December 2009

Pattern Magic, Volumes 1 and 2

Bunka Publishing Bureau

  • Generation, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
  • Tokyo , 3-22-7 151 8524 JAPAN


Sometimes the assumption that a book in a foreign language - one that we don't speak or read - will be of no help to us can lead us to miss out on very inspiring materials. abc Pattern Magic vol. 1 xyz and abc Pattern Magic vol. 2 xyz are written entirely in Japanese, but there is plenty of information in these books to inspire anyone learning about pattern making or fashion design. As a visual medium, fashion design can take inspiration from so many additional sources outside the usual sources; ideas can come from anywhere. In this instance, the technical information, in the form of step by step drawings and photographs, is so precisely laid out the language used to explain the steps becomes less important than the magic of seeing and understanding the structures.

The books are each divided into parts, with each part filled with various designs connected by a theme. A thumbnail of the design on the table of contents with the corresponding page number makes everything easy to find. All of the designs are shown small-scale, modeled by a dress form or a strange-looking doll, but the photography shows the details perfectly. The visual effects created have an edgy feel to them even five years after publication (copyright date is 2005); it seems doubtful that, as interesting techniques, they would cease to be relevant in some manner for quite some time. Part 3 of Volume 2 takes typical menswear details and shows how to manage the basic forms in patterns to create visual tricks: a tie that won't shift because its base merges into the shirt, a pocket that moves from being in the front of the shirt to being in back, a crisp lapel that disappears as it moves down the torso. Each effect is documented with step-by-step visual instruction. The construction of these garments is clearly shown, and even if a student of fashion decides not to take on the challenge of replicating the look on their own or doesn't feel their skills are at the right level, the demonstrations can be valuable in a very different way than the kind of styling a fashion magazine contains. In fact, the fashion designer might look at these books and decide that it’s not so bad to learn a little more about pattern making than originally planned.

Reviewer: Caroline Bautista, FIDM Library Staff Member