Book review: Pattern Magic 2

Image from the publisher - sorry if the link breaks in future, click for original

In a previous post I looked at the first Pattern Magic book by Tomoko Nakamichi, and this time around I’m taking a look at the second Pattern Magic book.  Like the first, the book is terribly ambitious, and highly inspirational.  Again, it’s like origami for clothing, with some very wearable designs, and some designs that are pure fantasy (and likely best left to the pages of the book instead of being made up in full-size to wear!)

The book is organized in a similar way, and offers a half-scale bodice block to start playing (sized to fit a medium Japanese woman) and detailed illustrations how to take the pattern from the basic block to the design pattern.  Of course, there aren’t many instructions for actually constructing the garments, but I think that if you’re ready for the challenge of these drafts, you’re probably skilled enough to figure out the construction as well…

The designs themselves are grouped into three categories; playing with geometrics, decorative structures, and ‘it vanishes’.  The ambition of the designs really reminds me of a friend of mine – quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes a little TOO smart for her own good… haha

In my post about the first book, I commented on my favorite designs. This time around, I like:

Wearing a balloon – The collared version.  It’s just so clever – something that looks simple at first glance, and then when you start to look at it, it starts to unveil it’s funky secret…

Sprouting at the back – The end result looks very elvish and monk-ish at the same time. With that being said, I wonder if it would end up just looking like an unfinished hood?  This is something I’d love to see someone else make up…

Just like a stole – I’ve seen this before in 1950’s dresses I think – very cute and sweet.  I wonder though if the result is worth the extra pattern drafting and construction work?  The overall effect could be achieved with an additional piece of fabric…

A ball-shaped accordion – I’ve had this kind of thing in mind for a bag actually (or something vaguely like it), though the author shows it as a sleeve which is interesting as well.  I really like the shell-effect pulling the accordion diagonally, though I don’t know how this could be used…

Like a jungle – although it goes against my love of symmetry, I like the concept behind this design, and could see it looking very interesting if the pieces were strategically placed on the back of a dress.  I also wonder how it might work if the pieces were to lace across like a corset back?

Cowl neck & application of the cowl-neck design – I love cowl necks, but it’s not something too unique (since I’ve made up several over the years) but I love the application, turning the cowl into a vest front with lapels (this would look beautiful in a halter-neck I think…).  The straight-front Regency-style jacket is less interesting to me though.

Like the first book, you can get Pattern Magic 2 from the publisher or, if shopping in Canadian dollars, from Chapters/Indigo.

On my wish list is Pattern Magic for Stretch Fabrics, which hasn’t been published/distributed yet by the looks of things, but is available for pre-order from Chapters/Indigo for May 2012…  I’m fascinated by the idea of all of the structure from the designs in the first two books interpreted in knits!

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.

Book Review: Two from one jelly roll quilts

Image from - click for original

I picked up a few books about Jelly Roll quilts recently – and a number of them are by Pam and Nicky Lintott.  I have recently started to want to work with the lovely combination of fabrics in Jelly Rolls – but thought that finding some patterns/designs especially meant for them would be ideal for making the best use of the fabric.

In this book the authors take one Jelly Roll, and make two quilts with it (with additional fabric of course).  Like the previous book I didn’t always care for their colour choices – I prefer more subdued colours rather than lots of brights, but there were more ideas in here that really worked for me for a possible Jelly Roll quilt.

Since they are using one roll to make two quilts – not all of the quilts are full-size, but all of the patterns can be adapted for larger quilts – even if it means you’ll need more than one jelly roll (or additional fabric for sashing/etc).

The quilt pattern that I really like from this book is called “Fairy Steps”… though I have a few other books to go through before I decide which pattern I want to use for the purples/pinks Jelly Roll I bought not too long ago!

Have I mentioned recently how much I love….

Google Books?

General history

Image from Google Books

Image from Google Books. Linked from source, click for reference.

Accessories of Dress: An Illustrated Encyclopedia By Katherine Morris Lester, Bess Viola Oerke, Helen Westermann

This book has a wide variety of accessories from early history until modern times – and as luck would have it, the first part of the book that Google Books offers is on hats – both men’s and women’s hats, from early history until 1930 (when the copyright laws prevent them from showing more).  Masks, wigs, collars, shawls and more are included in the book itself, though the Google Books reference only includes the hat section.  Very fortunate for me, since that’s what I’m specifically interested in right now!

There are some very clear illustrations, however not a ~lot~ on each style… still enough to give a good impression, and a good jumping off point for further research on historical costume.
Another book with a general historial theme, although this one specifically about hats is Hats: a history of fashion in headwear By Hilda Amphlett. Again, this one has sketches of millinery from the 11th century until the 20th century.

Victorian & Edwardian

Image from Google Books.

Image from Google Books. Linked from source, click for resource

Victorian fashions and costumes from Harper’s bazar, 1867-1898 By Stella Blum

A really interesting look at fashion plates from old magazines.  There are also illustrations specifically of hats, jewelry, shawls, parasols and other items.  I would love to have (and have the ROOM to have) these sorts of resource books just for reference when costuming… but checking out the pages that Google Books has available for the time being is the next best thing!

A related reference book with fashion plates is Victorian and Edwardian fashions from “La Mode Illustrée By JoAnne Olian, also available in part on Google Books.

Next up, patterns – again taken (I imagine) from magazines from the Victorian era Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe By Kristina Harris.  I’ve seen this sort of thing before, and there are a bunch of caveats when using these for actual pattern-making… 1) historic clothing fits differently than modern clothing 2) the patterns aren’t multi-sized, so you need some idea of grading for your size. 3) patterns are rarely included for facings, cuffs, etc.  With those caveats, seeing the more detailed patterns is a great way to see how different shapes were made, and then translate that into original drafts.  There is another book on Google Books that I found: Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques  By Kristina Harris however it mostly shows hand-sewing techniques, and although there might be more to the book…. I wasn’t nearly so excited as I was about the others.

Edwardian, Regency & the Teens

Google Books

Again, from Google Books - click away!

Everyday fashions, 1909-1920, as pictured in Sears catalogs By JoAnne Olian

More actual historic illustrations – this time from 1909-1920.  I love seeing the actual catalogue illustrations of the hats from earlier in the period – how big those hats were!

For more fashion plates (with lots of descriptive information) this time from the Regency era, they also have Ackermann’s costume plates: women’s fashions in England, 1818-1828 By Stella Blum, Rudolph Ackermann

But alas…

There’s also a book listed, with no preview at all – that I’m really curious to see more of…. Practical millinery lessons by Julia Bottomley

Oh, but there’s also…

On the topic of Google Books – although Google Books specifically didn’t have the following books, they were available through the Hathi Trust Digital Library. Millinery, by Charlotte Rankin Aiken.

From the University of Wisconsin library, there is The art of millinery: a complete series of practical lessons for the artiste and the amateur by Anna Ben Yusuf, which, I will admit I didn’t look too much at – I found it difficult to scroll through all the pages quickly to scan it… so I’m noting it for another time!

There is also Your millinery by Winifred Reiser at the Wisconsin library as well, which I also didn’t actually go through.  😦

The Library of Congress has a full digital version of A complete course in millinery  by Julia Bottomley, & Emma Maxwell Burke, which looks really interesting as well. I skimmed through this one, but think it’s worth a read later on as well. There is also a copy of Home millinery course by National Millinery Company, which covers similar material, but is less extensive.

Book Review: Amy Butler’s In Stitches

Image from - click for the original

When looking for books I picked up a book on bags from Amy Butler, however there weren’t any patterns in there that I was really excited about.  (See my review of Style Stitches  for more information) However I also picked up another Amy Butler book In Stitches.

Like the previous book, this one has great photos and illustrations, use beautiful fabrics, and it uses the same project-friendly coil binding which makes it really easy to follow along with the directions. The patterns are printed full-size (hurrah, no more visits to the photocopy room!) on regular paper so they’ll stand up to repeated use.  (However I would likely trace them off instead).

Like the previous book, the directions seem really thourough; more so than I think I would use, but still really excellent for anyone who wants good instructions.  The projects themselves also really seem geared towards beginner sewers rather than those with more experience.  Projects like wide-leg lounge pants, sleep masks, and floor cushions aren’t really very challenging.   Covered boxes, decorated towels, aprons and laundry bags are equally beginner-level.  While I think this would be a very pretty book for someone who is just learning how to sew, more advanced sewers might get a little bored.

That being said, there is one project that I kind of liked in the book – the Patchwork Handbag with Zipper Charm.  Ok, I wouldn’t do it patchwork, and I wouldn’t make the zipper charm, but the overall shape of the bag is really modern and appealing. I don’t really love the construction however, so I might just use the idea to develop something of my own!

Photo of the page with the tote I kind of like...