Metric Pattern Cutting Review- aka success through swearing and mathematics.

I’ve not posted recently as I’ve had my head stuck in a book, Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. Or, as I’ve been calling it “Metric bastarding Pattern bollocks, I’ve measured this wrong Cutting Oh look, it worked, ace! I’m a genius!

New things to learn. Very distracting

New things to learn. Very distracting

This book is somewhat of a sewist’s handbook and I wish I’d got my mitts on it sooner. If you’re thinking of getting it and know  you way round a sewing machine, then this is definitely something you should look at. From the cover, it looks pretty dry and maybe a little out-dated, but it is quite easy to follow and gives great detailed advice on how to draft made-to-measure patterns. Aldrich does not mess about with flashy illustrations or other distractions, there’s no “filler” in here, it’s a clearly written instruction manual for the sewist with (at least) basic skills.

The book provides very thorough instruction on how to take measurements and apply them basic blocks (or slopers) for just about any type of women’s clothing; close and easy-fitting blocks for bodices, jackets, coats, dresses, skirts, trousers, t-shirts and even swimwear.  These blocks are just that, “starting blocks”, once these are mastered, you’re able to make any number of variations. Aldrich actually walks you through loads of variations (around 20-30) to each of the blocks and shows you how to change necklines, openings, collars, gathering, sleeves…I could go on, but you get the idea.

Metric Pattern CuttingHaving all this information presented in such a clear way has taught me so much about garment construction and it really is nowhere near as intimidating as I thought it would be. It’s basically like learning a code which enables you to make whatever you want in a way that actually fits. Once you have this kind of knowledge, you can almost do away with using commercial pattern entirely. Alternatively, you can use lay the blocks to adapt commercial patterns so they fit properly.

You don’t need any special equipment but I found having a claculator, set square, French curves and dot and cross paper (from Wimbledon Sewing Centre) really helpful. Another thing which really helped was the talented PatternCutter206 on youtube. Her tutorials are fantastic, I found this one on adjusting armholes really useful.

It really is easier than it looks, it’s just a lot of maths and patience and adjusting things until they fit. Then a bit more patience, and some cursing and re-measuring and then realising you’ve put your top on back-to-front and that’s why it doesn’t fit. The sense of satisfaction when I finally did get it right was brilliant though. I’d post photos but there isn’t anything pretty about this kind of sewing. It’s basically me in a calico bodice, which I’ve scribbled indecipherable notes on – not as particularly inspiring visual.

So, instead, here’s a lovely but completely unrelated picture of Beachy Head.

Beachy Head


About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------>
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9 Responses to Metric Pattern Cutting Review- aka success through swearing and mathematics.

  1. Yes this is awesome. I love the minimalist illustrations-timeless. Would be great to see what you’ve come up with. I need to get on with pattern drafting, I realise that pretty much every time I have to alter commercial patterns to fit-but I just don’t get large blocks of usable time at the moment. Perhaps once the semester ends at the uni..

    • smittenness says:

      I wish I’d bought it years ago. I’ve only made the basic blocks up in calico at this stage but it’s so satisfying. I’m working abroad for 3 weeks from Sunday and kind of resenting not being able to crack on with this stuff. Hope you get time to get stuck in with MPC.

  2. Gjeometry says:

    Oooh, I’ve not heard of that book, sounds wonderful! I love the math and geometry (duh) involved in patterns and sewing. And, yes, swearing often does come along with it. Part of the fun, n’est pas? LOVELY pic of Beachy Head, looks so pretty!

    • smittenness says:

      It’s great. I can’t rate it highly enough. Got the sleeve block down last night and I’ve always struggled with them. I’d always thought I was crap at Maths but this has even given me back some of that confidence too.

  3. Leila says:

    I did my fair share of swearing this afternoon trying to cut out a pattern. It’s true that the pictures of patternmaking are pretty boring. Not everyone gets a kick out of seeing them. Sounds like you’re doing great!

    • smittenness says:

      I’d definitely recommend it. Just measuring myself and comparing it to standard manufacturers measurements was eye-opening. A size 18 bust and a size 8 back, bits that are 12 some 14, some 10? Little wonder I end up resizing everything!

  4. sewbusylizzy says:

    I’m intrigued! Thanks for this post!

  5. flossiejamieson says:

    Oh my goodness, it looks complicated! If I’d known sewing was actually all about maths I don’t think I would have ever decided to get to the bottom of proper pattern based sewing.

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