Saturday, 2 June 2018

Patternmaking Made Easy by Connie Amaden Crawford; balancing patterns

I bought a new old book.
That's no surprise to those of you who know of my book addiction, of course.
What might surprise you is how inspired this book makes me feel, despite feeling pretty gruesome at present.

The book is Pattern Making Made Easy by Connie Amaden Crawford, the original edition from 2005. The book is now on the third edition but postage costs ($65) and import duties from the US were too high to consider that option, even though the book itself was no more expensive. In fact, I ordered the second edition as advertised and this one has arrived incorrectly but the company I bought it from disputes that. (Don't tell them but I think I will keep this one anyway - maybe one day I'll get to the States and buy the 3rd edition.)

I've wanted the book for a while but it has taken ages to find one at a reasonable price. It is in spiral format with a hard cover. Mine is second hand but in excellent condition and the postage was good, with no duties. I don't know what the newer editions have that this one doesn't.

What do I like about it?

First of all, it does appear to make pattern making easy. Reading, I feel 'yes, I can do this'

Secondly it uses my measurements and not much in the way of ‘standard’ measurements.

Thirdly, there is a section for pant pattern making for the full mature woman. Yes, that's me these days, though I'm on the lower end of her size charts

Fourthly she takes into account that we don't all have perfect bodies and isn't judgemental. I feel that some of the systems I've tried try to shoehorn into a perfect shape and at the same time make me feel bad about my body.

Fifthly, she goes through all the different blocks and what each block might be used for. She will show the modifying that can be made e.g. in bodice style and say what block you must start with. I hadn't realised there were so many different blocks! I can now understand why some of my enthusiastic pattern manipulations were less successful than I'd hoped! I needed to start with the right block and I didn't.

Although I went to pattern cutting classes, I realise now that they really just skimmed the surface. I don't have that solid foundation of knowledge which is so essential to good results. Results for me and my family - you know of course that is the limit of my ambitions.

One thing she said was that you cannot balance a bodice pattern if there are bust darts from the side seam.  Balancing is done without any such darts but they can be moved later using dart manipulation. This was another 'ah ha!’ moment for me as I have lots of problems with such darts on side seams - twisted, not meeting nicely even though they were trued.

I read the pant section in greater detail as I intend to try this.

Balancing patterns

I really like her sections on balancing the pattern (indeed it was a question I asked on PR on balancing which led me towards this book - thanks to Kayl's recommendation.) As a result of reading this section, I am convinced that my patterns have not been balanced, though they may have been trued, and this has led to some of my problems. When I asked about balancing patterns in class, I was directed towards truing - not the same thing at all, though clearly there is overlap.

When I true the seam of my trousers, there is a fair bit of manipulation, shifting around; in these pants, they are matched at knee and ankle, lie beautifully, and any length change is made above that to ensure the seams lie on top of each other. That is balanced; if the pattern is not balanced, the fabric will twist.

I feel so inspired that I want to start straight away! I hope results will be as good as I'm hoping! I intend to draft the full mature woman's pant and then convert into a sport culotte for the summer. I have some suitable fabric.

I'm not going to get much time for sewing over the rest of June, though,  so my test of the book method won't be around for a while yet. Never mind. I feel in my bones that this book will be one of my top recommendations.

I'm missing a number of my classes over the next few weeks but I can go to Dan's Sew Club on Monday and move forward with making a suitable size FBA on my shirt dress toile


  1. The book sounds intriguing, and , if as you say you use personal measurements only, and no formula, then maybe it will be really good. Most patternmaking books I have come across still use a formula to some degree. I guess I will be adding it to my list one day!

    1. There is a little bit of standardised measurement e.g. for the crotch angle at curve, but even that is modified in several ways depending on whether you have a flat bottom etc. I'll let you know how I get on.

  2. Interesting! Can't wait to see your results!

    1. It's a well recommended book. Hopefully I'll get on to it in 3 weeks time, no realistic chance before that. Sadly that means my PR shirtdress and sewalongforsummer wrap dress will also have to wait - I still want to do them. I always believed that retirement would give me more chance to do the things I wanted - how deluded I was!!

  3. Sounds like this book will be extremely helpful. I have her other books; a different one on patternmaking and the draping book. Both are wonderful at explaining clothing design. Too bad there isn’t a Kindle version. I hope you are now able to create perfectly fitting items.

    1. I don't have the draping book but do have a couple of others of hers. While I definitely love real books over Kindle, a digital version would have worked week here! Yes, I'm looking forward to trying this.


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