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Pattern Alteration – Good Book

WandaJ | Posted in Fitting on

Here is my comments regarding Rene Bergh’s book, Sewing Classic Clothes That Fit, which I posted on the Pattern Review Website:

“I’ve had this book for quite sometime. Being tired of overstated pattern altering techniques and looking for less wordy (and confusing) explanations, I browsed through my sewing books and pulled this one out recently. When getting ready to alter a pattern, I skimmed this book and her techniques are really simple and easy to understand. Moreso, I believe than many highly touted books on pattern alteration and fit. I found the section on alterations for full bust and abdomen quite useful. I too found the combination of issues presented somewhat off than what one is normally accustomed to in such a book. However, I found her tips on preparing classic wardrobes quite interesting. Rene’s clothes were not the here today gone tomorrow type, which is very much the way I like my clothes. In essence, this is, in my humble opinion a very good book on wardrobe planning, fit and pattern alterations, as well as, how to resolve fit problems in specific areas of the body.”

The book had one review and two comments that were not necessarily inspiring, but for those that know my name through posts on this site, I ask questions about pattern alteration and fit quite often. In that regard this book is quite helpful to me and may be to others too. While the mixture of topics may throw one off in the manner of its presentation, the information regarding fixing problems, where and how on patterns is quite helpful, and most certainly understandable.


Edited 1/16/2007 1:38 pm ET by WandaJ

Edited 1/16/2007 1:42 pm ET by WandaJ


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Wanda, I'd like to see this book. Does it have pictures which interpret "wrinkles" and such? I have a hard time knowing, for instance, if wrinkles mean there is not enough fabric or too much fabric in a particular area.

    1. WandaJ | | #3

      Yes, there are pictures in Rene' Burgh's book, as well as, line drawings, some of which include 'wrinkles' in the wrong places :->, and of course instructions for correcting these problem areas.

      This evening when altering a skirt pattern following this book's prescription, I decided to 'check' it against another book, "The Perfect Fit" by Singer. I found the directions for correcting a full abdomen were the same (as near to exact as one can get!!) in both books!

      However, what I noted was that the alteration did not make sense to me in the later book until I reviewed the instructions in Bergh's book. Again, I believe it's her simplicity in setting forth the information that made it so helpful for me.

      Oh! By the way the Singer Book I referenced and noted above is a good fit book too.

      1. Josefly | | #4

        Yes, I have the Singer book, but I think it doesn't do a very good job at describing the effects on other pattern pieces when a change is suggested on one piece; also it's vague about what is a "minor" change and what is a "major" change, though it differentiates between the two in method of correction. The photos are good, though, and I've found it useful in combination with Nancy Zieman's book.I like Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing books, but find them disorganized, which makes it difficult to quickly reference material when actually working on a problem. She has those nice "tips" scattered through the book, but how does one find them? Also, her first book has more information than the second ( or is it third?), which replaces the sketches in the first book with photos, but then leaves out some of the excellent text that was in the first. My problem is I want one book that does it all! Wanting too much, again.

        1. WandaJ | | #5

          I don't think you are alone in wanting one book that does (tells) it all about fitting in a comprehensible manner.

        2. Teaf5 | | #6

          As most posters on this forum have noticed, it's often very, very difficult to describe fitting or sewing instructions in a way that will make sense to all readers!  Depending on whether you are a visual, verbal, aural, or tactile learner, you may find a particular book very helpful or not helpful at all.

          When you're looking for a good instructional book, follow a single explanation all the way through and see how well you understand it; no matter how accurate the author is, if the presentation doesn't fit your learning process, it won't be very helpful to you.  But once you find an author or series that "speaks" to you, you can be pretty sure that all their other publications will, too.

          1. Cathie | | #7

            I was very happy to see Wanda's pieces re: Renee B.'s book. I have multiple fitting issues (!), and live in a French area of Canada. I came across another of R.B.'s books, at the library, in French.  It touches on fitting very nicely, and has lovely line drawings, and photos of finished, classical and also artistic wear. She is a fun read, and inspiring. Also agree re: Betzina books. I found a really old power sewing book, and took extensive notes. Since I have so many fitting challenges, I also have made binders, and print very helpful discussion info., and articles from the web. Binder titles are Bodice Alterations, Sewing with Knits, etc. Thus I can create a "book" to suit my personal needs. I also xeroxed some of that lovely Renee B. Happy sewing!!!!!

          2. Josefly | | #8

            I like your idea of an indexed notebook. I have a huge file of fitting/sewing tips garnered from the suggestions of posters here...I just e-mailed them to myself and threw them into a computer file which is now "bulging"...so now I need to sort them and organize them. Thanks for reminding me!

          3. Cathie | | #9

            Really glad the idea helped. Tonight it is super cold here in Montreal, and I have been sitting all warm and cozy reading from my folder on bodice alteration. I also have one with FABULOUS pattern alteration tips from this site: Sense and Sensibility. Sometimes, when I have a great library book on sewing techniques, or alterations, I jot down little diagrams and notes, on file cards. I keep them indexed in a box, under headings. When I need to do a specific technique, I take the cards to the sewing room. Happy sewing!!!!!!

          4. victoria0001 | | #10

            A notebook on personal fittings is an excellent idea.  I have two books which are excellent for instructions on fitting.  Pants for Real People and Fit for Real People by Palmer & Pletsch.  McCall's has Palmer Pletsch patterns as well.  I took a class using this method and we drafted pants which fit perfectly and a t-shirt.  These books are available in the library and would be worth looking through before purchasing.  My shape seems to have been taken over by gravity in recent years - ugh - but having these patterns fit correctly makes all the difference.  Check out http://www.palmerpletsch.com

          5. User avater
            TwilaTee | | #13

            I was very impressed with your post about not all books being correct for all readers. Most of the time when I am following directions I don't "read" them at all. I simply look at the picture, or finished product and pick out the problem in my head. I just CAN'T make any sense at all of written directions. The strangest thing is, if you were to ask me how I solved a problem, or made a thing, I can wax very elegantly on the subject. Break the steps down, one by one, with definite simple instruction. But if I don't have a picture, I'm lost.

  2. Cherrypops | | #2

    Dear WandaJ,

    Thank you very much for making me aware of this book. I will try and find it.

    I was given for christmas two books by Sandra Betzina: "Fast Fit" and "Power Sewing". My mother-in-law has been sewing for many years and thought these would be just right for me an advanced beginner.

    So far so good. I have had a quick look through them and I am quite happy with the format, instructions and photographs.

    Mum in law did the full KnitWit course here in Australia many years ago. I have acquired all ma's patterns and manuals. She also gave me her Gloria Sparling Sure Fit Designs Patterns and Video...She has a treasure trove! Now she is teaching me machine embroidery!


  3. lilah | | #11


    Thanks for mentioning this book.  I zipped over to Amazon and bought it for about $3.

    1. WandaJ | | #12

      For you I am glad. I had to pull the Bergh book back out last night as I needed to clarify what I 'thought' I remembered! That's the good thing about having your own library of sewing books, they are readily at-hand.

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