Sunday, August 11, 2019

Weekend Review: The Magic Pattern Book

The Magic Pattern Book / Amy Barickman
New York: Workman, c2014
310 p.
This is a book I've had for a while now, and I keep meaning to get it out and make something from it! There are 6 master patterns, 36 styles, and multiple variations to work with. The book comes with a cd in the back that holds the 6 master patterns & styles for you to print off, in sizes from S-XXL (38 - 45.5" finished bust measurements, generally). They print off as basic tiled pdfs that you need to trim and stick together.

It's an interesting idea -- lots of different designs from the same basic patterns, made individual by fabric and design choices. Each style has full instructions and a photo, then there's a suggestion of fabrics you could use (overwhelmingly wovens) and style changes you might make to change it up a little. 

It starts off with a general introduction and an overview of equipment you'll need to get started - a basic sewing box of supplies. And she goes over how to print and use patterns, and how to evaluate fabrics and prepare both fabric and pattern.

Then on to the patterns, which are the main focus! The six general patterns are: Tank Top, Skirt, Dress, Cardigan, Coat, and Accessory. Then within those, there are 6 fairly distinct designs, all named after women from A-F. I found a few that interest me, pretty much at least one in each category. Barickman says she was inspired by Mary Brooks Picken and her work within the sewing and textiles world, and includes a few quotes from Picken's many works throughout the book. I also find Picken fascinating, and the charm of her vintage pronouncements about style and taste comes through here. 

These designs are for a certain aesthetic -- if you like cottons and you like silhouettes that are simple and not too fitted, without many excess details, this will be a great resource for you. I'd recommend it to an eager beginner or intermediate sewist who wants some help with how you can take one shape and change it up to your personal tastes. There isn't information about pattern drafting or anything like that, more of a sense of pattern hacking and restyling. Within each category, there is one 'repurposed' look as well as the 5 from-scratch designs. 

It seems like a book with lots of ideas and encouragement to be creative with your sewing. I really need to make one of the designs soon! 

If you want to check it out more closely, you can see the list of patterns and options at Amy Barickman's website -- there are images of all 6 designs within each of the 6 categories. And you can also take a look at some interior pages to see how she approaches instructions and design. 

While there isn't anything really unusual here, it's a solid book with some basic designs that might help a beginner feel braver about their sewing and more willing to take some sewing chances. And that's a good thing!

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