Flat Fitting, Pattern Fitting, or Muslins?

29 Dec

One of the things I have struggled with as a beginning sewist is how to go about fitting.  I have learned that there are many ways to fit.  In fact there are probably as many ways to fit as there are sewists in the world. So somehow, I had to come up with something that worked for me.

I started with flat fitting, which basically means that you measure your various body parts and compare them to the pattern measurements and then make adjustments.  There are different kinds of flat fitting techniques, like “pivot and slide” and “slash and spread”.  

This is my first attempt at pivot and slide. I’m quite certain, anatomically speaking, there’s something wrong here:

You can see that this gets rather complicated quickly. Ah…but it’s not over yet.

Then I read about the Palmer Plestch method of pattern fitting, which entails pinning various parts of the pattern together, putting the pattern on your body, then making adjustments.  This method is very accurate, but you really need a sewing buddy to make it work . I haven’t figured out how to pin out the flat seat adjustment, or adjust for my narrow back and shoulders on my own.  I figure I’d need pretty long arms and a three-way mirror to make that work.

Then there’s the muslin.  With a muslin, you are actually sewing the major pieces of the garment first with some muslin or other type of less-expensive fabric, then putting it on your body and making adjustments.  I have tried this several times and end up with the same problem as with pattern fitting – no long arms and no three-way mirror.

This looks better, but if you saw the back you’d know I’m in way over my head:

Of course, I’m sure I’m making this more complicated than it is, because lots of people use any one, or a combination of these techniques for pattern fitting. But for me, the methods that work best are a combination of flat fitting (I use the slash and spread method most of the time) and tweaking (a very technical sewing term 😉 which indicates making final adjustments to the garment after you have basted it together).

Sometimes I feel guilty about not making muslins.  And actually, I probably would make a muslin if I were sewing something very special, like a coat. But, I swear I will never make another pants muslin.  Every time I made an adjustment to the pants muslin, the fit got worse!  I obviously don’t have a great eye for fitting.

Check out the sidebar for my favorite instructional books for each method.


One Response to “Flat Fitting, Pattern Fitting, or Muslins?”

  1. Stash January 22, 2010 at 10:17 PM #

    You need a fitting buddy!! I am volunteering.

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