The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting — Sewing Book
$34.95 – $39.95
Sew Great Clothes for Every Body. Fit Any Fashion Pattern
by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
With this guide to fitting you’ll learn all facets of bodice and skirt pattern fitting and alteration to give you the background and guidance needed to achieve a custom fit on any pattern from any company. Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Silver Award in the 2019 “Craft & Hobby, Home & Garden” book category. For specific fitting guidance for pants, see Pants for Real People, and for comprehensive fitting of jackets, see Jackets for Real People.
Amelia, from the UK, says: “I started dressmaking about two years ago. I am obsessed with fit, but have never got it quite right until I bought the Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting. Wow! Your book has transformed my sewing and made me understand about fit and how to achieve it. I’m telling all my sewing buddies about it! What a difference this has made—although I now seem to be even more picky! I now realize how awful the fit is with all my ready-to-wear clothes!”
Learn all facets of bodice and skirt pattern fitting and alteration to give you the background and guidance needed to achieve a custom fit on any pattern from any company.
The book includes the following:
• Take just one measurement for tops and one for skirts to determine the right pattern size. Find out what to do if you are between sizes or a different size top and bottom.
• Make a “body map” with a close-fitting dress pattern to see how you differ from the “standard” on which sewing patterns are based.
• Learn from “real people” examples of a variety of bodies and their individual alterations.
• Use the book’s new “wrinkle dictionary” to identify a needed pattern alteration. Wrinkles point to the problem,” say the authors, and now you can look up the page reference for a solution.
• See how age can affect body shape, from preteen to octogenarian.
• Take note of the latest sewing techniques for garment details that affect fit, such as darts, zippers and sleeves, for enhancing the look of a well-fitted garment.
• Learn basic skills for designing or redesigning for a myriad of variations using the same pattern.
This book is organized in the sequence the alterations are done, rather than alphabetical by topic. Throughout the book, step-by step instructions are accompanied by full-color photography and a new style of technical art that is extremely clear. Short captions explain each illustration.
As a bonus, the authors detail the evolution of ready-to-wear and pattern sizing over the past century, along with their own history in pioneering the art and practice of tissue-fitting.
Table of Contents:
The Palmer/Pletsch Fitting Method
History of Pattern Sizing
Buy the Right Size
But the Pattern Doesn’t Come in My Size!
What About Ease?
Analyze Your Body
Two Ways to Alter Patterns
Alteration Tools & Tips
Prepare the Pattern for Tissue-Fitting
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR BODY
Make a ‘Body Map’—Fit a Sheath Dress
Tissue-Fitting Real People
THE FIT ENCYCLOPEDIA
Length & Width
Neck & Chest
Waist, Hips, Tummy & Thighs
SEWING ADVICE: Sewing Techniques That Affect Fit
DESIGN: Designing & Redesigning
REFERENCE: The Wrinkle Dictionary
Elizabeth Vana Bryant –
This review was published in the August 2018 Loose Threads publication of American Sewing Guild’s Los Angeles Chapter. Used by permission of the author.
The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting by Patti Palmer and Marta Alto is an update to Patti and Marta’s book Fit for Real People, and — oh! — what an update!
Fit for Real People, first published in 1998, walked the reader through the Palmer/Pletsch tissue fitting method, teaching a generation of sewers to fit clothing properly. This new book takes lessons learned by Patti and Marta during their last forty-plus years of teaching, and lays out a clear, stepwise method of fitting any body. Full disclosure: while I’ve been sewing as long as Patti and Marta have been teaching, I avoided the Palmer/Pletsch method for years, mostly because the folks who had learned it were such enthusiasts. I have a difficult-to-fit figure and a (more than healthy) sense of skepticism, so I was convinced that nothing could measure up to such hype. Almost a decade ago, after many frustrating forays into other fitting methods, I finally succumbed to Patti and Marta’s books and videos. And, guess what? It’s true. The Palmer/Pletsch fitting method really does work, for any pattern and for any body! Since then, I’ve used this method to fit a number of private clients as well as members of ASGLA Couture group.
One complaint I had of Patti and Marta’s earlier books is that they seemed disorganized. Fit for Real People contained a ton of information, but I had to know what I was looking for, in order to find it. Thankfully, The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting is much better organized. Although I still find myself flipping around to find things, the book is much better about giving page number references for where I need to go. The book starts with a section overviewing the history of Palmer/Pletsch, pattern sizing, and fit. The next section, “Getting Started” covers personal pattern issues: pattern sizing, grading, ease and body analysis. The book then suggests creating a “body map” by fitting a sheath dress; it’s an excellent exercise for someone who has never used the method. Unfortunately, the summary of the order of alterations is back in Chapter 1 — I think it ought to be repeated here — however, the body map instructions do follow the order from Chapter 1 (e.g. adjust armhole and waist length, broad/narrow back, high/low curved back before adjusting for shoulder heights or bust width.) Each possible alteration is briefly described, with page number references for detailed alteration instructions. Later chapters are dedicated to alterations for specific body parts: back, bust, shoulders, etc. The book’s final chapters discuss analysing wrinkles as indicators of fit, and a discussion of sewing techniques that affect fit.
One of my favorite parts of Fit for Real People was its wonderful body-positive photographs of real people — petite, plus-sized, full-busted women, small-busted women, etc. — shot through an entire fitting process. The reader can clearly see what a poor fit looks like, and how the fit improves with each alteration. The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting contains updated pictures, although they have retained the older ones that make specific points. If I had one wish, I’d wish that Patti and Marta had insisted that the garments photographed be constructed in light, solid colors. Prints visually distort the seam lines, and the seam lines completely disappear in the black and navy garments. It is hard to evaluate fit with these distractions. That said, the photos are still useful. The line drawings, diagrams for pattern alterations, and instructions are all very clear.
In all, I believe The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting is a foundational book for any sewist’s library. For those who learn better by watching videos, I recommend using Palmer/Pletsch videos to learn the method, and using this book as a reference guide. Other folks in the sewing community may entice you with “easy” fitting solutions, but these methods often only address a small subset of figure issues. In my experience, these other methods do not have consistent or reliable results. The Palmer/Pletsch method may seem long and occasionally tedious, but its results are repeatable and reliable for every body that I’ve tried to fit. As Patti and Marta’s subtitle reads: “Sew Great Clothes for EVERY Body. Fit ANY Fashion Pattern.” You can!
-Elizabeth Vana Bryant
ASGLA Couture Group Leader
Palmer Pletsch Certified Sewing Instructor