intrigued review: Lynda Maynard’s “De-Mystifying Fit”

Book Index/Chapter headings
Case Studies 1-6

About the electronic format…
one the one hand, it’s excellent to keep the book on your computer, ipad, PDF library, google docs or whatever your electronic format of choice may be, especially since it is then printable and portable and “in the cloud” all at once. that said, if you do not have access to your office’s giant xerox (which i may have mis-appropriated during a lunch hour to get this done) explaining to kinko’s that you want this printed may be a challenge. and this is a book you may really want to have out in front of you, in a binder or a folder, so that you can flip back and forth between pages.

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
this book, following a tradition set by her friend Kenneth King, has amazing photographic accompaniments to the text. there are multiple photos on every page that clearly illustrate the technique or object being shown.

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
there is definitely a group of sewers out there who have utilized, or attempted to utilize, a sloper, a fitting pattern (such as McCall 2718 or Vogue 1004) or a moulage to understand how their patterns should actually fit. and there is no other book out there, aside from a pretty solid (yet still, i think, confusing) Threads article, that really explains how to do this. lynda’s book does this. she starts out with general instructions on the basic mechanics of taking a sloper (or, in this case, a moulage) and altering the commercial pattern to encompass your own specific pattern needs. she follows this general introduction with 6 case studies on real women using real patterns.

in that instance, this book is a hands-down must have.

look, no book is going to address every issue. for my personal moulage and the fact that i am generally flat and thin on top and ever-so-slightly pear-shaped, there are no fitting instructions. and i’m totally ok with my shape and my fitting issues. but that means that there is no example in the book that i can take word-for-word and follow.

while there is a case study that addresses, for example, multiple waist darts, there’s no case study that is going to deal with the unusual bodice shaping of Simplicity 2250 or the wonky pleat/french dart crossover bodice of Vogue 1043 or even, really, a princess seam. to quote a really astute review on PR, “As for her instructions, I would say that there were times I felt she was not clear enough, or presumed too much knowledge on the reader’s part.”

what this book is going to do is teach you how you can work with your bodice sloper to make your basic bodice pattern pretty close to perfect. so i would highly recommend using this book in tandem with a good pattern drafting book, like armstrong’s pattern drafting for fashion design or adele margolis’ make your own dress patterns. when i could look up the drafting method for turning a basic bodice into, say, princess seams, gathers or a single dart, it became so much easier to understand the changes needed in the sloper to get to that end result and match my moulage to the pattern piece.

there are also skirt case studies, but my main concern is bodices and dresses. there’s a great sheath dress case study in this book that i think could apply to anyone making a sheath.

PRACTICE. i learned this method from kenneth king last summer in a sort of abstract way. this summer, i made it my goal to make a moulage on the first day of class and then spend time each subsequent day working out some unusual pattern problems using commercial vintage patterns, the moulage and lynda’s method. on my first pattern, all i could do was watch kenneth in awe and nod and smile like i understood. on the second or third pattern, i could definitely do the first few steps on my own before crying out for help. by the 4th or 5th pattern, i was pretty much winging it without too much supervision from kenneth. and since then, i’ve tackled two commercial patterns using this method and been satisfied with the result. but this is definitely one of those things where you have to do it several times to understand how to make it work. and i’m pretty sure there’s no way to make it work with the wonky darts on Simplicity 2250…even though i had a lot of fun with that pattern!

in the end, though
this was a really smart purchase for me. i’ve learned a lot about using my sloper, about commercial patterns, and it’s been a sort of backdoor education in pattern drafting that has made me feel really confident about taking a pattern and using it as a jumping-off point rather than a destination.

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