When I first picked up Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume, by Elizabeth Friendship, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some clothing construction books are only useful once or twice; others are the kind you keep on your shelf as a source to be referenced over and over, and after reading through Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume, I could tell that it was this kind.
Unlike books that teach you step by step how to make specific projects, Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume instructs readers on various techniques of drafting patterns that can be used on any project. It goes through ways to expand, decrease, and otherwise alter patterns, and also provides basic patterns for period costume. All of these skills can then be used to adjust patterns to fit any body size and shape. Friendship teaches in the hope that the reader can utilize these techniques on his or her own projects.
Another highlight of the book is its clear instructions and the diagrams used when explaining the various pattern drafting techniques. Many charts of measurements and ratios are provided and are useful to refer back to.
Also provided are the histories of the different types of garments (breeches, shirts, coats, etc.) and how they changed and evolved over time, helping to place them in the correct historical context. The book covers the clothing of men between the 16th and 19th centuries, including different classes and both fashionable and unfashionable clothing.
However, this book wasn’t written for complete beginners to sewing and costuming. Friendship assumes prior knowledge to these fields, and some terms are therefore left undefined. Also a little untidy is the presence of a few grammatical errors, though they don’t interfere with the clearness of the instructions and will no doubt be corrected in future editions of the book.
It is clear that Elizabeth Friendship is highly qualified to instruct on the subject of pattern cutting. It’s shown not only by her detailed directions but also by her impressive resume; she was head of Theatre Design at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for 25 years and has worked in many different types of productions. This experience is readily noticeable in Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume, and makes it a handy addition to any costumer’s library.
Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume
2008; Methuen Drama
Reviewer: Selina Zawacki