Why Is Fitting a Challenge?

The trials and tribulations of fitting Vogue 1365 - on the blog, link in profile. Spoiler alert: it wasn't pretty #coatproject2015 #sewing #tailoring

The best photo of me. Ever.

Before I get into this post, I wanted to thank all of you who filled out my Reader Survey in the last week – you all ROCK and I was overwhelmed at the number of responses I received.  It was really interesting reading every individual response (believe me, I did), and seeing some almost-universal themes, the biggest one being: fitting.

Shocked? I’m not, and I bet you aren’t either.

I get the why of why fitting in and of itself is a challenge.

Every body is different and has it’s own unique proportions and measurements.  That’s why we sew, right?  Because RTW is for a standard body size and shape and not everyone fits that shape.  Ideally, we can create clothes that fit and flatter our body and make us look and feel our best.  What was evident from reading comments from all of you, the majority of which have been sewing for over 10 years and identify as sewing at an intermediate level, is that this isn’t happening on a regular basis.  Pattern fit and ease vary from brand to brand, even within one brand depending on the design intention, and it can be hard to figure out if size A will work this time or maybe we need to blend together sizes A and B to achieve a good fit.  And that’s just one factor of many when it comes to getting fit right.  We spend hours adjusting and retracing pattern before we can cut into our fabric and get to the fun part – the sewing!!

What’s perplexing is that there’s so many resources out there that cover how to fit patterns to our bodies, yet we’re still having a hard time.

That’s the part that’s making my head scratch.  Do a book search on Amazon, or even look at the class offerings on Craftsy – there’s a lot of different sources out there that tackle how to fit our sewing projects.  I have a whole shelf on my bookcase of books devoted to fitting, and it’s usually what I spend the most time with on a project.  After a lot of trial and error over the years, I have a pretty good understanding of how to fit patterns to my body (well, I admitted defeat with that above coat from earlier last year – I don’t know what was going on!!  And yeah, I have the occasional wader from time-to-time, I’m not perfect), but it’s evident there’s a lot of sewists out there that are still having a hard time.  Don’t even get me started on fitting pants.

So let’s talk: are the fitting resources out there not tackling topics that are relevant to you and what you need?  Maybe there’s too many books/videos/etc. to choose from out there?  Write a comment below or send me an email!



  1. Svea
    September 19, 2015 / 7:12 am

    So far I could not find any good tutorial on how to put the waist deeper. Neither in English nor in German…

  2. September 19, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    Even with resource, fitting myself is a major challenge. I get overwhelmed before I start.

  3. September 19, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    Even with resource, fitting myself is a major challenge. I get overwhelmed before I start.

  4. Cindy S.
    September 19, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    The Craftsy class, "Sew the perfect fit" with Lynda Maynard, helped me a lot. I've watched and read so many fit tutorials, but none could compare with all I learned from this class. Her approach to fitting was very easy to understand.

    • October 3, 2015 / 1:05 am

      Thanks for the recommendation, I'll have to look into it!

  5. September 20, 2015 / 6:06 am

    I get overwhelmed as I think there could be a number of reasons for the fit issues AND a few approaches to correcting them. I am also limited in my sewing time and find if I start on a possible alteration but only get 15 mins at it I come back and scratch my head trying to figure out where I was going. I have the big red book (fitting and pattern alteration?) but haven't spent enough time delving into it.

    • October 3, 2015 / 1:05 am

      That's a really good point – sometimes fit can be a combination of issues and it's hard to pinpoint which one will fix the problem.

  6. September 20, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    I think there are good resources available, but in the end it boils down to practice. I try to do the best I can with the fitting (and I do make a habit of making muslins), and then I usually find as I wear the garment that something else needed to be tweaked. I now keep a notebook so I can refer back to later. I'm starting to get a sense of the usual adjustments I should look to make. I can see that I am improving since I began to focus on fitting and garment sewing in earnest in the past 2-3 years.
    I do really wish I had a fitting buddy, though. My husband is helpful with pinning the muslin, but can only do so much.

    • October 3, 2015 / 1:06 am

      You're absolutely right – the more I sew for myself, the more I understand how my body "is" and how to fit my individual quirks.

  7. September 21, 2015 / 11:44 am

    For me, it's a combination of a lot of things, like hating the waste of fabric on endless muslins, the difficulty of fitting when you don't have help or photos, and the feeling of not having got it right even after you finish the final piece that you were so excited about.

  8. September 21, 2015 / 12:59 pm

    Try watching some of Peggy Sagers videos on Youtube! She addresses "fit" in a very different way than most people

  9. September 23, 2015 / 9:58 pm

    I think one of the biggest issues is fitting yourself without a buddy/helper or anyone. I've learned a couple tips from friends, like pinning something inside out to try on. Then, you can move the pins a little on your body, take it off and baste.

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