Laurel Hoffmann's Sewing & Drafting Books, Private lessons

Learn to Make Beautiful Clothes that Fit

 Fully diagrammed, step-by-step, classroom-tested instructions show you how to

1. Draft professional patterns that fit 

2. Sew exquisitely beautiful clothing

Minimal equipment is needed. See the supply list at the bottom of this page


In the picture on the left I'm wearing blue, one of my best colors, as I walk on the Forbidden Trail here in Philadelphia. Although the program's focus is on fit, drafting, and sewing; some personal color and style direction is included. All material is classroom tested. In the picture just to right of center the students watch as I demonstrate one of the pocket setting procedures included in Couture Techniques.

    Laurel Hoffmann, author and publisher of fashion technology curriculum
    Check our blog for fashions and technical information

When I entered the fashion industry I STUNNED by what I saw and was learning. I was an accomplished home sewer, but the industry was using almost none of the procedures I knew! Everything I had been taught was upside down and backwards compared to what I was learning on the job. The procedures I was learning in the designing department were so easy to understand and they made the work SO MUCH EASIER! Everything I saw made sense. I've never forgotten my home sewing skills, but I don't use them. Why would I? when everything is so much easier and the results so much better when as done in industry.

Later I decided that what I learned in industry should be available to everyone. That is why I have written these books and developed my program.

I was fortunate to be asked to teach in college. There, over the last 20 years I was able to test and develop my program and its supporting textbooks. This is the reason Contemporary Fashion Education's program and its supporting books present the step-by-step, fully diagrammed PROFESSIONAL, CLASSROOM TESTED drafting and sewing instructions you need to make exquisitely beautiful clothing that fits. These books really work because much of the material in them has been requested and ALL of it tested by people just like you. Here are the procedures that I learned and that are used in high-end design rooms to make clothing for department stores and boutiques, that the department stores and boutiques then sell to their preferred customers for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.  These are the procedures my students eagerly learn and use at work, if they are working in industry; and at home, if they sew for themselves and their families. What one needs in either situation is exactly the same.

When I worked in high-end I learned that the pattern makers' and sample makers' SKILLS are the underlying reason high-end garments are so exquisitely beautiful, and therefore so desirable and expensive. It wasn't the machinery and it wasn't speed. The machinery in designing departments is pretty basic. In fact the higher-end the garment, the less machinery needed to make it. The professionals worked at a fairly slow, deliberate pace. But because they were so skilled, they were able to complete the various projects within fairly short time frames.

YOU can learn these skills! -- skills that will enable you to make stunning clothing for your company, and/or for yourself and your family.                                                  You can make exquisitely beautiful, desirable, expensive clothing in your home with minimal equipment, time, and expense. I use  my feather-weight sewing machine to demonstrate sewing procedures in the classroom. High-end clothing can be made on a sewing machine no more complicated than a feather-weight or a treadle. That is why I use the treadle as my company's logo, seen at the top of each page on this website.

Everything in the books and program has been tested in the classroom over a period of 25 years with both degree and continuing professional education students to make sure it works and that students can understand it. In the picture on the right I'm handing out a pocket setting procedure to Continuing Professional Education students to test. That pocket procedure is shown being demoed in the photo at  top of this page.


Learning these professional skills will give you control over your sewing, help prevent costly mistakes, and enable you to sew sew slower, finish faster.

AND you 'll be able to design, draft, and sew anything you might wish to make.

Read more about Laurel's private lessons and how they are individually tailored for her students on the Thumbtack website.

Supply List


Shears or scissors to cut fabric:
Design personnel prefer 12-inch shears. If they are a bit too large, choose the largest shears that are comfortable.

Scissors to cut paper.

18 inch transparent red ruler. A C-Thru Ruler B-85 is recommended.*

24 by 14 inch L-square.*

Skirt curve rule. The Farigate Vary Form Curve Rule is recommended.*

A yardstick.

Four-foot metal straight-edge.
Available at hardware stores.

Tape measure.*

36-inch wide yellow tracing paper.*
Alpha-numeric pattern paper, 45-inch wide by 10 yards* 

36-inch wide (drafting) pattern paper* with a 1-inch grid. Supplied in class.

Small scissors with sharp points to trim threads and fabric.*

Stitch ripper.*


Box or magnetic pincushion.

Hand needles - package of assorted sizes.

Fashion fabric, lining, waistband stiffening, zipper, hooks, and thread.

Ham and sleeve rolls are very useful pressing aides.

Plastic tube with carrying strap for transporting patterns. Optional, but extremely useful, especially on rainy Saturdays.*

White card/cover stock paper Staples.


A basic sewing machine. A treadle sewing machine or feather-weight machine can be used to sew the clothing in the books.

Presser feet you will need:


  Straight stitch         Adjustable zipper            Buttonhole

Awl. Used by patternmakers for making pierce holes in tag. Sample makers often use awls to guide fabric under the sewing machine.

Steam iron, ironing board, press cloth - a man's white handkerchief is excellent.

Cutting table.  Bed risers can be used to raise tables  to drafting height

Dowels from wrapping paper or mailing tubes to roll the patterns up over.

Course Textbooks are ordered by calling Contemporary Fashion Education at 215 884 7065. Pay by credit card, check, money order, or cash. Because the course books are in-progress, they are sold at student prices to Laurel's students ONLY. 

Grid mats that measure a grid of 60 by 33 inches, or 40x72-inch are extremely helpful when drafting and cutting fabric.

* Can be purchased from the Philadelphia University Bookstore: On line, e-mail, or call 215-951-2717.