10 Best Pattern Making books : Learn pattern drafting from the experts

When you are making clothes for yourself you can afford to make mistakes. It need not be exact. If one pattern doesn’t work, you forgive yourself and move on to the next. But when it comes to running a business like a tailoring shop or costume making business or a wedding boutique specializing in designing wedding dresses or any other sewing business, you do not get this leeway. The client has your back and in a very bad way.

One mistake may be the end of your business as your reputation is at stake and in this business, word of mouth reputation is almost ‘it’. Positive word of mouth can bring you new business like a hailstorm but some negative publicity of bad fitting etc and it will be as if you never existed.

Learning pattern drafting perfectly is the way forward and you can get the fit perfect this way. If you are a self learner you have help at hand – these wonderful people have written books on how to make your own patterns to fit different types of body sizes and shapes and in all the designs you want. 

Some of these books details the 2 different ways to pattern drafting – Flat pattern method and the Draping method but most have the flat pattern method. All of them teach you how to draft a collection of slopers or blocks and then go on to produce other designs based on these foundations.

The list is in no order of quality or preference but they are all classics and international favorites.

The best Pattern making books 

Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich 

One of the most comprehensive book series on pattern making; it includes Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear, Women’s Wear, children’s wear and Baby wear as separate books with all the details you would ever need. It is regularly updated and you will have to ensure that you have the latest version. 

Pattern making for fashion design by Helen J Armstrong 

A wonderfully comprehensive book with so many designs and patterns that it will boggle your mind. It is a big book and very detailed.


Dress Pattern Designing : The Basic Principles of Cut and Fit by Natalie Bray.

Natalie Bray is a well known expert and a pioneer in pattern drafting.  This is a revised version of her first book launched in 1970s. There are many easy to understand diagrams and clear instructions

Basic Pattern Skills for Fashion Design by Bernard Zamkoff

This is an easy to follow highly recommended book for pattern making with various illustrations that clearly explains how to convert basic patterns to different types of designs.

How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald H. McCunn

This book was first written in 1975 but it is a great book nevertheless and covers all the basic aspects you need to know in pattern making.

Pattern cutting and Making up by Martin Shoben and Janet P Ward.

A book that gives you instructions to make your patterns and to stitch it properly.

Pattern making for Fashion Design by Gerry Cooklin

Master Patterns And Grading For Women’s Outsizes and Pattern Grading for Men’s Clothes belong to the same author.

Art of Fashion Draping by Connie Amaden-Crawford.

A very good book to learn pattern making by draping.

How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan

This is the book you need if you have many store bought patterns and you would like to alter them to the proportions you have.

Designing Patterns – A Fresh Approach to Pattern Cutting 
by Hilary Campbell

An easy to understand and simple to follow book on pattern making. It gives you a clear understanding of the basics of pattern making and makes it easy for you to make your own patterns. 

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Comments 6

  1. I am looking for a how to drafting book for dummies. I have always been challenged in the arithmetic department and am now at an age where my shoulders are smaller, my bust is larger, my waist has thickened, not to mention the hip measurement- I am alone, so no one to help there. I cannot find any dress maker who will draft me a basic dress or slack pattern. I have for years just tried to alter bought patterns, but now I find the armseye is out of whack so the fabric pulls weirdly. I have a room full of fabrics with no confidence to continue to sew. HELP. Do you know of any service that makes up basic patterns please. AND of course, I’m old! I understand this would not be a usual request. JM.

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      Author
    2. This is a bit late, but hope it might help.

      I’ve heard good things about the M. Rohr drafting book, though I don’t know if it covers your specific concerns. I believe a version is available free online.

      I wonder if a made-to-measure pattern like Lekala would help?

      You also might try asking for drafting book recommendations and drafting/pattern alteration advice at pattern review.

      Good luck!

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