Kerry O'Brine Womens Wear

Behind the seams

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Pattern Cutting – Book Review

For the first read the book Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich is hard to get your head round. That link above is to the latest edition of the book and perhaps they have altered and improved it since I purchased this 2004 edition of the book.

I found Aldrich’s instructions to be too short and leaving gaps in the information. Aldrich takes you through creating blocks in a very specific way and then how to adapt them to create certain standard shapes and style lines.

In creating the blocks I often found the clarity of her instructions left me frustrated. Once I had worked with the book several times and started drawing out the blocks I began to develop an understanding of what she was saying.

I don’t think this is a book for a beginner but would be good for someone with a base knowledge or experience in pattern cutting. In Aldrich’s adaptation of the blocks to other designs she uses clear drawings but again for anyone not experienced there isn’t a lot of instruction.

The edition I have includes overgarment blocks and close fitting blocks. As well as blocks for knit and stretch fabrics. There is a small section on CAD at the back of the book that feels like a token and unnessary gesture.

Drafting blocks for individual figures is a useful part of the book but I have other books on alterations for fit which demonstrate in clear photos the problems and solutions better.

Although I don’t think it’s for beginners the design adaptations are not advanced and for more help with more complex designs you might find another book more helpful. If your looking for a pattern cutting book with instruction on creating new and interesting shapes and styles then look towards the Japanese pattern makers. For instance I purchased Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi which I’ve found to be inspiring.

Overall I feel the book has some great and useful information, I have created many starting blocks from the book. I feel that it would be even better if the book was more focused on just the blocks and block adaptations and expanded further in this area. The other areas Aldrich touches on would be very useful as seperate books and she could then extend the information.

I often go back to the book as a starting point and keep it nearby for reference.


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Learning to grade your own patterns – book review

I decided today to write this post as I was chatting over lunch with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a while. She expressed an interest in the fact that I do my own grading and then said she was considoring purchising the book Grading for the Fashion Industry Theory and Practice by Martin M. Shoben and Patrick J.Taylor.

I warned her of my findings from using the book and that I wouldn’t purchase it again. I’m going to talk you through the book and how I found it to use. I think that although you can purchase it from several reputable retailers such as amazon and morplan you should borrow one first before parting with your money.

My first criticism is that it reads as though the author wrote the book and then never re-read it and neither did the copy editor! I purchased the Third Edition so you would have thought that any errors would have been picked up and changed by then.

It’s almost like no one has ever got past the first part of the book. I have been working on some designs and I thought I would have a look through the style reference section that takes you through different styles and how to grade them. I quickly stumbled across an error. On page 126 it says this:

‘A fuller discussion of track grading can be found see page ?.’

It then says ‘Back skirt as block (page ?)’ and again it happens on p135.

This book gives the impression of taking you from start to finish, from beginner and beyond. When I read this book I felt that there was crucial information missing. It jumps around from one bit to another. They grab a number from thin air and don’t explain where it has come from. The important information may well be there somewhere but you have to fight through the waffle to get to it.

It feels like a problem that I have found before, that an expert in their field writes a book but isn’t an expert in conveying their knowledge to others.

I was reading the instructions and having to constantly flick back and forth to diagrams that they reference but have strangely placed overleaf. Surely you place illustrations and diagrams next to the explanation?

When reading this book I was of the mindset of very much understanding the concept of grading yet wanting some clarification of how to go about it.

In the end I combined alot of information that I gathered from various sources together and worked it out. Since figuring out how to grade I have looked back at the book and some areas have made more sense.

There does seem to be a gap in the book market for a simple to understand book on the basic steps of grading. Once the reader can grasp those techniques you can show them the pitfalls and the different styles etc…

The books on the market are expensive and I (as others probably did) picked the book Grading for the Fashion Industry because it covers a variety of areas and also isn’t as expensive as the others. At £25.00 it is a snip compared to these others:

Concepts of Pattern Grading: Techniques for Manual and Computer Grading


Pattern Grading for Women’s Clothes: The Technology of Sizing


apparel pattern grading (2nd edition) [paperback]


But then in hindsight it might be worth paying the extra money! I am yet to look at those other books but I would be interested in knowing what they’re like.

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Yesterday I made my first visit to Pure London. I was interested in seeing the set up of the event, the individual booth set ups and sizes as well as the overall atmosphere.

It was interesting to see how brands presented their stands and created a buzz around the clothing. I particularily loved the set up of Darling, they had a clear yet visually interesting space.

There was a great mix of long established brands such as Sticky Fingers, Fenn Wright Manson and with less known brands.

I felt the Premium section was quite small but I felt Goat’s collection stood out.

It was really great to see newer small brands and companies having space there. However there seemed a noticeable difference between the brands where larger budgets could afford large square footage and the smaller companies having spaces tucked away at the edge. Somehow I feel the lay out could be made a bit better to assist fledgling brands and attract visitors to their stands. Shell spaces for small and new brands could form a nice key walk way between prime space.

In addition to the exibitors there are catwalk shows and presentations about the trends for the season. A few snapshots of the day:

There seemed a good mix of brands who offered low minimums on orders and short runs which is great for the small boutiques who want to spread their budget between forward order and short order. Low minimums also give the boutiques a chance to try a brand in the mix without commiting large chunks of the season to it.

Personally if I was buying from this event I would need a couple of days. First day to browse and get some information and then second day to solidify orders and make decisions.