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Review: The Magic Pattern Book
Amy Barickman runs a well-known pattern company called Indygo Junction. She also authored one of my all-time favorite crafty books. And now we have her newest book, The Magic Pattern Book: Sew 6 Patterns into 36 Different Styles. It's one high-value sewing book!
The concept here: six basic patterns, each of which has been customized six different ways. So you have 36 garments in total. Interestingly, the idea of "Magic Patterns" comes from a vintage source, which you can learn about in my review my favorite Amy Barickman book.
The patterns are presented in a CD in the back of the book. Once you've loaded them onto your computer, you print them on your home printer in "tiled" form – that is, there are keys to help you assemble all the 8 1/2" x 11" (or A4) sheets into the full-size pattern pieces.
Honestly, this isn't my favorite way to get pattern pieces, but you have to realize that trying to put 36 garments' worth of patterns onto large pattern sheets would have been very costly and bulky.
The presentation of patterns here is just stellar. First, let me show you the sketch pages with all the variations. Here's the tank set…
…The skirt set…
…The cardigan set…
…The coat set (yay coats!)…
…The accessories set (yay hats!)…
…And the dress set. So as you can see, there's a wide variety of looks here. And I think they're very intelligently designed for a sewing book – there's just enough fittedness (true, not a word) that the garments look trim on the body, but would still be pretty simple to construct.
I'm also loving that these garments are great fashion basics that would look pretty on a wide range of ages. They also offer wonderful opportunities to add custom details.
So, having shown you the dresses, let me walk you through one so you can see how thoroughly each pattern is presented. The instructional-quality nerd in me is very happy.
Then you get a detailed cutting diagram, and a very thorough presentation of the construction directions, liberally sprinkled with diagrams.
There's a little sidebar with suggestions for ways you could customize the garment (which is such a lovely extra).
…And finally, there are six fabric suggestions for each pattern, prettily presented. I love being able to see each garment in lots of guises like this – sometimes, I find it hard to visualize design possibilities beyond what's on the model, so these illustrations are so helpful.
Speaking of fabrics, I loved this index of all the patterns. listed by compatible fabrics. So if you have a couple yards of something on hand, you can easily find the best patterns for it.
I'm also loving the variety of fabrics this book encompasses – and this ties in with my recent rantings about the scarcity of sewing books for people who aren't beginners. These patterns offer a sewist opportunities to explore working with all kinds of fibers, and there's a nice section in the book explaining the qualities of each fabric.
Also, each of the pattern sets features one design that's made from a repurposed fabric of some kind - an old curtain, tablecloth, garment, etc. That's an inspiring touch!
There's the usual chapter of basic instructions, detailing the tools you'll need, how to access, print, and assemble the pattern pieces, how to make a muslin, and how to alter the patterns. All of this is very thoroughly and encouragingly presented. I'd definitely call this book beginner-friendly, as long as that beginner has a little machine-sewing under her belt.
This is an awesome gift book for someone who wants to sew their own clothes, and a great investment – you can make things to wear for years from these Magic Patterns!
(Disclosures: Workman Publishing sent me a review copy, and the title link above is an affiliate link. Now, go forth and sew!)