Librarian’s Corner: Make Your Own Patterns

02 Aug

This is one of my very favorite books about sewing: Adele Margolis’s Make Your Own Patterns from 1985.


I first found this book at my local library — way back before I even knew I wanted to be a librarian. When I found it, I thought “Cool! What neat old stuff they have here!” As a librarian now, this comment by unknowning me makes me cringe — I’m surprised we hadn’t weeded poor old Adele long ago!

But I’m glad we didn’t, because she’s got some really great information in here, and while the odd image here or there is dated, for the most part, the illustrations look fresh and relevant, even today. They’ve held up well! I bought my very own copy from Half Price Books for a whopping $30… but I figured it was worth it since I’d probably checked it out a dozen times by then.

She’s an excellent teacher, too.

She starts off by describing clothing in terms of shapes. She goes through all the different shapes and shows how they would look if you used that shape (and no other tweaking) as a garment. One of my favorites is this split-front circle cloak:


Then, she says, you can add darts, to make the fabric conform to the contours of the body. She mostly assumes that her audience is women, here.  She goes on to describe all the different darts you can use, where you could place them, and how to get rid of excess ease without darts

Isn’t this a compelling idea?


You can tell already, I’m sure, that the illustrations are one of my favorite things about this book. So many great ideas!


Adele then goes on to show you how to make a sloper, and then how to make modifications to that basic pattern piece, so that you get different looks. Here’ she’s showing you how to spread a sloper to get a fuller skirt.


I really love this book. I wish they’d put it in print again, because it’s such a thorough and accessible approach to pattern design. But they’d probably muck it all up and put in photographs instead of line drawings, and we all know that photos never age as gracefully as line drawings.

I’ll finish for today with some more Collar candy




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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


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