Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book review: Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto

Fit for Real People

Paperback, 256 pages
Published in 2007
ISBN:  9780935278651
Suggested retail price $24.95 USD, Amazon link

I enjoy reading Palmer/Pletsch publications but do find them a bit quirky.  They repeat the information quite a bit and show you more than one way to accomplish something.  They also make references to other P/P publications (by page number) or to other places in the same text that relate to the current topic.  This is pretty handy for a reference.  I sometimes think the chapter placement or content placement is a little backwards.  In this book, for example, there is a chapter comparing a size 10 basic bodice pattern from several different companies.  The last chapter in the book shows those pattern pieces laid on top of one another for comparison.  Wouldn't it have made more sense to put this in the front with the rest of the bodice comparisons?  Overall, a good book and I saw immediate improvements in my garment fitting.  With the exception of more intricate designs, you can replace muslins with the tissue-fitting techniques they demonstrate in this book.

Book/Chapter Headings:

1. The Palmer/Pletsch Approach to Fitting
The basic steps of the P/P fitting techniques:  Buy the right size pattern.  Tissue-fit the pattern.  Alter and re-fit the pattern.  Pin-fit-as-you-sew the fabric pieces.  The rest of the book is spent elaborating on these steps.  You can skip much of this book and still learn the P/P fitting techniques, apply those techniques immediately, and enjoy better sewing results.

2.  A History of Pattern Sizing
Interesting history of what pattern and clothes sizing used to be and what they are now.  To sum it up, today's sizing is basically vanity sizing.  Forget about the size number and just find what fits you.  European sizes are discussed as well as a comparison between pattern sizes and RTW sizes. 

3.  Fit Facts
Nice side-by-side comparisons of fitting pattern muslins from Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, Style and Burda all in the same size on the same model.  They basically all fit the same so a 12 in McCalls will fit the same as a 12 in Vogue.  Explanation of what minimum ease should be at the bust, waist and hips.  Short versus petite sizes are compared on real women's bodies.  Fitting for the mature body compared to the youthful figure.  Other tidbits of information like a size Medium (12-14) is sized for the 14, patterns with more seams are easier to fit, and patterns are designed for a B-cup bust.

4.  Buy the Right Size
How to properly measure your bust and hips and which measurement to use for determining pattern size.  When you're in between sizes, buy the smaller unless the garment is very fitted.  Includes a table comparing Burda and American pattern company sizes.

5.  But the Pattern Doesn't Come in My Size!
P/P philosophy is all patterns can be made into petite, tall, wide or narrower sizes.  I love the diagram explaining how to grade a pattern for a different size. 

6.  Special Sizes
P/P explains that most patterns are sold in Misses' sizing because pattern manufacturers can sell more of these.  Explanations of the following sizes are included:  Miss Petite, Half Size, and Women's.  Girls' and Misses' sizing is also compared.  Explanations of what happens to a woman's figure as she ages and how this affects the fit of a pattern.  

7. What About Ease?
Minimum ease versus design ease, which fabrics have more or less give and how that will affect the finished garment, and how fashion over the years has changed design ease.  Tips for determining how much ease you may want in your finished garments by using the pinch test, tape measure test and clothes-in-your-closet test.  Nice illustrations with comparisons of close fitting, fitted, semi-fitted, loose fitting and very loose fitting styles in tops, bottoms, coats, etc.

8.  Analyze Your Body
Basic body shapes (hourglass, rectangle, triangle, etc.) and how to analyze your shape to identify fitting issues.  Detailed steps for making a body graph or body map.

9.  Make a Body Map
How to make an adjustable basic pattern, prepare a tissue pattern for fitting, and what order to fit the pattern pieces.  Benefits of using gingham as a fitting muslin. 

10.  Tissue-Fit & Fit-As-You-Sew
Checklist for fitting and sewing

11.  Two Ways to Alter Patterns
Cut into the tissue and move tissue until the pattern piece fits OR add tissue to the outside edge of the pattern piece.

12.  Professional Alteration Tips and Tools: Ten Steps to Perfect Fit
Tools: gridded cardboard surface, pattern alteration tissue, rulers, french curves, tape, pencil, pins, mirrors.  Tips for altering tissue: cut up to the stitching line only, true the lines, blend lines, press the tissue, mark final seam lines, and cut tissue accurately. 

The following chapters explain how to fit various trouble spots:
13.  Length & Width

14.  The Back

15.  The Neck & Chest

16.  Darts

17.  Bust

18.  Shoulders & Armholes

19.  Sleeves

20.  Waist, Hips, Tummy & Thighs

Tons of examples of fitting issues on real women:
21.  Real People

22.  Fit Decisions

23.  Make It Flattering
Examples of ideas for altering the design of a pattern to make it more flattering on your figure type.

24.  Sewing Techniques that Affect Fit
Fabric choice, print placement (in other words, don't put the big flowers on your boobs), changing grain to improve fit, finding/straightening the grain, dart techniques, pressing, gaping V-necks, etc.

25.  Designing and Redesigning
Brief overview of draping, flat pattern making, computer pattern drafting, and dress forms.  This section is not intended to show you how to do it but to get you thinking about changing design elements when you wish a pattern was just a little bit different.

26.  Pattern Company Basic Bodice Comparison
McCalls, Vogue, Simplicity and Burda bodice pattern pieces are laid on top of one another for comparison.  They are all the same size but may differ slightly.  Example:  A Simplicity pattern may be wider at the waist on the front section but narrower on the back section so the total circumference is the same as a Vogue pattern. 

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
This book does have many great photographs of fitting issues and solutions for REAL women; no runway models here.  The bulk of the book has great line drawings for illustrating what pattern adjustments will be needed for various fit issues.

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE? 
Absolutely.  The techniques are illustrated over and over again for various fitting issues so it was easy to apply this information right away.  I saw immediate results in my sewing.  Better fitting and less time getting the fit right in my garments.   

1 comment:

  1. Julie,
    Thank you for this thorough review. I am trying to read many reviews as Marta and I are doing a new fit book next year. It really helps to see what people like and what they'd change. Plus, this was written in 1998 and we have learned so much from hands-on teaching. Thanks for taking time to review and welcome back to sewing. Pati Palmer


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