Learning Pattern Making from Adele

On her blog, Gertie suggested a book called How to Design Your Own Dress Patterns: A Primer in Pattern Making for Women Who Like to Sew, by Adele P. Margolis. Since it seems like everything that comes out of Gertie’s mouth is sewing gold, I immediately began to look for this book.  Gertie had the 1970′s edition, and it looks like they kept updating the book through the ages.  Unfortunately the book was going for around $300 used on amazon, and everywhere I looked prices were steep.  But a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a great Etsy shop OutlawHeart Vintage and Handmade.  Lexi was a charming vendor; plus she selling the book for a very fair price, and had already read it twice herself.  In a few days it was in my hands, and I’m in love!  Mine is an earlier edition than Gertie’s-  it’s from 1959, the first publication date.

I used to laugh at old sewing books because I assumed that their information was outdated and therefore obsolete.  Now I realize how foolish I was!  The information in this book is timeless, and I was surprised how some of the drawings look like they would be in a store today.  I simply love this book and can’t put it down; I take it with me everywhere!!

how to design your own dress patterns by adele p margolis

how to design your own dress patterns by adele p margolis

I was in a bit of a creative sewing rut, and this book has completely opened my eyes to new worlds of possibilities.  The author, Adele P. Margolis, is the perfect teacher.  She is straight-forward and matter of fact, but she is always making me laugh.  Here is a good excerpt: (p.84)

How to take your body measurements

You will need help on this since there are certain important measurements which you cannot possibly take for yourself.  It is a good plan to get several sewers together who will take measurements and who will fit the muslins for each other.  It is really more fun this way, too.  It takes some of the sting out of this painful procedure to discover that the rest of the girls are in the same sorry predicament.  Swear each other to eternal secrecy and begin!

how to design your own dress patterns by adele p margolis

I love that this was a library book from New Jersey!  I wonder how many people have learned from it?!

I am now so fond of Adele.  I wish I could meet and learn from this amazingly intelligent and talented woman, but she passed away in November 2009 ( at 100).  I’ll have to settle for teaching myself from her book…and maybe a seance…

I found a great blog post about Adele here.


  1. Erika

    I love this! I had some old sewing books that I had taken for granted a long time ago… After I started sewing again, I realized how rediculous I was to get rid of them! I have since repurchased the above book, only in e-book format… I totally agree – Adele is a great teacher!

    July 16, 2013

  2. jona

    I like so much this.I can learn really good things from this.Thanks too much that you opened this website.It helps all of us.Thanks again.

    January 17, 2014