a while back Steffani Lincecum sent me her book “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-Off Technique to Re-Create and Redesign your Favorite Fashions”. Steffani is a sewing instructor who has taught costume construction at the University of Wisconsin and has worked on shows like Will & Grace and 3rd Rock from the Sun in addition to crazy things like sewing wings for a trapeze artist in a Tom Petty video. she is the real deal. I was more than a little thrilled when she asked me to discuss her book on the blog.
the book covers two different methods for making patterns with the emphasis being on re-creating existing items. both methods are what is called ‘rub-off’ methods…one with paper and the other using fabric. the book takes you through both techniques and show you how to create patterns for skirts, dresses, blouses and handbags. every chapter relies on a ‘source garment’ meaning a single garment used to make an original pattern. it then outlines the best method to use; walks you through sewing the simple design and then provides more advanced options. for example, her skirt chapter starts with a basic pencil skirt then provides the information necessary to alter the pattern to a casual denim skirt; a wool tweed pencil skirt; a striped a-line skirt; a wrap skirt; a bias-cut cotton skirt; and even adding in pockets. so…essentially working from one simple skirt to any kind of skirt you could imagine.
she does the same thing for the chapters on dresses, blouses and handbags…it moves from basic to advanced. if there is one word for this book it is THOROUGH and I mean that in a good way. some patternmaking books skip over how to sew it all together once you have created a pattern and others don’t really provide what you need to make your own patterns. this book is doing everything from ‘cradle to grave’ as the expression goes. by that I mean it includes 1) a discussion on the basics of fabric construction and tips on tidy sewing (anyone who has suffered through my beginner sewing class knows how near and dear to my heart both of these things are!) 2) how to measure yourself properly and how to estimate the amount of fabric you will need 3) making a pattern and then altering the pattern and 4) sewing it all together for each and every alteration as well as the basic pattern. it takes you from from beginning to end. in all, I’m very excited about this book. I’m proud I own it and I’m excited to dive into it…probably in the new year.
it is a ‘diving in’ kind of book. when I open up this book I get the sense that I have to COMMIT to this book if I’m going to get anything out of it. I think there are a lot of books out there right now that are ‘project-based’. you can pick up those book and browse through them…get inspired and bang something out. they are fun and inspiring. if those books are twilight this book is anna karenina…and not because it’s stodgy or hard to read, it’s an easy read, Steffani has a very friendly and real voice…but it’s because it for real. for real, for real. it’s a college education in paperback form. there is a lot in this book and a lot to be gained from having the discipline to really work from this book. I’m genuinely hoping that I can set aside time in 2012 to work my way through this book and pick up every gem of wisdom that Steffani lays down. maybe I’ve been eating candy and it’s time for some broccoli?!