Rohr, a Drafting Classic

RohrM.Rohr, Pattern Drafting and Grading, Women’s and Misses’ Garment Design was a well known text when I learned to draft. Then it somehow dropped off the radar. A few years ago, browsing internet as one does, I spotted a copy. In a fit of nostalgia and not at all put off by the fact that I’d have to wait for it to come from Australia, I added it to my shelves.

Kathleen Fasanella  proposed a reprint idea, I don’t think it has happened yet.  It seems this book has joined the sought after texts people will pay silly money for.( $757.60 was one listing, now that surely must be a misprint? For a warehouse full of them?)

It is thorough, and you could learn to draft from it. You can learn to draft from lots of books. Just don’t fall for books with the ‘easy method’ stuff with no bust darts (or their alternative princess seams) . I think you can guess why. Rohr, happily, was written when women were women and allowed to be woman shaped.

This was published too before we got to need instant learning gratification. Don’t expect in your face graphics or design graduate layout if you buy a copy of this book. Here is a typical page…..


Tiny illustrations and diagrams, typed text and dinky little arrows wandering between the two. But, isn’t it marvellous, fascinating in an archeological way? Dig in for the information and you will be richly rewarded.

1/4 scale blocks are included, printed on card so that you could cut them out, draw round them and scale them up  if you don’t want to work your own draft.


Don’t you love the quaint illustrations, every one a gem. Is my gusset showing?


Its comprehensively indexed, with additional illustrated index, so you can browse styles if you can’t think of the right term to search under. Just like

Unique I think to Rohr, is the neck and armhole guide. So, you can knock the price of a fancy ruler off the book cost if you want some purchase justification. This was aeons before the pattern master. Armed with your cardboard cut out, and the instructions on the facing page you can get the curves right, find the shoulder angles and draft a ‘fitted waist’,  the old fashioned term for a bodice block to the waist, with all the darting in the waist.


There’s basic Grading in there too –  using the shift method Peter Lappin writes about here. Also tables of measurements and taking measurement info. Draping on the stand is not included, its a book for flat drafting.

Upshot of this ramble is I wouldn’t part with my copy, not even for the price of a rust bucket, but if your maiden aunt has one mouldering in a box in the outhouse, rescue it.


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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17 Responses to Rohr, a Drafting Classic

  1. I haven’t seen this book but will look out for it (if it isn’t at silly money!). I have a copy of ‘Ladies Garment Cutting and Making’ by F.R. Morris from 1935 which is similarly useful though occasionally bizarre! Some of the garments shown are gorgeous – some just plain weird 🙂
    Like you, I will be hanging on to this book.


  2. mrsmole says:

    What a treasure! Eye candy for those of us to use pencil and paper and rulers for real bodies! Thank you for giving us an engineer’s view of pattern making…my eyes and ears perked up looking through each diagram….even though some of those styles are no longer with us…sniff…it is a glimpse into the days of thoughtful design and seaming and in the end…perfect fitting…the lost art.


  3. Pella says:

    I’m still pencil and paper, cut and paste, pin, slash, add bits, scotch tape together.


  4. Be still my beating heart, those technical drawings are just fantastic. So much easier to understand than some of the modern, photography-based drafting stuff. I saw one that had white garments stitched with white thread photographed against a white background. Couldn’t discern a thing, didn’t part with my money.


  5. Pella says:

    Perhaps one of those interlibrary lending schemes could help you dig a copy out? Or have they gone the way of all flesh with the latest round of public service cuts?


  6. I trained as a fashion designer in the mid-70s and Rohr is still my foundation. Would not part with my beat-up copy for love nor money! If you don’t have one, keep your eyes peeled.


  7. sew2pro says:

    A wonderful new tip! Thanks so much; I really appreciate your drafting digests.

    (now off to start a Rohr-dedicated piggybank!)


  8. Offspring says:

    Rohr is still on my wish list! Bray was our set text when I learned to pattern cut in the mid to late 1980s but what I particularly love about these older texts is the wealth of techniques and the proper tuition that is given, not just of dart manipulation but of training the eye to recognise good proportion and apply it. They are also absolutely beautifully presented. Their real value lies in the treasure of techniques and methods which, because fashions and fabrics have changed, are no longer seen as relevant by modern authors and which risk being lost unless promoted by those of us who are aware of them. With the continuing unsurge of interest in ‘Vintage’ as well as sewing, I can only see prices rising although hopefully it might also lead to reprints being issued.


  9. Pella says:

    Bray more or less followed on from Rohr, I think. I’ll ‘do’ that next or next but one, as the muse takes me haha. Bray is a bit more friendly, more explanation and bigger diagrams.


  10. Gjeometry says:

    Ooooh, the book looks fascinating. I just finished a patternmaking course and we used “Pattern making for Fashion Designers” by Helen Armstrong. It is a good book, but does have many errors and many omissions. I’m going to have a look for this one at the local used book store and thrift shops. I have found a treasure trove of sewing books in them, you would not believe!!


  11. Hugo says:

    Simply put, one of the best books on pattern drafting. I first found a tattered copy in 1987 which served me to no end. I was lucky to find a mint copy on Amazon about four years ago. I think I paid about $20 for it. The instructions are clear, and easy to follow, though you need to consider changes in posture since it was first written. The first copy, which was an older edition, had a lot of supplements, including probably supplements to the supplements. The newer version has those supplements incorporated into the book.


  12. bondgirlgoestoheaven says:

    is it easy to understand? I have bought soo many book on pattern cutting and they all ended up a big disappointment!


  13. Pella says:

    Is it easy to understand? That’s a difficult question to answer when I don’t know where you’re coming from. Which books have you tried and what went wrong?


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