Wardrobe pattern books – other possibilities

More on wardrobe pattern books which claim to have all the styles and patterns you need in one book. Here are some books which are more of a challenge to find or use ! There are also brief notes on children’s patterns and learning to sew.

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Out of print books

Rusty Bensussen. Making a Complete Wardrobe from 4 Basic Patterns (1987).


Draft your own 80s oversized patterns for pullover top also used for dress/ jacket/ coat, plus dirndl and circular skirts, and pants, from simple instructions. Pullover up to about 50 inch hip, skirt up to about 45 inch hip. Easy to enlarge (every 1/2 inch added to width of front and back pattern pieces adds 2 inches to the size). With many simple suggestions for pattern alterations. Add ease to jacket and coat, or you get top/dress, jacket, coat all the same size ! Complete sewing instructions (mainly words) only for the most basic styles.

Sandra Betzina. No Time to Sew (1997).


Patterns for slim and full pants (one-seam styles), skirt, tee, shirt, dress, vest, jacket, with suggestions for style alterations. All dartless. Simple advice on fit. Up to 43 inch bust, 46 inch hip. Melanie points out these are good for layering (in a comment on my layering wardrobe post). Sewing instructions have most steps illustrated. Conventional tissue paper patterns. Rare to find book and patterns together, as the pattern envelope isn’t part of the book. Easy to find the book, difficult to find the patterns. Search for the pattern pack as “Rodale Designer Collection” or “Sandra Betzina Rodale”. She now designs for Vogue Patterns.

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Japanese pattern books and magazines

If you enjoy a challenge, there are 100s of Japanese pattern books and magazines. In a huge range of styles : casual-crafter, 60s dresses, arty, lolita, drapey, quick makes, fitted structured blazers and coats, mother-and-daughter, for children, multi-layers, young modern. . . See Simply Pretty.

One type of book (such as ‘Mrs Stylebook’) just tells you how to draft the pattern based on your personal block. So you can get a good fit, but you’re expected to know how to sew it together.

Other books have a traceable full size pattern sheet, though the sizes may be rather small (as in Extra Large with 38 inch hips :D). These books do have sewing instructions. In Japanese but with very good illustrations, so it’s usually quite easy to work out what to do. See sample instructions at end of Simply Pretty excerpts.

A couple of these books have been translated into English. As I already have several Japanese books in similar style, I haven’t looked at these. If they’re direct translations of the Japanese versions, they have sheets of full-size traceable patterns, and sizes may be small.

Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha


This book has 8 basic patterns : for 2 dress styles, 3 tops and shirts, 2 skirts, pants. With 3 versions of each pattern, including tunics, light jacket and coat. Some photos of the styles here.

Shape Shape


From the cover and description it looks as if the styles are more ‘arty’. See more information here.

For children and learners

There are also many pattern books for children’s clothes. Most of them by designers with children’s pattern companies. And most have a tissue pattern pack. Often also teach sewing. Find them using the links to other books provided by Amazon with :
Oliver & S Little Things to Sew

Bunkhouse books are written for children learning to sew, but of course can be used by adult learners too. All with full size traceable patterns : 27 – 38 inch bust, 28 – 40 inch hip, in girls and misses heights. Reviews at Amazon, but here are links to the parent company as you can scroll down the product page to photos of the styles. Also patterns for matching 18″ dolls clothes.
Stitches & Pins
Beginner sewing for girls. Patterns for simple skirt, vest, pants, top – also usable for nightwear, plus accessories. (Comments at Amazon that a complete beginner needs help.)
Buckles & Bobbins
Similar for boys.
Pins & Needles
Intermediate : patterns for vest, blouse, culottes, dress and jumper dress, shawl collar jacket, shorts, tee, sweatshirt, sweatpants, hoodie.
Pintucks & Lace
Advanced : heirloom sewing, mainly baby and home items. Also blouse (use pattern from previous book), half slip, 2 skirts, shrug.

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Previous posts in this group :
Wardrobe pattern books – casuals
Wardrobe pattern books – mainly dresses

Pattern books are no longer unusual. They’re a growing type of sewing publishing, with many fascinating possibilities. Well worth looking out for. There’s a huge range of styles to explore, if you like the idea of easy co-ordination by just having one starting point for all your sewing.

But perhaps you prefer to sew every project completely different, rather than being sensible and wardrobe building 😀

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Links and most books available February 2012

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Explore posts in the same categories: co-ordinates

2 Comments on “Wardrobe pattern books – other possibilities”

  1. bela saudade Says:

    Recently I stumbled upon and purchased the “Alabama Studio Sewing and Design Book”. Alabama Chanin includes patterns designed for hand-sewing (no machine necessary!) a basic top, tee, bolero, tank dress, pull on skirt, and a few accessories like fingerless gloves and a hat all in cotton jersey. There’s a heavy emphasis on hand embellishment with beads, stenciling, embroidery, and applique, but the basic shapes reminded me a lot of the Eileen Fisher strategy- layering basics made from quality and easy to live in fabrics. The book is beautiful. Highly recommend.

    Also, I’ve been thinking of teaching my niece to sew. I will probably start with the super simple tank top in this book and teach her to sew by hand first. We can also have fun with beads and stencils!

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