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book/CD’s on fitting a women’s body

foster | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I need a course, workshop, books, CD.s on fitting a mature body. Are there any favorites that you have in your sewing library that you would share the titles with me? I have just begun to sew for myself and after the garment is made and it is not a good fit, I have become discouraged and I love the creativity of sewing, seeing a garment take shape. So I need help in fitting the pattern. Thank you.


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  1. gailete | | #1

    I am tall and overweight, even though I have dropped 50#, still have a way to go. One of the things that has greatly helped me is a dressmaker dummy that hubby got me. Expensive yes (I know there were cheaper alternatives, but I'm not physically able to stand for an hour or so while someone wraps me up in tape, etc.) . I have it extra padded where needed, including the belly bulge and the drooping boobs. Having that has been a real help when fitting patterns and pattern pieces so there isn't the constant on and off your own body. I am horrible at altering patterns even with the advice of many books that I have, so between the dummy and hubbies kind help in pinning out excess fabric, etc. I'm getting better at getting garments to fit.

    I don't know why but the last time I went step by step measuring and altering a pattern, I ended up with a huge top! Like I said I have lots of books on fit, but none that I can recommend as I am still trying to find one that helps me and my particular problem so I can carry the changes over to all patterns. Losing weight between each garment hasn't helped much either. Wish I could be more help to you.

    1. foster | | #2

      Thank you, Gail. I wonder, did you buy your dressmaker form from a place like Joanne's or did you order it from a specility place. I would like to get a form, also. (I would also like to lose 50 lbs., congratulations to you!) Wanda

      1. gailete | | #3

        Hubby ordered it on line as a birthday present last year. I didn't know a thing about it until he brought it upstairs all put together for me. I'm happy to have lost the weight, but I wasn't trying-I have a lot of health problems and it has helped me drop all of it. At this point I would rather be 'healthy' than have dropped the weight. Having that dummy really helps as with arthritis trying to put clothes on and off is painful and exhausting.

  2. Cathycor | | #4

    Hi Foster:I have had the same problem - more so as I get older! I have rounding in my upper back, smallish shoulders and a C cup bust. For years, I sewed loose-fitting tops with dropped shoulders. In order to get enough fabric to cover my bust, the shoulders and rest of the top were always too big. I'm really not that big and I'm tired of wearing these tents!I've learned to adjust for the upper back curve, which helped, but I took a one-day workshop with Cynthia Guffey last year that helped me tremendously.She showed us how to adjust a pattern piece to allow for a C cup. Nearly all patterns are designed for B cup women.She also did one thing I never would have thought of - she "petited the armhole" by making it smaller. What a difference! All my so-called fitted garments always pulled across the back, no matter what adjustments I made. These simple tucks allow me to move freely in a garment, but still gave me a good fit. I'm comfortable, and I look a lot smaller now that tops actually fit.Cynthia has books and videos, but her workshops are great. She travels and often attends regional Sewing Expos. I took my class in Worcester, Massachusetts.
    For more info: http://www.cynthiaguffey.com.
    Good luck!

  3. Ckbklady | | #5


    It so nice to hear you say that seeing the garment come together is a pleasure. I think that's why many of us sew!

    I suggest you check out the book FIT FOR REAL PEOPLE by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto. They run the Palmer/Pletsch sewing school in Portland, Oregon. Their three books on general, jacket and pants fitting cover all kinds of real body types and all ages. They also have DVDs that accompany their books. They're also terrific people - lighthearted and friendly, which makes their lessons a pleasure.

    I would just mention - pants fitting is usually considered the most advanced of the three - as a beginner you may wish to start with tops and jackets to learn the ropes and build some skills.

    Let us know how you're doing, and don't get discouraged - we all have lots of projects we've tossed along the way and never completed. It would be nice to have fewer such projects, but sometimes the fabric doesn't perform the way you'd like or the pattern is badly designed or not right for one's body - there's a LOT of guesswork involved in choosing patterns and fabrics. Don't be too hard on yourself - you can always cut apart a failed project and make the prettiest tote bags! :)

    Keep sewing and welcome to the gang!

    :) Ckbklady

    1. foster | | #6

      Thanks Ckbklady, today...I needed the pep talk; now, let me see just how many of those bags I can get finished before Christmas. The book is on my list for the bookstore tomorrow. I look forward to reading it. Do you ever feel the pattern has a mind of its on and the measurements just don't agree with your body measurements After the garment is made?There is a link missing in my mind and the business of fitting---like a foreign language; hopefully the book will help. Thanks, Wanda

      1. Ckbklady | | #7

        You bet I do - patterns DO have a mind of their own! Many times along the way I've measured myself, measured the corresponding points on uncut tissue patterns, cut out my fabric with the tissue and after all that, have sometimes found that the fabric doesn't do what I expected. That's the challenge in learning which fabrics are most appropriate for which project. The patternmakers try to help us by giving general advice on the back of the pattern envelope about appropriate fabrics but it's still a challenge (who really knows what "tissue faille" or "challis" really feel like?). Think of the differing weight and "hand" (a combination of drape and weight) of "soft silkies" in a fabric store, or the difference in denim weights.  In choosing, a lot of it is about personal judgment.

        Translating something from a flat piece of tissue into a three-dimensional garment really does require a good spatial eye but also a good sense of that fabric "hand". Luckily most of us have had lots of clothes over the years (thank you 20th and 21st century and our easy riches compared to millennia of folks before us) and thus many opportunities to learn (by wearing) what works. Who knew that getting dressed in the morning would be a useful lesson?

        The bottom line is that you know more than you think you do, and you mustn't be hard on yourself. Take it easy at first with simple patterns so you can build the sewing skills and increase your confidence and enthusiasm. You won't find the fit of simple patterns to be as flattering as ones with more pieces (which is logical, right? The more pieces there are, the more seams there are that we can play with - we're not flat like tissue paper but need the fabric to skim our curves) but it won't be long before you can work up to them.

        But if you just want to dive in and get started on more challenging patterns, remember this - there is no single step in pattern instructions that's terribly difficult. Just take it step by step. Just remember that there is no rule that you should zip through several steps a day. Take your time, learn as you go and don't feel badly if you need to rip out and redo a seam. Everyone does it. Just stop when the instructions get tricky and go read everything you can about that step, and drop in here to talk to all of us about it. Then carry on to the next step.

        And for fitting, I will say that nothing is more helpful than having a sewing buddy to help with tissue fitting or with pin-fitting the garment as you go along. Some fabric and sewing machine stores offer classes where you can get all your unfinished projects fitted up, or where you can as a class learn about fitting. You may want to look into that. Fitting yourself can be tricky what with the bending and twisting in the mirror.

        And do take comfort - the vast majority of sewers are baffled by fitting, and think of it as a foreign language just as you do. Wanting to learn about at the start of your sewing experience is to be commended!

        :) Ckbklady

  4. Ckbklady | | #8

    I knew there was something else I wanted to mention to you. See if any of this is useful:

    I've started using a line of patterns called Silhouette by Peggy Sagers. You might like them too - the measurements on the pattern envelope are NOT your body measurements, they're the finished dimensions of each size of the pattern when made up. The way you choose the right pattern size for you is by measuring similar garments already in your closet and choosing the closest match. I'm 40-something and like the "grownup-ness" of the outfits - not too young or disposably stylish. Nice business "smart casual" and Church-appropriate garments.

    The easiest sequence with Silhouette that I've found is to choose a pattern, bring it home and measure up some of your favorite clothes, and THEN go fabric shopping once you know how much you need. I've seen Ms. Sagers speak at the Sew Expo in Puyallup, WA and love her unorthodox techniques. You might find good advice in some of the articles she has written and put on her website: http://www.silhouettepatterns.com. She has a great one about fitting.

    Also, as you think about which patterns might be worth a shot, you can also read about folks' experiences with specific patterns (gazillions of brands) at http://www.patternreview.com (including Silhouette). It can be a comfort to see how users often have fitting and even assembly issues. Just because it's printed on pattern tissue doesn't mean the process may be tricky. It can be helpful to check in there as you construct a garment to see if anyone had similar triumphs and pitfalls.

    Happy sewing!

    :) Ckbklady

    Edited 10/21/2009 1:50 pm by Ckbklady

    1. foster | | #9

      Thank you so much for all this info and your time; I am aways amazed how generous members of this group are in sharing their time and experience.I am ordering the book on fitting and I share your opinion of the patterns.....I am 60 something. Thanks, Wanda

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