Book Month: Pattern Design and Fitting


Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch
Potter Craft, 2009

When I read about Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch (ooh! She has a blog!) on Disdressed and on Angry Chicken, I knew I had to have it immediately. You see, I sewed my first dress a couple months ago, and it turned out beautifully — for someone with a waist about six inches wider than mine. I remembered seeing the amazing Nancy Zieman on PBS showing techniques from her book Pattern Fitting With Confidence and knew she could help me out. I checked it out from the library and realized how easy it is to fit commercial sewing patterns. I also learned that the correct way to determine your true pattern size is by measuring across your chest from armpit to armpit — I’m actually two sizes smaller than I thought. Yes! Good thing those two sizes are usually included in the same envelope …

book-patternfittingAfter discovering that pattern fitting wasn’t nearly as daunting as I thought, I was ready to consider custom pattern drafting within the realm of human possibility. And Cal Patch proves that the process isn’t nearly as daunting as it’s made out to be. Design-It-Yourself takes you step-by-step through pattern drafting and garment construction basics, with tutorials on including simple but beautiful variations like waistbands, plackets, yokes, ruffles, tucks, and gathers. I like how cute, inspiring-yet-achievable projects are included to guide you through the process — it’s not like you’re told how to take your measurements then dumped out in the cold to design every aspect of a dress on your own. The only complaint I have about the book is that the section on rub-offs (drafting patterns from existing clothes) seems too short and lacking in visuals for me to figure out. But it could be that once you’re versed in basic patternmaking it might all be obvious?

That’s a minor concern for an otherwise easy-to-understand, inspiring, enlightening book. Design-It-Yourself and Pattern Fitting With Confidence, perhaps topped with a French Curve/Hip Curve, would make a wonderful gift package for the sewer who is interested in, or has just begun to dabble in clothing.


  1. Leisa says:

    OMG this is just perfect. Totally what I was looking for and was only discussing with someone this morning about how I wanted to learn how to change the few patterns I have to fit me. Im off to the library/bookstore. THANKYOU!

  2. Mary Beth says:

    This book is at the top of my Christmas list. (Immediately above the Japanese adult clothing sewing books.) (Or maybe next to them, on the same line.)

    Psyched to go check out Cal Patch’s blog!