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How-to

Have you ever been plagued with a fitting problem?

Nov 16, 2010
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The Threads DVD Fitting Series includes fitting instruction specific to the Torso, Arms, Bust, and Hips & Thighs.

Fitting problems can be challenge.
As a teen, I remember buying a pattern in my size, constructing the garment, and wearing it right away–proud of my accomplishment. I never made a muslin; I never had to rip seams for fitting purposes, and in my memory’s eye, the garments always fit perfectly. Perhaps my memory altered a not-so-perfect fit; I don’t know. But I do know that garments that I make today require much advanced preparation (pattern scrutiny and muslin preparation followed by pattern alterations) prior to cutting my fashion fabric. I’ve also learned what styles are more forgiving on my older body, and I tend to gravitate to those styles. After I tweak a pattern so that it’s perfect, I reuse it in many different fabrics and pattern views to take advantage of my fitting success.

Have you encountered a particularly difficult fitting problem? How did you resolve it? What’s you’re best secret for fitting success?

Threads offers much fitting instruction and guidance.
Threads
magazine has covered fitting topics hundreds of times over the last 25 years. If you have a stash of our old issues, you can find help by accessing our online magazine index. Our 2010 Archive DVD, allows you to view all Threads issues from #1 through #152 on your computer (including articles, departments, and advertising). It’s an especially useful resource because of its many search features including a complete word search which examines every issue word-by-word to find a match. The beauty of the Archive is that you can read the article after you find it without leaving your chair.

There are many other sources for fitting instruction as well.
Many books have been written over the years on the subject, published both by Taunton Press and other publishing companies, websites (including ours) offer online fitting instruction in both video and text format, and you can purchase DVDs to keep on hand that will assist you with fitting alterations. Live classes are available in many fabric shops and sewing schools, or they can help you locate a teacher for private lessons. You can also check out local colleges to see if they offer sewing classes. In addition, there are online fitting classes. Some are focused such as Don McCunn’s bra fitting classes, and some are more general like those found on PatternReview.com. YouTube even has a selection of free fitting videos. Most online instruction can be done on your own time. The more formal classes are completely interactive and include personal Q&A time and email support. There are so many options it can be overwhelming.

What method of fitting instruction have you found most valuable in your quest for patterns that fit you perfectly?

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  1. User avater alb4ever March 21st

    most of the garments i make end up bieng too small, even though we (my mom and i) make all kinds of ajustments. . . (sigh)

  2. NubianGoddess December 12th

    I made a garment for someone and after I had placed the lining in the bodice and finished it( a dress) the recipient said it was tight in the underarms.
    I had made a sloper and adjusted the pattern to fit the person, and it still didn't turn out great. I'm unsure what I did incorrectly?

  3. NubianGoddess December 12th

    I made a garment for someone and after I had placed the lining in the bodice and finished it( a dress) the recipient said it was tight in the underarms.
    I had made a sloper and adjusted the pattern to fit the person, and it still didn't turn out great. I'm unsure what I did incorrectly?

  4. fabriclover007 November 20th

    I have many issues. Problems relating to posture, rounded back from years at a computer, short, heavy upper arms that always require a sleeve cap adjustment and curve forward )one piece sleeves twist); large rear, large abdomen.

    Books and tapes are wonderful for reference but nothing is going to beat a fitting garment. Books and tapes give you a starting point and if your issue is minor may even resolve the problem. But if you have multiple problems, look out. Or sometimes you may think the problem is one thing but the remedy you try doesn't resolve it. And to boot, as you get older, your body shifts and changes and weight is redistributed.

    The mystery to me is how I can buy good fitting clothes off the rack but the pattern companies are so far off. Jones NY is a huge mfg and other than shortening the sleeves in jackets their clothes fit me very well. Obviously their "sloper" that they design clothes from is close to my actual body. They are a huge, successful clothing mfg whose revenues I'm sure dwarf the pattern companies. Yet the pattern companies never caught on that they're using the same fitting model they were 20 years ago when many of us have gotten larger.

    My sewing skills are good; the garment construction isn't the issue, it's the fitting. Once I have that straight I can make the garment. Lately I just buy patterns for inspiration and I might lift a detail or two, but I rely on the patterns that I've perfected so as not to start that whole trial and error thing all over. I'd never get anything made if I didn't.

  5. Aspydelia November 18th

    I have several challenges, but the overarching one is going up sizes in patterns that don't include my size. My current method is to grade the pattern by figuring out how many sizes larger the pattern would have to be if it did come in my size, then I use the multi-size lines to redraw the pattern. After I have it graded up to an estimation of my correct size, I apply my usual alterations. Then I make a muslin from the result and fine tune. It takes a while but I can fit any pattern no matter the size (and I know if the style will work before I cut my fashion fabric.) Once I have it perfected I transfer my drawings to permanent pattern material (I like the gridded Pelon) and make my garments with confidence. One tip is to fit a view that uses the smallest amount of fabric and has the least detail. Then use the alterations from the easier, cheaper view to redraw the one you want to sew.

    My favorite fitting books are Nancy's "Pattern Fitting with Confidence" and the old Singer series "The Perfect Fit."

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