Be a Rebel! Make Your Own Simple Patterns

Join me for a review of two easy make-your-own pattern books. Book 1: Design-It-Yourself Clothes and Book 2: Sew What! Skirts.
To begin, there are a number of new sewing books out there. Many of these are written by artist types, and they are full of beautiful photographs and witty commentary. They are not, however, long on useful instructions. In contrast, the two I’m reviewing today are highly practical. They are especially useful if you have fitting issues or have been unable to modify standard patterns to fit you.

Cal Patch is a clothing designer who has her own label but was a clothing designer for Urban Outfittters before she wrote Design-It-Yourself Clothes. As far as I can tell, she is a solid pattern drafter and not the artist type, which makes her book practical and useful. She writes informally, as if you were chatting with her, and walks you through the steps of drafting your own patterns for basic skirts, pants, tops and dresses. One flaw I can see is the lack of ease added to body measurements, though early on she says that ease is added later.

Sew What! Skirts is
written in the third-person so I don’t have a clear picture of the authors Francesa Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp. (The acknowledgements are written in the single-person but not signed, and there is no reference to the authors or pictures.) The less personal style — and the more limited focus on skirts — doesn’t  make this book any less valuable, though. If you have a hankering to start your pattern-making journey with cool skirts, this is the book for you. The clear directions lead you to patterns for class A-line, wrap, circle, tiered and layered skirts. The amount of ease is left up to you, however, and my first pattern ended up being a little too large when I chose a 1″ ease for an A-line skirt. (It could have been the stretchiness of the cotton velvet, however.) See my results in my Copying Garnet Hill post. I drafted both the A-line and straight skirt patterns in less than an hour and if I revise them with less ease, I will be able to use these patterns with infinite variations.
More info on
Design-It-Yourself Clothes
Sew What Skirts


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