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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

While you were sewing, a little fitting information

I have to condense numerous mental posts into this one.

I need to talk about fit, about what I have been up to, and what I am going to do next. 

But first of all let me thank you for all your wonderful comments about the new sewers in your lives. Of course this makes me just wish I had a hundred books to give away. I will be making the draw tomorrow, my husband is keen on some random number generator thing and the publisher will contact the winner for shipping details.

Now to fitting.

Of course I knew this when I brought up this can of worms subject  but there are so many fitting issues it is hard to work through them all. So I have had this idea that if you email me directly with a specific problem at the email address to the right top of this page I will see if my two cents can be of any help. Some of you have already done this and it seems the best way to deal with specific problems.

And of course as the Handy Hints unfold I will talk about general issues again as they come up.

I do too want to pass on the two fitting books I find most interesting of the many on my shelves.

The first one, best for zeroing in on general issues like basic length and width adjustments is Nancy Zeiman's classic on Pivot and Slide. if you routinely try to add a few inches to your pattern sides and end up with sleeves that are too big too or width where you don't need it I would recommend you read this book. The Pivot and slide method allows you to add width for example without distorting necklines and armholes and is a good basic approach once you have got your head around working from a smaller initial pattern. This is what it looks like:

I really think you have to be careful with a lot of fitting tutorials. So many of them tell you to slash and spread and cut and move but they don't tell you how much or where exactly that cutting is supposed to happen. Nancy is so much more precise and one of the really nice things about her method is that it leaves your original pattern intact.

Now suppose you have got the pivot and slide thing working for you, it's not hard at all, what do you do about the very specific issues that a person can't really slide past like a neck that juts forward (I call it computer neck) round shoulders or stuff like your belly or your butt that seem to move that pattern around on your body.

In that case, and again this is strictly IMO, you can't beat this vintage classic by the Singer reference library:

What I like about this book is that there are pictures of folks in clothes that are doing the same thing yours are on you. Without any real sewing knowledge at all you can look at the pictures and say "hey that's me" and next to it is a picture of a pattern piece with the adjustment all worked out on it.

There are of course many other good books out there (if you have favourite please tell us in the comments) but these are the ones I keep going back to.


patsijean said...

I actually purchased THE SEW FIT MANUAL by Ruth Oblander and Joan Anderson after I saw this technique demonstrated on Sewing With Nancy with Ruth Oblander as guest. It is one honken' soft cover book with a ton of information. The book is still available on Amazon (as well as Crafting With Cat Hair ???).

Leigh Wheeler said...

The one I've used is the Palmer Pletsch Fit for Real People. I haven't really compared it to others, but I find it has good illustrations on how to get the job done. She also has a new book, Knits for Real People, which I bought, but haven't really used yet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your posting! I really appreciate reading your recommendation from your personal experience of sewing books on fitting. Hi from Toronto, Lynda

LWS said...

Thank you for introducing me to the Singer fitting book (which I found available very cheaply secondhand online). I have Nancy Zeiman's book and a couple of the Palmer and Pletsch books. Compared to those, the SInger book is admirably straightforward and easy to use. My biggest fitting problem is a narrow shoulder/lDD bust combination, resulting in gaping armholes, even after a FBA. The Singer book even addressed that -- although if there is an alternative to installing a dart in the armhole, I would love to know what it is.

I am learning a lot from your blog, even though I have been sewing for 50 years. I have recently returned to it after a long hiatus because what is available in RTW is so disappointing. (Got sick of looking at stuff in stores and saying "Oh for God's sake, I can do better than that!"). I am tackling more challenging projects than I used to, and bless the bloggers who are helping me up my game.

lsaspacey said...

The Perfect Fit is an amazing book, I love that Singer series! I also enjoy the volumes on sewing with knits and sewing lingerie. Definitely check them out.

Margaret Delong said...

Hi Barb, thanks for your recommendations! I've been evacuated from Fort Mac for the last month (just got back to my house which was completely untouched) and used the opportunity to go camping and read a stack of sewing books from the Calgary Public Library. My bf and I are a wild pair! I am reading "The complete photo guide to perfect fitting" by Veblen, which I got for help with tight arms on shirts. Have you tried this book?
Are you teaching any sewing classes in July by chance?