both woven and stretch fabric pattern cutting techniques so there's something for everyone.

Why is this book so helpful?

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 spilt 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.

Let's be honest here now too, who really is a generic size, I know I'm not? I'm all for creating and designing your own sewing patterns so that you can get more from your sewing projects and this is why I am trying to make pattern cutting as accessible as possible to everyone.

Metric Pattern Cutting really allows you how 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 pattern blocks tailored to your measurements. 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 Introduction to Pattern Cutting eBook to give you a better understanding of all the pattern cutting symbols and terminology.

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 you 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.

What tools do you really need to start creating your own sewing patterns?

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 in this video below:

  1. 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 been around the world with me and it hasn't broken, I think that's quite impressive) and it's super easy to do seam allowances with the extra lines on it.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 millimetre here and there to your patterns. These millimetres all add up and then you'll find your seams don't quite match.

  4. Paper scissors- Please don't use your fabric ones they'll get blunt very quickly if you use them for paper! My favourite paper scissors are a gold pair from HAY. You'll notice them in the video above and in images I take.

  5. Pattern cutting paper - I tend just to use a roll of recycled brown paper at the moment by RUSPEPA which you can find here. It's wide enough for most creations (750mm wide) and if it's not quite wide enough I just stick two pieces together.

If you don't fancy making your own pattern cutting blocks then I've made them for you. You can find them in my Pattern Cutting Shop here. They are PDF printables, therefore can download them, print them at home, stick them together and start creating straight away.

If you've designed any of your own sewing patterns, I'd love to see, tag me in your creations on Instagram using @thesewingretreat

Happy creating,

Sarah x


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