This is a review of the book Fit for Real People, but first a little back story: I spent my first 15 sewing years being absolutely clueless about fit – and fitting my sewing patterns in particular. I didn’t even realize that I needed to adjust my patterns for being petite. So on fitted garments the waist always ended up on my widest part of my upper body, i.e. my tummy. And I couldn’t figure out why! So I just tried pattern after pattern, repeating the same mistake but thinking I would get a better result. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
These days, with all the info available in an easy to understand format, I suspect that beginner sewists much sooner catch on the importance of fitting the patterns. Because expecting that a pattern will fit straight out of an envelope is not really realistic as every body is unique.
Anyways, the single best source of learning fitting sewing patterns for me has been the book Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto (Amazon affiliate link). It covers EVERYTHING about fit (except trousers, there is a separate Pants for Real people book for that).
You can start by measuring the body, to give you a base line for the fit process. This step is not necessary though, because Palmer/Alto uses pattern tissue fitting, which means fitting the paper tissue on the body. I do recommend getting your measurements done (by someone else ideally). I got all my measurements done when I took a pattern making class and I still consult that sheet regularly.
This is how the tissue fitting process looks like. I used this method for my red wool dress and I would say that that dress is one of the best fitting structured garment that I own.
Clear graphs show how the alterations should be done on tissue and how you adapt the patter after the fitting. I also love how they really go deep on each body part, for instance they have three alteration levels for rounded backs and so many versions for bust alterations. Also they true to their claim and fit their garments on real people – the book has models of all kind of sizes and body shapes and seeing how well you can make garments fit on any body type is a very empowering message.
The only “risk” with this book is that you may get overly obsessed with fit, so I think the best approach is to settle for a few chosen key points and not do everything, at least not on casual clothes. For me those key alterations are: petite, round back, small waist/round tummy, sway back and forward shoulders. If I nail these I’m usually more than satisfied with the result.
So if you are struggling with fitting your garments and also want to feel positive about your body I highly recommend Fit for real people by Palmer and Alto. I have owned this book for over 10 years and still learn new things from it!
Have you tried this book to or any other book on fitting patterns? And have you too had fitting revelations that changed the way you approach sewing and fitting your patterns?