Spiral Binding Do-it-Yourself

I almost always spiral bind the drafts of my books while I’m editing, so I am often dropping by the Office Depot to get spiral binding done. Unfortunately, my Office Depot is the only office supply store in about a 10 mile radius, so they are often overworked and understaffed.

For the last 4 binding projects, I had to drop off the book and wait until the next day to get it spiral bound and even then, they still hadn’t done it. Each spiral binding trip cost me about $5 for the binding and covers, plus about an hour of my time to drive there and back and wait.

I decided that my newest book would best be viewed in spiral format. I have thought this about all my others as well, but when you self-publish, you are slightly limited with your options. I also really wanted my book to be color (as well as all my others, but I learned how to do it this time around). The cost to print my book in color on Amazon was way more than I wanted to spend and it also would cause me to price my customer out of buying it.

Because of the cost factor associated with Amazon color printing, I chose to have my Amazon book printed in black & white. I also sell my book with a distributor using a different printing service. Luckily their color costs are about half of Amazon’s so my book sold through Ingram will be in color, but still perfect bound. The spiral option is available only by me and my manual labor.

I searched more and more and found out that I could get color copies of my book printed for personal use on Barnes & Noble Press. This is a perfect solution. I ordered 20 copies from Barnes & Noble Press in color so I could spiral bind them myself.

Now for my decision to bind them myself. I factored the price of binding 100 books at $5 each, which obviously was $500. I felt that was a little much, so I decided to price out the stack cutter and the binding machine on my own. The two machines cost about $250 total plus the coils were another $20 and the clear plastic cover sheets were another $10. So, for the grand total of $280 I could buy the machines and do the binding myself. That was really a no brainer. And I can bind any future books for only the additional cost of the additional coils.

Here is the stack cutter. I line it up and cut off 1/8″ of the spine.

Here is the stack in progress. The spines on the left, the cut books on the right and the clear covers in the middle.

The is the binding machine to cut the holes. It is a lot of work, but I got a binder that can punch up to 20 sheets at a time.

The coil binding of the machine I found to be useless. It was too difficult to control. There is one speed to it, so it is more work to try to use it than just manually coiling it. I opted to manual coil them. One of these days, when I have more patience, I will try to get the coiling part to work for me. Here is the stack before I trimmed the coils to size.

Because I had such issues with the coiling part of the machine, I wonder if I could have found a machine that punches the holes without the coiling for half the price, but I’m not going to return this one and deal with it, so I’m not going to get myself upset by looking up the price difference. I have to pick my battles and today’s battle is for my daughter to pick up her little people off the dining room floor. (I really thought she would be outgrown of the little people by now, but she likes to line them all up like they are walking around the room in a single file line. I guess it beats her playing video games.)

Rachel Tank Pattern Hack: Turn it into a Dress and Make Fit Adjustments

I love to make things multi-purpose. For example, my family uses the dining room table as a place to collect all the crap in the house and my daughter uses my laundry drier to store all her clean clothes. What I love more than my family’s knack for never putting anything away is things that serve a multi-purpose that is useful.

That is why I created the pattern hack for my Rachel Tank and the Little Rachel Tank. I love dresses and live in them when I’m not living in my sweats. I also love it when my daughter wants to make things that match things I make.

Welcome to my little video for making the tank into a dress. I also did a short spot near the end of the video on how to alter the tank for fit before adding your elastics.

I have some of the purple fabric available if you want to make one for yourself. In my video, I offer to send a strip of the contrast fabrics I used free of charge with the purchase of the fabric, but you need to make a note at checkout that you want the contrast fabric. No note = no contrast fabric.

About a month ago, I made the Rachels and Little Rachels available in printed format. I have a large format printer that is 24″ wide, but the printer is only black ink. You can now select to have the printed pattern with the download. I will eventually be making this feature available for all patterns, but at this point, it is just the Rachels.

Pattern Release: Girls Little Rachel Brief

I technically released this pattern when I released the Little Rachel Tank, but I wanted to make a separate post about the Little Rachel Brief after the videos were released.

I designed both the Little Rachels to be like the women’s patterns. The main difference with the brief is the height of the brief. My daughter didn’t like it coming up so high, so I hacked off an inch and a half on the final pattern.

These videos are less about how to make them and more about how to teach a 5 year old to make her own bathing suit.

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Pattern Design Pre-Sales are Now Available

Pattern Design is my educational solution to teaching pattern making for beginners. I shared my collection of pattern making books in previous posts, in order to break down the good and bad elements of each book in my stash.

My biggest pet peeve is when a book “tells” to you do a step without explaining “why” you do it. I believe that to fully comprehend what you are learning, you need to know all the facts. Many books make assumptions that you are only making clothes for a size 8, but in many cases, the drafter is not a size 8.

I created the first book in my Pattern Design series to teach the basics and explain why we do what we do. That is also the reason that sewing and construction steps are included in the Fundamentals book. With only half the data, it is impossible to create a completely usable pattern.

As you may have read by now, this book has taken me five years to complete. It is not for trying, because I have, but I had a big wish list of things I wanted to do and I did most of them, except completing this book.

I started my book about 6 months after my daughter was born. She was easy to handle, I just wore her most of the time until she got too tall for me to see over her head. I brainstormed with my supervisor at FIDM on the original outline of this book. It was her idea to name the book Pattern Design.

In that first year of my daughter’s life, I opened a store. Not a big deal really, I had done that before, but this was a different type of store than the one I had previously owned. The big difference, was that I wanted to have my daughter at my side and teach fashion design.

I developed a pattern making curriculum to further develop my book outline, but that is where the book was put on hold – for 4 years. The book went through many changes along the way. I wanted the book to be different, so I initially drafted the pattern on paper then photographed the pattern steps. That took a million and a half years. It was especially difficult when I messed up a step and had to start all over again. Here is an example of this.

A year or so later, I had employees and decided that if I was going to get this book done, I needed to just hire someone to make the illustrations. She was great with her illustrations but again, if one tiny thing was wrong, the whole draft had to be redone. It was not ideal either. In this example, she illustrated the fold of the dart in the wrong direction.

I finally decided to just go with the easiest route which was to use Adobe Illustrator. It still was time consuming, but for over 400 illustrations in one book, this was the best solution.

Over the past year, I have been working on refining this content. I worked with a young lady in my neighborhood who was being home schooled. I presented the content to her as a self-study course. I was there right next to her to resolve any and all issues she encountered and I know I would not have had the motivation to complete this book without her.

After she completed the full draft, I made necessary changes and handed the book over to my dad. He is a writer as well, and knows nothing of my trade. He read through the entire book interjecting questions throughout. That really helped me compile everything that I was missing.

I did what I felt was going to be my final draft back in July, but after taking a month off to give myself a break, I was still making major changes as well as reorganizing the book.

I went through 3 additional rounds of editing and finally, 3 weeks ago, I made my last change. I got the book uploaded to Createspace, KDP, Nook Press and Lightning Source.

I made pre-sales of Pattern Design: Fundamentals available on my website. I will be making the color copy of the books spiral bound for my website. The paperback books available on Amazon are lower priced, but they are also black and white on the interior, while copies on my website are color and spiral bound. The official book launch is November 1st. Get your copy today! Digital versions on my website are available now.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 8 – Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi

I have officially saved the best review for last. I love all of these books equally. I currently own all 4 in the series Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi. When I first stumbled upon this book, it was only available in Japanese. I was teaching in San Francisco at the time and I used to bring it in as an inspirational “you can do this.”

Because the book was in Japanese and in metric, I did not understand that these were all drafted on the half scale, so I made the double collar on page 94 in the first book and my collar was microscopic. I still didn’t realize it was supposed to be double even after the draft.

After a semester of owning this, my Japanese edition walked off from my desk never to be heard from again. A few month after I filed a missing persons report for my beloved book, I found it in English. I was relieved to learn that I was supposed to have doubled the measurements from that initial draft for my own slopers.

I was finally able to work my way through almost all the samples in the book (to the best of my ability). Then the second book came out! I used to bring it to my sewing labs at school and draft from it to inspire my students.

The stretch fabric book came out next, but I was then teaching full time in LA and didn’t have much time to concentrate on it as I was working on my own series of pattern drafting books on lingerie design – Bare Essentials: Underwear and Bare Essentials: Bras. I still bought it and brought it to school to inspire my students. This example was something I had my students drape, not draft. It made for a fun class

The final book in the series came out when I had moved on from FIDM and was running my own shop and school out in Redlands, CA. My daughter was a few years old and I literally lacked time to brush my hair, let alone draft for fun. I hope to one day draft from these last too books. Maybe I’ll film it too.

What I love about these books: They are so creative and really shows what a pattern maker is possible of drafting. Sometimes when students start on this path, they only see the boring basic stuff and lose interest, but these books were great and kept my students inspired despite their lackluster fundamental course work.

What I dislike about these books: That its in metric. That is the only thing I don’t like, but for me that was not a game changer. It is easy enough to translate measurements.

This book is not for beginners at all, but at their price points, I recommend adding these to your collection early on as they can be that constant reminder that you can do it one day. You need to have a foundation in pattern drafting knowledge. I started playing with these books around the time I started teaching, but I think an intermediate pattern maker can attempt one or two. They may seem complicated at first, but taking each step one at a time, I think it is manageable.

These are currently the last books in my review series for drafting books, but if you know of any others I should get my hands on, feel free to let me know what they are. I have so many books and I think I will be doing reviews on nearly all of them at some point, but my goal was to explain what I loved and didn’t love in all of these books. Stay tuned for the release of my very own introductory pattern drafting book titled Pattern Design.

Here are links to add these books to your collection. Note that these are affiliate links. Affiliate links help support my small business. Pattern Magic Pattern Magic 2 Pattern Magic 3 Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics

Designing a graded pattern for an “FBA” or Full Bust Adjustment – Warning: This is Technical – Part 3

Are you back for more information? Perfect. Let’s get started.

For the Rachel Tank, I didn’t want to account for any stretch. I’m kind of tired of my knit clothes being so tight that my body rolls show through. I like knits because there aren’t zippers and can be pulled on easily. I wanted a tank that I could wear to the gym or around the house and feel comfortable in it.

I could technically have removed the ease I accounted for in the hips and waist since I didn’t add any ease in the bust. I figured that the bust didn’t need any additional ease. I will likely do a more fitted tank around the waist and hips, but on another design.

The beauty about knowing grading and pattern making, I can make a minor change and I have a completely different fit.

Step 4: The Actual Grade 

I draft and grade using a software called PolyPattern. Shown below is the pattern I started with from the original Porcelynne collection. The patterns to the far right were the original patterns. The patterns on the left side are the patterns that were adjusted for the waist and hip measurements. The far left is without ease and the one to the right of that is with ease.

I graded the back according to the back grade chart. (Sorry, no specifics here – That is a different topic for a different day.) I took the front and added a dart for a better fitting A/B cup size. I also marked where the apex was so I knew how far the dart ended from the apex. For the A/B cup, I believe I had it end about 1 1/2″ away.

Grading the bust sizes proved to be complicated as usual. When is anything cut and dry in life?

I first graded the dart for the increase in bust size. The measurement across the chest increased by 1″ for half the front, so not only did I have to increase the width of the body at the bust by 1″, I also had to make the dart wider by 1″ to better shape the larger bust.

That was the easy part. The hard part was the side seam and armhole lengths. In the screenshot above, I included the measurements for the side seam.

The side seam was the part I tackled first. As you can see, it was virtually impossible to keep the waist measurement the same and have the pattern look presentable. I was able to keep the hip, but I had to increase the length a bit to keep the side seam measurements the same.

I determined the side seam of the back, so adjusted the side seam at the hem and underarm to make the measurement match. I had to do this by making tiny changes to the grade under the arm and at the hem. I used the define measurements tool on PolyPattern and plugged those into one of my handy spreadsheets.

Step 5: Fitting and Adjustments

What I originally forgot to do was to take measurements on the armhole for each size. When I first released the Rachel Tank, I didn’t realize that was an issue at all. One of my customers showed me her top and the armhole wasn’t right. Here she showed it to me. She didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but I did. I immediately went back to the software and re-evaluated the armhole size and shape.

I noticed from this first picture that this size needs to have the armhole lowered by about 1/2″, but she never mentioned that.

This picture made me realize I did not shape the armhole correctly. I have since gone back in and shaved off a good inch in the front armhole in this size. Fixing this one size, helped me determine the changes needed for all sizes.

I also realized the back armhole needed a little reshaping in the lower portion. The wrinkles tell me that. I shaped off about 1/2″ on the XL, 2X and 3X.

In the original Rachel, my armhole shape got smaller as the bust size went up, which should not happen at all. When I fixed the armhole grade, the first 3 cup sizes were about the same armhole measurement and the last 2 sizes increased. I had originally wanted them to all increase, but I was unable to get the second 2 sizes to increase in length with a shape that looked right. I figure it is what it is.

There you go. That’s my saga. There is a lot of technical stuff that goes into grading. I promise I’ll write a post on altering the bust size by hand for one bust size.

I think it is possible to infer how to do that with what I did here, but then again, I am all about the math and it is complicated.

Pattern Drafting Book Review Series – Part 7 – Designing and Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics by Keith Richardson

For the 7th part in my series about pattern drafting books, I am covering Designing and Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics by Keith Richardson. This book is massive. 477 pages in total, but mine is a spiral (not sure if they are all), so it is easy to lay flat to use.

This book is not for beginners. It gets pretty technical with the grading size charts, but once you understand them, it is a wealth of information. If you want to understand how to grade knit patterns, this is great, even though I’m not even reviewing grading books. I would also not attempt grading knits until you attempt to grade a woven pattern. Again, not this review. I have a whole bunch of grading books I can review also, but I might just wait to cover those when I am ready to release my grading book.

This is certainly a one stop shop for all things knit related, including mens knitwear. This book does cover a certain amount of draft by measure, but the steps might be difficult to follow if you have not started with an introductory book. This book covers everything and I mean everything related to knits.

What I love: This is virtually everything a knit designer would possibly need to draft a knit collection. It is chocked full of information, 477 pages of information.

What I don’t love: The steps to complete a design are basically one picture with a little paragraph. I can follow without a problem, but I am a seasoned pattern maker. I would say this is not only not introductory, but advanced in nature. I’m not sure if there is an introductory stretch pattern making book out there, but I get the feeling there isn’t. This book also has the draft by number/letter instructions, which my now, you get I don’t like.

I definitely recommend this book for advanced skills. Put it on your wishlist for the day your skills can be put to a challenge. There is so much valuable information in there and this is probably the best book for knits.

You can score a copy of your own here. You can probably find one on Amazon used, but this is the product listing that looks active. Designing and Pattern Making for Stretch Fabrics by Richardson, Keith Published by Fairchild Books (2008) Paperback Note that this is an affiliate link. Affiliate links help support my business.