Wardrobe pattern books – casuals
Part of getting a easy co-ordinated wardrobe is to have everything in similar shapes (see my post on reducing the number of shapes). And an easy way of achieving that is to use a wardrobe pattern.
The advantage of wardrobe pattern books is they have space to discuss building a wardrobe of co-ordinates. Plus instructions for altering the patterns to make different styles. So they’re good starting points if you want to try this. Get the basic patterns to fit, and then any variations you make are likely to fit well too.
Some books emphasise wardrobe building, some pattern altering. A few have advice on fit. Some have guidance for sewing beginners. Unless otherwise mentioned, all have a pack of full sized conventional tissue paper patterns. Most go up to 44 or 46 inch/ 117 cm bust, BMV sizes 24 – 26.
There are now many books which include full-size patterns. I started by thinking I knew them all, but now know I don’t ! This is a rapidly expanding area of sewing publishing. I’m focussing on books with patterns for a wide range of garment types. I have collected rather a lot of these 😀 so this topic spread and spread and I’ve divided it in sections. My next post is planned on books which emphasise dresses. Then there’s a third post on out-of-print and Japanese books.
There are two starting points used for pattern making (see dartless block post). One is a fitted block. The other is a looser fitting block without darts. This post is about pattern books with casual styles. The first are based on the casual dartless block, the others are more fitted.
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Your personal preferred wardrobe plan
Does the ‘Core 4’ idea meet all your wardrobe needs ? – top, jacket, skirt, pants. Wardrobe patterns may be the best starting point for that type of wardrobe. There’s only one book based on a Core 4, and it’s for a petite plus body type. And it has a woven blouse top, not a knit. There are many wardrobe patterns with knit tops.
Several pattern books don’t include a jacket. So they’re not sufficient for people who need to layer, unless you’re happy with shirt-jacket style.
Some pattern books don’t mention dresses, so aren’t for people who like to wear them. Books with dresses are mainly in my second post.
If you wear multiple layers (top, shirt, vest, jacket), there’s one out-of-print pattern book by Sandra Betzina with all these. If you’d like a wide range of garment types in one book and enjoy a challenge, there are Japanese pattern books in many styles. Those are in my third planned post in this group.
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Patterns for casual classics
Design It Yourself Clothes
A book on simple pattern making using personal measurements, by Cal Patch.
(not all to same scale)
Basic patterns for knit tee, dartless shirt, skirt, pants, dress.
The special feature of this book is you draft your patterns to your own measurements ! Mainly words with few pictures. Minimal sewing instructions. No discussion of wardrobe co-ordination. Basic patterns are classic casuals, many suggestions for adapting the basic patterns to make modern styles. More dresses from the shirt and tee patterns.
Some other simple books for making your own patterns
Sew What Skirts by Francesca DenHartog
Sew What Fleece by Carol Jessop and Chaila Sekora. Good if you want easy warm jackets, vests, coats, robes to add to a wardrobe book which doesn’t include them.
I like these books. They make a good starting point for beginners. No very poor reviews at Amazon.
A different take is Make your own clothes by Marie Clayton. This includes software for making personal patterns. Sorry, I don’t think much of either the software or the sewing instructions for beginners. Here’s my review at Pattern Review.
P.S. Rosie Martin of DIY Couture has a new book of simple make-it-yourself patterns which don’t involve complex drafting, plus illustrated sewing instructions for beginners. Haven’t seen it yet but it looks fun.
Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way
By Kerstin Martensson.
(not all to same scale)
Simple basic patterns for knit tee, dartless blouse, 2 skirts, pants (elastic waists). Kwik Sew type patterns on thick white paper. Up to 45 inch/ 114 cm bust, 47 inch/ 120 cm hip.
Many simple instructions for changing the patterns to make other styles, from zip front hoodie to nightwear. The dresses shown are all two-piece, but you could extend these patterns to simple shirt and shift one-piece dresses. Good for beginners, with Kwik Sew’s simple clear sewing instructions. No discussion of wardrobe building. Fit advice only about changing length. Universally good reviews.
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Wendy Mullin’s books
Many modern casual styles are more fitted and do have darts. Wendy Mullin’s books are bursting with excellent pattern altering ideas, but the patterns and sewing instructions sometimes need care.
She has her own RTW clothing line and used to design patterns for Simplicity. There are 4 pattern books, which build into a comprehensive wardrobe (though there’s no discussion of that). All books have 3 basic patterns.
The first, Sew U, has patterns for skirt, shirt, pants. (I’m disappointed there’s no pattern for the bag on the cover :D) Up to 38 inch/ 98 cm bust, 42 inch/ 107 cm hip, BMV size 18.
Many suggestions for changing the style elements on these patterns. Advice for sewing beginners, though these styles are perhaps a bit much for timid learners. Fit only mentioned in passing. Rightly well known.
Patterns for :
– set-in sleeve tee.
– raglan hoodie.
– dress with waistline seam.
Pattern alteration and sewing instructions for 6 versions of each style – changes in neckline, length, shape. . .
Good knit sewing instructions for beginners, but no advanced techniques such as stabilising or using a double needle.
Some people like close fitting knits. Some like their knits loose and baggy. Reviewers say these patterns make up large. So check for your preferred level of ease. And some think the result doesn’t look like the picture. So do make a trial version.
Wendy Mullin also has a book on Dresses. I’ve put that in my post on books for dresses.
Patterns for :
– armhole princess fitted jacket.
– dartless casual jacket described as ‘not-too-snug’ and used for loose styles like a parka.
– raglan sleeve dartless outerwear coat.
A good range of basic shapes for outerwear. Most styles have neckline and front opening interfacing, but no more complex support structures. Many have linings.
Sadly these jacket and coat patterns are tiny, only 1 – 2 inches/ 2 – 5 cm ease. Barely movement room, certainly not large enough for layering. Here’s my comments at Pattern Review.
The pattern altering instructions for jackets and coats are good and inspirational, with multiple variations. But the sewing instructions are not always clear and the patterns are unusable. These are exciting styles – what a disappointment ! You need properly sized patterns and a technique book if you want to try these jacket or coat styles.
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Patterns for blouse, jacket, skirt, pants. This is the only wardrobe pattern book I know of which covers a ‘Core 4’. Sized for petites 40 to 50 inch/ 117 cm bust, 42 – 52 inch/ 132 cm hip, BMV sizes 18 to 28. Lengthen lines on the patterns, so you can alter them for height.
Much good discussion on using the patterns to build a wardrobe. Only simple pattern changes, such as different sleeve lengths, a small choice of collar shapes, some trim changes. 14 pages on fit, covering all the main issues. Good sewing instructions with many photos and diagrams.
Final mention for
Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp.
For sewing beginners not wardrobe planning. Over 100 5-star reviews at Amazon, but look at the 3 star reviews to get some heart felt comments. I have seen this but ‘handed it on’ as the projects aren’t my style and I didn’t need the guidance. That was some time ago so I can’t now comment in detail. With patterns for several garment types.
P.S. Sewing Machine Basics by Jane Bolsover is a learners book which gets enthusiastic reviews from beginners who have made the projects. Leads up to making simple pants, skirt, and blouse. Full size traceable patterns up to 42 inch hip. (Nothing on pattern altering or wardrobes.)
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It’s Stitchers’ Guild ‘Sewing With A Plan‘ time again, so many people are thinking about wardrobe co-ordination.
Would any of these wardrobe pattern books give you a simple starting point for your own co-ordinates ?
Second post planned for the books mainly with dress patterns. Is that more to your taste 😀
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Books and links available January 2012
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