Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Review: "Designing Dress Patterns"

Yesterday I picked up a few sewing books at the design library on campus, so I'm going to do a review of each one over the next couple of days.  

First is "Desigining Dress Patterns" by Helen Nicol Tanous, first published in 1951.  The version I have is from  1971 and it definitely shows in the language and pictures!

Tanous provides basic front bodice, back bodice, skirt, and sleeve blocks.  You could enlarge them as she says, by blocking off your paper in 1 inch squares and drawing the blocks as the appear in the diagram, or you could take it to a copy shop and enlarge it by 4x.  The blocks are in size 14 but she provides information on grading later. 

The first seven chapters are dedicated to the bodice: dart control, slash and spread, yokes, pleats, combining darts and gathers, and completing the pattern.  There are SO MANY cute bodice ideas in these chapters!  Here are pictures of some of my favorites:

The other chapters are divided as follows: skirts, sleeves, collars, coats and suits (and capes!), playclothes (which includes panties, pants, shorts, playsuits, and bras--adorable!), children's clothes, and design.  

Peter Pan collar:


Bras (or bathing suits!):

Little girls' dresses:

I love how this book is laid out.  Each page has a different design with minimum text and large, clear pictures.  The designs are timeless and can be altered in so many ways!  Even though I haven't tried to draft any patterns from this book yet, just by flipping through and reading the directions I can tell it will be simple.

I just snagged a used copy for $10 on Amazon and there are plenty left.  To me, this is the perfect combination of clear pictures and directions.  I can't wait to use it!

Note: I'm not being paid or compensated to write this review and am not affiliated with the author.  I'm just stating my opinion!


  1. That looks like a great book! I have a few pattern design books, and they are so useful to have lying around :)

  2. Thank you for the tip, the designs offered in this book are so cool! I'm going to order a copy too :)

  3. Isn't it the best? I've been checking it out of the library over and over. Just ordered my own today for $2.44!


I'd love to hear from you!