Book Review: Pattern Magic

graphic from the publisher, sorry if the link breaks in future. Click for original

Most books I’ve seen I’ve filed under “inspiration” – however this one I’ll file under “ambitious” instead.  I first read about Pattern Magic  from the blogosphere (I don’t remember which one(s) and now that I go to look for my favorites, I can’t find the reference…) and finally found both #1 and #2 in the English (from Japanese) translations.

Pattern Magic is ambitious because it presumes that you understand how to draft your own basic blocks, and then that you know how to alter the patterns, and how to construct garments from those patterns.  For an average home sewer who relies on patterns by traditional pattern companies (Vogue, McCalls, etc) this is probably more ambitious than they could easily tackle.  I studied pattern drafting in college, and this is far beyond the scope of what I learned – however I can see how tackling one project at a time (with lots of patience!) could be very rewarding.

The designs in the book are like wearable origami; full of fascinating angles, confusing curves, and shapes emerging from areas where we’re unaccustomed to seeing these shapes.  Some of the designs are very adaptable for different garments (for instance translating an effect from a bodice to a skirt) while others are less so.  Some of the designs are wearable (at least by someone who doesn’t mind a little extra attention) while others I can’t imagine seeing on anyone off the couture runway.

The book includes half-scale bodice block patterns to start out with – these are graded for different (Japanese woman) sizes, but aren’t fitted – so just scaling them up likely won’t actually produce a wearable pattern (unless you happen to have ideal measurements by Japanese standards…)  Luckily, all of the designs show the actual development of the pattern rather than just the finished pattern – meaning you can take a block designed for your measurements and adapt the design from there.

My favorite designs?  

The gathered hole – pretty simple, but in an unexpected place.  I think it would be cute as shown on the hip of a cami, or on the shoulders of a jacket.  I like the look of it on the waist-side of a dress, but that’s totally not wearable for me!

The drop hole – not at all wearable as far as I can figure, but amazing. I can’t even think of a way to translate it into something wearable, but it’s gorgeous and noteworthy.

The bamboo shoot – lovely and pretty.  I can’t see wearing it on the front like in the example, but I think it would be lovely on the hips of a funky dress or on the back of a sundress.

In an ideal world (you know, that world where I have time to try these things) I’d love to try out some of the designs even in half-scale just for the challenge and the beauty.

So – have you made anything from Pattern Magic? Include a link of your creation in the comments below!  I searched the blogosphere, and found some of the following bloggers have made up their own versions…

  • Very Prairie (Looks fantastic, but it seems like a lot of work for the result…)
  • Goldfinch & Eagle (Made up in a small scale for a full size interpretation.)
  • Handmade by Carolyn (the Gathered Hole dress looks cute on her, but it would look terrible on me!)

Order from the publisher, or find it in Canadian $ from Chapters/Indigo.

One comment on “Book Review: Pattern Magic

  1. […] manipulating flat fabric.  It reminded me a lot of fabric oragami (which reminded me a bit of Pattern Magic and Pattern Magic […]

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