The Modern Maker Vol 2: Pattern Manual 1580-1640

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It would be a slight understatement to say I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book, having invested in Mathew’s Kickstarter appeal back in 2015and I must say right now that I’m not disappointed with what I’ve seen in the digital copy I was sent last week.


The first book in the Modern Maker series was a set of instructions for making the pattern for and constructing a man’s doublet from the late 1500s. It was a game-changer in pattern making and it’s never been far from my worktable since I bought a copy. This, much larger volume promises to open out Mathew’s bara system (see below) to much more, from Men’s doublets and breeches to coats and women’s clothes of many types.


Mathew has taken three tailor’s manuals from the period in the title and worked through all the clothing types with an obsession. The tailor’s manuals in the early modern period are basically how to lay the various patterns out on the fabric with a few cursory remarks. The master tailor using the book would know what to do with the pieces so needed no further instruction. What this author has done is to recreate each piece and from those reconstructions produce individual pattern drafts that make sense of the old drawings. There are additional notes where needed for places where the fabric needs to be manipulated or stretched and where extra pieces, stiffening, interlining need to go. In fact Matthew has gone even further and using his system (with the extra instructions in the introductory chapters) it is possible to produce patterns that will fit just about any shape and size of human you can imagine.


The bara system that in outlined in the book is a period method for sizing patterns that relies on a series of proportionate tapes that are drawn up for the individual client and then used with the patterns to draw up the pieces required. In the Modern Maker 1, Mathew showed us how make the tapes and use the system for a doublet. Now the scope has been expanded, so that with this book you can make doublets, breeches, coats, women’s doublets, petticoats, bodies, cloaks etc etc. There is even a hood pattern on page 101 that can be folded to look very much like a proto-montero. We joined in the facebook discussions when Mathew was trying to figure this out! The pattern instructions have been clarified and the drawings make it clear exactly what you need to do to bring these old patterns alive.


I heartily recommend this book, which I understand should (at the time of writing) be available in print next week. This is Mathew’s magnum opus and brings together all his thoughts and philosophy on period tailoring. My only beef as a 1640 tailor is that there are precious few patterns that can be used straight off the page without some alteration for my period. That is (as far as I’m concerned) a minor charge and one which (just perhaps) will be rectified as the series develops. I will keep my copy close by my side for the foreseeable future.


Bravo Mathew Gnagy!!


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