Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekend Review: Making Patterns from Finished Clothes

Making Patterns From Finished Clothes / Rusty Bensussen
NY: Sterling, c1985.  160 p.

Here is another of the pattern making from RTW books that I have in my collection. This one is a decade earlier than the previous volume I just reviewed, and it does show.

There are no photographs, only line drawings, for example. Now, I do love a good retro line drawing, but for technique and learning, I did find the other title with multiple photos more useful. Though this one is awfully charming in its way.

It has a bit of a different approach, too. It starts out with with a brief intro to equipment and organizing patterns -- not only your own but commercial ones as well (in essence, she suggests manila envelopes and a good filing system - I already have the first but not really the second!)

Then there is a dated section on figure types and colours, and which suit you best -- which make you look the most slender, essentially. As a book from the 80s, it still focuses on hiding 'trouble spots' and recommends for my own 'short and heavy' figure that I should emphasize vertical lines and not use bold prints. Hee hee. I love a bold print.

It's a book for the creative sewist, though. The reliance on finished clothes is more of a suggestion to take a standard piece that you like and fits you well and trace it off to make a sloper of sorts. Because the technique bit is pretty quickly passed over to get to the design options that you can use to change up your basic and make it into a multitude of variations. Actually, the design suggestions are a lot of fun, and can be applied to any basic commercial pattern you have as well. Lengthening tunics to dress length, adding waistline casing or drawstrings, changing sleeve shapes or adding flounces/ruffles, or changing hem shapes, are just some of the ideas that any sewist could easily adapt, and that many of us in the modern sewing community already do frequently.

The design ideas and the drawings suggest to me that though this book was published in the mid80s, it's really a child of the 70s. Some loose caftan-like adaptations and the freewheeling just-do-it vibe speak like more of a 70s maker. And while it's not technique driven, it is inspiring, and this freeness to it is the key to its charm. Maybe not best for an introduction to this technique for someone trying to learn it alone but definitely still a fun 'retro read'. I enjoyed it, and really love the fashion sketches in it.

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