A book review?! How new and exciting! Today I’m reviewing Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear (6th Edition) By Winifred Aldrich, which, as the title may suggest, is a book about creating and adapting blocks to create clothes for women. I’d been looking at buying this book and reading reviews on it for a little while, but when I went for my work experience at Tilly and the Buttons and asked which pattern cutting book they’d recommend, Tilly herself said that this is practically the ‘Bible’ for making your own patterns. As you can imagine, after that I bought it as soon as I got home!
And Tilly’s totally right – this book is amazing! I’ve been finding it as helpful and easy-to-use as Tilly seems to, which shows that it can provide a huge benefit to people just starting out in their pattern-making career and those who are very experienced in the field.
Obviously, a big feature of the book is the fact that all of the measurements are metric rather than imperial, which means that you won’t find any mention of inches, just centimetres. Most sewers are used to working in inches (myself included), but I think that for pattern cutting, metric measurements are the way to go; you can be much, much more precise!
While the slightly offputting green/grey colour might not seem like your thing, the contents definitely will be – this is very much a case of ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover!’ As you can see from the above photo, the layout is super clear, with diagrams illustrating the feature of the garment that you want to make, how you need to hack the block, and then some very concise writing accompanying the diagrams so that you know which measurements to use and where to cut to get there.
There are a great many iterations of this book, with my copy being the sixth edition. There’s a little explanation on the first page about how this version differs from the last one, but I do believe that the only thing that changes with each update of the book is the ‘standard measurements’ table, so that the measurements are in line with the actual average of each size, so that you can use the right standard measurements when you’re making a commercial pattern. If I’m right in thinking that this is the only difference in the majority of the upgrades, then there’d be no problem in buying one of the earlier editions, because the national average sizing measurements for your country is usually readily available for free online (well, I think it is in most countries – I’ve definitely found them for the U.S and U.K) so you wouldn’t need to buy a new copy each time it was updated! I would advise doing some research before you buy a cheaper copy of an earlier edition from eBay or something though, because if that’s not the only difference you might end up running into some bother.
Instructions on constructing and adapting blocks aren’t the only thing included in the book, and there’s a little section on choosing the right fabrics for your design, fixing common fit issues, Computer Aided Design, grading and the difference between flat cutting and form cutting; which means there’s absolutely LOADS of golden info! It would’ve been handy if a glossary was included though, there were some words that as a beginner I ended up googling, but this didn’t happen so often that I’d say it wasn’t appropriate for someone relatively new to some of the ideas.
Like I said earlier, the layout of the book is absolutely top-notch. It’s so user-friendly, and the illustrations very clearly demonstrate what you need to be doing, and the writing is lovely and concise, even if it does make your head feel a little bit full of information sometimes.
As you can probably see from this contents page, the way that everything is divided up makes a lot of sense. There’s nothing that I felt that wasn’t included for what I was personally designing, and to help even more, there’s an index at the back as well so that you can flip right to the page that you need!
Of course, I don’t want to give too much away about the book, just enough to make you realise how fabulous it is! And if what I’ve said isn’t enough to persuade you, I will just say that if you buy a brand new copy, it’s ‘new book’ smell is just so wonderful. I keep finding myself picking it up just to smell it – and I’ve had it for about a month now!
Do let me know if there are any other books that you think I should pick up to review for you all – I can’t promise anything, but I’m always up for a new sewing book! Please forgive me if I don’t reply to your comments for a little while, this post is actually scheduled, as I’m having a nice little week-long holiday!
Have a lovely week everyone, I hope this has been helpful for you!