Book Review: Pattern Cutting for Menswear

Unfortunately, menswear really is the ugly stepchild of the fashion industry – there seem to be about two menswear books for every ten for women, plus there are hardly any commercial patterns out there for men (and if there are, 90% of the time it’ll be that same button-down shirt I’ve seen a million times, argh).

The Aldrich book seems to be the de-facto standard for menswear drafting as far as I can tell, but I tried her teeshirt draft for men and hated it so I’m loathe to buy it to test the rest, really. Perhaps it’s the standard just because there are so few to choose from and not because it’s particularly very good? So I asked for (and received!) this book instead for my birthday, as I’d love to draft more menswear for James and possibly for future patterns, too.

Now I haven’t actually tested the drafts in here yet (though I fully intend to), but I really like a lot of things about this book. Most obvious is that it’s a modern menswear book – instead of just covering the basic tailoring styles, it shows you how to draft things like hoodies, jeans, and parkas on top of the more standard jacket and button-down shirts. There are 20 different styles in all, with instructions on how to adapt the basic blocks to match the given style. So this is more like how the Japanese pattern books do things, only a bit easier to follow than the standard Pattern Magic “instructions”!

There’s also tons of info on measuring, finding fit models, production stuff, etc, but of course I was more drawn to the geeky pattern stuff, like the tables showing size differences between Chinese men, American men, and European men. Very interesting if you want to make sure your fit is perfect for a specific market.

And even though this sort of thing is covered in much greater detail in David Page Coffin’s excellent “Shirtmaking” book, I liked this breakdown of the different collar styles and how to change the fit around the neck.

Overall, I really like this book, and I think it gives you a lot of style options in addition to general menswear info. The real test, of course, will be in actually making up the drafts and testing out the fit, but that will come in time.

“Pattern Cutting for Menswear” by Gareth Kershaw is available from Laurence King publishing (who occasionally do amazing sales btw) in addition to loads of other book stores.

Up tomorrow: a pattern grading smackdown!

I’m currently on a much-needed holiday through Central Europe, ending with running the Berlin marathon. I’m trying not to work while I’m away, so I’ll respond to anything non-urgent once I’m back. Thanks!

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