December 15, 2009

Metric pattern cutting for children's wear and babywear - 4th Edition

Winifred Aldrich has released an updated edition of her pattern making book. Besides having a much nicer cover design, it reportedly contains a revised organization and emphasis on flat pattern making. I find this change interesting because more and more DE's are utilizing flat pattern making today and this confirms my personal experiences in the industry.

From the abstract at Amazon:

Today’s popularity of easy-fitting styles and knitted fabrics means that basic ‘flat’ pattern cutting is used to construct the majority of children’s wear and babywear and this type of cutting is therefore emphasized in this new edition. Shaped blocks and garments, cut to fit the body form, are still included, and are placed in chapters covering some school uniform garments or more expensive fashion or formal clothes.

One primary difference between flat versus fitted pattern making is that the patterns have the same shape for the front and back pieces. For example, the armhole shaping is symmetrical. Creating patterns in this way results in a looser, more casual fit and it is appropriate for a lot of children's clothing. Even so, I see more of a modified flat method in actual use. Patterns are modified so that they aren't quite so boxy and more fitted. Yet, they retain some symmetry between front and back pieces.

I'm sorry, I don't have any pictures to show the difference, but if you have the 3rd edition, you will see examples of the flat versus fitted method. I don't yet own the 4th edition, but I do think I will eventually buy it. The book does include a section on plus-size children. I think that is a first for a pattern making book. I am sure the book is up to it's usual standard and would be a good edition to a DE's library.


  1. I'm surprised there are not any comments on this post. I'd really like a bit more information if you don't mind...?

    I was always under the impression that "flat pattern cutting" meant drafting in a 2D plane and was just another word for pattern drafting (vs creating a pattern through draping). In fact I am certain an instructor explained that to a class before.

    In "Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern" (Ernestine Kopp) the front and back armscye are definitely not the same.

    In "Patternmaking by the Flat Pattern Method" (Norma J. Hollen) the front and back armscye are closer than others but again not the same.

    Same for "Flat Pattern Modelling and Cutting for Fashion" (Helen Stanley)

    Those are the only 3 titles I am aware of that use the term "Flat Pattern" in their title. I have other books though so if you can refer me to another (other than this 4th ed you have mentioned as I don't have it) I would be appreciative as I am greatly intrigued...In fact I have never seen a front and back bodice that have their armscye the same.

    In summary, I guess you could say, I am very confused. I have never heard the term "flat pattern" used to describe a pattern which has no shaping. I read a lot about pattern drafting and your comments have caught me off guard. I would like to learn more if I can.

    Thanks for your time!

  2. Your definition of "flat pattern making" is correct and I have used the same definition to refer to pattern making in the 2-D (paper and pencil) vs. 3-D (draping). The term "flat" pattern cutting or "flat" block as I have used it here is unique to children's pattern making. Aldrich adds some other qualifiers that may help (pg. 6, 3rd edition). The armscye and body widths are the same for the front and back. There is no ease in the sleeve cap. The biggest difference occurs when a garment is constructed because it will lay flat. The shapes are easy and simple. A t-shirt is probably the best example. Classic 'form" cutting is more tailored and formal. It fits closer to the body and will have different body widths or symmetric armholes front and back. It will not lay flat.

    Aldrich is really the only person I have read that refers to this particular method of pattern making. It is a trend, or maybe even a mode of practice, in the children's industry that I learned on the job. The biggest explanation is that children are basic cylindrical shapes until about the age of 5. You can get away with 'flat' pattern making for this reason. In reality, I have seen a mixed approach used in which a classic cut is mixed with a 'flat' cut for ease in construction.

    The terms are confusing and perhaps there may be a better way to explain it. I picked up the terminology used by Aldrich as she was the first to explain what I had been doing for many years without knowing why.

  3. oh thank you thank you for clearing that up. I completely understand now....I did not quite catch that this was only a childrenswear thing but now it makes sense as kids have few differences front to back and require a lot of space in the arms so why not make front and back the same.

    You wouldn't believe how confused I was before, you have shed huge light on my bewilderment!

  4. Thanks for your review of this book! I just bought it and am working on the basic flat blocks. I have a question though and I am not really sure where to turn so I am hoping you can offer some help. I am working on the section "Back and Front Section" on page 40 and on the part where you draft the 0-3 points it asks for 1/4 chest and then for sizes 80-116 cm height you must add 3cm (4.5cm). What is this number in parenthesis?! Do I add 3cm or 4.5cm? I see this same confusing thing used several times throughout the process. Did I miss the explanation of this or is this something the design school kids know that I don't understand yet because I am self taught. PLEASE shed some light on this!! Thanks so much!