Practical pattern making is the book I wish I had read a few years ago, when I first got interested in pattern making. It takes you from zero to hero in under 250 pages. I really like this book because it’s practical, yet fearless.

Written by pattern makers and fashion designers Lucia Mors de Castro and Isabel Sanchez Hernandez, the book is organized in three sections: traditional patterns, geometric patterns and traditional geometric patterns.

The first section, traditional patterns, includes a basic pattern for a skirt and two advanced variations of a tulip skirt: one when the front includes two overlapping sides (like two petals) and another where the fabric is gathered near the waistband. Two quite striking jackets patterns follow and then we move on to the basic dress shape. Once this is explained, an explosion of shapes and transformations follow: the authors play with a multitude of dress shapes, from oval and organic to pleats and striking geometric shapes. I like how quickly you progress from the basic shape and how well each journey to the couture-looking dresses is explained.

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The second section, geometric patterns, makes new garments starting with a geometrical shape: a circle is being manipulated in semicircles and circle sections that become fantastic circle dresses. Squares and rectangles are folded like origami and turned into, among others, a batwing top dress and a wrap-around dress.

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The last section, traditional geometric patterns, combines the techniques learned in the previous sections. One of the five dress patterns in this section is mix between a block bodice, which is manipulated by moving bust darts, and a skirt made by manipulating a rectangle. The others are as imaginative and as fascinating as this one. At the end of the section, one has the feeling that the possibilities of manipulating block and shapes are endless. And that is easy to do.

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What I wished this book had was more commentary and more storytelling. I wanted to be inspired by the authors and know how they started, how they learned, what mistakes they made. The book is very technical and feels almost like a manual. But I missed the teacher’s voice, whispering in my year to love this book and love patternmaking.

For a designer/maker interested in creating and sewing dresses, this book is fantastic. It does not feature a lot of “everyday patterns”, so if you’re looking for basic shapes only tiny steps away from the basic block, it’s possible this book will seem overwhelming. If you’re more adventurous and love shape and fabric manipulation, this book will light up your imagination. If you’re not sure, the book includes basic blocks that you can magnify to use in your own creations, so you can use what you’ve learned to create your own, new garments. The images and descriptions make the book very clear and ready to be put to work.

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Note: I was offered a free copy of this book for review, all thoughts and comments are my own.