I have a favorite professor at Lipscomb University who has indirectly (and sometimes directly) caused me to accumulate too many sewing and fashion books. During my freshman year of college, she let me borrow this book. Three years and about thirty failed eBay auctions later, I finally obtained my own copy. I even used it as my textbook for an independent study, and thereby conned my parents into buying it for me. It’s the very coolest book I’ve seen on draping and flat pattern design. Ladies (and gentlemen?), may I present Dress Design: Draping and Flat Pattern Making, by Marion Hillhouse and Evelyn Mansfield, 1948.
This charming 1940’s textbook book retails anywhere from $60 to $200, depending on where you find it, how many other people find it (on eBay), and the alignment of the stars (just kidding). Outrageous? Maybe. Until you go and check the price of the 8th edition of Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method, paperback, $139 at Amazon. (That was the textbook we used in my first pattern design class.) On the inside of my $65-ish copy is penciled “$6.” I think I hate whoever found it for that price.
But, without further ado, we’ll hop into some cool pictures here.
I draped Fig. 11 (far right) for my independent study, senior year. (Here are some photos, if you’re curious. It was just to learn the technique, not a finished garment.)
The shapes to the right of the sketch are the pattern pieces. You cut and add pieces to your basic pattern as shown in the first drawing, and then spread them as shown in the second. That’s how flat pattern design works.
And this one is just wild, too.
I need to hunt that thing up and finish it. It was quite flattering. And I think I only lack the sleeves and the lining.
But oh my word, it was a weird pattern! The waist-fitting dart is concealed in that scallop near the bottom. It took both my professor and me quite a little while to figure out how to do this one, as there were no instructions (she actually called me from her vacation, where she had been puzzling over it, to tell me how it was supposed to be done!).
So, if you ever want to learn to make your own patterns, hunt down a copy of this book. It will tell you almost everything you need to know, from padding your dressform to changing darts into wacky design lines. And, if you find it for $6, tell me. I’ll be impressed.