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Personalized Pattern Templates

Fit once, then save and reuse with other styles
Threads #213, Feb./March 2021

Fitting is a perpetual challenge for sewers. Not only do patterns vary in proportion depending on the company’s block (the basic pattern from which all designs are derived), but as time progresses your figure changes, too. When pattern companies began publishing multisized patterns, the quality of fitting was often compromised. The nuanced curves of individually sized patterns were difficult to print in an overlapped way, so shaping was simplified. This resulted in a less refined fit throughout the entire size range.

The perfect fit in a pattern is a moving target: You might succeed with one pattern, but each new pattern you try poses a different set of problems. After a lifetime of adjusting patterns, I’ve got a solution that sets you on the right path for easier, faster, and more effective fitting with a variety of garment designs.

Once you’ve spent the time to fit a pattern, use it as a customized template to fit future patterns. Your template is a basic pattern you’ve adjusted to fit the way you like: It is corrected for your unique figure, and it includes the amount of ease you prefer. You can compare a template to other patterns in order to correct problems before cutting the fabric. In many cases, you won’t even need to make a test garment, though for fitted or unusual designs, a muslin is always a good idea.

To get started, make a list of the kinds of clothes you sew most often. My basic garment list comprises only five garments: a jacket, blouse, T-shirt, straight skirt, and pants. From those silhouettes I can also create coats, dresses, and evening gowns. Even though I’ve listed five patterns, there are only two garments to fit, and therefore only two templates needed for all my…

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  1. User avater
    prhpage | | #1

    Great article, Judith! I've been struggling with fit for years now, and this will help me change the way I address patterns from now on. I can see there's quite a bit to do at the start, but this will help fitting issues on all future pieces I will sew.
    Your early comments about shoulders and shoulder slope really hits home. I have no end of troubles when taking on a new pattern with the shoulders. Now I can see where the problems start.

  2. user-5910757 | | #2

    Thank you for the great info! I"ve been trying over the past year to take my time sewing, making muslins, and getting the fit right before using my fashion fabric.

  3. user-7848486 | | #3

    What about fitting the back?

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