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:

3

December 22, 2011

Good for the library, but with caveats
I've been sewing for over twenty years, but I learned by trial and error, from my mother and grandmother and their 1940's and 60's era home ec classes, and in a costume shop. As I move into middle age and gravity starts having its way with me, I'm having to adjust more patterns more frequently. FfRP has some excellent descriptions of how to do specific fittings, especially the full bust adjustment. However, it's the not sewing bible.

First, it puts too much emphasis on tissue fitting. Tissue is a good first approximation, but tissue doesn't act like fabric, and it's fragile. Tissue fitting is not a substitute for a proper muslin because tissue doesn't drape, and it's only fitting half the body. Tissue fitting does work for boxy, straight styles made of woven materials (I.e. Most patterns from the big four pattern manufacturers) but it fails for drapey knits and close fitting styles. This means that a novice is likely to get frustrated and quit garment sewing because getting a garment to look good takes practice, time and patience. The book also spends almost no time discussing fabric, drape, hang and weight, meaning that a novice is likely to make at least one of the classic blunders and try to make clothing from quilting cotton, which almost never works. Fit is not just a principle of geometry, but of the materials that go into making a flat object into a curved one.

Second, the book has a confusing layout. For a novice, it lays out steps to follow (back, then shoulders, side, then bust) but the book doesn't follow those steps, so a novice can get easily turned around in the pages. My copy is pretty marked up, with tape flags so I can get to the right sections quickly when needed, but I find it frustrating to have to flip from page 70 to 146 then back to 95 to get the procedure right.

Third, it's dated. The second edition came out in 2005, but the photos and ethic are still very much mid 1990s. I have a number of vintage sewing texts and none feel as out of phase as FfRP. Those boxy styles don't work for everyone, especially younger women. FfRP has an absolute fetish for shoulder pads, which, in the authors' opinions, seem to be a combination of Acai berries and Oil of Olay for fixing anything. Um... Not so much. It also doesn't well cover issues like true hourglass and true petite, because in 90s fashion, the boxy principle skimmed over the waist. Nor is the book terribly useful for small bust adjustments.

Fourth, it really should be titled Fit for Women. While a lot of the principles for fitting curves can apply to men, menswear has its own language and principles that are never addressed in this book at all.

The body mapping section is brilliant, as are the sections on specific figure issues, but it's not a panacea. Further, some of the material suggestions (Scotch tape, Palmer/Pletsch branded tissue paper) are not the best solutions, and can cause more frustration than they remedy. (Artist tape and low-tack masking tape are better tapes since they're repositionable and don't melt, while non-woven grid fabric drapes better.)

FfRP is an excellent reference, and I use mine quite often, but like any good reference library, most sewists will need multiple books. Mine lives next to the vintage texts I inherited, plus The Colette Sewing Handbook (Sarai Mitnick), Pattern Fitting With Confidence (Nancy Zieman) and Shirtmaking (David Page Coffin).
2

July 3, 2002

disapointed
I was so disapointed with the book. Yes, there are plenty of pictures but for what... There is not one explanation on fitting pants. Nor is there any man or boy therefore no fitting for their clothing. The fitting explanations are very vague. For example they show a picture of a person with a tissue pattern pinned on and explain that they did this or that. No explanations on figuring out how much to add in inches and how to really know where to do what. They say fitting is more of an art. I find Bob Ross explains more when he is painting! For those of you out there looking for a technical book on fitting, keep searching.
2

January 21, 2004

Incomplete Book Omits Key Topic
Any book that claims to fit real people has to address the issue of fitting pants, particularly for women since we are still stuck with designs based on men's pants. While these authors have written a separate book in this series specifically for fitting pants, "Pants for Real People", this current book is sadly mis-titled and needs to clearly state that it does NOT address pants. As 5'10" woman with a long lower torso and a sway back, fitting pants is difficult to say the least. For an all-encompassing book that addresses fitting issue, see Singer Sewing's "Perfect Fit", which has lots of pictures, clear directions for both major and minor alterations, before and after shots, and deals with all subjects. For a book specifically for fitting pants, I recommend Singers "Pants that Fit". I own both and use both regularly.
3

September 5, 2014

Still not a perfect solution for this!
I got this while I am waiting on Joi Mahon's book to come out in October. It is OK I guess. It uses the fit method where you pin the pattern pieces together on your body which is pretty much impossible to do without a fit buddy. It was a pretty interesting read, it is just that I don't have a soul that could help me pin a pattern on me like is in this book. Still waiting on a real solution for fitting before sewing. I took Joi's classes on Craftsy.com and they are absolutely terrific! Actually the closest I have come to a great solution for this, I can't wait for that book to come out!!!
3

March 30, 2011

real fit if you only want to fit tops for women
i read sandra betzina's 'fast fit' and was hoping for a more expansive discussion of alterations in this real fit for real people book. while this book thoroughly discusses dart placement changes for tops, how to alter clothes to make up for dowager's humps and thick middles, there was absolutely no mention of pants or how to fit shirts for men. after reading the quick and simple techniques in the 'fast fit' book, i was disappointed to realize i'd have to buy a whole other book to find out how to fit pants. the book itself contains great drawings and step-by-step instructions, and shows various alterations on pre-teens and up to elderly women. but to say it's 'real fit for real people' is misleading. it's more like 'real fit for tops on women of any shape and size'.
4

October 13, 2013

They're Not Wearing Pants!!
I should have noticed that none of the models on the cover of this book were wearing pants. So I guess it's my own fault that I was disappointed to find that pants fitting is no part of this book. In fact, pants only appear in one or two illustrations and are mentioned briefly in one paragraph. It turns out that there is another book by these authors that covers pants.

I bought the book because, even though I've been sewing a long time and have made everything up to and including lined tailored jackets, you can always learn something new. And in fact, I did pick up a few tips and ideas that will be helpful in fitting tops and jackets. The issue with commercial patterns is that they are all over the map as far as fit is concerned. You can't adjust them all the same way and have them come out with the same fit. As I've grown older and, shall we say, lumpier, it's gotten harder to make things work.

I do agree with others that the tissue fitting that is a major part of this book is difficult and not always useful because tissue paper fits differently than fabric. However, looking at the photos of the pin fits on the various models, made me aware of some issues I have and how I can give the ideas in the book a try without actually messing around with pinning the fragile tissue paper on my body.

Speaking of paper, I always have a roll of paper on hand to trace off the patterns. This preserves the original, reduces the probability that I'll cut on the wrong line of the multi-size pattern (since I only trace the right ones!) and allows me to get wild and crazy with making adjustments. If i wanted to pin-fit I could without tearing my original pattern beyond repair. I can always go back to the original pattern pieces and re-trace if my experiments go too astray.

I highly recommend buying a bolt of muslin on sale and making muslins. It doesn't take that long and it will give a better idea of fit than making yourself crazy with the pattern tissue paper.

All in all, I'm not sorry I bought the book (except for the pants thing!) and I'm looking forward to trying a couple of things on the next jacket I make.
5

March 1, 2016

Cover is outdated, information is not. Get this book!
I first borrow this book from the library to see if it was going to be any good. Oh my gosh, SO GOOD. If you are an avid sewer, but struggle with fit, this is the book for you. I know the cover looks outdated, but the information is not. This has been the best book for fitting I have read yet. I bought the book just so I could permanently have it with me.
2

November 22, 2012

Dated & not what I expected
I actually returned this book because it wasn't what I expected. When they say it's how to fit clothes using any pattern for any body type, they left mine out. The patterns and styles were extremely outdated (try things my mom wore in the 80s) and the end product didn't appear to fit the "real life person" it was intended for. One of the women they used to model was a plus size who needed something to wear to her wedding, so they made her this large, unflattering dress with an ugly jacket. The alteration instructions were confusing and hard to understand. I'm a sewist, mostly dealing in children's clothing and quilts, but I can read a pattern easily enough. This book just didn't make sense to me, and wasn't much help at all.
2

August 8, 2014

Not the best fitting book for sewers available.
I read so many positive reviews on this that I bought the book. My biggest complaint is that it is very dated. I thought I was buying the 2005 edition. Getting to the point Ihat I'm not too certain the reviews or accurate and may have been placed to promote the books on Amazon. I like Amazon, but some of the reviews are misleading.

I don't particularly like tissue pattern fitting. It's paper, it's not reliable, so that was my first mistake in choosing this book. It does have some interesting info other than fitting, size and ease of ready made. It gives an idea of where to change your alteration for specific problems.

There are better fitting books for sewers. I'd say, read them carefully including the complaints.
5

August 2, 2015

Wonderful. The very best "Fit Book" out there!
This is the very best investment I've ever made. The methods are timeless and even if you never make a garment, you will learn how clothing SHOULd fit. You will even look at Ready-to-Wear with an educated eye, and understand the mistakes the mistakes in your closet. I can't say enough good about it. So well written, easy to understand, and INTERESTING! I did not want to put it down. Seriously, if you want to sew well-fitting clothing that makes you look great; buy this book. Your figure flaws will be invisible beneath the beautiful garment you sew.
3

January 31, 2014

Meh.
People rave about this book on all the sewing blogs; I thought it was time I got a copy. Not quite the game-changer I'd imagined. In fact, it glossed over the stuff I actually wanted to know (I have a narrow back and have yet to find a decent alteration to solve my problem; this book has ONE listing for back issues--lumped in with the shoulder alterations--and then never even explained what to do with the back portion!). Arrggh! In my opinion, it's not worth all the hype.
5

June 20, 2008

This is a MUST HAVE fitting book!
I have a few other fitting books and after taking a class on fitting, this is the book the teacher recommended. I didn't want to buy ANOTHER fitting book so I took it out of my local library. After reading it thoroughly I realized why it is a MUST HAVE fitting book. This is definitely the best book of its kind. But you have to read it - not just look at the pictures! I would recommend to everyone that they check it out of their library. Once you read it through you will want to have it. If you are new to sewing or even if you've been sewing for years, you will learn so much from this book. While they don't show pictures of men, the fitting techniques will be similar. And they have a fitting book for pants Pants for Real People: Fit and Sew for Any Body (Sewing for Real People series). [...].
5

January 29, 2017

Great buy!
I am very happy to add this book to much sew collection. The information in this book is invaluable and I know I will refer to it again and again. I am a petite beginning seamstress who doesn't like what the stores have to offer so I am tailoring clothes for myself. I know this will help immensely on this journey!
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

May 6, 2018

Excellent book and very easy to understand.
One of the best and easier to read and understand books I have come across for fitting patterns. I really like that real people and figures are used as models, that is very helpful in understanding and identifying fitting issues.
5

August 21, 2010

BEST book on the subject that I've found
Excellent. I really wanted a way to fit my clothes that I am making, and this was the most informative. I took a pattern making class at the community college which didn't address fitting issues at all. This is my favorite sewing book. Has other great info, too, like the history of sewing patterns presented in such an interesting way. Very readable, very clear instructions on fitting patterns. You learn what your fit issues are and how to adjust a pattern, why currently patterns "your size" don't fit. I think a lot of people try to make a garment, it doesn't fit, and they throw in the towel. If you take the time to learn your issues, it should become easier and easier to tailor your clothes because you'll know what to do. Wonderful.
3

September 14, 2012

Not for Novices
I am a novice to sewing, so I purchased a few books to help guide me. I don't find this one as useful as other books. I am almost six feet tall, so I have to alter many of my patterns. I found the section on adding girth to pants most helpful. If you are obsessed with getting the perfect fit, then this book is for you. My current projects are simple dresses, skirts, and tops which do not require such attention to detail. I think this is a great guide for sewing tailored pieces, so maybe I might find it more useful someday. This would also be a good reference for sewers who make clothing for other people.
4

July 25, 2016

Needs two people for most of the fitting.
I was hoping I could use it on myself, I have no one to help me with the measuring and pinning for fit. Most of the fittings are a two person job. But the directions are well written and easy to under and still some things were very helpful.
2

April 14, 2016

the altered pattern looks worse than before
Almost all the alterations are to fit a bigger size, pictures after pictures that only show where the smaller pattern couldn't fit the models, how about showing some of the bigger pattern alteration for a smaller sized adult, not teenagers. This book has nothing on pants pattern alteration, must buy another book, titled 'pants for real people'. It's not complete. I knew that the book is a 1990's book so expected the style of clothes to be outdated...shoulder pads, however page 234, the altered pattern looks worse than before, the modification by using thick shoulder pads just can't apply now !
4

July 1, 2013

Food for thought
I've read quite a bit of this book, but find myself skipping around various sections. At first glance, I'm not sure I will apply this "program" to all my sewing (it seems pretty complicated), but I find that just reading pertinent sections gives me a better understanding of pattern fit as well as techniques to adjust patterns to various design/fit challenges.
4

March 18, 2016

Wonderful information horribly organized!
This is a wonderful book full of great information and I would give it five stars if not for the horrible organization of said information. I actually went through the book and created my own fitting "order of operations" because the information was so scattered throughout the book. The real life examples of the fitting techniques are great and it is wonderful to see "real people" instead of models in the book. The photography and layout of the book are pretty dated, I'd love to see an updated version that was better organized. The 20th anniversary of publication is coming up in 2018--come on Palmer Pletsch, make this happen!
4

January 25, 2016

Pretty good, but you need a buddy!
I got this book in the mail today and read through most of it. It's very thorough for fitting tissue patterns. I need it for my scoliosis, which makes typical clothes fit me rather ill.

I was disappointed that the body mapping requires another helper or two. And in reality, tissue fitting will not be easy alone either, but I'm sure I'll improve with experience.

I look forward to trying out the techniques here!
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

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