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Conversational Threads

How do you learn how to fit?

Sushi911 | Posted in Talk With Us on

I want so badly to be able to sew well fitting clothing.  Unfortunately I cannot find any classes here in Atlanta on weekends or evenings.  I’ve bought several fitting books and read them cover to cover but I can’t quite make what I’ve read happen on the pattern.  How has everyone else learned to fit?  Does anyone have any book recommendations other than Sandra Betzina?  Many thanks for your suggestions!



  1. RhettaRic | | #1

    I sooo wish I could help, but I'm sort of in the same spot as you.  So looking forward to ideas on how we grow in this area.

  2. rekha | | #2

    Sushi, you have already taken the first step - learning from the books.

    Now you should go and get several yards of cheap muslin material and a pattern you would like to make apparel from.

    Have someone take your measurements and then follow the books, patterns and your own instincts.

    Be bold and only practice and making notes about the changes you make and how you make them will take you a long way

    1. Sushi911 | | #3

      You know, I've always hesitated to do a muslin because I thought it would be so much effort and work for something I can't wear.  You're right.  Until I actually do it and practice I won't know if I can or can't.  Thanks for the advice...

    2. RhettaRic | | #4

      When Joann's had muslin on sale, I bought a bolt of it. She said it was the best they had. When I got it home and cut some, it just seems so thin, weavy. What kind of muslin do you use? Or where do you get it?

      1. Teaf5 | | #6

        "Make a muslin" doesn't literally mean you have to use muslin fabric; it just means to make a sample garment out of a cheaper fabric. I sometimes use old sheets or lengths of fabric I got for rock-bottom prices to make my samples (muslins). You want the sample fabric to be similar in weight, drape, and stiffness to the fashion fabric you want for the final garment.I would caution against using really horrid-looking fabric for your muslin, as you might get it to fit but hate working on it and hate how it looks on you. If the sample fabric is nice enough, you CAN wear it after you finish it; even if you can't, you'll save an incredible amount of time and more expensive fabric. Sometimes, I make my first version of a new pattern in a cheaper fabric--still good enough to wear--and then use that to guide my fitting on the second, more expensive version.Other discussions on this forum have a lot of good specific suggestions on fitting different problem areas; try a search!

        1. jjgg | | #10

          You really should use solid or nearly solid color fabrics for your muslin, prints can distort your view of what you see/ fitting problem areas. At least for me anyway, I need to see it in a solid fabric. Now, having said that, when I'm draping things I sometimes use a stripe to help me know what the grain is doing.

  3. jjgg | | #5

    This won't help you for now, but when I move to Asheville in July, I intend to open a sewing school (not sure really how soon that will be accomplished) but fitting is one of the classes I teach - Asheville is a long 3 1/2 hr drive, but I will be having weekend classes. I don't know that I'll have my own place at first, may just try to find some place to hold classes. I could manage 3 or 4 students in my house.But, it really comes down to the fact that it is almost impossible to really fit yourself. Even with one of the methods I use - drafting a sloper to your measurements and adjusting commercial patterns from that, it still takes some tweaking in the muslin to get a really good fit.Edited 1/31/2008 9:42 pm ET by jjgg

    Edited 1/31/2008 9:43 pm ET by jjgg

    1. Sushi911 | | #12

      I would be more than willing to drive to Asheville to take a class - that would be great.  I love Asheville - there are so many artists with wonderful shops.  Let me know if it becomes a reality.

      I'm going to ask my husband to help with the measurements.  I can measure myself 10 times in a row and come up with 10 different measurements! 

      Thanks - I hope the class becomes a reality.

      Also, have you ever used a Bonfit pattern that you dial your measurements into?  I always wondered if those were a useful tool.

      1. Beth | | #18

        Sushi911, your message touches on a long personal journey. I've been improving my clothing fit since at 2001, maybe even sooner. After all, fitting adjustments are about adding fabric, subtracting fabric, all the while maintaining the grain line. Right? Huh, learning just what varies from the pattern is the challenge.
        Some things I've found helpful are: taking a fitting class, digital photographs in various outfits and in under ware, standing next to a dress form to pad it out, making a sloper.
        To look at me you might think fitting is no issue at all. Well, my bodice sloper has 7 changes. It's the figuring out what varies and how to get it right that takes time, quite a bit of time, IMHO.
        Looking back, I think paying a fitting expert to fit a sloper would have moved my sewing ahead into creativity and a higher level of skill sooner.
        Best wishes on your own journey in fitting.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #21

          Your information is helpful for me too.  I've been wanting to find a professional to make me a sloper also.  I dreaded spending hours on the phone, talking to strangers.

          I made this my mission at the Denver Creative Festival yesterday.  I met two professionals with charming personalities: a professor in the art, another is a costume designer.  Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver has many classes available in patternmaking, design, etc., The American Sewing Guild in Denver has a seminar once a year on fitting, The Association of Custom Clothiers, and http://www.sewingreferralnetwork.com, and a few shops to call regarding classes.

          What a pleasure to be able to speak to these people in person and find these treasures! 


          1. Beth | | #22

            I'm glad to be of some use. Meeting others who understand how to fit has been a help to me, as well.

    2. User avater
      VKStitcher | | #17

      Asheville is one of my favorite places.  I'd love to spend a weekend there in your fitting class.  It's not such a far drive from Raleigh.  Keep us posted re: your schedule.

      1. jjgg | | #19

        No problem, this could be a great advertising forum for me, but I guess we're not supposed to do that. I move in July so probably by September I will be ready to start teaching.

        1. goldenthreads | | #39

          I attended Peggy Sagers 4-day Fitting Workshop.  I can't say enough good things about it.   She is a really professional who has a "passion for fashion"-- all aspects.  Additionally, she has a set of videotapes on Muslin Fitting as well as Pattern Modification that I've found invaluable.  The entire set of 6 or 7 dvds for $149.  I'm no expert at this point, but I really believe I'm making great strides.   She is a former college teacher of fashion, and as you listen to her dvd's you can tell -- her presentation is logical and organized.   

          I came out of the Fitting Workshop with a tailored jacket that REALLY fits-- and a pattern I can sew over and over.  Many of the other attendees came away with multiple muslins that fit.

          Peggy also does patterns-- Silhouettes Patterns which is on the web.  I have no affiliation with Peggy or her company.  Just a satisfied consumer.

    3. nsummerlin | | #47

      Classes in Asheville!  That would be wonderful.  I am in eastern NC and would be willing to go to Asheville for some great classes.  There is nothing here!  Let me know if and when this happens.  Good luck on your move.

      1. jjgg | | #49

        Thanks, I'll be there for a few weeks in April, we have to get new carpet in the house the previous owners had WHITE carpeting! as well as a few other last items to get the house ready. I am so excited.

        1. nsummerlin | | #50

          Please let me know ahead of time where and etc. when you plan to do classes.  I really would be interested in attending and will need to plan ahead to take time off from work.  Thanks!  Good luck with your house.

  4. scrubble4 | | #7

    Sushi911:  First fit is the Holy Grail of sewing. It is illusive to all of us who always see how each outfit could be just a bit better. 

    Secondly, Taunton is coming out with a Fitting DVD, I think in February.  Check with Amy (Taunton Editor who can be reached from this site) as to the date.  Amy said it is a fabuouls DVD.  I am really keen to see and use this DVD.

    Third do make a muslin and sometimes two or three.  I use old bedsheets I find at garage sales etc.  Sometimes I make the muslin out of inexpensive material about the same weight and hand as my fashion material if the hand is a critical player in the fit. 

    Fourth you do need a fitting buddy either in the form of a dressform you have made (lots of info on paper tape, duck tape and plaster cast dress forms fitted to you on this site) or a real life person. 

    So finding your fit is an investment of time that can't be avoided.  However, think of it as a journey of learning and discovery.  Every time you make a muslin you learn more about how your body fits to fabric and pattern design.  There is of course also the movement of our bodies in our clothes to consider in fitting patterns.  Our bottom/legs and top/arms are the trickiest bits for fitting for movement. 

    The really great thing is that you have discovered this forum.  These are the most generous, talented and nice people you will meet with.  I have been sewing for years, but only joined this forum in the fall.  I am astounded what I have learned from reading other people's questions and suggestions. 

    So hang in there, come back for encouragement, to have your questions answered and post pictures of your successes.  We all love to see each other's accomplishments.  I haven't done much sewing lately as I am on a medical leave.  I would have thought with this time I would have sewn a new wardrobe and re-upholstered my house.  Life does make us slow down occassionally.  This forum has been such a life saver for me. 

    Take care and encouragement Scrubble4

    1. Sushi911 | | #11

      Thank you so much for your encouragement.  I've been doing basic sewing all my life.  Making my own well sewn and creative garments has been a dream of mine that I'm going to try to make happen.  Someone posted above that I just need to jump in and practice.  So obvious but something I've been afraid to do!  But I'm ready to give it a go.  One dumb question:  I've heard of slopers and of muslims.  Are they the same thing?

      I hope you begin to feel better soon and again thanks for a push in the right direction.  I'll post my results.


      1. scrubble4 | | #16

        Sushi911;  Please if I am giving wrong information, everyone, jump in to make the corrections.  Sushi, my use of these terms "sloper" and "muslin" are as follows:

        A sloper is a pattern that you fit to yourself with minimum ease.  The ones I have made have been with gingham as it is so easy to keep both vertical and horizontal grains of the material in the right alignment when working on the sloper.  You mark every seam on it (darts, side, everything) before taking it apart.  I am not sure what other people use, but I usually just use a heavy, dark pencil.  You then take it apart and make it into a fairly heavy paper pattern, transferring all the lines onto the pattern.  I think some folks even make their slopers in see through materials such as plastic.  Its use is to lay it  on top of a commercial pattern to see where you need to make pattern adjustments.  You must of course take into account any fashion ease in the commercial pattern. 

        The next step, after making a sloper and adjusting the commercial pattern to the best of your ability with the sloper, is to make the muslin.  This is a practice outfit of the fashion pattern.  You can see if the pattern fits you the way you want, if you like the fashion statements made by the pattern, if the sleeves fit and are the right length for the style you want, if the hem length and width are what you want once you see it on your body, is the position of pockets and buttonholes where you want them etc.  So for me a muslin is about fit and fashion sensen both. 

        You make all the changes you would like to have on your finished garment on the muslin.  Then take the muslin apart and use the muslin as your pattern.  Some folks transfer the changes on the muslin back onto the paper pattern, or make a new paper pattern or just use the muslin pieces.  I am sure others can give you advantages and disadvantages for each of these process.  So long as I am really clear about the grainlines from the muslin, I tend to just use it. 

        However, I have to tell you on occasion I have had to make up to 3 muslins.  I am picky I know, but if you have a really beautiful piece of fabric, you want it to fit right.  The neat thing about being a bit compulsive about the fit, once you get a pant, or blouse or dress pattern the way you want, you can sew up a core wardrobe from these fine tuned pieces confidently, and fairly quickly. 

        This journey is so worthwhile.  It is like learning to make your own soup stock instead of using cubes.  Really intimidating at first but so worthwhile once you get the hang of it.  I am not quite there with the stock, but hanging out on Cooks Talk as well as here is making me more sure that I can get there. 

        Keep coming back here to ask your questions, get support and celebrate your successes.  This group is fantastic in celebrating each other's successes, a step in the learning process that adults often gloss over.  It is really important to be able to say WOW I did it and have those you respect say, Yes, and you did it really well. 


        1. cree9 | | #26

          I don't worry about really close fitting as many years ago I was trying to make a 3 piece outfit with friend and to be sure we were getting it right we started with inexpensive fabric and I made and wore a great outfit - skirt, pants and jacket. Then we cut out the good fabric only to discover that it was an unmatched plaid and so none of the cut pieces worked when trying to get seams done because the plaid would never match and there wasn't enough fabric to cut pattern again. We, of course, felt really dumb having spent so much time and effort only to miss such an obvious difference - I am at the moment only making things like night shirts without patterns at all - just kind of matching existing clothes - an also experimenting with making shelf bras and bras in general that I can stand to wear - so far I am not getting anything I think is comfortable but I keep trying.

          1. scrubble4 | | #27

            cree9  "Then we cut out the good fabric only to discover that it was an unmatched plaid and so none of the cut pieces worked"

            Cree9 it is at moments like that I think, "Okay I will always remember this and not make this mistake again."  Of course, I do forget it and chastise myself extensively the next time I make the same or a similar mistake.  I think the things we do repeatedly we hang onto but for me if I don't use that piece of learning a few times right away it slides into oblivion in my mind only to be resurrected again, after I have made the same mistake again.  

            " I am at the moment only making things like night shirts without patterns at all - just kind of matching existing clothes " 

            Wow!  That is a great skill to copy existing clothes and to design (even a nightshirt) without a pattern.  You have a lot of knowledge already about how your body fits to fabric and pattern pieces. 

            "experimenting with making shelf bras and bras in general "

            I suspect making a bra is one of the most challenging parts of pattern design and drafting.  I am sure there are some folks on this site who can help you with that.  It is way beyond my ken. 

            Please keep us posted on your journey as it really has my interest.  Scrubble4


          2. cree9 | | #31

            Thanks for the encouragement - I do know that repeating things over and over is a good way to learn - but my choice was to say $%#*%#)(*!@ with it and go on to other and different things I have made all sorts of things over the years and I can make almost anything fit eventually even on myself - I used to fix others mistakes because I was good at it - now I am getting to know my seam ripper very well when I can find it otherwise I have some small sharp scissors that will do the job. I make samples of projects that I need to learn how to do - good thing too as I always seem to start out with mistakes. I just made several things on the machine - I believe that if our foremothers had had sewing machines they would never have sewn by hand - or I am very bad at hand sewing and so choose not to do this. I tend to learn by doing and as I am always learning I seem to be always doing. There are long periods when I do other things as I am thinking about how to do what I am planning - this can last for several years - I have several of my bra attempts sitting reproachfully on shelves where I sew and am just now starting again - I even bought a pattern from Clothilde for a shelf bra pattern as I couldn't find any in the pattern books & I looked at for about 2 years - I will most probably alter it as I don't particularly care for the style but it gives me something to work from and that should get me going at least for a while. Meanwhile I am making night shirts (mostly to use up fabric that is totally grim and I wouldn't want to wear in public) quilts and assorted Christmas items that I am learning how to do as I go - anyone have a good pattern for making large quilts that end up quilted on two sides and only need to be bound? I have made table runners like that and have tried various ideas to expand the field but the idea of doing a whole large quilt that way isn't filling me with desire to start immediately. It is very hard to get pieces through the machine if they get too big - or I haven't learned a technique that I would want to continue - any suggestions would be appreciated.

            Edited 2/5/2008 1:26 pm ET by cree9

          3. scrubble4 | | #32

            Cree9:  What a fun read, thanks.  Your ruminations that sometimes take years is me.  I do that and never thought anyone else did it.  I often do this while riding my bike which I find to be a wonderful time for reflections. 

            I also learn by doing and watching.  This is one of the reasons I am so eager to see the DVD on fitting from Taunton.  I have books and articles that I read and re-read and keep getting different or extended ideas from each time. 

            It is so terrific to chat with someone who has walked a similar path to me.  Thanks Scrubble4


          4. rodezzy | | #34

            There are several "quilt-as-you-go" techniques.  There is a series of quilt books "Quilt in a Day" that shows how to do quilt-as-you-go.  There can be quite a bit of hand sewing of cover strips on the back side.  I've made four with the strips. 





            Also, Georga Bonesteel had a quilt show on TV, I don't really remember what station at the moment, but she showed how to take small sections of large quilts, quilt it, then do the joining where you leave space in the quilted top and sew 1/4" seams together first, then trim batting to bunt against each other in the seamed area and fold and flap over the backing and slip stitch in place.  If your bobbin thread matches your quilting thread, and your extra line of stitching won't throw off your quilt top design, you can machine sew the back seams down.  I've done that on a quilt where it wouldn't be noticed as an extra line of stitching on the front of the quilt.

            I hope these sites will help.  The quilts I made were bed sized quilts.  Two for my quilt guild quilt show and one for my son and one for my ex-sister in law.

            Edited 2/6/2008 11:45 am ET by rodezzy

            Edited 2/6/2008 11:48 am ET by rodezzy

          5. cree9 | | #35

            Thanks for the sites - which I haven't investigated yet as I am saying thanks - I won a sewing machine for doing small quilt using fat quarters provided and only adding one other fabric - I made a cathedral window quilt all on my machine - fortunately I was making a small size as doing the stitching on the window edges took all sorts of maneuvering around my machine - the store owner was able to share with me that he had a woman who had half a machine sewn cathedral window quilt and she wanted to find someone to finish it - the best price he was able to find was $1,000 which she wasn't about to pay - so there is a half done quilt out there looking to be finished. I was changing the size of a quilt as I am doing 2 twin size rather than a king size - fabric constraints - and had cut out the sides and top pieces only to discover that my measurements were off and I need 24 more inches on the sides - so I will shrink the blocks some and make 4 extra 12 inch blocks for the corners and hopefully correct the mistake before I start on the 2nd quilt - the only reason I found this out was that I was making one block to make sure that it was going to work - before I cut out all the rest of the pieces. Or there are reasons for doing samples it just depends on what you are making samples of. Again thanks and I am off to look at the sites you supplied. Sites look great - the table runner used squares with batting and reverse side there were diagonal strips going across the center from corner to corner - first pair facing each other with seam holding them together going from one corner to opposite corner -these were opened out and another strip was sewn face down on each until you had gotten to the corners again. A finished square just needing to be trimmed. To continue you added face down whatever on both sides and did seam, these got flipped up and batting was butted up to edge of sewn batting and you continued using a whole piece and strips reversing so the whole piece was on same side as strips already sewn - this was done with one large square on point and other squares cut into triangles - the first one I did had butterflies on one side and cats on other. I have also made one with unicorns on one side and Xmas on the other. I bound the edges with double fold bias stitched down by machine. I am really bad at hand sewing so I try to avoid it. I would think that there has to be a way to make this system work for a whole quilt - or something similar. Quick look at sites you provided talked about hand sewing and the like - I've bookmarked them so I can go back and study or maybe I'll just invent my own way of doing this sort of thing. Thanks again - always nice to hear from others.

            Edited 2/6/2008 5:45 pm ET by cree9

          6. rodezzy | | #36

            I'm very glad the sites were of some help to you.  But remember, all of the processes can be used to make a quilt as big as you want it.  There are no restrictions on size. 

            I've done this:  I make all of my squares for the quilt top.  Then I lay them out on my bed (I have a queen size) in the order that I want them sewn.  Then I sew the blocks into rows, then I make strips going the short way across; put batting and backing to that and quilt it.  I repeat this until all strips have been quilted.  Then I sew the strips together with cover strips on the back and sew down the cover strips as suggested in my earlier note.  The I decide if borders are needed, and if the are, I cut them out, put batting and backing onto them and sew them on with backing strips, and sew on with seam covering strips and finish that.  Then bind the quilt.  When sewing the on the border I always put the center of the quilt (bulk) to the left of my sewing machine on the table and a ironing board set up evenly with the table.  This keeps me from having to fuss with the large part of the quilt under the machine.

            I hope you are successful, because I also don't particularly like to do hand sewing, but I do when I feel it just won't do being sewn by machine. 

            What do you think about Betty Boop fabric for a baby's quilt? 

          7. cree9 | | #37

            I have read and thought about some of the sites you passed along - and I love the idea of the railroad tracks - I have 3 quilts in progress and am also doing some clothing for myself - and always seem to have more ideas than time. I really appreciated your suggestions about laying out blocks on bed - I will get to that as I have more blocks finished - I cut out all my clothing stuff on my bed (king size) and hadn't thought about laying out quilt blocks - I have been spreading them out in sewing room and struggling with the whole thing. I have a new lease on the process as it finally dawned on me that it was possible to make smaller quilts - I have a sewing friend who hates anything that doesn't go on a bed and somehow it never sunk in that one could make all sorts smaller sizes - this is leading me into all sorts of multi pathways that I should probably ignore but I am heading down them warily. I think that I actually have 7 or so projects in my sewing room in various stages of completion so I really don't need to take on anything else for a while - when I have gotten some of them finished and out of the way then I can try some new things again.
            I am not a Betty Boop fan so I wouldn't use that kind of fabric for a baby quilt - I am not sure that I would choose any of the standard fabrics for baby quilt - I go for non pastels and loud colors
            and I am not sure that I have seen a baby quilt anywhere that I would take on. Probably because I am not into the standard baby stuff. I saw a pattern several years ago that was a baby bunting that looked rather like a Christmas Tree - that fascinated me and is in the back of my mind if I should have a great grandchild. It was fleece and wasn't at all like a baby item - pity my poor great grandchildren - I had a male grandchild who wanted a flamingo pillow -his older sister has a hate thing going on with flamingos so I only now give my daughter flamingo things when I am trying to irritate the grandchild. My daughter belongs to a Morris Dance group that uses flamingos as part of their costume and she collects flamingo statues and fabric and that sort of thing - where her son got the passion for a flamingo pillow is a mystery as she wasn't part of the dance team back then.

            Edited 2/7/2008 11:01 pm ET by cree9

          8. rodezzy | | #38

            Good deal, I'm glad to be of some help. 

          9. RhettaRic | | #33

            Cree9, I just got a message about an on-line bra making class.  I've never taken one, but here's the link:  http://custom-bras.deofsf.com/

        2. User avater
          artfulenterprises | | #40

          You have essentially given all the right information, although I might add a bit of picky technicalities. Generally, a sloper is a "hard copy" flat pattern (meaning it is cut from tag board which is the same "manila" paper file folders are made from...it may also be cut from light plastic which is too stiff to fold but still soft enough to roll...sometimes, if you are short of space, the sloper can be cut from heavy weight non fusible pellon so that it can be folded into a large manila envelope.) The sloper is developed with basic fitting ease but without seam allowances because it is intended for use as a guide for developing other patterns or making fitting adjustments to commercial patterns. You could think of It as a custom measuring device, sort of like a "body ruler". In order to create a sloper, it is necessary to make a fitting muslin. You can draft a pattern from your measurements or use a commercial fitting pattern. Once the muslin made from the fitting pattern is perfected, the changes are transferred from the muslin to the paper pattern and a final pattern is cut to serve as your sloper. A "Basic Block" is a 5 pc. sloper that is a dress made with a straight skirt, fitted bodice with either one dart below the bust or two darts, one at the bustline and one below the bust in front (the back has a short dart at mid shoulder and a long dart from waistline to just below the "wing bone" , and a fitted, set-in sleeve with a dart at the elbow. The Basic Block Sloper is used to create other slopers such as coat blocks, pants blocks, kimono blocks, etc.Hope this helps clarify!

          1. scrubble4 | | #42


            "Hope this helps clarify!"

            Yes it does.  Thanks for taking the time to fine tune my understanding.  When you say a "Basic Block" is 5 pieces, do you mean front and back bodice, front and back skirt and sleeve? 

            Thanks Scrubble4

          2. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #43

            Yep, a front and back bodice, front and back skirt and a sleeve (all are measured from the right side of the body...this is a professional patternmaking convention designed to keep your garments symmetrical). A permanent tag board (manila) block is generally only a half pattern. Note: If your body is extremely asymmetric, (such as one hip or shoulder several inches higher than the other) you may wish to make your block with a center front fold and adjust each side to reflect your custom fit.
            (When cutting out a fit muslin for adjustment, it is always easier to make a full garment so that it is balanced on your body when making corrections, but all corrections are made only on the right side.)
            I also highly recommend that when you cut out a muslin from a pattern, that you mark all seams clearly before sewing and then follow those lines carefully. It makes your pattern corrections so much easier when you can see clearly where the pattern started and where it needs to go.And, you are very welcome....glad I could be of some help!

  5. fiberfan | | #8

    I learned a lot while getting a sloper that fits.  I took an online class from Shannon Gifford that helped lots.  She had us take pictures and post them so she could suggest adjustments.  A digital camera with a delay is a great help in fitting.  I have seen others on other boards post pictures of the fitting problems on a muslin so people could help with changes to try. 

    Since getting a sloper that fits pretty good, I rarely use a commercial pattern directly.  It is usually easier to draft one like the commercial pattern and morph details of the commercial pattern with the one I drafted.


    1. RhettaRic | | #9

      Joann, I just looked her up, and she does have classes through Pattern Review, but not any that are drafting a sloper.   Too bad.

      1. fiberfan | | #13

        The class I took was Build a Better T.  We fitted a woven basic shell and then a knit T from the same pattern (with adjustments for the knit fabric).  I used a sloper I had already drafted.  If you want to draft a sloper, I would recommend or Modern Pattern Design available on VintageSewing.Info or How to Make Sewing Patterns by Don McCunn. 


        1. RhettaRic | | #15

          Oh, I forgot about that site!  It has SOOO much wonderful information.  Thanks.  I'm going to try that.

        2. Kips | | #41

          That's a great site - Modern Pattern Design . I also have Design Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis and Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern by Kopp, Rolfo, Zelin Both of these books have helped me understand more of how a pattern works to fit the body.

  6. sewelegant | | #14

    I think this whole "fitting" issue is mind boggling, especially to math challenged people like me.  (How can something so logical be mind boggling).  And futhermore... we are not talking advanced math at that!  But, so be it.  When I come up with different numbers everytime I measure... there I would go again.  It finally has hit home to me that I really just need to be in the range to be happy with my output and like someone else said on one of these fitting posts:  maybe we try to fit too much.  If I get my neck and shoulder fit to my satisfaction I usually feel pretty good about the rest of my changes.  The best book I know of to give the average sewer confidence is Nancy Zieman's "The Busy Woman's Fitting Book".  It's an easy read and a good jumping off place for understanding about fit. 

    Making a sloper actually duplicates your body.  I have not been trained in this, but my daughter has a degree in fashion technology and she made a sloper for me by draping, etc. and I could see a definite use for this, but I cannot adapt it to a pattern so I really like the idea of drafting your own pattern from your measurements.  But that's another fork in the road.   I wish you good luck in your pursuit of perfection and believe me, even falling short of full perfection gives such satisfaction in what you can do.

  7. rekha | | #20

    To learn the professional take on slopers,fitting shell, and muslin read http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/what_is_a_sloper.html

    1. scrubble4 | | #24

      rekha:  professional take on slopers,fitting shell, and muslin

      Thank you.  The explanation I gave for sloper should have been for a block.  I think I have been using them interchangeably.  Thanks so much for this info.  Scrubble4

      1. rekha | | #25

        Scrubble4, I found this site very useful for other instructions as well.  Kathleen Fasanella who runs this site is sharp, pithy, and forthright.

        One of the tutorials is for making a plastic double to get a flat pattern



        1. scrubble4 | | #28

          rekha:  "I found this site very useful for other instructions as well.  Kathleen Fasanella who runs this site is sharp, pithy, and forthright. "

          rekha, I so agree.  I have learned so much from Kathleen's site and I have ordered, but not yet received her book.  I love her communication style.  Does not suffer fools gladly but so helpful for anyone who wants to learn. 

          I have saved the information from this site and look forward to purusing it during reflective time.

          Thanks Scrubble4

          1. rekha | | #29

            I would like to know what you think of the book.

            Kathleen wrote to me that the book is for professionals preparing a line of apparel.  I have as yet hesitated to get a copy as I am not occupied in professional sewing.


          2. scrubble4 | | #30

            rekha:  "

            I would like to know what you think of the book. "

            I read reviews from sewers like us on her site.  They wholeheartedly endorsed the value of the book for non-professionals.  Also, when I read about info that I may not directly apply in my sewing, I think it kind of broadens or deepens my knowledge base so other pertinent information is easier to understand. 

            I will try to remember to let you know what I think of it once it arrives.  If you don't hear back from me, don't hesitate to ask me again.


          3. rekha | | #51

            Any further on the Fasanella book you bought?

          4. scrubble4 | | #52

            rekha:  We have a post office box in the states, because shipping within the states is so much less expensive than sending items across to Canada.  This usually works as we usually go done about every 3 - 5 weeks.  Wouldn't you know this time it has almost been two months.  I am so keen as I have a number of items (a couple of classic coach purses, a couple of sewing books, some old Threads mags that will now complete my Threads issues) I am dead keen to see.

            We hope we will be able to go down the weekend after this one, so you are invited to remind me again in 2 weeks if I don't remember to post before then.  Thanks so much for checking.  Scrubble4

          5. scrubble4 | | #53

            rekha:  Kathleen's book is fabulous:

            I have copied Kathleen's website (different from her blog) that allows you to look at chapters, I think.  She states you can do this in her comments, so I am pretty sure you will be able to peek at it.


            I am in love with this book.  On absolutely first glance I thought oh no I blew it.  Then I sat down with it and started to flit through it.  There are so many things that Kathleen explains that are directly relevant to quality professional or home sewing outside the factory context.  For example her discussion on quality is excellent and completely relevant to the challenges we face to create an outfit that does not look home sewn.  She talks about dry cleaners, the changes in our bodies as we move from infant to old timer, the shape and movement of our body as it impacts on pattern design, what areas to fit first and then next.  Just so much really practical information.

            There are probably lots of the professional sewers on Gatherings who know and understand all this stuff.  I say this because of the helpfulness of their many comments on a myriad of subjects.  However, for most of us who are home sewers and have not taken extensive courses on pattern design this is an absolute gem.

            Check it out on Amazon (many great reviews) and on Kathleen's web site.  Kathleen does not promote it as a book for home sewers, but I now think along with Sandra Betzinger's  and a few others this book is pivotal in moving us from hit and miss success to creating core patterns or a set of blocks that fit perfectly.  From these we can create anything and know it will fit , well after we accommodate for fabric texture and hand etc. 

            Sorry this response has taken so long to get back to you.  I just got the book this weekend and have been indulging myself in it and Sandra's two books every chance I get.  I didn't want to reply to you until I felt confident in what I had to say. 


          6. rekha | | #54

            thank you for providing a comprehensive precis of the book

  8. amapola | | #23

    Hello, In '07 I gave myself a year to learn how to fit my body. What an experience!I bought the book Pants for Real People by Palmer & Marta Alto, and also the DVD.  Both items helped me so much especially the DVD. Don't try to do a pair of pants as your first try. I discovered that  pants are the most difficult to do.  What I did was read the book several time to get acquainted with the vocabulary. I played the DVD after reading the book to give me some recollection of what I had read and to see that I understood what she was saying. Everything went ok for the front of the pants. I did a good job on that side but the back gave me so much trouble because it's so awkward to hold a mirror with one hand and try to grab what you have to take in with the other.  Anyway I kept at it and learn so much.  This group helped me thru the experience and were very helpful. Also reading the discussions on fitting is a great  way to learn fitting no matter which section they discuss.Tell all your friends, relatives, sales people, etc. what you are trying to do. This way someone might know of a sewist that can help you.  I wish you lots of patience and luck. Stick with it  and choose something easy to learn. DON'T DO PANTS!  Amapola



    1. Persus | | #45

      Did someone  help you with your measurements?  I sew for a number of people, and I measure them, but have no one to help measure me!  It's unbelievable all the people to whom a measuring tape is like some foreign object they've never seen befoe.  Since I live outside the U.S., it's next to impossible to get to a "workshop".  Any ideas on how I can do this by myself?


      1. amapola | | #46

        This is what I did. First I ask my husband for help. This was ok but I wasn't that sure it was correct. So I could do my higher bust, my bust, waist and hips. That was about it. I looked at the pattern's final garment sizes and I went with those figures since I was making a muslin. I was not worried if it came right or not because I could try again. When I don't really know, I always make a muslin. I did ok with the front of the pants but the back  gave me problems.  You can measure your basic areas but as far as anything else, arms, length, etc. you will need help.  I started telling everybody I knew what I was doing and asked  around who sewed and if anyone was interested in having a sewing buddy. I found one and it's so much better because you can measure, fit, etc. with another person to help you.  I learned not to get frustrated because I could not accomplish anything. So I would sew something that I would be successful with and that kept me going for the other project. Good luck and  don't give up. Amapola

  9. jtp | | #44

    Fitting is probably the biggest challenge for the sewer.  Have you tried the Palmer/Pletsch patterns from McCalls (such as the Perfect Shirt #5433)?  The instructions for understanding the alterations you need are great and all the alteration lines are printed on the pattern. You fit and alter the tissue first, then cut your fabric.  Always baste the main pieces together and try on so you can tweak the fit. 

    I have made a number of blouses and shirts from the initial fitting and each one gets better.

    The book, Fit For Real People is good also.  It helps you understand how your body differs from the pattern ideal and what you need to alter to get a perfit fit. 

  10. BernaWeaves | | #48

    I learned how to fit from my mother.  She would cut out the paper pattern and make me stand on a chair while she fit it to my body.  She would pin it together, and I would hold the center line and the back to me, and she would mark in pencil where she needed to shorten the waist and lenthen the arms or hem, or adjust the slope of the shoulder.  Then she would take the pattern back to the kitchen table and shorten the waist on the bodice line, and lengthen the arms by cutting the pattern apart and adding the appropriate number of inches with 1/4" grid paper.  Then she would refit the pattern to me until she felt it was right.  Then she would make the garment from this adjusted pattern.

    She was a very good seamstress, and the clothes always fit and were well made.

    I got a Uniquely You form, (foam dress form with a cloth cover) and had her help me fit the cover to my body, and zip it onto the form.  Now I have a form that mimics me exactly, so I can fit patterns to myself easily. 


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