Book Report: Patternmaking for Menswear!

Oooh, you guys– I have a super fun book to show you today!  It’s Patternmaking for Menswear by Gareth Kershaw, sent to me by my friends at Laurence King Publishing.

I was really excited to see this in my mailbox for two reasons– firstly, because I’m suddenly feeling comfortable enough with my sewing skills to want to sew for my fella, and secondly, because I’m about three-quarters of the way through my first patternmaking course at FIT and ready to delve more deeply into that world.  Folks, this puppy does NOT disappoint!

The book draws inspiration from the world of fashion, but the pieces are classic and wearable.

To make the projects in the book, you create basic pattern blocks, then use them as a jumping-off point to create patterns for different looks.   (I have to say, after spending a semester drafting for women, the lovely straight lines and dart-free lines of menswear really appeal to me!).

At the beginning of each project, the author lists the changes you need to make to the block and the techniques you need to learn.  It’s all laid out in a simple and straightforward fashion, which I appreciate.  The drawings and instructions are much clearer than the textbook my patternmaking teacher references (an older, out-of-print book with small, hard-to-see illustrations).

There are enough patterns and variations in the book to dress a dude really well.  Also, not to be TOO much of a superbrat, but lots of the details and skills included in the book translate to women’s sewing, too.  I would TOTALLY wear this shirt (I KNOW, I KNOW, I’LL MAKE SOMETHING FOR MY DUDE FIRST).  In the project shows above, you need to create cuffs, yokes, plackets, a curved hem– all kinds of things that would come in handy for guys and gals alike!  Did I mention that I would TOTALLY wear this shirt?

There are twenty patterns included in the book, and they’re a great mix of basics and hipper garments.  For example, there’s a basic buttondown and basic pants, but there are also cargo pants, a hooded sweatshirt, a henley, and a lovely trench coat.  This is about as much bang for your buck as you could possibly get sewing for guys– I don’t think you could buy 20 patterns on sale for the amount this book retails for on Amazon ($38!!!)!  I should also mention that I think this book would come in handy even if you’re not interested in drafting patterns from scratch.  If you want to change up favorite commercial patterns, there’s lots in here to help you update basic patterns and turn them into new looks.  Also, in case you were wondering, the book uses the imperial system– no metric measurements.

If I sound really excited about this book, it’s because I am!  And, the good news is that I have a copy to give away!  Sadly, I can only send it to U.S. residents, but I will plan a giveaway soon for international readers.  I’ll choose a winner at random one week from today, at 10P EST on Thurs., Nov. 21st.  If you’re interested, leave a comment below!  I’d love to know what you’d be most excited about making from this book!

“Tie Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It” Review!

Hi, all!  It’s back to school time (or at least very close to it!) here in the United States, and as usual, I’m in the grips of a seasonal urge to learn!  But since I know that it’s just the cool evening air and a heaping helping of nostalgia giving me these feelings, I like to channel these feelings into learning about a new skill or hobby, and I’m guessing some of you are the same way.  So this fall I’ve decided to learn more about dyeing!

Obviously all the artwork and images from the book aren’t my own…

I don’t remember where I first read about her (probably on the Textile Arts Center blog), but I stumbled across Shabd Simon-Alexander’s book, Tie Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It (available on her site or on Amazon) and instantly ordered it.  In the past, I’ve attended workshops on bundle dyeing and shibori (using indigo), but Shabd’s book is about how to use fiber reactive dyes.  As much as I enjoyed working with natural elements and indigo, it seems easier to dye large pieces of fabric or whole garments with fiber reactive dyes.

This book assumes that you have no previous experience using dyes (perfect!) and walks you through the entire process, from sourcing materials to curing your dyed garments.  For me, dyeing seems like a mysterious art with unpredictable results.  But Shabd gives lots of tips and tricks to achieve specific looks.  For example, she shows you the way that one dye color reacts differently with different fibers:

Pretty cool, huh?  Maybe you can’t know exactly how your project will turn out, but you can definitely make a more educated guess with the help of this book.

I really like that the book elevates tie dye from a sort of cheesy arts & crafts look to something much more elegant.  There’s much more to tie dye than bright spirals (I say this with love– I’ve spent more hours than I’d care to admit listening to the Grateful Dead and I’ve definitely worn some tie dye disasters)!  Even folks who fear obvious prints and patterns can find a look for them, like this take on polka dots:

Or this fun version of the classic Breton top:

These are both really cool, but I’m drawn to some of the wilder styles, like the cosmic leggings:

I love the simple, modern garments that Shabd dyes, like this top:

It’s so delicate and pretty, not something you would expect from traditional tie dye!  I highly recommend the book– it’s really inspirational!

I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but I’m really tempted to start dyeing fabric!  What about you guys?  Are you interesting in dyeing?  Are you learning any new skills or techniques this fall?  Anybody actually going back to school?

Drape Drape 3: Review + Giveaway!


Hi, guys!  I have a giveaway for you today– exciting, right?  Laurence King Publishing sent me a copy of their brand new book, Drape Drape 3.  I reviewed and gave away a copy of Drape Drape 2 late last year, and this book is the next in the series.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Drape Drape books, they’re stylish Japanese pattern books translated into English.  The designs aren’t draped, though– there patterns are included in the book.

The instructions are fairly minimal, so these are probably better suited to advanced beginner or intermediate sewists, but the diagrams are really interesting and informative.  Also, fit is pretty forgiving in these designs, and most of them only require two or three pattern pieces– score!

As with Drape Drape 2, the patterns are geared more towards knits, but there are some styles that are suitable for wovens, too.

I love the photographs in these books!  The modern, unusual styles are eye candy for a curious sewist like me!

If you’d like to be entered in the giveaway, let me know in a comment below!  I’ll ship it worldwide.  🙂  Let’s close the giveaway a week from today, Wednesday, April 17th, at 11:59PM EST.

Which of these designs is your favorite?  Have you sewed from any of the Drape Drape books?

Drape Drape 2: Review & Giveaway!


Hi, guys!  I’m back with another giveaway!  I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Drape Drape 2 from Laurence King Publishing, and I can give a copy to you, too!  But first– let’s have a little book club discussion, alright?

Is it weird that this book has only white models?

I’ll start off by saying that I know NOTHING about draping and have never tried it, so I was interested to learn more about the process.  However, the book isn’t actually about draping!  The author, Hisako Sato, describes “drape drape” as the process of combining tucks, gathering, twists, and slack fabric to create a look.  There are full-size patterns included for the 14 garments pictured in the book, which is nice, although they aren’t all multi-sized.

These relaxed styles favor knits, although there are a few patterns for wovens, including the skirt with the draped flounce pictured above.  The pieces are all really unique and interesting, although they may not be for you if you don’t like to have lots of fabric drawing attention to some parts of your body (for example, in the skirt above, you can see all the gathering around the waist and high hip– might not be everyone’s favorite place to emphasize).

There’s a nice tension between simplicity and detail in these designs.  Some of the garments are surprisingly easy to execute, like the skirt on the right, which is constructed with one pattern piece and a rectangular, elasticized waistband.  Yet it’s a delicate, feminine skirt, and way cuter than you would imagine a knit, elastic-waist mini would be!

One drawback of the book is that the sizing is really limited.  An XL in this book is for measurements 35″/30″/38″!  I’ve heard this can be an issue with Japanese pattern books, but I was still pretty surprised.  However, the patterns seem really easy to grade up a bit if you wear a larger size, and there is quite a bit of ease built into most of these styles.

I really liked seeing the diagrams and flat patterns transformed into garments (Amy put her own spin on the pattern shown above– check it out!).  Sometimes it’s hard for me to visualize how a garment is constructed, so it’s really fun to see how the designer achieved some of these fascinating styles.  I’ve earmarked a few patterns to make down the road, but even if I never get around to making them, I still feel like I’ve learned something from this book.  I could see myself referring to it from time to time when drafting my own patterns.

What do you think?  Are these styles for you?  Have you used any kind of Japanese pattern books before?

Alright, let’s get back to the giveaway!  If you’d like to be entered in the giveaway, let me know in the comments below!  I’ll send it anywhere in the world.  🙂  Let’s keep the giveaway open until Tuesday the 20th at 11:59PM EST, then I’ll draw a winner!  Good luck!