Sunday, November 20, 2022

Weekend Review: Make Your Own Dress Patterns


Make Your Own Dress Patterns / Adele P. Margolis
illus. by Judy Skoogfors
Mineola, NY: Dover Books, 2006, c1985.
480 p.

I realized when I recently reviewed Sewing Love by Sanae Ishida that she mentions Adele P. Margolis' Make Your Own Dress Patterns -- which is one of my favourite books on patternmaking. Inexplicably I have never shared it here. That changes now! 

This is my Dover edition, the easiest one to locate if you're looking for a copy. It's an exact reprint of the original, though, and has all the delightful line drawings intact. I have talked about another of Margolis' books in the past, How to Make Clothes That Fit and Flatter, and many of the selling points for me in that book are found here as well. 

Margolis is funny, with quips in her intro and clever chapter headings. But she's also very knowledgeable, and this book delves into how to make a pattern for what you want to wear. It's broken up into two halves, both with various subdivisions. The first is Pattern Whys: the basic of constructing a pattern. It looks at basic shapes, darts, control seams, fullness, making an actual pattern, and slopers. The second half deals with Style Lines -- necklines, collars, closures, pockets, sleeves, and in the final chapter she touches on draping, grading and muslins. 

I find it an inspirational book, it's one of my favourites to just go through for ideas, over and over again. The instructions for different elements are pretty short but if you are familiar with sewing they are clear enough to work with. There are illustrations of the pattern changes for, let's say, changing a bland a-line skirt into a crossover front view. Or many other ideas for all areas of the pattern. One of my favourite parts of this book is all the illustrations. They are all line drawings, both instructional and simply showing the kind of thing Margolis is talking about in the text. There is something about the retro feel of the styles and the hairdos and the combinations of images that I just love. Some of them feel quite 60s while others are pure 80s. I really enjoy looking at all the style ideas laid out here in detail, both the clothing and the women illustrated. 

But aside from it being an entertaining read, and having fabulous figure drawings, this book gives you a lot of solid information on making your pattern, adding in the details that you want, and getting it to work in actuality. I use this one in combination with my Helen Joseph Armstrong Patternmaking for Fashion Design (which I picked up for $3 at a thrift store) whenever I need to figure out how I might do something particular to a pattern. It's well worth taking a look at this book -- widely available and a fun reading experience. 


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!