These are some of the books in my sewing library which I have found inspiring and useful throughout the years. When you are too busy or too tired to sew itís nice to curl up with a good book and recharge your batteries.
Pattern Drafting and Foundation and Flat Pattern Design Ė A Dressmakerís Guide
By Ida Riley Duncan, Read Books, Ltd
Most of the sewing design books Iíve read donít include advice on how to draft a sleeve, usually because it is a complicated process and most people who have not been to design school take one look at the instructions and run screaming (me included). They usually just tell you to use a sleeve from another pattern but that always felt like cheating a bit to me as you are still relying on someone elseís design aesthetic. This little gem of a book (which I believe is a trade publication that has been updated for modern sewing) arrived in my mailbox this week and although Iíve not had a chance to actually sit down and try the techniques, it appears to greatly demystify the process of sleeve drafting and pattern making. Having a perfectly fitted basic set of patterns (slopers) for our dolls would be sewing heaven! I can hardly wait to get started using it on not only doll clothing but my own personal sewing as well.
How to Make Sewing Patterns
By Donald H. McCunn, Design Enterprises of S.F.
This is another great book on pattern drafting and is somewhat of a combination of the first book and the one immediately following. It has a great chart, with lots of diagrams, showing exactly how to measure all the crucial parts of the body.
Make Your Own Dress Patterns
By Adele P. Margolis, Dover Publications, Inc.
This is THE go-to design book for many doll (and people) seamstresses. It starts with the premise that you already have a pattern (many of the simple Barbie patterns are perfect for this) and it shows you how to create new pattern designs using dart manipulation, seam changes, controlling and creating fullness, etc. There are tons of line drawings and enough inspiration to keep you interested forever. Mine is right near my sewing machine and is stuffed with bookmarks and notes from past projects.
Fashion Source Books
By John Peacock, Thames and Hudson Ltd
These small paperback books are really fun. Ranging from the year 1900 onwards, they cover the entire range of the fashions of each decade, year by year, including daywear, eveningwear, leisurewear, as well as underwear, shoes, hats, purses. They also include bios of the decadeís top designers and a chart showing the evolution of fashion through that particular decade. I have individual volumes but Iíve noticed recently that a comprehensive volume is now available.
Fashion Design Drawing Course
By Caroline Tatham & Julian Seaman, Barronís Educational Services, Inc.
Beautifully illustrated with watercolor sketches, this book starts out by focusing on teaching us to be competent at showcasing our designs by creating portfolios. Alas, although I have been keeping sketch and note books for years, I will never astound the world with my artwork. But that is not why I love this book. It also offers wonderful ideas on finding inspiration and using that inspiration to build fashion collections. It also discusses, among other things, how to design to a brief which I find fun and challenging. It is much more interesting for me if, before I start a new fashion of a doll, I ask myself what is her story? Where is she going? What kind of impression does she want to make once sheís there? Who does she want to attract? Itís hard to start reading this book and not want to stop after just a few pages and start creating something right away. And, after all, I guess that is the point of most good sewing publications - to inspire us and give us the tools we need to expand our creativity.