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pattern drafting books

nmog | Posted in General Discussion on

I am an intermediate level seamstress  (although even using that term makes me seem more knowledgeable than I am) who is looking for a good pattern drafting book.  I am currently taking a pattern drafting course but would like to purchase a book to supplement what I’m learning.  My memory is good –  but short.  Any suggestions you could give me would be great.  Thank you very much!


  1. lin327 | | #1

    Fairchild Press is the textbook arm of the Fashion Institute of Technology. This is where many of the big name American designers learn their trade. They have several books on pattern drafting, designing from flat patterns, designing by draping, and other subjects.  They are the industry standard.  I believe they are available on Amazon.com.  I believe they are also carried in most public libraries, if you want to look at them before commiting the money to them.  They are college level books and an investment. They require both drafting and math abilties.  It will take time to learn...but it's worth it in the long run.  Once you learn the technical side of patterns it makes altering and adapting commercial patterns a breeze.  I found learning from the Fairchild books a worthwhile investment in time, money and patience.

    1. nmog | | #3

      Thank you for all of the information.  I'm going to take these suggestions to my pattern drafting class and share them, if you don't mind.  It's great to have such a good forum for getting my questions answered and such knowledgeable people who share their ideas.  Thank you so much!


  2. FitnessNut | | #2

    LinDaKat is correct in saying that these college-level texts require an investment in both time and money. If you were not taking a pattern drafting course, it would be difficult to learn directly from a book (I tried!). Once you have some knowledge and confidence, however, having a couple of good textbooks opens up a whole new world for you. I have several, some better than others.

    If I could buy only one pattern drafting book, it would have to be Helen Joseph-Armstrong's "Patternmaking for Fashion Design". This is the book I reach for first when confronted with a question or problem. (Her other book, "Draping for Apparel Design" is also terrific, but comes at making patterns from another angle.) The other book that I find useful is Winifred Aldrich's "Metric Pattern Cutting". It isn't nearly as comprehensive, but is a wonderful supplement. Aldrich has instructions for blocks that bypass having a basic already constructed (for a jacket, for instance) and her fit is excellent. There is also a good section on knits for everything from t-shirts to workout clothing that I have found easier to work with than Armstrong's (for my needs anyway!). These are the two books I use most frequently.

    Check Amazon for these books and others. I'm sure you'll find plenty to help you retain what you're learning in class. A good reference book is essential, I've found. You don't always want to reproduce exactly what you learned in class and sometimes it takes imagination to make a workable pattern from your design idea.

    Good luck!


    1. HeartFire | | #4

      I'm not personally familiar with other pattern drafting books, so I can't compare , but Helen Joseph Armstrongs book  Pattern Making for Fashion Design  (3rd edition) has many many many errors in it,  I'm currently in a flat pattern drafting class and this is the text we use (because one of the instructors at our school helped review the book).  My instructor doesn't like the book, but she has no choice.

      I have just ordered Kenneth Kings Moulage CD Book, but havent gotten it yet.  I can't say enough for taking a class in drafting though, I tried to figure out some of the stuff in the book before the class started, but couldn't do it.  My teacher is also a perfectionist, we have to be within 1/16 of an inch in our measurements  and we have to cut RIGHT on the line or we get marked off!  its a fabulous calss, I am learning so much stuff and can't wait for classes to start back up.


      1. Tessa | | #5

        Yes, I thoughouly agree. My patterndrafting classes have been the best things I have done in a long time. I am taking them at a community college. Sewing technique classes are nice, but drafting teaches you about how the garments are made. Yes, you need to be that exact. Because the errors add up. You start with a front, match it to the back, then match them to the sleeve, then to the collar. So you see how the collar could get really far out of whack.  What else I learned is how to use a French curve *everywhere*. every "straight" line, every hem join. What a difference. boy, I have no patience with any pattern but my own, now. Do you ever get spoiled. Good luck on your class.


        1. HeartFire | | #6


          Thanks,  So far in class we have done the bodice front and back, started on sleeves and skirts, I can't wait to get into pants this term,  I'm also going to take a 'custom patterns' class this term, that's where we learn to measure people and draft to those measurements instead of working with the standard class sloper as in the pattern drafting class.  We will also purchase industrial dress forms and pad them to our measurements!!!  This is like candy to me, I am a nurse practitioner (semi retired) and going to a local community college for sewing classes, I've been sewing since I was about 6 yr  old and could sit at my mothers machine to play! but now, I've sort of stopped working on clothing till I learn more about fit, I'd rather just draft my own patterns.

          Do you draft all of yours? or do you alter purchased patterns?  They only teach drafting 3 every couple of yrs and they will have it this term, my teacher said it would be ok for me to take 2 & 3 at the same time since I pretty much know what I'm doing.  (at least I understand it) most of the people in the class have never seen a pattern or know what a sloper is


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