Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Other Favorite Patternmaking Book

I've been doing a lot of patternmaking recently, and I realized I haven't written about a reference book that I use all the time. I have mentioned (on several occasions) my love for Dress Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis (updated edition available here), and I think that's a great one for beginners and anyone casually interested in altering patterns to make their own designs. But if you ever find yourself making patterns for professional purposes, you will probably want a more comprehensive and technical book. That's where Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong comes in. (I have the 4th edition; there's also a 5th edition now available.)

The book walks you through the process of developing a sloper set from scratch. But the real draw is the rest of the book (all 832 pages of it), which you can use to tweak existing patterns.

Though the illustration style (and some of the fashion) is a bit questionable (oh, and some of the hairdos are HI-larious), the content is stellar. It walks you through all the major principles of patternmaking, from dart manipulation to contouring the bust on strapless bodices.

One drawback is that I often find myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. But I've discovered that if I follow the book's directions step-by-step (rather than trying to comprehend pages at a time), I'm always happy with the results.

The price is in line with most textbooks ($95 on Amazon), and it's got the content to back up that price. But if you're just getting into patternmaking, you may wish to start with a cheaper and less overwhelming text, like the Margolis (mentioned above).

Any other fans of this book? Or do you have recommendations of your own on this topic?

76 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tip. I have a question that's been bugging me for a while: will I encounter any difficulty using a good patternmaking reference from the 80s/90s for altering patterns from much earlier decades, or are the techniques these books describe timeless, as it were?

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  2. I've had this book for a year now. Instead of starting with a beginner book I adventurously went to this one straight away, figuring it would be best in the long term. I now love it. You do need to be aware that a lot of the designs were done in the 80's. I found that out when I used the casual shirt block. Wow, those arms were big and low! Anyway, other than that it's a massive source of inspiration as well as a fantastic resource for more pattern making. Shame it's not available in metric.

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  3. I bought this book 18 years ago for my pattern making lessons at university.
    Still use it sometimes.

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  4. I use Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin. Since pattern drafting principles are the same now as they were then the information still works. Plus, the explanations are clear and the 1940s illustrations are much more appealing than those in Armstrong's book.

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  5. I bought this book a few years ago. I love it. There is so much information in this book it is the only book on pattern making you'll ever need. My only complaint is that there are too many pages in the binder and it's hard to turn the pages. Maybe this is from over use but after a while pages started falling out. I bought a 3 ring binder and separated the book into 2. Now it is much easier to use.

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  6. The pattern is the best tool in making clothes. It is our guide for the better outcome of our design.

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  7. I bought a pattern-making text book at an estate sale months ago but I'm way to intimidated to open it! I suppose I should just get on with it -- thanks for the nudge!

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  8. It's been on my want list for ages, along with a draping book. And about a hundred other books on various textile subjects.

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  9. As most of you have mentioned, this book is full of useful information. I own it since last year and get lots of tips for my patternmaking. The only drawback for me is the imperial system :( I am born and raised in metric system and inches just drive me nuts. I also use another books published by Bunka Fashion College (5 books in total). Those are really great and easy to understand. To be some explications are much more accessible. I would recommend to buy them from amazon.co.jp as they are 50% cheaper even with shipment.

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/Garment-Design-Textbook-Fundamentals-%E6%96%87%E5%8C%96%E3%83%95%E3%82%A1%E3%83%83%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A7%E3%83%B3%E5%A4%A7%E7%B3%BB/dp/4579112385/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

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  10. how funny, i was just utilizing this book last night to make a design i had seen in the alice & olivia boutique at the mall!

    it's an amazing book, and it's one of those books i had to grow in to--but it's worth every penny. and the feeling of getting a design done, on your own, cannot be beat.

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  11. I learned a lot from this book. After you master your basic blocks, you're off and doing your own drafting. I love it.

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  12. I just got this book for christmas and so far I've only used it for trouble shooting - but I'm excited to jump into make my slopers. I have been warned about the 80's styling - is it that bad?

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  13. I wanted to let girls with a larger bust know that the sloper draft might not work for you. I tried this over and over thinking I had done something wrong because the draft was coming out super wonky. My draping/drafting teacher realized that the draft was coming out like that because of my larger cup size and this system did not work for me. I ended up using a combination of a vintage sloper and draping it on my dressform.

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  14. Hey, I have this book! Someone gave it to me after they dropped out of the local fashion college. I had no idea it cost that much trololol. I also have The Art of Fashion Draping (http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fashion-Draping-3rd/dp/1563672774/ref=pd_sim_b_4), another spoil from another drop-out.

    Can't say I've used either of them yet, though - I keep saying I will (the books have been in my possession for at least 4 years, eep!), but there are so many other things I want to sew first! I need more time!

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  15. This was the textbook we used at FIDM and I still use it today. Of course the examples were not dated at the time.....sigh, so now it just brings back some fond memories of the larger then life 80's. The economy was strong in the 80's, people were just getting comfortable with credit cards which seemed to lead to this live big mentality which we see reflected in the styles of that decade. yeah..I kinda miss it...

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  16. Love this book, I've had it for about 5 years and use it a lot. It really helps when I need to copy a technique used in ready to wear!

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  17. Thank you for these comments. I've been looking and LOOKING for good references on pattern making, but it's hard to find anything of good quality without knowing exactly what you're looking for.

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  18. An earlier edition of this book was my textbook in college! I love it. It is my go to reference for flat patternmaking.

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  19. I've never done any serious pattern making of my own - which book is better for a complete beginner (if price isn't an option)?

    I've done a lot of pattern manipulation and combining, but never any drafting from scratch.

    Thanks
    Paula

    http://www.learnhowtosewnow.com

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  20. i picked up this book at kinokuniya in NYC last month and I LOVE IT. and it's a lot cheaper. walks you through block building and manipulating the block once you have it. great illustrations and explanations. highly recommended:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Making-Portfolio-Skills-Chunman/dp/1856697509

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  21. I have it and LOVE flipping through it but have yet to attempt much from it!

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  22. I have this book from my days at college too. We used to joke about Helen having the right name for her book. "Armstrong" sure covered what you needed to be to lug it back and forth to class every day. I haven't used it in years, but dug it out before Christmas to help me figure out how to get a cowl out of a dress pattern I was using. I'd love to take a look at the inside of a more modern version. Mine is tres 80's.

    Bibliophile - there is a book, not nearly as big, calle Metric Pattern Cutting by Winnifred Aldrich that is pretty good too!

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  23. Also keep on the look-out for:
    "Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method" by Hollen, a spiral bound classic trade school textbook (it is an older publication for beginning pattern drafting)
    http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/5018136/used/Pattern%20Making%20by%20the%20Flat-Pattern%20Method

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  24. i'm using this book right now for my fashion design program at university. it's a great book, but if you're wanting menswear, it leaves a bit to be desired. Lori A. Knowles has an amazing menswear book, and a seperate one for women which i'm sure is wonderful as well.

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  25. The Armstrong books :) I've have had them on my shelves for years....do not have the 5th edition...yet.

    Invaluable resource for the mechanics of pattern drafting :)

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  26. I love, love, love Pattern Making for Fashion Design! I am actually able to check it out from my local library so I haven't had to pony up the cash for my own copy yet but I covet one! This book gives me all the secret information I need to make patterns and I love that it has specific information for drafting children's patterns as well.

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  27. I have another beginner book - Make Your Own Patterns by René Bergh. It has instructions on both making a sloper and various design elements, but it does nasty shortcuts like assume your bust and hip are the same measurement (I mean, really...). With tweaks, I have successfully made shirt and skirt patterns from it.

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  28. Another great one is "Principles of Flat Pattern Design" by Nora McDonald. It's geared more towards beginners and goes into more detail in the "early stages" of the information. (we used it in our beginning pattern drafting class, the Armstrong was saved for advanced, but much of the info does overlap)

    About the same price-wise - $87 at Amazon

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1563678519

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  29. How interesting!
    I just was doing some reseach on books about pattern making, since I am toying with the idea of starting to make my own patterns (I am fed up with all the sloppyness in comercial patterns).
    Now, I would really like a metric system book.
    Do you know any??

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  30. I have this book, and i've only ever used it to draft a peter pan collar. Funny enough I am currently reading the adele p. Margolis book like a novel now, . It's really easy to understand.

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  31. This is the book we used in fashion school. Good little book! I've been using it a lot lately. I mix these with my vintage patternmaking books- both are great resources. Someone mentioned Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin, which I also love :)

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  32. I have used quite a few different patternmaking texts, but I always come back to my HJA!

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  33. I have another great resource book for grading patterns up or down, great for vintage patterns that you may really want but are a long way from fitting you. It is called "Professional Pattern Grading for Women's, Men's and Children's Apparel" by Jack Handford. Copyright 1980, Plycon Press. It is in binder form so it lays flat open. I use it all the time.

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  34. I'm with Jo -- I got Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin as a Christmas gift this year, and it is *awesome*. It was originally published in 1942 and reprinted in 2010 (available here I think, with a very handy spiral binding). I'm still working my way through the first few chapters, but so far it's really great. It starts out by explaining what a sloper is and then walks you through how to draft one from your own (very detailed) measurements.

    So far I've drafted the front half of a shoulder-to-waist sloper from my measurements, and while I haven't sewn from it yet, taping the paper together I can see that it'll fit me with very few adjustments. And I should mention, full-bust-adjustments don't even begin to cover the bust issues I have to tackle when I sew for myself. My bust is 37"-38" depending on the bra, but my underbust is 26.5", so a difference of about 11". But so far this sloper method looks like it'll work for my figure, which is really saying something. I'm going to try drafting a shoulder-to-underbust sloper too, since I rarely want a straight line from my bust point to my waist. But the book explains the technique so well that I know exactly what I need to do.

    And on top of all that, all the line drawings (no photos, sadly) are of 1930s and 40s styles, hair, etc. Personally I'd rather look at styles from the 40s than styles from the 80s any day. ;)

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  35. I have this too, seems there are a lot of us out there. I'm with Inna, we are all metric here and I find the conversion from imperial to metric a pain in the butt.

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  36. My go-to book. I have an earlier edition that has a chapter on correcting fit issues too - worth the extra $ if you can find it!

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  37. This is also my favourite pattern book. I have the international version (not sure how different it might be from others). The book was quite intimidating until I took a short course of pattern making at the London College of Fashion. Now I know the basics, following the step by step instructions is fairly straightforward. I have a couple more pattern books but they are not as comprehensive as this one.

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  38. I don't have that book, but I do have the Adele Margolis book. It is super clear and a great source of inspiration. I love all the examples of styles paired with the flat pattern sketch. "Oh that's how you do that!"

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  39. I love this book too. I have the 3rd edition and have referred to it for years. I too feel overwhelmed by it but as you say, if I follow it step by step it all works out in the end. I have other books I refer to for simpler things, but for sleeves and bust shaping I always refer to this volume. As for the hairstyles, I remember real people walking around with those hairstyles. I laugh when I see them in the book. It is a great book.

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  40. I have both "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" and "Draping for Apparel Design" (both by Helen Joseph-Armstrong) and LOVE them. Should use them more, but being a university student in chemistry doesn't seem to leave enough time. Oh, and you NEED to look at the book "Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers", it has changed my sewing-experience forever! It's the perfect partner for any pattern-making book!

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  41. I have the 4th and yeah, it is completely worth the cash to own this text as a ready reference when pattern making and fitting. Sometimes I just look at it for fun. hehehe I also have her book on Draping but I think I like this one best....k.

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  42. I do have Adele's book, but not this one. For some reason when I was in the burn of purchasing a serious textbook on pattern drafting I picked Connie Armstrong's book "Patternmaking Made Easy." I think its a good text, but have to admit that it would be easier to learn if navigated by an instructor.

    Not too long ago I bought Building Patterns by Suzy Furrer. Um, this book is AMAZING! Seriously. It was written not just for fashion design students - as she mentions in the beginning of the book - but also for the "serious sewing enthusiast." A category I feel most aptly describes how I feel about sewing. Not only is the book very well written, but its written in such a way that is completely understandable. Plus she takes advantage of the "moulage" approach to drafting the bodice. Have to say, its a very impressive text and one that is completely worth every single penny.

    xoxo, Sunni

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  43. LOVE this book! I got it as a student at FIDM and am actually re-using it now in another college course. Even with just the basics of pattern you. An use this book to develop patterns. I love it and use it all the time!

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  44. How funny-- I just got this book through interlibrary loan! It's fantastic, though the '80s styles are cringeable. I keep showing Husband the illustrations. "Why are all the ladies so cranky-faced? Is it because they have to wear those horrible designs?"

    At the recommendation of Casey Brown and Megan Nielsen, I've also picked up Donald McCunn's "How to Make Sewing Patterns." It's a bit more approachable. (For the ladies who couldn't get the Armstrong fitted shell to work, McCunn takes a different approach-- you try on your dart-less bodice and pinch the darts out, rather than just drawing them in where they 'should' be on the flat pattern, a la Armstrong. I wonder if this method would be better for those of us who aren't B-cups?)

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  45. Oops, I'm a noodle-- McCunn's bodice isn't done as I described above-- it's the skirt darts that are handled differently. Sorry!

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  46. I like the pattern cutting series of books by Winifred Aldrich. I used these to learn the craft when I studied Fashion 28 years ago - oh my I feel old now. They are a little dated but give you all the basics of cutting.

    Next on my list to buy is Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi. Looks very interestng.

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  47. this little seamstressJanuary 26, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    I highly recommend this book. I bought mine just under a year ago when looking to replace my rather dated Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich, (which was bought in 1995 when I started my tertiary fashion study). As I live in New Zealand I purchased mine from an english site, my version is the international edition which has metric conversion charts. Was the best $$ spent, very comprehensive and i would recommend for beginners and experienced pattern makers alike.

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  48. I own tonnes of pattern making books - some modern, many vintage. But,n but I have not read them all (yet!).

    One I have read and found really great (and met the author on 2 of his short courses for London College of Fashion) is Pattern Cutting by Dennic Chunman Lo. Reviewed here by loads of bloggers:

    Tilly and the Buttons's review,
    Fashion-Incubator.com - Kathleen Fasanella's review,
    FlossieTeacake's review,
    Artisan's Square.

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  49. I have Pattern Making for Fashion Design as well (5th ed.) but for blocks I prefer Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear (5th ed.). The blocks still need to be fitted but that's not a big deal.
    Apparently "Metric Pattern Cutting" is expensive in America, but over here in the UK it's very affordable - only about £20.

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  50. Perfect timing for me with this post! My teenage daughter loves do design and sketch outfits. She and a friend has just started taking design class with a local designer. Neither of them know how to sew but I plan to teach them. I have been sewing for more years than I care admit but have never made my own patterns. I am going to get the less expensive book first and see how it goes! So exciting!

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  51. I am also a fan of that book. I bought it some time ago. I wish there was a metric version though!

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  52. I just got the 5th Edition of this book for Christmas and it is the pride of my bookshelf. I just finished a Diploma of Costume and this was the book our teacher used for our pattern drafting classes in first year (though I think it was the 2nd or 3rd edition) and was our recommended text. It's definitely a text book so I wouldn't really recommend it for beginners, but for anyone who is really keen on drafting, it's such a great resource. Not exactly light reading though, and definitely not a 'read front to back' book either!

    For anyone who is looking at buying the latest edition (5th) I'd highly recommend going with the spiral hardcover version. I think it's actually cheaper than the soft cover version and the spiral bind means you can lay it out flat without having to worry about pages flipping over. Very handy!

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  53. I don't have many sewing books - two in fact - but this book is one of them. I have learned a lot from it, but I really want to dive into it a bit more this year.

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  54. I have a really old version of Helen Armstrongs book but I love it. It's like a bible for pattern making. I love all the old fashion illustrations because it makes me think outside the current ready to wear circle.

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  55. I love this book - its totally worth the price tag!

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  56. I have the second edition of this from my college days. The illustrations in that one are super 80's and I kind of love them.
    It's a great book and I refer to it often.

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  57. Im a total fan..in fact, i started pattern making only after buying this book. Its perfect for even a novice like me..:D
    Merlin
    www.loveitseams.wordpress.com

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  58. I know Book Depository (www.bookdepository.com) has the 5th edition with DVD for AUD$92.92. Shipping is free. On so many recommendations I'm going to go ahead and buy it.

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  59. Thanks for this post. I picked up the 2nd or 3rd edition of this book (from the 90s) from the library. The illustrations are laughable, but the info seems great. It's a bit overwhelming for a newbie to pattern making (like myself) but I'm looking forward to perusing.

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  60. I found the Margolis book and the Readers Digest book at a used book store for $3 dollars each. Yes, THREE. I was so happy about my find, and I have actually used the Margolis book already (I figure if I'm going to go to the trouble of sewing something, I might as well fix whatever is bugging me about it, even if it requires a major rework.) I'm going to keep my eyes peeled there for some more good finds!

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  61. i just stated learning to make patterns on my own and thats the book that i have been using, hopefully its not too overwhelming for me

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  62. Thank you for the information. I am a new patternmaker. I have Helen's book 1st edition (only version that I could get from nearby library). I tried to make the basic bodice, but the instructions don't seem right. Specifically, the armhole measurement does not seem to be drawn correctly. Armhole depth is specified to be EI distance on the front bodice. Is that the same in your version as well?

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  63. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  64. Considering the eccentric way the blogger herself dresses, it's surprising she would dismiss fashions from another time.

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  65. You do need to be aware that a lot of the designs were done in the 80's. I found that out when I used the casual shirt block.

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  66. RegalosGracias por los consejos maravillosos, I\ soy de las personas que elija,

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  67. This is a nice post in an interesting line of content.Thanks for sharing this article, great way of bring this topic to discussion.

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  68. As for the hairstyles, I remember real people walking around with those hairstyles..This kind of post is very rare.. its so hard to seek a post like this.

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  69. This article has some great and useful information about this subject. Thank you for sharing it in an easy to read and understandable format. Thanks for sharing this great information.
    cerita lucu banget || cerita lucu || lucu lucu

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  70. Well, it's my opinion. If you really want to learn about sewing, pattern making, I suggest you to take the sewing/patternmaking course. It's not always institute or university. You should check and find any infos about the best sewing course in your area, at least the good course that related to fashion. Learning with the books, it's not enough and sometimes it's not guarantee about the result of work/method that is explained in books. Any sewing/patternmaking books would be reliable and good sources as long you take the course and have a lot of knowledges in pattern making and sewing. Sorry for my bad English language. Thanks.

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  71. Well, this blog tells the importance of the pattern making. Some people doesn't know that pattern plays a vital role to have fancy and quality dresses. I picked up the 2nd or 3rd edition of this book (from the 90s) from the library and the illustrations are awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.
    wigs canada

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  72. I love the casual look more than ever. I just can wear it anywhere I go.
    LA Fashion

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  73. I've had the 2nd Edition of this book for about six years now and I use it all the time. I no longer purchase patterns since I enjoy the math and also have a fuller lower half.

    A few days ago I made my first trouser flat using this book and it came out pretty well.

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  74. I have the second version of this from my higher education times. The circumstances in that one are really Nineteen-eighties and I type of really like them. It's an excellent details and I check with it often. Converse codes

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  75. i just mentioned studying to create styles on my own and thats the guide that i have been using, hopefully its not too frustrating for me. Coupons for Clothing

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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