Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern Info

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Provides step-by-step instructions for fitting women's patterns
for all shapes and sizes, and presents techniques for sewing and
creating personalized designs

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.45

356 Ratings

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Reviews for Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern:

5

Dec 02, 2015

4.5 5 stars (read further for an explanation)

This is really an amazingly useful book on how to fit patterns. It's filled with photos, and I really mean filled, of patterns being fitted on many different women of different sizes and shapes. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make clothes truly fit well. The system they're talking about is one that several of the pattern companies use and it sounds like these are the people who invented it.

So this book is NOT 4.5 5 stars (read further for an explanation)

This is really an amazingly useful book on how to fit patterns. It's filled with photos, and I really mean filled, of patterns being fitted on many different women of different sizes and shapes. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make clothes truly fit well. The system they're talking about is one that several of the pattern companies use and it sounds like these are the people who invented it.

So this book is NOT a place to go for advice on flattering your figure. These are normal women who haven't studied fashion or style. This about making the fashion you choose fit you, the engineering of it you might say, and they do this really well.

Some great parts are where they show five women who are all size 12 and how different they are in shape and height, another where two women with the same waist and height but how their bust and buttocks stuck out at totally different levels.

There are pictures showing exactly where to measure on real people. The bust and the waist and the length of the arm. Suggestions for how to deal with problem areas like where your shirts tend to bind or bag and how to calculate ease. Really, lots of great, great stuff.


Buuuuuuut... because was so much funnier to talk about, I'm going to rant on about how they made everyone look like toasters: (in spoiler tags so I don't scare anyone off with an insanely long review like usual):
(view spoiler)[The book is very rooted in the era as far as fit and flatter and they have this odd perception that women should look like boxes. Almost all the women made jackets, I suppose because they're one of the most difficult things to get to fit right. But these were stiff, boxy, late 80s jackets even though the book was published in 1998. I wanted to see more classic styles that would last past the book's fashion lifespan. I know it's possible--some of the pattern envelopes that are pictured as examples are still being sold today because I recognized them!

Okay, I'm not being nice. There actually were several items that I've seen sold in stores and even a couple that were stylish. They put this adorable dress on the thirteen year old that looks like any of the short skater dresses that are being sold right now. But the other 12 year old was put in a drop waist shapeless dress that on the pattern envelope looked really cute. Cruel I tell you, cruel.

Everything was made with really thick stiff fabric and it was in the era where seeing even a little roll of someone's flab, or looking a little uneven was far worse than making the person look like a box. I'm not kidding. Several women were a little lower on one side in teh hips or shoulders, or their shoulders sloped. So for one woman they put two shoulder pads on one side and one on the other. She looked like a linebacker.

Another they put three sets so she ended up even across, yes not so slope-y, but she had no neck. It was like they were trying to make everyone look like Dick Tracy and made them look like the Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story when his mom gets him ready to go out in the snow if she put a cardboard box around him after she gets him dressed.

There was a picture where they put a shortish woman in a dress made from the pattern and then after she had made her own modifications to the style. The dress was a shapeless shirt dress in picture one and a shapeless shirt dress in the same loud pattern in the second. It honestly took me a minute to figure out what the changes were. It was like one of those "spot the differences" puzzles.

It looks like she made the skirt go halfway down her calves, lengthened the loose sleeves from short sleeves to elbow sleeves (elbow sleeves should be fitted), and made the shoulder pads stick out even more and more pointy. The book then asked which look was more flattering and I was honestly baffled because it was clear that the second made her look like she a little kid wearing her older sister's too-big hand-me-downs.

I felt so sorry for the largest woman who they got to participate so they'd have a woman outside the pattern range. You could tell this apple shaped woman understood that in order to flatter her figure, she had to show that she had shape, smaller legs and a curvy larger top because of the undergarments she was wearing. But they took a shirt pattern and made it into a long dress that fell to the floor but still looked like a thick jacket shirt with no waist. So basically they made her a long, straight, front from the top of her breasts to the floor like she was wearing a choir gown. At least they softened it by putting a vest over top of it. They then said she wore it to her wedding.

I wanted to cry for her. She would have looked so cute in an A-line tunic over structured leggings (a look which was in the US by 1985 so was available). It's what I wore as a maiden of honor dress, although when I look back at the pictures now, I see they were more like tights than even regular leggings and that tunic was really a bit short for a dress but hey, I was in my early twenties.

There was one picture I looked at where I said, "Oh okay, that does look better," but it had been taken from a different book, Looking Good: A Comprehensive Guide to Wardrobe Planning, Color & Personal Style Development. (It was a knit fabric skirt and matching top that just hung but then they added shoulder pads--I'm going with the look for the era--which gave it structure, shortened the skirt a tad, and hiked up one side of the blouse and put it in a scarf clip so there was drape and shape. It also showed the curve of the skirt underneath so it wasn't all one plane. Yes, 80s, but the principle of providing drape, shape, structure, softness to make a knit flatter is sound.

This book then went on to the next page to show a "fitted sundress" that was actually a shapeless shift that again fell to the ground which made a slightly pear shaped woman look like a tube. Skinny people can do shapeless shifts fine. Curvy women, not so much.

What's funny is that in the text they talk about tapering and curving so that you don't make the bottom of a skirt the exact same width as the bottom of a jacket. They talk about curving an oversized top and pairing it with "tapered pants." They looked like leggings to me.
(hide spoiler)]

I make fun but the principles are exactly the same for modern fashion; you just adjust to a more modern or class aesthetic, or use the 80s look if that works for you. The key components of making straight lines and curves to fit the lines and curves of a person's body are the same whether you decide to then slap shoulder pads all over it or make the clothes too big or what not.

I do highly recommend this book, even if they did turn a soft woman into a shed suitable to store tools in. They showed two other women with similar shapes with flattering clothes as I've outlined in my "spoiler" above but they were so flummoxed with a really large woman they wanted to hide her away. Well kudos for breaking ground by making sure they included her anyway. I mean that's not something most books worry about. So hey, I'll give it five stars after all just for that.

...more
5

Oct 09, 2019

For a certain crowd, this is an excellent book about fit. While I probably won't partner up and use their technique, I still learned about my personal fit issues in clear language. Also I totally know how to size a bra now. I will buy this book after I return it to the library.
Also the 80s outfits/ photos are fun.
5

Sep 06, 2018

A very useful resource. My copy was published in 1998, and while dated in a few parts, the majority of content is just as relevant today. I have only recently become interested in sewing, but I wish I had read this book a long time ago as it is useful for any woman who wears clothes, whether they sew or not. [It does not cover traditionally 'male' styles.] For instance: if you shop second hand and enjoy vintage/couture pieces and you wonder why you can't fit in your typical sizes in those items; A very useful resource. My copy was published in 1998, and while dated in a few parts, the majority of content is just as relevant today. I have only recently become interested in sewing, but I wish I had read this book a long time ago as it is useful for any woman who wears clothes, whether they sew or not. [It does not cover traditionally 'male' styles.] For instance: if you shop second hand and enjoy vintage/couture pieces and you wonder why you can't fit in your typical sizes in those items; if you wonder why there is a difference between pattern sizes and ready-to-wear; if you travel and are curious about why European sizing is different from US sizes; if you wonder why your same size doesn't fit the same way as you age even though you are the same weight you were 10 years ago; if you wonder why you and your friend of the same height and weight can't fit into the same clothes; or if you just have always wondered where those number have come from and what standard sizing is based on.... read on and all will be revealed.

This book also shows actual patterns on bodies of different shapes and ages. No one's body matches the "standard" size in all regards, and therefore the places where your body does not meet the "standard" are not wrong. Fashion magazines are useless, but if they showed clothing like this - the same style on many bodies - they might regain some relevance.
...more
4

Nov 02, 2016

I have relied heavily on this book along with three others as I put together the clothing for a Renaissance wedding party of 14 people, including a bride with significant scoliosis fitting issues. I didn't use the pattern-pinning method, but definitely found this brilliantly helpful in chasing down problems on the fitting muslins and making the necessary changes. While I still WISH FERVENTLY that somebody would put together a great book that delves comprehensively into fitting specifically for I have relied heavily on this book along with three others as I put together the clothing for a Renaissance wedding party of 14 people, including a bride with significant scoliosis fitting issues. I didn't use the pattern-pinning method, but definitely found this brilliantly helpful in chasing down problems on the fitting muslins and making the necessary changes. While I still WISH FERVENTLY that somebody would put together a great book that delves comprehensively into fitting specifically for scoliosis and finding that evasive line between perfect fit and aesthetic camoflage for the assymetry, this book had more tidbits here and there for that need than the others I've seen. ...more
2

Nov 20, 2014

Hilariously bad.
Though I do appreciate the use of Real People as fit models -- displaying different figures, ages, body types, and seeing exactly how the illustrated changes affect their fit, is very helpful. (Of course the end garment fit was always AWFUL, sloppy and I'll-defined and far too large, so um there is that.)
5

Apr 19, 2016

I ordered this as a used book from Amazon, not knowing if it would be a 'keeper'. I received what appears to be a brand spanking new book from Palmer/Pletsch. I have never taking any formal classes in pattern fitting and I want to learn more- despite living in a place where no such classes would be available.

The key feature of the Palmer/ Pletsch method is tissue fitting. Since I truly dislike using tissue paper patterns I always transfer the patt RN's to Swedish "paper" anyway so this method I ordered this as a used book from Amazon, not knowing if it would be a 'keeper'. I received what appears to be a brand spanking new book from Palmer/Pletsch. I have never taking any formal classes in pattern fitting and I want to learn more- despite living in a place where no such classes would be available.

The key feature of the Palmer/ Pletsch method is tissue fitting. Since I truly dislike using tissue paper patterns I always transfer the patt RN's to Swedish "paper" anyway so this method should work well.

Written in 2007 this is not a new book...but is IS an excellent book and, really, good fitting practices are timeless. This is one of the best books about fitting patterns that I have seen. It covers so much! The history of pattern sizing, how to buy and use patterns, as well as all of the information that you need to fit (correct), all areas of your body.

I am a visual learner and so I really appreciated the copious amount of photographs (using real people in all shapes and sizes), the many well done illustrations and easy to follow directions and instructions (all Ilustrated and/or photographed ).

This book is one that I will refer to a lot I think and it also makes for some interesting generally reading...I may have to have the spine spiralized! ...more
5

Sep 13, 2013

This book is extremely useful for getting a good fit with pattern pieces. I especially love it because it shows you what the problem looks like and then explains how to fix it, so you can pinpoint what exactly is going wrong with the fit. So even though you have puckering around your chest area, you might just need to move the apex of the dart, instead of increasing the bust size of the pattern. It is very helpful!

I also enjoyed the beginning part of the book, they go through the history of This book is extremely useful for getting a good fit with pattern pieces. I especially love it because it shows you what the problem looks like and then explains how to fix it, so you can pinpoint what exactly is going wrong with the fit. So even though you have puckering around your chest area, you might just need to move the apex of the dart, instead of increasing the bust size of the pattern. It is very helpful!

I also enjoyed the beginning part of the book, they go through the history of pattern shapes, sizing and how to measure yourself. It's very interesting, and you get to know more about the authors and their experience in the fashion industry.

The only real complaint I'd have is that the styles in the book are very dated (the book was published in 1998 and the styles seem like they would've been dated even then), which doesn't really take away from the usefulness, it's purely an aesthetic complaint.

I think I might even get their other book Pants for Real People: Fit and Sew for Any Body , even though I don't wear pants that often. ...more
5

Feb 12, 2009

This book is a wonderful resource for any seamstress who sews clothes. Well-fit garments are the perfect addition to every wardrobe, and this book gives the seamstress just that opportunity. I used to wonder why I could choose a pattern size that seemed just right and still end up with a poorly-fitted finished product. Fit for Real People will take you through practical steps that aren't as terribly time-consuming as making mock-ups and muslins and give you something that fits well in the end. This book is a wonderful resource for any seamstress who sews clothes. Well-fit garments are the perfect addition to every wardrobe, and this book gives the seamstress just that opportunity. I used to wonder why I could choose a pattern size that seemed just right and still end up with a poorly-fitted finished product. Fit for Real People will take you through practical steps that aren't as terribly time-consuming as making mock-ups and muslins and give you something that fits well in the end. All of the common troublesome alterations are addressed as well as some rarer ones. Simple drawings and pictures of real people and their sewing dilemmas provide plenty of help for you to do it yourself. The instructions are easy to follow. I've used what I learned from this book to fit everything from twill skirts to bridesmaid and wedding dresses, and understanding fit has also helped with altering ready-made clothes. ...more
5

Feb 08, 2012

If you are returning to sewing after a long hiatus and you think “sloper” is a skiing term or you are ready to upgrade your skills from a beginning sewing class or a long-ago home economics course, Palmer/Pletsch has books and DVDs that are just the ticket. This reviewer has all but worn out her copy of the book Pants for Real People, which gives clearly-illustrated, detailed instructions on every aspect of constructing and fitting all types of pants. Many of the topics covered here, such as the If you are returning to sewing after a long hiatus and you think “sloper” is a skiing term or you are ready to upgrade your skills from a beginning sewing class or a long-ago home economics course, Palmer/Pletsch has books and DVDs that are just the ticket. This reviewer has all but worn out her copy of the book Pants for Real People, which gives clearly-illustrated, detailed instructions on every aspect of constructing and fitting all types of pants. Many of the topics covered here, such as the various methods of zipper insertion and making different types of pockets, are applicable to other garments as well. If a jacket is on your list of new frontiers to conquer, the book and companion DVD Jackets for Real People are indispensable. Watching this DVD is like having sewing teacher Marta Alto take you by the hand and lead you through the entire process of making a jacket. Follow along and you will end up with something you can be proud of. ...more
5

Nov 01, 2012

Essential for the amateur home seamstress. This book discusses the technique of "tissue-fitting", to see if a pattern will fit before you even cut your fabric. What an innovative and logical technique! Patterns are made for one figure, and then scaled up and down depending on those specific measurements. WOMEN however, are made in many many different shapes and sizes, so virtually no pattern is ever going to fit perfectly.
This book gave me new insights into sewing, gave me a variety of ways to Essential for the amateur home seamstress. This book discusses the technique of "tissue-fitting", to see if a pattern will fit before you even cut your fabric. What an innovative and logical technique! Patterns are made for one figure, and then scaled up and down depending on those specific measurements. WOMEN however, are made in many many different shapes and sizes, so virtually no pattern is ever going to fit perfectly.
This book gave me new insights into sewing, gave me a variety of ways to adjust a pattern to fit my large bust, and maybe most important of all, taught me how to notice good FIT.
Just because you can get into a garment, does not mean it fits! ...more
5

Apr 16, 2014

This is one of the best sewing books I've read about technique and modification to patterns. It has very easy to understand images. The pages are broken down by adjustment body parts. The whole book gives you the feeling that you can adjust a pattern to the unique characteristics of your shape, whether it be sloping shoulders, sway back, uneven hips, etc. I will be sad to return this to the library and will be scouring used bookstores for my own personal copy.
4

Feb 17, 2014

I learned a lot about fitting clothes. This book focused mostly on blouses, dresses, and skirts (did not discuss pants). They use a tissue-fitting method, not a muslin method. They could have spent a little more time on a few of the fitting adjustments. The styles in the book are pretty out of date, too.
4

Sep 14, 2010

This is a wonderful resource for the home garment sewer - I use techniques from this book every time I sew. Highly recommended.

Two caveats: (1) The blurb says that their method requires "no measuring." That's total nonsense. I have no idea where that idea comes from. (2) The photos and garments are really dated. But the techniques are sound!

5

Jun 22, 2014

This is a great fitting book which uses real life people to adjust patterns. The authors use their tissue fitting method of fitting the pattern before cutting out fabric. Personally this method doesn't work for me since I don't have a fitting helper, but the reasoning behind the method is sound.

This is a wonderful book for everyone's sewing shelf.
5

Dec 30, 2016

Really good detailed pattern alterations. Shame about the 90s fashion on the real life examples, the clothes look baggy. Not much good for fitting patterns for yourself but if you want to fit patterns on others it's essential reading. Also found the history of pattern making very interesting
4

May 11, 2012

I might be biased (ha... A non intentional sewing term), or totally naive, but I have decided I am a sloper gal. With that said, this book is great to really dissect making the tissue patterns work for your body type.
5

May 25, 2014

This is my "go to" reference for fitting. I highly recommend it.
5

Aug 24, 2011

Absolutely my favorite fit book. Unless you fit perfectly into every pattern you've sewn, you need this book. The styles are extremely dated, but the information in timeless and priceless.
5

Oct 19, 2010

Excellent guide. Hope to purchase it... once I have time to sew again!
5

Feb 12, 2012

I have learned so much from this book! Very, very helpful advise about how to use paper patterns.
4

Oct 08, 2015

I didn't necessarily try any of the techniques in this book but I read it cover to cover. I think I will be purchasing this in the near future.
5

Dec 01, 2012

Love this not making a SLOPER pattern first out of muslin. Really glad that she goes right to Tirrue pattern fitting.

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