I get emails sometimes asking me to recommend tools, books and machines, so I’ve compiled my most common recommendations in one place. Please note that some of these are affiliate links, so should you decide to purchase through one of these links I get a small percentage for advertising.
I sew on a Baby Lock Elizabeth machine and serge with a Baby Lock Imagine. I la-la-love the Jet Air threading on that serger!
I work with Baby Lock, so they provided the machines to me. However, all my opinions of the machines were formed before I pursued Baby Lock to work together and after I test drove these and several other brands 🙂
Read more about my machines and where I sew here.
For twin needle stitching, I will only use Klasse Twin Ballpoint Needles (affililate link), I keep 2 packages on hand at all times.
I often get asked about this tool – it’s called a Simflex Gauge and you can get them here. It’s great for marking buttonholes, pleats, etc without having to measure and do math.
Sewing and Patternmaking Books
Patterns for Theatrical Costumes (affililate link) is the book I referenced in high school where I started learning patternmaking. It’s funny to me that theatrical costume and fashion design pretend to be two separate areas (they were separate programs in different departments at my college) when they’re doing essentially the same thing from the same bones. Anyway, this book doesn’t teach drafting, but it does show you how to create historical costume shapes. So I would enlarge the patterns in this book, then fit those basic shapes based on patterns that fit the actors in question. I didn’t know it, but that meant that I was using store bought patterns as slopers – which you can totally do! I didn’t even know the word sloper, but I made a lot of costumes and this method worked.
Winifred Aldrich’s books Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear, Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, and Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear (affililate links) are the best drafting books I’ve read and used. I’ve checked them out from the library, and now own the children’s wear one. I want to own all three (Christmas maybe?)
Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design (affiliate link) is kind of like all the Aldrich books put together. There is a LOT of information in here. However, I don’t find her style as easy to understand as Aldrich’s. I think any of the Aldrich books are a great introduction and then it you want to continue, Armstrong’s book is the next level.
If you’re looking to sell patterns and need to grade them, see if there’s any way you can lay hands on Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Apparel (affililate link) by Jack Handford. It’s out of print and in demand, so used copies go for hundreds, which I realized after I managed to grab a copy.
Sometimes you just need a general sewing reference. I own an older edition of The New Complete Guide to Sewing (affililate link) – so old the binding is falling off. This new version also has home dec sewing, which I don’t think mine includes, so bonus!
And finally, the first drafing book I owned, How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald McCunn (affiliate link). This is not an easy to use book exactly, you cannot skip any steps, and the pictures/diagrams are not plentiful. BUT if you have a general idea about drafting, this book helped me get the most accurate slopers of myself that I’ve done, which I now use all the time. It does not include standard measurements or how to grade, this is strictly how to draft a custom sloper. But at around $20, it’s 1/4 or less of the price of Patternmaking for Fashion Design (5th Edition) by Helen Joseph Armstrong (affiliate link).
Once you sew your patterns, you’ll want a great book on fitting to get them just right. I LOVE Sarah Veblen’s Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting for this.
So there we go – books that I actually use and refer to. Hope you find them useful as well.
Blogging and Pattern Design Tools
My camera – all but the professional shots I hire out and most of my video is shot with a Canon T3i (affililate link) I think it’s a great combination of quality and price.
The majority of all that shooting is done with my Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 lens (affililate link). It costs about the same as the camera, but I could live with just this one lens and be pretty happy. It’s got a great aperture range so it works well in low light and nice bokeh (blurring of the background) and the zoom means I can get most of the shots I want without having to change my lens.
Essential for me with Adobe Illustrator to design patterns – my Wacom Bamboo Splash Tablet (affililate link). It’s kind of like a mouse, except it’s a pen shape so easier for me to use.
The newer version of this tablet – the Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet (affililate link) – is probably the better buy – though I haven’t used it, so I can’t say for sure.
And while I’m spreading the Wacom love, I carry this Bamboo Stylus (affililate link) around with my iPad for notes and sketching – I like to use it with the free Bamboo Paper app.